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Today is Wednesday, August 24, 2016.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Major League Baseball
Astros 5 vs. 4 Pirates Final

Astros-Pirates preview

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Tuesday, August 23 at 10:50 PM (EDT)

PITTSBURGH -- After splitting the first two games of their interleague series, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros will meet for the series finale Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh's quiet bats awoke in a dominant 7-1 win against Houston Tuesday, while the Astros (65-61) shut down the Pirates (63-60) in a 3-1 victory the night before. Something will have to give Wednesday, with each team attempting to gain ground in their respective wild-card races.

The Pirates came out strong Tuesday, starting the game with six straight hits, and will hope to repeat that performance.

"I mentioned to our offensive coordinator Jeff Branson that I liked the way he scripted his first 20 plays," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think we'll stick with that. We came and hit balls where they were pitched and took advantage of a sinkerballer who wasn't getting the ball down."

Pittsburgh will hope right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole (7-8, 3.30) can regain some of the control he's lost in recent starts when he opposes right-hander Collin McHugh (7-10, 4.99).

Pittsburgh has lost in each of Cole's past three starts dating back to a 5-3 win against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 2. The Pirates' ace, who has allowed at least three earned runs in each of those three starts, had a solid outing against the Miami Marlins on Friday, but allowed two home runs that cut his night short at 6 2/3 innings pitched, his longest start since recording his first career complete game July 27.

Cole's inconsistency won't be the only issue Pittsburgh will look to overcome, however. The Pirates' floundering offense will try to find a spark and could against McHugh, who allowed seven runs, six earned, in three innings against the Baltimore Orioles when he last started Friday.

McHugh has not won since allowing two runs through six innings of a 7-2 win against the Los Angeles Angels on July 23. Since that victory, he has gone past six innings once and went three or less twice, including when he surrendered eight runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched against the Detroit Tigers on July 29.

Things could turn around for McHugh on Wednesday, though, if the Pirates offense can't build on its momentum from Tuesday.

Entering Tuesday, Pittsburgh had failed to score more than two runs in each of its past three games. The Pirates had lost four in a row since taking five of six on their West Coast road trip last week, which included a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants.

That changed against right-hander Joe Musgrove, when Pittsburgh peppered him for four runs in the first inning before outfielder Gregory Polanco took him deep for a solo home run in the third.

The teams seemed to trade places Tuesday. While the once-dormant Pirates exploded, the red-hot Astros cooled.

Houston had scored 35 combined runs over four consecutive wins entering the series' middle game, but couldn't solve right-hander Ivan Nova.

Astros shortstop Carlos Correa exited Tuesday's game late due to an illness, Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.

"He's been sick. Half our team has been sick," Hinch said. "We weren't really doing much against them. We have a 12:30 game tomorrow, so pretty easy decision."

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Indians 1 vs. 5 Athletics Final

Indians-Athletics preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 3:01 AM (EDT)

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Trevor Bauer will try to send the Cleveland Indians to Texas with some momentum when he takes the mound Wednesday in the series finale against the Oakland Athletics.

Bauer won't be pitching in the four-game series between American League division leaders that begins Thursday. The Indians have lined up Josh Tomlin, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.

Bauer's goal Wednesday: Take care of business against an AL weakling so that the Cleveland bullpen can be fresh for a series that could go a long way toward determining home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Indians (72-52) and Rangers (73-53) are in good shape in their respective divisions.

Despite a 9-1 loss to the A's on Tuesday night, Cleveland still holds a 6 1/2-game lead over the Detroit Tigers (66-59) in the AL Central.

Texas, meanwhile, fell 3-0 at Cincinnati on Tuesday. The Rangers nonetheless hold a 5 1/2-game edge over the Seattle Mariners.

At stake beginning Thursday is the best overall record in the AL, which not only earns the top team a shot at the wild-card winner in the first round of the playoffs, but also gives it the home-field advantage in the AL Championship Series should it get there.

A loss Wednesday to Oakland (54-72) potentially could drop the Indians behind the Rangers at the start of their showdown. Cleveland and Texas enter play Wednesday virtually tied for the top mark in the AL.

The Indians-Rangers series will end with Salazar on the mound, and that is a concern for Cleveland. He was bombed Tuesday for the second straight time since coming off the disabled list.

"They got pretty good swings at his fastball," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The hope is that he gets some repetition and gets back to the Danny we saw in the first half. It would certainly be helpful."

Bauer (9-5, 3.88 ERA) enters Wednesday's game on the heels of a season-best, 13-strikeout performance against the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays. He tossed eight innings of two-run ball but did not get a decision in the Indians' 3-2 win Friday.

The California native will be in search of his seventh road win of the season. Only seven AL starters -- Texas' Cole Hamels (9-2 on the road), Houston's Doug Fister (9-3), Detroit's Michael Fulmer (8-3), Toronto's Aaron Sanchez (7-1), Toronto's J.A. Happ (7-2), Baltimore's Chris Tillman (7-3) and the Chicago White Sox's Chris Sale (7-4) -- have reached that level.

Bauer has never beaten the A's, but he came close in both of his previous start against them. He allowed a total of four runs (three earned) in those games but didn't get a decision in either as the Indians were recording a 2-1 loss at Oakland last season and a 5-3 home win last month.

The Indians will be up against Oakland's hottest pitcher, right-hander Kendall Graveman (9-8, 4.09 ERA).

The 25-year-old has gone 8-2 with a 3.47 ERA in his past 15 starts. His seven wins since June 23 are the fifth most in the AL.

Graveman has never beaten the Indians, going 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA in three career starts. In his lone appearance against Cleveland this year, he gave up four runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings during a 5-3 loss at Progressive Field on July 29.

The A's will be looking for more offensive fireworks from Danny Valencia, who started for the first time in three games Tuesday and contributed a single and a double to the 9-1 win.

It was his seventh consecutive start with two or more hits.

"When you're playing big-league games, you have to play hard," Valencia said of his concentration level in the wake of his clubhouse fight with teammate Billy Butler on Friday. "You can't focus on those (negative) things. You've got to move past that. Play the game hard, and good things happen."

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Cubs 6 vs. 3 Padres Final

Cubs-Padres preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 2:58 AM (EDT)

SAN DIEGO -- With a rotation featuring Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester it's easy for Kyle Hendricks to get overlooked.

But not by Chicago Cubs manager Joe Madden.

"Everybody talks about everybody else by Kyle leads the National League in ERA right now," Madden said. "If we would score him some runs, this guy would have a tremendous won-loss record. No one has pitched better than him. No one."

It's the right-handed Hendricks (11-7, 2.16) on the hill for the Cubs against the San Diego Padres.

The Cubs go for the three-game sweep before motoring north to play the Los Angeles Dodgers in what could be a playoff preview.

Chicago will have to battle LA's mind-numbing traffic after the matinee, getaway game. But Madden is seldom stressed when Hendricks in on the mound.

He's allowed three or fewer runs in 16 straight starts, the longest streak this year in the majors. And since June 19, Hendricks is 7-1 with a nifty 1.24 ERA.

"He has command of his pitches, he's added a few wrinkles and his confidence could not be higher," Madden said. "Impossible."

While the Cubs have the NL ERA leader in Hendricks the Padres counter with Paul Clemens (2-2, 4.82).

Clemens will attempt to navigate the potent Cubs lineup by leaning on his curveball and hoping he can pinpoint his fastball.

The right-handed Clemens needs to trust his offspeed offering, according to Padres manager Andy Green.

"We want him to rip the curve ball off a little bit more," Green said. "When you look at the velo on his curve, when it is effective, it is upper 70s.

"Early in his last number of starts he is flipping it in there at 70, 71, and it just doesn't have the aggression, doesn't have the bite to get the swings and misses it can get."

Clemens, who was claimed off waivers on July 1, didn't figure in the Padres win in his last outing. He worked five innings and allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Green said Clemens is also tinkering with his fastball.

"Just continuing to refine his fastball command; that is something that is going to be a journey for him his entire career," Green said. "He's not the only pitcher to have that."

Instead Clemens' money pitch is his curveball but he has to throw it with conviction.

"If he rips it off more effectively he is going to have the opportunity to use it more," Green said. "If he kind of flips it up there he doesn't have quite the command of it."

Green compared Clemens to the lefty Drew Pomeranz, the Padres' All-Star this summer before he was peddled to the Boston Red Sox.

"That was one of the things Pomeranz was able to do," Green said. "If he wanted it in the strikes zone he put it there. If he didn't want it in the strikes zone, he would put it there. That is the next step of the curveball development for Paul."

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Yankees 5 vs. 0 Mariners Final

Yankees-Mariners preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 2:06 AM (EDT)

SEATTLE -- One of the most anticipated pitching matchups of the season happened in April and is about to take place again at Safeco Field.

Anticipated in Japan, anyway.

Japanese pitching stars Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees and Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma, former teammates with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League, will go at it again after Tanaka and the Yankees beat Iwakuma and the Mariners 4-3 in April.

Iwakuma was something of a mentor to Tanaka in Japan, as he was the ace of the staff when Tanaka joined the Golden Eagles out of high school. Now their roles have reversed, as Tanaka is one of baseball's most popular Japanese imports while Iwakuma has quietly toiled in Felix Hernandez's shadow for most of his five major league seasons.

Numbers-wise, they're very similar this season. Tanaka (10-4, 3.24 ERA) has won three starts in a row and is living up to his billing, while Iwakuma (14-8, 3.78 ERA) has been a pleasant surprise after being cast off by the Dodgers due to injury concerns last winter.

They've both come a long way since their April duel, which left Tanaka saying he was "just extremely satisfied being able to get that win."

The stakes are a little higher this time around, as the Yankees (64-61) try to make one last push to climb back into playoff contention and the Mariners (67-58) try to stay there. New York's 5-1 win on Tuesday night left Seattle two games back in the American League wild-card race.

"It's really important for us to win the series tomorrow," Mariners manager Scott Servais said late Tuesday night. "We've had a pretty good homestand, we've swung the bats well, it's just that (Tuesday starter CC Sabathia) got to us."

With just 37 games remaining, and two upcoming series against the AL West-leading Rangers, the Mariners can't afford to lose many more games against non-contenders if they're going to stay in the wild-card race.

"Every game is big for us, especially when you're behind other teams," said Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, a former Yankee. "You want to keep winning, battling."

The Yankees have even less gray area when it comes to winning games down the stretch.

Tuesday's win put them five games back in the wild-card race, so they're skating on thin ice.

Many people thought New York's chances at the postseason were dashed when the team started trading veterans like Carlos Beltran and Aroldis Chapman, but the young Yankees have surprised people with a respectable 12-9 record in August. Young prospects like catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Aaron Judge have come in and given the Yankees new life despite their slim postseason chances.

"It's exciting," veteran pitcher CC Sabathia said of the Yankees' resurgence. "It's fun. You want to watch Sanchez hit every time. You want to watch Judge hit every time. It's been a lot of fun, and it's fun to be around the clubhouse."

The Yankees have an off day Thursday after the afternoon game.

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Rockies 1 vs. 7 Brewers Final

Rockies-Brewers preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 1:50 AM (EDT)

MILWAUKEE -- Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss knows his bullpen has had some problems this season, but he isn't going to worry about it.

The Rockies' relief corps sputtered again Tuesday night, allowing a three-run rally in the eighth that set the Milwaukee Brewers up for a 6-4 comeback victory at Miller Park.

"We've got some young talented guys in the bullpen that are learning on the job," Weiss said. "Sometimes you go through these types of things. It's always frustrating when you are winning late and don't put the game away. You've got a few guys down there right now searching for their confidence. Sometimes is just takes going out there and putting down a clean inning once or twice."

Colorado will try and turn the page Wednesday when they wrap up their three game-series with the Brewers, handing the ball to left-hander Tyler Anderson. Anderson has been knocked around over his last two starts, allowing nine runs in 10 innings of work though he's also recorded 10 strikeouts to just three walks in those contests.

That swoon comes following a string of four consecutive quality starts and overall, the rookie has been solid so far this season, going 4-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 starts.

"He's been outstanding," Weiss told the Denver Post earlier this month. "It's a pretty amazing story when you think about it. Not pitching at all a year ago (with a stress fracture in his pitching elbow), he showed up at the big-league level and hit the ground running. He's been really good from the first start on. It's been an awesome boost for our rotation."

Milwaukee starter Zach Davies is looking to bounce back from a rare dud this season. Davies allowed a career-high seven runs on 10 hits in just four innings against the Cubs his last time out, giving him his second consecutive loss after reeling off four straight victories.

"It's a difficult lineup on a tough day to pitch," manager Craig Counsell said. "He left some fastballs more up today and caught more of the plate than he normally does, and they put the ball in the air against him."

The wind was blowing out that day at Wrigley, but it made no difference to Davies.

"I'm supposed to be a ground ball pitcher, so that shouldn't make a difference to me," he said. "If I let the ball get in the air, then that's my fault."

Milwaukee will go for its first series sweep since taking three in a row from the Pirates July 29-31. That was also the last time the Brewers had won a series before taking the first two games against the Rockies; they'd gone 0-5-1 since in series play while posting an 8-14 record along with way.

The Rockies, meanwhile, have dropped three of their last four.

"We're having a hard time putting hits together and having a big inning that way," Weiss said.

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Braves 0 vs. 1 Diamondbacks In-Progress

Braves-Diamondbacks preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 3:04 AM (EDT)

PHOENIX -- Arizona and Atlanta will turn to their top starters Wednesday in an attempt to get a leg up after splitting the first two games of a four-game set at Chase Field.

Zack Greinke (11-4, 4.21) will oppose Julio Teheran (3-9, 2.90) in a series that so far has not had much to do with any of the starting pitchers.

Atlanta overcame a 4-3 deficit against the Arizona bullpen on Matt Kemp's go-ahead, bases-loaded double in the eighth inning of a 7-4 victory Tuesday. The Diamondbacks overcame a 5-0 deficit with a four-run eighth inning in a 9-8 victory in the opener Monday.

Atlanta's live young relief arms stood out Tuesday, giving manager Brian Snitker 6 1/3 scoreless innings in back of Rob Whalen, who was making his fifth major league start. Right-handers Jose Ramirez and Mauricio Cabrera struck out the side on either side of the Braves' go-ahead, three-run eighth inning fueled by Matt Kemp's two-run double.

Ramirez gave up a leadoff triple in the last of the seventh inning with Arizona holding a 4-3 lead, but the runner got no further. Cabrera struck out the side around a two-out double to protect a 6-4 lead in the last of the eighth inning with third-strike fastballs that were clocked 100, 102 and 101 mph.

"All of them did a great job," manager Brian Snitker said.

Greinke will be making his fourth start, and his first at home, since missing six weeks with a strained left oblique muscle. He had quality starts against the Mets in his return and at San Diego last Friday but was knocked around for nine runs and 10 hits in 1 2/3 innings at Boston on Aug. 14. He had a streak of eight straight winning decisions broken in Boston.

Teheran has been victimized by the worst run support in the NL among qualifiers, similar to the predicament Shelby Miller found himself in with Atlanta last season. Teheran has received an average of 2.77 runs per game this season, leading to his misleading win-loss record. Miller received 2.54 runs of support last season, the lowest figure in the league since 1974.

Atlanta added some offense at the July 31 trade deadline by acquiring Matt Kemp from San Diego, and Kemp supplied the game-winning hit with his bases-loaded, two-run double in the eighth inning Tuesday, when a third run scored on the play on an outfield.

No matter the jersey, Kemp has no trouble hitting at Chase Field.

Kemp hit two homers in an early-season here in Arizona while with San Diego, and he has 103 RBIs in 134 career games against Arizona, 51 at Chase Field. He spent all of his 10-plus years in the NL West with the Dodgers and San Diego before coming to Atlanta.

"This is a nice field, nice backdrop," Kemp said. "You see the ball well. I've had some experience here."

Kemp also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly Tuesday, giving him 81 for the season. He was deprived of another RBI when the official scorer ruled that the third runner scored on his bases-loaded double when the right fielder bobbled the ball at the fence.

"If I end up at 99, there's going to be trouble," Kemp said in jest.

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Orioles 10 vs. 8 Nationals In-Progress

Orioles-Nationals preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 1:31 PM (EDT)

BALTIMORE -- The Washington Nationals hope to fare better against the Baltimore Orioles when the teams head back to Nationals Park to continue their four-game, home-and-home Beltway Series on Wednesday.

The Orioles took both games at Camden Yards with some timely hitting and effective starting pitching. Baltimore now leads the all-time series 35-23.

"It's a really good team," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Washington. "They're one of the best teams in baseball and in that league, so it was tough. We caught a couple young pitchers, but we had a couple young pitchers, too, that did well. Yeah, we'll get on a bus tonight and head over to Washington and play a good team two more times."

Washington will look to right-hander Tanner Roark (13-6) to set the tone. Roark is riding a four-game winning streak and has not lost since July 22 and his 2.87 ERA is the best among all of the Nationals' starters. He has allowed 139 hits with 130 strikeouts and just 51 walks over 163 1/3 innings.

"It's good to be going home. It seems like we haven't been home in a while," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "We go home and regroup. Guys get to see their kids and their wives."

Left-hander Wade Miley (7-10, 5.58) is still looking for his first win with the Orioles since being acquired from Seattle at the trade deadline. Miley is 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA with Baltimore in four starts. He was hit especially hard in his last outing Friday and against the Houston Astros. After the Orioles hit four home runs in the first inning to stake him with a 5-1 lead, Miley fell apart. He allowed six runs on six hits over just 1 2/3 innings and did not earn a decision.

"It's embarrassing for that to happen," a disappointed Miley said after the game. "I made a lot of mistakes over the middle of the plate, even after the strikeouts a lot of fastballs trying to get ahead and they were just middle cut and they drove them. That's on me. I've got to set a better tempo than that."

Baltimore got some bad news when Chris Tillman did not have a good work session and he will likely be headed to DL. Tillman had a start last week pushed back three days because of right shoulder discomfort. He was expected to take the mound Thursday in Washington.

"I thought once it got loose it would really go away but it never really did, and that was my first time actually experiencing it while throwing," Tillman said. "Last time, I was pretty sore right after my start, but after feeling it today, I'd much rather just get this behind us and get out in front of it so that way we're not worried about it for the rest of the year."

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Angels 8 vs. 2 Blue Jays Final

Angels-Blue Jays preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 1:32 AM (EDT)

TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays say they are not taking anything for granted during this home stand.

They are facing two teams who have the worst records in the American League.

They defeated the Los Angeles Angels (52-73) in the opener of a three-game series 7-2 on Tuesday.

The Angels have lost 11 straight road games, the most since they lost 14 road games in a row April 29-June 8, 1969.

The Minnesota Twins (49-76) follow the Angels for a three-game series at Rogers Centre starting Friday.

Then the Blue Jays go to Baltimore for a three-game series against the Orioles, who are two games out of first in the American League behind the Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox who are tied for first.

"I think the onus for us should be on just playing good baseball and not beating ourselves," said knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who pitched 6 2/3 innings Tuesday for the win. "If we can execute and play good baseball I think we should come out of this homestand feeling good about the momentum going to Baltimore. If we don't play well those teams can beat you just easily as a team like the Red Sox."

The Angels have long been out of postseason contention but infielder Cliff Pennington, who played part of last season with the Blue Jays when they won the Al East, said returning to Rogers Centre brings back good memories.

"It was an amazing three months I spent here playing at the Rogers Centre," Pennington said Tuesday before going 1-for-2 with a walk as the Angels' second baseman. "Those last three months was one of the coolest experiences I've had as a player. ... the atmosphere here in the Rogers Centre was one of the coolest things I've experienced."

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Marco Estrada (7-5, 3.20 ERA) in the second game of the series on Wednesday against Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker (7-13, 4.14 ERA).

Estrada allowed five hits, including three home runs, and five runs in four innings Aug. 16 against the New York Yankees and did not return after a rain delay. He did not factor in the decision when the Blue Jays came back to win 12-8.

The six-man rotation with the extra day between starts has not been good for Estrada so far. He is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in eight starts on four days' rest this season, is 2-4 with a 3.97 ERA in nine starts on five days' rest, and 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts with six or more days of rest.

In two career starts against the Angels, he is 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA.

Shoemaker is going for two wins in a row. He allowed five hits, two walks and two earned runs over seven innings Thursday to earn the win against the Seattle Mariners. He has a 3.12 ERA over his past 18 starts with 114 strikeouts and 18 walks.

In two career games, including one start, against the Blue Jays he is 1-1 with an 8.38 ERA. In his only start against Toronto, he allowed eight runs (seven earned) over six innings at Rogers Centre on May 21, 2015.

While the Blue Jays will try to maintain at least a share of first place in their division, the Angels will try to end an ugly road losing streak.

"Down the stretch every game is important," Blue Jays infielder Darwin Barney said. "I don't think we're taking anyone lightly. That's a good team over there."

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Giants 0 vs. 0 Dodgers In-Progress

Giants-Dodgers preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 4:37 AM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES -- Bruce Bochy isn't pushing the panic button yet.

With 37 games remaining for the San Francisco Giants and the club trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by only two games despite its recent performances, it is too early for that.

However, Bochy, the Giants manager, knows his team needs to turn things around soon.

"There's a lot of baseball left," Bochy said. "As I said, this series is not going to determine it all, but at the same time, and how it's been going, we know we need to start rolling here and get back to who we are."

That didn't happen Tuesday night. Bochy and the Giants performed much like the same team that has played more poorly than any since the All-Star break. San Francisco dropped a 9-5 decision to the rival Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

Right-hander Johnny Cueto (14-3, 2.90 ERA) will try to help Bochy and the Giants right the ship Wednesday when he faces Dodgers lefty Rich Hill (9-3, 2.25 ERA).

Cueto earned his first win of the second half in his last start by beating the New York Mets on Friday. Cueto allowed a run and scattered eight hits in seven innings. He struck out two and walked none in an 8-1 victory.

Against the Dodgers, Cueto is 2-0 with a 3.63 ERA this season.

Hill, acquired by Los Angeles along with right fielder Josh Reddick from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline, will be making his Los Angeles debut. He spent the past month on the disabled list with blisters on his middle pitching finger.

"We're excited about that," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Hill's first start.

Hill last faced the Giants as a member of the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22, 2007. Although he didn't factor into the decision, Hill fanned 10 and gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings of a 4-2 Cubs win.

San Francisco (68-57) has lost three in a row and seven of its past nine games. The Giants had the best record in the majors at the All-Star break at 57-33 but have stumbled to the worst mark since then, 11-24.

Despite it all, the Giants have remained within sniffing distance of the Dodgers (70-55). Los Angeles is riding a three-game winning streak.

"I think it's going to be important we get cracking. It's been a struggle since the break for us," Bochy said. "The record shows it, and you look at some of the numbers and some things are hard to explain, but it is what it is. That's behind us. Hopefully, something will spur us to get back to where we were in the first half."

Roberts is as surprised as anyone regarding the Giants' struggles, but his club is benefitting.

"It's a very good team over there," Roberts said. "And considering how they've played in the first half and the (win-loss record) in the second half, yeah it's a surprise. That just shows that every game is tough to win."

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Phillies 5 vs. 2 White Sox In-Progress

Phillies-White Sox preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 12:29 AM (EDT)

CHICAGO -- James Shields will try again to shake out of a 11-week funk as he takes the mound for the Chicago White Sox in Wednesday's finale of a two-game interleague series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 34-year-old right-hander, acquired in a June 4 trade with the San Diego Padres, is 5-15 with a 5.98 ERA this season. In 14 starts since joining Chicago he's 2-8 and gave up seven runs on eight hits -- including three home runs over 4 2/3 innings -- in last Saturday's 9-0 loss to the Oakland A's.

"There's times where a team will hit him around and he's been able to fight his way back," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The roughest stretch was when he first got here and he seemed to calm those waters and figure it out. He has the ability to do that."

Shields is 0-3 over his last four starts, allowing a combined 28 runs (27 earned) on 33 hits over 14 innings pitched.

Shields worked five or fewer innings in his first four starts, including 1 2/3 innings on June 18 when he was rocked for eight runs on seven hits in Chicago's 13-2 loss at Cleveland.

His best outing came on July 27 when he shut out the Chicago Cubs 3-0 in an eight-inning appearance.

Shields will face a Phillies right-hander -- the rising Jerad Eickhoff (8-12, 3.91 ERA) -- who not only might identify with Shields' struggles but has also found his way back.

Eickhoff started his second big league season with a 2-8 record through 11 starts and then began to turn things around with a seven-inning outing with just one run on two hits in the Phillies 3-2 win over the Cubs on June 7.

Since then he's 6-4 with three no-decisions, including three straight losses from July 9-26.

In his last three starts, Eickhoff has had two wins and a no-decision in his last three starts. Last Thursday against the Dodgers he gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings, struck out eight and walked two and gave up a three-run home run to Justin Turner in the opening inning.

The Phillies are in Chicago for a two-game series, their first appearance at U.S. Cellular Field since 2004. It's only the fifth all-time inter-league series between the teams.

The White Sox took two-of-three in the last meeting in Chicago. The Phillies swept in 2007 and won two-of-three in 2013 -- both series at Citizens Bank Park.

The teams will complete a four-game series with two games on Sept. 20-21 in Philadelphia.

Chicago got an outfield regular back Tuesday. Avisail Garcia was activated from the 15-day disabled list (sprained right knee) and was promptly inserted in the starting lineup, going 1-for-4.

Garcia was batting .240 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs over 86 games with the White Sox this season. He was 5-for-15 (.333) with three homers and six RBIs in August prior to suffering the injury.

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Rangers 6 vs. 5 Reds Final

Rangers-Reds preview

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:08 PM (EDT)

CINCINNATI -- Yu Darvish is hitting his stride. But, that doesn't mean the Texas Rangers won't continue to be careful with how they utilize their right-handed ace.

Darvish, 30, is scheduled to make his 11th start of the season on Wednesday night in the finale of a two-game interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. And, he'll do so on six days rest.

"It's a positive," Darvish told reporters last week via an interpreter. "I didn't feel like I needed it, but getting rest is beneficial for me."

Darvish, who's coming off Tommy John surgery, is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings in his last three starts. He's made six straight quality starts, matching the longest run this season by a Rangers pitcher.

He's been dominant in interleague play, going 7-2 with a 1.90 ERA in 11 starts against the National League.

Darvish will be facing Cincinnati for the first time since June 30, 2013 when he gave up only four hits in 6 2/3 innings with four walks and eight strikeouts in a 3-2 Texas win.

He'll get a chance to take his hacks in an NL park on Wednesday. He has two hits in 12 career at-bats.

Right-hander Tim Adleman will take the mound for Cincinnati on Wednesday. It's his sixth career start and second since he was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Aug. 16. He'll be facing the Rangers for the first time in his career.

Cincinnati is 22-14 and has won eight of 11 series since the All-Star break. The Reds will be looking for their ninth series win on Wednesday if they can sweep the Rangers after a 3-0 win on Tuesday.

The Reds are riding the red-hot bat of first baseman Joey Votto, who is hitting .455 since the All-Star break after batting just .229 in April and .200 in May. Votto went 2-for-3 with two RBIs on Tuesday.

"I think what Joey has accomplished with his batting average and on-base percentage is phenomenal," said manager Bryan Price. "Anybody can struggle for a couple of months or even a season. That's not unique, so I'd have to say I'm more surprised at what he's doing now. I don't think anybody saw coming what he went through in April and May, but it's not foreign."

Texas' recent acquisition -- catcher Jonathan Lucroy -- is a bona fide Reds killer.

During his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, Lucroy has 13 home runs, 45 RBIs, and 42 runs in his career against Cincinnati, all his highest totals against any opponent. Lucroy's 13 homers are nearly double his total against any other club.

Lucroy went 0-for-3 with a walk on Tuesday. But, he'll get another crack at Cincinnati pitching on Wednesday.

He has homered in three of his past six games at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati now leads the all-time series 8-7 after Tuesday's win. The teams split a two-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington in June.

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Red Sox 3 vs. 3 Rays In-Progress

Red Sox-Rays preview

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:25 PM (EDT)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox are 16-15 in one-run games this season, but John Farrell wants to see more like the 2-1 victory his team pulled out over the Rays on Tuesday.

"When you have to execute from the mound and defensively, late in games, with minimal margin for error, I think these are very good tests for us as we get this portion of the schedule, particularly on the road," Farrell said. "To come through as we have defensively, that's the key."

Boston (71-54) has won 10 of 12 -- including three one-run wins -- and will hope to continue that momentum in the third game of a four-games series at the Rays on Wednesday. The pitching matchup suggests it might not end up that close after all.

The Red Sox will start RHP Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.22 ERA), who is not only tied for the major league lead with 17 wins, but is coming in hotter than that. Boston has won 11 of his last 12 starts, and in his last five he's 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA with 29 strikeouts and only four walks.

What's more, he's owned the Rays this season, going 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay, striking out 22 and walking four.

That's a stark contrast to Rays starter Matt Andriese, who has struggled since rejoining the Tampa Bay rotation after the trade deadline. The Rays have lost all four game he's started, and he's seen his ERA swell from 2.75 to 3.66 during that span.

Andriese opened the season 6-0 and pitched well when he was shifted to the bullpen, but hasn't regained his old form as a starter. He's stretched himself out to 96 pitches in his last outing but that hasn't translated to more than 5 1/3 innings in any of his starts.

The silver lining is that he's pitched well against Boston. He hasn't allowed a run in 9 2/3 innings covering three appearances, including a six-inning gem last year in his only start against the Red Sox in which he allowed one baserunner in a victory.

The Rays are 30-5 this season when holding opponents to two runs or fewer after Tuesday's setback, with starter Chris Archer lamenting that "every night's not going to be a flawless outing" after earning his major league leading 17th loss of the season.

The margin for error in a one-run game is so little, as Kevin Kiermaier learned when he was thrown out at third trying to make a double a triple with one out n the eighth inning. Instead of the tying run in scoring position, he was out and the Rays wouldn't get closer than first base the rest of the night.

"Just kind of in shock over there at third base, how I got thrown out," Kiermaier said of Mookie Betts' assist from deep right field. "I watched the video after the game, and saw he made an absolutely perfect throw. I always want to put pressure on defense, and it's going to take a perfect throw to throw me out. I would not change anything. I'd do it again. I tip my hat to him."

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Royals 0 vs. 3 Marlins Final

Royals-Marlins preview

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:34 PM (EDT)

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins need Jose Fernandez to be the home dominator he has been for virtually his entire career.

If he isn't that on Wednesday, it's likely the red-hot Kansas City Royals will walk away with their 10th straight win.

In fact, even if Fernandez -- who is 26-2 with a 1.62 ERA in his career at Marlins Park -- is as dominant as he usually is here, it's still not a guarantee the Marlins will beat the Royals.

That's how hot the Royals are, as they proved on Tuesday, requiring just one run to knock off the Marlins.

The Royals also have to take solace in the fact that the Fernandez that arrives to the ballpark on Wednesday is not the one Marlins fans are accustomed to seeing.

Fernandez has struggled as of late, mostly on the road. Since July 28, Fernandez has a 6.00 ERA -- home and road -- and he has lost his past three decisions.

The Marlins have other concerns besides Fernandez.

Three of their best hitters -- right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, first baseman Justin Bour and infielder Derek Dietrich -- are on the disabled list.

Stanton and Bour have combined for 40 homers this year, even though the latter hasn't played since July 3 due to an ankle injury that has never healed properly.

It is questionable that either one will return this year, although the Marlins are hopeful.

Dietrich is also vital to Miami's plans. If the Marlins make the playoffs, starting second baseman Dee Gordon, who sat out 80 games this year due to an MLB suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, will be ineligible for postseason play.

That means Dietrich would be the obvious choice for second base, assuming he is healthy and the Marlins make the playoffs.

On top of those issues, the Marlins got more bad news on Tuesday night.

Center fielder Marcell Ozuna, a first-time All-Star this year who is hitting .277 with 21 doubles, five triples, 22 homers and 64 RBIs, left the game in the seventh inning due to a family emergency.

"He just had a little family emergency," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "It's a personal thing. If he wants to talk about it tomorrow, I will let him. It's something that was going on. We'll know more tomorrow."

Meanwhile, the Royals are rolling along.

They will start right-hander Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.52 ERA) on Wednesday against Miami. He is coming off his best start of the year, allowing just one run in seven innings.

Kansas City's bullpen, a key part of their 2015 run to a World Series title, is also in great shape.

Kelvin Herrera has saved eight straight games, lowering his ERA to 1.91 with his latest stop on Tuesday.

Herrera, filling in for injured closer Wade Davis, has retired 17 consecutive batters.

Kansas City also got scoreless innings on Tuesday from set-up relievers Matt Strahm and Joakim Soria.

"We have to make sure we mix and match," Royals manager Ned Yost said of his bullpen. "But we have nice options."

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Tigers 6 vs. 3 Twins In-Progress

Tigers-Twins preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 12:40 AM (EDT)

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Detroit Tigers will try and continue their dominance over the Minnesota Twins when the clubs play the second of a three-game series at Target Field on Wednesday night.

Detroit's bats came alive in the middle innings in the series lid-lifter on Tuesday, as the Tigers posted three-run innings in each the sixth and seventh frames in an 8-3 victory. The win improved Detroit to 8-2 against their Central Division mates in 2016.

The Tigers lineup, now featuring a seemingly reinvigorated Justin Upton, appears as deep as ever. Detroit blasted 14 hits on Tuesday with five players posting multi-hit efforts, including Upton.

Since returning from his brief stint out of the lineup, Upton has posted three consecutive two-hit games and is providing the pop the Tigers thought they were getting when they signed the three-time All-Star to a six-year, $132 million contract last winter.

"It makes you feel good but in the end you have to go execute," said Tigers slugger Victor Martinez. "You don't win games with lineups on paper. It doesn't work that way. You still have to go out and play the game."

Martinez homered and had three hits on Tuesday and is hitting .333 over his last 14 games overall. Miguel Cabrera also had three hits and has been a Twins nemesis over his entire career, as shown by his .343 career average at this ballpark.

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has been a nemesis to nearly every pitcher he's run into over the last two months. Dozier cranked his 29th home run on Tuesday, establishing a new career high.

With the Twins an afterthought in the playoff chase down the stretch, the focus of fans could turn to Dozier and how many home runs he can finish with this season. His 29 are the most by a Twin since Josh Willingham belted 35 in 2012.

"It'll be fun to see if he can get to 30," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "That's a pretty big milestone for a little second baseman."

Dozier will get a crack at left-hander Matt Boyd on Wednesday. The 25-year old southpaw has a 4-2 mark with a 3.93 ERA in 14 games, including 12 starts this season.

Boyd pitched six shutout innings against the Twins on July 18, striking out seven and walking one while scattering just three hits in his first victory. Boyd has won each of his last four decisions overall.

Minnesota will counter with Tyler Duffey. The right-hander has been inconsistent, posting an 8-9 record and a 5.93 ERA in 21 starts.

In his only start against the Tigers this season, Duffey allowed four runs, one of them earned, in 6 1/3 innings in a loss on April 30 at Target Field.

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Mets 1 vs. 6 Cardinals In-Progress

Mets-Cardinals preview

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Wednesday, August 24 at 1:05 AM (EDT)

ST. LOUIS -- Wednesday night's pitching matchup looks like a classic pitcher's duel between hard-throwing right-handers Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets and Carlos Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Then again, deGrom was supposed to be involved in a pitcher's duel in his last outing and that didn't pan out.

Facing Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants Thursday night, deGrom suffered perhaps the worst outing of his big league career. In five innings, he allowed 13 hits and eight runs as New York lost 10-7.

Odds are that deGrom will be sharper this time, and he'll probably have to be against Martinez. In a performance 180 degrees removed from deGrom's, Martinez rolled through seven innings in his last start on Aug. 17 in Houston, allowing just a run and fanning seven in an 8-2 win.

What's more, Martinez has shut down the Mets in his brief big league career, going 2-1 with a 1.31 earned run average in six career outings. That includes a 3-2 win in the opener of a doubleheader July 26 in New York that saw him last five innings and work out of numerous jams.

The Mets offense might be better-equipped for the rematch, even though second baseman Neil Walker (paternity leave) will miss the game. New York rapped out 12 hits Tuesday night in a 7-4 win, with the 1-2 batters -- Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera -- each bagging three.

At 63-62, the Mets sit 3 1/2 games back of St. Louis (66-58) for the National League's second wild-card spot.

"It's crunch time and it's nice to have the majority of our lineup back," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They know we're playing for something."

The Cardinals remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Miami for the second wild-card position, thanks to the Marlins' 1-0 loss to Kansas City. They could have actually picked up another game on them except for a poor performance with men on base.

St. Louis stranded 11 men Tuesday night, leaving two aboard in the third, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth innings. After the first inning, when it collected a pair of RBI hits with men in scoring position, it was 0-for-6 for the game's remainder in that situation.

"We had opportunities later on and we hit some balls hard," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "But it was just one of those days. It was an uphill battle right from the beginning."

Despite the loss that dropped St. Louis to 28-34 at home, center fielder Randal Grichuk continued his power surge. Since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Aug. 11, Grichuk is batting .289 in 38 at-bats with four homers, the fourth coming in the sixth inning Tuesday night.

All but one of Grichuk's 11 hits since his return have gone for extra bases as Matheny has turned him loose, willing to deal with strikeouts in exchange for the long ball and solid defense.

"I'm not feeling for (the ball)," Grichuk said when asked what the difference has been in his hitting. "I'm just taking a rip at it and playing."

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Major League Baseball
Braves 7 vs. 4 Diamondbacks Final Recap

Kemp's 8th-inning double lifts Braves past D-backs

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Wednesday, August 24 at 2:11 AM (EDT)

PHOENIX -- No matter the uniform, Matt Kemp fits right in at Chase Field.

The Atlanta left fielder hit a two-run, bases-loaded double in a three-run eighth inning and also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the Braves' come-from-behind, 7-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

"This is a nice field, nice backdrop," Kemp said. "You see the ball well. I've had some experience here."

Kemp has 103 RBIs in 134 games against Arizona, 51 at Chase Field. After spending all of his 10-plus-year career in the NL West, he was traded to Atlanta on July 30.

He struck out twice with runners in scoring position in the first and second innings before hitting his sacrifice fly in the fourth and his double in the eighth. A third run scored on an error on the double as Atlanta turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead.

"Those are the situations you want to be in," Kemp said. "To get in those situations, they don't always work out the way you want them to work out, but that's one of the reasons why we play baseball, that challenge."

With Arizona in front 4-2, Dansby Swanson singled to open the eighth inning off Jake Barrett (1-2), and Ender Inciarte singled with one out. Freddie Freeman walked with two outs.

Kemp followed with an opposite-field liner into the right field corner that Mitch Haniger bobbled at the fence as the bases cleared.

"I just feel it was the one pitch that hurt me, and that was to Kemp," Barrett said. "I tried to throw inside and missed away."

Adonis Garcia had three hits and scored twice, and Kemp, Swanson and Tyler Flowers had two hits apiece for Atlanta, which had lost 10 of 12.

Swanson had a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, his first career RBI in his sixth game since being promoted last week. He was the first pick in the 2015 draft by Arizona before being traded to Atlanta in the Shelby Miller deal at the winter meetings.

Jake Lamb had two doubles and drove in two runs, and Yasmany Tomas hit a two-run single before leaving with mid-back stiffness in the eighth inning for Arizona (52-74).

Six Atlanta pitchers limited the Diamondbacks to five hits. Arizona, which had won six of nine, fell to 22-41 at home.

Atlanta's bullpen gave up three hits and no walks while striking out eight in 6 1/3 scoreless innings. That came after starter Rob Whalen surrendered four runs in the third inning on two hits, three walks and a hit batsman.

Arizona took a 4-3 lead on Tomas's two-run single and Lamb's two-run double. Lamb was in a 2-for-48 (.042) slide.

Right-hander Jose Ramirez (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the victory, stranding a leadoff triple while striking out the side.

Right-hander Mauricio Cabrera struck out three on 100, 102 and 101 mph fastballs in the eighth before Jim Johnson picked up his 11th save with a scoreless ninth.

"All of them did a great job," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Freeman, who walked and scored twice, had an 11-game hitting streak broken.

Atlanta (46-80) had 10 runners on base in the first three innings but scored only twice, on RBI hits by Nick Markakis and Flowers in a two-run first inning.

"Had a rough time before that, but we got the big one when we needed it," Snitker said of Kemp's game-winner.

NOTES: Arizona RF Yasmany Tomas was removed because of mid-back tightness in the eighth inning, but the Diamondbacks did not seem worried. "He said it was bothering him batting, running and throwing, so we had to get him out of the game," manager Chip Hale said. "The trainers aren't concerned. The doctors aren't." Tomas is not expected to miss more than one game, if that. ... Diamondbacks CF A.J. Pollock is expected to be activated Friday, Hale said, and he will get plenty of time the rest of the season. Pollock was fourth in NL in WAR (7.4) last season but has missed this season with a fractured elbow incurred three days before the start of the season. ... Atlanta has used 14 different starting pitchers this season, tied with the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres for the most in the majors. ... The third game of the series Wednesday will feature the staff No. 1s, Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (3-9, 2.90 ERA) and Arizona RHP Zack Greinke (11-4, 4.21 ERA). ... RHP Shelby Miller will make his next start Thursday, but the Diamondbacks are still deciding if it will be at Triple-A Reno or back with Arizona, Hale said.

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Astros 1 vs. 7 Pirates Final Recap

Polanco, Nova push Pirates past Astros

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Tuesday, August 23 at 10:48 PM (EDT)

PITTSBURGH -- Each of the Pittsburgh Pirates' bats seemed to produce some noise Tuesday, but Gregory Polanco's was just a bit louder.

Polanco recorded an RBI in each of his first three at-bats, pelting balls to left field and dead center, while all the Pirates took turns pounding the Houston Astros for 11 hits. Meanwhile, Ivan Nova breezed through a six-hitter.

All of that added up to a 7-1 victory for Pittsburgh over Houston at PNC Park.

After belting his 18th home run of the season to left field in the third inning, Polanco smashed his team-leading 19th off left-handed reliever Tony Sipp two innings later to give the Pirates a 6-0 lead through five.

"I guess I'm getting stronger," Polanco said. "My swing is getting better, shorter and quicker. Experience, too. The more swings you take, the better you get every day. I think it's about experience and now, I'm learning more in the league every day."

It marked the second time this season and in his career Polanco hit two home runs in a game. He also hit two with three RBIs against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 4.

Pittsburgh added a seventh run on an error off Polanco's groundout in the seventh.

Nova used 98 pitches to cruise through his fourth career complete game. Only Marwin Gonzalez, who recorded three hits, challenged him.

"He was very efficient with his pitches," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He threw a lot of really good sinkers against a very good-hitting team with a lot of right-handed hitters and he locked them up with the ball away."

Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve started the ninth with back-to-back doubles to score Houston's lone run. Astros manager A.J. Hinch credited Nova's location for Houston's offensive struggles.

"It looked like he had a lot of life on his ball. I think he had, what was it, 15 ground ball outs or outs on the ground?" Hinch said. "So, he really pounded the bottom of the strike zone. He had a ton of movement. We couldn't really get the ball on the barrel and mount any sort of rally against him.

"When he needed a ground ball, he got it and then he mixed in a few breaking balls, a few changeups and moved the ball around. But pitching with a lead, he did a good job of pitching to contact on the ground."

The Pirates (63-60) ended a four-game skid in emphatic fashion, while the Astros (65-61) saw their four-game winning streak come to an end. Houston scored 35 runs during the streak.

Pittsburgh immediately pounced on Astros right-hander Joe Musgrove, recording six consecutive hits to begin the first inning and producing four runs.

After Adam Frazier singled to center for Pittsburgh's first hit, Matt Joyce, Andrew McCutchen and Polanco took turns belting fastballs into the left-center-field gap. Joyce doubled toward PNC Park's left field notch, scoring Frazier from first, before McCutchen sent a double into the same spot to give the Pirates an early 2-0 lead.

Polanco quickly smacked a pitch into the gap but only managed a single that was good enough to drive in McCutchen. David Freese followed Polanco by singling to center, and Josh Bell drove in Polanco with a single down the left field line, which he unsuccessfully tried to stretch into a double, extending Pittsburgh's lead to 4-0.

Musgrove, a 23-year-old rookie, struggled coming off the worst performance of his young major league career.

In his last start against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, Musgrove allowed eight runs on 11 hits and three home runs in a 13-5 loss. He had surrendered three runs combined across his previous two starts while going seven innings in each.

Musgrove seemed to settle in the second inning Tuesday, retiring the Pirates in order, but let one get away to Polanco in the third. Polanco grooved an opposite-field home run to left on a 3-1 pitch to balloon Pittsburgh's advantage to 5-0.

Musgrove left after four innings, his shortest outing in five appearances this season. He allowed five runs on eight hits.

"The starter's job is to go out there and set the tone of the game and anytime you go out there and have a first inning like that, it kind of sucks the wind out of you," Musgrove said. "I had the right plan going out there. I just didn't execute. That's kind of been the problem, just execution. I've been through failure before and I know I'm going to go through it again, so I'll process things, learn from it and be ready to go next time out."

NOTES: Astros 3B Luis Valbuena will undergo season-ending surgery on his injured right hamstring in the next few days. Valbuena, who has not played since July 26, hit .260 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 90 games this season. ... Houston OF Marwin Gonzalez started in left field while Teoscar Hernandez shifted from left to center. ... The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association awarded Pirates 3B David Freese with the Heart and Hustle Award. The award, which is presented to one player from each MLB team, "honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball." ... Pirates OF Starling Marte did not play Tuesday and was replaced by Gregory Polanco in left field. Matt Joyce took Polanco's place in right and batted second, Marte's usual spot in the lineup. ... Pittsburgh 1B Josh Bell started for the third consecutive game. He made his first major league start Sunday.

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Indians 1 vs. 9 Athletics Final Recap

Valencia returns as A's bash Indians

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Wednesday, August 24 at 2:19 AM (EDT)

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Danny Valencia got back to hitting baseballs instead of teammates Tuesday night.

And when it comes to his on-the-field prowess, he surely can't be labeled a one-hit wonder.

Valencia returned to the starting lineup and collected two hits, and Khris Davis belted his 33rd home run, propelling the Oakland Athletics to a 9-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Left-hander Sean Manaea limited the American League Central leaders to one run and three hits over seven innings, helping the A's beat the Indians for the first time in five meetings this season.

"Good team win," said Valencia, who didn't play Sunday and didn't start Monday in the wake of his clubhouse fight with teammate Billy Butler. "We've been focused on a lot of negatives lately, and we don't have a lot of wins. But actually we've had a lot of positive things, especially with the younger guys."

Even more so than the losses, the biggest negative of late was the punch Valencia landed to the head of Butler, causing a concussion. The team's designated hitter hasn't played since the Friday scuffle, and both guys were fined.

Valencia struck out as a pinch hitter in Monday's 1-0 loss to the Indians, but he wasted little time getting back into the swing of things as a starter, lashing the second pitch he saw from Indians right-hander Danny Salazar (11-5) for a first-inning single.

Davis followed with a three-run homer, his first of two hits, to give the A's a lead they never relinquished.

"When you're playing big-league games, you have to play hard," Valencia said. "You can't focus on those (negative) things. You've got to move past that. Play the game hard and good things happen."

Valencia doubled in a two-run third inning, giving him two hits in each of his past seven starts, a stretch during which he has raised his average from .288 to .302.

He scored two runs and Davis three as Oakland topped four runs for just the second time in 10 games. The A's had totaled just four runs during the three-game losing streak they took into the game.

"The offense did a real good job," said Manaea, who benefitted from the early onslaught. "It all came together today."

Manaea (5-8) won for just the second time since June 29, striking out eight and walking two.

The eight strikeouts were one shy of his season best and gave him 100 for the season, just the second AL rookie to reach that mark.

The Indians' only run off Manaea came on a solo home run by catcher Chris Gimenez, his fourth of the season, in the sixth inning.

"He had enough fastball and a really good change-up off of that. He was really effective," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Manaea. "Sometimes during the game you don't want to give credit. But when it's over, the kid did a good job."

Ryon Healy had three hits, including a pair of doubles, to extend his hitting streak to 10 games for the A's, who were facing a first-place team for the 17th time in their past 27 games. They are 6-11 in those contests.

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell helped blow the game open with a two-run double in the eighth, producing the first two career RBIs. Oakland scored three times in the inning.

Davis, who had a double to go with his homer, and Coco Crisp had two hits apiece for the A's, who out-hit Cleveland 13-4.

Brandon Guyer had a double for the Indians, who had outscored Oakland 20-6 in the teams' first four meetings.

The Indians ended a streak of having played five consecutive one-run games.

Making his second start since a stint on the disabled list with a sore elbow, Salazar was pulled one batter into the fifth inning. He was charged with six runs on eight hits in his four-plus innings. He walked three and struck out two.

Salazar had lasted just one inning in his previous start, last Thursday against the Chicago White Sox. He allowed three runs in that game.

"They got pretty good swings at his fastball," Francona said. "The hope is that he gets some repetition and gets back to the Danny we saw in the first half. It would certainly be helpful.

Davis' homer in the first, a blast to right-center field, followed one-out singles by Jake Smolinski and Valencia. He had struck out in six consecutive plate appearances dating back to Sunday.

"That's his approach," A's manager Bob Melvin said of the opposite-field homer. "I've often said that it's a unique quality. You don't see guys with that type of power and approach to right-center field."

The homer was Davis' 14th since the All-Star break, the second-most in the majors to Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier's 15.

Valencia's double led off a two-run third that increased the Oakland lead to 5-0. He scored on Yonder Alonso's sacrifice fly.

A's shortstop Chad Pinder recorded his first career RBI later in the inning with a single that scored Davis.

Davis' leadoff double in the fifth ended Salazar's night. The A's bumped up their lead to 6-0 two batters later when Healy doubled off Indians reliever Zach McAllister.

NOTES: The Athletics' win was just their 15th in 47 games decided by four or more runs. ... The A's took their team photo before the game. INF/OF Danny Valencia and DH Billy Butler attended the shoot and were placed on opposite ends of the frame. ... The A's have scheduled LHP Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) for one more rehab appearance Thursday at Triple-A Nashville. He could be reinstated from the disabled list this week. ... A's RHP Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder surgery) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session before the game and said he hopes to see game action before the end of the season.

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Nationals 1 vs. 8 Orioles Final Recap

Gausman, Jones lead Orioles past Nationals

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:28 PM (EDT)

BALTIMORE --- The Baltimore Orioles seem to be at their best against the Washington Nationals in the annual "Beltway Series."

Kevin Gausman threw six scoreless innings, Adam Jones tied a career high with four hits and the Orioles took both games against the Nationals at Camden Yards with an 8-1 victory Tuesday night.

The four-game, home-and-home series now shifts 38 miles south to Nationals Park.

"It's a really good team," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "They're one of the best teams in baseball and in that league, so it was tough. We caught a couple young pitchers, but we had a couple young pitchers, too, that did well. Yeah, we'll get on a bus tonight and head over to Washington and play a good team two more times."

Gausman (5-10) scattered six hits with two strikeouts and two walks to pick up his second consecutive win. Chris Davis hit his 30th home run with a solo shot in the eighth for Baltimore, which leads the all-time series 35-23.

The Orioles tied the Rockies and Mets with a season-high three successful managerial challenges in a game.

Washington shortstop Trea Turner had a career-high four hits, raising his average to .320, but he was called out twice attempting to steal second.

"This is a young man that is very determined," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said about Turner. "You have to give him credit for having some gumption and going out there and being aggressive."

Danny Espinosa provided Washington's only run with an RBI single off Vance Worley in the seventh. Matt Wieters, however, responded for Baltimore later that inning with his second RBI of the game that gave the Orioles a 7-1 lead.

Washington rookie Reynaldo Lopez (2-2) struggled with his command, putting his team in an early hole. Lopez allowed six runs (four earned) on seven hits over just 2 2/3 innings.

"Sometimes you try to do certain things out there and the results are not what you expect," Lopez said through an interpreter. "You try to focus on the control and the zone and it's not there. Some of the pitches were close. The umpire did not call them the way I like him to. But that's part of the game."

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out RBI single by Mark Trumbo, who was thrown out trying to take second. Trumbo's previous seven hits had all been home runs, dating to Aug. 11.

Lopez's struggles continued into the following inning. Pedro Alvarez walked and scored on a double by Wieters down the right-field line. Jones delivered a two-out RBI single to increase the lead to 3-0.

"We've got a lot of professional hitters here who know how to hit with men in scoring position, not just homers," Jones said.

Turner entered the game 14 of 15 on stolen-base attempts and tried to steal twice against Wieters in the first and third innings. He was initially ruled safe both times, but those calls were overturned after a pair of challenges by Showalter.

That proved costly for Washington as Baltimore scored three more times in the third on an RBI double by Jonathan Schoop and a two-run error by Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy on a sharp grounder by J.J. Hardy.

"If I make that play there 1/8Lopez 3/8 gets to go an extra inning," Murphy said. "Unfortunately, I didn't give him that chance tonight. Six runs compared to four runs is totally different, especially in this ballpark."

NOTES: Orioles RHP Chris Tillman did not have a good work day Tuesday and he likely is headed to the disabled list, according to manager Buck Showalter. Tillman (15-5, 3.76 ERA) had a start pushed back three days last week because of right shoulder discomfort. ... Nationals RHP Joe Ross (right shoulder inflammation) did not experience any setbacks with his bullpen session Tuesday. "Our head trainer came in and gave me the thumbs up," Baker said. The Nationals are considering initially using Ross out of the bullpen when he returns. "We want him, if possible, on the playoff roster," Baker said. "There's always a possibility for your fourth or fifth starter to be in the bullpen anyway." Ross is 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts this season. ... Baltimore RHP Darren O'Day (right shoulder rotator cuff strain) continues to make progress, but likely will not be able to come off the disabled list when he is eligible on Saturday, Showalter confirmed.

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Angels 2 vs. 7 Blue Jays Final Recap

Martin, Saunders, Dickey lead Blue Jays' victory

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:17 PM (EDT)

TORONTO -- Russell Martin took some time to get rolling at the plate this season. He is rolling now and he in nearly unstoppable.

The Toronto Blue Jays catcher, who was the designated hitter Tuesday night with Josh Thole catching knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, was 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and two RBIs in the Blue Jays' 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

"He's smoking hot right now," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He was due for that, he such a good hitter."

Michael Saunders hit his 21st homer of the season in the eighth against right-handed reliever A.J. Achter.

Nick Buss hit his first major-league home run for the Angels (52-73). The left fielder also had an infield single and a stolen base.

The Blue Jays (71-54) remained tied for first in the American League East with the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Tuesday.

Martin is batting .469 (15-for-32) with six homers and 13 RBIs in his past eight games.

"We've been waiting a long time for that guy (Martin) to break out and he kind of quietly started raking a couple of months ago," said Darwin Barney who played second base Tuesday and was 2-for-4 with a walk and a double from the leadoff spot. "It's fun to watch him up there. He's seeing the ball well and staying in his lane."

Dickey (9-13) allowed six hits, two walks and two runs before he was replaced by Joe Biagini after walking Cliff Pennington with two outs in the seventh. The right-hander struck out two and allowed a home run in winning for the second time in his past seven starts.

Angels starter Tyler Skaggs (1-3) allowed four hits, five walks and four runs in four-plus innings. The left-hander struck out two.

"Unfortunately, kind of the same stuff we've seen the last couple of starts." Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His stuff looked good. He definitely threw too many pitches behind in the count. At times he got into the count and had trouble putting guys away."

"Just not the results that I want," Skaggs said. "I've got to be better. I was trying to be too fine today. Not my best work today. It's frustrating."

After Biagini pitched 1 1/3 innings, Scott Feldman took over in the ninth and pitched around an infield single.

The Blue Jays scored once in the first.

Barney led off with a double and took third on Josh Donaldson's groundout to Skaggs. After Edwin Encarnacion walked, Martin hit an RBI single.

Buss homered in the second to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. It scored Andrelton Simmons, who reached on an infield single to shortstop and had three hits on the game.

"I felt good about handling the middle of their order, I didn't feel so good about handling the lower half of their order," Dickey said.

"(Buss) looks very comfortable at the plate," Scioscia said. "He's certainly not overmatched. He's hitting the ball hard. He looks like he belongs here."

"(Dickey) was fantastic," Gibbons said. "After the two-run homer he was in cruise control."

The Blue Jays used three walks and a single to take a 3-2 lead in the third.

Barney and Donaldson walked and Encarnacion singled to load the bases. Martin walked to force in a run and Troy Tulowitzki grounded into a double play to score another.

A double by Kevin Pillar, a groundout by Saunders and a sacrifice fly by Thole put the Blue Jays into a 4-2 lead in the fourth.

Skaggs was replaced in the fifth by Mike Morin after giving up a leadoff walk to Donaldson.

After Donaldson was caught trying to steal second, Encarnacion walked, Martin singled, Tulowitzki delivered an RBI double and Melvin Upton Jr. hit a sacrifice fly for a 6-2 Toronto lead.

NOTES: Toronto reinstated CF Kevin Pillar (strained left thumb) from the disabled list Tuesday and optioned RHP Ryan Tepera to Triple-A Buffalo. Pillar jammed his thumb Aug. 7 while sliding into second base at Kansas City. Pillar was 6-for-7 in two rehabilitation games with Class-A Dunedin. ... RF Jose Bautista (sprained left knee) is expected to leave the disabled list Thursday. ... Angels RHP Huston Street is expected to have season-ending surgery, pending the result of a re-evaluation of his right knee Tuesday. He last pitched on July 31 before going on the disabled list. ... Blue Jays 2B Devon Travis had an injection in the third knuckle of his right hand and was given Tuesday off. ... Toronto RHP Marco Estrada (7-5, 3.20 ERA) faces Los Angeles RHP Matt Shoemaker (7-13, 4.14 ERA) in the middle contest of the three-game series Wednesday.

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Cubs 5 vs. 3 Padres Final Recap

Arrieta earns 16th win as Cubs defeat Padres

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Wednesday, August 24 at 2:27 AM (EDT)

SAN DIEGO -- After Jake Arrieta departed Tuesday night, the Padres made a game of it.

Lost in the final line of the Cubs' 5-3 win at Petco Park was the brilliance of Arrieta over the first eight innings of the game.

"The story line is Jake," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "He hardly ever lost the plate. His fastball command kept getting better as the game progressed. He was in command."

Arrieta shut out the Padres on two hits over eight innings Tuesday and Kris Bryant and Addison Russell each hit their second homers in as many nights at Petco Park as the Cubs held on through a shaky bottom of the ninth.

The Padres' first hit was a clean single to right by left fielder Alex Dickerson leading off the second. Catcher Christian Bethancourt doubled with two out in the eighth after Arrieta had retired 10 straight Padres.

"Arrieta kept us under wraps," said Padres manager Andy Green. "We didn't really have many good at-bats against him."

In addition to the two hits, Arrieta issued three walks. And the few runners the Padres did get against the Cubs' ace were quickly eliminated by a Chicago defense that turned three sharp double plays in a span of four innings after catcher Willson Contreras picked off the only Padre to reach third against Arrieta.

"I was mad at Joe for taking me out," said Arrieta, who had thrown only 99 pitches in the first eight innings. After all, this probably would have been his second, complete-game shutout of the season -- the first being the no-hitter he threw at Cincinnati back on April 21.

"At the same time, Joe told me, 'remember last year ... let's save something for October.' "

Arrieta improved to 16-5 -- he now leads the National League in wins -- and lowered his ERA to 2.62. He struck out six and faced only one batter over the minimum thanks to the defense that eliminated the Padres' first four runners.

Offensively, the Cubs were again led by Bryant and Russell.

Bryant drove in two Cubs' runs with his 33rd homer and a sacrifice fly and scored the first of their three run in the fifth after drawing a leadoff walk. Russell capped a three-run fifth with a two-run homer.

Meanwhile, the Cubs powered their way to a 5-0 lead against Padres starter Christian Friedrich in 5 1/3 innings.

University of San Diego grad Bryant started the assault by lining a

1-and-2 pitch 354 feet into the left-field stands with one out in the third. The homer was Bryant's 33rd of the season, keeping him in a tie with Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the National League lead. The 33 homers are the most by a Cub since Derrek Lee hit 35 in 2009.

Two innings later, Bryant triggered a three-run rally by drawing an inning-opening walk. Bryant scored on a double to right-center by Ben Zobrist. Russell followed with his 401-foot drive to left center.

Russell's 19th homer was his third in as many games, marking the first time in the shortstop's career that he homered in three straight games.

Arrieta joined in on the scoring in the sixth with help from Padres right fielder Patrick Kivlehan, who misplayed the pitcher's high drive toward the right-field corner into a triple. Arrieta scored on Bryant's sacrifice fly off reliever Brandon Morrow after Friedrich left the game.

Friedrich allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings while losing his eighth straight decision to fall to 4-10. Padres manager Andy Green has said Tuesday night might have been Friedrich's last start of the season due to his innings count.

"I'm hoping they let me keep pitching," Friedrich said after the game.

Stymied by both Arrieta and the Cubs' defense over eight innings, the Padres rallied for three in the bottom of the ninth against right-handed Cubs reliever Felix Pena.

Luis Sardinas, who made his first start at shortstop, drew a leadoff walk and reached second on a single by Adam Rosales.

With one out, Wil Myers singled to right, sending Sardinas home.

Sardinas was originally called out by plate umpire Nic Lentz, but the call was quickly reversed on appeal (49 seconds) to end the shutout.

Closer Aroldis Chapman replaced Pena and gave up a sacrifice fly to Yangervis Solarte for the Padres' second run. Myers then scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. After issuing walks to Dickerson and Ryan Schimpf to put the tying run on, Chapman struck out Christian Betancourt to end the game on a 101-mph fastball.

The save was Chapman's eighth with the Cubs and 28th on the season.

Travis Jankowski drew a walk to open the game, advanced to second on a grounder and stole third ... only to be picked off by a rocket throw by Contreras. The Cubs then ended three of the next four innings on double-play grounders.

NOTES: Padres RHP Tyson Ross, who hasn't appeared in a game since Opening Day due to shoulder and then ankle issues, will make a 45-pit rehab outing with Class A Lake Elsinore Thursday with hopes of pitching for the Padres in September. ... Padres 2B Jemile Weeks, made his first game appearance since May 8 Monday with the Arizona Rookie Padres. Weeks has been sidelined with a hamstring injury . . . The Cubs are 17-4 in August, their highest winning percentage for the month since 1932. ... The Cubs starting pitchers are 14-1 in August with a 1.81 ERA.

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Giants 5 vs. 9 Dodgers Final Recap

Dodgers increase NL West lead with win over Giants

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Wednesday, August 24 at 3:14 AM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES -- Rookie Andrew Toles and Rob Segedin sparked another power surge for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Toles and Segedin homered for the second straight game, and the Dodgers defeated the rival San Francisco Giants 9-5 before 46,899 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.

Toles hit a two-run shot in the eighth off reliever Javier Lopez. Segedin, who rushed to a local hospital immediately after the game since his wife, Robin, was due to give birth to their first child, launched his solo blast off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in the second.

Tuesday's win came on the heels of Los Angeles going deep seven times in an 18-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday

"I don't think power is part of my game because you saw the home runs. They didn't go very far," deadpanned Toles, who went 2-for-2 and drove in three runs.

Adrian Gonzalez also had three RBIs and has hits in 16 consecutive games. Justin Turner and Corey Seager added three hits apiece. Seager scored three times for the Dodgers (70-55), who increased their lead in the National League West to two games over the Giants (68-57).

"It was a big, big team offensive effort today," said Gonzalez, who is batting .415 with six home runs, seven doubles and 22 RBIs since Aug. 6. "Everybody swung great. Just had good at-bats up and down the lineup."

San Francisco has lost three straight and seven of its last nine.

"We had some pretty big hits, I thought, with runners on, and had a couple of chances we couldn't quite cash in," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "In a game like this, you need to cash in on all of them."

Pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza's RBI single in the sixth pulled the Giants within 5-4, but Toles smacked an RBI double into right-center to push the margin back to two runs. Toles scored on an Enrique Hernandez single.

Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda gave up three runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts in five innings. Maeda (13-7), who tied Hideo Nomo (1995) for third-most wins by a Dodgers pitcher in his first major league season, won his fourth straight start and has gone 6-1 in his last eight starts.

Kenley Jansen served up a home run to Denard Span in the ninth before recording his 36th save.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (12-8) allowed five runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts and a walk in five innings. Bumgarner is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in his last four starts against the Dodgers.

"I don't know man sometimes you have to give those guys credit. They get paid to hit just like we get paid to pitch," said Bumgarner, who became just the fifth Giants pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in at least three consecutive seasons. "Sometimes, it's just not going to go your way."

Bumgarner added that it was crucial the Giants, who are 11-24 since the All-Star break, reverse their misfortune.

"We've got to start winning every series that we play but definitely when you play the Dodgers, a team that you're trying to beat, you won't to win that series so you can pick up some more games," Bumgarner said.

Seager extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a two-out double in the first. Turner followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 Los Angeles' lead.

In the second, Segedin homered to left for a 2-0 Dodgers' advantage.

However, the Giants rallied for a pair of runs to tie the score in the third on run-scoring singles by Angel Pagan, who stretched his hitting streak to 19 games, and Buster Posey.

Gonzalez drove in Seager with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to put the Dodgers back on top.

But Brandon Belt's double scored Pagan to knot the score again at 3.

Los Angeles loaded the bases in the fifth on a fielder's choice by Howie Kendrick, a walk to Seager and an infield single by Turner with one out.

Gonzalez hit a two-run single up the middle for a 5-3 Dodgers' edge.

NOTES: The Dodgers were encouraged by a bullpen session thrown by LHP Clayton Kershaw (herniated disk). ... The Dodgers placed LHP Scott Kazmir (neck inflammation) and LHP Brett Anderson (left index finger blister) on the 15-day disabled list. The club also optioned RHP Josh Fields to Triple-A Oklahoma City. LHP Luis Avilan, INF/OF Charlie Culberson and RHP Ross Stripling were recalled from Oklahoma City. ... The Giants put LF Gregor Blanco (right shoulder impingement) on the disabled list and selected the contract of OF Gorkys Hernandez from Triple-A Sacramento. ... Los Angeles signed free agent Dan Johnson with the hopes of turning the former first baseman into a right-handed knuckleballer. ... Giants RHP Johnny Cueto (14-3, 2.90 ERA) is scheduled to face Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (9-3, 2.25 ERA) on Wednesday. Hill, obtained in a deal with the Oakland Athletics at the trading deadline, makes his Los Angeles debut.

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Phillies 1 vs. 9 White Sox Final Recap

Rodon, White Sox dominate Phillies

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:59 PM (EDT)

CHICAGO -- Left-hander Carlos Rodon appears to be gearing up for another strong finish.

The Chicago White Sox left-hander allowed three hits over 6 2/3 shutout innings as the Chicago White Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 on Tuesday to open a two-game interleague series.

"When you're in the zone you just try to stay in it and that's what I'm hoping for," said Rodon, who earned his second win in three starts and delivered his fourth straight quality outing. "In the future, just have a complete year instead of just doing it in the second half."

Rodon (4-8) threw 109 pitches, including 71 strikes. He walked one and struck out four.

In his 2015 rookie year, Rodon went 4-1 in his final five starts to finish 9-6 with a 3.75 ERA. This year he went 1-5 between May 1 and July 31.

"He pitched well, he used the whole plate and he changes speeds quite a bit," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He has a good arm, good fastball, and we couldn't catch up to it."

Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau each homered to help give Rodon ample offensive support as Chicago (60-64) scored once in the first inning and added three runs apiece in the third and fifth, then two more in the sixth.

Tim Anderson singled, tripled, drove in two runs and scored twice. Adam Eaton also tripled and scored twice.

Philadelphia (58-68) dropped its second straight and fifth in its past seven.

Phillies starter Jake Thompson (1-3) worked five innings in his first career start against Chicago. He gave up seven runs on eight hits, struck out two and walked four.

"Too many pitches up in the strike zone," Mackanin said. "Everything he threw was thigh-high, waist-high, couldn't get the ball down. It's as simple as that."

Philadelphia shortstop Freddy Galvis broke the shutout in the seventh with a solo homer to right off White Sox reliever Chris Beck.

Eaton launched his eighth triple of the season off the left field wall -- extending a career high -- to lead off the White Sox first. Anderson's groundout to shortstop brought him home with the game's first run.

Eaton reached on a leadoff bunt single in the third and came home on Anderson's triple to deep right. After Melky Cabrera walked, Anderson scored on Abreu's single to center.

Cabrera reached third on Morneau's fielder's choice grounder and accounted for the inning's third run on Todd Frazier's sacrifice to right.

Back-to-back home runs from Abreu and Morneau off Thompson in the fifth extended the White Sox lead to 7-0.

Abreu, who has homered in three straight games, clubbed his 17th of the season and scored Cabrera. Morneau followed with a solo shot to right for his fifth.

"I'm going to go back to the drawing board and figure it out a little bit," said Thompson, who is 0-2 with a 12.54 ERA and three strikeouts in two road starts.

NOTES: This series between the Phillies and White Sox is only the fifth all-time meeting in interleague play and second at U.S. Cellular Field. The hosts took two of three in the only previous Chicago meeting in 2004. ... Phillies manager and Chicago native Pete Mackanin starred at Brother Rice High School, only 12 miles from U.S. Cellular Field, and was drafted out of high school by the Washington Senators in 1969. ... Philadelphia sends RHP Jerad Eickhoff (8-12, 3.91 ERA) against Chicago RHP James Shields (5-15, 5.98 ERA) in Wednesday's series finale. ... The White Sox activated OF Avisail Garcia (sprained right knee) off the 15-day disabled list following a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte. Chicago optioned OF Jason Coats to Charlotte. He was batting .189 with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs over three stints with the White Sox.

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Rangers 0 vs. 3 Reds Final Recap

Votto's offense, Hamilton's defense push Reds past Rangers

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:02 PM (EDT)

CINCINNATI -- A handful of Billy Hamilton's finest defensive plays have been to the benefit of right-hander Dan Straily. Following his latest gem on Straily's behalf, Hamilton said he is expecting, at minimum, a restaurant gift card.

But, Straily believes Hamilton's just reward is coming. "He'll get a Gold Glove out of it," he said.

Hamilton's sensational diving catch to begin the sixth inning helped Straily complete six shutout frames, and Joey Votto continued his torrid pace at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs, lifting the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-0 victory over the first-place Texas Rangers on Tuesday to open a two-game interleague series at Great American Ball Park.

Texas, which managed only five hits, now leads the surging Seattle Mariners by five games in the American League West.

Tuesday's game was scoreless when Carlos Beltran led off the sixth with a deep drive to left-center. With left fielder Adam Duvall playing Beltran to pull, Hamilton was the only outfielder with a chance. Reaching peak speed at approximately 22 mph, Hamilton dove and made the catch before landing chest first on the warning track.

"I feel that was one of the best ones (I've made)," Hamilton said. "In the position I was playing in ... I had to go a long way. It was a day-saver."

Straily has seen the spectacular from Hamilton before. But even he was surprised by this one.

"That was the first one all year I thought there was no shot he was getting to it," said Straily. "Sure enough, he found a way. The way he's played out there this year is pretty amazing."

Tuesday's outing was an important one for Texas left-hander Derek Holland, with the club looking for consistency from starters aside from Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish.

Holland (5-6) hadn't pitched since June 20 due to left shoulder inflammation. But the Ohio native pitched well enough to win on Tuesday.

"I like what we saw," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "That's arguably as good a start as he's had all year."

Both starting pitchers were dealing early.

Through three innings, both Holland and Straily had faced one above the minimum. Straily (10-6) retired the first seven batters he faced.

After being waived, traded and ultimately claimed by Cincinnati during spring training, Straily has emerged as the Reds' most consistent starter.

"He trusts his defense and he works quick," Hamilton said. "It's nice to play behind him."

Cincinnati was denied the game's first run when Votto was thrown out at the plate by second baseman Rougned Odor trying to score from first on Brandon Phillips' bloop double to right.

Holland's first career hit, a bouncer over Votto's head into right field, put Texas runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth. But, Straily got Ian Desmond to fly out.

The Reds flashed leather at both ends of the sixth inning.

First, there was Hamilton's catch. Then, third baseman Eugenio Suarez snared Jonathan Lucroy's liner for the third out.

"Can't overstate the importance of great defense, and today we had that," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Straily's night ended after six innings and 94 pitches. He only allowed three hits, walked two and fanned five.

Cincinnati scored the game's first run when pinch-hitter Tyler Holt walked to begin the sixth, then scored on Votto's two-out single.

"Just the luck of the draw," Holland said. "Joey made a little weak contact to right field, but it was perfectly placed. That's the way baseball is."

Texas had runners at second and third in the seventh, but Raisel Iglesias fanned Desmond to end the inning.

Cincinnati added an insurance run in the seventh when Tucker Barnhart doubled home Suarez with two outs making the score 2-0.

Votto's sacrifice fly in the eighth provided an insurance run for closer Tony Cingrani, who recorded his 16th save.

Since the All-Star break, Votto is batting .455 with six homers and 32 RBIs, helping the Reds go 22-14 since the break.

"I think what Joey has accomplished with his batting average and on-base percentage is phenomenal," said Price.

NOTES: The Rangers reinstated OF Josh Hamilton from the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday, then placed him on unconditional release waivers. Hamilton has missed the entire season after reconstructive knee surgery. Texas reportedly is open to re-signing Hamilton to a minor league contract following the season. ... Rangers LHP Derek Holland was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list prior to Tuesday's game. To make room for Holland, RHP Shawn Tolleson was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock and placed on the 60-day disabled list. ... Reds SS Zack Cozart who has not played since Wednesday due to swelling in his left Achilles tendon, hit in the cage on Tuesday. He plans to take ground balls Wednesday and could return by Friday.

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Red Sox 2 vs. 1 Rays Final Recap

Betts' assist helps Red Sox hold off Rays

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:10 PM (EDT)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Another night, another eighth inning defensive gem in the outfield helping the Boston Red Sox to victory.

On Tuesday, it was Mookie Betts who helped preserve a one-run lead, throwing out a runner at third on the way to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The Rays had a shot at getting the tying run on base in the eighth with one out when Kevin Kiermaier ripped a shot down the right field line, and as he tried to turn a double into a triple, Betts threw a strike to third base, where Travis Shaw applied the tag on a head-first slide. Instead of the tying run at third base, the Rays had two outs and no rally.

"One of the more strong throws we're probably going to see," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Game-changing defensive plays in the eighth inning that play a huge impact. ... He threw a strike from about 250 feet away and Travis with a pretty good decoy and late tag to cut down the potential tying run. Pitching and defense, that was the name of this one tonight."

Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 23rd save, getting two strikeouts and a pop out to left field to close out the win.

Boston (71-54) handed Rays starter Chris Archer (7-17) his 10th straight loss against the Red Sox, the longest for any pitcher since 1992 and matching the longest for a Rays pitcher against any opponent. Archer held Boston to two runs (one earned) and saw the bullpen step up with four scoreless innings, but Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz (5-9) was a little sharper.

"I don't know that we ever truly lost faith in the talent of Clay," Farrell said. "He was in a rut for quite some time. The jolt that he's giving us from the spot starts that he's made, he's kept us rolling."

The Rays (52-72) have lost two straight after winning six of seven before the Red Sox came to town. Boston stays in a tie for first place in the American League with Toronto, which beat the Angels on Tuesday.

The night before Betts' throw, Andrew Benintendi went over the short wall in left field to rob Steven Souza of a two-run homer with Boston leading 3-0.

Archer didn't pitch badly Tuesday, but continues to rack up pitches so quickly he can't last deep into games. He left after 109 pitches and five innings, needing a double play to get out of the fifth. Archer allowed five hits and two walks while striking out six.

"As a pitching staff, we hold ourselves to a very high standard. Every night's not going a flawless outing," said Archer, who leads the majors with 17 losses and the AL with 192 strikeouts "The overall goal is to keep the team in the game and do the best with what you have on that day. It's the best offense in baseball."

Boston went ahead in the third inning. Benintendi hit a leadoff single and scored on a two-out RBI single to right field from David Ortiz. Another run scored when Betts hit a chopper just over first baseman Brad Miller, and right fielder Souza tried to throw out Ortiz at third, only to see the throw sail into the dugout, allowing Ortiz to score for a 2-0 lead.

The Rays got one run back in the fifth against Buchholz. Corey Dickerson singled, giving him two of the Rays' four hits at that point. He advanced on a passed ball and scored on a two-out double from Kiermaier to cut the lead to 2-1. Buchholz got Evan Longoria to strike out looking to end the inning with the tying run in scoring position.

"Buchholz has always had some success against us, and he looked like he was executing at a very high level tonight as well," Archer said.

NOTES: The Rays gave SS Matt Duffy the day off Tuesday and will work to give him regular days off to avoid any problems with an Achilles tendon injury that has sidelined him during this season. Tim Beckham filled in at shortstop, with Brad Miller staying in his new role at first base. ... Rays OF Oswaldo Arcia, who had been designated for assignment, was claimed by the Marlins. ... Boston is entering the final stretch of a run of 43 games in 44 days, going 20-15. The Red Sox are also in the midst of a stretch of 23 games in as many days.

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Rockies 4 vs. 6 Brewers Final Recap

Brewers rally to beat Rockies

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Wednesday, August 24 at 12:50 AM (EDT)

MILWAUKEE -- When Brent Suter walked off the mound Tuesday night, the last thing he expected was to celebrate his first major league victory after the game.

Suter pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his home debut, and the Milwaukee Brewers still faced a two-run deficit.

That all changed in the bottom half of the inning, when Hernan Perez hit a two-run triple down the line in right, capping off a three-run rally that produced a 6-4 Milwaukee victory over the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park.

Nolan Arenado's three-run home run in the second inning put the Rockies up early, and Colorado right-hander Jon Gray added to the lead with an RBI double in the fourth.

Milwaukee squandered a golden opportunity in the sixth, loading the bases with one out against Gray, but couldn't cash in.

Gray retired the final two batters to bring his day to a close having allowed just two runs on four hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

"He did a great job," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I thought he found his slider tonight about the second or third inning. He was striking guys out. He looked like the guy we know. That was a great sign."

With Gray out of the game, the Brewers' fortunes started to improve.

In the seventh, pinch hitter Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit back-to-back, one-out doubles off Jake McGee and Boone Logan, respectively, to make it a one-run game.

Logan (2-3) struck out Scooter Gennett and intentionally walked Ryan Braun to put runners on first and second before giving way to Carlos Estevez. The right-hander got ahead 0-2 to Perez, who ripped the next offering down the line in right for a triple that scored the tying and go-ahead runs.

"I was having a tough day at the plate, so after two strikes, I went to my two-strike approach," said Perez, who went 1-for-4 and struck out twice Tuesday but is batting .309 since the All-Star break. "He gave me a fastball, I put the bat on it, and thankful it was a hit."

Milwaukee added an insurance run in the eighth when pinch hitter Domingo Santana hit a sacrifice fly to center.

"We've got some young talented guys in the bullpen that are learning on the job," Weiss said. "Sometimes you go through these types of things. It's always frustrating when you are winning late and don't put the game away. You've got a few guys down there right now searching for their confidence. Sometimes it just takes going out there and putting down a clean inning once or twice."

Suter, who made his major league debut last Friday at Seattle, had to share the spotlight. With closer Tyler Thornburg unavailable after throwing three innings in two days, Corey Knebel was called on to work the ninth.

Knebel put two on with two outs but escaped the jam to earn his first career save.

"He and I were in the bucket getting everything thrown on us and just having a lot of fun with it," Suter said. "Corey did a great job with that ninth-inning situation. Have to give props to him, and our defense played great. All the way around, a great team win."

Brewers starter Chase Anderson allowed three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out seven over five innings in his first start since taking a line drive to the leg last week at Wrigley Field.

NOTES: 2B DJ LeMahieu was scratched from the Rockies' lineup with inflammation in his left wrist three hours before first pitch Tuesday. LeMahieu began the day second in the NL with a .344 average. ... The Rockies did get CF Charlie Blackmon back in the leadoff spot Tuesday after he missed four consecutive starts with a bruised big toe on his right foot. ... Rookie SS Orlando Arcia didn't start Tuesday following another hitless showing Monday against the Rockies. In his previous 10 games, the Brewers' top prospect is batting just .059 (2-for-34) with 11 strikeouts and three walks. He singled as a pinch hitter Tuesday. ... Brewers RHP Junior Guerra (right elbow soreness), RHP Jacob Barnes (right elbow impingement) and INF Will Middlebrooks (lower right leg strain) all felt good after taking part in a simulated game Tuesday. They will begin minor league rehabilitation assignments later this week with the expectation of returning to Milwaukee in early September.

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Royals 1 vs. 0 Marlins Final Recap

Royals blank Marlins for ninth straight win

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:05 PM (EDT)

MIAMI -- The Kansas City Royals are the hottest team in baseball, and they proved it again on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.

Lorenzo Cain's sixth-inning RBI single broke up a scoreless duel as the Kansas City Royals won their ninth game in a row with a 1-0 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Timely hitting, stellar pitching from the rotation and the bullpen and outstanding defense -- it's all coming together for the reigning World Series champs.

"We're playing like the team that we are," said Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, who earned the win. "We're going to keep going."

The Royals got their only run when Paulo Orlando led off the sixth with a four-pitch walk. He stole second and scored when Cain drilled a 3-0 pitch to center.

Kansas City (65-60) won 14 of its past 16 games. The Royals are one win away this weekend from winning their sixth straight series.

The Marlins (65-60), who entered Tuesday fresh off a road sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates, may have other concerns despite this loss.

Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna, a first-time All-Star this year who is hitting .277 with 21 doubles, five triples, 22 homers and 64 RBIs, left the game in the seventh inning due to a family emergency.

Ozuna's exit happened shortly after he hit a leadoff double in the sixth but was stranded.

"He just had a little family emergency," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "It's a personal thing. If he wants to talk about it tomorrow, I will let him. It's something that was going on. We'll know more tomorrow."

Ventura (9-9), who hit 100 mph with his fastball on Tuesday, struck out six in six innings, allowing six hits and one walk. The Royals have won the past five games he has started.

After Ventura exited with a 1-0 lead, the Royals bullpen went to work, getting scoreless innings from Matt Strahm, Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera, who picked up his eighth consecutive save.

Herrera, filling in for injured closer Wade Davis, has retired 17 consecutive batters and has lowered his ERA to 1.91.

Miami starter Andrew Cashner (4-10), who was acquired on July 31 in a trade with the San Diego Padres, has yet to earn a win with the Marlins. He pitched well, however, allowing four hits, two walks and one run in six innings, striking out four.

"His slider was really good," Royals manager Ned Yost said when asked why his team had trouble scoring off of Cashner. "That was the issue."

Mattingly and Miami's trainer came out to check on Cashner in the sixth after the pitcher developed a blister. Mattingly said these types of blisters happen all the time, and Cashner agreed.

"I had a blister pop up in Cincinnati (for his last start)," Cashner said. "I've been trying to manage it. Tonight was worse than it's been, but I found a way to get it done."

Cashner indeed "got it done" in terms of a solid start, but he got no run support as the Marlins, who are missing a combined 40 homers between injured sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour, couldn't get the clutch hit they needed.

Miami's biggest chance came in the third, when Ozuna had a bases-loaded opportunity with two outs. But Ozuna hit a fly out to right.

The Marlins finished the game 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

"We got shut out," Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich said. "We didn't do a good job."

NOTES: Miami claimed OF Oswaldo Arcia off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays, moved 1B Justin Bour (ankle) to the 60-day disabled list retroactive to July 3, and put INF Derek Dietrich (knee) on the 15-day DL retroactive to August 19. ... Arcia, 25, who was Miami's only reserve left-handed hitter on Tuesday, is a native of Venezuela who is playing for his first NL team. He spent his first three years with the Minnesota Twins. This year, he has suited up for the Twins, Rays and Marlins. He went 0-for-1 on Tuesday as a pinch-hitter. ... Royals RHP Dillon Gee, who starts on Wednesday against Miami, is coming off his best start of the year, allowing just one run in seven innings. ... The Marlins will counter with RHP Jose Fernandez, a slumping All-Star who has a 6.00 ERA since July 28 and has lost his past three decisions. ... This was the first game between Miami and Kansas City since the Marlins took two out of three from the Royals three years ago.

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Tigers 8 vs. 3 Twins Final Recap

Tigers overpower Twins, 8-3

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Tuesday, August 23 at 11:59 PM (EDT)

MINNEAPOLIS -- With Minnesota Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson struggling with his control and his consistency, the Detroit Tigers waited out the right-hander before finally pouncing in the sixth inning in an 8-3 win at Target Field on Tuesday night.

Gibson allowed just two runs through five, but saw his pitch count climb during a three-run sixth, which featured a pair of wild pitches and a walk as Detroit took the lead for good.

The Tigers waited out Gibson, looking at several close pitches while spoiling others, waiting for him to leave something over the plate. When he did, they took advantage.

Victor Martinez homered among three hits and Erick Aybar also homered for Detroit, which improved to 8-2 against Minnesota this season.

"(Gibson) didn't have his best control and we were able to get his mistakes," Martinez said. "He's been a tough against us, but good teams are able to capitalize on his mistakes."

On the other side, Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez was able to navigate the rainy weather to complete seven innings, allowing just three runs on six hits without a walk and striking out two. It was his fourth quality start in his last five outings.

"He was solid," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "For the last month, other than the Texas outing (Aug. 12), he's been outstanding. I think the fastball command is better; he's got a little more life up in the zone with the fastball. The changeup has been really good as well. He seems to have that zip up top in the strike zone again.

The Twins got a home run from Brian Dozier, giving them a brief 3-2 lead in the fifth inning. However, in the next half-inning, the Tigers put together the first of two three-run rallies, scoring one on a wild pitch and two more on a single by Cameron Maybin.

Dozier was the only Twin to reach base more than once. Jorge Polanco and Joe Mauer also had run-scoring hits for Minnesota, which lost its fifth game in a row overall.

"I'm holding onto hope that we're going to play better and get back on track," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "It's just a matter of us continuing to try to do what we can to put the right people out there and try to keep improving. It's a tough time of the year once you get down to the end."

The Tigers finished with 14 hits and had five players with at least two hits.

"They did a good job of taking some close pitches and making me work hard," Gibson said. "Unfortunately there in the fifth or sixth inning, I just couldn't make a pitch when I needed to."

Detroit scored first in the second inning, working the bases loaded against Gibson with a single, a double and a walk. Maybin, the No. 9 batter, also drew a walk, forcing in a run and giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Minnesota rallied for a pair of runs in the third on an RBI triple by Polanco and a run-scoring ground out by Mauer.

Aybar drove in a Detroit run with a single in the fifth inning but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

Minnesota regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning on Dozier's 29th home run of the season. The blast established a new career high, one more than he had last season.

"It'll be fun to see if he can get to 30," Molitor said. "That's a pretty big milestone for a little second baseman."

Aybar and Martinez homered two batters apart in the seventh to provide the final offensive blow.

NOTES: The Tigers announced that RHP Bobby Parnell cleared waivers and was released. ... Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann is expected to be limited to 45 pitches in his rehab outing this weekend. Zimmermann has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 5 with the re-aggravation of a neck strain. ... Twins DH Miguel Sano was put in the No. 6 slot in the batting order Tuesday. It's just the third time this season and sixth time the last two seasons that Sano has batted lower than fifth in the order. ... The Twins and Tigers will play the second of a three-game series at Target Fieldon Wednesday. Detroit will send LHP Matt Boyd to the mound against Minnesota RHP Tyler Duffey.

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Yankees 5 vs. 1 Mariners Final Recap

Sabathia leads Yanks over M's

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Wednesday, August 24 at 1:52 AM (EDT)

SEATTLE -- A lot changed for CC Sabathia over the past year or two, both on and off the field, but one thing that stayed the same is his mastery at Safeco Field.

Sabathia had another successful start in Seattle on Tuesday night, pitching seven strong innings as the New York Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners 5-1.

"We're trying to win every game," Sabathia said, "and to be a part of that feels really good."

Sabathia (8-10) allowed one run on three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. He retired the last nine batters he faced and didn't give up a hit after the fourth inning. The left-hander has a career 9-1 record with a 2.09 ERA in 13 starts at Seattle.

New York center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning, while rookie third baseman Ronald Torreyes had three hits, an RBI and a run for the Yankees (64-61).

"There were some key hits by some guys tonight," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "Torreyes had another big night, and we had a big home run."

The Mariners (67-58) fell two games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the race for the second American League wild card. Seattle managed just four hits in the loss.

"The story (Tuesday) was our offense got shut down," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "That's the first time that's happened in a long, long time. Sabathia was just that good. It was Textbook Pitching 101."

Mariners starter Taijuan Walker, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in the day after a surprising demotion two weeks earlier, had some early success but ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth innings. Walker (4-8) allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits over 5 2/3 innings.

"I just made one mistake," Walker said, referring to the pitch he tried to throw up and away that ended up in the middle of the plate for Ellsbury's home run.

The Yankees added an unearned run on shortstop Didi Gregorius's RBI double in the top of the ninth, boosting the lead to 5-1.

New York closer Dellin Betances came on and finished off the win by striking out Nelson Cruz in the ninth inning in a non-save situation.

Ellsbury's two-run homer in the fifth inning gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Ellsbury followed a leadoff double from Torreyes with his sixth home run of the season.

New York's first run came after a second-inning error by Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager, who misplayed a chopper to the left side of the infield. That put Aaron Judge on with two outs, and after a walk, New York took a 1-0 lead on Torreyes' RBI double.

Seattle tied the score 1-1 in the third when Ketel Marte followed Leonys Martin's triple with an RBI single up the middle.

"It's really important for us to win the series (Wednesday afternoon)," Servais said. "We had a pretty good homestand, swung the bats well; it's just (Tuesday), Sabathia got us."

NOTES: Yankees RHP Anthony Swarzak (right rotator cuff inflammation) was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game. Swarzak gave up the game-winning home run in Monday's seventh inning. New York recalled RHP Ben Heller, who was acquired from Cleveland in the Andrew Miller trade and had not appeared in a game during an earlier stint with the Yankees. ... Seattle recalled RHP Taijuan Walker to start the game and activated RHP Tony Zych from the 60-day disabled list. To make room on the 25-man roster, the Mariners optioned RHP Cody Martin and OF/1B Stefen Romero to Triple-A Tacoma. ... Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira was in the lineup Tuesday for only second time in six games. He went 1-for-5. ... The Yankees and Mariners wrap up the three-game series on Wednesday afternoon. Seattle opens a seven-game road trip with a Thursday game against the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees are off Thursday before playing a three-game series at Baltimore.

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Mets 7 vs. 4 Cardinals Final Recap

Mets' Gsellman beats Cards in major league debut

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Wednesday, August 24 at 12:36 AM (EDT)

ST. LOUIS -- Robert Gsellman's first major league pitch was smacked to the right-center-field wall.

Most of his next 74 turned out a whole lot better.

Making an unexpected debut after starter Jonathon Niese departed four batters into the Tuesday night game, Gsellman worked 3 2/3 scoreless innings and earned the win as the New York Mets stopped the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 at Busch Stadium.

In becoming the 23rd pitcher in franchise history to win in his big-league debut, Gsellman gave up two hits and three walks while striking out two. He is the first pitcher in Mets annals to toss more than two innings of relief in his first big league win.

"It was my first time ever out of the bullpen," Gsellman said. "It felt awkward. I just tried to make some pitches."

Niese issued two walks and allowed an RBI single to Brandon Moss before leaving with left knee pain. Gsellman was actually up and throwing after Niese's only out, a Stephen Piscotty liner that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes caught at his ankles.

"He reached down to his knee after the second batter," New York manager Terry Collins said of Niese. "Then when we went out there, he said it was killing him. I thought something was wrong when he walked the leadoff hitter."

St. Louis could have been excused if it experienced sympathy pains. In three previous games against Niese, who started the season with Pittsburgh, the Cardinals strafed him for 13 runs on 24 hits over 16 innings.

"That's brutal," center fielder Randal Grichuk said. "I've hit Niese pretty well in the past, I thought I had a good game plan against him, and then I take my first two at-bats off a guy I'd never seen before."

Not that Gsellman gave St. Louis much reason for worry right out of the chute. Yadier Molina rifled his first pitch for an RBI double, and Jhonny Peralta followed with a run-scoring groundout to cap a three-run rally that matched the Mets' output in their half of the first.

However, Gsellman put up three zeros after that, aided by a diving stab by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera that denied Peralta an RBI single in the third, and he departed with a 6-3 lead.

"I just had to take a couple of deep breaths and slow it down," Gsellman said. "I just had to block it out ... it happened fast."

So did most of New York's scoring against Jaime Garcia (10-9). The lefty hadn't allowed an earned run in 22 1/3 career innings against the Mets at home before Wilmer Flores ripped a three-run homer to left in the first.

Jose Reyes snapped a 3-3 tie in the second with a two-out RBI single and then zipped home on Cabrera's run-scoring double to the wall in right-center. That was a frequent theme -- New York's No. 1 and 2 hitters reaching base continually.

Reyes went 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI, while Cabrera was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI.

"Our first two guys were on base seven times," Collins said. "You can't ask for much more than that."

The Cardinals (66-58) didn't lack for chances. They stranded 11 men -- two apiece in the third, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth innings -- and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position after the first inning. Their only run after the first was Grichuk's 16th homer of the year in the sixth off Josh Smoker.

Justin Ruggiano belted a fourth-inning homer for the Mets, and James Loney tacked on insurance with a two-out RBI single in the ninth.

In losing for the first time in four starts, Garcia was touched for seven hits and six runs in four innings, walking one and whiffing six. Despite the result, St. Louis remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Miami Marlins for the National League's second wild-card spot.

Five relievers picked up the final 15 outs after Gsellman's outing, with Jeurys Familia earning his 42nd save by working a clean ninth inning. New York (63-62) drew within 3 1/2 games of the Cardinals in the wild-card race.

After the game, the Mets said that Niese was headed to the disabled list, to be replaced on the roster by right-handed reliever Erik Goeddel, who will be recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

NOTES: St. Louis RHP Lance Lynn (right elbow) will make his third rehab start Wednesday for Double-A Springfield. Lynn pitched twice last week at Class A Palm Beach, but he said it is still just a "slim" chance he makes it back this year. He underwent Tommy John surgery in November. ... New York placed LHP Steven Matz (left shoulder strain) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Robert Gsellman from Triple-A Las Vegas. ... The Mets placed 2B Neil Walker on the paternity list and recalled INF T.J. Rivera from Las Vegas.

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