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Today is Friday, August 28, 2015.

Friday, August 28, 2015
Major League Baseball
Athletics vs. Diamondbacks 6:40 (EDT) Preview

Athletics-Diamondbacks Preview

By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer

Friday, August 28 at 2:48 AM (EDT)

The hot streak that moved the Arizona Diamondbacks back into the NL West picture fizzled with four consecutive losses to baseball's best team.

The drought might be in danger of expanding against one of the majors' worst.

Sonny Gray looks to continue his personal roll as his last-place Oakland Athletics try to hand the Diamondbacks their sixth straight loss at home Friday night in the opener of a three-game series.

Arizona (62-65) used a four-game sweep in Cincinnati last week to move within five games of the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. But it all came crashing down with four losses to St. Louis, ending with a 5-3 defeat Thursday.

The Diamondbacks had the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth inning and failed to score.

''Another situation where the anxiety just gets to you,'' manager Chip Hale said. ''Guys see it right in front of them, they have a chance to be a hero and want it to bad. That is something with experience we should get better at.''

The sweep gave the Diamondbacks their first five-game skid at home since dropping eight in a row from April 2-16, 2014.

Even worse, it's left them needing a near-miracle to make the postseason with 8 1/2 games to make up on the Dodgers and the wild card a distant 11 1/2 games away.

Gray (12-5, 2.10 ERA) should have a good chance to extend the gap.

The AL's ERA leader has a 1.58 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in his last six starts, but his last two starts haven't exactly been dominant. Gray has allowed four home runs that have accounted for six of the seven runs he's given up.

Three of the four runs the right-hander allowed over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss at Baltimore on Aug. 17 were unearned. Three of the five hits he gave up over eight in a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday left the park.

Gray, 8-2 with a 1.64 ERA in 13 road starts, was still in line for the win before Pat Venditte surrendered two runs in the ninth.

Oakland (55-73) is a major league-worst 14-30 in one-run games.

"We just gotta keep showing up and putting ourselves in good positions and hopefully start pulling some of these close ones off," Gray told MLB's official website.

The Diamondbacks hope Chase Anderson can snap their skid, and if he pitches anything like he did Sunday, he just might.

Anderson (6-5, 4.28) was optioned to Triple-A for two days last week before returning when Jeremy Hellickson landed on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Anderson brushed off allowing 10 earned runs in 9 2-3 innings over his previous two starts to last 6 2-3 innings in a 4-0 win at Cincinnati on Sunday.

"I'm thankful just to be back here and for the opportunity to be sent down then to get called back up in 36 hours," Anderson said. "Doesn't really happen very often."

A's outfielder Billy Burns has nine hits in his last four games to move his total to 123 on the season, the most among AL rookies.

Arizona left fielder David Peralta was back in the lineup Thursday after taking a foul ball off his face the previous day. Peralta has hit .444 during a five-game hitting streak.

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Marlins vs. Nationals 7:05 (EDT) Preview

Marlins-Nationals Preview

By JEFF MEZYDLO - STATS Senior Writer

Friday, August 28 at 12:56 AM (EDT)

It's been five seasons since Max Scherzer lost three straight starts, and slightly longer since he went a full calendar month without a victory.

The right-hander looks to keep both from happening Friday night when his Washington Nationals host the Miami Marlins.

In his first season as a full-time starter with Arizona in 2009, Scherzer (11-10, 2.79 ERA) went 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA in four April starts. Since, he's earned at least one winning decision in a month that's featured more than three games - a run that's in jeopardy heading into his final outing of August.

Scherzer, who then would throw Sept. 2 at St. Louis, is 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts this month and in danger of losing three straight for the first time since May 2010. Though he hasn't completed more than six innings in any of those outings and has yielded five homers this month, Scherzer is not discouraged.

''I've been pitching with good stuff,'' he said after allowing three runs, eight hits and walking three in six-plus innings of last Thursday's 3-2 loss at Colorado. ''I just got to get back on track and keep going forward and keep pitching well, no matter what."

Scherzer is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA this season against Miami (51-77), which has totaled 13 runs while losing six of seven.

Washington (64-62) trails the NL East-leading New York Mets by 6 1/2 games, but has averaged 6.4 runs while winning four of five. Ryan Zimmerman, who homered for the second time in three games in Thursday's 4-2 win over San Diego, has nine RBIs in the last four contests.

He went 1 for 16 in his first five games against the Marlins this season but is 5 for 15 over the last four.

Washington, however, won't have Denard Span, who is headed back to the disabled list with hip inflammation. The center fielder played only two games since he was activated Tuesday from a DL stint that began July 10 because of back tightness.

Michael Taylor started in center Thursday but his status remains uncertain after he left with a knee contusion. Third baseman Yunel Escobar also is day to day with a hand contusion.

''I don't know if I've ever seen anything like (the injuries of the season),'' manager Matt Williams said. ''But it is what it is. There's not much you can do about it.''

The Nationals get their first look at Adam Conley (1-1, 4.88), who walked four but allowed one run in six innings of a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday in his fourth career start. Miami scored 37 runs in his first three starts.

''It's not going to happen every time for us, but the mission is still the same," the left-hander said.

Martin Prado is 6 for 13 against Scherzer, and batting .348 in the last six games.

Christian Yelich went 2 for 3 off Scherzer earlier this season, but he could miss a second straight contest with a bruised right knee. It's the same knee that landed him on the DL from Aug. 10 until Tuesday.

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Orioles vs. Rangers 7:05 (EDT) Preview

Orioles-Rangers Preview

By PAUL DIGIACOMO - STATS Senior Editor

Thursday, August 27 at 10:24 PM (EDT)

Cole Hamels appears to be getting more and more comfortable with each start he makes for the Texas Rangers, who have the third-most wins in the AL since acquiring the left-hander at the trade deadline.

That solid play over the last four weeks has helped the Rangers pass the Baltimore Orioles in the wild-card race, making this weekend's three-game series crucial as the calendar gets ready to switch to September.

Hamels looks to build on his first win in a Rangers uniform Friday night in his first matchup with the Orioles in over six years.

Texas was three games behind Minnesota for the second wild card and two in back of Baltimore after the smoke cleared from the July 31 deadline. The Rangers, though, have gone 15-9 this month while Baltimore is 11-14.

That has helped the Rangers (65-61) take a one-half game lead over the Twins and Los Angeles for the second wild card, with the Orioles (63-64) falling 2 1/2 back. To make matters worse for Baltimore, it could be without All-Star center fielder Adam Jones after he crashed into the wall and left Thursday's game at Kansas City.

"He feels a lot better now than he did. His vision was - most of it was whiplash," manager Buck Showalter said. "I don't think there's any head trauma, concussion-wise."

Showalter said that Jones would be evaluated Friday.

The Rangers avoided a three-game sweep with a 4-1 win over Toronto on Thursday, while the Orioles fell 5-3 to the Royals for their seventh loss in eight contests.

Texas lost Hamels' first two starts as he posted a 5.93 ERA, but he then allowed three runs in seven innings of a walk-off win over Seattle on Aug. 17. His first victory with the Rangers came Sunday after he gave up two runs over six innings to beat Detroit 4-2.

"I felt like I've not contributed in a way I know I'm capable of doing," Hamels (1-1, 4.73 ERA) told MLB's official website. "I think that's more the case - feeling more united with the team that I've actually pulled some weight around."

He'll be opposed by Kevin Gausman (2-5, 4.30), who has done his part recently but continues to be hurt by a lack of support.

The right-hander has a 3.60 ERA over his last three starts, though the Orioles have dropped each of them while handing him four runs. He's received an average of 2.64 runs in 10 starts, which would be the second-lowest in the majors if he qualified.

Gausman gave up two runs and three hits and tied a career best with eight strikeouts over seven innings of a 4-3 loss in 12 to the Twins on Sunday.

"That might be about as good an outing as he's had," Showalter said.

Gausman pitched 6 1-3 scoreless innings and struck out seven against Texas on July 2, when the Rangers scored twice in the ninth to pull out a 2-0 victory and take three of four in Baltimore.

The Orioles have won six of seven in Arlington, including the 2012 wild-card game.

Baltimore will add rookie outfielder Dariel Alvarez and reinstate Steve Clevenger from the paternity list for this series. Alvarez hit .275 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs at Triple-A Norfolk, while Clevenger is batting .371 in nine games since being recalled Aug. 14.

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Padres vs. Phillies 7:05 (EDT) Preview

Padres-Phillies Preview

By JEFF MEZYDLO - STATS Senior Writer

Friday, August 28 at 2:04 AM (EDT)

Aaron Nola approaches each start for the Philadelphia Phillies as another opportunity to learn more about being a successful major league pitcher.

Coming off the best outing of his young career, Nola looks to help the Phillies avoid a fifth consecutive defeat and continue their success against the visiting San Diego Padres on Friday night.

Since making his major league debut July 21, Nola (4-1, 3.59 ERA) has been one of the few bright spots amid a third straight dismal season for Philadelphia (50-78). The Phillies' first-round pick in 2014 was at his most dominant Sunday when he allowed three hits and struck out six in eight innings of a 2-0 victory at Miami.

It was also another lesson learned for the talented right-hander.

"You just want to pound the zone and stay ahead,'' he said. ''Getting behind big-league hitters, it's tough to come back and then you have to make that perfect pitch. That's one thing I've learned - once you start getting yourself in jams and walking guys like that ... bad things will happen.''

Hitters seem to be noticing that aggressive mentality. They're 11 for 23 when swinging at Nola's first pitch, with four of the five homers he's allowed coming in those situations.

With Nola and fellow prospects Adam Morgan and Jerad Eickhoff all debuting this season, the Phillies have reason to be optimistic about the future of their rotation.

"It's been fun," Nola told MLB's official website. "I feel like there definitely is competition between us, but on the other side, we're still rooting for each other, trying to learn from each other."

For the first time Nola will face a repeat opponent after allowing three runs and striking out six in six innings of a 4-3, 12-inning win at San Diego (62-65) on Aug. 7.

Though Philadelphia swept the Padres in that three-game series and has won the last five meetings at Citizens Bank Park, its pitchers have posted a 7.11 ERA and allowed 20 home runs while losing seven of their last eight at home. The Phillies were swept in four by the New York Mets after blowing a 5-0 lead in Thursday's 9-5, 13-inning defeat.

Outfield prospect Aaron Altherr had two hits with an RBI in his seventh career game, and could see more action in these final weeks of the season.

"We like what we see," manager Pete Mackanin said of Altherr, whose six hits in 24 at-bats have all gone for extra bases (two homers and four doubles) while plating six runs. "We think Altherr deserves an opportunity."

Altherr could get his first look at Ian Kennedy (8-11, 4.01), who is 4-2 with a 2.27 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. He'll try to build on perhaps his most impressive effort of 2015, when he gave up seven hits but struck out 10 and walked one in six-plus innings of Saturday's 8-0 rout of St. Louis.

"It was as good a performance as I've seen all year from anybody," Padres manager Pat Murphy said.

San Diego has totaled 14 runs while dropping three of four following a five-game winning streak in which it averaged 6.8. The Padres were held to three hits in Thursday's 4-2 loss at Washington.

Melvin Upton Jr. tripled for San Diego's lone extra-base hit but is batting .222 with 13 strikeouts in his last 16 games.

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Rockies vs. Pirates 7:05 (EDT) Preview

Rockies-Pirates Preview

By BRETT HUSTON - STATS Senior Editor

Thursday, August 27 at 11:38 PM (EDT)

The Pittsburgh Pirates faced a journeyman starter and a rookie to end their previous series against one of the NL's worst clubs, and that's exactly what they'll see in the first two games against another bottom feeder.

Neither can look much worse than he did in his last outing for the Colorado Rockies.

First up hoping to rebound is top prospect Jon Gray, who looked good in his only other road start but could find success a bit harder to come by against Francisco Liriano and the Pirates on Friday night.

Pittsburgh (77-49) jumped all over Miami veteran Chris Narveson in his first start in three years in Wednesday's 7-2 victory, then used Pedro Alvarez's fourth-inning homer off rookie Justin Nicolino to take three of four with Thursday's 2-1 win.

''He has as much raw power as anybody in the game, except for maybe (Giancarlo Stanton),'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Alvarez, who has six homers and a 1.150 OPS since Aug. 11.

The Pirates should be salivating at the prospect of facing Gray (0-0, 5.94 ERA) and Chris Rusin after that duo managed to surrender 17 runs and 20 hits while lasting a combined 3 2-3 innings a week ago at home against the New York Mets. The rookie gave up seven of those runs, recording only five outs in last Friday's 14-9 loss.

"(His location) wasn't all that bad and our park was playing crazy, like it used to in the old days," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss. "I'm not too worried about Jonny Gray. He's handled himself very well so far. He's a lot more confident than I saw him in spring training. He's a lot more convicted to what he does. He's in a good place."

He was great in his first major league start away from Denver. The only hit Gray allowed in six innings against the Mets on Aug. 10 was a solo home run.

Considering the way the Pirates have hit when Liriano (9-6, 3.23) has been on the mound for the past two months, Gray might be waiting another five days to pick up his first victory. Pittsburgh has won Liriano's last 10 starts, giving him an average of 7.13 runs of support.

Should the Pirates win this one, it will mark the seventh time in franchise history they've won 11 straight games behind an individual starter. They won 12 consecutive A.J. Burnett starts in 2012, their longest run since a franchise-record 14 straight Dock Ellis outings in 1971.

''Every five days I try to do the best I can and win some ballgames,'' Liriano said after allowing two unearned runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-2 win over San Francisco on Sunday. ''I just try to put some zeroes on the board.''

The left-hander hasn't been doing much of that lately, posting a 4.67 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in his last five starts, but he did hold the Rockies (51-74) to just an unearned run over five while striking out eight at PNC on July 18, 2014.

Nolan Arenado is 3 for 6 against Liriano but Carlos Gonzalez is 0 for 7 with five strikeouts. Gonzalez is hitting .194 against lefties this season while Arenado is batting .184 on the road since July 1.

Colorado has lost five straight in Pittsburgh, but it'll head into this series with a chance to do something it hasn't accomplished in the second half. The Rockies won their final two games in Atlanta this week, giving them a chance for their first three-game winning streak since sweeping the Braves in four right before the All-Star break.

Colorado is 6-1 against Atlanta since July 9 and 10-24 against everyone else.

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Tigers vs. Blue Jays 7:07 (EDT) Preview

Tigers-Blue Jays Preview

By ALAN FERGUSON - STATS Writer

Thursday, August 27 at 8:38 PM (EDT)

The Toronto Blue Jays failed to pad their AL East lead when their prolific offense couldn't keep rolling in the finale of a road trip.

The Blue Jays will try for a better showing when they return home to face one of their former pitchers in Friday night's series opener against the Detroit Tigers.

Toronto (71-56) totaled 54 runs while batting .347 in a five-game win streak that ended with Thursday's 4-1 defeat to Texas. The Blue Jays went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position while nearly getting shut out for the first time in seven weeks.

Edwin Encarnacion saved his team from that fate with an RBI double in the eighth inning that extended his hit streak to 22 games, the longest in the majors this season. The Blue Jays had their division lead against the idle New York Yankees cut to 1 1/2 games after wrapping up a 6-2 road trip.

''Obviously, the road trip was a successful one. It would have been a superb one if we'd been able to pull that one out,'' said Jose Bautista, whose seventh-inning error led to three Texas runs. ''I don't think this loss is going to affect us in any way.''

Toronto, easily the MLB leader with 689 runs and the winner in 21 of 26, will try to get back on track in its first matchup against Matt Boyd (1-4, 7.04 ERA). The left-hander was traded from the Blue Jays to Detroit on July 30 in the David Price deal.

Price won't appear in this series because he pitched in Wednesday's 12-4 victory.

Boyd went 0-2 with a 14.85 ERA in his first two major league starts for the Blue Jays and has a 4.88 ERA in five appearances for Detroit, including four starts. He had a respectable performance Sunday against Texas, giving up three runs in six innings, but lost 4-2.

The Tigers (60-67) have continued to struggle in close games lately and fell 2-0 to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday. Detroit has dropped six of seven, with five losses by two runs or fewer.

"I don't know how to explain it," designated hitter Victor Martinez said. "We just have to fly to Toronto and try again (Friday)."

Detroit took two of three from visiting Toronto in early July and dealt R.A. Dickey an 8-3 defeat in the middle game of the series. The knuckleballer gave up five runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Dickey (8-10, 4.26) allowed another five runs - all in the first inning - and 11 hits in his six innings Sunday against the Angels, but got enough support for a 12-5 win. He's won his past five decisions, though he's allowed a combined 10 runs and 20 hits in 10 innings of his past two starts.

Dickey is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last four home starts and is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his two against Detroit since joining the Blue Jays in 2013.

Miguel Cabrera didn't get a chance to improve on his 3-for-17 showing against Dickey in the past six seasons because he went on the disabled list for a strained left calf July 4. Cabrera is batting .460 with two homers, nine doubles and 11 RBIs in 13 games since returning.

Martinez has three hits in his past 14 at-bats against Dickey while Ian Kinsler has six in his last 12, including a pair of homers. Rajai Davis is 5 for 8 with two doubles lifetime against him.

Encarnacion, batting .386 during his hit streak, went 1 for 10 in last month's series in Detroit. Ben Revere, acquired July 31 from Philadelphia, is hitting .483 in his last seven games.

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Angels vs. Indians 7:10 (EDT) Preview

Angels-Indians Preview

By SCOTT GARBARINI - STATS Writer

Thursday, August 27 at 7:03 PM (EDT)

The Los Angeles Angels' postseason fortune could hinge on how they handle their remaining road games.

They're off to a good start on a trip that continues Friday night with the first of three meetings with the Cleveland Indians.

After losing 12 of their previous 13 road tilts, the Angels (65-62) began this nine-game trek by winning two of three from Detroit. That series ended with Michigan native Matt Shoemaker limiting the Tigers to one hit through 7 1-3 innings in Thursday's 2-0 victory.

"It's special to be able to do it here, but more importantly to get a win in a tight playoff race," said Shoemaker, whose Angels are among three teams within one game of each other for the AL's second wild-card spot.

Los Angeles had lost 12 of 13 road games before that series win. The Angels are just 26-35 as the visitor this season and play 20 of their final 35 games away from Anaheim, where the team's ERA is 4.41 compared to 3.36 at home.

Though Cleveland (60-66) is an AL-worst 26-34 at home, it has won six of seven at Progressive Field following a two-game sweep of Milwaukee capped by Wednesday's 6-2 victory. Jason Kipnis went 5 for 9 with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs in that series while increasing his MLB-best home average to .383.

Kipnis, hitting an AL-best .325 overall, leads a top three of the order that's been hot. Rookie Francisco Lindor is 12 for 19 with two homers over the last five games, and Michael Brantley is batting .415 with 15 RBIs in his last 15.

"I enjoy being part of it, whether I'm in the middle, the back or I'm just watching them because I got a day off," said Lindor, hitting .310 since being promoted to the majors in mid-June.

The trio takes its first swings against Andrew Heaney (5-2, 3.39 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 5.88 ERA in five August starts after winning five straight June 30-July 26.

Heaney comes in off his worst outing, having surrendered eight runs in 3 1-3 innings in a 15-3 loss to heavy-hitting Toronto on Saturday. The rookie left-hander had yielded two runs or fewer in nine of his 10 previous outings and all four on the road, where he's 2-1 with 2.13 ERA this season.

The Indians are 15-27 against lefty starters, though both Lindor (.315) and Brantley (.313) have fared well versus southpaws.

Like Heaney, Danny Salazar (11-7, 3.30) looks to rebound from a rough last assignment. The hard-throwing righty was reached for five runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees, ending a superb four-start sequence in which he went 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA.

One of those starts came against the Angels on Aug. 5. Salazar allowed a solo homer to Kole Calhoun and two other hits across six innings but was denied a victory when Los Angeles rallied for three runs in the ninth to win 4-3.

Calhoun is 3 for 6 with two homers off Salazar, who is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts versus the Angels despite handling Mike Trout. The reigning MVP is 1 for 6 with four strikeouts in the matchup.

Trout has 33 homers but has failed to hit one in 19 straight games.

The Angels won two of three from Cleveland earlier this month and are 7-3 in the series since the start of last season.

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Astros vs. Twins 7:10 (EDT) Preview

Astros-Twins Preview

By JON PALMIERI - STATS Editor

Thursday, August 27 at 11:38 PM (EDT)

A lethal combination of power and speed has helped the Houston Astros to what could be their best season in over a decade.

It's their starting pitching, however, that is most responsible for their run of success lately.

Scott Kazmir will try to continue an impressive run by Houston's starters Friday night when the AL West leaders open a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

While improvement was expected from the Astros after six consecutive losing seasons, surpassing last year's win total with a five-game division lead at this point seemed highly unlikely.

Wednesday's 6-2 victory at Yankee Stadium was Houston's seventh win in nine games and 71st of the season, one more than it had all of 2014. Evan Gattis hit a pair of homers and Collin McHugh became the ninth straight Astros starter to allow two runs or fewer, a franchise record.

With almost six weeks left, Houston (71-57) already has achieved its best season since 2010 and is on pace for its first 90-win campaign since finishing 92-70 in 2004.

"You could tell the pieces were here,'' said Gattis, who went 6 for 12 with three home runs and six RBIs in New York. ''We're not on an island out there. We could see it.''

Houston leads the AL with a 3.30 ERA, including a major league-best 2.06 mark since Aug. 4.

"It's been nice," manager A.J. Hinch told MLB's official website. "I don't know if it's the extra rest or the momentum, but they're trying to all out-do each other. There's a little competitiveness in there."

Versatility may be the Astros' biggest strength. Besides the outstanding pitching, they lead the majors in homers (174) and the AL in stolen bases (97).

''We have a lot of strengths,'' Hinch said. ''We can do a lot of damage.''

Kazmir (7-8, 2.39 ERA) has made Houston's rotation even more formidable, going 2-3 with a 2.41 ERA in six starts with his new team.

He ended a three-start losing streak Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing one run over six innings with eight strikeouts while outpitching Zack Greinke in a 3-1 victory.

The left-hander limited the Twins to one run over 8 1-3 innings in his final start for Oakland on July 18.

Most of Minnesota's roster has struggled against Kazmir but Trevor Plouffe (8 for 24) is an exception.

After winning five of six against the first-place Dodgers and wild card-leading Yankees, Houston faces another challenge against the Twins (65-62), who are 38-24 at home and had their season-best six-game win streak snapped with Thursday's 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay.

''You try to get greedy,'' manager Paul Molitor said. ''You try to get wins when you're rolling and keep the momentum going. Hopefully we'll look at the bigger picture of how we put together a nice little run, but in the moment you're a little disappointed you couldn't find a way to finish it off.''

Eduardo Escobar hit his third homer in two games for Minnesota, which dropped one-half game behind Texas for the second wild card.

Kyle Gibson (8-9, 3.96) tries again for his elusive ninth win. Since beating Detroit on July 12, the right-hander is 0-3 with a 7.22 ERA in seven starts.

He struggled with his command at Baltimore on Saturday, walking four, but was able to limit the damage to two runs over 5 2-3 innings before leaving without a decision in a 3-2 win.

Gibson is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three career starts against the Astros, allowing one run over 14 2-3 innings in the past two.

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Cubs vs. Dodgers 7:10 (EDT) Preview

Cubs-Dodgers Preview

By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer

Thursday, August 27 at 10:19 PM (EDT)

The Los Angeles Dodgers salvaged three games from what could have been a disastrous road trip. On Friday night they will try to squeeze something out of a Clayton Kershaw start.

Kershaw will go for his first win in three outings as the first-place Dodgers return home for a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.

Los Angeles (70-56) has come up empty in back-to-back Kershaw gems, 10-inning walk-off losses in Oakland on Aug. 18 and Houston on Sunday.

A 3-2 loss to the Astros wasted eight innings of one-run ball from Kershaw (10-6, 2.29 ERA). More importantly, it was the Dodgers' fifth loss to start their eight-game trip through Oakland, Houston and Cincinnati, and it trimmed their NL West lead to 1 1/2 games over the Giants.

It was also just the second time all season Los Angeles dropped consecutive games from Cy Young candidates Zack Greinke and Kershaw.

''I hope we're panicking a little bit,'' Kershaw told MLB's official website. ''I think panic's a good thing to a certain extent. It's obvious we've got five weeks or whatever it is, too. So, there's a sense of urgency.''

The Dodgers took the message into Cincinnati and swept the reeling Reds in the final three games of the trip, lifting their division lead to 2 1/2 games. Greinke did the heavy lifting Thursday with seven innings in a 1-0 win.

The only bad news was the departure of right fielder Yasiel Puig, who paid a heavy price for legging out a ninth-inning infield single by reinjuring his right hamstring.

Puig, who's two singles moved his hitting streak to 10 games, said the injury was worse than the original one he suffered Aug. 18 that forced him to miss two games. Manager Don Mattingly did not say if Puig would undergo an MRI on Friday.

Puig was one of the only players hitting during the road trip, which included Mike Fiers' no-hitter last week. The Dodgers averaged 2.75 runs, just below their underwhelming August number of 3.91.

They likely won't need that much for Kershaw. The reigning MVP has given up one earned run or less in nine of his last 10 starts, a span that includes two shutouts and an ERA of 0.94.

The Cubs (73-53) will face a Cy Young candidate for the second consecutive day after a 9-1 loss to San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner on Thursday cut their lead for the second wild card to 5 1/2 over the Giants.

"You have to learn how to bounce back from a loss," manager Joe Maddon told MLB's official website. "You may be upset for about 30 minutes, and then you move on."

Chicago - which added right-hander Fernando Rodney to its bullpen in a deal with Seattle on Thursday - is 5-2 against former Cy Young winners this year, including a 4-2 win over Kershaw on June 22. Kris Bryant had two home runs, including a two-run shot off Kershaw, and he's batting .370 with three homers during a seven-game hitting streak.

Jason Hammel (7-5, 3.35) will face Los Angeles for the second time this year. One of the right-hander's best outings came during a 1-0, 10-inning win June 23 as he held the Dodgers to two hits over 7 2-3.

Hammel - 2-4 with a 4.96 ERA in 11 starts against the Dodgers - posted his longest outing in eight starts Sunday, allowing two runs in 6 1-3 innings in a 9-3 win over Atlanta.

Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler, who is 17 for 40 against Kershaw, is day to day after fouling a ball off his right shin Tuesday.

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Mariners vs. White Sox 7:10 (EDT) Preview

Mariners-White Sox Preview

By JEFF MEZYDLO - STATS Senior Writer

Friday, August 28 at 1:24 AM (EDT)

Though the Chicago White Sox have struggled to consistently win games this season, that hasn't been the case when facing the AL West - especially at home.

They'll look for a seventh straight home victory over a West opponent Friday night against the Seattle Mariners.

Trying to remain a postseason contender, Chicago (60-66) is five games out of the AL's final wild-card spot but has four teams to hurdle. While that might seem like a tall order, the White Sox have seven games left with West residents Seattle (59-69) and Oakland to potentially help their cause.

Chicago is 18-8 against that division this season, and has a 1.50 ERA while going 9-1 against the West at home. The White Sox, however, are 33-47 overall against the rest of the AL.

Leadoff hitter Adam Eaton had three hits and rookie Trayce Thompson added two more in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Mariners. Eaton is batting .344 in the last eight games, and is 7 for 16 in four against Seattle over that stretch.

Thompson is hitting .519 with six RBIs in 27 at-bats over 12 games since making his major league debut Aug. 4.

"Trayce is swinging it well," manager Robin Ventura said. "You get him in there and he makes things happen."

John Danks (6-11, 4.90 ERA) went 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA in his first three starts against AL West teams this season, but since is 0-2 with an 8.25 ERA in outings that came in his last two overall. The Mariners tagged the left-hander for seven runs and eight hits in five-plus innings of Sunday's 8-6 defeat.

"I think anytime he elevates and doesn't work down in the zone, there's going to be some issues," Ventura said.

Though four of Danks' last six outings have come on the road, he's 3-0 in his last six at U.S. Cellular Field and has allowed two runs over 25 2-3 innings of the last four there.

Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano are batting a combined .435 with five doubles and five home runs against Danks. With two hits in the opener, Jackson is batting .373 in his last 15 contests and is 6 for 13 in the last three against the White Sox.

The Mariners, though, went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position Thursday.

''We had opportunities throughout the game and didn't take advantage,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said. "If we went up without a bat, we probably would have had a run in and the bases loaded. That's tough."

Taijuan Walker (9-7, 4.73) improved to 2-0 in his last seven starts after Sunday's win over Chicago, but his ERA rose to 5.37 in the last nine by allowing four of his five runs in a sixth inning he never completed.

"I got a little comfortable with the (7-1) lead and was leaving stuff right down the middle, and they're not going to miss pitches like that," Walker told MLB's official website.

Though Eaton is 1 for 6 against Walker, Jose Abreu is 3 for 5 with a home run off the right-hander.

The Mariners played the opener hours after dealing struggling reliever Fernando Rodney to the Chicago Cubs for cash.

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Reds vs. Brewers 7:10 (EDT) Preview

Reds-Brewers Preview

By JUSTIN EINHORN - STATS Senior Editor

Thursday, August 27 at 5:41 PM (EDT)

The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds have been picking up the rear in the NL Central seemingly all season, so they've long been looking toward the future.

Part of that glimpse has involved a rookie right-hander showing a good deal of promise for each club, and they'll square off Friday night when Raisel Iglesias leads Cincinnati into Milwaukee to face Taylor Jungmann.

While the division's top three teams - St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago - are all in position to make the playoffs, the Brewers (53-74) and Reds (52-74) are out of the chase and have held the Central's bottom two spots since May 22. While Cincinnati has lost 12 of 13, Milwaukee has dropped four straight and 20 of 30.

"Every time you take the field, you've got something to play for, something to compete for, something to prove," Brewers manager Craig Counsell told MLB's official website.

Both teams were sellers at the trade deadline. Milwaukee has struggled offensively after dealing Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra and Aramis Ramirez, ranking among the majors' worst since July 24 with 3.52 runs per game and a .238 average. Cincinnati's starters are 5-16 with a 5.53 ERA since July 31, not long after Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake were traded.

Iglesias (3-5, 3.93 ERA), though, has been a bright spot. No qualifying pitcher has a better opponent batting average in August than his .145 mark, and he has a 1.93 ERA in five starts this month.

The native Cuban's 13 strikeouts Sunday in a 4-0 loss to Arizona were the most by a Reds rookie since Gary Nolan had 15 against San Francisco in 1967.

"My changeup has been working better the last few outings," Iglesias told MLB's official website after allowing one earned run and three hits in seven innings.

Jungmann (7-5, 2.66) said he "had the changeup going" after dominating the Reds on July 5, yielding a run and four hits in eight innings of a 6-1 victory. That's among eight quality starts in 14 outings since being called up June 9, recording easily the lowest ERA of any Milwaukee starter.

He had allowed only two homers all season before serving up one Saturday en route to possibly his worst performance, giving up five runs and seven hits in four innings of a 6-1 defeat to Washington.

"It was one of those games where I felt like I was going to have to battle a little bit," Jungmann said. "... I just really never got into a rhythm."

That game, however, didn't come at Miller Park, where Jungmann has a 1.75 ERA in six starts with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

The Brewers are a major league-worst 28-38 at home despite winning eight of 12.

Milwaukee has won four straight over the Reds, though the season series is 5-5. Ryan Braun and Adam Lind each have four homers and 10 RBIs in those 10 games.

Khris Davis has hit .089 in his last 14 against Cincinnati, but he enters with five homers over his past six games and a major league-high 10 since Aug. 6.

Home Run Derby champ Todd Frazier has gone deep twice in his last 30 games and not once in 11 straight. Joey Votto has five homers in his last 15 games while sporting a .567 on-base percentage.

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Red Sox vs. Mets 7:10 (EDT) Preview

Red Sox-Mets Preview

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer

Friday, August 28 at 1:19 AM (EDT)

An innings limit combined with the prospect of postseason baseball are the only things that have slowed down Matt Harvey.

The New York Mets look for their ace to continue his dominance Friday night when they open their first home series with the Boston Red Sox in 14 years.

Harvey (11-7, 2.57 ERA) has tossed 154 innings and New York (71-56) doesn't want him to go more than 190 in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.

It's looking more and more like some of those innings will come in the playoffs, with the Mets leading the NL East by 6 1/2 games over Washington.

That means Harvey is likely to be skipped again after Logan Verrett went eight innings in his place in Sunday's 5-1 win at Colorado.

Harvey is 5-3 with a 1.45 ERA in his last 11 starts, going 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA in his past seven at home. He's taking the mound for the first time since allowing one run in six innings before leaving without a decision in an 8-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Aug. 16.

The right-hander will be backed by a red-hot offense that has powered the Mets to seven straight wins. They have scored 73 runs in that span - the most in a seven-game span in franchise history - while batting .338 with 19 homers. New York's 43 home runs this month are a franchise record.

Daniel Murphy had the key hit Thursday, connecting for a tiebreaking two-run double in the 13th inning of a 9-5 win at Philadelphia. He's batting .356 with 20 RBIs over the last 20 games.

"(Murphy) can stinkin' hit, flat hit," manager Terry Collins said. "When he's swinging good, we're dangerous."

Yoenis Cespedes is also contributing in a big way, batting .361 with six homers and 15 RBIs in the past seven contests. He played 51 games for the Red Sox (58-69) last year, batting .269 with five homers and 33 RBIs before being dealt to Detroit in the offseason.

The Red Sox will give the ball to Henry Owens (2-1, 4.50), who is looking to build on the best of his four major league starts.

The rookie left-hander was hammered for seven runs and three homers with 10 strikeouts in six innings while not getting a decision in a 10-8 loss to Seattle on Aug. 16. However, Owens followed that up five days later by yielding two runs - one earned - in eight innings while outpitching Johnny Cueto in a 7-2 win over Kansas City.

"He's going to be one of the good ones," catcher Blake Swihart told MLB's official website. "He's capable of doing that every night. He's a competitor."

Boston (58-69) took two of three from the Chicago White Sox after winning 3-0 on Wednesday. Rookie Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer, his seventh in 21 games since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

He's hitting .333 with 16 RBIs over that stretch but is just 3 for 35 in 13 road games.

That could be reason enough for the Red Sox to start David Ortiz at first in an NL park. He's 2 for 20 over his last six games but has a .333 average with two homers in seven interleague road games.

"I think everybody that's having success here and doing their job right now is going to be in a situation to be considered for next year, and Travis has done a great job," interim manager Torey Lovullo said.

This is Boston's first series in Queens since July 12-14, 2001.

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Royals vs. Rays 7:10 (EDT) Preview

Royals-Rays Preview

By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer

Friday, August 28 at 12:45 AM (EDT)

Edinson Volquez will try to steady his personal bumpy ride Friday night while keeping the Kansas City Royals on the fast track up.

With a very comfortable lead in the AL Central, the Royals will hit the road to try to hinder the wild-card chances of the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series.

The Royals (78-49) pushed their division lead to 13 games Thursday with a 5-3 victory over Baltimore, their fifth win in six tries.

Volquez hasn't been as consistent, alternating quality and poor starts his last four times out.

Volquez (11-7, 3.40 ERA) allowed one run in seven innings against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 7, dropping his ERA to 3.11, the lowest it had been since June. But he's gone back and forth in his last three, allowing five earned runs in seven innings against Detroit on Aug. 12, one run in six innings against Cincinnati on Aug. 18, and six over 6 2-3 against Boston on Sunday.

He hasn't received a decision in the last two, but Kansas City rallied to win both games.

Volquez is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts against the Rays, tossing five strong innings before leaving without a decision in a 7-1 victory July 7.

After Johnny Cueto struggled in Wednesday's 8-5 loss, Kansas City rode a strong performance from Yordano Ventura to a 5-3 victory Thursday. Mike Moustakas had three hits and two RBIs and went 8 for 14 in the series with a pair of homers, two doubles and seven RBIs. He's batting .452 with four home runs and 12 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.

"Moose has had clutch hits, big hits," manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website. "He's starting rallies, finishing rallies. He's just been really key for us."

Moustakas missed a four-game series against the Rays while on the bereavement list in July. Kansas City swept that set and has won 10 of 12 in the series.

Tampa Bay's Erasmo Ramirez will try to reverse that trend. He's 5-3 with a 2.60 ERA in nine starts at Tropicana Field this season, holding opponents to a .208 batting average.

Ramirez (10-4, 3.66) was away from home his last two times out and gave up six runs and 14 hits in 12 2-3 innings while winning his only decision at Houston on Aug. 17.

The right-hander will try to help the Rays (63-64) return to .500 after they ended a three-game skid with Thursday's 5-4 comeback win over Minnesota. Tampa Bay is 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the second wild card.

Ramirez will be asked to spell a bullpen that handled the final 4 2-3 innings.

''We needed that one,'' said Rays manager Kevin Cash. ''The bullpen was just outstanding. Really came in and gave us a big boost.''

Ben Zobrist spent the first nine seasons of his career with Tampa Bay and will make his first trip back to Tropicana Field since the Rays dealt him to Oakland in the offseason. Zobrist is 4 for 9 lifetime against Ramirez with two home runs.

Tampa Bay placed outfielder Desmond Jennings on the 15-day disabled list Thursday due to a bruised left knee suffered on Tuesday. He had hit .353 in 10 games since returning from the DL after having surgery on the same knee.

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Cardinals vs. Giants 7:15 (EDT) Preview

Cardinals-Giants Preview

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer

Friday, August 28 at 2:17 AM (EDT)

The last time Michael Wacha was seen at AT&T Park, he surrendered the walkoff homer that eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals from the NLCS.

The stakes won't be nearly as high Friday night when Wacha goes for a share of the major league lead in wins against the San Francisco Giants.

Wacha's only playoff appearance last year came with the score tied in the ninth inning of Game 5 at San Francisco. The right-hander, who had shoulder trouble in the regular season, served up a three-run blast to light-hitting Travis Ishikawa in a 6-3 loss.

Wacha (15-4, 2.80 ERA) and the Cardinals (82-45) sure look like they've put that behind them. St. Louis owns the best record in baseball and Wacha is one win shy of matching Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner for the major league lead.

Wacha is 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his last five starts, a stretch that includes St. Louis' 2-1 home win over the Giants on Aug. 17. He allowed one run in seven innings and didn't get a decision while San Francisco went on to take two of three in that series.

Wacha followed that up six days later by yielding one run in six innings of a 10-3 win at San Diego.

"He's been very consistent for us. He's done a terrific job," manager Mike Matheny told MLB's official website. "I didn't think he had his top stuff (Sunday), missed a lot high and out of the zone, which didn't really allow his changeup to have its effectiveness that it normally has.

"He pitched with heart more than anything, and figured out a way to get outs in tough counts."

The Cardinals have put together an 11-4 stretch on the road, winning five straight with Thursday's 5-3 victory at Arizona.

They haven't had a longer streak away from home since a seven-gamer from April 22-May 5, 2013.

The Giants (68-59), 2 1/2 games back of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, cruised to a 9-1 rout of the Chicago Cubs on Thursday for their 15th win in 18 home games. Rookie Kelby Tomlinson hit his first grand slam and Marlon Byrd added a three-run shot.

Tomlinson has been a pleasant surprise, hitting .346 in 20 games since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento to replace the injured Joe Panik (back).

"It was pretty crazy. Everybody got up and started clapping for me," Tomlinson said. "I'd never experienced anything like that. It's pretty special."

He went 4 for 10 in three games at St. Louis last week.

Mike Leake (9-6, 3.44) makes his third start for the Giants and first at AT&T Park for his new team. The right-hander allowed one run and one hit over six innings before leaving without a decision in a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday after missing nearly three weeks with a hamstring injury.

"What a job he did for us in his first start back," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He gave us what we were hoping for."

Leake should feel very comfortable pitching in San Francisco, where he went 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in his last four starts for Cincinnati. He walked five and struck out 26 over 31 innings in those games.

He's split six decisions with a 2.81 ERA in his past seven starts against the Cardinals, tossing four-hit ball over eight innings in a 4-0 victory with the Reds on July 28.

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Yankees vs. Braves 7:35 (EDT) Preview

Yankees-Braves Preview

By JIM GILLIS - STATS Editor

Thursday, August 27 at 2:00 PM (EDT)

The New York Yankees hope Brian McCann's return to Atlanta can help ignite a slumping offense.

The Georgia native spent his first nine years with the Braves before signing as a free agent with the Yankees after the 2013 season, and his first matchup with his former team comes Friday night in the opener of a three-game series.

"I'm just excited. I was hoping to be able to go back there and play and (am) lucky enough that the schedule matched up and we're able to go back," McCann told MLB's official website. "When the schedule came out and I saw it, I was really excited for that. I wanted to go back and play before they knocked down Turner Field."

McCann's 91 home runs and 317 RBIs at the stadium, which will be demolished after next season, are third-most all-time behind Andruw and Chipper Jones.

His power numbers have carried over to New York, homering 23 times last year and 22 this season with 75 RBIs in each, but McCann and the Yankees offense have been struggling. He's hitless in five of his last seven games, and New York (69-57) has failed to score more than three runs in six of seven.

The Yankees just completed a 5-5 homestand that started with a three-game sweep of Minnesota but ended with two straight losses to Houston. New York had lost three of four to Cleveland before getting outscored 21-4 by the Astros in the three-game series, hitting .165 while going 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

"We didn't swing the bats extremely well against Cleveland or Houston," manager Joe Girardi said after Wednesday's 6-2 loss. "That's kind of been the root of our problems. Our guys are grinding it out and trying to get through it. We're just not having a whole lot of success right now and the only thing you can do is keep working at it."

As a result, the Yankees have dropped out of first place in the AL East. They are 12-15 since July 28, giving up a seven-game lead to red-hot Toronto.

New York's lineup could be depleted this weekend. Mark Teixeira has started once in the past nine games because of a bruised leg, Jacoby Ellsbury sat out Wednesday with a hip injury and both are uncertain for Friday.

Also, the lack of a designated hitter in the NL park will likely keep Alex Rodriguez limited to pinch-hitting duties, though he's batting .109 in his last 17 games.

Masahiro Tanaka (9-6, 3.61 ERA) is pitching on the road for the first time since firing a five-hitter in a 4-1 win at Toronto on Aug. 15 for his first complete game of the year. He wasn't nearly as good against Cleveland last Friday, allowing four runs - three earned - and seven hits in six innings of a 7-3 defeat.

The right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.66 ERA in interleague play but has never faced Atlanta.

Nick Markakis is familiar with Tanaka from his time in Baltimore but has gone 1 for 7 against him. Markakis enters this matchup on a tear, batting .412 during an eight-game hitting streak.

The Braves (54-73), though, have averaged 2.8 runs while losing 13 of 16. They opened a nine-game homestand this week by dropping two of three to Colorado, including a 6-3 defeat Wednesday.

Williams Perez will try to turn it around for both Atlanta and himself.

Perez (4-4, 4.76) is 0-4 with a 7.98 ERA in five starts since coming off the disabled list July 31 after recovering from a foot injury that kept him sidelined for about a month. The Chicago Cubs knocked around the right-hander around for six runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings Saturday, but he did not factor into the decision. Perez hasn't earned a victory since June 20 and will take on the Yankees for the first time.

The Braves and Yankees last met in 2012, with New York winning four of six games. The Yankees have won five straight in Atlanta and are 11-2 all-time at Turner Field, including the 1999 World Series.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015
Major League Baseball
Dodgers 1 vs. 0 Reds Final Recap

Greinke, Dodgers finish sweep of Reds with 1-0 win

By MARK SCHMETZER - Associated Press

Thursday, August 27 at 4:44 PM (EDT)

CINCINNATI (AP) One run on a double-play ball was the total sum for the Los Angeles Dodgers' hitters on Thursday.

That was all Zack Greinke and the bullpen needed.

Greinke and two relievers combined on a four-hitter and the NL West leaders completed a three-game sweep of the reeling Cincinnati Reds with a 1-0 win on Thursday.

''Zack was his typical Zack,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''He was good all day.''

Greinke (14-3) lowered his major league-best ERA to 1.61, giving up four hits over seven innings. He finished with two walks and nine strikeouts while improving to 7-2 in 12 games against Cincinnati.

Chris Hatcher pitched the eighth and allowed Todd Frazier's fly ball to left field that Andre Ethier caught one step in front of the wall. Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his 10th save.

The Dodgers completed their first sweep in Cincinnati since a three-game set in July 2009.

''There wasn't a lot of opportunity, but we had some,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said. ''We didn't cash in. There are little things we can do, like baserunning and getting bunts down.''

The sweep helped the Dodgers salvage an eight-game road trip that started with five straight losses, including a no-hitter by Houston's Mike Fiers last week.

''It was looking bad for a little bit,'' Greinke said. ''You hope to do better on a road trip, but we're still in first place. That's important.''

There were a couple of setbacks, though.

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez exited after four innings with a bruised right knee, having fouled a ball off himself. He was listed as day to day.

Los Angeles relief pitcher Juan Nicasio was called in from the bullpen to pinch-run in the ninth when outfielder Yasiel Puig sustained an injury to the same left hamstring that forced him to miss 38 games early in the season.

The Reds went 1-9 on their homestand and have lost 12 of their last 13 games.

Cincinnati didn't get a runner to third base until the fifth inning, but Jay Bruce was stranded when pitcher Anthony DeSclafani bunted foul with two strikes and Skip Schumaker struck out.

Justin Turner, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig led off the second with consecutive singles against DeSclafani, setting up Yasmani Grandal's bases-loaded, run-scoring double-play ball.

The double play was the first of five turned by the Reds in the game.

DeSclafani (7-10) allowed six hits - three by Ethier - and one run with one walk and six strikeouts in seven innings while losing his third consecutive start.

''It is fun to go against Greinke,'' DeSclafani said. ''I knew I had to do my best. It was tough on the hitters today going against him. I have to get my bunts down. It's not like I don't work at it, but you have to get them down. That's on me.''

FRESH ARM

Facing just two days off in the month of September and 23 games over the last 24 days of the season, the Dodgers are considering using a sixth starting pitcher on occasion after rosters expand on September 1. ''We could slip a starter in there,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''We've talked about that.''

TWIN KILLINGS

The Reds turned as many as five double plays in a game for the first time since April 8, 2003, at Houston. The franchise record is six, set on June 20, 1925, at New York against the Giants and tied on May 1, 1955, in a 16-inning game also in New York against the Giants.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: LHP Sean Marshall remains on his throwing on every third day program as he works his way back from May shoulder surgery. He resumed throwing off bullpen mounds on Aug. 5. ''At some point in time, we'd like to see him face live hitters, but we need to see a little more arm strength and a little more familiarity with the breaking ball,'' Price said.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.29 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night's opener of a three-game series against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium. He is 5-0 with an 0.90 ERA over his past nine starts.

Reds: RHP Raisel Iglesias (3-5, 3.93), who's coming off a 13-strikeout performance in a 4-0 loss to Kansas City last Sunday, is scheduled to start Friday night's opener of a three-game series at Milwaukee.

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Cubs 1 vs. 9 Giants Final Recap

Tomlinson hits grand slam for 1st MLB HR, Giants beat Cubs

By RICK EYMER - Associated Press

Thursday, August 27 at 7:49 PM (EDT)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Rookie Kelby Tomlinson wasn't sure how to react when his grand slam was replayed on the stadium video board. Veteran Marlon Byrd reminded him to smile and take in the moment.

Tomlinson hit a slam for his first career home run and Byrd added a three-run shot, leading Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants over the Chicago Cubs 9-1 on Thursday.

''It was pretty crazy. Everybody got up and started clapping for me,'' Tomlinson said. ''I'd never experienced anything like that. It's pretty special.''

The win moved the Giants within 5 1/2 games of the Cubs for the second NL wild-card spot.

Bumgarner (16-6) struck out 12 in six innings, giving up one run and two hits. He won his fifth straight start and matched the Cubs' Jake Arrieta for most victories in the majors.

''I'm just going out there and competing,'' Bumgarner said. ''Things are just going our way right now. I don't look at the month, I look from start to start.''

Tomlinson homered off James Russell in the eighth and received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd when he took his position at second base in the ninth. Matt Duffy and Juan Perez also drove in runs for the Giants, who won their second straight but are 3-5 over their past eight games.

''You play in the yard and you never dream about getting a base hit,'' Tomlinson said. ''You dream about hitting a home run and hitting a grand slam. I don't hit many home runs, so that was great.''

The Cubs lost a road series for the first since being swept by St. Louis in late June. They had won or split their previous six road series.

Dan Haren (8-9) lasted 6 1-3 innings, his longest outing since going seven against Toronto on June 9, a span of 15 starts.

Haren gave up five runs and six hits. He walked three and struck out four.

''We got a run off Bumgarner, which is hard to do, and I just give it right back,'' Haren said. ''No one feels worse about it than me. I have to be better.''

Starlin Castro doubled home Anthony Rizzo in the second for Chicago. Bumgarner did not give up a hit after Castro's double, retiring 15 of the final 17 batters he faced.

Perez's second-inning double tied it and Duffy's third-inning single gave the Giants a 2-1 edge.

Byrd's second home run for the Giants, a line drive that just cleared the center field fence, was his fourth in 35 at-bats against Haren.

''He's 2 for 2 with three-run homers on my days,'' Bumgarner said. ''He's been great to have around.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: OF Dexter Fowler was out of the starting lineup for a second straight day because of a left shin contusion from fouling a ball off his leg. ... Kyle Schwarber was behind the plate for the first time since Aug. 6 with catcher David Ross on the family emergency leave list.

Giants: SS Brandon Crawford was out of the starting lineup a second straight day with tightness in his left side.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel (7-5, 3.35) opens the series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Friday night. He's 2-4 with a 4.96 ERA in 11 starts against them.

Giants: RHP Mike Leake (9-6, 3.44) will start Friday night's series opener at home against St. Louis. He's 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA against the Cardinals this season.

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Blue Jays 1 vs. 4 Rangers Final Recap

Gallardo wins 100th, Rangers end Toronto's 5-game win streak

By STEPHEN HAWKINS - AP Sports Writer

Thursday, August 27 at 7:23 PM (EDT)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Yovani Gallardo earned his 100th career victory, Delino DeShields kept running all the way home and the Texas Rangers ended Toronto's five-game winning streak.

After losing the first two games of the series, and their hold on the American League's second wild card, the Rangers avoided a sweep with the 4-1 victory Thursday.

DeShields had a part in every run even without an RBI, including his single that rolled under the glove of charging right fielder Jose Bautista with two runners on in the seventh. The ball wound up near the warning track and DeShields circled the bases on the error for a 4-0 lead.

''That's an exciting play. I was just happy to find a hole and give us a chance to get up, get some cushion,'' DeShields said. ''It was fun running around the bases.''

Gallardo (11-9) threw 5 1-3 scoreless innings, giving up three hits while striking out two and walking three on 101 pitches.

''Yovani maneuvered his way around the lineup with a one-run lead, never gave in,'' manager Jeff Banister said.

The AL East-leading Blue Jays lead the majors with 5.4 runs per game, and had outscored opponents 54-19 during their recent string. Gallardo has thrown 13 2-3 scoreless innings in two starts against them this season.

Gallardo became the fourth native of Mexico to win 100 games, joining Fernando Valenzuela (173), Esteban Loaiza (126) and Ismael Valdez (104).

''It just shows a lot of hard work, throughout the years, and it's definitely exciting,'' said Gallardo, the right-hander who improved to 100-73 in 241 career games with Milwaukee (2007-14) and Texas.

Shawn Tolleson worked the ninth for his 26th save in 28 chances. He had converted 12 straight before Tuesday night's series opener, when he gave up two runs in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss.

Sam Dyson got Troy Tulowitzki to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the seventh.

Texas never trailed after DeShields drew a walk from Marco Estrada (11-8) in the first and scored on Mitch Moreland's single.

DeShields finished 2 for 2 with three walks after going 6 for 38 with 13 strikeouts the previous nine games.

''That's what I'm supposed to do, get on base, touch home plate, any way I can,'' he said after reaching base a career-high five times.

Edwin Encarnacion stretched his hitting streak to 22 games, the longest in the majors this season, with an RBI double in the Toronto eighth. He hit a scorching liner that got past DeShields in right-center as Bautista scored from first.

In the Texas seventh, slow-running catcher Bobby Wilson was going to be held up at third until the ball got past Bautista. Rather than bases loaded, Wilson and Hanser Alberto scored with the speedy DeShields following close behind.

''''I just attacked the ball too hard,'' Bautista said. ''I knew who was running at second. I knew they were going to stop him but I was too aggressive attacking the ball.''

LEFT PLAYS

Ben Revere of the Blue Jays made a back-handed catch with his arm fully extended and running into the left-field corner to rob Alberto of a hit in the fifth. That was the second-best play by a left fielder in the game. Recently acquired Texas outfielder Will Venable made a long run, then leaped in the air to make a backhanded catch before falling flat to the ground in the left-center gap to end the second and strand a runner. ''Really, if he doesn't make that catch there, it's a different story in this ballgame,'' Banister said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor missed his second straight game since splitting the nail on the middle finger of his right hand Tuesday night. Banister had said Odor could possibly pinch-hit or pinch-run, but wasn't used Thursday.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: After an eight-game trip, Toronto opens a nine-game homestand Friday night against Detroit.

Rangers: Cole Hamels starts for the Rangers in the opener of a three-game series Friday night against fellow wild-card contender Baltimore, which has won five of its last six games in Texas.

TULO THE DH

Tulowitzki was the DH for the first time in his 10 major league seasons. Manager John Gibbons had planned to give him a day off, but Tulowitzki entered a .458 career hitter (11 for 24) against Gallardo. Tulowitzki was 0 for 5 in the series finale, the first three at-bats coming against Gallardo.

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Angels 2 vs. 0 Tigers Final Recap

Shoemaker shuts down hometown Tigers, pitches Angels to win

By DAVE HOGG - Associated Press

Thursday, August 27 at 5:13 PM (EDT)

DETROIT (AP) Matt Shoemaker grew up 30 miles south of the Motor City, rooting for the Detroit Tigers.

Pitching for the first time in the Tigers' home, Shoemaker made it memorable.

Shoemaker threw one-hit ball into the eighth inning, Albert Pujols drove in one run and scored another and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0 Thursday.

''This was unbelievably special,'' Shoemaker said. ''To get a win for this team, and do in front of tons of friends and family. It was great.''

The Angels began the day trailing Minnesota by one game for the second American League wild-card spot, with Texas also a half-game ahead of them, so Shoemaker's performance was even more important.

''That's as good as it gets from Matt,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''That's a tough lineup to go through, and you can't say enough about the adjustments he kept making.''

Angels catcher Carlos Perez got a big assist in the win, too. Two of them, in fact, as he picked off Anthony Gose at first base and later threw him out trying to steal second.

Shoemaker (6-9) was born in Wyandotte, went to high school in Trenton and attended Eastern Michigan University, a school that has a large ad on the right field fence. He dominated the team he grew up watching, permitting just a single by Gose in the third.

''I went to games at Tiger Stadium growing up, and I went to games here,'' he said. ''Cecil Fielder was always my favorite player.''

Shoemaker walked one and struck out five in 7 1-3 innings.

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 31st save, finishing the combined two-hitter.

Randy Wolf (0-2) pitched well enough to win in his second start since June 2014. He gave up one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out five.

The Angels broke the scoreless tie with two outs in the sixth. Wolf walked Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout, and Pujols followed with a RBI single to left.

''The walk to Calhoun is the one thing that I wish I could have back,'' Wolf said. ''When you get behind Mike Trout, you don't give him something he can crush, and I actually got lucky with Albert. That was a terrible pitch, and I got a break that he only hit it for a single.''

Pujols got into a rundown between first and second, but was tagged out before Trout was able to get to the plate with a second run.

''Albert saw the ball get away from the catcher and thought he could make it,'' Scioscia said. ''They just shut him down before Mike could get home.''

In the meantime, the Tigers kept losing runners on the basepaths, something they do more often than any team in baseball. Picked off early, the speedy Gose was then nabbed by Perez in the sixth.

''There's more to stealing bases than speed, and Anthony is still learning a lot of that,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. ''If you look at Rajai (Davis), he's a veteran, and he's got that feel of what pitchers and catchers are doing.''

Detroit leads the American League in runners caught stealing and grounding into double plays, and is among the leaders in both runners picked off and thrown out at the plate.

Scioscia pulled Shoemaker after he retired Victor Martinez to start the eighth, and the move almost didn't work. J.D. Martinez hit Joe Smith's first pitch into left-center for a triple, but Smith struck out Nick Castellanos and retired Alex Avila to end the inning.

''I didn't think Matt was getting tired, but he hadn't been at that pitch count for a while,'' Scioscia said. ''They had guys coming up who could get the ball out of the park, and he had just gone 3-1 on Victor.''

Los Angeles loaded the bases in the ninth against Bruce Rondon, and Shane Victorino had a sacrifice fly.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: 2B Grant Green returned to the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game with right knee soreness and sitting out Wednesday.

Tigers: RHP Shane Greene was scheduled to have season-ending surgery Thursday in Dallas to repair a weakened blood vessel in his right shoulder that has pressed against a nerve, causing numbness in his pitching hand. Greene should be ready for offseason conditioning and spring training.

UP NEXT

Angels: Los Angeles flies across Lake Erie to start a three-game series in Cleveland with Andrew Heaney (5-2, 3.39) facing Danny Salazar (11-7, 3.30) in the opener. Heaney gave up a career-worst eight runs in his last start.

Tigers: Detroit also remains in the Great Lakes, playing Toronto in a weekend series at Rogers Centre. Former Blue Jays pitcher Matt Boyd (1-2, 4.88) faces R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.26) in Friday night's opener.

[CLOSE]

Orioles 3 vs. 5 Royals Final Recap

Yordano Ventura overpowering as Royals beat Orioles 5-3

By DAVE SKRETTA - AP Sports Writer

Thursday, August 27 at 7:20 PM (EDT)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Yordano Ventura's locker sits next to that of Edinson Volquez in the Kansas City clubhouse, and two down from Johnny Cueto, who arrived last month in a trade from Cincinnati.

In other words, he gets plenty of veteran advice.

''I believe Johnny's had a big impact on Ventura the last three or four starts,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said after his young flamethrower tossed a gem in a 5-3 victory over Baltimore.

''Every once in a while, you hear it from the pitching coach, you hear it from the pitching coach, and then you hear it from a teammate and it sinks in,'' he said.

Exactly what ''it'' might be is anyone's guess, but the results have been obvious: Ventura (9-7) struck out a career-high 11 in just six innings Thursday, allowing only two hits and four walks while improving to 5-0 in his last seven starts.

''There's been a lot of work put in preparing to get better,'' Ventura said with catching coach Pedro Grifol serving as a translator. ''I feel like this was one of my better outings.''

The Royals' usually solid bullpen nearly gave it away, though. Kelvin Herrera served up a homer to Ryan Flaherty in the seventh, and Greg Holland allowed two more runs in the ninth before getting Gerardo Parra to ground out with a runner on to end the game.

Chris Tillman (9-9), who tossed a five-hitter at Kauffman Stadium last May, followed his first loss since May 31 with another. He allowed four runs over six innings.

The game wasn't all that Baltimore lost, either.

All-Star outfielder Adam Jones left soon after crashing into the wall trying to track down a fly ball in the first. Jones lay on the warning track for a few minutes before standing up and finishing the inning. Paul Janish replaced him as a pinch hitter.

''He feels a lot better now than he did. His vision was - most of it was whiplash,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ''I don't think there's any head trauma, concussion-wise.''

Showalter said that Jones would be evaluated Friday in Texas.

''Any time Adam says anything's bothering him,'' Showalter said, ''you'd better multiply it times two because he's a tough nut.''

The first five outs Ventura recorded were punchouts, and he later struck out Matt Wieters to leave runners on second and third. Ventura eventually surpassed his career-best of 10 strikeouts set last May by fanning Wieters for the third time with a 99 mph fastball.

Orlando also contributed a sacrifice fly for the Royals, while hot-hitting Mike Moustakas drove in a pair of runs and Salvador Perez had an RBI single

The AL Central-leading Royals took three of four in the series, and have won 10 of their last 11 against the Orioles. Baltimore, which began the day two back of the final wild-card spot, still has not won back-to-back games since sweeping Oakland earlier this month.

The start of the game was delayed by 1 hour, 35 minutes, as a storm rolled through.

Then, Ventura followed up the thunder with some lightning of his own, an assortment of fastballs that nipped at triple digits and kept the slumping Orioles flailing.

Ventura had at least two strikeouts each of his first four innings.

''He was good,'' Showalter said. ''We had him close to 30 pitches the first inning, we let him get back in step second or third inning or he could have had a lot shorter outing.''

STATS AND STREAKS

The Royals have won eight straight series at home. ... Flaherty's homer snapped Herrera's streak of 18 1-3 scoreless innings against the Orioles. ... Janish had a pair of hits, the first time he's had a multihit game since Sept. 4, 2013, with Atlanta.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Jones walked in his only plate appearance before leaving the game.

Royals: CF Lorenzo Cain and 1B Eric Hosmer got a day off from the starting lineup as manager Ned Yost tries to keep key players fresh. Hosmer pinch ran in the seventh and stayed in the game.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman opens a three-game set Friday night at Texas.

Royals: Volquez starts a three-game series Friday night at Tampa Bay.

[CLOSE]

Cardinals 5 vs. 3 Diamondbacks Final Recap

Maness gets key outs in 8th as Cardinals beat D-backs 5-3

By JOSE M. ROMERO - Associated Press

Friday, August 28 at 2:24 AM (EDT)

PHOENIX (AP) Seth Maness came into the game in a tight spot and got some big outs for St. Louis Cardinals.

Maness got three straight outs after coming in with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to help the Cardinals hold off the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 on Thursday night.

Steve Cishek started the inning and walked the bases loaded before being replaced by Maness, who struck out David Peralta and Welington Castillo and got Jake Lamb to roll out to first to end what could have been a big inning for Arizona.

''You try not to think too much,'' Maness said. ''You know the bases are loaded but it's just one pitch at a time, trying to execute that pitch and on to the next pitch.''

Cishek said he felt fine, but the ball was taking off out of his hand. He then got to sit and watch Maness work.

''It was amazing. It was a huge relief. That's what we do, pick each other up.'' Cishek said. ''He was incredible.''

Brandon Moss hit his first home run with St. Louis after being acquired in a trade with Cleveland almost a month ago and Tony Cruz hit his first home run of the season, leading the Cardinals to the win and a four-game series sweep.

It was the Cardinals' fifth straight win overall and they finished 7-0 against the Diamondbacks this season.

Carlos Martinez (13-6) earned the win with six innings of four-hit ball, allowing three runs and striking out six with two walks. Trevor Rosenthal got the last three outs for his 41st save as the Cardinals improved to a season-high 37 games above .500 (82-45).

Moss's tiebreaking two-run shot in the fifth inning put the Cardinals ahead 5-3. He'd hit 15 home runs with Cleveland.

''It felt good just to contribute,'' Moss said. ''Offensively it's been a grind, but the guys have been playing great. That's the silver lining in that.''

Arizona's Rubby De La Rosa (11-6) gave up all five runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out four and waked four in his first loss since July 12.

De La Rosa threw eight balls on the first nine pitches of the game, and Kolten Wong followed with an RBI double to put the Cardinals ahead 1-0.

Cruz's homer and Matt Carpenter's RBI double in the second stretched St. Louis' lead to 3-0.

The Diamondbacks tied it in the bottom of the third on Lamb's RBI single and Ender Inciarte's two-out, two-run single off Wong's glove.

Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale lamented the lost opportunity to score in the eighth.

''Another situation where the anxiety just gets to you,'' Hale said. ''Guys see it right in front of them, they have a chance to be a hero and want it to bad. That is something with experience we should get better at.''

GOLD STAR DEFENSE

The Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt prevented a run from scoring in the first inning when he made a diving stop of a hard one-hopper to first base by Moss. Goldschmidt underhanded to De La Rosa for the final out of the inning.

The Cardinals' Greg Garcia went to the ground to catch a line drive and take a hit away from Arizona's A.J. Pollock with two outs in the second inning, also preventing at least one run.

LONG REVIEW

A replay review in the second inning that came after Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale challenged a safe call at second base on a sacrifice bunt lasted 4 minutes, 47 seconds. The call was upheld. The time of the review was the longest of the season at Chase Field.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Jon Jay (wrist injury) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Friday. He's been on the disabled list since July 2.

Diamondbacks: Relief pitcher Daniel Hudson left the game in the top of the ninth inning with a torn fingernail. Hale said he hopes to have Hudson available by Saturday ... LF David Peralta was back in the starting lineup Thursday after a foul ball off his bat bounced up and hit him in the face on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (15-4) is scheduled to start for the Cardinals in the series opener at San Francisco.

Diamondbacks: RHP Chase Anderson is coming off 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 23. He's 2-1 in his last four starts and 6-5 overall this season.

[CLOSE]

Mets 9 vs. 5 Phillies Final Recap

Murphy leads Mets to sweep of Phillies, 9-5 in 13 innings

By AARON BRACY - Associated Press

Friday, August 28 at 12:42 AM (EDT)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Daniel Murphy's offense and defense helped the New York Mets remain on a roll.

Murphy hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the 13th inning after making a spectacular defensive play to end the 10th, leading New York to its seventh straight victory, 9-5 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.

Reliever Carlos Torres led off the 13th with a single to center, went to second on Curtis Granderson's single to left and they both scored on Murphy's opposite-field hit off Hector Neris (2-2). Helped by two errors by Neris, the Mets scored two more runs in the inning.

''(Murphy) can stinkin' hit, flat hit,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ''When he's swinging good, we're dangerous.''

Murphy's defense also shined.

He sent the game to the 11th with a tremendous defensive play. Jeff Francoeur's hard liner deflected off Torres' leg toward first base. Murphy made a diving stop before flipping a no-look toss toward the bag that was caught by a hustling Torres, who beat Francoeur by a half-step.

''You'll see it tonight if you turn on your TV,'' Collins said. ''It will be shown many times.''

Murphy credited Torres for staying with the play.

''I wasn't sure who was going to be there, but I flipped it anyway,'' he said.

Torres said extending his leg and running to cover the bag were just natural reactions.

''It just happened to hit my foot,'' he said. ''I'm happy (Murphy) stayed at home.''

Torres (5-5) pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson and Travis d'Arnaud homered for the Mets, who thrilled the large contingent of New York fans by sweeping the four-game series to give them nine straight wins over Philadelphia. New York remained 6 1-2 games ahead of Washington, a 4-2 winner over San Diego, in the NL East.

''The signs were pointing for us to win this game,'' Collins said.

New York has averaged 10.4 runs during their winning streak. The Mets outscored the Phillies 40-21 the series.

''I'm happy they're leaving town,'' Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said.

Darin Ruf went deep for the Phillies, who have dropped 12 of 13 to the Mets this year and 29 of the last 36.

The game took 4 hours, 32 minutes.

Philadelphia had a chance to win it in the 12th, but third baseman David Wright made an excellent defensive play on Andres Blanco's chopper with two outs and Cesar Hernandez coming home from third. Wright charged the ball, fielded it on a short hop and then gunned down Blanco to keep the Mets' hopes alive.

Five Mets relievers pitched seven scoreless innings.

The Phillies scored five runs in the third to open the game's scoring.

Francoeur's two-run single and Ruf's opposite-field shot off Jonathon Niese highlighted the inning. Niese entered 5-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last seven games against the Phillies, but he got a no-decision after allowing five runs and five hits in six innings.

But the Mets came back with two runs in the fourth on d'Arnaud's opposite-field drive before tying the game in the fifth on Cespedes' two-run homer to right and Johnson's solo shot to right. All three homers came off Aaron Harang, who gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings. Harang entered tied for the most losses in baseball with 14.

CESPEDES STREAKING

It was the sixth homer in seven games for Cespedes, who tied his career-high with his 26th of the season. He has 15 RBIs in the last seven games and is batting .303 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs with the Mets since they acquired him from Detroit on July 31.

HOMER HAPPY

The Mets set a franchise record for homers in a month with 43.

NEW NETS?

In the second inning, a woman sitting five rows off the field was hit in the forehead by a foul ball off the bat of Freddy Galvis of the Phillies. The team said she was evaluated and didn't need to go to a hospital.

Commissioner Rob Manfred talked at Citizens Bank Park before the game and said there was a chance that extra safety nets could be put up around the majors as early as next season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: Catching prospect Jorge Alfaro singled and caught three innings in a rehab start for the Gulf Coast League Phillies on Thursday. One of the prospects acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade, Alfaro had been sidelined since June 11 with a left ankle injury. ... LHP Elvis Araujo left with a left groin strain after throwing one pitch to Cespedes, the second batter he faced, in the 11th.

UP NEXT

Mets: New York opens a three-game home series against Boston on Friday night with RHP Matt Harvey (11-7, 2.57) facing Red Sox LHP Henry Owens (2-1, 4.50). Harvey is 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA in his last 7 starts at Citi Field dating to June 16.

Phillies: Rookie RHP Aaron Nola (4-1, 3.59) takes the mound for Philadelphia in the first of a three-game home series against San Diego on Friday night. Nola pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits, in his last start in Sunday's 2-0 win at Miami. RHP Ian Kennedy (8-11, 4.01) starts for the Padres.

[CLOSE]

Padres 2 vs. 4 Nationals Final Recap

Werth, Zimmerman homer as Nationals defeat Padres 4-2

By JEFF SEIDEL - Associated Press

Friday, August 28 at 12:02 AM (EDT)

WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Nationals pulled out a big win on the field Thursday night. Off the field, they didn't do quite as well.

Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman homered, and starter Joe Ross allowed only a bunt single in six innings as the Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 4-2.

But the injury-riddled Nationals lost third baseman Yunel Escobar (right hand contusion) and center fielder Michael A. Taylor (right knee contusion) during the game.

After the game, Washington manager Matt Williams said that center fielder Denard Span's back issues have re-surfaced, and he'll go on the disabled list with a left hip inflammation and could be done for the season.

''I don't know if I've ever seen anything like (the injuries of the season),'' Williams said. ''But it is what it is. There's not much you can do about it.''

Both Escobar and Taylor are day-to-day, and Williams said they will see how both feel on Friday. Escobar got hit by starter Andrew Cashner with the bases loaded in the fifth and drove in a run on the play before leaving an inning later.

Taylor ran full speed into the wall in center trying to catch Melvin Upton Jr.'s triple and injured the knee. The outfielder came out after the play and needed some help walking off the field.

The Nationals wound up playing short and have lost at least one key player, but Zimmerman said they have just got to keep pushing since they are in the playoff picture.

''That's kind of how this year's gone but we've got to play through it, and we've got to find a way to keep winning games and keep winning series,'' Zimmerman said. ''Every team goes through a lot. Obviously we've had more than our fair share ... we've got to find a way to keep winning games.''

Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. His run-scoring single in the fifth gave the Nationals the lead for good at 2-1.

Werth, who went 2 for 4, added a solo homer off Cashner (5-13) in the sixth. Zimmerman greeted reliever Kevin Quackenbush with a homer to start the seventh.

Ross (5-5) won his second straight start, allowing the bunt single by Corey Spangenberg and one run in six innings. The right-hander, brother of San Diego pitcher Tyson Ross, struck out seven and walked two against the team that traded him to Washington in the offseason.

''He was sensational, dominant,'' Padres manager Pat Murphy said. ''(We) couldn't hit too many balls hard off of him. He was great.''

Jonathan Papelbon closed it in the ninth with his fourth save since joining Washington despite giving up a run on Yonder Alonso's two-out single.

The Padres finished with only three hits.

Spangenberg led off the fourth with the bunt single in front of the plate. He ended up at third on the play when catcher Wilson Ramos made a wild throw.

Yangervis Solarte followed with a sacrifice fly that gave San Diego a 1-0 lead.

The Nationals took the lead with two runs in the fifth. Cashner hit Escobar with the bases loaded to tie the game, and Zimmerman added his tie-breaking single one batter later.

San Diego missed on a good scoring chance against Casey Janssen in the seventh after Upton's two-out triple. Williams then moved some players around after Taylor got hurt on the play and needed to leave, and Anthony Rendon went to third.

Rendon made a diving stop on pinch-hitter Jedd Gyorko's shot down the line and threw him out to prevent a run and keep Washington's lead at 3-1.

GIVING AN ASSIST

Upton got two assists in this game. He threw out Bryce Harper at home in the fifth and earlier got an assist when trapping a fly ball by Rendon and throwing to first to let Alonso tag out Werth, who had stopped because he didn't see the umpire signal if it was an out or a hit.

A BIG SERIES

Zimmerman's two RBIs gave him eight, his highest total for a series this season. He got the go-ahead RBI and later gave the Nationals insurance with his solo homer.

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Nationals: Escobara left in the sixth, an inning after getting hit on the right wrist with the bases loaded. He has a right hand contusion and is day-to-day. . Taylor came out in the seventh after crashing into the wall - and tearing a piece of the padding - trying to make a catch. He has a right knee contusion and is also day-to-day.

Padres: OF Matt Kemp is out of the lineup due to a sore left shoulder that he hurt diving for a ball in Wednesday's game. He's day-to-day. ... RHP Josh Johnson (Tommy John surgery) threw off the mound and felt good Wednesday. He will throw again in a few days.

UP NEXT:

Padres RHP Ian Kennedy (8-11, 4.01) starts the opener of San Diego's weekend series in Philadelphia. The Nationals send RHP Max Scherzer (11-10, 2.79) out to kick off their series with Miami on Friday.

[CLOSE]

Mariners 2 vs. 4 White Sox Final Recap

Rodon, Eaton lead White Sox past Mariners, 4-2

By BRIAN SANDALOW - Associated Press

Friday, August 28 at 12:20 AM (EDT)

CHICAGO (AP) On a night they had an unconventional look, the Chicago White Sox got a strong game from one of their more unconventional players.

Adam Eaton had three hits and scored three runs to help Chicago beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 Thursday night.

Carlos Rodon took a shutout into the seventh inning and Jose Abreu and Trayce Thompson had RBI doubles for the White Sox, who wore throwback uniforms that debuted in 1976 and included white wide-collared untucked jerseys paired with navy blue pants and white socks.

''(Eaton) probably wants to wear these all the time,'' Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. ''Getting on base, he was dirty, running around. I thought he looked great, too. This probably fits him more than anybody else of how it looks.''

Eaton reached base four times and his three runs were a season high, despite wearing uniforms he would've preferred to tuck in.

''We had to go authentic, so we weren't able to tuck them in,'' Eaton said. ''But if we were able to tuck them in, I'd wear them again. Untucked, I'm sorry.''

Thompson had two hits and Avisail Garcia added two RBIs for the White Sox, who had lost three of their previous four.

Rodon (6-5) left after giving up a two-run homer to Franklin Gutierrez. He was charged with both runs and three hits while striking out five and walking three in six-plus innings. He came in 1-1 with a 1.23 ERA during his previous three starts.

''You just need some time to get comfortable and get used to the surroundings and hitters and just the atmosphere and everything,'' Rodon said.

After Rodon left, Mark Trumbo singled and Seth Smith doubled but Zach Duke struck out Brad Miller and Mike Zunino before getting Ketel Marte to fly out to center.

Seattle also had a chance in the eighth after getting runners to second and third with two outs, but Trumbo grounded out to second.

''We had opportunities throughout the game and didn't take advantage,'' Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.

David Robertson got the last three outs for his 27th save in 33 chances.

Roenis Elias (4-7) gave up four runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings for Seattle. Making his first start since July 2, Elias remained winless since beating Houston on June 19.

''First two innings there was a couple of hiccups with his spots but other than that once he got in his groove he was great,'' Zunino said.

Kyle Seager didn't start but pinch-hit for Zunino and grounded out to end the game. Seager entered the day hitting .196 in August and is expected to return to the lineup Friday.

Nelson Cruz went 1 for 4 and extended his streak of getting on base to 37 games with a third-inning single. The streak is the American League's longest this year.

Seattle snapped a two-game win streak in the opener of a 10-game, 11-day road trip while wearing its standard uniforms.

PLAYING DEFENSE

Chicago OF Melky Cabrera helped retire Cruz twice in the first three innings. In the first, he leaped to snag a Cruz liner, and in the third he threw out Cruz at second as he tried to stretch a single into a double.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left middle finger) is expected to make his next rehab start Friday at Triple-A Tacoma. ... DH Jesus Montero fouled a pitch off his midsection in the fifth and was pinch-hit for in the seventh but said he was OK after the game.

White Sox: Eaton was hit in the back in the fifth but stayed in the game.

UP NEXT

Seattle RHP Taijuan Walker (9-7, 4.72) faces Chicago LHP John Danks (6-11, 4.90) in the second game of this series. Walker is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA since his one-hitter July 31 at Minnesota, while Danks is coming off an Aug. 23 loss to Seattle when he allowed seven runs and eight hits over five innings.

[CLOSE]

Pirates 2 vs. 1 Marlins Final Recap

Cole gets 15th win, Pirates top Marlins 2-1

By TIM REYNOLDS - AP Sports Writer

Friday, August 28 at 1:36 AM (EDT)

MIAMI (AP) The Pittsburgh Pirates took on the deepest parts of Marlins Park on Thursday night, and won.

Gerrit Cole snapped the longest winless drought of his career, Pedro Alvarez homered and the Pirates held on to beat the Miami Marlins 2-1.

Catcher Francisco Cervelli tripled and scored in the second inning for the Pirates, who took three out of four in the series.

Alvarez made it 2-0 in the fourth on his 21st homer - the 18th of the solo variety. The big hits from Alvarez and Cervelli both went to deep center field, the triple by Cervelli skipping off the glove of Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna.

''(Alvarez) has as much raw power as anybody in the game, except for maybe the guy over there,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, with the `guy over there' reference being a nod to Giancarlo Stanton, Miami's sidelined slugger.

The Marlins could have used Stanton. It was the 32nd time this season they were held to one run or less, and Cole kept them guessing most of the game.

Cole (15-7) allowed one run and five hits in 7 1-3 innings, striking out four and walking none. Cole hadn't gotten the win in any of his previous five starts, and the Pirates are 45-22 all-time when he takes the mound.

''Pretty special arm,'' Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. ''You know you're in for a battle any time he's the opposing pitcher. His stuff is quality and he's one of the better guys in the National League, no doubt.''

Justin Nicolino (2-2) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings for the Marlins, who got two hits apiece from Ozuna and Martin Prado. The homer served up to Alvarez was a cutter that stayed in the heart of the plate, Nicolino said.

''You can't leave pitches like that up to him,'' Nicolino said. ''He did what he was supposed to do with it.''

Said Alvarez: ''You never know here. It's such a big park.''

The Marlins got within 2-1 in the seventh when Derek Dietrich's sacrifice fly allowed Prado to score. Miami got what would have been the tying run to second with one out in the eighth, but left-hander Tony Watson relieved Cole and retired Dee Gordon and Ichiro Suzuki to strand J.T. Realmuto and keep the Pirates on top.

Mark Melancon gave up a leadoff single to Prado in the ninth, then got Justin Bour to hit into a double play and retired Ozuna on a grounder to finish off his 41st save in 43 chances.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: Cervelli, who did not play Wednesday after banging up both feet on Tuesday, was back in the starting lineup. He got ejected in the bottom of the third after a pitch from Cole was ruled a ball, and Cervelli turned toward home plate umpire Alan Porter while appearing to take exception. That came moments after Cervelli grounded out to end the top of the third and leave the bases loaded. ''I didn't like the way he talked to me,'' Cervelli said. ''I turned around and got thrown out.''

Marlins: LF Christian Yelich (right ankle, right knee) was out of the lineup and is considered day-to-day. ... RF Giancarlo Stanton (fractured left wrist) is set to take batting practice in Jupiter on Monday or Tuesday. Stanton - still far and away Miami's leader in home runs (27) and RBIs (67) despite missing 54 games and counting this season - is aiming to return to the lineup Sept. 4.

INCOMPLETE

Pittsburgh still doesn't have a complete game this season; this would be the first Pirates team ever without one unless someone goes the distance in one of their final 36 games. The Marlins have gone 232 games without a complete game, the longest active streak in the majors.

UP NEXT

Pirates: The Pirates have won each of Francisco Liriano's last 10 starts, and look to extend that Friday night when the LHP faces RHP Jon Gray (0-0, 5.94) and the Colorado Rockies. Liriano is 5-0 with a 3.19 ERA over that stretch, 9-6 with a 3.23 ERA for the season.

Marlins: LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 4.88) starts for Miami when the Marlins open a weekend series in Washington against the Nationals and RHP Max Scherzer (11-10, 2.79).

[CLOSE]

Twins 4 vs. 5 Rays Final Recap

Rays bullpen helps end Twins' 6-game winning streak

By MARK DIDTLER - Associated Press

Thursday, August 27 at 11:17 PM (EDT)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay bullpen gave the struggling Rays a much-needed lift.

Relievers Brandon Gomes, Alex Colome and Brad Boxberger combined for 4 2-3 scoreless innings and the Rays ended Minnesota's six-game winning streak, beating the Twins 5-4 on Thursday night.

The loss dropped the Twins a half-game behind Texas for the second AL wild-card spot. Tampa Bay, which won for the fifth time in 13 games, is 2 1-2 games back of the Rangers.

''We needed that one,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''The bullpen was just outstanding. Really came in and gave us a big boost.''

Gomes (2-4) got an inning-ending double play with two on in the fifth during his 1 2-3 innings. After Colome worked two innings, Boxberger struck out all three batters he faced for his 31st save.

The trio allowed just Brian Dozier's infield single in the seventh.

Joey Butler, recalled from Triple-A Durham to take the place of injured outfielder Desmond Jennings, had an RBI single off Tommy Milone (6-4) and later scored on a passed ball to give Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead in the sixth.

''It was fun to be back out there with the guys playing for a playoff spot,'' Butler said.

Eduardo Escobar homered for the Twins, who were looking for their longest road winning streak since 2006. All six wins had come away from Target Field.

''You try to get greedy,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''You try to get wins when you're rolling and keep the momentum going. Hopefully we'll look at the bigger picture of how we put together a nice little run, but in the moment you're a little disappointed you couldn't find a way to finish it off.''

Minnesota went 6-4 on a 10-game trip.

Milone allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. In his previous outing Sunday, he helped out a depleted bullpen and got his first professional save as the Twins beat Baltimore 4-3 in 12 innings.

Escobar had a solo homer off Drew Smyly during a two-run fourth that put the Twins ahead 4-2. On Wednesday, Escobar hit a pair of solo shots for his first multihomer game.

''Escobar, we're glad he's getting out of town,'' Cash said.

Smyly gave up four runs and eight hits over 4 1-3 innings in his third start since returning from a left shoulder injury that sidelined him three months. The left-hander threw 100 pitches.

J.P. Arencibia cut the Rays' deficit to 4-3 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

After Kurt Suzuki drove in a run on his 200th career double during the second, the Twins tied it at 2 when Miguel Sano had a towering RBI double to center field in the third that struck an overhanging catwalk around 150 feet above the playing surface.

The Rays scored twice in the first on Evan Longoria's sacrifice fly and a solo homer by Logan Forsythe.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Closer Glen Perkins (lower back spasms) played catch

''He did a lot better today,'' Molitor said. ''We didn't push him, but there's a lot of optimism he should be ready to go.''

Rays: Jennings went on the 15-day DL due to a bruised left knee. ''Our thought was let's see if 15 days of rest can help,'' Cash said. Jennings missed 96 games earlier this season with bursitis in the same knee.

EXTRA ESCOBAR

Escobar became the first Twins SS with at least three homers in a three-game series since Roy Smalley in August 1978 at Seattle. ... He has a career-high eight homers this season, including four in his last 21 at-bats.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (8-9) starts the opener of a six-game homestand Friday against LHP Scott Kazmir (7-8) and the AL West-leading Houston Astros. Minnesota is 38-24 at home this season.

Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (10-4) will face RHP Edinson Volquez (11-7) and the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals Friday night. Tampa Bay is 5-18, including 0-4 this season, over the past four years against the Royals.

[CLOSE]

Friday, August 28, 2015
National Football League
Titans vs. Chiefs 7:00 (EDT)
Patriots vs. Panthers 7:30 (EDT)
Lions vs. Jaguars 8:00 (EDT)