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Today is Saturday, June 24, 2017.

Saturday, June 24, 2017
Major League Baseball
Astros vs. Mariners 10:10 (EDT) Preview

McCullers to return for Astros against Mariners

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Saturday, June 24 at 3:22 AM (EDT)

SEATTLE -- With the lead in the American League West more than a dozen games, the Houston Astros had the luxury of being cautious.

So when right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., the league's pitcher of the month for May, felt discomfort in his lower back a couple of weeks ago, the Astros didn't hesitate to put him on the 10-day disabled list.

"If I had to miss time, for something totally unrelated to my arm, it might as well be right now," said McCullers, who is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list Saturday to start against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. "I feel good and ready to get back out there."

McCullers (6-1, 2.58 ERA) was 4-0 in May with a 0.99 ERA and 37 strikeouts in six starts to earn the AL honor.

In his last start before going on the disabled June 8 at Kansas City, McCullers opened with six hitless innings. He allowed just one run and two hits in seven innings with two walks and eight strikeouts but didn't get the decision in a 6-1 victory.

McCullers, 23, who was placed on the DL the next day, said he was shut down completely for four or five days, then started a light throwing program and working out in the weight room. He threw two bullpen sessions, the last of which -- on Wednesday -- was 50-60 pitches.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch didn't commit to an innings limit for McCullers in his return.

"It depends on how good and efficient he is," Hinch said. "He's only been out a short period of time.

"But he's a young arm, coming off the disabled list. We'll monitor him. The first couple of innings will dictate."

McCullers is 4-2 in his career against the Mariners with a 2.14 ERA. He got the win against them April 4 in Houston, allowing one run and five hits in six innings of a 2-1 victory.

On Saturday, he'll face a Seattle offense that has been very productive recently.

In the past 26 games, in which the Mariners are 18-8, the team is batting .305 and has scored 166 runs, an average of 6.38 per game. In contrast, they hit .205 in the 12 games before that with an average of 2.25 runs and went 4-12.

"I'm really proud of our guys," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We struggled at the end of May, but we've been able to turn it around, knowing that when we're right and healthy we can compete with anybody in this league."

Hinch was asked if he watched the Mariners on Thursday night after the Astros arrived in town following a day game in Oakland.

"I tried not to. I watch enough of the Mariners," Hinch joked. "But they're playing well."

The Astros have never faced Seattle's Saturday starter, rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio (3-1, 3.43 ERA).

"I'm excited about it," said Gaviglio, who will be making his eighth career start. "They're in first place in the West ... it's a good challenge for us."

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Phillies vs. Diamondbacks 10:10 (EDT) Preview

Diamondbacks' Ray hopes for better outing against Phillies

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Saturday, June 24 at 2:37 AM (EDT)

PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke owns the biggest name on the Arizona Diamondbacks' pitching staff. So far this season, Robbie Ray owns the best numbers.

Ray, who recently went through a five-game stretch allowing only one earned run, starts Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phillies at Chase Field, and no doubt the left-hander wants to be more effective than he was in his lone less-than-dominating start during the last month.

That came Sunday in Philadelphia, where Ray surrendered eight hits, four runs and four walks in 5 1/3 innings -- even though the Diamondbacks came back to win 5-4 in 10 innings.

It was a rare off day for Ray, who is 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA (five earned runs in 42 1/3 innings) and 55 strikeouts in his last six starts -- all of them Diamondbacks victories.

"It wasn't my best outing," Ray said after receiving the no-decision on Sunday. "I was just trying to keep the team in it after the first few innings ... go as deep as I can and try to win the game."

Arizona subsequently did that, prompting Ray to say, "That was huge."

Ray has been coming up big himself this season. He and Greinke (8-4), who pitches Monday against Philadelphia, are teaming to give manager Torey Lovullo two aces on a team that's enjoying a surprisingly good season after losing 93 games last year, despite a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia on Friday night.

Ray had a scoreless streak of 27 2/3 innings from May 14 to June 6, and he's 7-3 with 114 strikeouts and a 2.87 ERA in 14 starts overall.

Against the Phillies, Ray is 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in three career starts. He'll oppose right-hander Ben Lively (1-1, 3.33 ERA), who gave up eight hits and three runs in six innings in that Sunday game. He was in line to get the win until the bullpen gave away a late-inning lead in the ninth and the game itself in the 10th, when Rey Fuentes won it for Arizona with his first career home run.

Overall, Lively is 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in four major league starts, striking out 11 and walking eight in 27 innings.

The Diamondbacks came into the series against the major league-worst Phillies -- losers of 13 of their last 16 -- as one of the majors' hottest teams, winning seven of eight on a road trip and nine in 10 games overall.

But even though the Cardinals and the Rockies are coming on the Diamondbacks' current homestand, Lovullo didn't want his team looking ahead -- or looking back to taking two of three in Colorado, where Arizona scored 26 runs in the final two games.

For good reason, too, as the Diamondbacks generated little offensively Friday against rookie right-hander Mark Leiter Jr., who shut them out on three hits in six innings.

"These guys have been so resilient, strong and ready for every moment every single day. But I just wanted to make sure after an emotional series in Colorado, after a tremendous road trip that we don't have any type of letdown," Lovullo said. "I know the Philadelphia Phillies, despite their record, are a quality team that's played a lot of tough games of late. They've had a chance to win a lot of games. But know they're very capable and a dangerous team and we're not going to take them lightly."

Lovullo said it's no secret why Arizona's offense is catching up to a pitching staff that has carried the team for much of the season -- or at least it was before the Friday night setback.

"(Timely hitting) is something that's been coming, it's been on the rise, it was one area of concern (previously)," Lovullo said. "The numbers are bearing that ... Defensively, we've been a team that's improving day by day, making the routine plays and even the above-average plays. That, in combination with good pitching, has been very timely for us."

The Phillies sat down outfielder-second baseman Howie Kendrick with left hamstring tightness after initially having him in the starting lineup, but he came on to contribute a pinch-hit double to a four-run ninth inning. Kendrick, who is hitting .355, was out for more than a month with an oblique injury earlier this season.

"He's fine, he said he thinks he'll be ready (Saturday)," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I contemplated whether to let him pitch, but I decided to use my best hitter there."

Just like the Diamondbacks will start the man currently is their best pitcher on Saturday.

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Rockies vs. Dodgers 10:10 (EDT) Preview

Rockies rely on Chatwood against Kershaw, Dodgers

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Saturday, June 24 at 2:58 AM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES -- A major league general manager could put together a decent pitching staff of players cast off or lost by the Los Angeles Angels.

There's Ervin Santana and Hector Santiago with the Minnesota Twins, John Lackey with the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City's Jason Vargas, Zack Greinke in Arizona, and veteran closers Francisco Rodriguez and Fernando Rodney. Among the lesser known is the Colorado Rockies' Tyler Chatwood, who throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw in the middle game of their series Saturday.

Chatwood has become a dependable part of the Rockies' rotation, and the lone veteran with Jon Gray on the DL. He is 6-7 with a 4.08 this season and has been dominant on the road. He once seemed part of the Angels' future. He was a second-round pick in 2008 out of East Redlands Valley High School. He quickly impressed, going 13-9 in the minors in his third season, 2010. When a hole opened in the Angels' rotation, he found himself in the majors in 2011.

There were moments when he looked ready, most of them early in the season. He had eight quality starts in his first 15 outings through the end of June and was 5-4. But his lack of a foundation of innings caught up with him. He began to show the stress, his season blew up and no one on the Angels tried a rescue.

The Angels kept running him out to the mound, and his outings got shorter. Starting in July, the Angels lost 11 of the 12 games he started. He lasted three innings or less in his last five starts. The front office soured on him abruptly, trading him to Colorado.

He was 8-5 in 2013 for the Rockies, then had Tommy John surgery and missed almost all of two seasons. He returned in 2016, going 12-9 with a 3.87 last season, and now the Rockies are contending the NL West title.

Chatwood is a workhorse and team leader. "He sets the bar for us," Rockies catcher Tony Wolters said after a recent win against the Cubs. "Guys look up to him. He knows how to pitch. His pitches are plus-plus. Now it's about getting his whole arsenal in control."

"You hear a lot of different philosophies about saving your stuff for the second time through the lineup," Chatwood said. "But I think if you put other pitches in guys' heads, it's in there from the get-go. If they know you have four pitches and are willing to use all of them, it gets the game going."

Chatwood has made 12 starts against the Dodgers in his career, going 4-7 with a 3.95 ERA. His best outing was in 2016, when he pitched an eight-inning one-hitter. He faced the Dodgers in April and allowed six hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

He'll be facing the eminent starter in the NL in Kershaw (10-2, 2.61), and the Dodgers are 13-2 in his starts. He's pitched in 35 games against the Rockies, with a 20-6 record, 3.13 ERA and .222 opponents average. He's faced them three times this season, going 2-1 with a 3.60.

Kershaw has thrown in a couple of duds recently. He gave up 11 hits and four runs (three homers) against the Cubs, and last week allowed six hits, four of them home runs, and six runs to the Mets. It was the most he's allowed in his career. He's allowed 17 home runs in 2017, but 10 of them came in three games.

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Tigers vs. Padres 10:10 (EDT) Preview

Reeling Tigers hoping Sanchez continues revival vs. Padres

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Saturday, June 24 at 3:15 AM (EDT)

SAN DIEGO -- Detroit Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez is eager to show his starting debut this year was no fluke when facing the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.

Detroit will be trying to snap a season-high, seven-game losing streak in the middle of a three-game series.

Sanchez was solid in his first start of the season, which came Monday against the Seattle Mariners. The Tigers lost, but a silver lining was Sanchez's performance.

Sanchez looked more like the dependable right-handed starter he was earlier in his career than the one last seen in the majors in a mop-up role. He allowed two runs in five innings in Seattle, which was seen as a positive.

"I thought he did a good job locating his fastballs, changeup was good, mixed in the breaking ball," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters. "He did a nice job.''

It's a nice story, as well, if Sanchez can help the staggering Tigers save their season. Sanchez has been folded into the rotation after being shipped out and then brought back from Triple-A Toledo.

Sanchez rebooted instead of pouting in the minors and just maybe something has clicked. What's clear is he's pitching with more confidence and conviction than when he had an unsettled role in the bullpen.

"Sometimes you need to refresh a lot of things,'' said Sanchez, who went 7-13 for the Tigers last year. "That's what I did in my time in the minor leagues, figure out how I can come back and be successful here.''

His three-pitch mix allowed just that against the Mariners, although Sanchez said he had an assist.

"I just thank God that I'm healthy and I can work on something and that I'm able to pitch at this level,'' he said.

Sanchez, when pitching for the Miami Marlins, made four career starts against the Padres, going 0-2 with a 3.09 ERA.

The Tigers are hoping to get on a roll before they are completely buried in the American League Central cellar. Consistency, among other things, have derailed Detroit.

"We definitely haven't been able to put it all together,'' Ausmus said. "It has been sporadic from and an offensive and pitching perspective. Sometime we do one well and not the other and occasionally we put it together. But the belief in the team hasn't changed since the end of spring training.

"I haven't given up and neither have they. Players don't give up; that is not in their makeup or what their mindset is. When they are in the box they try to get hits and when on the mound, they try to get outs. The don't give up.''

The Padres' Dinelson Lamet (2-2, 7.50 ERA) is trying to find his footing in the majors, too. The rookie right-hander displayed his wipe-out slider in his last outing, his fifth career start, when striking out a career-high 12. No rookie pitcher has more punchouts in a game this season.

"Dinelson Lamet has like ridiculous stuff,'' Padres manager Andy Green told mlb.com.

Lamet, who is facing the Tigers for the first time, became just the 22nd pitcher since 1913 to strike out at least 12 batters within his first five games.

"I think the slider was the differentiator,'' Green said. "That's the guy we want to see. That guy can be very successful in the big leagues.''

Lamet was originally scheduled to pitch in Friday's opening game of the series. But the Padres wanted to split up Lamet and Miguel Diaz in the rotation, as neither have shown the length to preserve bullpens. So they put the more reliable Luis Perdomo between them.

Perdomo was keen on Friday in pitching the Padres past the punchless Tigers 1-0.

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Rangers vs. Yankees 1:05 (EDT) Preview

Yankees look for start a win streak against Rangers

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Saturday, June 24 at 3:13 AM (EDT)

NEW YORK -- Winning one game is proving hard enough for the New York Yankees recently.

Now they'll get a second opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time in more than a week Saturday afternoon when they continue a three-game series with the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium.

New York last won consecutive games when it put together six straight wins from June 7-12. The Yankees then lost seven in a row for the first time since April 20-27, 2007.

The streak ended with an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, but the follow-up was ugly when the Yankees allowed made three errors and were handed a sloppy 10-5 loss after taking a 5-1 loss.

It is the recent performance leading many to wonder about the hot start and if this is the Yankees coming back down to earth after surprising many.

"That's always a question that we talk about. I think that whenever you struggle for a while, I think people are gonna have a little self-doubt. But I think that's normal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Friday afternoon. "I think if you're oblivious to your struggles, then they can't get better. So they're all working on correcting them, which I think is a great thing, and we'll get them ironed out."

New York is 2-8 in its last 10 games after opening the series with a 2-1 win in 10 innings on Friday. Masahiro Tanaka pitched eight scoreless innings, Brett Gardner homered and Ronald Torreyes delivered the game-winning hit.

"You really need this one" Girardi said after Torreyes won the game at 12:19 a.m. "When you get a performance like that. When you get a performance from Tanaka like that, you need to win that game."

Torreyes will likely be in the lineup again Saturday since Chase Headley will likely miss his third straight game with a back injury. He will also being throwing across the field to a new first baseman as Tyler Austin will join the Yankees to replace Chris Carter, who was designated for assignment after Friday's game.

When Texas visited the Yankees last season, it had the best record in baseball, but this season the Rangers have hovered around .500 and are a game below after Elvis Andrus scored the only run on a passed ball in the ninth.

The Rangers are 9-5 in their last 14 games but will look to rebound after being held to four hits, striking out 12 times and going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Elvis Andrus and Jonathan Lucroy had two hits apiece, but Carlos Gomez and Joey Gallo struck out three times apiece.

If the Rangers had a lead into the late innings, they'll hope their bullpen can hold it this time.

Matt Bush blew his fourth save chance and Texas blew its 14th save opportunity. The Rangers' 11 saves are tied with the Chicago White Sox for the fewest in the American League.

"It's very difficult," Bush said. "I feel the weight of these losses. It's very tough mentally. I'm going to grind. I'm in a battle."

The latest blown save occurred after the Texas bullpen went 13 scoreless innings since Bush allowed two runs to Toronto on Monday.

Right-hander Luis Cessa makes his second start for the Yankees in place of CC Sabathia (hamstring). Cessa allowed four runs in four innings during a 4-3 loss at Oakland on Sunday.

Cessa is 2-5 with a 4.37 ERA in 10 career starts.

Last season, Cessa faced the Rangers as a reliever and was the winning pitcher in a 9-7 win on June 29 that was decided on a homer by Didi Gregorius.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx makes his fifth start for the Rangers on Saturday and first appearance against the Yankees. He is 1-0 with a 4.86 ERA as a starting pitcher.

Biibens-Dirkx took the no decision in a 7-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday when he allowed five runs and five hits in five innings.

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Athletics vs. White Sox 2:10 (EDT) Preview

White Sox try to rebound from shutout loss to A's

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Saturday, June 24 at 1:06 AM (EDT)

CHICAGO -- It would be fitting if the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics played a two-hour game Saturday afternoon on "Mark Buehrle Day" at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Buehrle, who was known for pitching quickly in games, will have his number 56 retired.

"It doesn't really make sense, to be honest with you," Buehrle said of the honor at a press conference Friday. "I'm trying to wrap my head around it. Like I said, I watched Frank Thomas as a kid growing up and even when I came here and played with him, I couldn't believe it. I'm like a fan of Frank Thomas, who's right there. It just doesn't make sense that I'm up there with those guys.

"Again, I went out there and tried to do what I could do every day and had fun with it and obviously had a good, long successful career. And now here we are getting my number retired. I can't really explain it. It's pretty hard."

Buehrle, who retired following the 2015 season, was 161-119 with the White Sox and threw a perfect game and a no-hitter. He was a five-time All Star and won four Gold Gloves.

"Tomorrow's honor, I'm sure he'll greatly appreciate it," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria. "He's so humble. He'll probably make light of it. It's nice to have somebody come back like that and for all of us to be a part of it, to see something like it."

The White Sox (32-40) will look to bounce back after losing their fourth game in five outings, falling 3-0 on Friday night to the A's (32-42). Khris Davis' two-run home run in the first inning and Jharel Cotton's five shutout innings paced the A's, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Matt Joyce added a solo home run.

White Sox third baseman Matt Davidson almost provided heroics for the White Sox in the ninth with two men on, but his shot to center field wasn't deep enough, as Jaycob Brugman hauled it in to give the A's their second shutout victory of the season.

Right-handed White Sox veteran James Shields (1-0, 2.42 ERA) will make his second start since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings in Toronto on Sunday in a no-decision.

In 16 career starts against the A's, Shields is 6-5 with a 4.15 ERA. Last Aug. 19, the A's roughed Shields up for six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. Davis and Yonder Alonso went deep off Shields in a 9-0 A's win. Shields is 49-39 with a 3.65 ERA in his career in day games.

Rookie Daniel Gossett (0-2, 7.20 ERA) will make his third career start for the A's. The right-hander allowed only two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 4-1 loss to the Astros on Monday. He struck out six and walked none on 100 pitches.

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Blue Jays vs. Royals 2:15 (EDT) Preview

Royals aim to go above .500; Blue Jays trying to get there

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Saturday, June 24 at 3:19 AM (EDT)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals will try to climb above .500 for the first time this season when they take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

The Royals (36-36) are 10-2 in the past dozen games to reach .500 for the first time since April.

"We had a good road trip to California and we're just trying to keep that momentum going at home," said rookie right-hander Jake Junis, who got a no-decision Friday, giving up two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

The Royals won seven of their final eight games on their West Coast trip. They are 4-1 on this homestand.

"We've said all year we have a team that is definitely capable of making a run," Royals designated hitter Brandon Moss said. "Early on, we had some unbelievable pitching, but we didn't have any offense going. Now the rest of the lineup is starting to at least contribute.

"Once you make that lineup deeper, we're able to score some more runs and keep us in the ballgame. Less pressure on the pitching staff, too."

The Royals' rally prevented the Blue Jays from moving within a game of .500. Nine times this season Toronto has been within a game of .500 but lost all nine.

Josh Donaldson returned to third base after being scratched Thursday with a sore knee. Outfielder Steve Pearce, however, sat out his second successive game with a bruised knee.

Manager John Gibbons is tinkering with a new batting order, moving Jose Bautista, who had three hits Friday, to the leadoff spot. But the knee injuries to Donaldson and Pearce have prevented him from getting his regular lineup on the field at the same time.

"I think it'll be good, but until we get them all in there ... and hopefully it won't be long until we get them all in there," Gibbons said.

Gibbons said he does not recall a season with so many injuries.

"Yeah, there's been a lot, but there's no crying in baseball," Gibbons said.

The Royals will start left-hander Jason Vargas in the middle game of the series. Vargas is tied for the major league lead with 10 victories. He is 10-3 with a 2.27 ERA in 14 starts and 5-0 with a 2.20 ERA in his past five starts. His 1.81 ERA at home tops the American League.

Vargas is 2-3 with a 5.32 ERA in eight career starts against the Blue Jays. He last faced them on May 30, 2014, in a 6-1 win at the Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays will counter with right-hander Marco Estrada, who like Vargas went to Long Beach State. Estrada is 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 15 starts. He is averaging 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings and has an 8-11 career record with a 6.13 ERA in June.

This will be his third career start against Kansas City and the first since July 10, 2015, at Kauffman Stadium. He lost that one 3-0, giving up two runs and hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Estrada is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his first two starts against the Royals, holding them to a .245 batting average and .306 slugging percentage.

Eric Hosmer is 4-for-5 against Estrada and Alcides Escobar is 0-for-7. No Royal has more than seven at-bats against Estrada.

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Reds vs. Nationals 4:05 (EDT) Preview

Reds' Bailey to make season debut against Nationals

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Saturday, June 24 at 12:56 AM (EDT)

WASHINGTON -- Homer Bailey wouldn't go as far to say that he is excited to make his first major league start of the year on Saturday.

"Anxious may be a better word. I'm glad to be back," the Cincinnati right-hander said Friday, sitting in the Reds' clubhouse at Nationals Park.

Bailey is slated take the mound to face the first-place Washington Nationals, who entered Friday leading the National League in hitting (.274), slugging (.472), OPS (.811), homers (110), extra-base hits (268), runs (398) and RBIs (390).

Washington will counter with right-hander Joe Ross (3-3, 5.98), who has struggled mightily this year in his third big league campaign.

The Nationals won the first game of the series 6-5 on Friday in 10 innings as Bryce Harper had a walkoff single on a 3-2 pitch with two runners on base with two outs.

Bailey is scheduled to come off the 60-day disabled list to make his fifth career appearance and start against Washington and his fourth start at Nationals Park.

In the last three seasons, Bailey has made just eight starts for the Reds while coming back from three surgeries. The most recent surgery was Feb. 18, 2017, to remove the bone spurs in his right elbow.

Bailey, 31, a major leaguer since 2007, made three minor league rehab appearances to prepare for his outing Saturday.

He went 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings and allowed just 11 hits while pitching for Double-A Pensacola, Class A Dayton and Triple-A Louisville.

How is he feeling?

"As good as can be expected. My control is there," he said.

Bailey is 1-3 with a 3.86 ERA in his career against Washington and 0-3, 5.40 at Nationals Park.

He has limited experience against most of the Washington hitters.

The Nationals batter with the most appearances against Bailey is outfielder Jayson Werth, who is 4-for-11 but is on the disabled list with a left foot contusion.

Adam Lind is 3-for-3 against Bailey with a homer and Ryan Zimmerman is 1-for-5.

Reds manager Bryan Price is excited to see Bailey back.

"For all of the right reasons. It means a lot of to have a veteran presence here," Price said.

Ross has faced the Reds just once in his career. That was July 2, 2016, when he gave up 10 hits and four earned runs with two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

He did not figure in the decision as he had two strikeouts with one walk.

Ross was tagged with the loss in a 5-1 setback against the Mets in New York on Sunday.

"That's a young pitcher," Washington manager Dusty Baker told reporters after the game.

But the Nationals are counting on Ross to nail down the No. 5 spot in the rotation, which takes on more importance as Tanner Roark has struggled as late as well.

In his short career, Ross has pitched in 44 games, with 41 starts. Bailey, meanwhile, will make his 175th appearance -- all starts.

Even with a strong offense, the Nationals have been stretched thin in the outfield as Werth has been on the disabled list since June 5 with a left foot contusion.

Michael A. Taylor, who became the regular center fielder when Adam Eaton was injured in late April, missed his second straight game Friday though he did pinch hit.

"He feels better today," said Baker, who would not reveal the injury. "I hate to disclose anything."

Wilmer Difo, who came up through the minors as an infielder, made his first career start in center field Friday against the Reds. Brian Goodwin started in left for the Nationals and had three hits, including two homers.

"If you can play shortstop, you can play center fielder," Baker said of Difo.

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Brewers vs. Braves 4:10 (EDT) Preview

Chasing .500, Braves host Brewers

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Saturday, June 24 at 1:18 AM (EDT)

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves got some encouraging news from All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, who said Friday that his recovery from a fractured left wrist is going better than expected. The slugger indicated his realistic goal is to return before the All-Star Game.

Freeman was batting .341 with 14 homers and 25 RBIs in 37 games when he was hit by Toronto's Aaron Loup on April 17 and placed on the disabled list.

Freeman plans to accompany the team when it leaves for the West Coast after Sunday's game and return for a short rehab assignment. His goal is to be back in the lineup for the series in Washington, July 6-9.

"My mindset is to fly back hopefully with the team Sunday, if not before, and then go out and try to meet the team in Washington, because those are a big four games. I want to be back for that," Freeman said.

The news about Freeman seemed to overshadow the impending second game of the weekend series between Atlanta and the Milwaukee Brewers. Atlanta, which beat Milwaukee 5-4 in the first game of the series, has won six of its last seven and 11 of 17. The Braves (35-38) haven't been within three games of .500 since May 23.

Saturday's pitching matchup features Atlanta knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (5-5, 4.91) against Milwaukee's Matt Garza (3-3, 4.42).

Dickey has looked good in two of his last three starts. He worked seven scoreless innings against San Francisco on June 19 and allowed one run in seven innings on June 8 against the Phillies. In between he was pounded by Washington for eight runs in five innings.

Dickey will be making his fifth start against the Brewers. He is 2-1 with a 3.64 ERA against Milwaukee in his career. Dickey did not face the Brewers when the Braves played them in early April.

Garza will make his 11th start of the season and second against the Braves. He beat Atlanta 4-3 on April 30 at Miller Park, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits, with seven strikeouts. Garza has made eight career starts against the Braves and compiled a record of 2-4 with a 4.56 ERA.

Garza will be trying to rebound from a below-average start. He gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings in a game the Brewers lost 8-1 to the Pirates on June 19.

"I thought Matt pitched well," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said after the game. "They hit a bunch of ground balls through the holes."

Garza said: "We shifted right, they hit the ball left. We shifted left, they hit the ball right. It was just ground ball after ground ball."

Once Freeman returns, the question remains what the Braves will do with him. Freeman has requested he be given a chance to play third base, even though he has no major-league experience there, so Atlanta can keep slugger Matt Adams in the lineup at first base.

Adams has defensive limitations and cannot play the outfield. Freeman made the suggestion to club officials about making the move and began taking ground balls at third base this week.

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Cubs vs. Marlins 4:10 (EDT) Preview

Cubs seeking offense against Marlins

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Saturday, June 24 at 1:40 AM (EDT)

MIAMI -- The Chicago Cubs, since the start of 2015, have won more games than any team in baseball, but the defending World Series champions are off to a well-documented slow start this year.

On Saturday, the Cubs (37-36) will face the Miami Marlins (33-39) in the third of a four-game weekend series at Marlins Park.

Chicago has won 11 fewer games than last year at this same point, and most of that can be traced to the rotation. Last year, Cubs starters had a 2.36 ERA compared to 4.45 at the same point this season.

Chicago's offense has also suffered with three expected starters out of action. Right fielder Jason Heyward and second baseman Ben Zobrist are on the disabled list, and left fielder Kyle Schwarber was demoted to the minors on Thursday.

Fortunately for the Cubs, some of their young players have started to emerge, including shortstop Addison Russell, who drove in 95 runs last season but has now been entrusted with the cleanup role in the batting order. Right fielder Ian Happ, who made his major league debut in the middle of last month, already has 10 home runs.

Russell is 23 years old and Happ is 22. Russell had a tough game in Friday's 2-0 loss to the Marlins, but Happ had two hits and has six in the first two games of the series.

"When he starts making contact, he keeps making contact," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Happ, a switch-hitter who has been elevated to the third spot in the batting order.

Happ, Chicago's first-round pick in 2015 -- taken ninth overall out of the University of Cincinnati -- last month became the first Cubs player in 34 years to homer in both his first career road game and first home game. He was also the first Cubs player since at least 1913 to score at least one run in seven of his first eight career games.

Russell, who hit 21 homers last year, is now protecting Happ in the order, and Maddon likes having him batting fourth.

"He drives in runs -- it's as simple as that," Maddon said. "He did that last year. If you get guys on base in front of him, he will give you as good of an at-bat as anybody in that lineup."

As for his pitching rotation, Maddon on Saturday will turn to Jon Lester (4-4, 3.83) in his matchup against fellow left-hander Justin Nicolino (0-1, 5.06) of Miami.

Lester has never beaten the Marlins in four career starts, sporting a 4.91 ERA. He has beaten the 28 other major league teams he has faced (he has never pitched against the Boston Red Sox) but not the Marlins.

This will be Lester's 16th start of the season and he has been much better at home (3-1, 2.68 ERA) than on the road (1-3, 5.85).

In his most recent start, against the San Diego Padres, he allowed just two runs in six innings, getting a no-decision in an eventual Cubs win. It was his eighth quality start.

Meanwhile, Nicolino (0-1, 5.06 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season when he faces the Cubs for the first time in his brief career.

Nicolino's numbers per nine innings this season are poor across the board -- too many hits allowed (11.3), too many homers (2.3), too many walks (3.9) and too few strikeouts (5.6).

In his most recent start, Nicolino lasted just three innings, allowing six runs (three earned) against the Washington Nationals.

Supporting Nicolino will be some of the more feared sluggers in the National League at the moment, namely Marcell Ozuna, who has 20 homers; Giancarlo Stanton, who has 19; and Justin Bour (18).

Stanton, asked what was going on, especially at spacious Marlins Park, joked with tech-obsessed media members.

"I don't know," Stanton said, "check the launch angles."

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Orioles vs. Rays 4:10 (EDT) Preview

Rays rookie Faria goes for fourth straight win

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Saturday, June 24 at 12:24 AM (EDT)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays had spent every day of the 2017 season within three games of .500, good or bad, until Friday's emphatic 15-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

So the idea of seizing momentum and sustaining it for an extended win streak is still something foreign, even for a team in line for a wild-card berth in the current American League standings.

"The guys have come together really well and found ways to win series," manager Kevin Cash said. "Some series we've won by slugging, some series we've won by getting really good starting pitching. ... As we've said for a while, we feel we are a good team."

The Rays (40-36) hope to show that Saturday at Tropicana Field against the Orioles, counting on another unlikely star in rookie Jacob Faria, who has been dominant in his first three starts, going 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA.

With that, Faria joins Jeremy Hellickson as the only pitchers in Rays history to win their first three starts, and the only pitchers to go at least six innings in each of their first three starts. There's more. Since 1913, he is just the fifth pitcher to go at least six innings, allow one run or less and get the win in his first three starts, and the first since the Cardinals' Andy Rincon in 1980.

Faria has struck out 22 batters while walking only four -- that makes him the first pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to win his first three starts while striking out at least 20 and walking fewer than five batters.

The Orioles, at the other end of the spectrum of momentum, found a more dubious piece of history, becoming the first time since the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies to allow at least five runs in 20 straight games.

Starter Ubaldo Jimenez couldn't make it out of the third inning, making the Orioles use relievers Alec Asher (49 pitches) and Miguel Castro (50) so long that they'll need to make a roster move before Saturday's game.

"We have to pitch better. It is what it is," manager Buck Showalter said. "The help's going to come from within. We've got to get back in step. We have to create some rhythm for the offense and the defense. I don't like to hang it around one phase of it, but it starts to string some good starts together."

Asked if he'd need a fresh arm called up for Saturday's game, Showalter said, "At least one, for sure." He'll turn to RHP Dylan Bundy, who has a solid 7-6 record and 3.72 ERA, but he gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last outing.

Bundy is 0-1 with 6.06 ERA in four games -- three starts -- versus the Rays. He got a no-decision against them on April 26 when he allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-4 Baltimore win.

The Rays will get another boost to their surging offense as catcher Wilson Ramos will be reinstated from the disabled list to make his season debut after missing the entire season recovering from a torn ACL suffered last year. Ramos would add another power bat to their lineup, with Derek Norris being designated for assignment to make room for him.

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Twins vs. Indians 4:10 (EDT) Preview

Twins want to get even with Indians

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Saturday, June 24 at 1:07 AM (EDT)

CLEVELAND -- After getting swept by Cleveland in a four-game series at Target Field last weekend, the Minnesota Twins would like nothing more than to return the favor in their three-game series with the Indians this weekend at Progressive Field.

The Twins got off to a good start Friday, winning the first game of the series 5-0. The series will continue Saturday with the Twins sending Kyle Gibson (4-5, 6.56 ERA) to the mound against Cleveland ace Corey Kluber (6-2, 3.58).

The Cleveland series is the first leg in an 11-game, three-city trip that will perhaps be the most challenging of the season for the Twins. After their three-game series in Cleveland, the Twins will fly to Boston for four games, then on to Kansas City for four, two of them in a July 1 doubleheader.

"We're facing a daunting trip, so it was good to come out of the first game with a win over a very good Cleveland club that has been as hot as anyone," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It feels good to get on the board against them."

The Twins haven't had any luck against Cleveland in Minnesota. The Twins are 0-7 against the Indians at Target Field but 3-1 against the Indians at Progressive Field.

Even with their loss Friday, the Indians have still won seven of their last nine games to move past the Twins and into first place in the American League Central. The Indians' lead over the second place Twins is 1 1/2 games.

The Indians hope Kluber will be able to get them back in the win column on Saturday.

Kluber is coming off his best start of the season, pitching a complete game in a 12-0 victory in Baltimore on June 19. In that game, Kluber tossed a three-hitter, with no walks and a season-high 11 strikeouts.

Saturday will be Kluber's first start of the season against Minnesota. In his career against the Twins, Kluber is 8-5 with a 3.51 ERA.

In his last start, Gibson took the loss on June 18 against Cleveland, a 5-2 victory by the Indians. In that game, Gibson gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings.

In two starts against the Indians this year, Gibson is 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA. In 11 career starts against Cleveland, Gibson is 2-5 with a 6.07 ERA.

Although Twins pitching held the Indians scoreless in the first game of the series, Cleveland's lineup has been very productive of late, particularly third baseman Jose Ramirez.

Ramirez, who has been the Indians' hottest hitter, saw his 10-game hitting streak snapped when he grounded out to end Friday's game in a pinch-hitting appearance in the ninth inning. However, during his 10-game hitting streak, Ramirez batted .522 (24-for-46) with 10 doubles, two triples, three home runs and seven RBIs.

Ramirez is tied for first in the AL in triples (4) and is second in doubles (23), third in extra-base hits (38), and sixth in hitting (.321). "If he's not an All-Star, I don't know who is," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

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Angels vs. Red Sox 7:15 (EDT) Preview

Angels look to bounce back vs. Red Sox

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Saturday, June 24 at 10:48 AM (EDT)

BOSTON -- Like teammate Alex Meyer Friday night, Angels righty J.C. Ramirez faces the Red Sox for the first time in his career in the second game of the three-game series at Fenway Park Saturday night.

He has to hope his night goes better than Meyer's -- the rookie right-hander was chased after 3 1/3 innings of the Red Sox's 9-4 win in the opener of the three-game weekend series,

David Price, making just his sixth start of the season, goes for Boston against Ramirez.

Ramirez, 6-5 with a 4.59 ERA, has struggled in June after finishing May on an up note. He is 1-2 in four June starts, allowing 28 hits and 18 earned runs in 19 innings -- and lasted just three-plus innings in his last start, losing to the Kansas City Royals.

Ramirez threw 89 pitches and struck out six in his last start, a game the Angels wound up losing 7-3. He allowed five hits walked four and yielded five runs.

"I want to go six and seven innings," he said after that outing. "I think it wasn't a bad start, I just threw a lot of pitches."

He has never faced the Red Sox.

Price, 2-1 with a 5.14 ERA since coming back from a strained left elbow, has allowed 12 earned runs in 16 innings over his last start. He is 5-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 13 career starts against the Angels and has a streak of eight straight outings of six-plus innings (4-3, 3.29 over that stretch).

He allowed 14 baserunners in five innings at Houston in his last start, but gave up just three runs and got his second win of the season.

"Working on pitching with runners in scoring position, that's the way it feels every game, every inning," he said. "That's not the way to go about it. It feels good for us to win tonight."

He was thrilled to have escaped his 107-pitch high wire act, saying, "The amount of runners I had in scoring position, or second and third base, there in the first inning, first and third, with one out to be able to get out of that with just one run, whatever other innings -- I had with runners in scoring position, two outs or less than two, to be able to limit those innings and not allow that big inning to happen, that was big."

Cole Calhoun is 4-for-13 (.368) and Cliff Pennington 4-for-8 (.500) against Price, but Alberts Pujols is just 4-for-22 (.182) with two homers and Yunel Escobar 7-for-30 (.233) against the left-hander.

Friday night, Meyer walked the first two batters he faced and wild-pitched the second and third runs of the first inning home -- later calling it "unacceptable."

"He settled in and made some good pitches for the next couple innings until the fourth," said manager Mike Scioscia. "Just behind to many counts and had trouble putting some guys away. Obviously, we'll turn the page on this one. It wasn't a great outing for (us)."

The Red Sox improved to 22-11 at home with Friday night's win, 10-2 in their last 12 games.

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Mets vs. Giants 7:15 (EDT) Preview

Mets aim for second second straight win over Giants

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Saturday, June 24 at 3:26 AM (EDT)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Right-handers Jacob deGrom and Johnny Cueto go head-to-head for the first time since the 2015 World Series when the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants continue their three-game series Saturday night.

The Mets won the series opener 11-4 on Friday behind a season best-tying 20 hits, snapping a four-game losing streak.

"We have our work cut out for us," Mets manager Terry Collins said of the club's big picture, which showed his team a season-worst 10 games under .500 at the start of play Friday. "They know what they have to do. Our backs are to the wall. This was the first step."

Pitching then for the Kansas City Royals, Cueto got the better of deGrom in Game 2 of the 2015 World Series, throwing a complete-game two-hitter in a 7-1 victory.

The Royals went on to win the best-of-seven series 4-1.

Signed as a high-priced free agent by the Giants last season, Cueto has not retained his championship form in 2017. He's won just once in his last nine starts, allowing a 4.13 ERA over that stretch.

Cueto will take the mound with a 5-7 record, the first time he's had a losing slate this late in the season since he was a rookie in 2008.

He was 11-1 for the Giants on this date last season.

Cueto has faced the Mets once since the World Series duel and was nearly as effective in an 8-1 Giants home win last August. He allowed one run on eight hits over seven innings in that game, outdueling Seth Lugo.

He has a 4-4 record and 3.75 ERA in 12 career starts against the Mets.

Cueto might have the recent history, but the Mets will employ the hot pitcher Saturday in deGrom. He has been dominant in each of his last two starts, beating the Chicago Cubs 6-1 with a complete-game five-hitter, then silencing the Washington Nationals over eight innings, allowing just an unearned run in a 5-1 win.

In earning National League Player of the Week honors, deGrom (6-3, 3.94 ERA) became the first Mets pitcher since Bartolo Colon in 2015 to throw eight or more innings in back-to-back starts. He'd never done it previously in his career.

An All-Star in 2015, deGrom was roughed up for six hits and four runs in the World Series loss to Cueto and the Royals.

The Mets complained about umpire Mark Carlson's strike zone that night, and Saturday they'll have another potential issue with the guy behind the plate. Cueto has never lost with Marvin Hudson calling the balls and strikes, going 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts.

Striking out 38 batters in 32 1/3 innings along the way, deGrom has a 3-1 record and 3.62 ERA in five career starts against the Giants.

On a night that began with second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera claiming he planned to request a trade from the Mets, it was the Giants who walked off the field Friday in a bit of disarray.

"We scored four runs," Giants manager Bruce Bochy demanded when asked if Thursday's rain-delayed late start at Atlanta and cross-country flight could be used as an excuse for Friday's lackluster effort. "Those guys (the Mets) had to play at night (in Los Angeles), too."

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Pirates vs. Cardinals 7:15 (EDT) Preview

Pirates attempt to make it two in a row against Cardinals

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Saturday, June 24 at 1:22 AM (EDT)

ST. LOUIS -- It wasn't exactly a long national nightmare or even a regional one. But the Pittsburgh Pirates did remove a seven-game losing streak at Busch Stadium from their shoulders on Friday night.

Their come-from-behind 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals had all the elements that a team requires to claim a tight victory: solid pitching, timely hitting, excellent defense and clutch work out of the bullpen.

"We felt like we were going to win sometime this weekend," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Might as well get it done tonight. That's just the attitude we have. Yeah, it's good to be over for sure."

The Pirates can now make it a winning streak under the Gateway Arch if they win game two of the weekend series between National League Central rivals on Saturday night.

Friday night's win enabled Pittsburgh (34-40) to crawl within five games of first-place Milwaukee and jump over St. Louis (33-39) by a percentage point for third place. The overall weakness of the division has allowed both the Pirates and Cardinals to stay within a long winning streak of the top despite playing sub-.500 baseball.

Pittsburgh will go for a series win behind right-hander Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28), who in his last two starts has looked more like an ace and less like a guy who some feel could be moved at the trading deadline if the Pirates fall out of contention.

Cole cruised to an 8-1 win Monday night in Milwaukee, giving up three hits and a run in seven innings while walking two and whiffing five. Cole is 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 11 career starts against St. Louis.

He faced the Cardinals on April 19 and pitched a good game except for two pitches to Dexter Fowler that turned into solo homers. That was enough to get Cole beaten by a 2-1 count.

Fowler could be back in the St. Louis lineup on Saturday night after missing the last two games with a quad strain suffered in the 10th inning of a 7-6 win at Philadelphia. That also marked the last time the Cardinals won.

They have dropped their last two games, lowering their June record to 8-14. Five of the wins came courtesy of the Phillies, who are currently on the clock for the top pick in next June's draft.

St. Louis will turn to Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33) to reverse its fortunes. Lynn is trying to bounce back from a rough outing on Sunday at Baltimore, where he gave up seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings of an 8-5 setback.

While Lynn is 6-5 with a mediocre 4.41 ERA in 20 career appearances against Pittsburgh, his last outing against the Pirates was terrific. On April 17, Lynn worked seven shutout innings in a 2-1 win.

The Cardinals appeared to be in position to start this series with a win, but their top relievers -- Trevor Rosenthal and Seung Hwan Oh -- couldn't protect a 3-2 edge. Rosenthal burped up the tying run in the eighth and Oh allowed John Jaso's tiebreaking homer in the ninth.

It was the fifth homer that Oh has permitted this year, matching the total he allowed all of last year.

"His velocity's there," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Oh. "He's just elevating some pitches a bit."

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Friday, June 23, 2017
Major League Baseball
Athletics 3 vs. 0 White Sox Final Recap

A's beat White Sox, end 4-game skid behind Davis' HR

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Saturday, June 24 at 12:37 AM (EDT)

CHICAGO -- Oakland Athletics pitcher Jharel Cotton told his teammates in the bullpen that he wanted to give them a break and go nine innings. He didn't live up to his end of the bargain, but the A's will certainly live with his performance.

Cotton (5-7) threw five shutout innings, scattering three hits in Oakland's 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night before leaving the game at the start of the sixth inning because of a blister on his right (throwing) thumb.

"I was cruising until the fifth and the sixth and then this happened," Cotton said, pointing to the blister. "It was kind of a bummer that I couldn't at least finish the sixth inning."

Cotton has been dealing with a blister for some time, and A's manager Bob Melvin said "it doesn't seem to be a big issue" and he's hopeful the right-hander makes his next start.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the A's (33-42) as Khris Davis listened to Melvin's pregame message of jumping out to an early lead. On the first pitch he saw from Mike Pelfrey in the top of the first, Davis launched his 19th home run of the season, a 429-foot, two-run blast to center field.

"(Melvin) told me he wanted to give me a kiss for some reason because we jumped out to an early lead," Davis said with a laugh. "I think I agree with that, that it was important to jump out and score first. Just keeping an aggressive mindset early on."

Davis went 2-for-3 and also had a walk and stolen base. The early lead gave Cotton some confidence as he notched his first win in a night game this season.

"Yeah, I told KD he took coaching very well today," Melvin said. "Any time he makes the manager look good he gets to play again tomorrow. We needed to get on the board first, the way things had been going on the road for us. And Jharel kind of took that and ran with it, and obviously when he had to come out we had some rested guys in the bullpen today and they did a good job after it."

Matt Joyce also hit a home run for the A's, blasting a solo shot to right-center field in the fourth inning against Pelfrey (3-6), who dropped to 0-5 in his career against Oakland. He threw 106 pitches in only 4 2/3 innings.

"For six or seven lefties, I did a terrible job of commanding the inside of the plate with the fastball," said Pelfrey, who was 3-1 in his previous six starts coming in. "(I was) probably fortunate to get out of it with three runs like I did."

Melvin said that Oakland's bullpen was "terrific" in throwing four shutout innings. Closer Santiago Casilla made it interesting in the ninth, though, allowing the tying run to come to the plate, but Matt Davidson flied out to deep center field to end the game.

"They did a great job from Liam (Hendriks) coming in and finishing my inning for me to (Sean) Doolittle coming in and throwing up zeros and especially (Ryan) Madson, a guy I talk to a lot, and of course Casilla, just closing the game out for us and giving us the first 'W' of the road series, which is pretty good," Cotton said.

Davidson had two hits for the White Sox (32-40), who have lost four of five.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and manager Rick Renteria were ejected by home plate umpire Jim Wolf in the bottom of the fifth inning. Anderson was tagged out by A's catcher Bruce Maxwell on a tapper that he thought was foul. Renteria came out to argue Anderson's ejection and he was tossed for the third time this season and second time in a week.

"It happened kind of quick," Renteria said. "I started walking out and I was too late obviously. But I mean things like that happen. In the heat of the battle, your emotions are flying high so it happens."

NOTES: Oakland SS Chad Pinder left the game after the fifth inning with a strained left hamstring. Manager Bob Melvin said it "could be a little bit. ... Usually those things aren't one day.". ... White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey had not given up a home run since May 26 -- he had gone five appearances and 21 innings without allowing a long ball. ... Khris Davis' home run for Oakland was only his third in June after hitting 10 in April and six in May, but he is hitting .294 in the month compared with a .186 average in May. ... White Sox SS Tim Anderson's first career ejection came on his 24th birthday. ... The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle's No. 56 before Saturday afternoon's game.

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Blue Jays 4 vs. 5 Royals Final Recap

Royals wipe out four-run deficit in ninth to top Blue Jays

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Saturday, June 24 at 1:32 AM (EDT)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Whit Merrifield was not thinking he never had a walk-off hit when he dug in at the plate in the ninth.

Merrifield delivered his first career walk-off hit with a two-run double as the Kansas City Royals rallied from a four-run deficit to top the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Friday night.

All four runs in the ninth inning were scored with two outs.

"The tying run is on third, just hit the ball hard and if it happens to get in the gap or over the fence, that's a bonus," Merrifield said of what he was thinking. "In that situation, you're just trying to get that run in from third."

Merrifield doubled with one out in the eighth, but did not score.

"I felt like I had good at-bats all night, so it was nice to come through when it mattered," he said.

He was the seventh man to bat in the ninth.

"I counted out in my head if it worked out, I was going to get to hit and I had confidence in our guys to get the job done and they did," Merrifield said. "I had a chance and took advantage of it."

Alcides Escobar singled home Salvador Perez with the first run of the inning and Alex Gordon singled home Brandon Moss, who had walked, with the second run.

"I had him (Moss) 1-2," Toronto reliever Ryan Tepera said. "Just kept battling and battling. Mixed it up with a fastball and a slider, and he just kept battling and we ended up walking him. That was the key point of the inning really."

Merrifield greeted Jason Grilli with a double to left to score Escobar and Gordon.

"I was just hoping Salvy was not going to run out on the field too soon," Moss said. "Esky scored and Salvy was already on his way out and I said, 'wait, wait, wait. We gotta make sure Gordy gets around, too.' That was a great at-bat by him. He got a pitch and didn't miss it."

The victory moved the Royals (36-36) to .500 for the first time since they were 6-6 on April 16.

Joakim Soria (4-2) got the victory and Aaron Loup (2-1) took the loss.

Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ limited the Royals to four hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking none. He left with a 2-1 lead.

"The bullpen's been great for us," Happ said. "This shouldn't be an issue. This was just one of those nights and it didn't go our way, but we're going to have to bounce back."

Troy Tulowitzki doubled home Kendrys Morales with the first Toronto run in the fourth inning and scored on a Jake Junis wild pitch.

Toronto added two runs in the ninth with run-producing singles by Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak.

The Royals chased Happ in the seventh, which Lorenzo Cain led off with a double. Eric Hosmer reached on Ryan Goins' fielding error. Perez laced a single to left, scoring Cain with still nobody out.

Happ rebounded to retire Mike Moustakas on an infield pop-up and struck out Moss. Danny Barnes was brought in to face Escobar, who flied out to center.

"Just getting ahead, getting strike one," Happ said. "I feel like I've been getting better at that. That helps me control the count a lot better and be able to throw the other pitches off of that. So, that was a plus tonight."

"Just trying to stay out of the middle as much as I can and just trying to stick that ball to each side and just use everything. I feel like Russ did a good job back there tonight, kind of being on point with what we wanted to do. And, I feel like it is getting better."

Royals rookie Junis was pulled after 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, six hits and two walks while striking out four.

The Blue Jays scored two runs on one hit, a hit batter and a wild pitch in the fourth inning.

Junis hit Morales with a pitch to start the inning. Tulowitzki doubled to the right-center gap, scoring Morales. Dwight Smith Jr. flied out to deep center to get Tulowitzki to third. After walking Kevin Pillar, Junis uncorked a wild pitch with Goins batting, allowing Tulowitzki to score.

Happ retired the first 10 batters he faced before Jorge Bonifacio doubled to left with one out in the fourth, but he was stranded at third base.

The only other Kansas City baserunner the first five innings was Moss' opposite-field single with two out in the fifth.

Jose Bautista and Russell Martin singled with two outs in the third, but Junis struck out Donaldson to end the inning.

NOTES: The Royals designated for assignment RHP Chris Young, who had a 7.50 ERA and was allowing opponents to hit .353. They added RHP Neftali Feliz, who was released by the Brewers after going 1-5 with eight saves and a 6.00 ERA. ... The Blue Jays brought up OF Ian Parmley from Triple-A Buffalo and he started in right field. RHP Cesar Valdez was sent to the Bisons. ... OF Steve Pearce was not in the Toronto lineup for the second straight day with a bruised right knee. ... Royals LHP Danny Duffy will begin a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Omaha. Duffy is on the disabled list with a strained oblique. ... Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada and Royals LHP Jason Vargas are the Saturday probables.

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Pirates 4 vs. 3 Cardinals Final Recap

Jaso blast lifts Pirates over Cardinals

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Saturday, June 24 at 12:45 AM (EDT)

ST. LOUIS -- The majority of a sellout crowd of 47,112 believed that Seung Hwan Oh got John Jaso to swing at a 2-2 breaking ball for the third out of the top of the ninth inning Friday night.

Only he didn't. Jaso held up and the pitch was ruled a ball.

On the next pitch, Jaso made Oh pay for not putting him away, ripping a tie-breaking homer that gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was the fifth homer this year for Jaso, who entered the game as part of a double-switch in the eighth inning.

"I definitely held up on that swing," Jaso said. "You don't let the anxiety of two strikes get to your head. He threw everything -- cutters, fastballs, splits."

Oh (1-4) left a changeup over the plate's middle and Jaso drilled it 406 feet to right-center, completing Pittsburgh's comeback from a 3-2 deficit with five outs remaining. The Pirates (34-40) passed St. Louis (33-39) by a percentage point for third place in the National League Central, five games back of first place Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh snapped a seven-game losing streak in Busch Stadium, dating back to last July.

"We felt like we were going to win sometime this weekend," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Might as well get it done tonight."

It appeared that Pittsburgh would taste defeat again under the Gateway Arch when rookie second baseman Paul DeJong rifled a solo homer with one out in the seventh to right-center, giving the Cardinals a one-run lead.

But the Pirates spoiled Adam Wainwright's hopes for his eighth win by touching Trevor Rosenthal for the tying run in the eighth. David Freese grounded a two-out RBI single to right, scoring Adam Frazier.

Pittsburgh then preserved the tie behind ace reliever Felipe Rivero and right fielder Gregory Polanco's third terrific catch in as many innings.

Inserted with runners at the corners and one out in the St. Louis half of the eighth, Rivero (3-1) got Aledmys Diaz to line out to third. Then DeJong lofted the first pitch he saw from Rivero into right-center for a potential go-ahead hit.

However, Polanco got a good jump on the ball and made a sliding grab to keep the score equalized.

"He's a plus defender," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Polanco. "He made a couple of nice plays."

Rivero then worked around a leadoff walk to Eric Fryer in the ninth to polish off the victory.

While the Pirates played an errorless game, St. Louis' seventh error in three games cost it a run in the fourth. DeJong turned an ordinary chopper from Josh Bell into a two-base throwing error with one out, moving Freese to third. Andrew McCutchen's infield out evened the score at 2.

It was the seventh unearned run the Cardinals have allowed as a result of the miscues.

"He was trying to make more out of that play than was there," Matheny said of DeJong. "He had to rush his throw and it caught (first baseman Matt) Carpenter off-guard."

Homers kicked off the scoring in the second inning. Pittsburgh's Josh Bell laced a solo shot down the right-field line, but Jose Martinez countered with a liner that cleared the left-field wall two pitches after Jedd Gyorko drew a leadoff walk.

Most of the game was dominated by good starting pitching. Wainwright, who allowed 20 runs in his previous three starts, checked the Pirates on two hits in seven innings. He allowed just one earned run, walking two and whiffing five.

Pittsburgh righty Jameson Taillon worked six innings in his third start since returning from the disabled list after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer last month. Taillon allowed four hits and two runs, walking two and fanning seven.

He and his teammates got to savor a win, thanks to Jaso's patience and his stroke.

"I'm not sure he knew how big the situation was," Taillon said of Jaso. "He's so mellow. I don't know if he ever feels the pressure."

NOTES: St. Louis CF Dexter Fowler (quad) sat out his second straight game on Friday night after being injured Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Fowler is optimistic that he'll be able to return to the lineup Saturday night. ... The Cardinals also scratched C Yadier Molina (knee) from their lineup after he noted tightness from getting hit by a foul tip in Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Phillies. Eric Fryer got the start in Molina's place. ... Pittsburgh CF Andrew McCutchen has a streak of 14 homers in nine consecutive seasons, making him just the second player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. Willie Stargell hit 14 or more in 13 straight years from 1964-76.

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Phillies 6 vs. 1 Diamondbacks Final Recap

Phillies' Leiter beats Diamondbacks in first start

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Saturday, June 24 at 1:57 AM (EDT)

PHOENIX -- Mark Leiter Jr. was lights out in his first major league start, one that took the former 22nd-round draft pick plenty of years and plenty of setbacks to make despite his major league heritage.

Leiter kept Arizona off-balance by effectively mixing his pitches over six shutout innings in his starting debut, and Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph homered in the late innings to help the last-place Philadelphia Phillies cool off the Diamondbacks in a 6-1 win on Friday night.

Arizona, coming off a 7-1 road trip, had won nine of 10 overall and 11 of 12 at Chase Field only to generate almost no offense against Leiter (1-0), whose first 12 career appearances came in relief.

"He's always been under the radar, one of those guys that people have always doubted, but his mentality and the way he prepares and gets ready for this, he's second to none," said Joseph, a Leiter teammate in both the majors and minors. "They're one of (the) best offenses in baseball, (but) he kept them off-balance and was in command of the strike zone."

The son of Mark Leiter and the nephew of Al Leiter -- both former major league pitchers -- the 26-year-old Leiter wasn't overpowering, with a fastball that topped out in the low 90s, but he constantly forced the Diamondbacks to chase cut fastballs, change-ups and a dominating split-finger fastball down in the strike zone. It probably made fans wonder why he labored with six minor league teams before finally reaching the majors at age 26.

"He made it look easy, used all of his pitches and pitched ahead all but one inning," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He had a good changeup he threw behind in the count, the splitter was his go-to pitch and he made a lot of hitters look bad on a good-hitting team."

Leiter couldn't have pitched much better for a team that had won only two of its previous 15 games, striking out five and walking one before giving way to his bullpen after throwing 81 pitches, 51 for strikes.

"It says a lot about what kind of pitcher he is, first major league start and he comes up and does that. It (Chase Field) is known as a hitters' ballpark, and it means he's pretty strong between the ears," Joseph said.

The Phillies, winning successive games for the first time since June 5-6, didn't generate much offense themselves until the final two innings, but they turned Freddy Galvis' one-out triple in the first off starter Patrick Corbin into a run, then added a key insurance run when Franco hit his ninth homer of the season -- a line drive to right field off Jorge De La Rosa on a 3-0 pitch in the eighth.

Galvis' second homer in four games against Arizona this season proved important in the bottom off the inning when Daniel Descalso's first triple of the season scored Rey Fuentes, who began the inning with a single. But reliever Joaquin Benoit recovered to strand Descalso at third, getting David Peralta on a line drive to short and striking out Jake Lamb around a walk to Paul Goldschmidt.

"You're going to have those days," catcher Chris Iannetta said of only the second Diamondbacks loss at home since May 14. "(We'll) brush this one off and come back tomorrow. It's not the end of the world."

Philadelphia, winning its fifth in a row at Chase Field since 2015, broke it open with a four-run ninth against T.J. McFarland that included Joseph's two-run homer into the swimming pool in right field, his 12th of the season.

"There was a lot of good stuff out there," Mackanin said, including Leiter's first major league hit, a single in the second inning.

The Diamondbacks had scored 26 runs in their previous two games, but didn't give Corbin (6-7) any support as he allowed only one run over 6 1/3 innings despite giving up eight hits.

"The first two innings I threw a lot of pitches but then I settled down," Corbin said. "(There were) a lot of ground balls, some that got through, but some that didn't."

Pat Neshek followed Leiter -- whose father was in the stands to see his son's starting debut -- with a scoreless seventh inning, and Hector Neris pitched the ninth in a non-save situation. The Leiters are the 15th father-son combination in major league history to pitch for the same team.

The Diamondbacks, coming off a franchise-best 7-1 road trip to Detroit, Philadelphia and Colorado, had a couple of chances early to get to Leiter, only to have the rookie pitch out of trouble.

The Phillies played without their hottest hitter of late, second baseman Howie Kendrick, who was scratched with left hamstring tightness less than an hour before game time. Kendrick, out more than a month earlier this season with an oblique injury, doubled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

NOTES: Phoenix Suns first-round draft pick Josh Jackson and Arizona Cardinals first-round pick Haason Reddick threw out ceremonial first pitches. ... RHP Randall Delgado (1-1) will make a spot start for Arizona on Sunday, in part to give RHP Taijuan Walker some extra rest. ... The D-backs placed RHP J.J. Hoover on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and brought up RHP Rubby De La Rosa from Triple-A Reno, where he was 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. He was 4-5 for Arizona last season while being limited to 13 appearances by right elbow inflammation. ... A moment of silence was observed for former Arizona State football coach Frank Kush, who died Thursday. ... The Phillies played the second game of a 20-game stretch in which the starting time is different than the day before. ... After the game, the Diamondbacks optioned OF Jeremy Hazelbaker to Triple-A Reno.

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Astros 3 vs. 13 Mariners Final Recap

Mariners' Hernandez beats Astros in return

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Saturday, June 24 at 2:46 AM (EDT)

SEATTLE -- "King's Court" is back in session.

Felix Hernandez pitched six strong innings in his first start since April 25 and the Seattle Mariners hit three home runs to defeat the Houston Astros 13-3 Friday night at Safeco Field.

Hernandez (3-2), who had been on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, allowed eight hits and three runs. He walked one and struck out six.

"I was going crazy on the DL, but I knew I'd be back," Hernandez said. "I was just trying to have a good game. We scored a lot of runs, which was good for me."

Mike Zunino hit a three-run homer for Seattle, which won its season-high sixth straight game. Ben Gamel and Kyle Seager added solo shots.

"King's Court" in the left-field corner, a group of fans who wear yellow "King Felix" T-shirts and hold up "K" signs and chant whenever Hernandez reaches a two-strike count, was overflowing Friday for the right-hander's first appearance at home since April 19. The court, which normally fills two sections, consumed four.

""It's a blast playing behind that guy," Gamel said. "Everything he brings to the table and the atmosphere ... it's huge having Felix back."

Hernandez was staked to a six-run lead in the third inning and cruised from there.

Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman hit solo home runs for Houston, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.

"It's a big series," said Hernandez, referring to the matchup between the top two teams in the American League West -- even though the Astros have an 11 1/2-game lead. "It's a good start to win this game."

Altuve hit a two-out homer, his 11th of the season, in the first. Bregman led off the fifth with his homer to straightaway center field, his eighth.

"Both home runs were pretty good pitches," Hernandez said. "Just got to tip my hat to them."

The Mariners tied it in the second as Seager led off with a single, moved to second on a single by Danny Valencia and scored on Jarrod Dyson's double down the right-field line.

Seattle loaded the bases in the third as Seager was hit by a pitch after singles by Gamel and Nelson Cruz. Mitch Haniger hit a run-scoring single up the middle, then Valencia grounded a two-run single to left just past diving Astros third baseman Bregman.

An out later, Zunino hit the first pitch from Houston starter Joe Musgrove 402 feet over the bullpens in left field for a three-run homer, his 10th of the season, making it 7-1.

The Astros got one run back in the fourth as Carlos Correa led off with a single and later scored on a run-scoring single by Marwin Gonzalez.

But the Mariners continued to batter Musgrove in the fourth, knocking him out.

Gamel led off with a homer to left field, his fourth of the season. Two outs later, Seager homered to right, his eighth, giving the Mariners a 9-2 lead. After a walk to Haniger and a single by Valencia, Musgrove's night was done.

Musgrove (4-7) had his worst start of the season. He allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings, with one walk and four strikeouts, and was tagged for three home runs.

"He really made a lot of mistakes in the strike zone and they made him pay for it," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They did a good job of putting some good at-bats together and we couldn't stop them."

NOTES: RHP Felix Hernandez recorded his 157th career victory, passing Freddy Garcia for the most by a Venezuelan-born pitcher. ... All three of Seattle's runs in the seventh inning scored on wild pitches, even though RHP James Hoyt threw just two. Both 1B Danny Valencia and CF Jarrod Dyson scored on the first one, with Dyson racing home from second. Pinch-hitter Taylor Motter scored on Hoyt's second wild pitch. ... Valencia went 4-for-5, matching his career high for hits in game. It's the fourth time this season he's accomplished the feat, also doing it May 4 vs. the Los Angeles Angels, May 10 vs. Philadelphia and June 3 vs. Tampa Bay. ... Mariners LF Ben Gamel extended his hitting streak to 15 games. ... Seattle RHP Yovani Gallardo made his first relief appearance since his rookie season of 2007 with Milwaukee. Gallardo made 278 straight starts between bullpen assignments. He got the save with three scoreless innings of two-hit ball. ... The Astros plan to activate RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (6-1, 2.58 ERA) to start Saturday night against Mariners RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-1, 3.43).

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Rockies 1 vs. 6 Dodgers Final Recap

Surging Dodgers rip Rockies for 8th in row

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Saturday, June 24 at 2:28 AM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are on such a roll that players don't want to come out of the lineup.

Alex Wood suffocated the Colorado Rockies to improve his record to a sterling 8-0 but was bummed when manager Dave Roberts called it a night for him after six innings. Wood allowed three hits, two of them soft, and struck out seven as the Dodgers won their eighth straight, 6-1, Friday night.

"I had an at-bat in the sixth so I thought I was going back out," said Wood, who lowered his ERA to 1.86. "I didn't even know I was up to 98 pitches.

"Being 8-0 is nice, for sure. But you always go out there wanting to give your team a chance to win. I tried to attack the strike zone all night. My changeup was working well."

Roberts said, "He had a great three-pitch mix. They didn't get many good swings. When your starters have had some recent injuries, you look at the long view more than the short one."

Justin Turner had three hits to improve his average to .392 and Yasiel Puig crushed a 445-foot solo home run in the fourth inning to extend the Dodgers' streak of consecutive games with a home run to 15.

Shortstop Corey Seager had two hits, scored a run and had an RBI but left the game after two innings after tweaking his right hamstring. It was a precautionary move. He will have an MRI exam on Saturday. Roberts said he probably wouldn't play Saturday.

"It doesn't feel bad," Seager said. "It tightened up like a cramp. I've had a bunch of these before and played through them, but you can also make it worse by playing. I'll get it checked out but I feel pretty confident."

The Dodgers are exuding confidence. They have won 14 of their last 15, the eight-game win streak is their longest since 2013, they've won nine straight at home and have the best home record in the majors at 30-10. They also tied a franchise record by scoring six runs or more in their seventh straight game.

The win moved Los Angeles' lead in the NL West to a season-high 2 1/2 games over the Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Rockies started Kyle Freeland (8-5) was touched for 10 hits and three walks in six innings as the Rockies dropped their third straight. Colorado has used a rotation loaded with rookies to post one of the best records in the NL, but its starters have allowed 24 runs in the last three games.

Manager Bud Black is aware that Freeland and other starters don't have a foundation of a lot of innings, but he isn't concerned.

"You'd like to be eight or nine deep in starters, and that's where I think we are," Black said. "Reinforcements are coming."

Jon Gray, out since April with a broken foot, is scheduled to return shortly. Tyler Anderson returned this week after being on the DL with a knee injury and may start Sunday. Chad Bettis is also throwing simulated games after being sidelined all season with testicular cancer.

NOTES: Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig's home run on Friday was his 14th of the season and first against a left-handed pitcher. ... Cody Bellinger extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... LHP Alex Wood retired the last 10 Rockies he faced, and three relievers retired the next nine. ... The Dodgers recalled RHP Ross Stripling (0-3, 4.00) from Triple-A Oklahoma City to replace Chris Hatcher (0-1, 4.66), who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with thoracic inflammation. He pitched in Thursday's win over the Mets, allowing a run, hit and walk. He had a 4.66 ERA in 2017. ... LHP Julio Urias, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect who was 5-2 in limited use last season, will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair damage to the anterior capsule on his left shoulder. The surgery has an estimated recovery time of 12 to 14 months. ... Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson was activated from the disabled list Thursday and pitched an inning of relief in the Rockies' loss to Arizona, his first relief appearance in his career. Anderson may start Sunday's series finale. ... RHP Carlos Estevez (2-0, 12.54) was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for Anderson.

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Tigers 0 vs. 1 Padres Final Recap

Padres' Perdomo, three relievers blank Tigers

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Saturday, June 24 at 2:48 AM (EDT)

SAN DIEGO -- The Detroit Tigers were shut out for the sixth time this season Friday night by the San Diego Padres.

And for the third time, Tigers right-handed starter Michael Fulmer was on the wrong end of the zeroes.

"All I know is I've had just one scoreless outing this year and obviously that needs to change," Fulmer said after the Padres scored the game's only run on one of the two hits he allowed -- a second-inning RBI double by catcher Austin Hedges -- as San Diego won 1-0 in the opener of a three-game interleague series at Petco Park.

"The way things are going, that's just not good enough," Fulmer said of his outing after Padres starter Luis Perdomo (2-4) and two relievers combined on a three-hit shutout to hand Detroit its seventh consecutive loss.

That was one more hit than the Padres had. But timing is everything.

"A walk and a hanging slider," continued Fulmer. "One inning. There is not much you can do."

Actually, Fulmer (6-6, 3.29 ERA) thought he could have done better.

Cory Spangenberg drew a leadoff walk to open the second and reached second on Erick Aybar's groundout to second on a run-and-hit play.

Hedges, who hadn't played since being run over by Anthony Rizzo at Wrigley Field on Monday night, doubled to right-center on a two-out, 1-2 slider, driving Spangenberg home.

"I was looking for a mistake and he gave it to me," said Hedges.

"I knew the pitcher was up next," said Fulmer. "That's why I threw him a slider. I meant to bounce it and I just left it up. I wasn't trying to throw it for a strike. You've got to have a better pitch than that. Unfortunately, one of the few bad ones cost me."

Meanwhile, Perdomo made more mistakes early than Fulmer, but settled down and didn't allow a run for the first time this season in his 13th start.

Perdomo allowed two hits and five walks with six strikeouts in six innings as his ERA fell from 4.97 to 4.56.

Perdomo didn't allow a hit until Andrew Romine's single leading off the fifth. But he did issue four walks in the first four innings with a pair of inning-ending double plays easing the workload.

Padres manager Andy Green and Perdomo credited Hedges for helping the young pitcher settle down and make several midgame adjustments.

"I don't think Perdomo gets through the first two innings if not for Austin," said Green. "It was good to see Austin back in there. He does a great job for the entire ball club. The hit was huge. But Perdomo did a great job of adjusting as the game went on and a lot of that was Austin."

"I trust in Austin a lot," said Perdomo. "Early, I was out of control ... my mechanics. I made some adjustments that kept me in the game."

What adjustments?

"I let him be nasty," said Hedges. "I stopped worrying about setting up on the corners. His stuff was great, but his command wasn't there. So we just set up in the middle to let his pitches move."

Detroit's best opportunity against Perdomo came in the top of the sixth. Alex Avila opened the inning with a single and stole second after Miguel Cabrera lined out to center. But Perdomo struck out J.D. Martinez for the second time and retired former Padre Justin Upton on a grounder to first.

Perdomo was followed by left-handers Ryan Buchter and Brad Hand and right-handed closer Brandon Maurer, who picked up his 14th save.

The three Padres relievers had five strikeouts against one hit in three innings. Buchter struck out two Tigers in a perfect inning. Hand had two strikeouts after giving up a leadoff double in the eighth. Maurer had one in a perfect ninth.

Tigers pinch-hitter John Hicks doubled to lead off the eighth but was stranded when Hand struck out Ian Kinsler -- on a disputed check-swing call by first base umpire Jordan Baker -- and pinch-hitter Nicholas Castellanos before retiring Cabrera on a grounder to short.

Detroit manager Brad Ausmus was ejected by Baker for arguing the call.

"It was probably because of my emotion concerning the call he made," said Ausmus. "I wasn't real happy with the call on the check swing. I didn't think Ian went and still don't think he went after watching the replay.

"I felt real good about having the leadoff hitter on second. Then Kinsler is out on a supposed swing and now it's a different story."

Baker was involved in another call in the Tigers' ninth.

The umpire called Upton safe at first on a one-out grounder to short. But Green appealed the call and Upton was ruled out. Maurer then retired Dixon Machado on a fly to center to complete San Diego's fourth shutout of the season.

The Padres' only other hit was a single by Spangenberg in the fourth. Spangenberg reached base in all three plate appearances on two walks and the single and also stole a base.

NOTES: The Padres placed 2B-3B Yangervis Solarte (left oblique strain) and RHP Miguel Diaz (forearm strain) on the 10-day disabled list Friday and recalled C-1B Hector Sanchez and 2B Carlos Asuaje from Triple-A El Paso. Sanchez had been at El Paso on a rehab assignment while on the disabled list. He had been out since May 7 with a foot contusion . . . Detroit released RHP Francisco Rodriguez and placed OF Alex Presley on the seven-day concussion disabled list. The Tigers recalled RHP Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo and purchased the contract of OF Matt den Dekker from Toledo. 3B Nicholas Castellanos was a late scratch from the Tigers' starting lineup Friday night (due to lower back tightness) with Dixon Machado starting at third.

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Mets 11 vs. 4 Giants Final Recap

Cabrera's trade demand not a distraction for Mets in 11-4 win

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Saturday, June 24 at 2:42 AM (EDT)

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Asdrubal Cabrera dropped a bombshell on the ballclub a couple of hours before game time, the New York Mets appeared on the verge of an implosion Friday night.

Instead, they exploded, with their bats making the loudest statement of the night.

Yoenis Cespedes highlighted a six-run second inning with a two-run homer, helping the Mets brush aside a Cabrera trade demand and a four-game losing streak with an 11-4 victory over the staggering San Francisco Giants.

"Very impressed," Mets manager Terry Collins said after his team's 20-hit attack. "I'm not worried about the attitude of my club. Today was an unfortunate situation. We'll get through it."

Cespedes, Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, Michael Conforto and Lucas Duda had three hits apiece for the Mets, whose hit total equaled the club's season high, set twice previously.

Cabrera's big offensive game, which included two runs scored, came shortly after he made his intentions known to reporters that he was planning to request a trade.

The second-year Met was unhappy to find out he'd be starting the game at second base in his return from the disabled list, having lost his shortstop spot to Jose Reyes.

"I just want to talk about the game," Cabrera said afterward.

He had plenty to talk about, including two flares to right field that dropped for hits in his first two at-bats off the DL.

"I got a couple to fall in right field. Then I hit one hard to shortstop and he made the play. This game is crazy," he said.

"We have a good hitting team. We can do this."

Cabrera fielded four grounders flawlessly and teamed with Reyes on a double play, none of which surprised Collins.

"I know he can play second base," the manager said. "I understand he's not happy playing there. But he's a professional. There were no lingering effects (of the pregame demands)."

Duda also homered for the Mets, who were coming off a four-game sweep against the Los Angeles Dodgers and began the night a season-worst 10 games below .500.

The two homers gave the Mets 22 in their last 12 games.

The Mets teed off on Giants left-hander Ty Blach (4-5), who was facing New York for the first time.

"Tonight he was off," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He couldn't get out of that inning."

Winning pitcher Seth Lugo helped get the big second inning rolling with an RBI double that plated Duda with the run that broke a 1-1 tie.

Cespedes' homer, his ninth of the season, made it 5-1 four batters later. It was his fifth home run in seven games against the Giants since the start of last season.

Flores, Conforto and Travis d'Arnaud followed with successive doubles, completing the six-run uprising.

Duda's homer, his 13th, came against the Giants fourth pitcher, left-hander Josh Osich, in the seventh inning and completed New York's scoring.

Cespedes, who also doubled in a three-run sixth inning, finished with three RBIs, and Flores and Conforto had two apiece for the Mets, who had lost eight of their previous 10 games.

"That three-spot kind of knocked us out of it," Bochy said of the Mets' tack-on that increased their lead to 10-1. "When you get down that much in this part, it's tough sledding."

Lugo (2-1) won for the second time in three starts, allowing four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out two.

Gorkys Hernandez had a two-run single in a three-run sixth inning for the Giants, who lost for the 10th time in their last 11 games.

Denard Span, Joe Panik and Austin Slater had two hits apiece for the Giants, who were coming off a 1-7 trip on which their pitchers posted a 7.94 ERA.

Blach left for a pinch hitter after having surrendered seven runs and 11 hits in three laborious innings during which he threw 80 pitches. He walked one and did not record a strikeout.

The career-high 11 hits allowed increased Blach's total in June to a major league-leading 44. Teammate Matt Cain had been tied for the lead at the start of the day with 36.

NOTES: The Mets' 20 hits were their most ever at AT&T Park. The 11 runs tied their previous high in the stadium's 18-year history. ... The Mets also had 20 hits at Philadelphia on April 11 and at Atlanta on May 3. ... The Mets' top six hitting performances this season have all come on the road. ... Mets 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (sprained left thumb) had missed the club's previous 10 games. The Mets demoted 2B Gavin Cecchini to Triple-A Las Vegas to create a roster spot for Cabrera. ... The second game of the series, a nationally televised affair on FOX, features a pitching rematch from Game 2 of the 2015 World Series when Kansas City Royals RHP Johnny Cueto outdueled Mets RHP Jacob deGrom in a 7-1 win. Cueto pitches now for the Giants. ... Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (separated left shoulder) has been scheduled for a second simulated game in Arizona on Sunday. He could begin an injury-rehab stint in the minor leagues next week.

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Rangers 1 vs. 2 Yankees Final Recap

Yankees top Rangers in battle of Japanese pitchers

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Saturday, June 24 at 2:56 AM (EDT)

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees were delighted to see Masahiro Tanaka go toe to toe with Yu Darvish.

An even better sight was watching Ronald Torreyes deliver the game-winning hit.

Tanaka pitched eight scoreless innings during his first major league appearance against Darvish and Torreyes singled with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, lifting the Yankees to a 2-1 win over the Texas Rangers.

Although Tanaka took a no-decision and is winless in his last eight starts since May 9, he looked more like the pitcher who tossed a three-hitter at Fenway Park while opposing Chris Sale on April 27 than the pitcher who began the game with a 6.34 ERA.

"Everything," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of what was working for Tanaka.

Tanaka allowed three hits, threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of 27 hitters and retired 16 straight at one point from the third to the eighth.

Darvish was even better, though he exited after the seventh because of triceps tightness. Darvish said he began feeling it in the fourth inning but said he should be able to make his next start.

Before exiting, Darvish tied a season high with 10 strikeouts and allowed two hits. Two of his strikeouts were to slugger Aaron Judge, who struck out on a 72 mph curveball in the first and a 95 mph fastball in the seventh.

"They were two brilliant Japanese pitchers that had faced off before, been stars in the Japanese league and they're stars here," Texas manager Jeff Banister said.

It was the 15th game in major league history involving two pitchers from Japan. Seven of those games have involved the Yankees and three occurred against Darvish, who opposed Hiroki Kuroda in 2012 and 2013.

"We both pitched great," Darvish said through an interpreter. "So there may be something, but I was trying to focus on my pitching."

While it was the first time Darvish and Tanaka faced each other in the majors, it was the fifth overall matchup. They opposed each other four times in Japan, and in the last meeting on July 20, 2011, both pitchers went the distance.

"It was amazing," Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve said. "We were waiting for it and we know he has it, so it was great to see."

After Tanaka and Darvish were finished, the Yankees won for only the second time in 10 games when Torreyes lined a 98 mph fastball from Matt Bush (3-2) up the middle.

It was the first career game-ending hit for the infielder, who raised his arms, dropped his helmet and was lifted by a teammate after reaching first base.

"Super happy to able to get a hit in that inning," Torreyes said through an interpreter. "It's great."

Before Torreyes won it, the Rangers were two outs from getting a 1-0 victory when Elvis Andrus scored on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez while Adrian Beltre struck out against Aroldis Chapman.

Instead, Brett Gardner tied it by hitting a 2-1 fastball from Bush into the right-field seats. After Gardner's 14th home run, Aaron Judge chopped a single up the middle just out of shortstop Andrus' range.

The Yankees were unable to get the winning run as Bush struck out Matt Holliday but won the game after Shreve (2-1) worked out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Andrus on a popup after striking out Joey Gallo with two on.

The game was delayed one hour and 42 minutes, but it was worth the wait for the 39,602 fans at Yankee Stadium and fans watching in Japan 13 hours ahead of New York's time zone.

NOTES: Texas LHP Cole Hamels (oblique) threw a bullpen session before the game and could start Monday in Cleveland. ... Yankees 3B Chase Headley (back spasms) missed his second straight game and is unlikely to play Saturday. ... Texas LHP Martin Perez may miss his next scheduled start after tearing his right thumbnail and fracturing the top of the bone. ... New York CF Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) took batting practice again and could appear in rehab games shortly.

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Reds 5 vs. 6 Nationals Final Recap

Harper's RBI single in 10th lifts Nationals over Reds

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Friday, June 23 at 11:24 PM (EDT)

WASHINGTON -- - Bryce Harper had an RBI single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning off Raisel Iglesias as the Washington Nationals came back to beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 on Friday night.

The liner scored Trea Turner, who singled with two outs and went to third on a single by Brian Goodwin.

The winning pitcher was Matt Albers (3-1), who worked a scoreless top of the 10th. Iglesias (2-2) was stuck with the loss as Harper had the winning hit on a full-count pitch.

Goodwin, who had three hits, belted his second solo homer of the game to lead off the seventh to tie it at 5 against reliever Wandy Peralta.

Daniel Murphy lined a solo homer, the 100th home run of his career, into the Nationals' bullpen in right to lead off the sixth against reliever Michael Lorenzen to cut the lead to 5-3. Later in the inning, pinch-hitter Stephen Drew had a sacrifice fly to make it 5-4.

Lorenzen came on for Reds starter Luis Castillo, who allowed five hits and two runs in five innings in his first major league game.

The first-place Nationals (44-29) are 19-15 at home and the last-place Reds (30-42) have lost 10 of 11. Scooter Gennett, Adam Duvall and Devin Mesoraco each had two hits for the Reds.

Washington starter Stephen Strasburg also did not figure in the decision. He threw 95 pitches and has allowed 13 runs in his last 15 1/3 innings. Ryan Zimmerman and Turner had two hits for Washington.

The Reds scored four runs in the first inning against Strasburg, who pitched less than six innings in his third straight start.

Gennett hit a solo homer -- his 10th home run of the year -- with one out to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. It was the third homer in six at-bats for Gennett against Strasburg, who gave up his 10th homer of the season.

Scott Schebler had a sacrifice fly and Mesoraco and Jose Peraza had RBI singles as the Reds sent nine batters to the plate.

The Nationals trimmed the margin to 4-1 when Goodwin hit a home run with one out in the last of the first inning.

Mesoraco had an RBI single to give the Reds a 5-1 lead in the third.

Washington cut the lead to 5-2 as Anthony Rendon lofted a long solo homer to center in the fourth.

Strasburg was pulled after five innings, allowing eight hits, five runs, two walks and two hit batters with five strikeouts.

Castillo was 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA in 14 starts for Double-A Pensacola, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his last start on Sunday.

He had his first big league at-bat on Friday before he even threw a pitch. He grounded out to end the first against Strasburg.

Castillo induced Zimmerman to hit into double plays to end the third and fifth as the first baseman stranded five runners combined.

NOTES: The Nationals recalled INF/OF Wilmer Difo from Triple-A Syracuse and sent RHP A.J. Cole back to the Chiefs. Cole made one start in May for the Nationals but was not used during his second stint with the team this year. Difo made his first start in CF for the Nationals on Friday and had trouble on some flyballs ... The Reds promoted RHP Luis Castillo from Double-A Pensacola to make his MLB debut Friday in Washington. To make room on the roster the Reds sent RHP Amir Garrett (3-6, 7.41 ERA) to Triple-A Louisville ... Reds RHP Homer Bailey (0-0) will make his first appearance of the year Saturday against Washington RHP Joe Ross (3-3, 5.98).

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Angels 4 vs. 9 Red Sox Final Recap

Red Sox beat Angels after retiring Ortiz's No. 34

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Friday, June 23 at 11:38 PM (EDT)

BOSTON -- Pre-game at Fenway Park Friday night belonged to David Ortiz, whose No. 34 was retired in an emotional ceremony.

But once the game began, the night belonged to three of Big Papi's former teammates as Rick Porcello, Sandy Leon and Hanley Ramirez led the Boston Red Sox to a 9-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the opener of a three-game series.

"It was, to me, vintage Rick Porcello," Boston manager John Farrell said after his reigning Cy Young Award winner went 6 1/3 innings for his first win his last six starts -- thus avoiding becoming the first 10-game loser in the majors. "The sink had returned to his two-seamer and it's a tribute to the work that he continues to do."

In other words, he kept the ball down, which allowed him to give up a run on five hits until one out in the seventh. Then, as his pitches rose, three straight extra base hits ended his night.

Leon (3-for-4) drove in a career-high four runs for the fourth time in his career, with a two-run homer and two-run double and Ramirez hit a two-run homer -- the 250th home run of his career.

"We got a good team," Leon said. "I think we were going to just get a win for David today. He deserved that."

Despite his long winless streak, Porcello has notched nine straight outings of at least six innings. He struck out eight and has 61 strikeouts and 10 walks in 68 2/3 innings over his last 11 starts.

"I felt good," Porcello said. "Obviously I would have liked to have finished the ballgame off better than I did, but I felt good from the get-go."

The Red Sox (40-32) scored three runs on one hit off Alex Meyer (3-4) in the first inning, Meyer wild-pitched home two of the runs after Xander Bogaerts' RBI double -- in a 38-pitch first inning.

"It's unacceptable," said Meyer, who had thrown six scoreless frames in his previous start. "You can't go out there and put two guys on before basically the game starts. (I) just put them on first and second (with walks).

"It's frustrating and there's not much more to say than that. The first inning was just not acceptable."

Ramirez hit his 10th homer of the season in the fourth, while Leon connected in the sixth and then doubled home the pair in the eighth.

Martin Maldonado, Cliff Pennington and Kole Calhoun had RBI doubles for the Angels (38-39, 12-12 without the injured Mike Trout) in the seventh.

Eduardo Paredes made his major league debut and Huston Street, activated Thursday, pitched for the first time this season.

With Red Sox greats Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs among those on hand, Ortiz received his usual ovation from the Papi-loving crowd pre-game.

"Walking out there and seeing -- there wasn't an empty seat," he said later. "It made me feel like one of those important games that we have where the fans want to be there from the very beginning and show some love and support. It was pretty amazing."

Said Angels manager Mike Scioscia: "I know everyone in our organization has the utmost respect for David and what he did. A lot of his successes, unfortunately, in playoffs were at our expense, but I know everyone respects his career, respects him as a person. That was a terrific honor they did for him tonight and it was fun to watch."

"It was a special night," said Dustin Pedroia, who represented the 2017 team with pre-game words for Ortiz. "Obviously he means a lot to us and the city ... he played with a lot of guys and he affected them in a major way."

Pedroia was the final speaker before Ortiz, noting Ortiz was "family." Ortiz, dabbing tears, then said: "The little guy made me cry."

NOTES: Veteran RHP Doug Fister, who opted out of a minor league deal with the Angels after three starts, was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox and will start against the Angels in Sunday's series finale. ... Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia, who missed the three games in Kansas City after being struck in the back with a pitch Sunday in Houston, was a late addition to the lineup, with Josh Rutledge nursing a sore hip. ... 3B Jhonny Peralta signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox and will report to Pawtucket. ... The Angels optioned 1B C.J. Cron to Triple-A and recalled RHP Eduardo Paredes, giving the club an eight-man bullpen. ... Red Sox RHP Carson Smith, coming back from Tommy John surgery, will rest this weekend and be re-evaluated on Monday. ... RHP J.C. Ramirez pitches for the Angels against LH David Price in Saturday night's game.

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Cubs 0 vs. 2 Marlins Final Recap

Stanton homers, Marlins blank Cubs behind Urena

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Friday, June 23 at 11:02 PM (EDT)

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins managed just three hits and two walks on Friday night.

But the Marlins, for the second time in three days, beat a 2016 playoff team despite getting three or less hits. First it was the Washington Nationals on Wednesday. On Friday, it was the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

It helps, though, when one of those three hits on Friday was a home run by Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Urena pitched six scoreless innings. To cap it off, the bullpen did its job flawlessly.

Add it all up, and Miami shut out Chicago 2-0 at Marlins Park.

One night after the Cubs routed Miami 11-1, Urena (6-2) held the Cubs to five hits and three walks (with three strikeouts). Relievers Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps and A.J. Ramos completed the shutout. Ramos earned his 11th save of the season.

Urena, who has won a career-high five consecutive decisions, impressed Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.

"The guy went up to 100 mph with sink," Bryant said.

The Cubs were familiar with Urena going into the game because he had defeated them as recently as June 7 in Chicago. But he looked different this time out.

"They changed their tactic," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Urena and the Marlins. "Their guy (Urena) threw a lot more breaking balls than last time, and he was good with it."

Perhaps that is part of the maturation of Urena, who leads all Marlins pitchers with his six wins.

"We know the power is there," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Urena's fastball. "But he's pitching more now.

"He's using his changeup. He's using his slider. You still want him to continue to improve, but he's using them, and that makes you think as a hitter."

Stanton's solo homer -- his ninth game-winning RBI this season -- gave Miami a 1-0 lead in the third. He hit a curveball on the outside part of the plate for his 19th long ball of the season, and he also doubled and was hit by a pitch in a 2-for-3 performance as Miami improved to 33-39.

The Cubs (37-36) got a good pitching performance by John Lackey (5-8), who allowed three hits, two walks and two runs, one earned, in six innings. Lackey has lost his past three decisions against the Marlins.

Offensively, Chicago hit into three double plays and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. The Cubs managed just one extra-base hit, a two-out double by rookie right fielder Ian Happ in the first inning. Urena got the next batter, Addison Russell, to ground out to end the threat.

The Cubs threatened again in the fifth. With two outs, Bryant drew a five-pitch walk. Happ, who has six hits in the past two games, singled to put runners on the corners, but Russell struck out looking as Urena escaped again.

"I just focused on putting the ball down in the zone," Urena said. "That's how I can get people out."

Miami extended its lead to 2-0 in the sixth. Dee Gordon blooped a soft single over the shortstop, stole second, advanced to third on catcher Miguel Montero's throwing error. After Stanton was hit by a pitch, Gordon scored on Christian Yelich's sacrifice fly.

"Whatever," Stanton said when asked his reaction to getting hit in the back with that pitch from Lackey. "Do your job, Yelly."

Yelich indeed did his job, and the Marlins emerged with the win, even with very little offensive firepower.

NOTES: Marlins 2B Dee Gordon stole his 28th base, tying him for second place in the National League. ... Miami activated 3B Martin Prado, who went 0-for-3. Prado had been on the disabled list since May 7 due to his second hamstring injury of the year. He hit in the sixth hole because RF Giancarlo Stanton has found his niche is the second spot in the order. ... Miami designated INF Christian Colon for assignment. ... Miami is reportedly shopping starting SS Adeiny Hechavarria, who is on the disabled list due to an oblique injury. The Orioles, Rays and Cardinals are reportedly interested in Hechavarria, who has been replaced by rookie SS J.T. Riddle. Miami could also turn to SS Miguel Rojas when he gets healthy. ... With SS Addison Russell and RF Ian Happ each going 4-for-5 on Thursday, it was the first time since 1913 that the Cubs had two players age 23 or younger each collect at least four hits in a game. ... Chicago entered the weekend 29th in the majors in batting average (.239).

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Orioles 5 vs. 15 Rays Final Recap

Rays rout Orioles to move four games over .500

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Friday, June 23 at 11:26 PM (EDT)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays moved four games above .500 for the first time in nearly two years, surging past the Baltimore Orioles with an easy 15-5 win on Friday night at Tropicana Field.

The Rays (40-36) jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first three innings and reset their season high for scoring, getting home runs from Derek Norris, Shane Peterson and Logan Morrison.

The slumping Orioles (35-38) matched a dubious major league record by allowing at least five runs in 20 straight games -- the first team to do so since the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

"We feel good about where we are at," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It was nice to see us cash in and capitalize on those runs and not leave the guys on base."

Tampa Bay roughed up starter Ubaldo Jimenez (2-3), who didn't survive the third inning. Rays starter Chris Archer (6-4) threw six innings, not needing his best stuff to win his second straight start.

The Rays got four RBIs each from Evan Longoria and Peterson, who was called up before the game and had a two-run home run.

"Anytime we get a win and you have a chance to help the team, it's awesome, especially at the big-league level," said Peterson, whose four RBIs were a career high. "You go out there and try to do too much, next thing you know, you look up and you're not there anymore. For me, it's just do what I can do, do the best I can do and whatever happens, happens."

Tampa Bay hasn't been four games over .500 at any point since July 1, 2015, but has now won three of four games on their current homestand. Morrison's home run was his 22nd, extending his team lead as he makes a case for the All-Star Game.

"We're going to go as far we let ourselves go," Morrison said.

The Rays set their season high with 14 runs by the fifth inning, with unlikely stars leading the way. Norris, potentially being designated for assignment this weekend, had three hits, including a two-run home run.

Jimenez allowed nine runs on seven hits before his early exit. He walked the first two batters on 10 pitches, advanced them with a wild pitch and saw both score on a two-run single by Longoria. Morrison followed with an RBI triple and scored on an infield groundout for a 4-0 lead.

"It's tough. Sucks the air out of you a little bit," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the rough start. "Our guys got back in it at 4-2, just couldn't get any shutdown innings. You walk seven or eight guys and hit somebody. I think we had the same number of hits they had (11 each)."

Archer gave up two runs on three hits in the second, but Longoria's sacrifice fly extended the lead to 5-2 in the second. Peterson hit a two-run home run in the third, and then Norris did the same to chase Jimenez.

"Command," Showalter said. "Never really had it. We're trying to squeeze every out we can out of him, to try to take some load off the bullpen. We couldn't get him through any type of length of an outing. You come out and walk the first two guys, it doesn't bode well."

Jonathan Schoop's two-run double in the fourth cut Tampa Bay's lead to 9-4, but the Rays got five more runs in the fifth off reliever Miguel Castro. Castro came in with the bases loaded and all three runs scored, first on a bases-loaded walk to Longoria, then back-to-back infield errors.

Peterson's sacrifice fly made it 14-4.

NOTES: The Orioles got RHP Darren O'Day back from the 10-day disabled list, and he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. RHP Gabriel Ynoa was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room. ... The Rays placed OF Colby Rasmus on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to June 19, with left hip tendinitis. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was back in the dugout after missing Wednesday's game for the birth of his first grandchild. Bench coach John Russell had stepped in Wednesday.

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Twins 5 vs. 0 Indians Final Recap

Mejia shaky but claims win for Twins over Indians

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Saturday, June 24 at 12:17 AM (EDT)

CLEVELAND -- It wasn't the prettiest five innings of work, but Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor will take it.

Ten of the first 19 batters that Twins starter Adalberto Mejia faced reached base, but none of them scored.

"There were some stressful innings, but he got through them somehow," Molitor said.

Jorge Polanco homered and Brian Dozier had three hits and two RBIs in support of Mejia as the Twins topped the Cleveland Indians 5-0 on Friday night at Progressive Field.

Mejia (2-3) threw 104 pitches in five scoreless innings, allowing two hits with four strikeouts and five walks.

Four of the five walks came in the first two innings, but Mejia managed to navigate his way through without giving up any runs.

"His stuff was good, but sometimes he tries to get cute with his stuff," Molitor said. "He had a lot of 3-2 counts, but he got big outs and five zeroes."

Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer (6-6) pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) and eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

Mejia and relievers Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger combined on a four-hitter.

It was Mejia's second consecutive start against Cleveland. In his last start against the Indians on June 17 in Minnesota, Mejia was the losing pitcher in a 6-2 Cleveland win. In that game, Mejia pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs.

"This time I tried to prepare and had a better game plan," Mejia said.

Leading 4-0, the Twins added an insurance run in the seventh inning. With two outs and nobody on, Byron Buxton reached on a bunt single and went to second when Bauer threw wildly to first on the play. Dozier followed with a single to right field, giving Minnesota a 5-0 lead and knocking Bauer out of the game.

It was Bauer's fourth start against Minnesota this year. In his first three, he was 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA.

Bauer retired the side in order in the first inning, two on strikeouts. But the Twins sent eight men to the plate in the second inning, and half of them scored.

Max Kepler led off the inning by bouncing a double off the right field wall. Kepler went to third on a flyout to deep right by Eduardo Escobar. Eddie Rosario followed with a single to right field, scoring Kepler with the first run of the game. Polanco worked the count to 3-2, then pounded a pitch over the right field wall for his third home run, pushing the lead to 3-0.

"Jorge fouled off some tough fastballs, then took advantage of a fastball Bauer left over the plate," Molitor said of the home run.

Jason Castro drew a walk and Buxton blasted a line drive that was caught in left field by Daniel Robertson for the second out. But Dozier doubled over the head of center fielder Austin Jackson, scoring Castro to make it 4-0.

"He threw too many pitches that were catching too much of the plate. Most of them were fastballs," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Bauer.

In the fourth inning, the Indians loaded the bases with one out. Erik Gonzalez struck out with the bases loaded for the second time in three innings, and Francisco Lindor lined out to end the inning without a run being scored.

"It seemed like we had baserunners in every inning the first five innings and good chances. We weren't able to do anything with it," said Francona, whose team was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

NOTES: The Indians reinstated RHP Cody Allen from the paternity list and optioned RHP Adam Plutko to Triple-A Columbus. ... Indians 3B Jose Ramirez, who had started 70 of the Indians' first 71 games, was given a day off. Rookie INF Erik Gonzalez started in place of Ramirez, who pinch hit in the ninth inning and grounded out to end the game.. ... Twins 3B Miguel Sano did not play because of a sinus infection. ... The Twins selected the contracts of RHP Dillon Gee and RHP Trevor Hildenberger from Triple-A Rochester. ... The Twins also designated for assignment RHP Alex Wimmers and LHP Mason Melotakis.

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Brewers 4 vs. 5 Braves Final Recap

Phillips homers early, Braves hold on to defeat Brewers

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Saturday, June 24 at 12:15 AM (EDT)

ATLANTA -- It was a veteran who provided much of the offense, but it was a pair of rookies that came up with the decisive defensive plays for the Atlanta Braves on Friday.

Brandon Phillips had a home run and a double, while fielding gems by third baseman Johan Camargo and shortstop Dansby Swanson were instrumental in helping the Braves survive a near-bullpen meltdown to hang on for a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Friday night at SunTrust Park.

Atlanta has won six of its last seven games.

"The game came down to they made some defensive plays, some excellent defensive plays at the end of the game," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.

Phillips was 2-for-5, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs to pace the Atlanta attack. The second baseman showed no signs of the groin issue that caused him to leave Thursday night's game early.

But it was Atlanta's defense in the late innings that saved the day.

Atlanta appeared to be in control with a 5-1 lead after six innings when the Brewers' bats took advantage of some shaky relief work.

Milwaukee scored a run against Sam Freeman in the seventh on Domingo Santana's RBI single.

The Brewers scored twice in the eighth on a sharp two-run double by Orlando Arcia. After Lewis Brinson was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second, the Braves escaped disaster when pinch hitter Jesus Aguilar ripped a grounder to third base that Camargo was able to backhand and turn into a double play.

Arodys Vizcaino pitched the ninth inning for the Braves and earned his first save, but it didn't come without drama. Eric Thames led off with a double, but was retired at third when he tried to advance on Santana's ground ball. The hard-hit grounder was fielded by Swanson, who turned and threw accurately to get the sliding Thames.

"That play Dansby made - I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like that," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "That ball's up the middle and you go to third base. To have the guts to make that play is the biggest thing to me. The conviction -- there wasn't any hesitation."

Swanson said: "It kind of went through my head before happened, really. It's just kind of crazy how you can process something before it happens and when it does happen, it just kind of becomes a reaction."

Vizcaino retired Travis Shaw on a fly ball to the warning track, which allowed Santana to move to second base. The game ended when Swanson dove to catch Manny Pina's line drive.

"The ball Aguilar hit was a great double play and the ball that Domingo hit, that's a really nice play," Counsell said. "Most shortstops are throwing that ball to first base."

Winning pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (5-5) suffered from a high pitch count and lasted only five innings. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits and three walks, with nine strikeouts. It is the fourth time in his last five starts that Foltynewicz has allowed two or fewer runs.

Losing pitcher Jimmy Nelson (5-4) worked five innings and allowed four runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out eight. It was Nelson's first loss since May 23.

The Braves scored twice in the first inning. Phillips hit the first pitch he saw from Nelson into the first row of seats in the left-field stands for his sixth home run.

Nick Markakis walked, went to third on Matt Adams' single and scored on a ground ball. Tyler Flowers hit a double-play ball to second, which Eric Sogard flipped to second, only to have shortstop Orlando Arcia drop the exchange, which allowed the run to score.

The Brewers made it 2-1 in the fourth when Keon Broxton hit a solo home run, his 12th, to straightaway center field.

Rain began to fall, heavy at times, during the fifth inning, but the Braves were able to score two more times. Phillips doubled home a run and scored when Flowers drove an opposite-field single to right.

NOTES: Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman, on the disabled list since May 18 with a fractured left wrist, said Friday his goal is to return to the team for the four-game series against Washington the weekend prior to the All-Star Game. ... Atlanta RHP Bartolo Colon will pitch a bullpen session on Saturday and be re-assessed. The veteran was placed on the disabled list on June 6 with an oblique strain and had his stay extended when he complained of a sore back. ... Atlanta LF Matt Kemp was not in the starting lineup on Friday as a precautionary measure. Kemp left Thursday's game early with tightness in his hamstring. 2B Brandon Phillips, who also left Thursday's game early with a slight groin pull, returned to the starting lineup. ... Milwaukee OF Ryan Braun (left calf strain) and 2B Jonathan Villar (lower back strain) continue their rehab assignment with Class A Wisconsin. ... Milwaukee's Eric Sogard was 0-for-2, snapping his 10-game hitting streak.

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