WASHINGTON – Trea Turner’s go-ahead grand slam lifted Washington to a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies for a doubleheader sweep Tuesday that helped the Nationals clinch an NL wild card, capping quite a turnaround for a team that was 19-31 in late May.
Turner had three hits in the day’s first game, a 4-1 win for the Nationals. Washington assured itself of returning to the playoffs for the fifth time in eight years after sitting out October in 2018.
Anthony Rendon delivered two sacrifice flies to raise his majors-leading RBIs total to 124 in the opening victory, a result that also eliminated Philadelphia and $330 million outfielder Bryce Harper, the ex-Nationals star, from postseason contention.
In the nightcap, Washington trailed 4-2 entering the sixth, because Brad Miller managed to hit two homers off Max Scherzer (11-7).
Washington loaded the bases in the sixth against Aaron Nola (12-7) with two walks and a single, setting the stage for Turner’s 18th homer of the season and second career slam, which came off Jared Hughes.
In the first game, Tanner Rainey (2-3) struck out two in a 1-2-3 sixth for the win in the makeup of a June 18 rainout. Nick Vincent (1-4) took the loss in the first game.
Brewers 4, Reds 2
CINCINNATI – Ryan Braun added to his record total of homers at Great American Ball Park, and Milwaukee moved a step closer to a wild-card berth with its fifth win in a row.
Just like last season, when Milwaukee put on a late rush to take the NL Central title, the Brewers have closed in on a playoff spot with a September flourish. They’ve won 16 of 18, positioning themselves for one of the NL wild cards along with Washington. They can clinch Wednesday with a win or losses by the Cubs and Mets.
Braun connected for his 21st homer off Sonny Gray (11-8), making the final start of his All-Star season. Braun’s 27 homers at Great American are the most by a visiting player.
Brent Suter (4-0) allowed three hits in three relief innings. Josh Hader allowed a pair of hits in the ninth before fanning Kyle Farmer for his 36th save in 42 chances.
Pirates 9, Cubs 2
PITTSBURGH – Free-falling Chicago committed five errors, including two in a seven-run seventh inning, and moved to the brink of elimination with its seventh straight loss.
Chicago dropped to 82-75 and would be eliminated with one more loss or Milwaukee win. The Cubs have not missed the playoffs since 2014.
Aided by a fielding error by second baseman Ben Zobrist and errant throw by reliever Danny Hultzen, the Pirates sent 13 batters to the plate in the seventh as they chased starter Kyle Hendricks (11-10) and erased a 1-0 deficit. Pittsburgh stopped a nine-game losing streak in which it had been outscored 87-26.
Francisco Liriano (5-3) pitched a perfect seventh. Pittsburgh rookie Mitch Keller gave up one run and seven hits in five innings.
Mets 5, Marlins 4 (11)
NEW YORK – Three outs from postseason elimination, New York tied it 4-all in the ninth when Michael Conforto clocked his second two-run homer of the game, connecting off Jose Urena for his 33rd long ball of the season. Brandon Nimmo won it by working a bases-loaded walk in the 11th against rookie Jeff Brigham.
After wins by Washington and Milwaukee earlier in the day, the Mets needed a victory to stay in the playoff race. They are tied with the plummeting Chicago Cubs, five games behind the Brewers for the second NL wild card with five to play.
Conforto drew a leadoff walk from Adam Conley (2-10) in the 11th, and Brigham hit Amed Rosario with a 97 mph fastball. A wild pitch advanced both runners before Todd Frazier was intentionally walked. One out later, Nimmo walked on a 3-1 pitch to force in the winning run.
Paul Sewald (1-1), the seventh Mets pitcher, struck out two in a perfect inning for his first major league win in his 119th appearance.
Dodgers 6, Padres 3
SAN DIEGO – Max Muncy hit his first career grand slam and Los Angeles clinched home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs even before they beat staggering San Diego.
The seven-time NL West champion Dodgers (101-56) locked up home field when the two-time NL East champion Atlanta Braves (96-62) lost 9-6 at Kansas City.
Muncy’s 34th home run was a moon shot to right field on the first pitch by Gerardo Reyes with two outs in the fourth. Reyes came on after rookie Ronald Bolanos (0-2) walked Will Smith, allowed a single to reliever Tony Gonsolin and walked Joc Pederson.
Pederson hit his 33rd with one out in the ninth, off Michel Baez.
Left-hander Rich Hill struck out five in two hitless innings in a late bid to claim a postseason roster spot. He was forced out of his last start, Sept. 12 at Baltimore, in the first inning due to left knee discomfort. The plan was to have him pitch two innings and he responded well, other than walking consecutive batters with one out in the first.
Gonsolin (4-2) pitched two perfect innings in relief of Hill, with three strikeouts. Kenley Jansen worked the ninth for his 31st save.
Twins 4, Tigers 2
DETROIT – Willians Astudillo and Eddie Rosario fueled a four-run seventh inning, and Minnesota dodged an injury scare for starter Jake Odorizzi to move closer to an AL Central title.
Odorizzi (15-7) pitched two-hit ball through six innings but was pulled with a tight left hamstring after warming up for the seventh. He later said he had a cramp and expected to be fine.
The Twins improved to 97-60, their most victories since going 98-64 in 1970. Minnesota’s magic number to clinch the division is two over Cleveland. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect ninth for his 29th save.
Detroit (46-110) reached 110 losses for the second time, 16 years after setting the AL record of 119. With one more loss or a win by Baltimore, the club would be assured the No. 1 pick in next year’s amateur draft.
Spencer Turnbull (3-16) allowed two runs – both scoring after he left the game – on six hits and two walks in six-plus innings.
Rays 2, Yankees 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Ji-Man Choi hit a game-ending home run in the 12th inning that helped Tampa Bay remain on track for an AL wild card berth after New York’s CC Sabathia pitched a perfect inning in his first regular season relief appearance.
Choi homered off Cory Gearrin (1-3) after Pete Fairbanks (2-3) struck out Brett Gardner with a runner on second and two outs in the top half.
Tampa Bay remained a half-game ahead of Cleveland for the second AL wild card.
Sabathia, a 39-year-old left-hander who is retiring at the end of the season, had made 560 regular season starts but is being moved to the bullpen along with J.A. Happ ahead of the postseason.
Angels 2, A’s 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Homer Bailey lost for the first time in eight starts and Oakland suffered a setback in its postseason pursuit, falling to Los Angeles.
Oakland let its lead for the top AL wild card drop to a half-game over Tampa Bay and one game over Cleveland. The A’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot remained at five with five games left.
David Fletcher had three hits and Albert Pujols drove in his 2,075th run to help the Angels end a seven-game skid. Dillon Peters (4-3) allowed two runs in five innings.
Khris Davis hit his 23rd homer of the season, but the A’s lost consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
Bailey (13-9) allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings.
The Angels scored three runs in the fifth, going in front on Pujols’ sacrifice fly to left that scored Fletcher. Brian Goodwin tied it at 2 when his pop fly down the third base line dropped in between left fielder Chad Pinder and third baseman Matt Chapman, and Fletcher’s RBI single got Los Angeles on the board.
Indians 11, White Sox 0
CHICAGO – Jose Ramirez hit a grand slam and a three-run homer in his first two plate appearances after missing a month with a broken hand, and Cleveland pounded Chicago.
Roberto Perez and Oscar Mercado also went deep for the Indians, who won for the sixth time in seven games to remain a half-game back of Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card.
Mike Clevinger (13-3) pitched seven innings of five-hit ball and struck out 10 while extending his scoreless streak to 18 innings.
The switch-hitting Ramirez homered from both sides for the fourth time. He finished with a career-best seven RBIs. Batting left-handed, Ramirez drove a 3-1 pitch from Carson Fulmer (1-2) into the right-field stands with two outs in the first inning for his second career grand slam.
Red Sox 12, Rangers 10
ARLINGTON, Texas – Eduardo Rodriguez labored through five innings to get his 19th win, allowing more runs than he had in his previous seven starts combined, and Boston beat Texas. Rodriguez (19-6) exited with a 12-7 lead after throwing 113 pitches.
Boston (82-75) clinched a winning record while the Rangers (75-82), who opened their final homestand before moving into a new stadium next year, will have their third straight losing season. Brandon Workman, the fourth Boston reliever, worked the ninth for his 16th save in 22 chances.
Ariel Jurado (7-11) allowed four runs in three relief innings.
Royals 9, Braves 6
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In Kansas City’s first game after manager Ned Yost announced he will retire after the season, the Royals burst to a six-run lead in the first three innings and beat NL East champion Atlanta behind three hits and two RBIs from Nicky Lopez.
Danny Duffy (7-6) allowed three runs and five hits in five innings, improving to 2-1 in his last six starts.
Julio Teheran (10-11) gave up six runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings. He has lost three straight starts, giving up 14 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings.
Orioles 11, Blue Jays 4
TORONTO – Trey Mancini had a career-high five hits, DJ Stewart hit a two-run homer and Baltimore beat Toronto. Dwight Smith Jr. and Austin Wynns each hit solo home runs for the Orioles.
With one more victory or a loss by Detroit, the Orioles (51-106) can avoid having baseball’s worst record for the second straight season. Right-hander Dylan Bundy (7-14) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings to win for the first time since Aug. 25.
Scheduled to make his fourth big league appearance, Blue Jays rookie left-hander Anthony Kay was scratched because of back soreness about two hours before the game and replaced by lefty Thomas Pannone (3-6). He allowed three runs in the first inning.
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