Rays haven’t lost shimmer
The streaking Tampa Bay Rays haven’t missed a beat since losing Evan Longoria.
With their star third baseman sidelined for up to two months with a tear in his hamstring, the AL East leaders completed a four-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and own the best record in the major leagues at 18-8.
“We talked about getting off to a good start, and we got off to the good start we needed,’’ manager Joe Maddon said after a 4-3 victory extended Tampa Bay’s winning streak to six. The Rays have won 11 of their last 12 games and hold the best mark in baseball for the first time since Sept. 28, 2010.
Jeff Keppinger hit a two-run homer and Desmond Jennings added a two-run triple to back Jeff Niemann (2-3), who allowed three runs and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Fernando Rodney worked a scoreless ninth for his ninth save in nine opportunities. Reds 4, Cubs 3 - Host Cincinnati scored three times off Carlos Marmol to tie the game in the ninth and Scott Rolen hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Reds the victory over Chicago.
Handed a 3-0 lead, Marmol walked Willie Harris and Joey Votto on nine pitches to open the inning. An error by third baseman Ian Stewart let in a run.
Jay Bruce singled to load the bases, and Marmol walked Ryan Ludwick to force in a run that made it 3-2 and ended the closer’s outing.
Another error helped the Reds win it. Zack Cozart singled in the 10th off Rafael Dolis, who then threw wildly to first base on Chris Heisey’s sacrifice attempt. Rolen followed with his sacrifice fly.
Blue Jays 5, Angels 0 - Brandon Morrow pitched a three-hitter for his second career shutout and J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer to lead visiting Toronto.
Morrow (3-1) won his third straight start, striking out eight to help the Blue Jays open an 11-game trip with their fifth win in their last six overall.
Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 1 - Making his debut in the No. 3 slot in the lineup, Bryce Harper hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the sixth to lift Washington at home. Ross Detwiler (3-1) did his part as well, holding Arizona to one run and three hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Harper, 19, was the youngest player to bat third in a major league lineup since Andruw Jones did it for Atlanta in 1996, according to STATS LLC. His big double came against Ian Kennedy (3-1), who lost for the first time since Aug. 18, a span of 13 starts.
Phillies 4, Braves 0 - Joe Blanton pitched a three-hitter for his first shutout in five years and Shane Victorino hit a two-run homer to lead Philadelphia in a matinee in Atlanta. The game took just 2 hours 2 minutes after Wednesday night’s matchup lasted 11 innings and 4 hours.
Blanton (3-3) did not walk a batter and had six strikeouts in his third career shutout, his first since June 2, 2007, for Oakland. Blanton needed only 88 pitches and faced 29 batters, two above the minimum.
Marlins 3, Giants 2 - Hanley Ramirez drove in a pair of runs without a hit to back Anibal Sanchez, and Miami swept the three-game series in San Francisco with its third straight one-run victory. The Marlins won Wednesday night’s game, 3-2, in 10 innings.
Indians 7, White Sox 5 - Jason Kipnis hit a three-run homer, finished with a career-high four RBIs, and scored twice to lead visiting Cleveland. Justin Masterson (1-2) held Chicago to three runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Pirates 6, Cardinals 3 - Erik Bedard (2-4) struck out seven straight batters en route to an 11-strikeout afternoon in St. Louis, and Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth as Pittsburgh avoided a three-game sweep.