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MLB roundup: Ronald Acuna, Braves pound Nationals, clinch playoff spot

Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. swings his bat during the first inning against the Washington Nationals in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. Atlanta won 10-1. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. swings his bat during the first inning against the Washington Nationals in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. Atlanta won 10-1. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Ronald Acuna Jr. ignited a four-run rally with the go-ahead, two-run double, and the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves clinched a playoff berth with a 10-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

Acuna’s double down the left-field line off reliever Fernando Rodney added fuel to a dramatic seventh inning for the Braves (93-57), who reduced their magic number to four to clinch their 19th division title.

Earlier in the seventh, Charlie Culberson was struck directly on the right cheekbone by a 91-mph fastball on Rodney’s first pitch of the game.

Culberson remained on his back for several minutes as trainers pressed a towel to his face. He was eventually helped to his feet and onto the back of a cart.

The Braves have won the last 11 games started by Mike Foltynewicz (7-5), who pitched six solid innings.

Wander Suero (5-8) was charged with the loss as the Washington bullpen gave up nine runs over the final four innings. The Nationals saw their lead in the NL wild card race shrink to 1 1/2 games over the Chicago Cubs.

Athletics 8, Rangers 6

ARLINGTON, Texas – Mark Canha’s two-run home run off the left-field foul pole broke a fifth-inning tie as the Athletics beat the Rangers.

The A’s scored all their runs on homers. Matt Chapman (three-run homer in the third inning), Josh Phegley (two-run homer in the fourth) and Matt Olson (solo in the sixth). Oakland’s 242 home runs are one short of the franchise record set in 1996.

Oakland has won 10 of its last 12 games.

Ryan Buchter (1-1) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and was one of six A’s relievers after Mike Fiers left following 1 2/3 innings because of right-arm nerve irritation. Liam Hendriks pitched a scoreless ninth for his 22nd save in 27 opportunities.

Mike Minor (13-9) lost for the first time since Aug. 27, allowing a season-high seven earned runs in five innings.

Rays 3, Angels 1

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Travis d’Arnaud broke open a scoreless game with a three-run double in the sixth inning, and the Rays improved their standing in the AL wild card race with their 13th win in 16 games, beating the Angels.

D’Arnaud’s drive went over the head of left fielder Michael Hermosillo to clear the bases for the Rays, who struggled for five innings against Angels starter Jaime Barria (4-9) before breaking through.

Although the Rays managed just five hits, their second straight victory coupled with Cleveland’s two losses in a doubleheader at Minnesota left Tampa Bay (89-61) 2 1/2 games clear of the Indians (86-63) for the second wild card spot.

Mike Trout missed his sixth straight game with a foot injury for the Angels (67-82), who have lost six straight and 10 of 12.

Yankees 13, Blue Jays 3

TORONTO – James Paxton pitched five innings to win his ninth straight start, Brett Gardner homered twice and drove in five runs and New York hit five homers against Toronto.

Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit also homered for the Yankees, going back-to-back off right-hander Brock Stewart in the fifth, as the AL East leaders won for the 14th time in 19 games.

DJ LeMahieu had four hits for New York, his AL-leading 58th multi-hit game of the season.

Paxton (14-6) allowed one run on three hits, becoming the first Yankees pitcher since Mike Mussina to win nine consecutive starts.

Jacob Waguespack (4-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Mets 3, Dodgers 0

NEW YORK – Rajai Davis hit a three-run double off Julio Urias with two outs in the eighth inning following a brilliant pitchers’ duel between the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and New York beat Los Angeles to maintain its slim wild-card hopes

DeGrom and Ryu both pitched shutout ball for seven innings and neither walked a batter in a game in which each team got just three hits.

New York remained three games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card with 14 games left and also trails Milwaukee.

Davis broke a 0-0 tie after two hit batters and a walk by the Dodgers’ bullpen. Joe Kelly (5-4) took the loss.

Seth Lugo (6-3) struck out the side in the eighth, and Justin Wilson pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.

Cubs 14, Pirates 1

CHICAGO – Kris Bryant and rookie Nico Hoerner each homered among three hits, and Chicago went deep four times to set a club record with 237 home runs while pounding Pittsburgh.

Bryant hit a two-run shot in the fourth and had four RBIs. Hoerner’s second homer in two days, a three-run drive in the sixth, broke the Cubs’ old mark of 235, established in 2004.

Ben Zobrist and Victor Caratini added solo shots as the Cubs used a second straight big day at the plate to strengthen their bid for a fifth straight postseason berth.

Kyle Hendricks (11-9) allowed a run on seven hits in six innings while walking one for his third straight solid outing.

James Marvel (0-2) allowed seven runs on nine hits in four innings in his second major league start.

Twins 2-9, Indians 0-2

CLEVELAND – Miguel Sano’s grand slam capped a five-run eighth inning and Minnesota grabbed firm control of the AL Central, sweeping a day-night doubleheader from Cleveland.

The sweep pushed the Twins 5 1/2 games ahead of the Indians going into the final game of the showdown series Sunday.

Four pitchers worked for Minnesota, with rookie right-hander Brusdar Graterol (1-0) going two scoreless innings for his first major league win.

Jorge Polanco’s double off Oliver Perez (2-3) tied the game. Cruz and Eddie Rosario walked to load the bases, bringing Nick Goody in to face Sano.

In the first game, five Minnesota pitchers combined to stop Cleveland’s offense and the Twins beat the Indians 2-0 in the first game of a doubleheader.

Zack Littell (5-0) relieved starter Devin Smeltzer in the fourth and struck out two in two innings.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 2

ST. LOUIS – Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal homered to help Milwaukee beat St. Louis.

Milwaukee moved four games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central. The Brewers remained one game behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild card spot. The Cubs, who beat Pittsburgh, cut the Cardinals’ division lead to three games.

Only one of the two runs Brewers starter Jordan Lyles (11-8) allowed was earned. He gave up six hits and struck out four over six innings.

Jay Jackson, Drew Pomeranz, Junior Guerra combined for a scoreless seventh and eighth. Josh Hader earned his 32nd save in 38 opportunities.

Jack Flaherty (10-8) needed 102 pitches to get through six innings. He gave up three runs on five hits and a pair of walks as St. Louis had its two-game winning streak snapped.

Red Sox 2, Phillies 1

PHILADELPHIA – Pinch-hitter Andrew Benintendi’s sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning lifted Boston over Philadelphia.

The Phillies were mathematically eliminated from the NL East race when the Braves beat Washington earlier in the day to increase their lead in the division to 10 1/2 games over the Nationals. Philadelphia fell 3 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild card spot and also trails the Brewers and Mets.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez had a season-high 12 strikeouts for the defending World Series champions.

Mitch Moreland led off the ninth with a single off Hector Neris (3-6) to set up the winning run.

Matt Barnes (5-4) tossed a scoreless eighth and Brandon Workman finished for his 16th save in 22 tries.

Diamondbacks 1, Reds 0

PHOENIX – Merrill Kelly pitched seven scoreless innings, Nick Ahmed’s triple led to the game’s only run and Arizona snapped a six-game losing streak by beating Cincinnati.

It was a much-needed win for the Diamondbacks, who are trying to stay in a crowded NL wild-card race. They’re still 4 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the final playoff spot with 13 games remaining.

It was another good start for Kelly (11-14), whose spot in the rotation was in jeopardy just a few weeks ago after a rough string of outings in July and August. Archie Bradley earned his 14th save.

Cincinnati’s Anthony DeSclafani (9-9) was nearly as good, giving up just one hit over seven innings.

Tigers 8, Orioles 4 (12)

DETROIT – Victor Reyes hit a tying home run with two outs in the ninth inning and John Hicks had the game-winning grand slam in the 12th to lift Detroit past Baltimore.

The Orioles lost their 100th game for the second straight season after finishing 47-115 a year ago.

Hicks’ blast to the bullpen in left field came off Ryan Eades (0-1) on a 2-2 count, and was his 12th of the season.

John Schreiber (2-0) earned the win, finishing the 12th.

Astros 6, Royals 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Zack Greinke finally beat his old club and Yordan Alvarez belted a pinch-hit three-run homer as Houston beat Kansas City.

Alex Bregman hit his 36th homer and rookie Kyle Tucker was 4-for-4 for the AL West-leading Astros.

Greinke (16-5) went six innings and handed a 2-1 lead to the bullpen. Hector Rondon, Joe Smith, Bryan Abreu and Will Harris combined for three scoreless innings. Greinke gave up one run, six hits and no walks. He struck out seven.

This was the fifth start by Greinke against the Royals since they traded him after the 2010 season. He was 0-2 in the first four, all for different teams.

Kansas City starter Mike Montgomery (3-9) took the loss.

Rockies 11, Padres 10

DENVER – Charlie Blackmon homered to start a six-run inning, Daniel Murphy had four hits and 4 RBIs, and the Colorado Rockies hung on to beat San Diego.

Tony Wolters had a pair of hits and drove in two runs and Trevor Story doubled and singled and drove in a run. Manny Machado hit a three-run homer for San Diego.

Peter Lambert (3-6) went five innings and allowed five runs on five hits in snapping a drought that saw him go 0-6 with a 7.79 ERA over 15 starts after winning the first two starts of his career, both against the Chicago Cubs, on June 6 and 11.

Jesus Tinoco picked up his first career save, getting the last four outs. He did not allow a hit.

Eric Lauer (8-9) went 2 1/3 innings and allowed six runs.

Marlins 4, Giants 2

SAN FRANCISCO – Miguel Rojas doubled in the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning, Jorge Alfaro hit a massive home run off Madison Bumgarner, and rookie Robert Dugger pitched 6 1/3 solid innings as the Marlins beat the Giants.

Rojas broke a 2-2 tie with a run-scoring double to left off Giants reliever Shaun Anderson (3-5). Lewis Brinson singled in Rojas to make it 4-2.

Jarlin Garcia (3-1) retired the only batter he faced for the win as the Marlins snapped a five-game skid.

Mariners 2, White Sox 1 (10)

SEATTLE – Omar Narvaez hit a game-ending home run against his former team, Felix Hernandez turned in his best outing of the season and the Mariners beat the White Sox.

Narvaez’s solo shot to right field bounced off the top of the wall, but stood up to review. Rookie Shed Long also hit a solo home run in the game to help Seattle snap a two-game losing streak.

Hernandez cruised through the first six innings with little trouble, retiring 10 straight batters in the third through sixth innings.

Narvaez smashed an 0-1 pitch from Alex Colome (4-4). Matt Magill (5-2) struck out two in the 10th for the win.

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