By Rick Hummel

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KANSAS CITY (TNS) — Kansas City Royals righthander Brad Keller, who held the Cardinals to one hit over the first seven innings in a start in May, shackled them on no hits over the first six innings Wednesday night. But then it all came tumbling down in a barrage of Cardinals singles, creating a five-run seventh inning that broke open a scoreless game and sent the Cardinals on their way to a 6-0 victory.

Marcell Ozuna lashed a 2-1 fastball past the dive of Kansas City third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert to open the seventh and Paul DeJong followed with a single to left on the next offering.

The Royals’ infield defense shifted to the right for Matt Carpenter, who bluffed a bunt. This fake induced the Royals to shift to a more normal deployment and, after Carpenter ran the count to 3-1, he lined a single past Keller and into center field. Ozuna scored the game’s first run and Keller was lifted.

Yadier Molina greeted Kevin McCarthy with his first hit since July 6th, scoring DeJong.

Kolten Wong bunted and McCarthy and catcher Meibrys Viloria got tangled and neither could play the ball, which went for a hit, loading the bases.

Randy Arozarena, seeking his first big-league hit, batted with the Royals’ infield in. Arozarena slashed a grounder on which shortstop Nicky Lopez missed on a diving attempt and then the ball hit Molina in the foot. Arozarena had that hit but Molina wasn’t out. Carpenter scored and the bases were still loaded on a season-high six consecutive singles in an inning.

A sacrifice fly by Dexter Fowler and Tommy Edman’s forceout grounder completed the five-run inning and set up Dakota Hudson for his 11th victory.

Hudson, who had gone winless in his previous starts, failing to get through the fifth inning, blanked the Royals on five hits for six innings before gaining relief.

After Tyler Webb sailed through the Kansas City seventh, DeJong smashed his 20th homer, a 432-foot shot to left center in the eighth. That made it 6-0 and made DeJong the first Cardinals shortstop to have multiple 20-homer seasons.


Ranger bats erupt

TORONTO (TNS) — One game isn’t going to erase what was mostly 10 days of offensive futility but the Texas Rangers will take what they can get at the moment.

The Rangers closed out their nine-game road trip by doing what they had struggled to do for most of the trip: They had success with runners in scoring position.

Texas held off a Toronto Blue Jays sweep by taking the finale 7-3 at Rogers Centre Wednesday afternoon. The Rangers won the first and last games and went 3-6 on the trip.

The Rangers open a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins Thursday at Globe Life Park.

Rookie left-hander Kolby Allard impressed again. In his second start for the Rangers (and third of his career), Allard again left with the lead. Texas was leading when Emmanuel Clase took over for Allard with two on and two outs in the sixth inning. A wild pitch and single allowed two runs but Allard earned the win, his first for the Rangers.

He was charged with three runs on four hits and three walks and had five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

The offense, which started the day 2 for its last 40 with runners in scoring position, was 4 for 12 on Wednesday, including Delino DeShields’ run-scoring single in the second that gave Texas a 1-0 lead. Danny Santana’s two-run double and Elvis Andrus’ run-scoring single pushed the lead to 4-0. Andrus was 4 for 5 with a double and two RBIs.

The Rangers, who had relied on home runs to score most of their runs the past week, added two more. Nomar Mazara homered in the seventh and Danny Santana homered in the eighth to give Texas a four-run lead.

The Rangers had at least 10 hits for the first time since Aug. 2, a string of 11 games. Their seven runs are equal to the total runs scored in their previous four games combined.


Sox ride slam to win

CHICAGO (TNS) — James McCann hit his fourth career grand slam in the eighth inning to cap a much-needed offensive outburst for the White Sox and salt away a 13-9 victory in the home series clincher against the Astros on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Eloy Jimenez hit his 20th home run to pad his lead among American League rookies.

His 434-foot blast to center field off Will Harris’ curveball had an exit velocity of 111.3 mph. Jimenez became the 11th rookie in team history to reach the 20-homer mark.

All in all it was a big day offensively for the Sox, on which eight players combined for 15 hits. Tim Anderson went 4-for-5 with two doubles and five players had at least two hits.

Down 2-0, the Sox benefited from a pair of Astros errors in a four-run second inning. Jimenez reached second on a fielding error by first baseman Yuli Gurriel, then scored on Welington Castillo’s double.

Astros starter Wade Miley scooped up a sacrifice bunt by Yolmer Sanchez but lobbed it over the head of catcher Robinson Chirinos, who was slow to recover as Castillo and Adam Engel crossed the plate.

Ross Detwiler gave up four earned runs over 4 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and Alex Colome worked past a jam in the eighth and struck out two in the ninth to secure his fourth win.


Braves rally

ATLANTA (TNS) — The latest Mets loss will be boiled down to one question: Should Mickey Callaway have left Steven Matz in the game?

He did not, opting for Seth Lugo with a one-run lead in the seventh inning. That is when the Mets lost control as Lugo, who was not good, allowed four runs, his most since surrendering five on June 15 … 2018.

The Mets never recovered and fell, 6-4, for their third consecutive defeat. This one will sting, and it felt like a brutal loss from a month or two ago. It did not seem like something that would happen to the energized, inspired Mets we’ve seen lately.

New York entered the day two games back of a wild-card spot. The Mets are now only two games above .500, and if they are not careful, it could begin to slip away (though there is a lot of baseball left to be played).

There is a lot to unpack from Wednesday.

But before we discuss Callaway’s decision, it is only fair to give credit where it is due. The Mets rallied in the ninth, with RBI singles from Amed Rosario and Luis Guillorme, to make it a two-run game.

The Braves then botched a double play, but a Met was called out at second live. Callaway challenged it. The Mets won, and instead of having two outs, they had the bases loaded with an out. The seventh-inning debacle almost became moot, but New York could not cap the comeback.

Now to the Callaway decision.

First, Steven Matz, at 79 pitches, hit for himself in the top of the seventh inning. He singled to begin a rally that brought home the go-ahead run at the time. But mysteriously, he did not return to the mound.

The Mets have Matz to thank for the fact that they had a chance to take a lead and win the game. He allowed a second-inning run, but eventually retired 14 in a row to keep New York in the game.

Matz did not have the opportunity to extend that streak.

There are a few points to ponder here. Does using Lugo in the seventh mean Edwin Diaz would have closed? If so, it might lead you to wonder why the Mets are comfortable using Diaz in close games considering he has not performed well.

On the other hand, you might think the debate over pulling Matz is pointless. Lugo, the Mets’ most reliable reliever, imploded. It was uncharacteristic and shocking, especially because he is days removed from ending a streak of retiring 26 batters in a row (one more would have been a franchise record).

The way the Braves rallied might have been most surprising and scary.

Lugo walked Josh Donaldson to begin the frame. Then, Atlanta hit three consecutive singles to score the tying run. A couple were not smoked.

After those, Tyler Flowers grounded a ball to the right side of the infield. Pete Alonso tried to range to his right, but could not get it. Lugo did not cover first base, and everyone was safe. Atlanta took the lead.

The weirdest play came when Matt Joyce lined one to Michael Conforto, who slid and caught it after it hit the ground. Conforto fired to second for the force out — the first out of the inning — but another run scored.

Ronald Acuna, who has terrorized the Mets and most other teams, then singled home another run.

One after the other, the Braves handled New York’s best weapon out of the bullpen.

Half an hour earlier, J.D. Davis had put the Mets ahead with a two-run bloop single into center field. The Mets finally received the clutch hit they needed in a big spot. They took a lead for the first time since Saturday’s win over Washington.

It evaporated. You couldn’t have seen it coming with a guy like Lugo on the mound.

This season, the Mets have suffered many cruel losses, some downright inexplicable. That part of the year appeared to be over when the team won 15 of 17 games and had you believing that something special could be brewing. The stretch fostered hope.

Wednesday provided an ugly, painful return to the past, with one decision at the center.


Pujols sets record

ANAHEIM, Calif. (TNS) — Albert Pujols did not allow the Los Angeles Angels to be swept by a middling Pittsburgh Pirates team on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium. The veteran first baseman had two hits and drove in three runs in the Angels’ 7-4 victory.

While at it, he became the all-time hits leader among players born outside the United States with 3,168, eclipsing Adrian Beltre’s record by two hits.

The Angels won for only the fifth time in 19 games.

Rookie Luis Rengifo almost stole the show from Pujols. His Little League homer in the fourth provided the Angels a 4-2 lead. He dashed out of the left-handed batter’s box, covering 29.2 feet per second on his sprint around the bases. He outpaced the MLB average, which is tracked by MLB’s Statcast system, by 2.2 feet per second.

But Pujols’ two-run hit in the eighth inning — a dribbler that sneaked into center field against a drawn-in infield — padded the Angels’ cushion to 6-3.

Dillon Peters became the Angels’ first starting pitcher to earn a victory since Griffin Canning on July 30. He had to overcome a shaky beginning to do it.

Peters walked or hit the first three batters he faced, loading the bases for Josh Bell. The Pirates slugger grounded into a double play, but a run scored. A second crossed the plate on Melky Cabrera’s single.

Peters retired the next four Pirates but command issues crept back. He hit Kevin Newman to start the third. The Angels were still two innings away from erasing their deficit. The mistake could have been costly. Instead, Newman was thrown out trying to steal second base. Peters was relieved of the threat.

The left-handed Peters allowed only two runs on four hits over six innings.


Dodgers romp

MIAMI (TNS) — Nobody knows Clayton Kershaw, the pitcher, better than Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. He is the only pitching coach Kershaw has had in the majors. Honeycutt has been there from Kershaw’s electric start in 2008, through his on-top-of-the-world dash through the middle of the decade, and he is there now, as Kershaw masters the next step of a Hall of Fame career.

They’re on Year 12 together. Kershaw’s success this season, after a velocity dip, chronic back trouble and an ominous shoulder injury in spring training, has not floored Honeycutt. Yes, it looks different, and Kershaw has to make adjustments to counter the mileage on his body, but his stellar season, which continued Wednesday with seven scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 9-1 win over the Miami Marlins, is something Honeycutt just expects.

“I just see a gentleman that just continues to be impressive with whatever he has,” Honeycutt said before the game. “He’s always going to be a battler. He’s a warrior. I mean, he goes out there and keeps you in the game when he doesn’t have his good stuff. If he has his stuff, it’s pretty much lights out.”

Kershaw had his stuff at Marlins Park and the Marlins (44-74) had no answers. The left-hander began the game with seven consecutive strikeouts and had eight through three perfect innings. He retired the first 14 hitters and extended his streak of starts with at least six innings to 21 to begin the season.

He finished with 10 strikeouts without walking a batter. It was the eighth time he’s recorded at least seven scoreless innings with double-digit strikeouts and no walks. That’s tied for second in major league history with Pedro Martinez. Randy Johnson tops the list with 12. Kershaw’s earned-run average is a tidy 2.63.

Kershaw was given plenty of support from an offense that preyed on the Marlins’ pitching staff for the second straight night. After tallying 15 runs, six home runs, and 13 extra-base hits Tuesday, the Dodgers (81-41) hit four home runs Wednesday, marking the first time since the franchise moved to Los Angeles that they’ve compiled at least four home runs in three consecutive games. Rookie Edwin Rios supplied two of the homers — the first two of his career — as he went 3 for 4 with a walk while adding a nimble over-the-shoulder catch at first base in the sixth inning.

The Dodgers initially announced Kershaw was scheduled to pitch Tuesday before switching him with Dustin May in the rotation. May allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings to capture his first career win Tuesday while Kershaw got an extra day of rest and the Dodgers ensured he wouldn’t face the Atlanta Braves, a possible playoff foe. If Kershaw pitched Tuesday, the Dodgers would’ve had to give him a week off to avoid the Braves.

“We didn’t want him facing Atlanta on Sunday and coming back Tuesday to Sunday,” Honeycutt said. “So it was either (give him an extra day) this time or you go from Tuesday to Tuesday. So it was an extra day this time or two extra days next time.”

It was the 13th time the Dodgers afforded the 31-year-old Kershaw at least one additional day of rest.

The first inning has been the bumpiest, by far, for Kershaw this season. He entered Wednesday having given up 13 of his 40 earned runs in the first frame. The 5.35 earned-run average was more two runs higher than in any other inning.

Kershaw had no problem executing in the first inning — or in the second, third or fourth innings — Wednesday. He commenced his outing by striking out Jon Berti on eight pitches. That was the most resistance he encountered as he plowed through the Marlins’ lineup the first time.

Kershaw punched out the first seven batters he faced, setting the modern-day (since 1900) franchise record but falling one shy of the major league mark. Six were swinging. Five came via the slider. One was on a curveball and another on a fastball.

Lewis Brinson snapped the streak with a groundout to shortstop. Kershaw followed the spoiler by striking out his counterpart Elieser Hernandez on three pitches, matching the three perfect innings he posted against the Marlins in his other start against them this season July 20.

This time, the left-hander extended the dominance into the fourth inning, retiring the side again and adding his ninth strikeout. He had two outs in the fifth when Harold Ramirez stepped into the batter’s box for his second plate appearance. After striking out looking in the second inning, Ramirez slapped a single to right field to end Kershaw’s pursuit of perfection. Kershaw rebounded by getting Jorge Alfaro to whiff on a slider in the dirt for his 10th strikeout.

Kershaw would log two more innings before departing. Two more Marlins reached base — on an error and an infield hit — but he smoothly danced around the light traffic. He departed after throwing 90 pitches, 66 for strikes, with a seven-run lead, six outs away from his first win against the Marlins since 2013.


Tigers nip M’s

DETROIT (TNS) — Edwin Jackson continues to pay dividends.

And the Detroit Tigers offense — so spotty and powerless for much of the season — continues to hit.

Jackson won his second start in as many tries Wednesday night, beating the Seattle Mariners, 3-2, at Comerica Park.

Jackson allowed two runs on four hits in five innings. He walked one batter and struck out four.

He was backed first by outfielder Victor Reyes, who rescued the Tigers (36-81) from nearly squandering a prime scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second inning. Against lefty Marco Gonzales, they loaded the bases with nobody out. With two outs, Reyes ripped a two-run single to center field.

Harold Castro hit an RBI single in the bottom of the third and Jackson danced around a pair of solo home runs, giving way to a shut down bullpen effort: Three relievers — lefty Gregory Soto, righty Buck Farmer and closer Joe Jimenez — combined for four scoreless innings.

Jackson looks comfortable and has manager Ron Gardenhire feeling comfortable when he takes the mound. With his pitch count not yet in midseason form — Jackson was building up at Triple-A Toledo after some time off — he threw 93 pitches. The bullpen was rock solid, with Soto dancing out of self-inflicted trouble in the sixth counting as a key inning to bridge the gap to the back-end of the bullpen.

The Tigers also have a weapon behind home plate in catcher Jake Rogers. The rookie — who has made an outstanding early impression with his defensive skills — threw out two baserunners, ending the inning on both occasions. With a runner on first base in the third inning, Rogers threw out Keon Broxton attempting to steal second base. Then, in perhaps the biggest play of the game, Rogers picked Mallex Smith off first base, ending a rally for the Mariners (49-72) in the seventh.

Miguel Cabrera, who continues to show better at the plate, hit a leadoff double into the right-field corner in the third inning. It marked the 574th double of his career, which tied Bobby Abreu for the most doubles by a Venezuelan-born player. Cabrera is tied for 23rd all-time with Abreu and former Tiger Charlie Gehringer. On the double, he beat the throw from right field by sliding into second base, but one batter later, was thrown out by a handful of steps trying to score from second base on a Niko Goodrum single to center field.


Phillies dismantle Cubs

PHILADELPHIA (TNS) — At least the Citizens Bank Park crowd took it easy on Cole Hamels.

The Cubs pitcher, making his first start as a visitor in the city where he started his career, received three ovations from Phillies fans Wednesday night. The last came when he was pulled after the worst performance of his stellar career.

Hamels, making his third start since returning from a left oblique strain, was tagged for eight runs in two-plus innings as the Cubs fell on the road again, this time in an 11-1 loss.

The Cubs are 7-21 in road games decided by two runs or fewer, but there was no suspense this time. It was the Cubs’ 15th loss in their last 22 road games, and they’ve dropped 24 of their 34 road games since May 31.

The Cubs haven’t won a road series since May 17-19, and Wednesday’s humbling defeate guaranteed they’ll lose this one too.

A more urgent matter, in addition to holding on to first place in the National League Central, is Hamels’ well-being.

Hamels has allowed 12 runs on 17 hits in five innings covering his last two starts. Bryce Harper hit the first of two home runs — a two-run opposite-field shot to left — in the first.

Hamels allowed four hits to start the third and was replaced by Alec Mills, who surrendered a grand slam to J.T. Realmuto to cap a six-run rally.

The eight runs surrendered by Hamels were one shy of his career high, which last occurred in 3 1/3 innings on July 10, 2015.

Entering Wednesday’s game, Hamels was 56-44 with a 3.26 ERA with 894 strikeouts in 143 starts at Citizens Bank Park over 10 seasons (2006-15).

But Hamels allowed nine hits to the 17 batters he faced, including an RBI single to winning pitcher Aaron Nola in the second. Nola was 3-for-45 before ripping his clean hit to left.

Hamels’ season ERA swelled from 3.09 to 3.69. It was his shortest outing since walking off the mound before the second inning because of his oblique injury at Cincinnati on June 30.

Harper added a solo homer to right in the sixth off Mills, marking his 19th career multi-homer game.

The offense has scored three runs in its last two games, with Kris Bryant’s home run in the seventh helping the Cubs avoid their fifth shutout.

But Nola (11-3) limited the Cubs to three hits over seven innings.

Yu Darvish (4-6) will try to prevent the Cubs from getting swept in the three-game series when he opposes left-hander Drew Smyly on Thursday.


A’s topple Giants

SAN FRANCISCO (TNS) — Fewer than 24 hours after making their fans’ hearts skip beats and their manager’s hair fall out in a too-close-for-comfort, one-run win, the Giants looked ready to “torture” the home crowd in a different way.

For the first seven innings of Wednesday’s matinee against the Oakland A’s, the Giants were sleepwalking. Their pitches found barrels, their bats whiffed in the strike zone and they appeared destined to suffer a big, embarrassing blowout loss.

Then came a furious, five-run rally that induced the type of nail-biting, pressure-packed moments that “Giants torture” is all about.

Those moments, while compelling, were all-too fleeting. The Giants had dug a hole so deep that even one of the team’s biggest rallies of the season couldn’t help them escape it in a 9-5 defeat.

Rookie Mike Yastrzemski launched a three-run home run, veterans Evan Longoria and Stephen Vogt tacked on hits and outfielders Alex Dickerson and Kevin Pillar stepped to the plate with chances to tie the game in the eighth inning.

In his first at-bat back from the injured list, Dickerson recorded a RBI groundout. After delivering the Giants’ only two hits in the first seven innings, Pillar struck out.

“That’s a good bullpen over there so for us to climb back in and give ourselves a chance, that’s all you can ask for in a game like that,” Vogt said. “They did a great job of getting us on our heels early but we were able to string some at-bats together late and make it a game.”

The Giants of 2010, 2012, 2014 and even 2016 grew accustomed to winning one-run games, thriving under pressure and ensuring the outcome would remain in jeopardy until the final pitch. This year’s club has won a significant amount of games using a similar formula, but it has also tortured fans in different ways, most notably in defeats such as Wednesday’s, where the Giants looked lifeless against a pitcher barely skating by.

It’s been more than six years since right-hander Homer Bailey tossed a no-hitter against the Giants and in his past five seasons, Bailey has posted an ERA of 6.09. Against the Giants’ lineup, throw out the numbers. There’s no rhyme or reason to who they hit and who they don’t.

The A’s scored a run in the first, another in the second and two more in the third against rookie Tyler Beede to break Wednesday’s game open early while the Giants managed just two hits in seven innings against Bailey. The journeyman matched the Giants’ hit total against him, drilling a single to center and reaching on an infield single that brought home a run from third base in the second inning.

Twenty-eight of the 60 victories the Giants have earned this season have come in one-run games, but 17 of their 61 losses have come by a margin of at least five runs. The combination of close wins and maddening defeats has frustrated the team’s front office, players and fans who still believe in the club’s ability to make a run for a National League Wild Card berth, even if the odds have declined over the last two weeks.

The offensive troubles against pitchers such as Bailey are a concern for manager Bruce Bochy, but so too are the extensive struggles of his inexperienced starters.

“We’re just trying to get (Beede) over the hump as far as him executing his pitches,” Bochy said. “It’s really good at times and then it gets away from him at times.”

Ten different Giants pitchers have earned victories since the last time Beede, Shaun Anderson or left-hander Conner Menez received credit for a win. Starters Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija have carried the staff and kept the team within striking distance in the Wild Card race for the last month, but the trio of rookies attempting to fill out the back half of the rotation haven’t helped the Giants gain any ground in the standings.

“There’s no shortage of learning experiences and I’ve had a lot lately,” Beede said. “I’m no stranger to adversity and certainly being able to learn at this level will teach me a lot down the road.”

With Anderson eligible to return from the injured list on Sunday and Bumgarner already listed as the Giants’ probable starter, the organization may elect to option Beede or move him to the bullpen following his fifth consecutive rough outing.

“We’ll get together and talk about if we have to tweak anything,” Bochy said.

If the Giants wait until Tuesday to activate Anderson, who is dealing with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, he could replace Beede in the rotation when the Giants open a three-game series in Chicago against the Cubs.

Swapping out Anderson for Beede may not make a significant difference for the Giants, who haven’t received any consistency from the rookie right-handers in the last month. With veteran Johnny Cueto expected to return in the first week of September and Dereck Rodriguez set to rejoin the Giants rotation on Thursday in Arizona, the club may be able to shield some of the innings Anderson and Beede are expected to work anyway.


Pads avoid sweep

SAN DIEGO (TNS) — The Padres believed in Luis Urias when they believed he was better off rehabbing his swing and approach most of the summer at Triple-A El Paso. They believed in him throughout a slow start upon last month’s return to the majors. They believe this is just the start for their 22-year-old second baseman.

Urias continued his resurgence with the go-ahead runs on a fourth-inning double, rookie Cal Quantrill fought back from a troublesome start and the Padres avoided a sweep to close the homestand with a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon at Petco Park.

Sliding over to shortstop for the injured Fernando Tatis Jr., Urias walked in his first plate appearance and doubled in two runs to break a 2-2 team in the fourth to continue his rise since mashing his first home run of the season on July 29.

Months after his banishment to the Pacific Coast League, Urias has paired a .342/.468/.500 batting line with nine RBIs, nine runs scored and four extra-base hits over his last 13 games.

A three-run double on Tuesday gave the Padres a 4-1 lead that didn’t last. Wednesday’s go-ahead hit did.

The Padres hope Tatis — who left Tuesday’s game with a lower back spasm — can return to the lineup Friday in Philadelphia.

Urias, who bounced between both middle infield spots while hitting .315/.398/.600 at El Paso, would continue to see time at shortstop should Tatis’ back keep him from the field.

Urias also walked scored in the Padres’ two-run second inning and drove in a third run when right-hander Jose De Leon hit him with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.

First baseman Eric Hosmer hit his 18th homer, a solo shot off Jalen Beeks (5 IP, 5 ER), his first off a left-hander all season, and catcher Francisco Mejia reached via two walks and a single and scored three runs. Wil Myers added a run-scoring single in the eighth after striking out in his first three at-bats.

Quantrill won for the second time on the homestand, grinding through 108 pitches — his most in a game since his Tommy John surgery — to give the Padres 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball.

Only the first 12 pitches cost him.

Eric Sogard won an 11-pitch battle to lead off the game with a walk and Tommy Pham sent Quantrill’s ensuing fastball on a 111 mph line off the third deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

Quantrill retired 16 of 18 after that, scattering two singles despite the pesky Rays elevating his pitch-count to 100 pitches through five innings. He fetched a pop-up off Pham’s bat to start the sixth and gave way to the Padres’ bullpen, which closed the game with 3 2/3 scoreless frames.

Quantrill struck out four and allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings.


Brewers down Twins

MILWAUKEE (TNS) — Trent Grisham, playing in his 11th major league game, hit a three-run home run off reliever Sergio Romo in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Milwaukee Brewers rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Twins on Wednesday at Miller Park.

The inning started when Ryan Braun was safe on an error by Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco. After Hernan Perez singled, the 22-year-old Grisham drove a fastball from Romo, who got the save in Tuesday’s 7-5 Twins victory, into the upper deck in right for his second major league homer.

Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario and Mitch Garver homered for the Twins, and Polanco had a two-run single as the Twins built a 5-2 lead by the fourth inning.

The Twins remained a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the American League Central after the Indians lost to Boston.


BoSox roll

CLEVELAND (TNS) — Like some in the crowd, the Indians’ offense seemingly took a day off from work.

The Boston Red Sox threw more than half a dozen pitchers at the Indians, who hit none of them hard in a 5-1 loss Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Red Sox pitcher Brian Johnson started the game (2 2/3 innings) and was followed by Marcus Walden, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Cashner and Brandon Workman, all of whom kept the Indians’ lineup off balance.

The Indians’ lone run of the day came about via two errors, a walk and a wild pitch. With one out, Francisco Lindor grounded a ball to Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts in what was a tough play. Lindor was credited with a single and advanced to second after Bogaerts’ throw sailed into the camera bay beyond first base. Oscar Mercado then reached on an error by third baseman Rafael Devers on a grounder that hit the lip of the infield grass and took a low hop. Lindor then came around to score via a wild pitch by Johnson

Aside from that sequence, the Indians’ offense had a slow, quiet Wednesday afternoon.

And though Bogaerts and Devers committed those errors, it was only a few minutes earlier, in the top half of the third inning, that they also gave the Red Sox (64-59) all the offense they’d need. Facing Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber, Devers drilled a solo home run and was followed by Bogaerts with a solo shot of his own, as the back-to-back homers gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.

Bogaerts delivered the knockout blow in the top of the seventh as the Indians’ offense continued to stall. The Indians (72-49) had turned to Nick Goody, who has been stellar this season and sported a terrific slider. But with two runners on, Goody made a rare mistake with that slider and left it up and over the plate, and Bogaerts hammered it for a three-run home run over the 19-foot wall in left field for his second homer of the day.


Yanks tip O’s

NEW YORK (TNS) — If you think the New York Yankees, on pace to win 107 games, have shifted their regular season into cruise control, think again.

They have a lot to play for.

While they’re competing with the Houston Astros for the best record in the American League, they’re also keeping an eye out on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Win more games than L.A. and the potential seventh game of the World Series could be played at Yankee Stadium.

But first things first. After completing their season dominance over Baltimore with a 6-5 win on Wednesday afternoon before a matinee crowd of 43,909, the Yankees begin a four-game home series against the Cleveland Indians, a potential playoff opponent, on Thursday night.

No more Orioles. After the Indians, the Yankees go west, challenging playoff possible Oakland and the Dodgers, an interleague treat. When they return home, they have another series with the Athletics.

There’s no truth to the rumor that the Yankees petitioned MLB to let them play more games against downtrodden Baltimore. This was their 16th straight win over Baltimore, and they won the season series 17-2. They hit 61 home runs against the Orioles, a major league record for homers versus on opponent in a single season.

The last homer was Gary Sanchez’s three-run shot over the center-field wall, capping a four-run first inning that gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Orioles starter Dylan Bundy didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning, when Sanchez singled and Gleyber Torres doubled to knock him out of the game. Mike Ford’s two-run, two-out single off reliever Richard Bleier gave the Yankees a 6-2 lead.

They needed all the runs after Baltimore put together a three-run rally in the seventh against relievers Luis Cessa and Adam Ottavino. That forced the Yankees to go to Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman for the eighth and ninth innings.

They both did their jobs. Britton came back from a lead-off walk to retire three straight batters, and Chapman recorded his 33rd save in 38 chances. He allowed a two-out single by Renato Nunez, but then struck out Johathan Villar.

The Yankees squeezed five innings out of starter J.A. Happ, who allowed two runs and six hits and struck out six. He threw 95 pitches, 58 for strikes. The lefthander heard some boos in his 33-pitch first inning when he was touched for a run before getting out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Jace Peterson.

Most importantly, Happ didn’t give up a home run. He’s given up a career-high 29 on the season, tied for fourth-most in the majors.

“You feel for every player you go out there with,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “We’re just trying to get him through it. This season has been hard on him. It has come down to the long ball hurting him.”

Boone gave an optimistic injury update on slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who’s been limited to 31 at-bats (.290), with one homer and seven RBI because of several ailments.

Stanton, who’s nursing a right knee sprain, is running 75-85% on the treadmill, according to his manager. When he reaches 90 percent, he’ll start running outdoors. In the meantime, Stanton is hitting in the indoor cages.

The next week or two will help determine when Stanton might be able to finally join the team.