MLB roundup: Vazquez handles San Diego
ATLANTA ó Javier Vazquez and everyone else in the Atlanta lineup made sure the Braves were feeling good as they headed off on an important road trip.
Vazquez pitched seven scoreless innings, each starter contributed to a 17-hit attack and the Braves romped past the San Diego Padres 9-1 on Thursday night, avoiding a sweep and moving closer in the wild-card race.
“This was as close to a must-win game as you can have at the end of August,” Chipper Jones said. “If we lose this game, we’d be looking back at the end of the season and saying this was the series that really killed our momentum.”
Atlanta pulled within 41/2 games of wild-card leader Colorado. Now, it’s off for three games at NL East-leading Philadelphia and four more at Florida.
Pirates 3, Phillies 2
PITTSBURGH ó Garrett Jones hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning against J.A. Happ (10-3), fellow rookie Andrew McCutchen also went deep and last-place Pittsburgh rallied for the second time in three nights to beat division-leading Philadelphia.
Charlie Morton limited the Phillies to two runs over six innings.
Happ, who lost for the first time in four decisions, appeared to be cruising following McCutchen’s homer leading off the first.
Dodgers 3, Rockies 2
DENVER ó Vicente Padilla, waived by Texas earlier this month after angering the Rangers by throwing at hitters, had an impressive return to the National League.
He allowed two runs and six hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked one.
Rafael Furcal hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth and Matt Kemp hit his career-high 19th homer as the Dodgers opened a four-game lead in the NL West.
Jonathan Broxton got the last four outs. The Rockies put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth before Broxton struck out Eric Young Jr. and Seth Smith.
Astros 4, Cardinals 3
ST. LOUIS ó Jeff Keppinger hit a tiebreaking homer with two outs in the ninth to help Houston avoid a three-game sweep.
Jose Valverde (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the Astros, who won for the fifth time in their last 19 road games.
The Astros tied it on Darin Erstad’s double off Kyle McClellan in the eighth, spoiling Chris Carpenter’s bid for his 15th win.
Nationals 5, Cubs 4
CHICAGO ó Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer and Adam Dunn had a solo shot.
The Cubs have gone 6-15 since Aug. 5 to fall nine games behind St. Louis.
Mets 10, Marlins 3
MIAMI ó Tim Redding pitched 6 2/3 innings to give New York’s injury-ravaged staff a boost and snap a five-game skid.
Redding (2-4) allowed three runs ó all on leadoff homers ó and five hits.
New York tied a season high with 17 hits. Florida fielding lapses led to five runs.
Reds 8, Brewers 5
MILWAUKEE ó Justin Lehr overcame a rocky start to pitch into the eighth inning and drew a key walk in Cincinnati’s five-run fifth as the Reds swept the three-game set.
White Sox 9, Red Sox 5
BOSTON ó Jayson Nix drove in three runs and Chicago scored four runs in both the second and third innings to avoid a sweep.
J.D. Drew hit two solo home runs and Alex Gonzalez added one as Boston hit more than one homer for the 11th time in 13 games.
Rangers 7, Yankees 2
NEW YORK ó Ian Kinsler homered twice and the bullpen pitched shutout ball as the Rangers became the first visitors to win a series at Yankee Stadium since mid-June.
Kinsler and Chris Davis both had three-run homers for Texas, which took two of three from New York. Jason Grilli (2-2), C.J. Wilson and Frank Francisco combined for 5 1/3 innings of two-hit relief.
A.J. Burnett (10-8) lost despite striking out a season-high 12 in six innings.
Indians 5, Orioles 4
BALTIMORE ó Andy Marte hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning.
Jim Johnson (3-5) got the first two outs in the ninth before allowing a single to Matt LaPorta. After going 3-0 on Marte, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, Johnson worked the count full before Marte hit a liner that barely cleared the 7-foot wall in left field. It was his second home run in 69 at-bats.
The Orioles are now 44-3 when leading after eight innings.
ST. LOUIS ó Heading into his first start at home with the Cardinals, John Smoltz realizes it’ll be impossible to top his debut.
The 42-year-old right-hander worked five scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, including seven in a row, Sunday in San Diego.
Smoltz was 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA in Boston. He’s 1-0 with an 0.00 ERA heading into tonight’s start against the Nationals.
“Certainly I can’t go in and try to duplicate it,” Smoltz said. “But at the same time I want to be able to go out and keep the ballclub in the game and allow the crowd to be as loud as possible.”
Smoltz has said he wants to pitch next year and conclude his career on his own terms.
“For whatever reason, someone has always finished the story for me,” Smoltz said. “I should win 20, I shouldn’t have gone to closer, then I should have been a closer my whole life, then when I went from closer to starter they said I was crazy and this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.
“I did not want to come back and be that guy that people feel sorry for.”