MLB Wrap: Braves increase lead in NL East

MLB Wrap: Braves increase lead in NL East
July 27, 2013, 1:00 am
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Jason Heyward is congratulated by Freddie Freeman after hitting a solo homer in the Braves' win over the Cardinals. (USA Today Images)

ATLANTA -- After Mike Minor pitched like a rising ace, he tipped his cap to the injured leader of the Atlanta Braves' rotation.

Minor allowed only one run to give the depleted staff a lift, Jason Heyward homered, and the Braves beat Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 in a matchup of division leaders on Friday night.

Minor (10-5) gave up four hits with no walks in seven innings. His sharp performance came two days after Tim Hudson was lost for the season with a broken right ankle (see full recap).

Nationals split doubleheader with Mets
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals have had trouble winning games since the All-Star Break.

When they have come out on top, it's been dramatic.

Ryan Zimmerman homered with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night, lifting the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets for a doubleheader split.

"Just worked into a good count and finally didn't try to do too much," Zimmerman said. "Good win. I mean obviously with Harvey starting it's tough to get any runs, but (Ross) Ohlendorf stuck there right with him, and after the way that first game went, that was a huge win," (see full recap).

Rays rip Yanks to take over first in AL East
NEW YORK -- Up by nine runs in the late innings, the Tampa Bay Rays wound up needing their closer to finish off this latest victory.

"It's not always an oil painting," manager Joe Maddon observed.

Masterpiece or not, here's a portrait of a winning team: From last place a month ago to now leading the tough AL East.

Jeremy Hellickson retired Yankees newcomer Alfonso Soriano with the bases loaded to preserve an early lead and the streaking Rays tagged CC Sabathia once again, beating New York 10-6 Friday night.

The Rays have won 20 of 23 and took sole possession of the division lead for the first time since June 10, 2012. Recently seven games behind, Tampa Bay moved a half-game ahead of Boston (see full recap).

Encarnacion's huge inning lifts Jays past Astros
TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion has been working hard to fix his timing at the plate in recent days.

Looks like's he's found it.

Encarnacion hit two home runs in one inning, including his sixth career grand slam, Jose Reyes, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Houston Astros 12-6 on Friday night.

"I got my timing back, so I was seeing the ball good," Encarnacion said (see full recap).

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