DETROIT -- Max Scherzer and Brad Ausmus both knew early on Thursday afternoon that something special might be happening.
Their reactions were slightly different.
When Scherzer struck out eight Pittsburgh batters in the first three innings, Ausmus was thinking of two of the worst days of his playing career.
"I've been the victim of two 20-strikeout games, and when he started out that fast, I was starting to wonder if he could put up a huge total," said Ausmus, who faced Roger Clemens in his 1996 20-K game and Kerry Wood two years later. "He was making pitches that looked like the ones Kerry was throwing that day."
Scherzer also knew a big number was possible, but he didn't care about records (see full recap).
Royals rally to beat A's
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nori Aoki and Billy Butler each drove in two runs in a five-run seventh and the surging Kansas City Royals rallied to defeat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 Thursday.
The Royals have won 18 of 22 to move 12 games above .500 for the first time since July 20, 2003.
The Royals took the season series, winning five of seven against the Athletics, who have the best record in the majors.
Aoki's two-run triple put the Royals ahead 5-3. Butler's single scored Aoki and Alcides Escobar. Jarrod Dyson fouled off four consecutive pitches before hitting an RBI single to right for the first run of the inning (see full recap).
Gordon leads Dodgers over Braves
ATLANTA - Despite hitting only .229 in the first 12 games in August, Dee Gordon remained confident in his approach as he refused to make changes that might lead to bad habits.
Gordon's self-confidence paid off on Thursday, as he had three hits and scored four runs to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers past the slumping Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Thursday.
Gordon, hitting .291 overall, also stole two bases, increasing his total to 54, the most in the major leagues.
"Dee Gordon beat us," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's probably your most traditional leadoff hitter I've seen in a long time."
Gordon had plenty of help. Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez, who followed Gordon in the batting order, each also had three hits. Gonzalez drove in three runs (see full recap).
Fiers K's 14 in Brewers' win
CHICAGO -- Mike Fiers struck out a career-high 14 through six innings of three-hit ball, Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds homered, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on Thursday to widen their first-place lead in the NL Central.
Scooter Gennett drove in two runs with a double, and Elian Herrera and Carlos Gomez each had RBIs to help the Brewers move 2 games ahead of Pittsburgh and St. Louis. The Cardinals host San Diego on Thursday night.
Fiers (2-1) dominated and walked only one in his second start this season since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville to face the Dodgers last Saturday. In that one, he pitched eight strong innings and outdueled Zack Greinke for his first win this season.
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (6-13) lasted just 4 2-3 innings and allowed five runs before being lifted for Jacob Turner, who pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings in his Cubs debut. Jackson has lost six of his last seven decisions (see full recap).
Harper, LaRoche homer in Nats 4-1 win vs. Mets
NEW YORK -- Stephen Strasburg bounced back from a poor start to pitch seven efficient innings, Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche each hit a two-run homer, and the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 4-1 Thursday night to set a franchise record with their 11th consecutive win on the road against one team.
The Mets' 11 straight losses to Washington in Queens are their most against one team in club history. New York lost 10 in a row to the Braves at Shea Stadium from 1991-92.
Strasburg (9-10) gave up three hits and an unearned run, improving to 2-8 in 13 road starts. He struck out eight and walked two.
7-run sixth powers Red Sox over Astros
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia's two-run double capped a seven-run sixth inning Thursday night that sent the Boston Red Sox to their fourth straight win, 9-4 over the Houston Astros.
Pedroia finished with three hits, Daniel Nava had two doubles and David Ortiz added two singles as the Red Sox improved to 8-0 in Fenway Park against the Astros.
Matt Dominguez hit a two-run homer for Houston, which opened a 10-game road trip with its fourth loss in five games.
Allen Webster (3-1) gave up four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in six innings for Boston.
Trailing 4-1, the Red Sox chased starter Scott Feldman (6-9) during their biggest inning of the season (see full recap).
Marlins beat Diamondbacks in 10 innings
MIAMI -- Marcell Ozuna doubled home Garrett Jones with the winning run in the 10th inning, and the Miami Marlins topped the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 on Thursday night.
Ozuna's line-drive to left-center came off Bradin Hagens (0-1), who was making his major league debut. Hagens got a double play to escape the ninth, but Jones reached on a leadoff walk in the 10th and scored two batters later.
Mike Dunn (10-5) pitched two perfect innings for Miami and became the first reliever to reach double-digits in wins since Matt Belisle for Colorado in 2011, according to STATS.
Mark Trumbo had a pair of RBI singles for Arizona. Diamondbacks starter Chase Anderson allowed nine hits and three runs in six innings, and David Peralta had an RBI triple to highlight a two-run third (see full recap).
Jay lifts Cardinals, 4-3, over Padres
ST. LOUIS -- Pinch-hitter Jon Jay delivered a two-run double in the eighth inning and right fielder Shane Robinson threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth to help the St. Louis Cardinals hold off the San Diego Padres 4-3 Thursday night.
Jhonny Peralta hit an early two-run homer for the Cardinals, who moved ahead of Pittsburgh into second place in the NL Central. St. Louis remained two games behind division-leading Milwaukee.
San Diego had its five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 16-9 since the All-Star break.
Trailing by two in the ninth, the Padres loaded the bases with one out against closer Trevor Rosenthal. Pinch-hitter Jake Goebbert came through with an RBI single to right, but Alexi Amarista was cut down at home when he tried to score from second (see full recap).
Rays top Rangers, 6-3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Evan Longoria homered and drove in three runs, Jake Odorizzi helped extend Tampa Bay's impressive road pitching streak with seven strong innings, and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 6-3 Thursday night.
Longoria's team-leading 15th homer was a two-run shot that gave the Rays a 6-2 lead in the fifth. Logan Forsythe had a two-run homer, his fifth, to put the Rays in front to stay in the second.
Odorizzi (9-9) struck out seven to help give the Rays their AL-record 18th consecutive road game without allowing more than three runs.
Robbie Ross (2-5) came up from Triple-A Round Rock to fill in for Texas ace Yu Darvish, who is sidelined with elbow inflammation. The left-hander gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings (see full recap).