Best of MLB: Cardinals rout Nationals to avoid sweep

Best of MLB: Cardinals rout Nationals to avoid sweep

WASHINGTON -- Mike Leake outpitched 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Stephen Piscotty homered and had five RBIs, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Leake (1-1) gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked none over seven shutout innings. The right-hander allowed hits to the first two batters, then picked off a runner before getting 19 straight outs. The streak ended when Daniel Murphy singled with two outs in the seventh.

By that time, St. Louis had taken a 3-0 lead against Scherzer, who yielded only one earned run. He did, however, throw three wild pitches -- two in the third inning -- after tossing only two all last year while going 20-7.

Scherzer (1-1) allowed three runs, four hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out 10, the 50th time in his career he reached double figures in strikeouts.

Piscotty hit RBI singles in the first and fifth innings before launching a three-run drive in the ninth off Joe Blanton. The five RBIs tied a career high (see full recap).

Inciarte hits 2 HRs, Braves end 5-game skid, top Marlins
MIAMI -- Ender Inciarte hit two home runs and Tyler Flowers had a go-ahead single in the ninth inning Wednesday night to help the Atlanta Braves break a five-game losing streak by rallying past the Miami Marlins 5-4.

Miami's Giancarlo Stanton hit a pair of two-run homers, his first of the year. Freddie Freeman hit his third homer for the Braves.

The Braves went 2-6 on a season-opening trip before heading home to open their new ballpark Friday. They can only hope for the kind of success they've had at Marlins Park, where they're 32-15.

Atlanta also hopes for a glitch-free day at SunTrust Park in the opener against San Diego. The retractable roof at Marlins Park couldn't prevent a 27-minute delay in the fourth inning during a thunderstorm, which caused several banks of lights to go out (see full recap).

Rookie lefty Garrett stays perfect as Reds sweep Pirates
PITTSBURGH  -- Reds rookie Amir Garrett threw another gem, taking a shutout into the seventh inning and leading Cincinnati over the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-2 Wednesday night for a three-game sweep.

Garrett (2-0), the former St. John's basketball player, blanked the Pirates until David Freese hit a two-run homer.

Garrett gave up five hits, walked none and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings. In his major league debut last week, the 24-year-old lefty pitched six scoreless innings to win at St. Louis.

Jose Peraza, Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart each had three of the 15 hits for the Reds, who didn't homer for the first time this season. Peraza had a two-run double to cap a four-run fourth against Ivan Nova (1-1) that broke a scoreless tie.

The Pirates were outscored 21-5 in the series and were hitless in 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position (see full recap).

Montgomery impresses in debut as Yanks rally past Rays
NEW YORK -- Jordan Montgomery showed power and poise in his major league debut after allowing Rickie Weeks' two-run homer in the first inning, and the New York Yankees rallied past the sloppy Tampa Bay 8-4 Wednesday to get back to .500.

New York's Brett Gardner and Weeks both left the game after a collision at first base in the sixth inning. Running hard on a comebacker, Gardner slammed into Weeks, who had not played first in the major leagues before this season and stayed in the baseline as he reached for reliever Xavier Cedeno's poor throw. Both fell to the field as Chase Headley came home with the go-ahead run.

Gardner was diagnosed with a bruised jaw and a strained neck, and Weeks with neck and right shoulder soreness.

New York rebounded from a 3-0, fifth-inning deficit and won its third straight after a 1-4 start. Aaron Judge homered for the third straight game, a long drive to center, and had three RBIs. Errors by shortstop Tim Beckham and Cedeno led to four unearned runs.

A 24-year-old left-hander, Montgomery earned the fifth-starter's job over a group that included Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Bryan Mitchell. Montgomery opened with strikeouts of Steven Souza Jr. and Kevin Kiermaier, then walked Evan Longoria and allowed Weeks' long home run to left (see full recap).

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Whit Merrifield hit a two-run, two-out double that capped a four-run rally in the ninth inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Friday night to reach .500 for the first time since April.

With their 10th win in 12 games, the Royals improved to 36-36. They were 6-6 before play on April 20, then went on a nine-game losing streak that night and dropped as low as 10-20, seven games out of first place. They trail AL Central-leading Cleveland by three games.

Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the ninth and extended it when Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak hit RBI singles off Joakim Soria (4-2) (see full recap).

Dodgers cruise past Rockies for 8th straight win
LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig homered and left-hander Alex Wood kept his record perfect as the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the NL West rival Colorado Rockies 6-1 on Friday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

The Dodgers have won 14 of their last 15 games. They have scored at least six runs in seven consecutive games.

Wood (8-0) allowed one run in six innings. He gave up only three hits and walked two, retiring his last 10 batters.

The Dodgers have homered in 15 consecutive games, tied for fourth-longest streak in club history. The last time they managed it was in 1977. Their record is 24 consecutive games with a home run.

Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeman (8-4) allowed five runs and a career-high 10 hits and three walks in six innings (see full recap).

Torreyes hits walk-off single to lift Yanks over Rangers
NEW YORK -- Ronald Torreyes hit a game-winning single with two outs in the 10th inning after midnight, and the New York Yankees edged the Texas Rangers 2-1 on a rainy Friday night for just their second win in 10 games.

Brett Gardner lined a tying home run with one out in the New York ninth off closer Matt Bush. After Chasen Shreve (2-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th, Torreyes kept the Yankees atop the AL East.

Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka kept it scoreless into the late innings in the first major league meeting between the Japanese stars (see full recap).

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- The clubhouse was beginning to clear and still the star of the game had not yet emerged from the shower.

"He's in there cleaning the guacamole and mayo out of his hair," Cameron Rupp said with a laugh.

Eventually Mark Leiter Jr. made it out of the shower and over to his locker where equipment man Phil Sheridan presented him with three game balls, souvenirs from not only his first big-league start but his first big-league win, as well.

"It's something I'll never forget," the 26-year-old right-hander from Toms River, N.J., said pitching six shutout innings to backbone the Phillies' 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night (see Instant Replay).

"I’ll be honest, I was probably more excited for this than I was for my major-league debut. To go out there and contribute to a win is what I was hoping to do."

Leiter, a 22nd-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2013, had never made it onto the 40-man roster until the Phils needed a reliever in mid-April and gave him a shot after he'd gotten off to a good start at Triple A. He spent six weeks in the majors and made 12 relief appearances before being sent back to Triple A the first weekend of June.

Leiter worked as a starter during his time back at Triple A. He pitched six shutout innings against Syracuse in his last start and got the call to come back up when Jerad Eickhoff went on the disabled list with a back strain earlier this week.

Leiter's return assignment was not easy: The Diamondbacks are one of the best hitting clubs in the majors and the best on their home turf. They entered the game scoring 6.48 runs per game at home and with an .886 OPS, both major-league bests.

None of that fazed Leiter.

"In my opinion, this is the big leagues and it doesn’t matter who the lineup is," he said. "They all have the ability to hit and hit well. They’re all big-leaguers and they've earned their right to be big-leaguers. I was just trying to pitch to the team you're facing that day."

Leiter trusted his low-90s fastball and commanded it well. He mixed in his secondary stuff and kept the D-backs off-balance with his splitter. He scattered three hits, walked one and struck out five. He showed no fear.

"Great performance," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He made it look easy. He made a lot of good hitters look bad with his split. For him to come up and do that to a real good hitting team was outstanding."

Leiter's dad, Mark Sr., pitched for the Phillies in 1997 and 1998. He made the trip in from New Jersey to watch his son's first big-league start.

"I guess they found him on TV," Leiter said. "That's what they were telling me. I'm sure he wasn't too pleased they found him because he was probably stressed out. But I think it was probably worth him coming out here. He's probably happy."

How could he not be?

Leiter's teammates were definitely happy.

They treated Leiter to a raucous postgame dousing that included as many different condiments as could be found in the clubhouse dining room. One laughing player had a bottle of ketchup in his hands. Another had a squeeze bottle of honey.

And then there was the guacamole and mayo that Rupp mentioned.

"In his first major-league start, to come up here and do that in what is known as a good hitters’ park - that proves Mark is pretty strong between the ears," Tommy Joseph said. "He's been one of those under-the-radar guys that people have doubted, but his mentality and ability to prepare are second to none."

Joseph played a big role in the win, smacking a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Phillies some breathing room. Maikel Franco also had a big home run and Freddy Galvis contributed an important triple that led to a Phillies' run in the first inning.

The Phils still have the worst record in the majors at 24-48, but they've won two in a row, both on the back of good starting pitching performances. Aaron Nola pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Thursday.

And Leiter delivered on Friday.

"It's good to see those back-to-back," Mackanin said.