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).

Phillies Notes: A setback for Aaron Nola? Howie Kendrick an option at first base?

Phillies Notes: A setback for Aaron Nola? Howie Kendrick an option at first base?

LOS ANGELES — Aaron Nola is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but that's not going to happen.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin on Saturday indicated that the pitcher's recovery from a lower back strain was not going as smoothly as hoped.

Did Nola experience a setback?

"If you want to call it that," Mackanin said.

Nola threw a bullpen session on Friday and, according to Mackanin, did not bounce back as well as hoped.

"After he completed it, he had some symptoms, some soreness or tightness, I guess," Mackanin said. "It was decided he will not make his start on Monday. He will be reevaluated to determine his next bullpen.

"A couple of days ago he said he felt great and then [Friday] not so great. He's improving but he's not 100 percent. There's something bugging him. We're just going to take it day to day. We're being cautious with him this early in the season."

Nola experienced soreness in his lower back after his last start, April 20 against the Mets. The Phils have been filling the opening on their pitching staff with reliever Mark Leiter Jr. Nick Pivetta will be activated on Sunday and make his major-league debut with a start against the Dodgers.

Kendrick works at first base
First baseman Tommy Joseph and catcher Cameron Rupp, both hitting under .200, were not in the starting lineup on Saturday night as Mackanin went heavy on lefty hitters against Dodgers' righty Brandon McCarthy.

Mackanin stressed that he doesn't like to make judgments on hitters until they get around the 100 at-bat mark — Joseph has 63; Rupp 50 — but it's worth noting that first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher Jorge Alfaro are both off to hot starts at Triple A and could be eventual replacements if the club looks for more production.

There also could be another option brewing at first base.

Howie Kendrick has worked at first base during batting practice the last two days. On Friday, he merely tracked balls off the bat and worked on first-step breaks. He did so with a regular fielder's glove.

But on Saturday, Kendrick brought his first baseman's mitt to the field. He took some groundballs and throws from across the diamond.

This stuff doesn't happen just by accident.

Over an 11-season career, Kendrick has played in 89 games at first base. He opened the season as the Phillies' leftfielder and hit .333 (13 for 39) with an .883 OPS before suffering an oblique injury two weeks ago in Washington. Kendrick probably needs at least another week of recovery time before coming off the disabled list, but it's now reasonable to wonder if he will go back to left field or get time at first base when he returns. Using Kendrick at first would allow the Phillies to keep Aaron Altherr's bat in the lineup in left field.

Joseph can have a say in all this if he gets his bat going. He is hitting .190 (12 for 63) with just a .505 OPS.

Last May, it was Joseph who earned his way to the majors after his hot start in Triple A coincided with Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf struggling in the majors. Joseph got 347 plate appearances in the majors last season and hit .257 with 21 homers, 47 RBIs and a .813 OPS.

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, both struggling mightily through the first month of the season, will get Saturday night off when the Phillies take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Joseph is hitting .190 with one homer and 18 strikeouts in 18 games, while Rupp is batting .180 with one homer and 20 strikeouts through 15 games. Last season, Joseph had 21 home runs and Rupp 16.

Brock Stassi will spell Joseph at first base and bat seventh. Andrew Knapp takes over for Rupp behind the plate and will bat eighth.

Daniel Nava also receives a start, playing left field. The first-year Phillie is hitting .346 with a pair of homers and as many walks as strikeouts (seven).

Zach Eflin takes the mound in a meaningful start for the right-hander (see story). He opposes resurgent Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy (see game notes).

Here are tonight's lineups:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Brock Stassi, 1B
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Zach Eflin, P

Dodgers
1. Andrew Toles, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Yasmani Grandal, C
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Cody Bellinger, LF
7. Chase Utley, 2B
8. Chris Taylor, 3B
9. Brandon McCarthy, P