Despite issues, Brown enjoys first All-Star Game

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Despite issues, Brown enjoys first All-Star Game

NEW YORK – Despite being on the losing team and having a tough night at the plate and in the field, Domonic Brown left his first All-Star Game with a smile on his face.

“It was unbelievable to be out there with all those great All-Stars,” he said after the American League shut out the National League, 3-0, at Citi Field on Tuesday night. “It was a lot of fun. A lot of fun. I can’t believe it’s already over.”

Brown struck out in his only at-bat. He was in the on-deck circle when Pedro Alvarez flied out with a runner on base to end the game.

“I was hoping Pedro would hit one and I’d come up in a special situation,” Brown said. “Maybe next year. I just have to keep working hard.”

Brown entered the game in left field in the sixth inning. He appeared to misplay a ball off the bat of Jason Kipnis with two outs in the eighth. Kipnis’ double scored the AL’s third run.

Cliff Lee, the Phillies’ other representative, allowed two hits and a run in one inning of work. He appeared to have left the building and was not available to reporters after the game.

Brown and Lee were both booed -- it’s a New York-Philly thing, you know -- during pre-game introductions. Brown smiled when he was greeted with boos. Lee reacted with a stern-looking straight face that was caught by the cameras. On a festive night, he looked anything but.

“I saw him,” Brown said, referring to Lee’s reaction. “That’s Cliff. I started laughing right away.”

Lee will pitch at Citi Field again on Sunday against Matt Harvey, the NL starter Tuesday night.

Even though he struck out on three pitches with a man on base against lefty Brett Cecil in the seventh inning, Brown said his All-Star at-bat was memorable.

“Words can’t describe it,” he said. “I had some jitters. But I felt good. He’s a tough pitcher against lefties. It motivates me for next year. Keep working hard.”

The game included a moving All-Star sendoff for New York Yankees great Mariano Rivera, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning and was named MVP (see story). Rivera had the stage all to himself as he took the mound and players from both teams saluted him in the eighth.

“It was a blessing to be here and see that,” Brown said.

J.P. Crawford on critics: 'I'm just trying to shut them up'

J.P. Crawford on critics: 'I'm just trying to shut them up'

J.P. Crawford doesn't have anything to say.

But he is hungry to stop others from talking.

Crawford is fully aware of some national minor-league baseball experts souring on his major-league potential. Earlier this month, it happened twice. On the At the Yard podcast by CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, Baseball America editor John Manuel said he no longer viewed Crawford as an "impact player." And ESPN's Keith Law wrote that he had "nothing but negative reports on him from scouts and execs."

Since then, Crawford has started to look like the Phillies' top prospect, which many deemed him as entering the 2017 season.

A little motivated by the critics?

"Yeah, definitely, the haters out there, all of us are going to read stuff on social media and what not," Crawford said Thursday on CSN's Philly Sports Talk. "I'm just trying to shut them up."

The 22-year-old shortstop prospect is doing his part, hitting .316 with four home runs, three doubles, two triples, 12 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 15 games since July 9. Dating back to May 25, Crawford has raised his batting average from .175 to .229, while walking as many times as he has struck out (33). His hot stretch through July even saw him hit an inside-the-park grand slam on Wednesday night.

"You don't really see that too often, practically ever," Crawford said. "Just to clear the bases and help my team win a game, that's always the best feeling."

A good feeling for Crawford is being comfortable in the box instead of complicating his mindset and approach, which he admitted was the result of his early funk.

"Especially when you're not doing so well, you're always thinking about something, like where your hands should be or timing, this and that, instead of just having fun out there," Crawford said.

"I was scuffling around the first couple months, and this month, just got comfortable again, try not to do too much — just be myself.

"Go out here every day and try to get better in someway — swinging-wise, defensively, I just try to get better every day and help my team win that night."

The victories are piling as the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs are 64-41 and 35-18 at Coca-Cola Park, where Crawford is slowing becoming a must-see attraction again.

Best of MLB: Steve Pearce gives Blue Jays sweep with walk-off grand slam

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Best of MLB: Steve Pearce gives Blue Jays sweep with walk-off grand slam

TORONTO -- Steve Pearce hit a game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.

Oakland reliever Liam Hendriks (3-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs before Pearce hooked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line and into the second deck.

Kendrys Morales, who hit a game-winning homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, had two more home runs Thursday. Morales connected off Sean Manaea in the fifth and added a tying blast off Blake Treinen in the ninth, the 19th multihomer game of his career.

Josh Donaldson also homered for Toronto, hitting a solo blast in the first.

Roberto Osuna (3-0) worked one inning for the win (see full recap).

Nationals tie franchise record with 8 HRs in rout
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals tied a franchise record with eight home runs, including two apiece by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, and Max Scherzer pitched six innings of three-hit ball in a 15-2 rout of the fading Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.

Washington matched two major league records in a seven-run third inning: Most consecutive home runs (four) and most home runs in an inning (five).

After Harper connected off Michael Blazek (0-1) in the first inning, Brian Goodwin started the long-ball barrage in the third with a two-run drive. Wilmer Difo, Harper and Zimmerman followed with long home runs.

The streak was interrupted when Daniel Murphy flied out, after which some of the fans reacted with good-natured booing.

Anthony Rendon resumed the fun with a shot to dead center that finally chased Blazek, whose first major league start was memorable for all the wrong reasons (see full recap).

Yankees squeeze past Rays in 11 innings
NEW YORK -- Shortstop Adeiney Hechavarria and second baseman Tim Beckham watched Gary Sanchez's playable grounder bounce between them on the left side of the infield for a tying single with two outs in the ninth inning, Brett Gardner homered leading off the 11th, and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 Thursday night for their fourth straight win.

Gardner tripled to the left-center wall off Alex Colome leading off the ninth, but the closer appeared to pitch out of trouble. With the infield in, Clint Frazier hit a soft grounder to third and AL home run leader Aaron Judge flied to short right.

With Beckham shifted to the third-base side of second, Sanchez hit a two-hopper between Hechavarria and Beckham, but the two infielders looked at each other as the ball bounced into the outfield and Gardner came home. Didi Gregorius followed with an inning-ending grounder.

Gardner then homered, his career-high 18th, on a 1-1 pitch in the 11th from rookie Andrew Kittredge (0-1), who lost in his first big league decision. The Yankees are on their longest winning streak since a six-game spurt from June 7-12.

Aroldis Chapman (3-1) needed just 19 pitches to strike out four over two innings -- including three in a row in the 11th -- his longest outing since last year's World Series (see full recap).