MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman out as Yankees closer after rough stretch

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MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman out as Yankees closer after rough stretch

BOSTON -- Aroldis Chapman is out as the New York Yankees closer.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Saturday night's game with the Boston Red Sox that the hard throwing lefty, who gave up two runs in a non-save appearance in Friday's 9-6 loss to Boston, is being taken out of that role to work through some location issues.

Chapman will be used "at any point" for now, Girardi said, though he stopped short of naming his replacement. Instead, Dellin Betances and David Robertson will be used based on the situation, to allow flexibility.

Chapman has given up at least two runs in each of his last three outings.

Girardi said an injury has been ruled out as a culprit for Chapman's recent issues, and that told him he was willing to do "whatever it takes" for the team to win (see full story).

Dodgers: Yu Darvish goes on DL with lower back tightness
DETROIT -- Yu Darvish has been placed on the 10-day disabled list after just three starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The team said Saturday that Darvish has lower back tightness, which he first noticed after a recent start in Arizona and mentioned again after making his Dodger Stadium debut last Wednesday. He didn't figure in the decision, a 5-4 win over the White Sox, in which he gave up three home runs while striking out a season-low two and walking one.

The Japanese right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts with Los Angeles since being acquired from Texas in a trade deadline deal on July 31. Overall, he's 8-9 with a 3.83 ERA in 25 combined starts with the two teams.

The Dodgers are in Detroit for a three-game series that ends Sunday (see full story).

MLB umpires wear wristbands to protest 'abusive' treatment
Major League Baseball umpires are wearing white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting "abusive player behavior" after Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for his recent verbal tirade against ump Angel Hernandez.

The World Umpires Association announced the action, saying the union strongly objected to the response by the commissioner's office. Kinsler said this week that Hernandez was a bad umpire and "just needs to go away."

Crew chiefs Joe West, Gerry Davis and Bill Miller wore the wristbands in the first games of the day. Most other umpires also had them.

MLB said it had no comment on the union's statement.

West is the most senior umpire in the majors. Earlier this month, he was suspended three games by MLB for comments he made about Texas star Adrian Beltre being the biggest complainer in the game. West said he was joking, and Beltre said he knew the umpire was kidding (see full story).

Braves: Matt Kemp returns from hamstring injury following 19-game absence
ATLANTA -- Braves left fielder Matt Kemp is the lineup batting cleanup after getting reinstated from the disabled list.

Kemp missed 19 games with a right hamstring strain and was sidelined for nine games with the same injury in April. He was cleared to play Saturday against Cincinnati after passing a series of tests over the last few days.

Kemp is hitting .290 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs in 88 games. The slugger has been on the disabled list with hamstring injuries five times in his 11-year career.

"Sometimes you think you're ready and you're not, but I gave it a little bit of extra time," he said. "Hopefully I can continue to play for the rest of the season."

The Braves optioned utility man Micah Johnson to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled Matt Wisler after reliever Luke Jackson was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain (see full story).

Best of MLB: D-backs clinch top wild card spot with walk-off win over Marlins

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Best of MLB: D-backs clinch top wild card spot with walk-off win over Marlins

PHOENIX -- J.D. Martinez lined a two-out RBI single to deep left field with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Sunday to clinch the top wild card in the National League.

The Diamondbacks, who won only 69 games a year ago but are 90-66 this season, were assured a playoff berth in the fourth inning after St. Louis and Milwaukee lost. The comeback victory ensured Arizona will host the NL wild-card game Oct. 4.

Fernando Rodney (5-4) pitched a perfect inning for the win.

A throwing error by Justin Nicolino (2-3) on Kristopher Negron's sacrifice bunt helped load the bases with no outs in the ninth (see full recap).

Cubs close in on NL Central title behind Quintana's 3-hit shoutout
MILWAUKEE -- Jose Quintana pitched a three-hitter for his second big league shutout, and the Chicago Cubs beat Milwaukee 5-0 Sunday to close in on a second straight NL Central title and damage the Brewers' playoff hopes.

Coming off its first World Series title since 1908, Chicago (87-68) won three of four in the weekend series and opened a 5-game lead over the second-place Brewers (82-73) with seven games remaining. Milwaukee began the day one game behind Colorado for the NL's second wild card.

Quintana (7-3 with Cubs, 11-11 overall) struck out 10 and walked one in his second complete game in 182 starts. He threw 116 pitches, his most since Sept. 7 last year.

He did not allow any extra-base hits and retired his final 11 batters after walking Domingo Santana in the sixth (see full recap).

Rockies beat Padres to open 2-game lead for last wild card
SAN DIEGO -- Gerardo Parra hit a tiebreaking single in a two-run third inning, Pat Valaika and Charlie Blackmon hit consecutive home runs in the ninth and the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 8-4 Sunday to open a two-game lead over Milwaukee for the second NL wild card heading into the final week of the regular season.

St. Louis trails the Rockies by 2 games. Seeking its first postseason appearance since 2009, Colorado opens a six-game homestand Monday, playing Miami and then the Los Angeles Dodgers. At 41-40, the Rockies tied their record for road wins, set in 2009.

German Marquez (11-7) allowed two runs, five hits and three walks in five innings. He had been 0-2 in six starts since beating Milwaukee on Aug. 18. Colorado starters have a 2.52 ERA in their last nine games (see full recap).

Twins top Tigers for 4-game sweep, close on wild card
DETROIT -- Jorge Polanco and Eduardo Escobar homered, and Minnesota beat the Detroit Tigers 10-4 on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep that moved the Twins closer to securing a wild-card berth in the playoffs.

Polanco hit a solo homer in the first off Buck Farmer (4-5), and Escobar welcomed Victor Alcantara with a three-run drive in the sixth.

Minnesota (82-74) began the day 4 games ahead of Kansas City, Texas and the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card. The Twins outscored the Tigers 39-12 in the sweep.

Detroit has lost seven straight and 14 of 16. At 62-94, the Tigers will finish with their worst record since going 43-119 in 2003 (see full recap).

Nick Pivetta continues build toward strong finish in Phillies' win over Braves

Nick Pivetta continues build toward strong finish in Phillies' win over Braves

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies and Atlanta Braves are both rebuilding teams that have looked to acquire as much pitching as possible over the last few seasons.

The Phillies added Nick Pivetta in the trade that sent Jonathan Papelbon to Washington two years ago. The Braves picked up Luiz Gohara from Seattle back in January.

If both pitchers continue to develop, there's a chance they could face each other in a National League division race someday. 

On Sunday, they squared off in a battle of teams playing out the string, but the intensity of the matchup was good. That can happen in the penultimate weekend of the season. After all, impressions can be made right up until the final pitch of the season. Players are always auditioning, especially rookies hoping to win spots next season.

Pivetta, 24, made a very nice showing. He out-pitched Gohara in helping the Phillies salvage one game of the three-game series against the Braves with a 2-0 win (see observations).

Maikel Franco and Aaron Altherr keyed a just-enough Phillies' offense with a solo homer and an RBI double and the bullpen triumvirate of Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris combined for three scoreless innings to seal the shutout.

Pivetta pitched six shutout innings, walked one and struck out four. He gave up five hits. It's been an up-and-down season for the rookie right-hander. There's been a lot of on-the-job training and a few bruisings. He is 7-10 with a 6.26 ERA in 25 starts. He has allowed just two runs in 12 innings over his last two starts, so he's finishing the season on a high note.

"The key to his outing today was that he was throwing all his pitches for strikes," manager Pete Mackanin said. "His breaking ball and his changeup, he really did a good job with them, throwing them ahead in the count and behind in the count, so that was key.

"This is the place to learn. You can have a lot of success in the minor leagues but when you get up here it's a different animal. The best place to learn is at the big-league level and take your lumps and learn from them. Now, if you have too many guys like that you don’t win a lot of games, so you can afford to have one or maybe two guys in the rotation that are feeling their way through it, but not more than that."

Forced to the majors by injuries in the rotation early in the season, Pivetta has often talked about the learning experience his first year in the majors has been.

He was happy to talk about getting a victory Sunday.

"It's been nice," he said. "I've settled down a little the last two starts. Today, I just tried to do the right things — get ahead of hitters. And the guys played great defense behind me.

"Even when I had runners on base, I was able to attack the hitters the way I wanted and I didn't put too much pressure on myself."

That's not always easy for a rookie pitcher in a close game. Pivetta's ability to stay cool and pitch around baserunners in the fifth and sixth innings was a sign of his improvement. He will have one more start before the season ends and is looking to build on two good ones and go into the offseason with a healthy dose of confidence. He will be a candidate for a spot in the rotation next spring.

Sunday's victory left the Phillies at 62-94. They need to win one of their final six games to avoid 100 losses. That once seemed to be a certainty, but they have played well since the All-Star break, recording a 33-36 record since then. They were 29-58 before the break.

Young players such as Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins have come up from the minors and given the Phils a lift in recent weeks. The bullpen has also improved with Ramos, Morgan, Neris and Luis Garcia (before Saturday night) pitching well. Morgan pitched a scoreless eighth inning Sunday. He has allowed just two runs over his last 24 innings. That covers 18 appearances since Aug. 2. Neris is 18 for 18 in save opportunities since June 28.

The only run that the Phils scored against Gohara came in the fifth when Franco smacked a first-pitch changeup into the left-field seats for his 21st homer. The pitch was on the middle-half of the plate, Franco's happy zone.

Franco is hitting .308 with three homers and seven RBIs since J.P. Crawford came up and applied a little competitive heat.

Franco said that's coincidence, that he's focused only on what he needs to do to get better.

"I think when those young guys come up it always creates an energy spurt in everybody," Mackanin said. "For whatever reason, if Maikel is having a good September, I hope it carries through for five or six months next year. One month does not a good year make. Hopefully, he'll have a better approach and he's going to be more successful."