MLB Wrap: Nationals snap four-game skid

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MLB Wrap: Nationals snap four-game skid

For the second straight game, the Phillies came apart in the latter innings of a loss to the Pirates (see game recap).

The Phillies are finding out quickly that hitting doesn't come easy (see story).

Here is quick recap of Thursday's action around MLB:

Nationals snap losing skid
WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez allowed just one hit in eight innings, and Denard Span and Danny Espinosa drove in three runs each to lead the Washington Nationals to a 8-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Gonzalez, who allowed 12 runs in his previous nine innings, retired the first 11 Reds batters before Joey Votto homered with two outs in the fourth. He struck out seven and walked two.

By the time Votto homered, Gonzalez (2-1) had a 6-0 lead.

Washington had lost nine of 12 and their previous six home games. Cincinnati has lost six of its seven road games.

The Nationals scored two runs in the bottom of the second against Bronson Arroyo (2-2). With one out, Ian Desmond singled. He scored on Espinosa's double. Kurt Suzuki singled. Gonzalez moved Suzuki to second with a bunt, and Espinosa scored on an infield single by Span.

Washington took a 6-0 lead in the third. Bryce Harper led off with his eighth home run of the year, the most any National has hit in April. Harper also doubled. He has 11 multi-hit games in the 22 Washington has played (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Dodgers edge Mets with ninth-inning heroics
NEW YORK -- From his very first pitch, Hyun-Jin Ryu heard the fans cheering for him.

A lot of them, anyway.

Boosted by plenty of road rooters, the South Korean rookie turned in his best performance yet and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Mets 3-2 Thursday on Andre Ethier's tiebreaking single in the ninth inning.

"I was aware there are a lot of Korean Americans here in New York," Ryu said through a translator. "It was definitely encouragement."

A large Korean neighborhood is just one subway stop away from Citi Field, and Ryu had a lot of vocal support while holding the Mets to three hits in seven innings. He said the warm welcome was "a big strength for my pitching."

Also encouraging to the Dodgers was the key hit by the slumping Ethier off left-handed reliever Scott Rice (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Royals top Tigers in extras
DETROIT -- Alex Gordon had already struck out three times when he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the 10th inning.

"I was just trying to make contact," the Kansas City outfielder said.

He ended up hitting his first career grand slam, helping the Royals to an encouraging win at the end of a difficult road trip.

Gordon's drive highlighted a five-run 10th for Kansas City, which rallied against the Detroit bullpen for an 8-3 victory Thursday after Tigers ace Justin Verlander left with a blister on his thumb.

George Kottaras put the Royals ahead 4-3 with a bases-loaded walk off Phil Coke (0-3). Darin Downs came on for Detroit after that, but Gordon broke the game open one out later with a homer that easily cleared the 420-foot marker on the wall in center (see full recap).

- The Associated Press

Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava make Phillies' roster; Jesmuel Valentin to AAA

Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava make Phillies' roster; Jesmuel Valentin to AAA

Brock Stassi and Daniel Nava have earned the Phillies' final two bench spots, according to CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury.

Infielder Jesmuel Valentin will head to Triple A.

Stassi, a left-handed hitting first baseman who can play some left field and right field, has hit .339 this spring with a team-leading six home runs and 17 RBIs.

Nava, the former Red Sox outfielder, hit .386 this spring and hit a three-run home run off Justin Verlander Wednesday to help solidify his spot on the Phillies' opening-day roster.

More coming ...

End could be near for Jimmy Rollins, who's unlikely to make Giants' roster

End could be near for Jimmy Rollins, who's unlikely to make Giants' roster

The long-expected homecoming for Jimmy Rollins didn't go as planned.

Rollins, now 38, is unlikely to make the San Francisco Giants' opening-day roster.

"We've talked to Jimmy and he knows the scenario and the situation," manager Bruce Bochy told reporters earlier this week. "We're just waiting to hear back from him."

J-Roll was hoping to catch on with the Giants as a utility infielder. San Francisco already has an everyday shortstop in Brandon Crawford, so Rollins' role would have been to back him up, play a little second base and perhaps some third base. 

But Rollins hit just .125 this spring and fell clearly behind fellow veteran Aaron Hill, who is three years younger and at this point simply a better hitter.

Is this the end for J-Roll? If it is, he'll finish with a .264/.324/.418 batting line in over 10,000 plate appearances, 2,455 hits, 511 doubles, 231 homers and 470 steals.

Rollins is one of just four players ever with that many career doubles and steals. The others are Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb and Paul Molitor.

While some players have precipitous drop-offs that lead to retirement -- forced or unforced -- Rollins' decline has been more gradual. His batting average has dipped in each of the last four seasons, from .252 in 2013 to .243 to .224 to .221 last season. 

Rollins latched on with the White Sox last spring and was their opening-day shortstop, but he was released on June 15 as Chicago made room for top prospect Tim Anderson.

Rollins, who played 15 seasons with the Phillies, is the franchise leader in at-bats, hits and doubles. He's second in steals, third in triples and runs scored, ninth in homers and eighth in RBIs.

He also won an MVP, a World Series, four Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams.

Enough to make the Hall of Fame? That's obviously subjective, but for as much as he did for the Phillies and for how much he impacted the game for more than a decade, Rollins' rate stats -- namely the .251/.317/.395 batting line he posted from 2008-16 -- could keep him out of Cooperstown, even though some of his counting stats are more impressive than Barry Larkin's.