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

Hits King Pete Rose on Phillies' Wall of Fame ballot

Hits King Pete Rose on Phillies' Wall of Fame ballot

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies have released their Wall of Fame ballot for 2017 and Pete Rose is on it for the first time.

Baseball’s all-time hits king joins Steve Bedrosian, Larry Christensen, Jim Fregosi, Gene Garber, Placido Polanco, Ron Reed, Scott Rolen, Manny Trillo and Rick Wise on the ballot.

The Phillies had to receive permission from commissioner Rob Manfred to include Rose on the ballot. Rose was placed on baseball’s permanently ineligible list in 1989 after he admitted to wagering on baseball during his time as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. The ban precludes him from appearing on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Rose is still on the ineligible list, but Manfred has shown some leniency in recent years and Rose has been able to participate in some ceremonies. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame last summer. 

Rose was one of the stars on the Reds’ Big Red Machine, a club that won back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976. He came to the Phillies as a free agent before the 1979 season. He spent five years with the Phils and his leadership was considered key in getting a talented team over the top on its way to winning the 1980 World Series. 

The Phillies’ Wall of Fame ceremony will take place Aug. 12 at Citizens Bank Park. 

Fans have a voice in the voting, which is has begun on the team’s website -- www.Phillies.com. Fans can select their top three choices and the five finalists will serve as the official ballot for a special Wall of Fame selection committee.

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0: Prospects put on a show

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0: Prospects put on a show

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies offered up a sneak peek of their Triple A roster on Thursday and, frankly, it was kind of exciting.

Now, we won't go overboard here. That’s never a wise thing to do when a bunch of solid major-league prospects beat up on a college team in a spring training game. Lessons have been learned over the years. Remember that time Domonic Brown electrified camp when he turned around a 96-mph fastball from Justin Verlander and hammered it like a missile over the right-field wall?

Enough said.

But if things like home run power and bat speed and rocket throwing arms and good infield work light up your radar gun then this was a fun day and an entertaining peek at what's going to be playing 60 miles north of Philadelphia at Lehigh Valley in a few weeks.

Manager Pete Mackanin used a lineup filled with prospects for the team’s annual good-will exhibition game against the University of Tampa.

The Phillies won the game, 6-0. They out-hit UT, 12-2, in the seven-inning game.

“This gave us home-field advantage for next year when we play these guys,” Mackanin quipped afterward.

The skipper was in a good mood and justifiably so.

The kids put on a good show.

“I know it’s a college team, but we looked good all around,” Mackanin said. “We swung the bats well. We played well defensively.”

The Phillies' farm system has improved over the last couple of seasons. There are players at the upper levels -- and even more at the lower levels -- with game-breaking tools. Those tools were displayed in this game.

• Centerfielder Roman Quinn singled and scorched a line-drive home run over the right-field wall. Quinn is working on shortening his swing this spring. The home run came on a quick swing and jumped off his bat.

• Scott Kingery, the 22-year-old second baseman picked by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 draft, made three nice plays in the field, one to his right, one to his left and one on a double-play ball. He actually projects to open at Double A, but could be a quick mover. Jesmuel Valentin projects to play at Triple A. He's been bothered by a sore shoulder.

• Outfielder Nick Williams was hitless but drove the ball well.

• Dylan Cozens, the lefty-hitting behemoth who swatted 40 homers, the most in all of minor-league ball, for Double A Reading last season clubbed a long home run over the batter’s eye in center field.

“Ryan Howard is the only guy I’ve ever seen do that,” one longtime security guard at Spectrum Field said.

“The ball makes a different sound coming off his bat,” Mackanin observed.

• Top prospect J.P. Crawford booted a ball in the first inning, but that happens. He came across the second base bag like a blur when he teamed with Kingery in turning a double play.

• Andrew Pullin showed his sweet lefty stroke with a scorching base hit to right field. It was one of those line drives that nose-dived into the ground because it had so much hard top-spin on it. Pullin has a short, Jim Eisenreich type of swing, and it will carry him to the big leagues someday, maybe even this year as he would be an intriguing bat to have coming off the bench.

• And then there was catcher Jorge Alfaro. Power -- with his throwing arm and his bat -- is his big tool. He showed it gunning down a would-be base stealer with a laser-beam throw to second and later by lining a pitch off the top of the wall in right-center. Alfaro seemed to simply flick his wrists and drive the ball through a stuff wind. With no wind, it was a homer.

Again, all of this came against a college team. All of these prospects still have miles to go in their development and the rigors of the unforgiving baseball schedule, not to mention pitching that improves with every step, has a way of thinning the field.

But these prospects -- and their tools -- impressed the field boss.

“If they go to Triple A and pound the ball like they did today -- that’s what we’re hoping for,” Mackanin said. “It was a good day to give those guys some confidence. We want to see what they can do and what they can’t do. It was against a college team, but you can get a good glimpse of the future, see what they’re capable of doing. I’m going to try to see the young guys as much as I can early in the spring.

“It’s really encouraging to see these guys. Every one of them has very good potential, more than I’ve seen since I’ve been here.

“I was talking to Charlie Manuel (who sees the entire system in his front office role) before the game and he said up and down the system we have a lot of good players. Perhaps not necessarily blue-chip prospects but enough where you know some of them are going to make their way to the top and this is a good start with what we’re looking at right now.”