MLB Wrap: Scherzer K's 14 as Tigers beat Pirates

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MLB Wrap: Scherzer K's 14 as Tigers beat Pirates

DETROIT -- Max Scherzer and Brad Ausmus both knew early on Thursday afternoon that something special might be happening.

Their reactions were slightly different.

When Scherzer struck out eight Pittsburgh batters in the first three innings, Ausmus was thinking of two of the worst days of his playing career.

"I've been the victim of two 20-strikeout games, and when he started out that fast, I was starting to wonder if he could put up a huge total," said Ausmus, who faced Roger Clemens in his 1996 20-K game and Kerry Wood two years later. "He was making pitches that looked like the ones Kerry was throwing that day."

Scherzer also knew a big number was possible, but he didn't care about records (see full recap).

Royals rally to beat A's
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nori Aoki and Billy Butler each drove in two runs in a five-run seventh and the surging Kansas City Royals rallied to defeat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 Thursday.

The Royals have won 18 of 22 to move 12 games above .500 for the first time since July 20, 2003.

The Royals took the season series, winning five of seven against the Athletics, who have the best record in the majors.

Aoki's two-run triple put the Royals ahead 5-3. Butler's single scored Aoki and Alcides Escobar. Jarrod Dyson fouled off four consecutive pitches before hitting an RBI single to right for the first run of the inning (see full recap).

Gordon leads Dodgers over Braves
ATLANTA - Despite hitting only .229 in the first 12 games in August, Dee Gordon remained confident in his approach as he refused to make changes that might lead to bad habits.

Gordon's self-confidence paid off on Thursday, as he had three hits and scored four runs to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers past the slumping Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Thursday.

Gordon, hitting .291 overall, also stole two bases, increasing his total to 54, the most in the major leagues.

"Dee Gordon beat us," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's probably your most traditional leadoff hitter I've seen in a long time."

Gordon had plenty of help. Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez, who followed Gordon in the batting order, each also had three hits. Gonzalez drove in three runs (see full recap).

Fiers K's 14 in Brewers' win
CHICAGO -- Mike Fiers struck out a career-high 14 through six innings of three-hit ball, Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds homered, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on Thursday to widen their first-place lead in the NL Central.

Scooter Gennett drove in two runs with a double, and Elian Herrera and Carlos Gomez each had RBIs to help the Brewers move 2 games ahead of Pittsburgh and St. Louis. The Cardinals host San Diego on Thursday night.

Fiers (2-1) dominated and walked only one in his second start this season since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville to face the Dodgers last Saturday. In that one, he pitched eight strong innings and outdueled Zack Greinke for his first win this season.

Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (6-13) lasted just 4 2-3 innings and allowed five runs before being lifted for Jacob Turner, who pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings in his Cubs debut. Jackson has lost six of his last seven decisions (see full recap).

Harper, LaRoche homer in Nats 4-1 win vs. Mets
NEW YORK -- Stephen Strasburg bounced back from a poor start to pitch seven efficient innings, Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche each hit a two-run homer, and the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 4-1 Thursday night to set a franchise record with their 11th consecutive win on the road against one team.

The Mets' 11 straight losses to Washington in Queens are their most against one team in club history. New York lost 10 in a row to the Braves at Shea Stadium from 1991-92.

Strasburg (9-10) gave up three hits and an unearned run, improving to 2-8 in 13 road starts. He struck out eight and walked two.

Rafael Soriano was perfect in the ninth for his second straight save in the series and 28th overall (see full recap).

7-run sixth powers Red Sox over Astros
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia's two-run double capped a seven-run sixth inning Thursday night that sent the Boston Red Sox to their fourth straight win, 9-4 over the Houston Astros.

Pedroia finished with three hits, Daniel Nava had two doubles and David Ortiz added two singles as the Red Sox improved to 8-0 in Fenway Park against the Astros.

Matt Dominguez hit a two-run homer for Houston, which opened a 10-game road trip with its fourth loss in five games.

Allen Webster (3-1) gave up four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in six innings for Boston.

Trailing 4-1, the Red Sox chased starter Scott Feldman (6-9) during their biggest inning of the season (see full recap).

Marlins beat Diamondbacks in 10 innings
MIAMI -- Marcell Ozuna doubled home Garrett Jones with the winning run in the 10th inning, and the Miami Marlins topped the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 on Thursday night.

Ozuna's line-drive to left-center came off Bradin Hagens (0-1), who was making his major league debut. Hagens got a double play to escape the ninth, but Jones reached on a leadoff walk in the 10th and scored two batters later.

Mike Dunn (10-5) pitched two perfect innings for Miami and became the first reliever to reach double-digits in wins since Matt Belisle for Colorado in 2011, according to STATS.

Mark Trumbo had a pair of RBI singles for Arizona. Diamondbacks starter Chase Anderson allowed nine hits and three runs in six innings, and David Peralta had an RBI triple to highlight a two-run third (see full recap).

Jay lifts Cardinals, 4-3, over Padres
ST. LOUIS -- Pinch-hitter Jon Jay delivered a two-run double in the eighth inning and right fielder Shane Robinson threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth to help the St. Louis Cardinals hold off the San Diego Padres 4-3 Thursday night.

Jhonny Peralta hit an early two-run homer for the Cardinals, who moved ahead of Pittsburgh into second place in the NL Central. St. Louis remained two games behind division-leading Milwaukee.

San Diego had its five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 16-9 since the All-Star break.

Trailing by two in the ninth, the Padres loaded the bases with one out against closer Trevor Rosenthal. Pinch-hitter Jake Goebbert came through with an RBI single to right, but Alexi Amarista was cut down at home when he tried to score from second (see full recap).

Rays top Rangers, 6-3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Evan Longoria homered and drove in three runs, Jake Odorizzi helped extend Tampa Bay's impressive road pitching streak with seven strong innings, and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 6-3 Thursday night.

Longoria's team-leading 15th homer was a two-run shot that gave the Rays a 6-2 lead in the fifth. Logan Forsythe had a two-run homer, his fifth, to put the Rays in front to stay in the second.

Odorizzi (9-9) struck out seven to help give the Rays their AL-record 18th consecutive road game without allowing more than three runs.

Robbie Ross (2-5) came up from Triple-A Round Rock to fill in for Texas ace Yu Darvish, who is sidelined with elbow inflammation. The left-hander gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings (see full recap).

Phillies 10, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Hellickson limbers up, offense continues to hit

Phillies 10, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Hellickson limbers up, offense continues to hit

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jeremy Hellickson did not shine in his spring debut Sunday, but he didn’t have to.

Hellickson projects to be the Phillies' opening day starter for the second straight year, but with five weeks to go before it all starts for real in Cincinnati, he has plenty of time to put a coat of polish on his game.

The right-hander knocked off some wintertime rust with two innings of work against the Toronto Blue Jays. He gave up four hits and two runs, walked one and did not strike out a batter.

"I felt great," Hellickson said. "I wasn't really commanding the fastball like I wanted, but my arm and my body felt good."

Hellickson went 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Phillies last season and could have opted for free agency in the offseason. However, he surveyed the marketplace and determined he'd be better off taking the Phillies' qualifying offer of $17.2 million for 2017 and trying his luck on the free-agent market next season.

So he's betting on himself.

"That's kind of how I'm looking at it," he said. "It was easy to do that just with the way I felt last year. I think I can definitely repeat or exceed what I did last year."

The Phillies can't give Hellickson another qualifying offer after this season so it's quite possible they will look to deal him in July. But that won't necessarily be easy. The Phils had talks with a number of teams about Hellickson last July and were unable to consummate a deal. It will be tougher this July as Hellickson’s salary has jumped by $10 million. The Phillies may have to eat some of that salary to get a deal they like.

Hellickson was asked if he was ready for another summer of trade rumors.

"No," he said with a wry smile. "But I know it's coming."

He's holding out hope that the Phillies will play their way into contention and the front office keeps the rotation together. He believes it's possible.

"I think we have a really good team here," he said. "Hopefully we're the ones trading for guys at the deadline.

"I've been reading some stuff saying (Aaron) Nola is a No. 5 guy. If Nola's your No. 5 guy, you have a pretty good rotation. I definitely think one through five we can give six, seven, eight strong innings every time out. Then with the guys, we signed for the back of our bullpen, it'll make our jobs that much easier. The days we don't have it, I feel like we can hand it off to those guys after five or six. We're in pretty good shape."

The game
The Phillies beat the Jays, 10-3, on the strength of 13 hits and three Toronto errors. The Phils had eight hits in Saturday’s win over the Yankees.

Cam Perkins, Pedro Florimon and Daniel Nava all had two hits. Rhys Hoskins and Ryan Hanigan both walked twice. Andres Blanco homered. Brock Stassi doubled. Nick Williams had a hit, two RBIs and a walk. Power-hitting rightfielder Dylan Cozens stole two bases.

Cozens is a legitimate stolen-base threat. In addition to belting 40 homers at Double A Reading last season, he swiped 21 bags and was only caught once.

"You've got to like his tools," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's really an athletic guy. He's got good hands at the plate. I think he's going to hit because he doesn't have a lot of excess body movement. He hits a lot with his hands and I think in time he'll cut down on the strikeouts and he'll be an even better player. He looks like a solid defender, good hitting ability, a lot of power and some speed."

On the mound
Ben Lively and Alberto Tirado both pitched two scoreless innings and Pat Neshek and Michael Mariot had one each.

Up next
Jerad Eikchoff makes his spring debut when the Phillies host the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon.

Clay Buchholz will get the start Tuesday against Baltimore.

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta had one of those pinch-me moments Saturday.

He met his boyhood idol, Roy Halladay, at a charity event.

Someone had filled in Halladay that Pivetta had grown up in Canada and had regularly watched Toronto Blue Jays games on television. Pivetta loved watching Halladay pitch, as he talked about a few weeks ago here.

"I got to briefly shake his hand," Pivetta said Sunday morning. "He knew I was like a stalker. He said, 'Oh, right, you're the guy from British Columbia.'"

Halladay, who pitched for the Phils from 2010 to 2013, lives in the Clearwater area. Pivetta said he expected to speak more with Halladay in the coming days.

Halladay was honored at the 44th annual Clearwater For Youth banquet and Pivetta attended with a number of his teammates and Phillies officials. Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife Lyn were also honored for their charitable works.

Pivetta will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March.