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).

As Aaron Altherr's audition begins, Pete Mackanin says Cody Asche 'needs to step it up'

As Aaron Altherr's audition begins, Pete Mackanin says Cody Asche 'needs to step it up'

ATLANTA — Nearly four months late, Aaron Altherr is finally getting his shot to show the Phillies he deserves to be part of their future outfield plans.

Altherr, 25, was activated from the disabled list before Thursday night’s game against the Braves and was in the lineup, batting fifth (see story). Altherr will see a lot of playing time over the final two-plus months of the season. He’s essentially auditioning.

“We want to see him play as much as possible,” manager Pete Mackanin said before the game. “So if he stays healthy, I’m going to keep running him out there. That’s what this year is all about. We’re finding out about the guys that are here. He is a potentially important part so we want to see what he does. I’m anxious to see what he does.”

Altherr, a ninth-round draft pick in 2009, played in 39 games for the Phillies last season. He hit just .241, but 20 of his 33 hits were for extra bases and he had a .827 OPS. He was slated to be the team’s everyday rightfielder before suffering a wrist injury that required surgery early in spring training.

Altherr is healthy now and eager for his chance.

“I’m good to go mentally and physically,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I’m definitely excited to be back up.”

Altherr took Peter Bourjos' spot on the roster. Bourjos was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder two days after running into the outfield wall in Miami.

With Mackanin committed to giving Altherr playing time, it will be interesting to see how the skipper divides up playing time with the remaining outfielders, especially when Bourjos recovers. Bourjos was a trade candidate before his injury. He could still be moved in a waiver deal once he’s healthy in August. Tyler Goeddel, Cody Asche and Jimmy Paredes also play corner outfield spots and much heralded prospect Nick Williams is expected to be here at some point (see Future Phillies Report).

Asche is walking a tightrope. He entered Thursday night’s game mired in a 4-for-51 skid and Mackanin seems to be losing patience.

“As I said earlier in the season, this is a very big year for Cody to prove that he can be part of the future and he needs to step it up,” Mackanin said.

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Aaron Altherr, activated by the Phillies Thursday afternoon, bats fifth and plays right field in his season debut in Atlanta. 

Sometimes one hitter can make a lineup look much different. Altherr's presence in the middle of the Phillies order provides them with three power hitters, something they've seldom had this season. He provides some protection out of the five-hole for Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco, who precede him.

Cesar Hernandez remains in the leadoff spot for the Phillies after going 3 for 4 with a walk Wednesday to raise his batting average to .290. 

Cody Asche may soon lose playing time as the Phils' outfield picture gets more crowded, but for now his lineup spot appears safe. With Peter Bourjos on the DL, Asche gets the start in left field and bats eighth.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Carlos Ruiz, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Cody Asche, LF
9. Aaron Nola, P

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

The player who was projected to be the Phillies' opening day rightfielder and No. 5 hitter is finally ready to play. The Phils on Thursday reinstated outfielder Aaron Altherr from the disabled list after he missed the season's first 103 games with a wrist injury.

Altherr takes the 25-man roster spot of Peter Bourjos, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder sprain.

Altherr, 25, impressed with power late last season, hitting .241/.338/.489 for the Phillies with 11 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 22 RBIs in 161 plate appearances. 

He tore a tendon sheath in his wrist on a diving catch attempt early in spring training, had surgery and missed about four months in total. The Phils were patient with Altherr during his rehab assignment, giving him the full 20 days before making the decision to add him to the active roster. In 13 games at four different levels during the rehab stint, Altherr went 14 for 41 (.341) with two doubles, a homer and seven walks.

Bourjos injured his shoulder running into the wall at Marlins Park earlier this week. The injury will keep him from being traded ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline, but Bourjos could be moved in August. He hit .410 in June but was slumping before the injury, hitting .148 over his last 14 games.