TORONTO -- With one big inning and another strong start from J.A. Happ, the Blue Jays moved into the AL East lead.
Happ won his eighth straight decision, Devon Travis homered and Toronto used a seven-run fifth to beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-1 Saturday, taking sole possession of first place for the first time since early April.
"There's still a lot of baseball left, but I feel we're starting to play good ball," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said.
Toronto, which won for the 16th time in 22 games, had not been alone atop its division since a 2-0 start. The Blue Jays have scored seven or more runs in an inning three times this season.
Kevin Pillar had two hits and drove in four runs to match his career high. Major league RBIs leader Edwin Encarnacion drove in his 89th run (see full recap).
Giants find just enough offense for rare win since break
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence is healthy at last. Joe Panik has been back a few days from a concussion and is driving in runs again. The San Francisco Giants sure are starting to look like themselves again.
Oh, with that new face in the infield of Eduardo Nunez.
Panik hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, Nunez had a two-run double in his first start with San Francisco and the Giants snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Saturday.
Pence was activated from the disabled list after missing 48 games with a strained right hamstring that required surgery.
"It's huge, just his presence in the lineup," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's one of our guys. In addition to the talent, he brings energy and all those intangibles. He charged up the troops being out there (see full recap)."
De La Rosa, Rockies win 5th straight, Mets lose 4th in row
NEW YORK -- Jorge De La Rosa earned his 100th career victory and the Colorado Rockies eventually caught up with Bartolo Colon, beating the New York Mets 7-2 on a rainy Saturday night for their fifth straight win.
The Rockies improved to 12-4 since the All-Star break and won despite losing NL home run leader Trevor Story to a jammed left thumb. He seemed to get hurt on a scrambling slide in the fourth, exited early and X-rays on the rookie shortstop were negative.
On the day the Mets retired Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza's No. 31, the Mets lost their fourth in row. The 43-year-old Colon (9-6) faltered in his first start on three days' rest since 2005, and slugger Yoenis Cespedes left in midgame because of a nagging quad injury (see full recap).
Rea injured in Miami debut, Marlins win 11-0
MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins' big win might have come with a price.
Newly acquired Colin Rea left early with an elbow injury in his Miami debut in the Marlins' 11-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.
"We obviously needed the win, but it's not at that cost," Marlins reliever David Phelps said. "Hopefully, it's nothing, but you never like to see a starter come out of the game when you're strapped for starters to begin with."
Rea, acquired in a trade with San Diego, pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four.
"I kind of felt something in my elbow and it gradually got worse throughout the game," Rea said. "I don't know if I could have thrown another pitch, but we'll see. We don't know anything yet."
Rea initially felt a pain in his arm during warm-ups before the game, but tried to pitch through it (see full recap).
ATLANTA – If this was Jeremy Hellickson’s swan song with the Phillies he went out a winner.
Hellickson pitched into the sixth inning and gave up just three runs in the Phils’ 9-5 win over the sloppy Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
Hellickson is 8-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 22 starts with the Phillies. He could be on the move to a contender before Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. A number of clubs in need of starting pitching scouted Hellickson’s start.
Braves pitching walked eight batters.
Starting pitching report
Hellickson had the type of start he often does. He went 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, exiting with a 5-3 lead. He allowed nine hits, walked one and struck out two.
Hellickson finished the month of July with a 2.34 ERA in six starts and gave up just four runs in his last three starts.
Will he make another start for the Phillies? We’ll know in a couple of days.
Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran gave up three runs over five innings.
Hellickson departed with a run in and two men on base with two outs in the sixth. Edubray Ramos came in and registered a strikeout to end the inning. He stayed on for the seventh and struck out two more.
Jeanmar Gomez closed out a four-run lead. His appearance in a non-save situation may have been a showcase for teams interested in trading for him. The Giants and Indians have been watching Gomez.
The Phillies scored twice off lefty Eric O’Flaherty to take a 5-2 lead in the sixth.
At the plate
Hellickson helped his cause with a two-run double in the fifth. It was the first double of his career.
The Phillies built a 5-2 lead when Freddy Galvis singled home two runs in the sixth.
Ryan Howard doubled in the second and scored on a hit by Cameron Rupp for the Phillies’ first run. Rupp had three hits and scored two runs.
The Phillies sent nine men to the plate and scored four runs in the eighth without getting a hit. They benefited from four walks in the inning.
Nick Markakis, Adonis Garcia and Anthony Recker (single and double) all had RBI hits for the Braves.
The Phillies’ asking price for Vince Velasquez is … (see story)
Jerad Eickhoff (6-12, 3.83) pitches Sunday afternoon for the Phillies. The Braves had not named a starter as Saturday night’s game was ending.
ATLANTA – Two days before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies have several pitchers who could be on the move.
The market for Jeremy Hellickson, Saturday night’s starter against the Braves, remains alive. The Phillies have received several offers, but nothing yet to their liking. A strong start against Atlanta on Saturday would certainly help the right-hander's value.
The Phillies had talks with Miami about Hellickson, but the Marlins filled their need for starting pitching by acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego earlier in the week.
Pittsburgh, Texas, Toronto, Baltimore, the Dodgers and others remain in the market for starting pitching. The Detroit Tigers could be a team to watch on Hellickson. They had a scout come in to watch Hellickson pitch in Atlanta on Saturday night.
The headline-grabbing name on the Phillies’ trade front remains Vince Velasquez. Major league sources continue to tell CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies have had meaningful trade discussions with the Texas Rangers involving the power-armed right-hander.
Sources say a deal is unlikely at this time because the Phillies are seeking a high price and the Rangers could use their prospect resources in their quest to add a more established pitcher like Chris Sale or Chris Archer or a catcher like Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy. But it remains noteworthy that the Phillies have made Velasquez available for the right price.
What is that price?
Sources say the Phillies would like to get two hitters from Texas’ bounty. One of those hitters must be ready to play in the majors now and the other must be close. The Rangers have a number of hitters who fit this description. Outfielder Nomar Mazara is almost certainly untouchable. (He was last year in the Cole Hamels talks). Power-hitting outfielder Joey Gallo, infielder Jurickson Profar and outfielder Lewis Brinson would probably fit the Phils’ wish list.
A source described the Phillies as being “pretty deep” in talks with Texas. The Rangers even dispatched a top scout to watch Velasquez pitch in Atlanta on Friday night. The scout was not in attendance for Saturday night’s game.
Relievers David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez are also in play in the last couple of days before the deadline. The Giants, who need bullpen help, have had scouts tailing the Phillies for a couple of weeks.