Giancarlo Stanton

Best of MLB: Red Sox's Sale reaches 300 Ks; Marlins' Stanton hits 56th HR

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Best of MLB: Red Sox's Sale reaches 300 Ks; Marlins' Stanton hits 56th HR

BALTIMORE -- Chris Sale was at his very best -- right down to his momentous last pitch -- in another meaningful victory for the Boston Red Sox.

Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and Boston moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.

Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his 111th and final pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Red Sox manager John Farrell sent Sale back out for the eighth inning to give him a shot at getting No. 300 (see full recap).

Stanton hits 56th homer, Marlins sweep Mets
MIAMI -- Home runs before small crowds in the eighth inning of lopsided games between also-rans count, too, which is fortunate for Giancarlo Stanton.

Now he needs only five more for 61.

Stanton hit his major league-leading 56th homer in the eighth Wednesday to punctuate the Miami Marlins' 9-2 win over the New York Mets, which completed a three-game sweep.

Announced attendance was 16,033, but the actual turnout was perhaps one-third that total. The Marlins are destined to miss the playoffs for the 14th year in a row despite Stanton's homer show (see full recap).

Rays, Snell end Cubs' 7-game winning streak
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Their seven-game winning streak is over and the Chicago Cubs are still being challenged for the NL Central lead with 11 games left in the season.

Blake Snell gave up two hits in seven shutout innings and the Tampa Bay Rays ended the Cubs' season-best winning streak 8-1 on Wednesday night.

The Cubs, who had not lost since being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series in Chicago on Sept. 8-10, are scheduled to open a four-game series in Milwaukee on Thursday night, holding a 3 1/2-game lead over the Brewers.

"It's going to be very exciting," manager Joe Maddon said. "We got the split here, which is good. Moving it forward, you've got to beat ‘em straight-up sometimes and that's what we're going to have to do,” (see full recap).

Nationals rally for 6 runs in 8th to beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Manager Dusty Baker was hardly surprised that the heart of the Nationals' order took so many pitches in the eighth inning.

"It's easy to be patient when they're not near the strike zone," he said. "We capitalized on it. You're going to get hits after that."

Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino issued three bases-loaded walks in the six-run eighth, Gio Gonzalez pitched seven strong innings and Washington beat Atlanta 7-3 on Wednesday night (see full recap).

Rhys Hoskins the 'alien' lifts Phillies to wild '2-celebration' win

Rhys Hoskins the 'alien' lifts Phillies to wild '2-celebration' win

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It took the Phillies two tries to get it right, but they finally had their walk-off victory celebration on Tuesday night.

Or was it Wednesday morning?

Oh, what does it matter.

The Phillies opened a 10-game homestand with a wild win over the Miami Marlins. The Phils prevailed, 9-8, on an RBI double to left by rookie Nick Williams with two outs in the bottom of the 15th inning (see observations).

As Aaron Altherr (he reached on a one-out base hit) sprinted home with the winning run, Phillies players streamed out of the dugout to mob Williams, who had a three-hit night. His game-winning hit came just after midnight and it ended four hours and 57 minutes of baseball that wasn't always pretty.

The Phillies trailed, 7-2, after starter Nick Pivetta struggled, but they stormed back in the late innings. Rhys Hoskins smacked the first of his two home runs to help get the comeback started. The Phils scored three runs in the eighth, then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning on a pinch-hit single by Hyun Soo Kim.

Actually, the Phillies thought they had won the game on Kim's hit in the ninth inning. The hit scored Williams with the tying run and Cesar Hernandez initially appeared to slide home with winning run. That set off a Phillies' celebration as players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Kim. He was doused with bubble gum and had his jersey torn off by jubilant teammates.

Turned out the celebration was premature. The Marlins challenged the initial safe call on the field and won. Hernandez was ruled out at the plate and Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton had his third assist of the night — one at second, one at third and one at home. The Phillies' celebration went for naught (forcing the grounds crew to scurry out and clean up the remnants) and the game moved on to extra innings.

Marcell Ozuna quickly put the Marlins ahead with a solo homer off Hector Neris in the top of the 10th and hard-throwing Miami right-hander Brian Ellington got the first two outs in the bottom of the inning.

The Marlins were one out away from a victory in 10 innings. All that stood in their way was Hoskins, and that's a pretty formidable roadblock lately. Hoskins, who has uncanny plate discipline for a rookie, worked the count to 2-0 and got the fastball he was looking for. It came in at 100 mph and left at 102 mph. It landed 413 feet away, over the centerfield wall, tying the game at 8-8.

For Hoskins, the home run felt good not only because it deadlocked the game. It also came against the same pitcher who hit him in the hand two weeks ago in Miami, knocking him from the lineup for a day. 

What Hoskins is doing to baseballs is nuts. He did not hit his first home run until Aug. 14. He now has 16 and that's just five off Tommy Joseph's team lead of 21. With 18 games left, it's not out of the question that Hoskins could lead this team in home runs, and that's rather amazing considering he did not come up until Aug. 10.

"He's an alien," Williams said. "He's not human. That's not real. That's crazy. And I'm hitting behind him, too, and I'm just constantly watching him and I'm like, 'Oh, my God.' What he's doing is amazing. He plays hard. He's a smart player. And what he's doing, I just love watching and being a part of it."

Hoskins laughed when he heard that Williams had called him an alien.

"That guy is pretty good himself, too," Hoskins said. "So I guess we can be alien friends."

Since starting his big-league career 0 for 10 in his first three games, Hoskins is hitting .327 with a .449 on-base percentage and a .827 slugging percentage.

Williams has also been impressive. In 65 games in the majors, he's hitting .292 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs. Williams had a bit of a reputation for not hustling in the minors. But his work ethic and energy level have been outstanding in the majors. He competes every play. In fact, the whole team did Tuesday night. The bullpen picked up 10 innings and allowed just one run that made the comeback and the win possible.

"We battled," Williams said. "This says a lot, especially for a team in last place. We're constantly trying to compete each and every day. These guys are hungry and they want to show they deserve to be up here. Tonight just shows we fight and we compete.

"We had two walk-offs today. I think that was the first time in the history of baseball that's taken place. It was a two-celebration game. I'm just glad one of them counted."

Phillies-Marlins observations: Nick Williams delivers in 15-inning win

Phillies-Marlins observations: Nick Williams delivers in 15-inning win

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The legend of Rhys Hoskins grew a little larger Tuesday night and the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins, 9-8, in 15 innings.

Hoskins helped the Phillies come back from a 7-2 deficit with his 15th homer, a solo shot in the seventh. Three innings later, he tied the game with his 16th homer, a bomb over the wall in center on a 100-mph fastball from Brian Ellington.

The Phillies won it in the 15th on an RBI double by rookie Nick Williams. The bullpen was spectacular with 10 innings of one-run ball.

The time of game was four hours, 57 minutes.

The late innings were wild. The Phillies thought they won the game in the bottom of the ninth, but an overturned call meant they only tied it.

Miami went ahead on a homer by Marcell Ozuna in the top of the 10th and Hoskins tied it with a two-out homer in the bottom of the inning.

• Miami rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton had three assists.

He gunned down Cesar Hernandez at the plate in the bottom of the ninth to prevent the Phillies from scoring the winning run.

Actually, the Phillies thought they had scored the winning run on Hyun Soo Kim's pinch-hit single to right. As Phillies players mobbed Kim at first base, dousing him with bubble gum and tearing his shirt off, the Marlins challenged the initial safe call at the plate — and won. That left Kim with a game-tying single and the grounds crew scurrying to clean up the remnants of the Phillies' premature celebration at first base.

Stanton, known for his booming bat, had assists at second, third and home.

• Rookie Nick Pivetta had another tough outing. He was tagged for eight hits and seven runs over five-plus innings. Derek Deitrich got him for a two-run homer on a hanging 3-2 changeup in the fifth. Pivetta has allowed 18 hits and 13 runs in his last two starts. The 24-year-old right-hander was forced to the majors because of injuries and has endured a tough learning experience that he ultimately should be better for. Pivetta has good power stuff. He needs to locate it better and clean up up his changeup. The Phillies are going to a six-man starting rotation the rest of the way. Pivetta would line up to have three more starts if the Phils stay on turn.

• Dillon Peters, Miami's rookie lefty, held the Phils to six hits and two runs over six innings. He's made three big-league starts, two against the Phillies. He pitched seven shutout innings against the Phils on Sept. 1.

• Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto twice doubled home Justin Bour from first base. The Phils may have had plays at the plate both times, but catcher Jorge Alfaro did not handle either relay throw. Now, neither play was easy — one throw tailed a little to Alfaro's left and the other was a short hop — but these are the types of plays that a top defensive catcher needs to make at times. Alfaro also had a passed ball in the game. Alfaro had an RBI single in the eighth inning, but his defense remains a work in progress. He will get plenty of playing time over the final three weeks of the season.

• Odudel Herrera deserves props for the effort he displayed on the bases in beating out an infield hit — with a hard dive into first base — in the third inning and with a hustle double in the fourth. Herrera did not start on Sunday and came back from Monday's off day in the schedule with some serious hop in his step. He had three hits.

• Rookies Williams and J.P. Crawford both tested rightfielder Stanton's arm and lost. Williams was thrown out trying to stretch a single. Crawford was caught via a relay trying to stretch a double. Stanton had his third assist of the game in the ninth inning.

• Hoskins will get more time at first base down the stretch. He continued to show excellent plate discipline with two walks, including one with the bases full in the third inning. And, of course, he homered twice. Hoskins came to the majors on Aug. 10 and hit his first homer four days later. His 16 homers since Aug. 14 are the most in the majors over that span. Amazingly, he could end up leading the Phillies in homers. He trails team leader Tommy Joseph by five with 18 games left.

• Hoskins found himself in the spotlight in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Phillies had rallied for three runs to make it a one-run game and he came to the plate with two outs and two men on. He scorched a line drive to left field against reliever Drew Steckenrider. With any type of elevation, it would have been a three-run homer. But the ball stayed on a line and died in Ozuna's glove.

• Crawford started at second base for the first time and made an eye-popping play. It took 22 plate appearances for him to draw his first walk. (He had two in the game.) His second double of the game plated a run in the eighth.

• Right-handed reliever Victor Arano made his major-league debut and recorded two outs in the seventh. Arano, 22, was acquired from the Dodgers in the August 2014 trade that sent pitcher Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers. Arano was slowed this season by an elbow injury, but he's back on track and throwing in the mid-90s. He could be someone to keep an eye on down the road.

• Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.71) pitches against Marlins right-hander Dan Straily (9-8, 3.95) on Wednesday night. The Marlins have given Nola some trouble in his career. He is 1-3 with a 5.24 ERA in six career starts against them.