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Arrieta's gem has Phils within a half-game of 1st

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler said hours before Wednesday night's 4-0 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park, "This is a big game for us tonight, and I think it's worth noting that we're all thinking about it that way."

Jake Arrieta and his teammates stepped up in the moment. Arrieta struck out seven in 6 2/3 scoreless innings in one of his best starts of the season. Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Nick Williams knocked in the Phillies' runs. Seranthony Dominguez dazzled in relief.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler said hours before Wednesday night's 4-0 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park, "This is a big game for us tonight, and I think it's worth noting that we're all thinking about it that way."

Jake Arrieta and his teammates stepped up in the moment. Arrieta struck out seven in 6 2/3 scoreless innings in one of his best starts of the season. Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Nick Williams knocked in the Phillies' runs. Seranthony Dominguez dazzled in relief.

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The Phillies won their first series against the first-place Braves in four tries this season to move within a half-game of first place in the National League East.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com.

Philadelphia Phillies

Cards LF Tyler O'Neill somehow nailed Ryan Goins at home with a six-bounce throw

Although the Cardinals fell to the Royals, 5-2, in 10 innings on Wednesday, they were kept in contention by left fielder Tyler O'Neill. His leadoff single in the second allowed him to score one of the Cardinals' two runs that forced extras in the first place.

Then, when the Royals put three runs on the board in the 10th, O'Neill also did his best to hold the score at 5-2. Jon Jay singled Drew Butera home with their fifth run on a hit to left, and Ryan Goins rounded third, trying to plate run No. 6 of the day for the Royals.

A Yankees fan made a ridiculous catch over the stair railings to snag Neil Walker's home run

deGrom takes NL ERA lead, but 'pen blows win

Familia allows 2 runs in 9th to squander ace's 7 scoreless innings
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Earlier this month, Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland created a minor stir when he called out Noah Syndergaard's relative lack of big league accomplishments, in quotes that appeared in the New York Post. Eiland's contention was that at age 25, for all the hype that surrounds him, Syndergaard remains an unfinished product.

When asked Wednesday if that same line of thinking applies to Jacob deGrom, Mets manager Mickey Callaway offered a full-throated disagreement.

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NEW YORK -- Earlier this month, Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland created a minor stir when he called out Noah Syndergaard's relative lack of big league accomplishments, in quotes that appeared in the New York Post. Eiland's contention was that at age 25, for all the hype that surrounds him, Syndergaard remains an unfinished product.

When asked Wednesday if that same line of thinking applies to Jacob deGrom, Mets manager Mickey Callaway offered a full-throated disagreement.

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"He's an ace," Callaway said. "He could be an ace on almost anybody's staff."

For the Mets, though, it hasn't always been enough. Rather than parlay deGrom's seven shutout innings Wednesday into their fifth win in six games, the Mets lost a 2-1 contest to the Marlins when Jeurys Familia allowed two runs in the ninth. It was the Mets' second straight loss to the Marlins at Citi Field.

Entering in a 1-0 game in the ninth, Familia gave up three consecutive one-out hits, including a J.T. Realmuto single that drove home the tying run. Although Michael Conforto cut down the potential go-ahead run at the plate, Starlin Castro followed two batters later with an RBI single to give the Marlins their first lead.

Video: MIA@NYM: Castro cracks go-ahead RBI single to left

That rally prevented deGrom from winning his 50th career game, despite slicing his ERA to 1.54 to take over the National League lead. Only Justin Verlander of the Astros (1.08) has been better.

Allowing just one run in his last 33 1/3 innings, deGrom did not give up a hit until Justin Bour bunted to beat a defensive overshift leading off the fourth inning. The Marlins threatened again in the fifth and sixth, putting runners in scoring position, but each time deGrom quelled the threat without issue.

Since returning from a hyperextended right elbow, deGrom is 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA, 23 strikeouts and five walks in two outings, the last two of them seven innings apiece. He even began swinging the bat again Wednesday, something the Mets had discouraged him to do in the immediate aftermath of his injury.

Video: MIA@NYM: Nimmo cranks solo home run to deep right

It was not deGrom, however, but Brandon Nimmo who gave the Mets their first lead, homering into the second deck in right field with one out in the fifth. That was the only run Marlins starter Dan Straily allowed, but it seemed to be enough until Familia entered in the ninth.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

Yanks hit at least 3 HRs in 5 straight for 1st time

Torres youngest Yankee to go deep in 3 straight; Judge mashes 471-footer
MLB.com @BryanHoch

ARLINGTON -- Gleyber Torres' sensational splash onto the big league scene has helped his team make history on several different fronts, and in the fifth inning on Wednesday, the 21-year-old standout became the youngest Yankees rookie to homer in three consecutive games.

Torres restored the Yankees' lead with a three-run shot that chased Rangers starter Doug Fister, a blast to the left-field bleachers with Miguel Andujar and Austin Romine aboard. The shot came on an 0-2 count, as Fister tried to sneak an 88.4-mph two-seamer past the slugging infielder.

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ARLINGTON -- Gleyber Torres' sensational splash onto the big league scene has helped his team make history on several different fronts, and in the fifth inning on Wednesday, the 21-year-old standout became the youngest Yankees rookie to homer in three consecutive games.

Torres restored the Yankees' lead with a three-run shot that chased Rangers starter Doug Fister, a blast to the left-field bleachers with Miguel Andujar and Austin Romine aboard. The shot came on an 0-2 count, as Fister tried to sneak an 88.4-mph two-seamer past the slugging infielder.

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According to Statcast™, Torres' drive came off the bat at 102.2 mph and traveled 401 feet. It was Torres' eighth homer and 20th RBI in his last 16 games, including four home runs during this three-game series in Texas, and gave New York an 8-5 lead at the time.

Torres' homer was the Yankees' third of the game, marking the first time in franchise history that the club has hit three or more homers in five consecutive games. It also marks the seventh such stretch of at least five games by any club in Major League history.

Not to be outdone, Aaron Judge joined the slugging party later in the inning, crushing a two-run shot to deep center field off reliever Tony Barnette.

Video: NYY@TEX: Judge demolishes 2-run homer to center field

Judge's 13th homer of the season came on the first pitch he saw from the right-hander, a 92-mph fastball that was deposited over the center-field wall.

At 471 feet, Judge's homer was the sixth-longest in the Majors this season, and the third-longest homer of Judge's career. New York led, 10-5, at the time.

With Judge's homer, the Yankees have hit 21 home runs in a five-game span, equaling the most in Major League history. The record is also shared by the 1977 Red Sox and the 1999 Reds. Yankees manager Aaron Boone hit three of those 21 homers for Cincinnati in '99.

The home run surge that helped Didi Gregorius earn honors as the American League's Player of the Month for April had cooled, but the Yankees' shortstop got on the board for May after belting a two-run shot in the first inning.

Video: NYY@TEX: Gregorius cranks 2-run big fly in the 1st

Mired in a 3-for-54 (.056) skid and owning one extra-base hit in his last 12 games, Gregorius parked an 82.8-mph changeup from Fister into the right-field seats. The homer, Gregorius' 11th of the season, came with Judge aboard after he reached base on a one-out error.

Gregorius' homer was his first since April 27 at Anaheim, when he received a curtain call on the road.

Video: NYY@TEX: Walker launches solo homer to center field

Neil Walker hit his second homer of the season in the third, a solo shot.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Neil Walker

Schwarber slides, pops, nails runner at 2nd

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Thanks to Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, Cubs pitcher Jon Lester faced the minimum in the first inning against the Indians on Wednesday night despite giving up two hits.

Francisco Lindor led off the game with a single to left field but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. Schwarber slid and cut the ball off, popped up and delivered a strike to second for the first out. It was Schwarber's fourth outfield assist of the year.

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CHICAGO -- Thanks to Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, Cubs pitcher Jon Lester faced the minimum in the first inning against the Indians on Wednesday night despite giving up two hits.

Francisco Lindor led off the game with a single to left field but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. Schwarber slid and cut the ball off, popped up and delivered a strike to second for the first out. It was Schwarber's fourth outfield assist of the year.

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After a Michael Brantley single, Lester struck out Jose Ramirez and Contreras caught Brantley trying to steal second base for the final out of the frame. Contreras has caught seven baserunners stealing this season on 21 attempts.

Video: CLE@CHC: Lester K's Ramirez, Contreras completes DP

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Schwarber

Davis placed on DL; prospect Barreto recalled

MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- The A's lost a wealth of power from their lineup after placing Khris Davis on the disabled list Wednesday.

However, the slugger's absence allowed infield prospect Franklin Barreto to rejoin the A's. Barreto, the club's No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was recalled from Triple-A Nashville ahead of Wednesday's matchup with the Mariners and immediately inserted into the lineup.

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OAKLAND -- The A's lost a wealth of power from their lineup after placing Khris Davis on the disabled list Wednesday.

However, the slugger's absence allowed infield prospect Franklin Barreto to rejoin the A's. Barreto, the club's No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was recalled from Triple-A Nashville ahead of Wednesday's matchup with the Mariners and immediately inserted into the lineup.

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Right-hander Daniel Gossett was also promoted from Nashville to start Wednesday, while reliever Wilmer Font was designated for assignment.

Davis, who is nursing a Grade 1 right groin strain, hopes to miss the minimum 10 days.

"I'm including yesterday as one of them," Davis said with a smile.

The move is retroactive to Monday, meaning the A's could have Davis back as soon as May 31. The slugger leads the club with 13 homers and 38 RBIs.

"I could probably come back before 10 days, but I think they just don't want me limping out there," Davis said. "They want me at full strength. It's tough, because I know at any moment it could flare up, anything could happen, so I just want to make sure I'm healthy."

"We want him to feel that way, but obviously, we're not going to bring him back until we feel like there aren't any implications once he's out on the field," manager Bob Melvin said. "These things can be a little bit delicate to come back from. I am encouraged by the way he's felt the last couple of days, but we don't want these things to drag on, so we're going to make sure he's as close to 100 percent healthy as he can be."

Melvin plans to share DH duties while Davis is out. Jed Lowrie took his turn Wednesday, while Barreto spelled him at second. Barreto, 22, will also soon be seen at shortstop when Marcus Semien leaves the team for the birth of his second child, which is due Saturday.

Video: Top Prospects: Franklin Barreto, SS, Athletics

Barreto's first stint with the A's this season spanned nine games in April, but didn't include an at-bat. He returned to Nashville and was hitting .235 with six home runs in 32 games at Triple-A.

"When you have a youngster like him here, you want to make sure you play him enough to give him a chance to have some success," Melvin said. "Last time he was here, he didn't play much at all, so it's good we're able to get him in the lineup right away."

Barreto's strikeout total is high -- 42 in 119 Triple-A at-bats -- but he's also collecting more walks this season, totaling 19 in 32 games after tallying just 27 in 111 games at Triple-A last year.

"I'm not really worried about the batting average," Barreto said through an interpreter. "I'm more worried about getting good turns at the plate, getting good swings on the ball and getting my base on balls.

"Every time I come up here, I try to do everything I can to help my team out."

Lucas to start Thursday
The A's have opted to start a reliever in Thursday's series finale against the Mariners. Right-hander Josh Lucas, who has made seven big league relief appearances, including two with the A's, will make his first career start.

Lucas threw 50 pitches in a 3 2/3-inning stint in relief of an injured Brett Anderson in Toronto on Sunday, and he won't be asked to throw more than that Thursday.

Video: OAK@TOR: Lucas fans 7 in 3 2/3 innings of relief

"Obviously, he's not going to be out there for 130 pitches," Melvin said. "It's going to be more about just starting the game and maybe getting once around the lineup. We don't want him to have to do too much as a reliever. We want to make sure we keep him healthy, but he'll start the game, and then we'll have to use quite a bit of the bullpen again."

Right-hander Kendall Graveman could not be recalled from Triple-A because he was optioned less than 10 days ago.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Franklin Barreto, Khris Davis, Josh Lucas

Big inning gives Crew club-best 50-game start

Shaw's 3-run jack highlights 7-run 4th; Milwaukee 31-19 after winning 10 of 13
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Thanks to one big inning on Wednesday afternoon, the Brewers are off to the best 50-game start in franchise history.

Now, can they sustain it this time?

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MILWAUKEE -- Thanks to one big inning on Wednesday afternoon, the Brewers are off to the best 50-game start in franchise history.

Now, can they sustain it this time?

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"It's different this year, for sure," said third baseman Travis Shaw, whose three-run home run was the biggest blow of a seven-run fourth inning and a 9-2 win over the D-backs at Miller Park. "Last year, I don't think anybody expected it. This year, this isn't uncharted territory, and I think this is where we want to be.

"We're playing good right now, but the whole, 'We're not expected to be here' -- that's not going to be a story this year."

Video: ARI@MIL: Shaw drills a 3-run homer to right field

Shaw, Jesus Aguilar and Tyler Saladino each drove in runs in Milwaukee's big inning, and they combined for eight RBIs to clinch a three-game series sweep. At 31-19, and with wins in 10 of their past 13 games, the Brewers have the best winning percentage (.620) after 50 games in 50 seasons as a franchise.

The 1981 and 2014 clubs shared the previous mark after starting 29-21.

The D-backs are going in a different direction, with seven straight losses and 13 losses in their past 14 games. The Brewers took the season series between the teams, 5-1, while outscoring the D-backs by 19 runs (29-10) and holding them to two or fewer runs on five or fewer hits in each game.

Video: ARI@MIL: Counsell on situation hitting in 9-2 win

"It's a cool thing to think about, maybe [worth] a nice pat on the back," said winning pitcher Brent Suter. "But there's a long way to go. It's a good start, but we have a lot of games left and a lot of work to do."

Suter's contributions were not limited to the pitcher's mound. The decisive fourth inning started small against D-backs right-hander Zack Godley, with slumping backup catcher Jett Bandy dumping a leadoff single into left field, and Suter coaxing an error by hustling out of the batter's box on a sacrifice bunt. It turned into something big, with Aguilar hitting a go-ahead two-run single, Shaw following with a three-run home run and Saladino adding insurance with an RBI single against reliever Fernando Salas that produced two runs thanks to another Arizona error.

The outburst transformed a 2-1 deficit into an 8-2 lead, and it tied a seven-run sixth against the Marlins on April 19 for Milwaukee's biggest inning all season. The Brewers scored those runs Wednesday on five hits, two walks, a sacrifice bunt and two D-backs errors.

Video: ARI@MIL: Brewers score two on error, Saladino single

The Brewers' once-anemic offense now looks dangerous.

On April 29, the date the Cubs finished a four-game sweep of Milwaukee at Wrigley Field that included three shutouts, Shaw took to Twitter and borrowed a sentiment from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, urging fans to "C-H-I-L-L." The Brewers were averaging 3.7 runs per game at the time, 25th of 30 Major League teams.

Since then, they are 15-6 while averaging 4.6 runs per game, ninth best in the Majors in that span. While winning 10 of their past 13, the Brewers have been even better, scoring 5.2 runs per game, sixth best in the Majors.

"It does seem a long time ago," said Shaw of that visit to Wrigley Field. "It's the Cubs' division until someone else says otherwise, but I feel like we're in a good spot right now. We're playing good, and we'll just try to keep it going this weekend [against the Mets]."

Video: ARI@MIL: Suter K's 6, flashes the leather vs. D-backs

Asked whether his tweet was the turning point, Shaw laughed.

"We were fine in here," he said. "It was more just for the outside. We knew it was going to turn eventually."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Aguilar's go-ahead knock: Aguilar and Shaw delivered the biggest hits in back-to-back at-bats against Godley. Aguilar's provided the lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Aguilar fanned badly at one of Godley's good curveballs way outside, but he recovered two pitches later to connect with another and punched it into center field for two runs and a 3-2 Brewers lead. With Ryan Braun coming off the disabled list on Thursday, manager Craig Counsell was asked whether Aguilar, with 12 RBIs in his past nine games, had done enough to earn the three-hole going forward.

"He's earned playing time, yeah. He's going to be in there," Counsell said. "Where the guys hit, you guys know I don't think that's the most vital thing. But he's certainly going to be in the middle of the lineup."

Video: ARI@MIL: Aguilar plates 2 with a single up the middle

Saladino earning at-bats: Speaking of earning playing time, Saladino's 2-for-4, two-RBI afternoon included his third Brewers home run in four starts. With regular shortstop Orlando Arcia slumping -- his 37 wRC+ is the fifth worst among Major Leaguers with 100 plate appearances -- it could mean more opportunity for in-season acquisition Saladino.

"He's done everything right since he's been here," Counsell said. "He's certainly pushing for more playing time, he really is. He's played really well in all facets of the game. He's driven in big runs, he's hit home runs, he's made plays at shortstop. You can't ask anything more of a player."

Video: ARI@MIL: Saladino crushes a solo homer to center

SOUND SMART
Including 3 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday from Taylor Williams, Boone Logan and Brandon Woodruff, Brewers relievers pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings in the series while allowing one hit -- David Peralta's single off Josh Hader on Tuesday night. With that, Milwaukee took over as Major League Baseball's top bullpen, at least in terms of ERA, at 2.48.

Video: ARI@MIL: Suter makes athletic diving play on a bunt

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Suter fell into a 2-1 deficit when slumping D-backs star Paul Goldschmidt and catcher John Ryan Murphy hit solo home runs in the second inning but he was otherwise solid, including making the defensive play of the day in the fourth. Nicknamed "The Raptor" for his running style, Suter showed his quickness when he chased Socrates Brito's quality bunt along the first-base line, scooped it up with his left hand and shoveled it to first base while falling down. Brito was out, and it was on to the Brewers' big rally in the bottom of the inning.

"I love getting my uniform dirty and feeling like a baseball player," Suter said. "People like to joke that pitchers aren't athletes or whatever, but I'm trying to show some athleticism on plays and little things like busting it down the line and trying to make them make errors can be the difference in the game sometimes. If you're healthy, if your hamstrings aren't tight ... I definitely suggest running hard and getting dirty."

UP NEXT
The Brewers will activate Zach Davies from the 10-day disabled list to start Thursday's 7:10 p.m. CT series opener against the Mets. The right-hander hasn't pitched a Major League game since April 29, but he said he felt sharp while striking out nine batters on 56 pitches in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Wisconsin last weekend. Lefty Steven Matz starts for the Mets in the first of four games between the teams.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar, Tyler Saladino, Travis Shaw, Brent Suter

Springer's 10th HR backs Verlander in Astros' W

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- The Giants were confronted with the unwanted task of facing American League ERA leaders Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander during a two-game series at Minute Maid Park. They found out what teams in the AL already know: these guys are good.

One day after Cole struck out eight batters in six innings in Tuesday's series opener, Verlander held the Giants to one run and three hits while striking out nine in six innings to lead the Astros a sweep of the series with a 4-1 win Wednesday afternoon.

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HOUSTON -- The Giants were confronted with the unwanted task of facing American League ERA leaders Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander during a two-game series at Minute Maid Park. They found out what teams in the AL already know: these guys are good.

One day after Cole struck out eight batters in six innings in Tuesday's series opener, Verlander held the Giants to one run and three hits while striking out nine in six innings to lead the Astros a sweep of the series with a 4-1 win Wednesday afternoon.

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Video: SF@HOU: Verlander K's 9 over 6 innings of 1-run ball

"He had to battle pretty hard today, and he still came up with incredible results," Astros manager AJ Hinch said of Verlander, who threw 97 pitches. "I'm happy for him. They weren't chasing his slider today. He threw some pretty good strikes on breaking balls, curveballs. His fastball was good. It wasn't his elite fastball, yet he still pitched his way to a win."

The Astros won their third in a row and their 11th in 14 games to move a season-high 14 games over .500 (32-18) heading into a seven-game road trip to Cleveland and New York.

Video: SF@HOU: Hinch on Verlander's start, win over Giants

"I'm obviously happy that we are starting to pull things together," Hinch said. "We're a good team, and we're playing like it. I think we're starting to do a lot of things right. I like our defense, I like our pitching, I like our hitting. I like our team at Game 1 and I like our team at Game 50."

Will Harris, Brad Peacock and Ken Giles each followed Verlander with a scoreless inning in relief, with Giles improving to 9-for-9 in save chances. The Astros' bullpen has a 0.79 ERA in the team's past 12 games.

Video: SF@HOU: Giles retires Sandoval to nail down the save

Verlander (6-2) retired the first nine batters he faced before Gorkys Hernandez led off the fourth inning with a triple to center and scored on a Buster Posey sac fly for the only Giants run of the game. Verlander has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all 16 of his regular-season starts with the Astros, tying the fourth-longest streak in club history.

"I felt OK," Verlander said. "Probably a little rusty from the seven days [betweens starts]. Overall, I was able to execute pitches when I needed to against a really good lineup. These guys have got a bunch of veterans that really know how to hit and make you work. Obviously, I'd like to go more than six innings, but these guys did a great job, top to bottom. Especially, kind of, in the middle of their lineup. They all battle you and make it tough to get outs."

Video: SF@HOU: Correa scores from first on McCutchen's error

The Astros finally got to Giants starter Jeff Samardzija in the fourth, with help from right fielder Andrew McCutchen. The former NL Most Valuable Player Award winner made a long run towards the line on a popup off the bat of Yuli Gurriel, and he ran under the ball but couldn't catch it. Carlos Correa scored from first on the error to tie the game.

George Springer rocketed his team-leading 10th homer of the season to left field in the fifth, scoring Tony Kemp, to push Houston's lead to 3-1, and Correa added an RBI single later in the inning to drive Samardzija (1-3) from the game after 4 2/3 innings.

Video: SF@HOU: Correa drives in Altuve with a 2-out single

"I had just gotten blown up the pitch before and was just trying to be on time, to be honest with you, and hit something hard," Springer said about crushing a 1-2 slider 411 feet.

SOUND SMART
The Astros have allowed 126 runs through 50 games, which are the fewest in the Major Leagues since 1920 (live ball era). The previous record of 128 was set by the Indians in '68.

Video: SF@HOU: Gonzalez ranges for tough grab in foul ground

HE SAID IT
"I think he's a Hall of Famer. He seems to have gotten better the last few years. Having him on my team now is awesome. He's so smart, he works hard. He knows every in and out. That's why, in my opinion, he's a Hall of Famer." -- Springer, on Verlander

Video: SF@HOU: Springer, Verlander on their roles in win

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Giants successfully challenged a call at first base in the eighth inning, getting a safe call overturned. Correa was initially called safe at first base after a throw from pitcher Cory Gearrin to an outstretched Pablo Sandoval. After viewing all relevant angles, the replay official definitively determined that the fielder's foot was touching the base when the ball contacted the interior of his glove.

Video: SF@HOU: Giants nab Correa as call is overturned

UP NEXT
The Astros will send Charlie Morton to the mound to begin a four-game series at 5:10 p.m. CT Thursday at Cleveland. Morton's 1.94 ERA across 55 2/3 innings ranks third in the American League -- and third on his own team behind Verlander and Cole. Morton (6-0) is Houston's only starter without a loss. The Indians will counter with Mike Clevinger (3-1, 2.87 ERA).

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Justin Verlander

BB-8 delivered a holographic message from Rhys Hoskins to the Phanatic on Star Wars Night

The Phillies celebrated Star Wars Night on Wednesday against the Braves with some familiar faces. Yoda was in the broadcast booth and there were numerous fans dressed like Stormtroopers, Han Solo, Princess Leia and more.

Trea Turner lends helping hand for 'Shred Hate'

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- He had filmed a short public service announcement a few days prior, but before the Nationals faced the Padres on Wednesday afternoon, Trea Turner met with a group of students from 11 D.C.-based schools. They were in attendance as part of MLB's "Shred Hate" program, a bullying prevention program that seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness.

About 250 students attended San Diego's 3-1 victory, and about 25 of them were recognized on the field prior to the game along with Billy Bean, Major League Baseball's vice president for social responsibility and special assistant to the Commissioner. They also received a message from Turner, who wanted to give his thought and encouragement to the group on bullying.

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WASHINGTON -- He had filmed a short public service announcement a few days prior, but before the Nationals faced the Padres on Wednesday afternoon, Trea Turner met with a group of students from 11 D.C.-based schools. They were in attendance as part of MLB's "Shred Hate" program, a bullying prevention program that seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness.

About 250 students attended San Diego's 3-1 victory, and about 25 of them were recognized on the field prior to the game along with Billy Bean, Major League Baseball's vice president for social responsibility and special assistant to the Commissioner. They also received a message from Turner, who wanted to give his thought and encouragement to the group on bullying.

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"I think two things," Turner said. "Be yourself, you are who you are and be proud of it. And rely on your friends and family. A lot of people that bully or whatever it may be, people that don't know you, classmates or a lot of stuff is from people who don't know who you are and what your values and morals are."

Bean arrived from Minnesota on Wednesday to join the group and continue on with the Nationals in their commitment to bullying prevention. It's the first season for the "Shred Hate" program, with stops in Minnesota, Chicago and Washington, which he called a natural choice to start.

Bean joined MLB in 2014 as the ambassador for inclusion and is excited to see his role grow with this new program. Now, this new initiative, along with its connection to ESPN, can help Bean reach a more national audience.

"To move the conversation, not take them away from the clubhouse, but build off that inclusive, accepting dialogue," he said. "This gives a chance for the players to be a part of something that they may have a lot more in common or can relate to."

Turner was happy to lend a hand or a word of encouragement to the group. He related his experiences with bullying to the children by comparing it to articles written about him each day or "trolls" on Twitter or other forms of social media. For him, keeping a good base with his family and friends helps him tune it all out.

"When you're talking about bullying, it doesn't discriminate," Bean said. "Everybody can relate to being different or being marginalized. So to me, it's a pure message of teamwork, camaraderie. The goal is to create a bully-free environment before there is something that has gone wrong. It's about understanding the power of being part of something."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Trea Turner

Ross K's 9 in impressive win against Nationals

Right-hander earning reputation as stopper, workhorse
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Tyson Ross hasn't really thought of himself as a stopper, but if the Padres keep responding they way they do in his starts, he'll have to get comfortable with the label.

Ross was in command Wednesday, helping the Padres erase a two-game skid and salvage the finale against the Nationals in a 3-1 triumph at Nationals Park. Ross now has a team-high seven quality starts on the season, all resulting in Padres wins.

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WASHINGTON -- Tyson Ross hasn't really thought of himself as a stopper, but if the Padres keep responding they way they do in his starts, he'll have to get comfortable with the label.

Ross was in command Wednesday, helping the Padres erase a two-game skid and salvage the finale against the Nationals in a 3-1 triumph at Nationals Park. Ross now has a team-high seven quality starts on the season, all resulting in Padres wins.

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"That's the mindset every starter has got to have," Ross said. "When it's your turn to take the ball, you have to believe that you're an ace. It was my turn today. It's a rotation of five, but when it's your turn to go, you have to give the team a chance."

The right-hander was on cruise control for most of the afternoon, keeping the Nationals off-balance with a mix of fastballs and sliders. Ross (4-3) registered nine strikeouts, most of which came courtesy of his slider.

Video: SD@WSH: Ross gets Harper swinging, escapes jam in 3rd

"He was outstanding," manager Andy Green said. "I've said that over and over almost every time he takes the mound right now; it's like a broken record. He just continues to execute. The fastball's cutting, the cutter's cutting more and the slider is -- it's just three pitches kind of going the same direction. You could tell today, they were having trouble with the spin, in general."

With the exception of Matt Adams, who was 3-for-3 with a seventh-inning home run against him, Ross had little trouble with the Nationals' lineup, scattering five singles in his 6 2/3 innings of work.

"I felt good out there today," Ross said. "I was making sure to finish [my slider]. Last time I faced them a few starts ago, I left a few up with two strikes, and that's where they did all their damage. I was just trying to get through that pitch and keep it down."

In addition, Ross continues to be a workhorse, tossing 110 pitches in the victory, his fifth straight 100-plus pitch outing.

"You do all the preparation in the offseason to get yourself built up so you can take the ball 35 times and throw 100 pitches [and] six, seven innings, whatever it may be," Ross said. "That was the mindset I had in the offseason. I was finally healthy after a few years of injuries and that was my goal -- to get back to where I was before. Every five days, I'm taking the hill and going 100-plus [pitches] and hopefully six-plus innings."

Ross' record isn't better because hasn't gotten much help from his offense, with just 19 runs of support in his prior nine starts, but the Friars were able to break through to get him the victory. Brad Hand recorded the final five outs for his 15th save, ending a two-on, no-out rally by striking out Michael A. Taylor and inducing a game-ending double play from Spencer Kieboom.

Video: SD@WSH: Hand gets game-ending DP to record 15th save

"We did enough," Green said. "You look back at this road trip … and it's a good 4-3 East Coast swing for us."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Margot comes through: In a game where runs were at a premium, Manuel Margot picked an opportune time to break out of a 5-for-31 skid and put the Padres on the board first. In the fifth inning, with Freddy Galvis on second and two outs, Margot was able to shoot a ball through the right side of the infield and Galvis hustled home to beat the throw from Bryce Harper.

Video: SD@WSH: Margot opens the scoring with an RBI single

"It's been tough for Manny," Green said. "That's a big at-bat. I know they were over there debating whether to walk him or not, and he got an opportunity to get a pitch to hit, and he drove in the run and kind of broke the seal for us."

Insurance from Villanueva: The Padres put up a crooked number in the sixth when Eric Hosmer beat the shift for a single to left and Franchy Cordero drew a two-out walk. Christian Villanueva followed with a deep drive to the right-field corner that clanged off Bryce Harper's glove, allowing both runs to score and give the Padres some breathing room at 3-0. Originally ruled a two-base error, the scoring was later changed, giving Villanueva a double and two RBIs.

Video: SD@WSH: Villanueva plates 2 on hit off Harper's glove

"In those situations, you're always trying to put the ball in play and for me, personally, I love hitting in those situations," Villanueva said through interpreter David Longley. "My teammates did a good job of getting on base and we were able to come through in those important situations."

HE SAID IT
"Just being tall. That's about it." -- Eric Hosmer, on his snag of an errant throw by Hand in the eighth, preventing Harper from coming to the plate as the potential tying run

Video: SD@WSH: Hosmer stretches to record out in the 8th

UP NEXT
The Padres have an off-day Thursday, which might be a good thing, since they are 0-5 on that particular day of the week. The 10-day road trip continues Friday with a 7:10 p.m. PT start against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, where Clayton Richard (3-5, 4.87) faces off against Los Angeles' Ross Stripling (1-1, 2.08).

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

San Diego Padres, Tyson Ross

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