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Ross comes 4 outs shy of no-no; SD wins in 9th

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Tyson Ross flirted with history, but like so many other standout performances from Padres pitchers in franchise history, this too will go down as yet another close call.

Ross battled and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, but couldn't get the final out of the frame. D-backs pinch-hitter Christian Walker hit an RBI double over the head of center fielder Franchy Cordero, who misplayed the ball. Not only did it end the no-no, but it tied the game, 1-1.

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PHOENIX -- Tyson Ross flirted with history, but like so many other standout performances from Padres pitchers in franchise history, this too will go down as yet another close call.

Ross battled and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, but couldn't get the final out of the frame. D-backs pinch-hitter Christian Walker hit an RBI double over the head of center fielder Franchy Cordero, who misplayed the ball. Not only did it end the no-no, but it tied the game, 1-1.

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The Padres won, 4-1, but they remain the only franchise in the Majors without a no-hitter. Closer Brad Hand replaced Ross, getting the final out of the eighth inning, before slamming the door in the ninth after the Padres scored three runs in the top half.

Ross shined as he struck out 10 and walked three. But he joins multiple Padres pitchers who have gotten close to achieving the elusive feat of throwing a no-hitter.

On Sept. 22, 2006, Pittsburgh's Joe Randa hit a pinch-hit two-run homer with one out in the ninth inning off Chris Young.

On July 9, 2011, five Padres pitchers combined to throw 8 2/3 no-hit innings against the Dodgers before Luke Gregerson surrendered a double. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the ninth, however, they would have needed at least one more unblemished frame to accomplish the feat.

The close calls aren't limited to the past decade, however. On July 21, 1970, Clay Kirby -- sitting on eight no-hit frames -- was removed for a pinch-hitter by manager Preston Gomez. Cito Gaston, hitting in his place, struck out and the Padres lost the no-hitter in the top of the ninth, eventually losing, 3-0.

Steve Arlin came closest, taking a no-hitter two outs deep into the ninth on July 18, 1972, before Denny Doyle broke it up with a chopper over the head of third baseman Dave Roberts.

Justin Toscano is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Tyson Ross

Moreland's slam breaks it open for Red Sox

Special to MLB.com

OAKLAND -- The power surge continues for the Red Sox.

A three-run homer by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the second tied the game at 3 and Mitch Moreland's sixth-inning grand slam gave Boston a late lead in Friday night's series opener against the A's in Oakland.

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OAKLAND -- The power surge continues for the Red Sox.

A three-run homer by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the second tied the game at 3 and Mitch Moreland's sixth-inning grand slam gave Boston a late lead in Friday night's series opener against the A's in Oakland.

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Moreland's grand slam, which gave the Red Sox a 7-3 lead, was Boston's MLB-leading fifth in its last 12 games. The Red Sox did not hit a grand slam in 2017.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the first time Boston has ever hit five grand slams before May 1.

The homers were also Boston's 12th and 13th on its current road trip. The 11 long balls that the Red Sox hit in Anaheim before coming to Oakland were their third-most ever in a three-game series. The Sox entered the game with 24 homers, sixth in the Majors.

Moreland's grand slam greeted A's reliever Emilio Pagan after starter Kendall Graveman exited with the bases loaded in the sixth. Moreland yanked the first-pitch slider a Statcast-estimated 425 feet into the right-field bleachers.

Moreland extended his hitting streak to eight games with his second homer in three games. He also homered and drove in four runs on Wednesday and has nine RBIs in those three games.

With Boston trailing for the first time in five games in the first inning, Bradley quickly closed the gap with a three-run homer in the second inning.

Bradley's blast traveled a Statcast-estimated 436 feet to right and left his bat at 106 mph. It is the fourth-longest homer of his career as measured by Statcast™, just five feet shy of his career-long of 441 feet.

The homer was Bradley's second in four games, as he hit his first round-tripper of the season in Tuesday's 10-1 win over the Angels as part of a 3-for-5 day at the plate.

After the homer, Bradley was hitting .357 (10-for-28) over the last nine games. He had started the season slowly, slashing .191/.296/.255 through Boston's first 13 contests.

The A's had jumped out to a 3-0 first-inning lead against Boston starter Drew Pomeranz, who was making his season debut. An RBI double by Jed Lowrie was followed by a pair of RBI singles from Matt Olson and Mark Canha after a strike-three wild pitch extended the inning.

Do-Hyoung Park is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Boston Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mitch Moreland

Ohtani bounces back with 2 hits after 3-K game

Two-way star singles in first at-bat and again in ninth inning
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- It didn't take Shohei Ohtani long to turn the page on his first hitless start as the Angels' designated hitter.

After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Thursday's loss to the Red Sox, Ohtani delivered a two-out single to center field off right-hander Jeff Samardzija in the second inning of Friday's series opener against the Giants at Angel Stadium. It was the Angels' first hit of the night, and he'd finish with two of their five knocks in an 8-1 loss.

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ANAHEIM -- It didn't take Shohei Ohtani long to turn the page on his first hitless start as the Angels' designated hitter.

After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Thursday's loss to the Red Sox, Ohtani delivered a two-out single to center field off right-hander Jeff Samardzija in the second inning of Friday's series opener against the Giants at Angel Stadium. It was the Angels' first hit of the night, and he'd finish with two of their five knocks in an 8-1 loss.

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Samardzija fared better in their second meeting, getting Ohtani to pop out to end the fourth inning. In the sixth against San Francisco right-hander Reyes Moronta, Ohtani flied out to end the inning. He collected another single in the ninth off left-hander Josh Osich.

Ohtani, 23, entered Friday batting .324 with three home runs and 11 RBIs as a left-handed hitter this season.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

You'll never guess who hit 2018's longest HR

Franchy launches longest dinger by a Padre in the Statcast era
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Franchy Cordero has shown an ability to hit for power, as he entered Friday night's game against the D-backs with two home runs in 31 at-bats this season. But in his second time up, he did something to remember.

Cordero blasted a 489-foot solo shot -- the longest in the Major Leagues this year -- off the center-field scoreboard at Chase Field. It put the Padres up 1-0 in the fourth inning. They won 4-1 after scoring three runs in the ninth.

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PHOENIX -- Franchy Cordero has shown an ability to hit for power, as he entered Friday night's game against the D-backs with two home runs in 31 at-bats this season. But in his second time up, he did something to remember.

Cordero blasted a 489-foot solo shot -- the longest in the Major Leagues this year -- off the center-field scoreboard at Chase Field. It put the Padres up 1-0 in the fourth inning. They won 4-1 after scoring three runs in the ninth.

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The homer, which left the bat at 116.3 mph per Statcast™, marked the longest and hardest hit ball by any Padre in the Statcast™ era, as well as the farthest hit ball at Chase Field in that span.

With the blast, Cordero matched his home run total from last season.

Justin Toscano is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Franchy Cordero

Red-hot Baez fuels Cubs' 7-run 6th, rout of Rox

Special to MLB.com

DENVER -- Javier Baez collected four hits and four RBIs, and the Cubs broke open a close game with a seven-run outburst in the sixth inning en route to a 16-5 win over the Rockies in the series opener at Coors Field on Friday night.

Baez started the offense in the first frame with a two-run homer to right -- his sixth of the season. He singled in the third inning and doubled to left and scored in the Cubs' two-run fifth after a replay review that initially had him tagged out at third was overturned.

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DENVER -- Javier Baez collected four hits and four RBIs, and the Cubs broke open a close game with a seven-run outburst in the sixth inning en route to a 16-5 win over the Rockies in the series opener at Coors Field on Friday night.

Baez started the offense in the first frame with a two-run homer to right -- his sixth of the season. He singled in the third inning and doubled to left and scored in the Cubs' two-run fifth after a replay review that initially had him tagged out at third was overturned.

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The Cubs batted around in the sixth, with the first six batters reaching base before the Rockies could record an out. Addison Russell led off with a single to right and Jason Heyward followed with a triple to left-center. Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella walked, and Albert Almora Jr. drove in a run with a bloop single to right. Baez's two-run single was followed by a double to center from Kris Bryant and a two-out three-run homer from Kyle Schwarber, his fourth of the season.

Video: CHC@COL: Schwarber's mammoth three-run home run

"I think they're listening, watching, understanding," manager Joe Maddon said of the Cubs' hitters before the game, feeling they were on the verge of breaking through. "There's always that epiphany that occurs. A seminal moment. Once our guys get there, they're so talented, they are going to take off."

The Cubs knocked out Rockies Opening Day starter Jon Gray in the sixth, leaving him with seven runs (five earned) on his line. They also knocked out Bryan Shaw in the same inning after tagging him for five runs on four hits and a walk.

Six Cubs -- Almora (4), Baez (4), Schwarber (3), Russell (2), Heyward (2), and Bryant (2) -- all had multihit games, with Almora and Baez going 8-for-12 with six runs and five RBIs from the top two spots in the lineup.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks had a solid outing in hitters friendly Coors Field, holding the Rockies to three runs on five hits over five innings. He walked none, hit one batter and struck out six before turning it over to Mike Montgomery, who pitched three innings of one-run ball.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez

Trout crushes AL-leading seventh homer

MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout launched his American League-leading seventh home run of the season in the eighth inning of the Angels' series opener against the Giants on Friday night at Angel Stadium.

Trout crushed an 0-1 fastball from reliever Pierce Johnson to left-center field to cut the Giants' lead to 8-1. The ball flew off his bat at 108 mph and traveled an estimated 414 feet, according to Statcast™.

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ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout launched his American League-leading seventh home run of the season in the eighth inning of the Angels' series opener against the Giants on Friday night at Angel Stadium.

Trout crushed an 0-1 fastball from reliever Pierce Johnson to left-center field to cut the Giants' lead to 8-1. The ball flew off his bat at 108 mph and traveled an estimated 414 feet, according to Statcast™.

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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout

Slumping Yo comes through for Mets in 12th

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ATLANTA -- Yoenis Cespedes, in his own words, is "lost" at the plate. Since April 8, Cespedes has struck out in 44 percent of his plate appearances, including four whiffs in his first five trips to the plate on Friday. He is batting .200 over that stretch. He leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts. Unsure quite how to emerge from this, Cespedes is even considering picking up golf, a hobby he swore off late last season.

With that as a backdrop, Mets manager Mickey Callaway keeps sticking Cespedes in his starting lineup. Why wouldn't he? Even at the depths of his struggles, Cespedes has found a way to contribute, singling home the go-ahead run in the 12th inning on Friday to lift the Mets to a 5-3 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park. It was Cespedes' third go-ahead hit in that same 12-game stretch that has seen him struggle so deeply.

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ATLANTA -- Yoenis Cespedes, in his own words, is "lost" at the plate. Since April 8, Cespedes has struck out in 44 percent of his plate appearances, including four whiffs in his first five trips to the plate on Friday. He is batting .200 over that stretch. He leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts. Unsure quite how to emerge from this, Cespedes is even considering picking up golf, a hobby he swore off late last season.

With that as a backdrop, Mets manager Mickey Callaway keeps sticking Cespedes in his starting lineup. Why wouldn't he? Even at the depths of his struggles, Cespedes has found a way to contribute, singling home the go-ahead run in the 12th inning on Friday to lift the Mets to a 5-3 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park. It was Cespedes' third go-ahead hit in that same 12-game stretch that has seen him struggle so deeply.

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"I don't think he worries about what's happened," Callaway said. "He just comes here to play baseball. You can tell he loves it. And that approach usually ends up working out in the long run."

Unable to convert on earlier rallies, the Mets received a spark when Braves reliever Josh Ravin hit Robert Gsellman with a pitch to open the 12th. Gsellman moved to second on a bunt, then scored when Cespedes grounded a single into right field. One batter later, Asdrubal Cabrera added an insurance run with an RBI single.

Video: NYM@ATL: Braves challenge tag play at second in 12th

Already sporting two shutout innings on his ledger, Gsellman gave way to Jeurys Familia, who pitched a perfect bottom of the 12th for the save.

"I just try to focus myself, and forget about whatever happened before," Cespedes said of his knack for collecting key RBIs despite the slump. "I just tried to hit the ball, and that's what I did."

Video: NYM@ATL: Familia gets Bourjos out, picks up the save

In the past, when faced with slumps, Cespedes would rise early, grab his golf clubs and head to a local course in whatever city the Mets happened to be in. Golfing, Cespedes says, helped him establish the muscle memory of keeping his hands tight to his body, preventing his shoulder from flying open during baseball swings.

But when a photographer spotted Cespedes playing while nursing a quadriceps injury two years ago, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson called it "bad optics." A year later, Cespedes vowed to quit. For the first time in his career, he is instead watching video of his at-bats, trying to visualize the mechanical tweaks he used to make on the course.

Cespedes doesn't feel it's working; frustrated by his slump, Cespedes says he is considering playing golf again -- something the Mets won't mind if it coincides with an increase in his production. For most of Friday's win, they again relied on other players, turning an Amed Rosario RBI double, a Michael Conforto sacrifice fly and a Wilmer Flores run-scoring single into a 3-2 lead for Noah Syndergaard.

Video: NYM@ATL: Flores drives in Frazier with a single

But Syndergaard, who allowed his first run on an Ozzie Albies homer in the first inning, gave back the lead on a Ryan Flaherty RBI double in the fourth inning and a Kurt Suzuki sac fly in the sixth. The Mets and Braves traded zeros for five more innings before Cespedes came through in the 12th.

"I'm kind of disappointed and frustrated with how I've been throwing ever since the season started," said Syndergaard, who received a no-decision. "I feel like I've had some pretty dominant stuff but haven't done much dominating."

Video: NYM@ATL: Albies homers on Thor's 99.6-mph heater

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Gsellman became the first pitcher to earn the win and score the game-winning run in extra innings since Matt Albers two years ago. In addition to scoring after Ravin brushed his jersey with a pitch to lead off the 12th, Gsellman delivered two shutout innings, striking out Preston Tucker with two men on base and two outs in the 11th.

Video: NYM@ATL: Gsellman fans Tucker and leaves two on base

"It was a great team win," Gsellman said. "It was fun to be out there on the bases and run."

Video: NYM@ATL: Gsellman gets hit by a pitch in the 12th

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mets catchers were 0-for-21 attempting to throw out basestealers before Tomas Nido nailed Flaherty at second base in the seventh inning, ensuring Flaherty's leadoff walk would result in no damage. Although the Mets had caught two prior basestealers, both were the result of pitcher pickoff throws to first base. No other Major League team entered Friday with more than 15 stolen bases against it.

"It's awesome to get that speed off those bases," Nido said. "It definitely feels really good. And to help out the team feels really good." 

Video: NYM@ATL: Lugo fans Camargo, Nido throws out Flaherty

HE SAID IT
"I'm definitely the fastest pitcher. … Noah's not even close." -- Gsellman, who scored from second base on Cespedes' single

Tweet from @Mets: Who is the fastest pitcher on the team? @robgsellman, @Noahsyndergaard talk amongst yourselves. 😂😂 #MetsWin pic.twitter.com/x17xqOBtyy

"He actually said that? He mentioned my name? He's not the fastest pitcher. That's a joke for him to say that. I'm going to have to reprimand him tonight, make him sit there for a little bit, make him think about what he's done. Send him to his room. Take away his Christmas presents." -- Syndergaard

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Twice in three innings, Flores made an out on the bases. The second of those instances occurred in the sixth, when Flores attempted to score from first on Jay Bruce's double (which snapped an 0-for-19). Although Tucker's throw from left field was off-line, catcher Kurt Suzuki sprawled out to tag Flores just before he touched home plate. Callaway challenged, but the call was upheld.

Video: NYM@ATL: Mets challenge play at the plate in the 6th

UP NEXT
The last time Jacob deGrom took the mound, he became the first Mets starter to throw a pitch in the eighth inning of a game. Although the Mets ultimately lost, deGrom will seek similar efficiency when he starts tonight at 7:10 ET at SunTrust Park. Julio Teheran gets the nod for the Braves.

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

New York Mets, Yoenis Cespedes

JV, bats sizzle as Astros cruise past White Sox

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

CHICAGO -- There was dominant starting pitching, of course. There were a couple of big swings of the bat by Carlos Correa and a mad dash around the bases by George Springer. The Astros are back to playing their brand of baseball.

Justin Verlander tossed six scoreless innings to win his 10th consecutive regular-season decision and Correa homered twice to lead the Astros to their fourth consecutive victory, 10-0, over the White Sox in the series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday night.

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CHICAGO -- There was dominant starting pitching, of course. There were a couple of big swings of the bat by Carlos Correa and a mad dash around the bases by George Springer. The Astros are back to playing their brand of baseball.

Justin Verlander tossed six scoreless innings to win his 10th consecutive regular-season decision and Correa homered twice to lead the Astros to their fourth consecutive victory, 10-0, over the White Sox in the series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday night.

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"That was one of our best games, obviously, in all facets," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We made some pretty good defensive plays, we swung the bats. We've been pitching like this almost the entire year. A really good night for us."

Video: HOU@CWS: Correa launches a pair of home runs

Verlander (3-0) improved to 10-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last 13 regular-season starts, including 8-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 10 starts with the Astros. He has yet to allow a run on the road this season, a stretch totaling 19 innings. Astros starting pitchers are 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA in the team's last eight games, striking out 72 in 56 innings.

"That's what we talked about in spring," Verlander said. "Every guy has the ability to go out there and shut an offense down, and over the course of the season that plays pretty well. I don't know if anybody expected us to start off this well, but we probably did. It's fun to be a part of."

White Sox starter James Shields held the Astros scoreless for three innings before Houston broke through with five runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run double by Springer, who ended up scoring on the play when an errant throw to the plate hit Marwin Gonzalez as Gonzalez was sliding home.

Video: HOU@CWS: Springer races home for Little League dinger

"That's a long run from home to home on a dead sprint, but it's all good. I'm glad to help the team," said Springer, who drove in four runs.

Another two-run double by Springer and a two-run homer by Correa in the sixth pushed the lead to 9-0, marking the second consecutive game Houston has scored nine runs. Correa homered again in the ninth. The Astros have scored 26 runs in their past three games, one more than in their previous seven games combined.

"We feel good," Correa said. "We've been swinging the bat better. It was about time. We had a sluggish week last week I feel like and this is what we like to do, this is what we do as a team when we put great at-bats together. Hopefully we can keep it rolling."

Video: HOU@CWS: Springer lines a two-run double to right

Yuli might not be the best Gurriel we'll see in 2018

SOUND SMART
Astros catcher Brian McCann, who had two walks and a hit Friday, has a .490 on-base percentage this season. His career high is .388 in 2006.

HE SAID IT
"You know, after the way he had been jubilant about some of the other things, I was just as jubilant about that. Very thankful he gave me an out."
-- Verlander, who took offense to Chicago's Tim Anderson celebrating a single in the fifth and then running to second on a 3-0 count. Verlander tried to pick off Anderson at second and wound up getting Omar Narvaez, who had walked, out at second base instead.

Video: HOU@CWS: Verlander, Altuve team up for strange out

UP NEXT
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (0-3, 3.52 ERA) will start Saturday's 6:10 p.m. CT game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, facing Lucas Giolito. Keuchel is searching for his first win, but threw a complete game in his most recent outing Monday at Seattle.

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

Houston Astros

Giants bats erupt as Samardzija wins debut

Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- The Giants used a fresh face and a night with the designated hitter to get the kind of offense they have been yearning for in an 8-1 victory Friday over the Angels.

In his first game with the Giants this season, after replacing an injured Hunter Pence (thumb) on the roster, Mac Williamson blistered a two-run home run to get things rolling in a six-run fifth inning.

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ANAHEIM -- The Giants used a fresh face and a night with the designated hitter to get the kind of offense they have been yearning for in an 8-1 victory Friday over the Angels.

In his first game with the Giants this season, after replacing an injured Hunter Pence (thumb) on the roster, Mac Williamson blistered a two-run home run to get things rolling in a six-run fifth inning.

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Designated hitter Andrew McCutchen added a towering three-run home run later in the inning, making the Giants look nothing like the team that had scored one run or fewer in 10 of its first 18 games.

The 10 games with one run or less was easily the most in baseball. The Tigers and Astros were next with six. The Giants' 51 runs entering the series were the fewest among all 30 clubs.

In his first start of the season, Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija was sharp, giving up just two hits over five innings while throwing 80 pitches. He did walk four batters. Samardzija started the season on the disabled list with a right pectoral strain.

It proved to be an ideal location for the veteran to launch into the season having posted a 2.87 ERA in two previous outings at Anaheim.

Video: SF@LAA: McCutchen skies a three-run homer to left

The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Nick Hundley home run, his first of the year. Williamson added his first homer three innings later on a 3-1 sinker from Angels starter Andrew Heaney.

It was just the second left-handed pitcher the right-handed hitting Williamson had faced since the start of the season. He had just one at-bat against a lefty while at Triple-A Sacramento, before facing Heaney.

McCutchen's home run was his third of the season and broke things wide open, while knocking Heaney from the game. Heaney gave up seven runs on six hits with two walks in 4 1/3 innings, making his second start after opening the year on the DL with elbow inflammation.

The Giants weren't just crushing the ball during their big fifth inning. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson delivered back-to-back bunt singles in the frame, while Austin Jackson added an RBI single.

The Giants entered having lost five of their previous six games, and seven of their previous nine on the road.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants

Tigers make young fan's day with ASG tickets

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Kyle Van Houten thought he was headed to Comerica Park to catch a Friday night game with his parents. He had no idea Michael Fulmer would be receiving his ceremonial first pitch, or that nearly two dozen family and friends would be with him for it.

"I thought it would be good," said the young resident of Howell, Mich., "but I didn't think it could possibly be this good."

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DETROIT -- Kyle Van Houten thought he was headed to Comerica Park to catch a Friday night game with his parents. He had no idea Michael Fulmer would be receiving his ceremonial first pitch, or that nearly two dozen family and friends would be with him for it.

"I thought it would be good," said the young resident of Howell, Mich., "but I didn't think it could possibly be this good."

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Van Houten was even more surprised when the Tigers' All-Star grabbed the microphone on the field.

"Enjoy your trip to this year's All-Star Game," Fulmer said as teammates Victor Martinez, Jose Iglesias and Francisco Liriano joined them in front of the dugout, complete with a giant ticket to the July 17 Midsummer Classic at Nationals Park and a flight to Washington, D.C.

"I wasn't nervous about the first pitch, but everything that happened after," Kyle said before the Tigers' 3-2 loss to the Royals in Game 2 of a doubleheader.

The evening was in honor of Make-A-Wish's World Wish Day, celebrated on April 29. Make-A-Wish has launched a month-long campaign to grant as many wishes as possible, highlighting how a wish can give people the mental strength to battle illness.

For Van Houten, the All-Star Game is the completion of a baseball journey that has taken him to every Major League park over the last decade. What began with a love of baseball became a journey that has helped lift him through his battle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

"It definitely makes it worth it, all the struggles I've had to go through, to have moments like this," Van Houten said.

His love of baseball began, of course, with Tigers games, begging his parents to let him stay up and watch Justin Verlander try to finish off a no-hit bid. They went to games at Comerica Park, which led them to go to games when they traveled east to visit family in New Jersey. Sometimes they'd catch a game in New York, sometimes Pittsburgh, sometimes Philadelphia.

Video: KC@DET: Fulmer on strong start in Game 1, giving back

"When we started this, he hadn't even been diagnosed," his father, Keith Van Houten, said.

As Kyle's battle began, his love for the game grew stronger. They'd plan his visits to his specialist in Cincinnati around Reds homestands so they could catch a game. When his older brother, Jack, did a bicycle ride through the Midwest to raise money for MD research, they saw the Twins, Brewers and White Sox along the way.

As the condition progressed, the trips became more important. Keith and Julie Van Houten marveled at how vividly Kyle could remember even minute details from each game, each park.

"We didn't know the whole baseball plan," his mother said. "We didn't know how crazy he'd get into it."

Along the way, they found a player who felt the same about their cause. Rick Porcello met Kyle and his family through a mutual acquaintance eight years ago. Porcello was pitching for the Tigers at the time and he took a keen interest, inviting Van Houten to games, bringing him to the clubhouse to meet players, and keeping in touch. Their friendship continued after Porcello was traded to the Red Sox.

"He's been an inspiration," Julie Van Houten said. "We were sad to see him leave, but we still love the Tigers."

The Tigers, too, have kept involved with the cause.

The final stop on their ballpark tour was Wrigley Field last summer, before Kyle began classes at Bowling Green State University. He's a business major at BGSU, but he hosts a baseball show on the campus radio station.

"He's 18 already, and he's going to finish his first year at college," Julie Van Houten said. "We're so proud of him. It's just amazing."

Keith picked him up from Bowling Green earlier on Friday. Their trip up I-75 included a lengthy discussion of Kyle's ideas for rules changes in baseball, from expanded rosters to pace of play.

He had a lot more to discuss on the way home, including planning at least one more baseball trip.

"We've had a lot of struggles. He's had a lot of struggles to deal with," Keith said. "But there's been good times as well, and today's one of them. We can't thank the Tigers and Make-A-Wish enough for what they've done."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer, Jose Iglesias, Victor Martinez

Hungry? MLB FoodFest is every fan's dream

Inaugural event offers delectable concessions from all 30 clubs
MLB.com @feinsand

NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera spent his entire two-decade career pitching in ballparks around the Majors, but until Friday night, the legendary closer didn't realize just how much he missed over the years.

Rivera was among the celebrities in attendance at Opening Night of the MLB FoodFest, a weekend-long event on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan that features one signature concession item from each of the league's 30 teams.

NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera spent his entire two-decade career pitching in ballparks around the Majors, but until Friday night, the legendary closer didn't realize just how much he missed over the years.

Rivera was among the celebrities in attendance at Opening Night of the MLB FoodFest, a weekend-long event on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan that features one signature concession item from each of the league's 30 teams.

"I thought there would be more junk food, but it's not," Rivera said after stopping at a few different stands to sample some of the offerings. "It's interesting. I'm going to enjoy this."

In the mood for a New England Lobster Roll from Fenway Park, Cheddar Beer Bratwurst from Miller Park and a Churro Dog from Chase Field? That would normally require a lot of flying -- and some precise scheduling -- but at MLB FoodFest, those items - and 27 more - were all available in the same room.

The item that drew the most attention? The toasted grasshoppers from Safeco Field, of course.

"I've never had a chance to taste all that stuff; today I got to taste it -- and it's good!" Rivera said. "I don't know about those grasshoppers, but the rest of the stuff is amazing."

Each team was given a concession stand in the room, allowing fans to taste one item after another.

"They did a nice job creating a ballpark-like feel with the walk-up stands," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Maybe the best part of the whole thing has been the effort the clubs put into deciding exactly how the club was going to be represented. It's exciting for us. It gives us a chance to maybe attract some people that are not in our traditional hardcore fan base and maybe they see how good the food is and they consume a little baseball, too."

Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was also on hand for Opening Night, joining Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch, 10-time Nathan's Hot Dog eating champion Joey Chestnut and supermodel Christie Brinkley, whose "Bellissima" prosecco was also being served at the weekend event.

"This is unbelievable, man," Ortiz said. "As a player, you get involved into the game all the time. You don't know what's going on outside the clubhouse. Some of us would discover some type of food that is going on and sometimes between practice and the game, some guys would order some food. But seeing pretty much everything, I feel bad that I retired because I didn't know what was going on in these stadiums."

Ortiz jumped behind the Red Sox concession stand to hand out Lobster Rolls, while Rivera did the same at the Yankees station, serving "Adobo Bao" (chicken and pork rinds in a bun) to fans. Finch handed out "Cheeto-Lote" (corn covered with chipotle mayo, parmesan, tajin and Flamin' Hot Cheetos) at the Dodgers stand, going back to her Los Angeles roots.

"This is like a dream," said Finch, who listed the classic Dodger Dog as her favorite ballpark food. "I grew up in ballparks as a Dodger fan. The best part is eating, enjoying and finding all these food from all different areas -- it's so much fun."

Tweet from @JennieFinch: Too fun! Thanks #MLBFoodFest for my Dream night! The best of every Ball Park food in one building! My ������ language! @MLB pic.twitter.com/kFAn4D7ofS

Rivera opted not to try the Seattle grasshoppers, but both Ortiz and Finch thrust their fears aside and tried something new.

"I went for it," Finch said. "They had a light, crunchy spice kind of flavor."

"I got myself prepared to try one," Ortiz said. "It's like sunflower seeds, basically. It's crazy."

Tweet from @Feinsand: Gotta love David Ortiz taking a selfie with Mariano Rivera and Commissioner Rob Manfred. #MLBFoodFest pic.twitter.com/8PL17qzaVq

Each club designated one concession item to represent them at MLB FoodFest, including Cleveland's "Flamethrower" pulled pork sandwich, Oakland's "Monte Khrush Davis Cristo" sandwich and the aforementioned Yankees and Brewers offerings, all of which were introduced at their respective ballparks for the first time this season.

"If you think about all the great ballpark foods that we're used to -- the popcorn, the peanuts, the Cracker Jacks -- those are still baseball staples," said Barbara McHugh, MLB's senior vice president of marketing. "But we thought, why not bring all 30 ballparks and a favorite food selection from each of those unique ballparks here under one roof?"

In addition to the food available, MLB FoodFest features interactive exhibits and art, including the Hot Dog Room presented by Nathan's Famous, the official hot dog of MLB. There's also a Popcorn Pit, a Clubhouse Bar serving craft and light beer selections from Anheuser-Busch and a great baseball-themed lounge to eat and drink. Fans attending the event are encouraged to post their experience and images with #MLBFoodFest.

"The whole goal was to make it an interactive, immersive experience for fans," McHugh said. "Fun; really an Instagrammable, social experience."

For more information, visit mlb.com/foodfest.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.

Farquhar faints in dugout, taken to hospital

Veteran reliever responsive after losing consciousness after working 6th inning
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar fainted in the dugout after completing the top of the 6th inning of Friday's 10-0 loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field. He was attended to immediately by White Sox medical personnel and EMTs, and regained consciousness by the time he left the ballpark with the EMTs.

The veteran reliever was taken by ambulance to Rush University Medical Center, where he's receiving treatment and undergoing further testing.

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CHICAGO -- White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar fainted in the dugout after completing the top of the 6th inning of Friday's 10-0 loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field. He was attended to immediately by White Sox medical personnel and EMTs, and regained consciousness by the time he left the ballpark with the EMTs.

The veteran reliever was taken by ambulance to Rush University Medical Center, where he's receiving treatment and undergoing further testing.

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"That was pretty scary, to be honest with you," said White Sox starting pitcher James Shields, whom Farquhar replaced in the sixth after Shields threw 111 pitches. "I don't really know the full extent of the situation to be honest with you.

"I do know he wasn't conscious when he left [the dugout]. But from what I'm hearing right now, he's responding to questions. So we're all praying for him. Good news is he's responding. We don't know how serious it is. We'll find out later."

Aaron Bummer was warming up in the bullpen and eventually replaced Farquhar to start the seventh. He didn't see what happened with Farquhar but knew something was going on because Farquhar apparently was planning on going back into the game.

"Then as soon as the inning started we got a phone call that said I was going into the game," Bummer said. "It's really scary, man. He's in our thoughts and prayers.

"Hopefully everything is OK. We have a lot of questions and not many answers. But we can hope for the best and hope that he's back with us tomorrow. You never want anything like that to happen on the field or off the field to anybody you know. It's always a scary situation."

When asked if players planned to go visit Farquhar, Bummer pointed out most of the players had just come in off the field and still were processing what happened. White Sox manager Rick Renteria hoped to have more information on Farquhar by Saturday, with the health of a valued teammate far more important than any on-field result.

"It takes your breath away a little bit," Renteria said. "One of your guys is down there and you have no idea what's going on. The medical staff was there right away the whole time and you know they called into the EMTs and somebody was already caring for him before they even got up.

"As I was made aware, he was conscious as he was leaving with the EMTs. When one of your teammates or anybody you know has an episode, even if it's not a teammate, something is going on, you realize everything else you keep in perspective. Everything has its place. It's one of our guys, so we are glad he was conscious when he left here.

"Your focus shifts from what's going on on the field," Renteria added. "Everybody was there and aware of what was going on. But at the end of the day, I don't know that we panicked. We were just watching him and making sure that they were trying to get him back to consciousness."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Danny Farquhar

Bryce keys 2-run first vs. Kershaw to back Max

Harper laces RBI single and scores on Zimmerman's double
MLB.com @JamalCollier

LOS ANGELES -- The Nationals entered Friday night's marquee matchup with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw looking to be aggressive at the plate. Three pitches in, they put a run on the board to back Max Scherzer.

Trea Turner began the game with a double on Kershaw's first pitch. Howie Kendrick flied out to center field on the next pitch, advancing Turner to third. Then, with the infield drawn in, Bryce Harper roped a single into right field on the third pitch for his 19th RBI of the season.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Nationals entered Friday night's marquee matchup with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw looking to be aggressive at the plate. Three pitches in, they put a run on the board to back Max Scherzer.

Trea Turner began the game with a double on Kershaw's first pitch. Howie Kendrick flied out to center field on the next pitch, advancing Turner to third. Then, with the infield drawn in, Bryce Harper roped a single into right field on the third pitch for his 19th RBI of the season.

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After a wild pitch put Harper on second, Ryan Zimmerman doubled him home to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead.

Video: WSH@LAD: Zimmerman plates Harper with an RBI double

Turner's double was a 112.3-mph rope into the left-field corner. It's the hardest extra-base hit of Turner's career and the hardest extra-base hit Kershaw has surrendered since Statcast™ began tracking that data in 2015. 

Harper entered the game 2-for-23 in his career against Kershaw, with 14 strikeouts and a home run. But the Nats' game plan against the lefty paid off early.

"For me, you got to be aggressive," manager Dave Martinez said prior to the game. "He'll be in the strike zone, so get a good pitch you can hit. He's not going to give up very many runs, but when you get the opportunity, you've got to capitalize on it."

It appeared as if the Dodgers carried the same game plan to begin the bottom of the first against Scherzer when Chris Taylor hammered a triple off the wall in right-center field on the first pitch. Scherzer's second pitch hit Corey Seager, and the Dodgers looked poised to cut into the Nationals' lead. But Scherzer induced an infield popup from Yasmani Grandal before striking out Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson to escape the jam.

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman