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Brewers ride early surge to 7-game win streak

Special to MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Travis Shaw hit a three-run homer and Lorenzo Cain homered in his Kansas City return as the Brewers won their seventh straight -- 5-2 over the Royals on Tuesday night.

Milwaukee jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third with some clutch two-out offense. Ryan Braun's RBI single that opened the scoring was a wicked shot off the right foot of Royals starter Ian Kennedy. After taking a few warmup tosses, Kennedy stayed in and Shaw promptly delivered three-run shot to right-center that traveled a projected 437 feet, according to Statcast™. Kennedy did not return for the fourth and sustained a right foot contusion.

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KANSAS CITY -- Travis Shaw hit a three-run homer and Lorenzo Cain homered in his Kansas City return as the Brewers won their seventh straight -- 5-2 over the Royals on Tuesday night.

Milwaukee jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third with some clutch two-out offense. Ryan Braun's RBI single that opened the scoring was a wicked shot off the right foot of Royals starter Ian Kennedy. After taking a few warmup tosses, Kennedy stayed in and Shaw promptly delivered three-run shot to right-center that traveled a projected 437 feet, according to Statcast™. Kennedy did not return for the fourth and sustained a right foot contusion.

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Video: MIL@KC: Braun rips an RBI single off Kennedy

The Royals chipped within 4-2 on Salvador Perez's solo homer and a sacrifice fly by Alcides Escobar. But after the Brewers had been stymied by rookie Burch Smith for three innings, it was Cain showing a flair for the dramatic.

Cain, who helped the Royals win the 2015 World Series, led off the seventh with a homer to right-center and received cheers from some Royals' fans as he circled the bases.

Video: MIL@KC: Cain homers in return to Kansas City

Brewers starter Zach Davies worked six innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs while evening his record at 2-2. The Royals fell to 5-16.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 4.18 ERA) will look to build on his impressive outing on Friday when he starts the series finale against the Royals on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Chacin worked six scoreless innings against the Marlins, allowing four hits while striking out five and walking three. Chacin will face a stout mound opponent in Kansas City right-hander Jason Hammel, who is winless despite a 3.20 ERA.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Zach Davies, Travis Shaw

Simmons homers twice as Halos outslug Astros

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- One day after sitting out to rest a sore forearm, shortstop Andrelton Simmons bounced back in dramatic fashion, homering twice and recording five RBIs in the Angels' 8-7 comeback win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Angels, who survived a mediocre outing from two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, have won the first two contests of the three-game series with the Astros and moved a half-game ahead of them into first place in the American League West standings. It also marked the Angels' 11th straight road victory.

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HOUSTON -- One day after sitting out to rest a sore forearm, shortstop Andrelton Simmons bounced back in dramatic fashion, homering twice and recording five RBIs in the Angels' 8-7 comeback win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Angels, who survived a mediocre outing from two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, have won the first two contests of the three-game series with the Astros and moved a half-game ahead of them into first place in the American League West standings. It also marked the Angels' 11th straight road victory.

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Ohtani yielded four runs and five walks over 5 1/3 innings, throwing a season-high 98 pitches.

Simmons, playing for the first time since a hit by pitch knocked him out in the fourth inning of Sunday's game against the Giants, recorded three hits. None was bigger than his go-ahead three-run homer off Houston reliever Joe Smith in the seventh inning to give the Angels an 8-5 lead.

The home run occurred just after Albert Pujols logged his 2,993rd career hit -- an RBI single that tied the game at five.

Simmons' leadoff shot in the second gave the Angels a 2-0 advantage. He also singled in the third.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Angels, Andrelton Simmons

BREAKING: Beltre strains left hamstring

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers suffered another significant injury when third baseman Adrian Beltre sustained a strained left hamstring in the eighth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Athletics on Wednesday.

Beltre will undergo an MRI on Wednesday and be re-evaluated. But the Rangers are clearly bracing for the possibility of losing Beltre for an extended period of time.

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers suffered another significant injury when third baseman Adrian Beltre sustained a strained left hamstring in the eighth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Athletics on Wednesday.

Beltre will undergo an MRI on Wednesday and be re-evaluated. But the Rangers are clearly bracing for the possibility of losing Beltre for an extended period of time.

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"It's not feeling great but we'll know more tomorrow after the MRI," Beltre said.

The Rangers are already without second baseman Rougned Odor, who will at least a couple more weeks with a strained left hamstring, and Elvis Andrus, who will likely be out until June with a fracture in his right elbow. They just got back Delino DeShields on Sunday after missing three weeks with a broken bone in his left wrist. Now this.

"Obviously disappointed because we already have other key players hurt," Beltre said. "It's no secret we have been struggling offensively and trying to find a way to get through it. I'm supposed to be one of the guys who is getting better and now this happens."

The Rangers have two options at the Major League level to replace Beltre. Joey Gallo's primary position in the Minor Leagues was third base although he was focused on first base in Spring Training and has since moved to left field because of other injuries. Renato Nunez, who was acquired off waivers from the Athletics last week, has also played more third base than other positions in his career.

The Rangers don't have a true third baseman at Triple A Round Rock. Hanser Alberto is their most experienced infielder at Round Rock but he plays mainly middle infielder. If they go with Nunez or Gallo, it could mean calling up an extra outfielder, either Ryan Rua, Willie Calhoun or Destin Hood.

"Listen there are tough times in sports," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We talk about it all the time, the inherent dangers on the field of play. For that group of players in the clubhouse, I feel for all of them. They go out there and battle and play hard and grind through adversity. To lose the number of players we have, it's tough, it's gut-wrenching. But I will continue to say this. We will continue to play hard. There is no quit. We will continue to fight."

This is the same hamstring that limited Beltre at the end of last season. The Rangers were careful with him in Spring Training and Beltre said he has been feeling great since then.

But that all changed in the eighth inning. Beltre came to bat with Shin-Soo Choo on first and two outs, and lined what should have been a double into the right-center gap. While Choo was circling the bases, Beltre pulled up immediately and had to painfully hobble his way to first base.

"I hit the ball, started to jog to first," Beltre said. "The fourth step I felt it grab."

There was no hesitation. Beltre was immediately pulled from the game. Now the Rangers wait and it's not likely to be good news.

"Like I said, it's not feeling great but we'll wait until the MRI to see what is going on in there," Beltre said.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre

Schwarber's 2 HRs lift Cubs in '16 WS rematch

MLB.com @castrovince

CLEVELAND -- Even if this hadn't been the building in which the Cubs enjoyed a champagne celebration 108 years in the making back in 2016, Progressive Field would rate as a pretty special place for Kyle Schwarber.

It's the ballpark where Schwarber notched his first big league hit and his first home run in 2015. It's the ballpark where he returned from a torn ACL to serve as the Cubs' dynamo DH in that fascinating '16 Fall Classic. And on Tuesday night, it was the ballpark where his two home runs keyed a dinger derby off Tribe starter Josh Tomlin in a 10-3 victory. As a steady rain fell on the Indians and Cubs, conjuring up memories of the last time they had met on this field, Schwarber, who came in swinging a hot bat, brought the thunder and lightning with his fifth and sixth homers of the young season.

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CLEVELAND -- Even if this hadn't been the building in which the Cubs enjoyed a champagne celebration 108 years in the making back in 2016, Progressive Field would rate as a pretty special place for Kyle Schwarber.

It's the ballpark where Schwarber notched his first big league hit and his first home run in 2015. It's the ballpark where he returned from a torn ACL to serve as the Cubs' dynamo DH in that fascinating '16 Fall Classic. And on Tuesday night, it was the ballpark where his two home runs keyed a dinger derby off Tribe starter Josh Tomlin in a 10-3 victory. As a steady rain fell on the Indians and Cubs, conjuring up memories of the last time they had met on this field, Schwarber, who came in swinging a hot bat, brought the thunder and lightning with his fifth and sixth homers of the young season.

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"He's from Ohio, right?" Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Schwarber. "Obviously, he sees the ball well here. The first time he showed up it was his premiere. That was all adrenaline. The World Series was adrenaline. And right now he's been swinging the bat well. So he shows up in Cleveland at the right times."

At 117.1 mph, Schwarber's solo shot on a 2-1 offering from Tomlin in the second inning had the fifth-highest exit velocity of any home run tracked by Statcast™ so far in 2018. In fact, Schwarber's blast into the right-field seats was the hardest hit of any kind by a Cubs player since Statcast™ began tracking in '15. He broke his own club record for hardest homer set with a 114.3-mph shot last Sept. 19.

Video: CHC@CLE: Schwarber ropes solo home run to right field

"I hit it right on a good spot on a changeup there," Schwarber said. "I was able to put a good swing on it."

Schwarber's second homer, leading off the fourth inning, was of the high, arching variety, but it was still a prodigious 407-foot poke that gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead.

Video: CHC@CLE: Schwarber launches second homer of the game

Backing a solid effort from Tyler Chatwood, who earned his first victory as a Cub, the North Siders had runs aplenty in this ballgame, with Willson Contreras and Ian Happ also going deep off Tomlin to knock him out before the end of the fourth. But it was Schwarber's success that stood out in this season in which his slimmed-down body and need for a bounceback bat have been such narrative focal points.

Video: CHC@CLE: Contreras cranks solo home run to left field

If you're scoring at home, Schwarber has made this place his home. He's played just seven career games at Progressive Field, counting the World Series, and he's gone 15-for-30 with three homers, a double, a triple and three walks in that small sample.

"I always thought this was a good park to hit in," Schwarber said. "I guess I just hit well here. I don't know."

Video: CHC@CLE: Happ hits opposite-field homer down the line

But the Middletown, Ohio, native doesn't need to return to his Buckeye roots to rip hits these days. Schwarber came into this two-game set with hits in 12 of his previous 29 at-bats, raising his season average from .172 to .293 in the process and inspiring hope that he can have the kind of offensive impact he provided in his rousing rookie year -- a year in which Progressive Field served as his personal launching pad.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The fifth inning has been quite a bugaboo for Cubs pitchers this season. The 11.84 fifth-inning ERA they took into Tuesday's tilt was by far the highest in the big leagues, and it's a big reason why Cubs starters have had so much trouble going deep into ballgames (they entered averaging just 5.12 innings per start).

So when Chatwood, staked to a 5-1 lead, surrendered a leadoff walk to Roberto Perez in the fifth inning (one of five walks allowed by Chatwood on this night), it looked like a sticky situation. But Chatwood got Bradley Zimmer and Rajai Davis to strike out in succession, then got Francisco Lindor to ground out to escape the inning unscathed. He would go on to face just one batter in the seventh (a Tyler Naquin single), but he became the first Cubs starter this season to pitch into the seventh.

"I don't feel like I was very sharp," Chatwood said. "Obviously, I need to clean up my walks still. But I was able to battle and keep us in the game. I guess you can't complain anytime you win a game."

Video: CHC@CLE: Chatwood fans Davis for his fifth strikeout

SOUND SMART
The Cubs' 48 runs in innings seven through nine this season are the most of any National League club.

HE SAID IT
"We're still in that mode of utilizing the whole field. I hope that doesn't end until 2019 Spring Training and we can work on it again, because this is the approach we're looking for." -- Maddon, on a Cubs lineup that has scored 19 runs over the past two games

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Davis didn't get to the Cubs this time. When the Indians' left fielder, who hit the game-tying homer in Game 7 in 2016, tried to score from second on a Jose Ramirez single to right field with two outs in the third, right fielder Jason Heyward made a great throw to Contreras, who applied the tag as Davis slid across the plate headfirst. The Indians challenged the call that Davis was out, but the call stood following a replay review.

Video: CHC@CLE: Heyward cuts down Davis with perfect throw

The Cubs also won a challenge in the second inning when Naquin was ruled safe after a Chatwood pickoff attempt. The call was overturned upon replay review for the third out of the inning.

Video: CHC@CLE: Chatwood nabs Naquin at first after review

UP NEXT
The Cubs wrap their brief return to Progressive Field with Wednesday's 6:10 p.m. CT game against the Indians. Jon Lester will return to the scene where he was last seen throwing three relief innings in an epic Game 7, opposing Trevor Bauer. The Cubs are hoping Kris Bryant, who was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday night after getting hit in the head by a pitch Sunday in Colorado, will be back at third base.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Schwarber

Granderson launches walk-off homer vs. Kimbrel

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' first series of the year against the Red Sox is going to be used as a measuring stick to see how they match up with arguably the top team in the American League East. Curtis Granderson and J.A. Happ made sure they passed the first test with flying colors.

Granderson threw out the potential go-ahead run in top of the ninth inning and then hit a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Blue Jays overcame Roberto Osuna's first blown save of the year in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' first series of the year against the Red Sox is going to be used as a measuring stick to see how they match up with arguably the top team in the American League East. Curtis Granderson and J.A. Happ made sure they passed the first test with flying colors.

Granderson threw out the potential go-ahead run in top of the ninth inning and then hit a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Blue Jays overcame Roberto Osuna's first blown save of the year in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

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Happ came away with a no-decision, but he played a big role in the win by limiting Boston's offense to one run over seven strong innings.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson gets doused twice after walk-off

"I'm trying to just do anything I can to help the team win and put ourselves in an opportunity to win," said Granderson, who has eight RBIs over his last five games. "Starting in right, starting in center, starting in left, trying to get on base, I'm just trying to do the little things, because this team has such a great ability to come up in big situations."

It was the fourth walk-off home run of Granderson's career, and it came on a 2-0 fastball from Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. Toronto picked up its second walk-off victory of the year and improved to 2-0 in extra-innings games this season. Granderson went 3-for-5 with his third home run of the season.

Tuesday's game marked the first of 18 games between the two clubs. The Red Sox, along with the Yankees, have long been considered the favorites in the division, but the Blue Jays have been turning a few heads with their early season play. The victory in the series opener ensured that Toronto will finish March/April with at least a .500 record, something that hasn't happened since 2012.

Video: BOS@TOR: Gibbons on Happ's outing, win in extras

One win might not seem like much, but it's a symbolic victory for a Blue Jays team that entered this game having lost eight consecutive games to Boston at Rogers Centre. Last season, Toronto was outscored 107-75 by the Red Sox, and its -32 run differential vs. the Sox was the organization's lowest since posting a -51 against the Rays in 2012. Something has to change if the Blue Jays are going to be taken seriously in the division, and Tuesday was a good start.

Happ never had multiple baserunners at any point during his fifth start of the year. He frequently used his four-seam fastball up in the zone to generate swing and miss from the Red Sox as he picked up double digit strikeouts for the first time since Aug. 2, 2017, vs. the White Sox. The 35-year-old averaged 92.7 mph with the four seamer while mixing in his slider and curveball combo 20 times in his strongest outing of the year.

Video: BOS@TOR: Happ strikes out 10 over seven innings

"We remember that they've played well here, so it's nice to set the tone and get that first one here," Happ said. "I think it's something that's going to be a battle all season long. I think these are two really good ballclubs and that we'll see a lot of games pretty tight like this one."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can't close it out: Osuna got himself into all sorts of trouble in the top of the ninth inning. Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers singled to put runners on first and second with one out while Eduardo Nunez followed with an RBI single. Later in the frame, Boston loaded the bases as Brock Holt delivered the game tying run with an RBI single to left field. It could have been a lot worse, but Granderson saved the day by throwing out Nunez at the plate on Holt's RBI single, which eventually forced extra innings. Osuna picked up his first blown save of the year in seven attempts and also surrendered his first earned runs of the season.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson makes a run-saving throw in 9th

"That's the way baseball is sometimes," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I think that was Osuna's and Kimbrel's first runs they've given up all year. That's why you call it the big leagues … The guys battled. That was a big game for us. If you don't win that one, it's a kick in the teeth."

The fortunate bounce: The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when they had runners on the corners and Boston third baseman Devers was unable to field a grounder and make a throw home in time to get a sliding Steve Pearce. Later in the frame, Devers was put under the spotlight once again with a pair of runners on base. This time, Granderson hit a hard grounder that deflected off Devers' glove to allow two more runs to score.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson plates two with a single to left

SOUND SMART
Over the previous five years, Toronto had the worst March/April record in the Major Leagues, going 52-75 (.409). A year ago, the Blue Jays did not pick up their 14th victory until Game No. 35 on May 11. This season, they reached 14 wins in Game No. 24 on April 24.

HE SAID IT
"I think the city is hurting right now and we had some first responders here today. I hope they enjoyed the game, if they stayed until the end, which I think they did. I think it was a meaningful win for us on several levels." -- Happ, when asked about the importance of winning the series opener as he referenced Monday's tragic events in Toronto that saw multiple casualties following an attack involving a white van

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Blue Jays were in a perfect position add another insurance run when Teoscar Hernandez stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth. With a runner on second, Hernandez hit a sharp liner to right field that appeared destined for extra bases, but Mookie Betts had other ideas. According to Statcast™, Betts covered 53 feet in 3.5 seconds to make a four-star grab that came with a catch probability of 31 percent. Yangervis Solarte followed by lining out to second base and the Blue Jays came up empty in the fifth.

Video: BOS@TOR: Statcast™ measures Betts' four-star grab

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will continue their three-game series against the Red Sox when Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound on Wednesday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Sanchez has experienced a dip in velocity so far this season. In 2017, he averaged 95.0 mph on his two-seam fastball, but in a recent outing against the Yankees, that number dropped to 92.8. The velocity has not impacted his performance with three quality starts in four outings. Boston will counter with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0, 3.45 ERA).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Curtis Granderson, J.A. Happ, Roberto Osuna

Bruce breaks out, hits game-winning HR in 10th

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ST. LOUIS -- For most of April, the Mets received little production from their starting outfield trio of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce. They felt it was only a matter of time before that group broke out.

Perhaps Tuesday marked the start of it. Cespedes hit a 463-foot, game-tying homer, and Bruce hit a game-winning solo home run in the 10th inning of a 6-5 Mets win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- For most of April, the Mets received little production from their starting outfield trio of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce. They felt it was only a matter of time before that group broke out.

Perhaps Tuesday marked the start of it. Cespedes hit a 463-foot, game-tying homer, and Bruce hit a game-winning solo home run in the 10th inning of a 6-5 Mets win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

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After Robert Gsellman wiggled out of a two-on, no-outs jam in the bottom of the ninth, Bruce smacked a home run onto the grassy area in straightaway center field off Cardinals reliever Matt Bowman. Jeurys Familia recorded the final three outs for the save.

Giving up four runs over the game's first four innings, Zack Wheeler was on the hook for a loss, until Cespedes crushed his three-run homer -- the longest Statcast™ has ever recorded by a Mets player -- off Luke Weaver in the fifth. But the first pitcher out of New York's bullpen was Matt Harvey, who allowed a Paul DeJong RBI double in his debut as a reliever. Adrian Gonzalez later knotted the score again with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly.

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

New York Mets, Jay Bruce

Shohei Ohtani hit 101 mph on Tuesday night, the fastest by a starting pitcher this season

Avila, D-backs bring thunder in rainy Philly

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHILADELPHIA -- Alex Avila, Jarrod Dyson and Daniel Descalso each homered as the D-backs beat the Phillies, 8-4, on a soggy Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Avila and Dyson got the D-backs going with back-to-back homers to open the third.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Alex Avila, Jarrod Dyson and Daniel Descalso each homered as the D-backs beat the Phillies, 8-4, on a soggy Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Avila and Dyson got the D-backs going with back-to-back homers to open the third.

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Arizona starter Robbie Ray struggled to keep the Phillies in check as Philadelphia scored three in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead.

Video: ARI@PHI: Ray strikes out 11 of the 14 batters he sees

David Peralta drove home a pair of runs in the fifth as the D-backs reclaimed the lead, and Descalso added a two-run homer in the eighth to give them a cushion.

Video: ARI@PHI: Descalso belts a two-run homer to right

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Peralta gets go-ahead: Peralta drove home a pair of runs with a one-out double in the fifth that put the D-backs on top, 4-3. The hit helped snap Peralta out of a mini slump. He had been hitless in his previous 10 at-bats with a walk.

Video: ARI@PHI: Peralta rips a two-run double down the line

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt had a trip around the bases in the eighth that was more befitting a speedster than a first baseman. Goldschmidt beat out an infield hit to second to lead off the inning and then stole second. When second baseman Cesar Hernandez was unable to field the throw from catcher Jorge Alfaro, Goldschmidt advanced to third. That caused the Phillies to play the infield in and the next hitter, A.J. Pollock, chopped a single over the head of shortstop Pedro Florimon as Goldschmidt trotted home.

Video: ARI@PHI: Pollock bounces an RBI single to center

UP NEXT
The D-backs continue their series with the Phillies on Wednesday night (4:05 MST) with Zack Greinke on the mound. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP in his last two starts. He is 8-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 11 career starts against the Phillies. Right-hander Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.04 ERA) makes the start for Philadelphia. He struck out 10 and allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings last week against the Pirates.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Alex Avila, Daniel Descalso, Jarrod Dyson, David Peralta, Robbie Ray

Yanks win 4th straight on 4 HRs, CC's command

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- It was the kind of economical effort that a younger version of CC Sabathia never would have entertained, instead preferring to rear back and blow high-90s heat past an opposing lineup. Yet as he continues a late-career renaissance, the Yankees left-hander has discovered that pitching can be much more fun than throwing.

Mixing his cutter, changeup and slider well, Sabathia showcased his pinpoint command over six excellent innings, and the Yankees saw their bats continue to heat up with another four home runs, enjoying an 8-3 romp over the Twins on Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium that marked their fourth straight victory.

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NEW YORK -- It was the kind of economical effort that a younger version of CC Sabathia never would have entertained, instead preferring to rear back and blow high-90s heat past an opposing lineup. Yet as he continues a late-career renaissance, the Yankees left-hander has discovered that pitching can be much more fun than throwing.

Mixing his cutter, changeup and slider well, Sabathia showcased his pinpoint command over six excellent innings, and the Yankees saw their bats continue to heat up with another four home runs, enjoying an 8-3 romp over the Twins on Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium that marked their fourth straight victory.

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Asked how his younger self might have responded to the effort, Sabathia said, "He'd laugh, for sure. I never thought that I would be pitching, I guess. It's just a different feel. It's a lot of fun, though. I used to just get the ball and throw it. It's good to have a plan and execute it."

Sanchez homers twice; Judge hits 7th HR

Gary Sanchez homered twice, Didi Gregorius extended his team lead with a two-run shot and Aaron Judge slugged a solo drive in support of Sabathia, who limited Minnesota to an unearned run and two hits as he improved to 20-9 lifetime against the Twins.

Video: MIN@NYY: Judge belts a solo home run to right field

The Yankees logged their seventh win in nine games behind the 37-year-old left-hander, who picked up his first victory of the year. Sabathia was touched only by Eduardo Escobar's first-inning double, with Miguel Sano chugging home as Judge had difficulty scooping up the ball in the right-field corner.

From there, Sabathia stifled the Twins, firing 82 pitches before the Yankees handed the game off to the bullpen. Sabathia walked one and struck out four, giving him 2,858 career strikeouts, passing Jim Bunning (2,855) for sole possession of 17th place all-time.

"That cut fastball, he's really got a great feel for it," manager Aaron Boone said. "It's become a great pitch for him and allowed him to be successful deep into his career. He threw some good changeups, and he's got that back-door breaking ball he can flip in there. He was really good tonight."

Twins starter Jose Berrios was knocked around for five runs and six hits in four-plus innings. Sanchez homered in the second, and Gregorius lifted an RBI single in the third and added a two-run homer in the fifth, giving him a team-leading eight long balls. Gleyber Torres also notched his first career RBI with a fourth-inning single.

Video: MIN@NYY: Didi belts two-run homer to the second deck

Dellin Betances wobbled in a shaky seventh inning but the Yankees responded with three runs in the home half against Tyler Duffey. Judge slugged his seventh homer, surpassing Mark McGwire as the fastest player to reach 63 homers in terms of games played (204). Sanchez tacked on a two-run shot to become the first player to enjoy nine multihomer games in his first 196 games.

"I think our offense is amazing," Sabathia said. "It's special, because at any point they can do what they did tonight. I'm very confident in the offense any time they go out there. It's fun. It's always exciting. You never know who's going to hit a ball hard or go deep. The lineup is so deep that it's a lot of fun to watch and be a part of."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gregorius homered for the third straight game, teeing off for a fifth-inning blast that sent Berrios to the showers. The Yankees worked deep counts against Berrios all evening, running up his pitch count and ensuring he wouldn't complete the fifth. Gregorius is 20-for-48 at home this season.

"I've had some good months, but it's not about the past," Gregorius said. "It's about what I can do right now. That's what I'm trying to do right now, try to stay consistent and help the team." More >

SOUND SMART
With Sanchez's two homers, the Yankees are the first team in Major League history to record seven individual multihomer games within the first 22 games of a season.

Video: Must C Crushed: Sanchez hits two HRs vs. Twins

UP NEXT
Sonny Gray will take another crack at turning around his slow start on Wednesday when he takes on the Twins in the third game of this four-game series at 6:35 p.m. ET. Gray will pitch to catcher Austin Romine, with whom he worked in his first two outings this season. Right-hander Lance Lynn draws the start for Minnesota.

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

New York Yankees

Belt stays hot with 5th blast in last 6 games

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt's homerless spell lasted exactly one game.

Belt hit a two-run homer to give the Giants a 3-0 lead over the Washington Nationals in the third inning Tuesday night, two outs after Joe Panik drew a leadoff walk from starter Tanner Roark.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt's homerless spell lasted exactly one game.

Belt hit a two-run homer to give the Giants a 3-0 lead over the Washington Nationals in the third inning Tuesday night, two outs after Joe Panik drew a leadoff walk from starter Tanner Roark.

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It was Belt's sixth homer of the season, following an April 19-22 stretch during which he homered in four consecutive games. Belt, a left-handed batter, has hit each of his homers off right-handed pitchers.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Brandon Belt

Pujols' RBI single puts him 7 shy of 3,000 hits

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- Albert Pujols inched closer to his 3,000th hit with a single in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's 8-7 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. It was career hit No. 2,993 for Pujols, who needs just seven more to reach the prestigious milestone.

Pujols logged the game-tying hit off Houston right-handed reliever Joe Smith, who then yielded a three-run homer to Andrelton Simmons.

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HOUSTON -- Albert Pujols inched closer to his 3,000th hit with a single in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's 8-7 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. It was career hit No. 2,993 for Pujols, who needs just seven more to reach the prestigious milestone.

Pujols logged the game-tying hit off Houston right-handed reliever Joe Smith, who then yielded a three-run homer to Andrelton Simmons.

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Pujols, who was hitless in four plate appearances on Monday and his first three at-bats on Tuesday, has had more success in Houston than any visiting player in the history of Minute Maid Park. He has 63 lifetime home runs versus the Astros, including the postseason, a record by a large margin. The only players within 20 homers of Pujols are Hank Aaron (46) and Willie McCovey (44).

When Pujols reaches the 3,000-hit mark, he will become just the fourth player in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits and 600 homers, joining Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

Pujols is 32nd on the all-time hits list, behind Roberto Clemente, who had exactly 3,000 hits during his Hall of Fame career.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Angels, Albert Pujols

Reds escape in 12th on Scooter's walk-off HR

Mahle flirts with no-hitter through six; Cincy bullpen lets up four runs in ninth
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Scooter Gennett already had a home run and a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt on his ledger vs. the Braves on Tuesday. But the Reds' second baseman knew his ninth-inning defensive mistake that led to extra innings would dominate his postgame thoughts if his team lost.

Gennett can rest easier now. It was his two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning that lifted the Reds to a 9-7 walk-off win over Atlanta.

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CINCINNATI -- Scooter Gennett already had a home run and a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt on his ledger vs. the Braves on Tuesday. But the Reds' second baseman knew his ninth-inning defensive mistake that led to extra innings would dominate his postgame thoughts if his team lost.

Gennett can rest easier now. It was his two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning that lifted the Reds to a 9-7 walk-off win over Atlanta.

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"I misread that ball a little bit but you learn. It's the least I could do to make up for it," Gennett said.

Video: ATL@CIN: Gennett discusses his walk-off homer

Cincinnati had a 5-0 lead through six innings and a four-run lead in the ninth. Reliever Amir Garrett, who replaced Tyler Mahle after Mahle lost a no-hitter and shutout in the seventh, returned for the ninth to try and complete a three-inning save. But Freddie Freeman slugged his second leadoff homer to right field to make it a three-run game.

Garrett gave up a single and double with one out, bringing in Raisel Iglesias for the save attempt. Iglesias, who blew only two saves out of 30 last season and notched all three of his previous chances this season, walked Dansby Swanson to load the bases and issued a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Johan Camargo to force home a run.

Ender Inciarte's two-run single went through Gennett's legs on the right side and brought home the tying runs.

Video: ATL@CIN: Braves score four in the 9th to tie the game

"The ball that was hit to Scooter was a very tough ball to handle," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "If it had been at him at kind of a normal hop, the game is over right there."

Gennett appeared to try playing for a short-hop, but didn't block the ball before it got away.

"We played such a good game up to that point," Gennett said. "In hindsight, maybe I should have played back on it and chested it up or fielded it clean. But it's always easy to say that when you have some time to think. I misread it. Live and learn."

Jared Hughes provided the final 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to put the Reds in position to take the game back.

Video: ATL@CIN: Hughes gets Swanson looking to escape jam

Against lefty prospect Max Fried, Joey Votto drew a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the 12th. That set it up for Gennett, who drove a 1-2 hanging breaking ball into the right-field seats for his second home run of the night and the game-winner. It was the third multi-homer game and first walk-off shot of his career.

"I wasn't really looking for much," Gennett said. "I was just trying not to do too much. He throws a lot of curveballs. Going up there, I don't want to swing at anything that starts outside. That was the first two pitches. I was looking for something up, didn't try to do too much and put a good swing on it. It ended up working out."

Video: ATL@CIN: Gennett clobbers a homer to right field

In the bottom of the fifth, it was back-to-back home runs by Votto and Gennett that staked Mahle to a 5-0 lead. Freeman ended the no-hit bid of Mahle with a leadoff home run in the top of the seventh inning. Two batters later, Kurt Suzuki added a two-run homer to make it a two-run game.

Video: ATL@CIN: Suzuki rips a two-run shot to left

The Reds responded with two runs in the bottom half, using Gennett's successful squeeze bunt to the left side to score pinch-runner Phillip Ervin and a two-out infield single by Tucker Barnhart that scored Jose Peraza.

"I doubt you'll find too many games where the same guy who squeezed hit two homers," Riggleman said. "But a lot of good things happened."

Video: ATL@CIN: Gennett plates Ervin on a safety squeeze

For the first time in 2018, the 5-18 Reds have back-to-back wins. This one required some work, though, and was even more satisfying in many ways than the previous four victories.

"Obviously where we are right now, it feels a lot better to get those wins. A loss hurts even more," Gennett said.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Home run No. 1 for Votto: With two outs in the fifth and an 0-1 count, Braves starter Brandon McCarthy's 0-1 fastball to Votto was lifted the opposite way and landed in the first row of seats in left field. It gave Votto his first home run of the season and his first since Sept. 27 of last season at Milwaukee. He has reached safely in nine consecutive games.

Video: ATL@CIN: Votto drives a solo homer to left field

Striking out the side: In the sixth inning, Mahle struck out Charlie Culberson, Inciarte and Ozzie Albies -- all on 95-mph fastballs -- to give Mahle a career-high 11 strikeouts for the game and put himself in position to return for the seventh inning with 87 pitches.

"I felt great and was able to execute pitches for six innings," said Mahle, who finished with three earned runs, three hits and two walks over his six-plus innings.

Video: ATL@CIN: Mahle strikes out Albies and the side

HE SAID IT
"I think tonight showed our team's resiliency. And we're going to need a lot of resiliency with how things started here. We're here to get better and improve right now. Two wins in a row, let's ride that momentum and keep improving, come out tomorrow and win again." -- Hughes, on how the team did not shrink after blowing a big lead

UP NEXT
Brandon Finnegan will make his third start of 2018 when the Reds host the Braves at 6:40 p.m. ET Wednesday. This could be a critical start for Finnegan, who faces Atlanta starter Matt Wisler. Finnegan is 0-2 with an 11.05 ERA in his two starts since coming off of the disabled list. With Garrett getting his longest relief appearance on Tuesday, it would not be a big stretch for him to move into the rotation.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds