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Braves walk off with wild 6-run 9th

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- When Julio Teheran endured a six-run fourth inning and Miguel Rojas recorded his first career multi-homer game within the final few innings against Atlanta's bullpen, there certainly wasn't reason to anticipate the jubilitation the Braves expressed after claiming an improbable 10-9 walk-off win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Park.

"There's really not many words I can put into that," Freddie Freeman said. "That's probably one of the most exciting games I've ever played in, been a part of or watched."

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ATLANTA -- When Julio Teheran endured a six-run fourth inning and Miguel Rojas recorded his first career multi-homer game within the final few innings against Atlanta's bullpen, there certainly wasn't reason to anticipate the jubilitation the Braves expressed after claiming an improbable 10-9 walk-off win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Park.

"There's really not many words I can put into that," Freddie Freeman said. "That's probably one of the most exciting games I've ever played in, been a part of or watched."

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Down six runs through five innings and facing a five-run deficit entering their final at-bat, the Braves manufactured a six-run ninth without the benefit of an extra-base hit. Dansby Swanson began the frame with a strikeout and ended it with a two-run, walk-off single that led to him being tackled by his celebratory teammates behind second base.

"I do enjoy those situations," Swanson said. "Who doesn't? If the game is going to be on the line, I want to be up there, and I think everybody else is the same way with themselves. It just shows who we are, and that's something we take pride in."

Video: MIA@ATL: Swanson discusses his single in walk-off win

Swanson's second career game-ending hit capped the Braves' largest ninth-inning comeback in exactly eight years.

Braves manager Brian Snitker was the team's third-base coach on May 20, 2010, when Brooks Conrad capped a seven-run ninth with a walk-off grand slam against the Reds. Consequently, that memorable game that helped Bobby Cox's final team reach the postseason also ended with a 10-9 score.

"You know what, [today's game] is right there with [the Cincinnati comeback]," Snitker said. "That's a great comparison right there."

Video: CIN@ATL: Conrad's slam gives Braves walk-off win

When Teheran surrendered Lewis Brinson's grand slam in the fourth and Rojas gave the Marlins a 9-4 lead with his ninth-inning homer off A.J. Minter, the Braves were staring at the possibility of heading into this week's key division showdown against the Phillies on a sour note. But the mood was completely altered with this comeback, which was fueled by Freeman's two-out infield single off closer Brad Ziegler to keep the rally going.

"We have fun as a team, and we're good," Nick Markakis said. "We're good and we have fun. … But today was a team win, not just one person doing it but everybody."

Video: MIA@ATL: Albies hustles home to score on Rojas' error

As the Braves moved toward maintaining the National League's best record, Markakis cut the deficit to two runs by scoring Freeman with a single. Suddenly, the confident Braves dugout began anticipating what might be occurring. The confidence grew as Tayron Guerrero walked Tyler Flowers and then surrendered a pinch-hit RBI single to Kurt Suzuki, who laced a 98.8 mph heater to left field.

"We said if he walks [Flowers] right here we're going to win this game," Freeman said. "It just shows the belief and pedigree in this team that we have this much belief in each other. It's fun to be a part of. When you have everybody bought in to play like that, it's truly amazing what can happen."

Video: MIA@ATL: Suzuki plates Markakis with an RBI single

The Braves haven't been strangers to late elation as they have tallied an MLB-high 43 last at-bat wins since Snitker became the club's manager on May 16, 2016. But there haven't been too many thrills like the one created when Swanson fouled consecutive 99-mph heaters before he connected on Guerrero's elevated 96.6-mph fastball and watched it sail toward left field to end one of the most improbable comebacks any of the Braves have ever experienced.

"No one else you want in that situation," Freeman said. "It feels like he's made for that situation. We got everything to him and he came through. It was just unbelievable at-bats all the way through that whole inning."

Swanson came off the disabled list on Saturday and was hitless before once again proving that scouts weren't wrong when they evaluated him during his playing days at Vanderbilt University and said he possessed the clutch gene.

"I just want to put the barrel on it," Swanson said. "That's kind of what I do every at-bat. You try not to change your plan based on the situation and everything. You just do what you do and do it better than they do."

Video: MIA@ATL: Snitker on 6-run 9th to complete comeback

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Signs of life: Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen held the Braves hitless through the first three innings and scoreless until Freeman and Markakis notched consecutive RBI singles in the sixth. Ronald Acuna Jr. added a two-run single in the seventh against Drew Steckenrider and contributed to the ninth-inning rally with a sacrifice fly.

"I almost expect them to do it," Snitker said. "That's why it's down six in the bottom of the fifth and I felt good. I really did. I thought these guys had a lot of time to go to work here, but then you get a little bit farther away, but they never stop. It's a great win for these guys."

Video: MIA@ATL: Acuna Jr. plates 2 with a single to left

Painful fourth: Teheran held the Marlins hitless through the first three innings before surrendering five hits within a span of six plate appearances to begin the fourth. Justin Bour fueled the eruption by opening the frame with a long drive that resulted in a triple when Ender Inciarte collided with the center-field wall and briefly remained on the ground. Inciarte exited after the sixth inning, but he will likely play in Monday night's series opener in Philadelphia.

"I think [Ender] is just sore," Snitker said. "I mean, he did a face-plant into that thing. I think it's just sore. I don't think he did anything. [It's just] body soreness because he hit that wall really hard. It's good to get him out of there and give him a break and not push it anymore."

Video: MIA@ATL: Inciarte hits wall hard, remains in the game

SOUND SMART
The Braves scored five of their ninth-inning runs with two outs and now have an MLB-best 119 two-out runs. No other team entered Sunday with more than 100 such runs.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
After Teheran endured the rough fourth inning, Brian Anderson opened the fifth with a long drive that Acuna snared toward the left-field corner. Acuna ran 84 feet for the ball that had a 63 percent catch probability. It marked the second three-star catch for the 20-year-old phenom, who has also tallied two four-star catches (catch probability 26-50 percent) -- MLB's second-highest total entering Sunday.

Video: MIA@ATL: Acuna Jr. sprints down Anderson's fly ball

HE SAID IT
"I credit being able to relax a lot in those situations to playing high school basketball because you're constantly in those pressure situations that are considered tough to handle. Every time I can get in those situations, I'm happy to do so." -- Swanson

UP NEXT
The top two teams in the NL East face off at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday as the Braves travel to Citizens Bank Park for a series with the Phillies. Both starting pitchers are coming off of season-high strikeout performances in their last starts. Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz tallied 10 strikeouts on Tuesday against the Cubs, while Phillies righty Nick Pivetta struck out a career-high 11 batters in his last start against the Orioles on Wednesday. The Braves took two out of three games in their trip to Philly in late April.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Dansby Swanson

Ohtani improves to 4-1 with 9-K gem

MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Sundays with Shohei didn't disappoint for the third consecutive week, as Shohei Ohtani delivered another brilliant pitching performance, and received enough help from his scrappy offense, to lead the Angels to a 5-2 win over the Rays at Angel Stadium, snapping the club's five-game skid.

Ohtani allowed only two runs on six hits over 7 2/3 innings in his seventh outing, lowering his ERA to 3.35 on the season. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out nine and walked one while throwing a career-high 110 pitches. The Angels improved to 26-21 overall, and 6-1 in games that Ohtani has pitched this season.

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ANAHEIM -- Sundays with Shohei didn't disappoint for the third consecutive week, as Shohei Ohtani delivered another brilliant pitching performance, and received enough help from his scrappy offense, to lead the Angels to a 5-2 win over the Rays at Angel Stadium, snapping the club's five-game skid.

Ohtani allowed only two runs on six hits over 7 2/3 innings in his seventh outing, lowering his ERA to 3.35 on the season. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out nine and walked one while throwing a career-high 110 pitches. The Angels improved to 26-21 overall, and 6-1 in games that Ohtani has pitched this season.

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"I think we're starting to get him stretched out in the game where he's maintaining his stuff a little bit longer," manager Mike Scioscia said. "One hundred and ten pitches is, I think, reasonable, and he felt good, still throwing the ball well. We'll see where he is in his next start, how he rebounds and hopefully we can continue to get into this range of pitches consistently."

Ohtani is the third American League player since 1908 to record six or more strikeouts in six of his first seven career games as a pitcher, joining the Indians' Herb Score (1955) and the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (2014).

Ohtani surrendered a leadoff home run to Johnny Field in the third, but he settled in after that, retiring 12 in a row before Wilson Ramos singled to open the seventh.

"After the home run, I think the fastball got better and better," catcher Martin Maldonado said. "He was throwing well, anywhere he wanted."

Ohtani was tested again following Ramos' single in the seventh. After a flyout from Brad Miller, Matt Duffy produced another single to right-center field to put a pair of runners on board with the Angels leading, 3-1. The next two batters -- Mallex Smith and Daniel Robertson -- drove balls to the warning track, but Justin Upton and Chris Young were there to make the respective catches, allowing Ohtani to escape unscathed.

Ohtani returned to the mound for the eighth with his pitch count at 99 and yielded a ground-rule double to Field, who advanced to third on a wild pitch, before scoring on Denard Span's groundout to cut the Angels' lead to 4-2. Ohtani struck out C.J. Cron swinging on three straight sliders for the second out of the inning, but then gave up a single to Joey Wendle, prompting Scioscia to replace him with rookie Justin Anderson.

"I got in a little trouble in the seventh inning, but I was able to get out of it, and [Scioscia] trusted me to go back out there in the eighth," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I wasn't able to get out of the eighth, but I think I can build from this outing."

Ohtani received a standing ovation from the 38,560 fans at Angel Stadium as he walked off the mound and waved his cap to acknowledge the crowd before returning to the dugout.

Blake Parker came on to record the save in the ninth, his second of the season and his first since March 30.

Video: TB@LAA: Parker strikes out Field to earn his 2nd save

The Angels entered Sunday batting just .211 on this homestand, and they produced only four hits against four Rays relievers, who pitched in lieu of a traditional starter, but they scored four of their five runs on productive outs. Zack Cozart collected two RBIs on a pair of sacrifice flies, and Maldonado launched a solo homer in the eighth to cap the club's offensive output.

"It's been a weird week or so where we hadn't gotten a lot of stuff going," Cozart said. "Today, we had a lot of stuff going, not with hits, but with walks, some stolen bases and stuff like that. Playing some small ball out there. That's what you have to do if you're not getting a lot of hits, you've got a find a way to do something else."

Video: TB@LAA: Maldonado smashes a solo homer to left-center

The Angels trailed, 1-0, after being held hitless through the first three innings, but Andrelton Simmons led off the fourth by bouncing a comebacker toward right-hander Matt Andriese, who couldn't field the ball and allowed Simmons to reach on an error. Andriese then walked Cozart and uncorked a wild pitch that permitted the runners to move up to second and third with no outs.

Pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena put the Angels on the board with a run-scoring groundout, and Maldonado put them ahead with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. It marked the Angels' first lead since Tuesday. Young then doubled to give the Angels their first hit of the afternoon, and left-hander Jose Alvarado hit Michael Hermosillo to keep the rally alive, but Ian Kinsler subsequently popped out to end the inning.

Video: TB@LAA: Cozart scores on Maldonado's sacrifice fly

Mike Trout manufactured an insurance run for the Angels in the fifth, drawing a leadoff walk off Alvarado, stealing second and third and scoring on Cozart's sacrifice fly to right field. Trout collected his 174th and 175th career steals during that sequence, passing Luis Polonia for sole possession of third in franchise history.

"I think on the offensive side, we are multidimensional," Scioscia said. "I think we have a team that can [put] pressure on the bases, as you saw this afternoon. We did a great job on baserunning. We scored three sac flies, so the guys were doing a good job in the batter's box. On a day when you end up with only four hits, you still manage to get five runs, I think that says a lot about the way you can manufacture. We need that to be part of our game, for sure."

Video: TB@LAA: Statcast™ tracks Trout's 2 steals, run scored

 SOUND SMART
Ramos' seventh-inning single was the first hit off Ohtani's splitter this season. Opposing hitters are now 1-for-44 with 30 strikeouts against the pitch.

HE SAID IT
"I'm honored to be even mentioned in that conversation, but I still feel like I'm not quite at that level yet. I just need to keep on showing up every day and putting up good results." -- Ohtani, on whether he'd be interested in participating in the Home Run Derby

UP NEXT
The Angels will head to Toronto and enjoy an off-day Monday before kicking off a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Tuesday at 4:07 p.m. PT at Rogers Centre. Garrett Richards (4-2, 3.47 ERA) will oppose left-hander J.A. Happ (5-3, 4.15 ERA) in the opener. In seven career appearances (five starts) against the Blue Jays, Richards is 2-3 with a 5.74 ERA, though he hasn't faced them since Aug. 23, 2015. Trout has hit at least one home run against Toronto each season since 2012.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Hicks hits 105 mph -- twice -- on radar gun

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS --- If you're wondering how Jordan Hicks can add 2 mph to what was already a 103-mph sinker, you're not alone. Hicks' manager and teammates -- along with the rest of the baseball world -- were asking the same question after the 21-year-old twice eclipsed 105 mph with his fastball in Sunday's 5-1 win over the Phillies.

Hicks pointed to the batter's box for the answer.

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ST. LOUIS --- If you're wondering how Jordan Hicks can add 2 mph to what was already a 103-mph sinker, you're not alone. Hicks' manager and teammates -- along with the rest of the baseball world -- were asking the same question after the 21-year-old twice eclipsed 105 mph with his fastball in Sunday's 5-1 win over the Phillies.

Hicks pointed to the batter's box for the answer.

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"Odubel just takes forever to get in the box," Hicks said, referencing Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera. "It amps me up a little bit. So I bring it against him."

The five pitches Hicks fired to Herrera in a ninth inning at-bat Sunday were the five fastest pitches of the 2018 season thrown by any pitcher, per Statcast™. Two registered at 105 mph. The others: 104.3, 104.2 and 103.7. In doing so, Hicks eclipsed Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman as the game's hardest thrower this season. He and Chapman are the only pitchers to hit 105 mph since pitch tracking began in 2008.

The scoreboard readings had Hicks' teammates clamoring in the dugout.

Tweet from @Cardinals: .@Jhicks007 touched 105 on the radar gun!🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/5t2U759w4k

"You see 105 up there. That doesn't happen. I don't know what the exact mph was, but we're all wondering if it was 105 point, or where on 105 it was," said starter Jack Flaherty, who tossed 7 2/3 brilliant innings in the win. "I wish I could throw 105."

Hicks has spent the majority of his rookie season battling other relievers for the title of MLB's hardest-throwing pitcher. He says he keeps surprising himself, as the radar reading continues to climb. Hicks broke camp with a reputation of hitting 102 with his sinker, which runs down and arm-side and, thanks to his age and power arm, can disobey him at times. Saturday he touched 103 mph -- also against Herrera.

"[He] doesn't irritate me. Just like … get in the box. It's all good though," Hicks said. "I saw the 103 last night and said, 'Oh, I guess I can do that. I'll try to throw a little harder today.'"

Hicks has thrown his seven hardest pitches of the season against Herrera.

"It was my first time facing a guy like that," Herrera said. "I had never faced someone throwing 104, 105 miles an hour. But I felt good because I was able to see pitches."

Here are some more fireballer facts:

• Chapman had previously thrown the fastest pitch of 2018 on May 8, when he hit Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. with a 103.3-mph pitch.
• Hicks is now just the fourth pitcher to reach 104 mph in pitch-tracking history, joining Chapman, Mauricio Cabrera (2016) and Neftali Feliz (2010).
• Hicks owns eight of the 10 fastest pitches thrown this year, and 13 of the top 20.

Video: BOS@NYY: Chapman hits JBJ with a 103.3-mph pitch

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jordan Hicks

J.D. hits 14th, 15th HRs in Red Sox victory

Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- J.D. Martinez continues to be red-hot, as he belted a pair of homers in Sunday afternoon's 5-0 win against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

In the second inning, the slugger hit a first-pitch leadoff home run on a 94-mph fastball from Orioles right-hander David Hess, who was called up before the game to make his second Major League appearance.

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BOSTON -- J.D. Martinez continues to be red-hot, as he belted a pair of homers in Sunday afternoon's 5-0 win against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

In the second inning, the slugger hit a first-pitch leadoff home run on a 94-mph fastball from Orioles right-hander David Hess, who was called up before the game to make his second Major League appearance.

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Martinez's 14th homer wrapped around Pesky's Pole in right field, giving Boston a 1-0 lead.

"He puts himself in such a good position to hit, he's ready for what he wants to hit," said manager Alex Cora. "He took advantage of the pole. You could see him smile, like, 'Yeah, that was fun to do.' And then he got a good pitch to hit and drove it to center field.

"A lot of people were talking about how Fenway was going to affect him. When it's 80 degrees and humid, it's a good place. We've seen it before. I've seen it firsthand. He's a guy that he stays with his approach. He drives the ball to right-center and he has power."

Tweet from @RedSox: I've hit a dinger there, there, there, aaaand there. pic.twitter.com/tVLoseDxXE

After getting intentionally walked in the third, Martinez crushed a two-run shot to center field in the fifth. It had a projected distance of 443 feet and had an exit velocity of 108 mph, according to Statcast™. It was Martinez's 15th homer of the season, tying him with teammate Mookie Betts for the Major League lead in dingers.

This is the first time the Red Sox have had two players hit 15 homers within the first 50 games of a season.

"A ton," Betts said, of how much having Martinez in the lineup has helped him. "He brings in not just power, he gets a lot of hits. He's hitting .350, .360 whatever he's hitting. It's not just the power but the extended innings on the pitchers."

Martinez and Betts have drawn comparisons to another legendary pair of Red Sox hitters.

Video: BAL@BOS: Cora talks Martinez's big day in 5-0 win

"Well, [Red Sox media relations director] Kevin [Gregg] told me the two guys that I thought were at this pace, they never did it, Manny [Ramirez] and David [Ortiz]. So it's fun to watch," Cora said. "There's nothing else I can say."

Martinez also drew some ribbing from his teammates for his first homer of the day, which went to the shortest point in the ballpark.

"They were making me laugh," he said. "I said, 'I've got to get even for some of the ones I hit in April when it was cold out and I thought I crushed some and they weren't even going anywhere.' They were definitely teasing me, but I'll take it."

Video: BAL@BOS: Cora discusses Martinez's strong work ethic

Martinez entered the game with a 1.116 OPS in 21 games at Fenway Park this season. He also entered the game tied with the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton for the Major League lead with 44 home runs since the All-Star break last season, leading the Majors in RBIs (110), slugging percentage (.709) and OPS (1.089) in that span.

Martinez extended his career-best streak of reaching base to 25 straight games, the longest such stretch by a Red Sox batter since Betts reached safely in 29 straight games in 2016.

Martinez heard recent comments by Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, calling him the best hitter in baseball.

"Yeah, I heard that," Martinez said. "That was humbling, pretty cool."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Gray pitches Yanks to 8th straight series win

Austin hits pair of 2-run homers to set tone against Royals
Special to MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Sonny Gray was working on eight days' rest on Sunday and he obviously made the most of his extra time off between starts.

Gray turned in his best outing of the year by allowing just four hits over eight innings as the Yankees rolled to a 10-1 win over the Royals in the rubber game at Kauffman Stadium. For Gray, who entered the game with a 6.39 ERA, it was all about getting in a rhythm with first-pitch strikes. The right-hander didn't allow a hit until Hunter Dozier singled with two out in the fifth.

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KANSAS CITY -- Sonny Gray was working on eight days' rest on Sunday and he obviously made the most of his extra time off between starts.

Gray turned in his best outing of the year by allowing just four hits over eight innings as the Yankees rolled to a 10-1 win over the Royals in the rubber game at Kauffman Stadium. For Gray, who entered the game with a 6.39 ERA, it was all about getting in a rhythm with first-pitch strikes. The right-hander didn't allow a hit until Hunter Dozier singled with two out in the fifth.

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"He had some good work on the side getting ready for this," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He was electric today."

Working well with backup catcher Austin Romine, Gray needed just 92 pitches to get through eight innings. His longest outing this season before Sunday was six innings.

"I had a few extra days to work on stuff and iron some things out," Gray said. "I think we did a good job with that and I tried to take that into the game."

Video: NYY@KC: Austin, Andujar, Romine power Yankees in win

Gray had a two-hit shutout working through seven innings and the Yankees had provided him an ample working margin, thanks largely to a couple of two-run homers by Tyler Austin. Miguel Andujar and Romine also went deep in the finale as the Yanks belted nine homers over the final two games in the series.

Austin never stopped running down his dreams

"I thought his stuff was great and the slider was a really good pitch for him," Boone said. "When he's ahead [in the count], he has the weapons to put people away. That was clear today. The stuff is elite. That's why we were so optimistic about him even when he was going through some struggles."

Royals starter Eric Skoglund matched Gray until the fourth when Aaron Hicks led off with a walk and Austin hit a two-run homer that traveled a projected 440 feet, according to Statcast™. The Yanks scored three runs apiece in the fourth and fifth, and that outburst essentially put the game away.

Video: NYY@KC: Boone on Gray's gem, offense in 10-1 win

The Yankees (30-13) have won eight consecutive series as they prepare to open a three-game set against the Rangers on Monday at Globe Life Park. New York hasn't taken nine series in a row since July 20-Aug. 20 in 1998.

"It's so much fun to watch our offense," Gray said. "The way this offense continues to carry it out is really impressive to watch."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With Gary Sanchez getting a day off, Romine went 3-for-5 with a homer, double and two RBIs. He also put down the signs that kept Gray working at an enviable pace.

Video: NYY@KC: Romine powers a broken-bat RBI single to left

"It was pitch, mound, sign and go," Romine said of Gray's outing. "Just having a rhythm out there. He just kept making pitches. It's nice to see the bounce back."

SOUND SMART
With Sunday's win, the Yankees improved to a Major League-best 24-1 when allowing four runs or fewer.

Video: NYY@KC: Austin belts 2 homers for 4 RBIs vs. Royals

HE SAID IT
"When you see [Aaron Judge], [Giancarlo Stanton] and Sanchez get into those [home-run] balls, I don't know many people who can hang with them." -- Austin, when asked about stacking up with the prominent power hitters in New York's lineup

UP NEXT
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.73 ERA) will take the ball at 8:05 p.m. ET on Monday as the Yankees open a three-game series against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. Tanaka worked five innings in his last start against the Nationals, allowing four hits and three runs. That game was tied at 3 in the sixth when play was suspended. The Rangers will counter with veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon, whose 2.82 ERA ranked ninth in the American League entering Sunday.

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

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar, Tyler Austin, Sonny Gray, Austin Romine

Vlad Jr.'s latest heroics: 4-for-4, walk-off HR

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Even as the most hyped prospect in the Minor Leagues, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is finding new ways to impress.

Guerrero, MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect (Blue Jays' No. 1), capped a 4-for-4 day at the plate Sunday with a two-run, walk-off home run that powered Double-A New Hampshire past Binghamton, 6-5, in Game 1 of a doubleheader.

Even as the most hyped prospect in the Minor Leagues, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is finding new ways to impress.

Guerrero, MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect (Blue Jays' No. 1), capped a 4-for-4 day at the plate Sunday with a two-run, walk-off home run that powered Double-A New Hampshire past Binghamton, 6-5, in Game 1 of a doubleheader.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: And the legend grows ...VLAD JR. CAPS 4-FOR-4 DAY WITH THIS WALK-OFF 💣The #BlueJays 19-year-old mega-prospect is now leading all of @MiLB in hitting at a ridiculous .4���2���3���������How good is this kid? https://t.co/05bM0kcBeLpic.twitter.com/fb0jt4GgqI

The four-hit performance was Guerrero's second in the last five games and pushed the 19-year-old phenom's batting average to .423, the best mark in the Minor Leagues. He drove in three runs and scored a pair.

Guerrero started New Hampshire's scoring when he plated a run with a third-inning single and then added another knock two innings later for his third hit in as many at-bats.

In the seventh, Guerrero, batting with one run already in -- courtesy of an RBI double by No. 11 overall prospect Bo Bichette (Blue Jays' No. 2) -- and the tying run on second base, blasted the second pitch of the at-bat over the wall in right-center field to walk it off for the Fisher Cats.

Video: Bo Bichette and Guerrero Jr. break down their at-bats

The homer was Guerrero's eighth this season, and he's now recorded multiple hits in 21 of his 38 games. He's been especially hot in May, hitting .471/.500/.843 with six home runs, eight doubles and 19 RBIs in 18 games, entering Sunday's nightcap.

Altogether, through the first game of the doubleheader, Guerrero led the Eastern League in average, slugging (.705), OPS (1.173), hits (63), doubles (16), RBIs (44) and total bases (105). He'd also compiled more walks (18) than strikeouts (15), as he did last season.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Toronto Blue Jays

Romo rolls while starting second day in a row

Righty becomes 5th pitcher in last 40 years to start on consecutive days, and first since 2012
MLB.com

It took Sergio Romo 11 years in the Majors to get his first big league start. And he got his second one on Sunday.

The Rays right-hander, who started Saturday night and pitched a scoreless inning in Tampa Bay's 5-3 victory over the Angels, hurled a scoreless first inning on Sunday. After allowing a leadoff walk to Ian Kinsler, who later stole second base, Romo struck out Mike Trout and Justin Upton, then got Andrelton Simmons to ground out to third to end the first.

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It took Sergio Romo 11 years in the Majors to get his first big league start. And he got his second one on Sunday.

The Rays right-hander, who started Saturday night and pitched a scoreless inning in Tampa Bay's 5-3 victory over the Angels, hurled a scoreless first inning on Sunday. After allowing a leadoff walk to Ian Kinsler, who later stole second base, Romo struck out Mike Trout and Justin Upton, then got Andrelton Simmons to ground out to third to end the first.

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Romo, who faced off against rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani in the series finale, came out for the second inning and walked Zack Cozart to open the frame. He fanned Jefry Marte before he was replaced by right-hander Matt Andriese, who finished off the inning with Cozart left at first base.

Ohtani in HR Derby? Scioscia won't stop him

Romo joined a short list of players who have started on consecutive days in the last 40 years, including Zack Greinke and former big league hurlers C.J. Wilson, Aaron Myette, and Steve McCatty.

"It's a completely different animal," Romo said. "Kudos to all the starters that can do that every fifth day. Plus, they get asked to throw 100 pitches. I barely got a quarter of that done today. It's impressive what they do, and I can't sit here and say I can do it as well as they can. But I got two zeros in the first inning, so I think I'm OK at this point."

In addition, only three pitchers had more career relief appearances than Romo before making their first big league start: Troy Percival (638), Todd Jones (632) and Chuck McElroy (603).

Video: TB@LAA: Romo strikes out the side in 1st career start

For Rays manager Kevin Cash, the experiment of using a career reliever as a starter couldn't be off to a better beginning.

"It did go really, really well," Cash said of Romo's start Saturday. "He opened the game with a slider just like he was pitching the eighth or ninth inning. So, we're going back to Sergio, because it worked so well."

Romo even enjoyed the benefits associated with a starter. He was sent home early after his Saturday outing to prepare for Sunday's start.

"Sergio is pumped," Cash said after Saturday's game. "He's treated himself as a starter. He's left to get his rest and throw his one or two innings."

While making consecutive starts may have been commonplace early in the game's history, it hasn't happened in nearly six years. The most recent occurrence was in 2012, when both Greinke and Wilson each started successive games.

Greinke was ejected in his start on July 7, 2012, after throwing four pitches against the Astros. He returned the next night and allowed three runs in three innings.

Greinke started the next Brewers game as well, but that was because it came after the All-Star break. Still, with the back-to-back-to-back starts, he became the first pitcher to start three consecutive games in a season since Red Faber in 1917.

Weather was the factor for Wilson's feat. He started for the Angels against the Rangers on May 11, 2012. But his start was cut short by a two-hour rain delay. He faced only five batters before departing after the delay. He took the mound the following game and threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits.

Myette accomplished the feat with the Rangers in 2002. He faced a similar situation as Greinke. He was ejected after two pitches against the Orioles on Sept. 3, and came back the next game.

McCatty was a member of the A's when he started two straight games in 1980, and his path to pitching the beginning of successive games most resembles Romo's outing, as he threw an inning in his first outing and then started the next day.

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter at @jaylonthompson.

Tampa Bay Rays, Sergio Romo

Belt's blistering week ends with winning homer

Special to MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Outside of a few minor tweaks he made to his swing in Spring Training, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt insists his approach at the plate hasn't changed all that much. The results, however, have been far better than anyone could have expected.

Belt's latest power display came Sunday when he and teammate Nick Hundley hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning as the Giants rallied to beat the Colorado Rockies, 9-5, for a split of their four-game series.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Outside of a few minor tweaks he made to his swing in Spring Training, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt insists his approach at the plate hasn't changed all that much. The results, however, have been far better than anyone could have expected.

Belt's latest power display came Sunday when he and teammate Nick Hundley hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning as the Giants rallied to beat the Colorado Rockies, 9-5, for a split of their four-game series.

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"I've known my approach to work in the past," Belt said. "At times I'd get away from it. I think I'm just sticking with it now through thick and thin and working on it as hard as I can and doing it to the best of my ability. When I get a pitch in my zone, I'm doing something with it."

It was Belt's 11th home run this season and the fifth in seven games for the first baseman, who made a rare start in left field. The homer went 408 feet at a launch angle of 23 degrees with an exit velocity of 107.6 mph.

Video: COL@SF: Belt clobbers a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 7th

"You feel good when he's up there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's really been swinging the bat so well and it's been over an extended period of time. Right now he's doing a good job of carrying us at times."

A day earlier Belt repeatedly praised hot-hitting shortstop Brandon Crawford for being the key to San Francisco's offensive success. At this point, however, it's difficult to tell which Brandon has been more valuable.

Crawford singled and scored in three at-bats. He's been one of the top hitters in all of baseball this month while going 32-for-72 (.444).

Belt hasn't had the overall numbers but has been equally impressive. Over the last eight games he's batting .469 (15-for-32) with five home runs and 11 RBIs.

"It's a combination of both [plate coverage and power]," Rockies starter Tyler Anderson said. "He's got a good swing and right now he's swinging at strikes and he's seeing the ball well."

Gorkys Hernandez also homered, his second in three days, to send the Giants into the off-day with a win. San Francisco had played 17 consecutive games without a break, its longest stretch of the season so far.

Video: COL@SF: Hernandez crushes a 2-run homer to center

The Giants needed it on a day when Rockies shortstop Trevor Story had two RBIs and made a stellar defensive play. Colorado also got three hits from Nolan Arenado but it wasn't enough.

Coming off a 17-hit game Saturday, the Giants trailed, 4-1, and had a run erased by replay review but scored twice in the fifth and twice in the sixth, then powered up in the seventh.

Hernandez hit a leadoff single against Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw and moved to second following a one-out walk to Evan Longoria. Belt then turned on a 1-0 pitch and crushed it into the right-field stands to put the Giants ahead, 8-5.

Hundley followed with a more modest homer that went 380 feet with a launch angle of 23 degrees and exit velocity of 98.3 mph.

Video: COL@SF: Hundley goes back-to-back in the 7th

Sam Dyson (2-0) allowed one run and retired three batters to win.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Left them loaded: The Rockies scored twice in the fifth but missed a critical opportunity to add on when they left the bases loaded. Giants reliever Cory Gearrin forced in a run with a walk to Noel Cuevas but got out of the jam by getting Carlos Gonzalez to strike out looking.

Video: COL@SF: Gearrin K's Gonzalez to avoid further damage

Denied: Colorado led, 2-1, in the fourth and tried to add on when Pat Valaika doubled over the head of Belt in left field with two outs. Cuevas attempted to score from first but was thrown out at the plate on a perfect relay throw from Gold Glove-winning shortstop Crawford to catcher Hundley .

Video: COL@SF: Crawford relays home to throw out Cuevas

SOUND SMART
Giants reliever Will Smith struck out the side in the sixth and has not allowed an earned run this season. The lefty, who sat out all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery, has yielded only three hits over his eight innings, with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

Video: COL@SF: Smith strikes out the side in the 6th

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Posey began the day at first base but was moved back to catcher in the eighth and came up with a stellar game-ending play in the ninth. After Story singled with one out and took second without a throw one out later, Giants reliever Hunter Strickland bounced a pitch to Gerardo Parra. Story took off for third but Posey quickly jumped up and leaped in the air to grab the ball, then fired a strike to third baseman Longoria to nail Story for the final out.

Video: COL@SF: Posey's tough throw, Longoria's tag seal win

UP NEXT
Following an off-day, the Giants begin an eight-game road trip Tuesday in Houston. Left-hander Andrew Suarez (1-3, 4.88 ERA) pitches for San Francisco and will try to get his season back on track after allowing 15 earned runs over his previous 27 2/3 innings. Right-hander Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.75) takes the mound for the Astros.

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Brandon Belt, Nick Hundley

Cabrera's pinch HR helps Mets sweep D-backs

Rosario goes back-to-back with second baseman for multi-homer game
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- In the National League, Asdrubal Cabrera says, "there's never a day off." Even when Cabrera arrived at Citi Field on Sunday and saw his name not listed on the lineup card for just the third time in 42 games, Cabrera knew there was a good chance he would play. By the middle innings, with the Mets locked in a tie game, Cabrera began warming for an opportunity he considered inevitable.

All season, the Mets have relied on Cabrera, their most consistent hitter, as others have slumped or succumbed to injuries. They did so again on Sunday, when Cabrera's pinch-hit, go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh lifted the Mets to a 4-1 win over the D-backs.

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NEW YORK -- In the National League, Asdrubal Cabrera says, "there's never a day off." Even when Cabrera arrived at Citi Field on Sunday and saw his name not listed on the lineup card for just the third time in 42 games, Cabrera knew there was a good chance he would play. By the middle innings, with the Mets locked in a tie game, Cabrera began warming for an opportunity he considered inevitable.

All season, the Mets have relied on Cabrera, their most consistent hitter, as others have slumped or succumbed to injuries. They did so again on Sunday, when Cabrera's pinch-hit, go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh lifted the Mets to a 4-1 win over the D-backs.

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Amed Rosario also notched his first two homers this season for the Mets, who capped their first series sweep of at least three games at Citi Field since 2016.

Video: ARI@NYM: Rosario belts his 1st home run of 2018

"Those are the things that we were missing," manager Mickey Callaway said. "Today's game, for six or seven innings, looked like the games that we've been playing for the last six weeks. … We just hadn't been getting those timely hits that we need to win games. We've been getting those [kinds of hits] the last few days."

For the first five innings, the Mets accomplished little against Clay Buchholz, whom the D-backs recently signed to a Minor League deal. In his season debut, the former Red Sox All-Star kept the Mets scoreless, until Rosario led off the sixth with his first home run since last August.

Video: ARI@NYM: Rosario launches 2nd HR to go back-to-back

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo did not let Buchholz face another batter, turning the game over to a bullpen that held the Mets scoreless until Cabrera came to the plate with a man on base and two outs in the seventh. Facing Jorge De La Rosa, Cabrera lifted a 2-2 cutter over the left-field fence for his seventh homer.

"We've got to keep fighting," said Cabrera, whose .321 average ranks fifth in the National League. "We've got to come every day to do our best to win the games."

Following Cabrera's home run with his second long ball of the game, Rosario helped make a winner out of Noah Syndergaard, who struck out seven over seven innings. The only blemish against Syndergaard came in the second inning, when the D-backs turned two hits and a groundout into a run-scoring rally.

Video: ARI@NYM: Syndergaard throws 7 innings of 1-run ball

"That was a huge sweep," Syndergaard said. "We had kind of been struggling a little bit. But just as easily as we were struggling, it's that easy to turn it around."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bruce cuts down run at home: Arizona's best chance to extend its lead came after Jeff Mathis reached on an error to lead off the fifth inning, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter, David Peralta, laced a single to right field, where Jay Bruce scooped it up and fired a 91.3-mph strike to home plate, according to Statcast™ data. The throw gave plenty of time for catcher Tomas Nido to apply the tag, cutting down what would have been the game's second run.

Video: ARI@NYM: Bruce's strong throw gets Mathis at home

Un-Familia closer: Disinclined to use closer Jeurys Familia for a third straight day, Callaway instead allowed Robert Gsellman to return to the mound for the ninth inning after retiring the final two batters of the eighth. Facing the heart of Arizona's batting order, including perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, Gsellman struck out the side on 15 pitches.

Video: ARI@NYM: Gsellman K's Dyson for his 1st career save

SOUND SMART
Rosario (22 years, 181 days old) became the youngest Mets player to homer at least twice in a game since Lastings Milledge (22 years, 177 days) on Sept. 29, 2007. He also became the fourth Met to homer twice from the ninth spot in the lineup, joining Curtis Granderson, Syndergaard and Walt Terrell.

HE SAID IT
"It's amazing that we won all three. This team has confidence." -- Rosario

UP NEXT
The Mets skipped Jason Vargas' last turn through the rotation, trying to shake him out of the season-opening funk that saw him go 0-3 with a 13.86 ERA in three outings. He'll return to the Citi Field mound to open a three-game series Monday against the Marlins, who will counter with right-hander Elieser Hernandez in the 7:10 p.m. ET game.

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

New York Mets, Asdrubal Cabrera, Amed Rosario, Noah Syndergaard

3 big flies boost Dodgers in sweep of Nats

Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers have had their patience tested for much of this relatively young season. Now, the reigning National League champions are finally starting to produce like winners.

Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez and Yasiel Puig homered, and Alex Wood earned his first win of the season as the Dodgers finished off a three-game sweep of the Nationals with a 7-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

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WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers have had their patience tested for much of this relatively young season. Now, the reigning National League champions are finally starting to produce like winners.

Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez and Yasiel Puig homered, and Alex Wood earned his first win of the season as the Dodgers finished off a three-game sweep of the Nationals with a 7-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

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Video: LAD@WSH: Puig unloads a 2-run homer to left-center

Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, the Dodgers jumped in front as Hernandez launched a two-run homer off Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg. Los Angeles has won four in a row after dropping six consecutive games.

"They've been busting their tails, and it just hasn't shown fruits, but now it's paying off," manager Dave Roberts said. "It's a byproduct of those at-bats, guys sticking together. It was a big series. It was good for the guys to win three here."

Video: LAD@WSH: Wood fans Harper to end the 3rd inning

Wood (1-4) allowed Trea Turner's two-run homer in the third, but otherwise, he kept the Nationals off the scoreboard while scattering three hits and recording four strikeouts.

Wood pitched six innings and needed only one more out for his longest outing since going eight in his season debut on March 30. The left-hander went to the mound for warm-up tosses in the bottom of the seventh after stealing his first career base in the top of the inning, but he exited because of cramps in his left hamstring. He said cramps were also an issue in his May 9 outing against Arizona.

Video: LAD@WSH: Wood swipes second for his 1st career steal

"I think after I showed off my speed on the bases," Wood joked, "and hung out there for a little while that inning and then went back out, just cramped on my last [warm-up] pitch that I threw. Nothing to write home about."

Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Puig's two-run blast in the eighth off reliever Wander Suero pushed the margin to three runs. Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger added insurance in the two-run ninth.

Video: LAD@WSH: Pederson drives in Hernandez with a double

Los Angeles' shorthanded bullpen finished off Washington over the final three innings. Roberts said pregame that closer Kenley Jansen, who saved both ends of Saturday's doubleheader, and Pedro Baez were unavailable.

Tony Cingrani returned from the disabled list on Saturday, and he promptly allowed three runs in one-third of an inning during the second game of the doubleheader. He entered in the seventh inning on Sunday, relieving Wood, and despite the rushed appearance, the left-hander struck out the side to preserve a one-run lead. Josh Fields, the last of three relievers used, retired the final four batters for his second save.

Video: LAD@WSH: Cingrani fans Severino to strike out side

Saturday's split doubleheader clinched the season series over Washington. The Dodgers took two of three at home against the Nationals from April 20-22.

Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He finished 1-for-10 with five strikeouts and an RBI in the three-game series.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fields entered in the eighth with two outs, runners on first and second and the tying run at the plate. Anthony Rendon lined a shot up the middle, but it found Fields' leg rather than safe territory. The ball ricocheted directly to first baseman Max Muncy, who fielded the carom and stepped on the bag for the out.

Video: LAD@WSH: Comebacker deflects off Fields to first base

SOUND SMART
Hernandez has two career home runs in eight at-bats against Strasburg.

HE SAID IT
"I was just trying to be aggressive. If he leaves a fastball over the heart of the plate, put a good swing on it and try to do some damage. Sure enough, he left the ball over the plate." -- Hernandez, on his two-run, go-ahead homer in the fifth

Video: LAD@WSH: Hernandez laces a 2-run homer to left-center

UP NEXT
Walker Buehler (2-1, 1.67 ERA) starts the opener of the Dodgers' 10-game homestand Monday against Colorado's German Marquez at 7:10 p.m. PT. The right-hander allowed five runs (four earned) over five innings with seven strikeouts in a no-decision at Miami on Wednesday.

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood

Bullpen of the Week: Cubs

Relievers combine for 1.80 ERA over 25 innings
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

The Cubs' bullpen was dominant over 25 innings pitched last week, helping Chicago win four of seven games vs. the Braves and Reds by posting a 1.80 ERA. All but three Cubs relievers finished the week unscored upon, helping the relief corps earn the Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford for the week of May 14-20.

As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring the previous week's top relief corps. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.

The Cubs' bullpen was dominant over 25 innings pitched last week, helping Chicago win four of seven games vs. the Braves and Reds by posting a 1.80 ERA. All but three Cubs relievers finished the week unscored upon, helping the relief corps earn the Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford for the week of May 14-20.

As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring the previous week's top relief corps. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.

Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:

• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded

• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout

• Add 5 points for a save

• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed

• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed

• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed

• Subtract 1 point for each walk

• Subtract 5 points for a blown save

The Cubs finished the week with a score of 104.5, edging out the Giants (97), Rays (96.5) and A's (96). Pedro Strop (5 scoreless innings), Mike Montgomery (4), Brandon Morrow (3), Steve Cishek (2 2/3), Brian Duensing (2 1/3) and Randy Rosario (2) all went unscored upon, combining to strike out 23 while walking seven.

Video: CHC@ATL: Morrow retires Inciarte to notch the save

The unexpected: Yu Darvish started last Tuesday's game against the Braves in Atlanta, and gave up one run over four innings, but had to exit the game early due to cramping in his right calf. The two clubs were tied at 1.

How they prevailed: Four Cubs relievers combined to hold Atlanta's offense to one run the rest of the way, giving Chicago's hitters the chance to score twice in the top of the ninth in an eventual 3-2 victory. Montgomery allowed a hit and a walk over two scoreless frames in the fifth and sixth, Strop tossed a scoreless seventh, and after Carl Edwards Jr. gave up a run in the eighth, Morrow closed out the game to pick up his 10th save of the year.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Chicago Cubs