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Murphy sparks Nats with first multihit game of '18

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy raised his fist in the air and pumped it with enthusiasm as the ball landed. He had hit a line drive over the head of leaping second baseman Cesar Hernandez and into right field, a two-out two-run single in the eighth inning that nearly wiped away more than week's worth of struggles from the Nationals offense and led them to an 8-6 victory over the Phillies on Sunday night.

The bases-loaded knock carried the Nats to a much needed come-from-behind victory as they avoid being swept by the Phillies for the first time since 2016.

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WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy raised his fist in the air and pumped it with enthusiasm as the ball landed. He had hit a line drive over the head of leaping second baseman Cesar Hernandez and into right field, a two-out two-run single in the eighth inning that nearly wiped away more than week's worth of struggles from the Nationals offense and led them to an 8-6 victory over the Phillies on Sunday night.

The bases-loaded knock carried the Nats to a much needed come-from-behind victory as they avoid being swept by the Phillies for the first time since 2016.

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Down a run in the eighth inning, Washington rallied after a leadoff walk from Brian Goodwin and a hustle double from Bryce Harper, who clapped his hands and screamed toward his dugout as he slid safely into second base. It was the most emotion Harper has shown in weeks and with three doubles, his best game in weeks. That put runners at second and third with two outs. The Phillies elected to issue an intentional walk to 19-year-old rookie phenom Juan Soto to face Murphy, a three-time All-Star.

Murphy has been one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball the past two seasons, however, he is still working his way back from microfracture knee surgery in the offseason and has not looked like the same hitter. But he looked like his old self when he connected with a slider from hard-throwing right-hander Seranthony Dominguez to give the Nationals their first lead of the night.

Murphy, who made his season debut on June 12, also singled in the second and fourth innings for his first multihit game of the season.

Entering Sunday, the Nationals had dropped nine of their past 12 games as were in danger of getting swept by the Phillies to fall further into third place. A large reason for that was their sudden dismal offense, which posted a .645 OPS during that tough stretch.

Down, 2-0, the Nationals began a rally in the fourth inning with four consecutive hits to tie the game against right-hander Nick Pivetta before a rain delay with no outs interrupted that rally. Pivetta returned to the mound 38 minutes later and proceeded to strike out the next three batters.

Lately, that missed chance would have haunted the Nationals. But they responded again for a three-run sixth inning that included a run-scoring triple from Trea Turner and consecutive RBI doubles from Harper and Anthony Rendon.

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy

Turner wraps LA's historic 7-HR party in 11th

Seven dingers -- all solo shots -- most allowed by Mets at home
MLB.com @kengurnick

NEW YORK -- Justin Turner got in on the homerpalooza at the end on Sunday, his 11th-inning blast capping the Dodgers' ridiculously difficult 8-7 win over the Mets, completing a sweep of the series with the 12th consecutive win over the struggling home team.

The Dodgers went berserk with seven solo shots. In addition to Turner, Enrique Hernandez and Cody Bellinger homered twice each, while Max Muncy and Joc Pederson had one. The seven home runs in one game tied for second-most in franchise history (fifth time), and it was the first time any opponent hit seven home runs against the Mets at home.

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NEW YORK -- Justin Turner got in on the homerpalooza at the end on Sunday, his 11th-inning blast capping the Dodgers' ridiculously difficult 8-7 win over the Mets, completing a sweep of the series with the 12th consecutive win over the struggling home team.

The Dodgers went berserk with seven solo shots. In addition to Turner, Enrique Hernandez and Cody Bellinger homered twice each, while Max Muncy and Joc Pederson had one. The seven home runs in one game tied for second-most in franchise history (fifth time), and it was the first time any opponent hit seven home runs against the Mets at home.

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It was the first time since the 2006 Braves that a club had seven solo homers, a National League record. Hernandez and Muncy went back to back, the seventh time this year for the club and the second time to open a game, and the Dodgers had multiple players hit multiple homers for the first time since Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez in 2014.

Video: LAD@NYM: Dodgers hit 7 solo home runs vs. the Mets

The Dodgers have 46 home runs in June and a league-high 102 this season. Hernandez has a career-high 12, Muncy and Bellinger are tied for the team lead at 15, and Pederson has 10. Pederson's was the longest at 437 feet.

"That's what we do. We hit homers," said Hernandez, who must have forgotten his successful squeeze bunt Saturday night. "A lot of them."

With the win, the Dodgers concluded a 4-2 trip and are 25-9 since May 16, when they trailed by 8 1/2 games in the NL West, trimming six games off the deficit (but none since June 2). Daniel Hudson pitched two innings for the win, after his staffmates let four leads get away.

Video: LAD@NYM: Hudson retires Cabrera to lock down victory

The Dodgers' clubhouse was strangely somber for such a record-breaking win, and that included Turner, who stayed in the game at third base after striking out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. He was low-key when discussing his clutch shot off his former team -- despite the potential boost a return to form would mean to the offense.

"I was just trying to hit the ball on the barrel," said Turner, who was 2-for-16 on the weeklong swing through Chicago and New York. "It's been a whole road trip of getting beat, getting jammed. What a day, a bunch of home runs and sweep a series against the Mets on the road. It will make for a happy flight going home."

Video: LAD@NYM: Bellinger smacks 2 homers vs. the Mets

While the Dodgers have erupted as the most dangerous home run club, Turner hasn't been part of it. He missed the first six weeks of the season with a broken left wrist and since returning hasn't shown the pull power that made him one of the best hitters in the game. This was his third home run of the year.

"Justin's approach is pulling the ball in the air, and knowing the conditions, it was a concerted effort to get under the baseball," manager Dave Roberts said. "Since he's come back, more so in the last week, just being able to release the barrel, that last click. He said the wrist feels strong, but that ability to release the barrel like he did on that last swing just hasn't been there."

Video: LAD@NYM: Roberts, Turner on 8-7 win in 11 innings

Starting pitcher Rich Hill, who let two leads evaporate over five innings, was self-critical in the clubhouse after the game, saying he caught himself falling back into a mechanical bad habit. He hit three batters and all scored.

"It was sloppy," he said. "I'm really disappointed about the execution of the pitches. That really is going to bother me for a couple of days."

Erik Goeddel -- asked to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning to get the game to Kenley Jansen -- issued a one-out walk to Jose Bautista and two batters later served up a tying, three-run homer to Kevin Plawecki.

Video: LAD@NYM: Plawecki hits game-tying 3-run homer in 8th

"Goeddel can't walk Bautista there," Roberts said.

Tweet from @Dodgers: 15-5 in the month of June! #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/T1BX0GS2Da

SOUND SMART
• Pederson has nine homers this month. He also hit nine in May 2015.

Video: LAD@NYM: Pederson blasts 437-foot homer at Citi Field

• Bellinger has eight career homers against the Mets, his most against any club, and second-most against the Mets behind Giancarlo Stanton's nine.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Hernandez got the home run derby started on a 2-0 pitch from Jerry Blevins, who was making his first start after 532 relief appearances.

Video: LAD@NYM: Hernandez, Muncy go back-to-back in the 1st

"Leading off the game against a lefty and I just wanted to make the best of the at-bat. I wasn't sure if it was going to be my only at-bat of the day," Hernandez said. "He left a fastball down the middle, and we got off to a good start."

HE SAID IT
"I used my dad's bat for the second one. I really don't like the way they boo him here, so that adds a little bit to my game." -- Hernandez, on using the bat of Chase Utley (Dad) for his second home run

Video: LAD@NYM: Hernandez smashes 2 homers vs. the Mets

UP NEXT
Kenta Maeda opens a 10-game homestand Monday against the Cubs and Mike Montgomery in a 7:10 p.m. PT start. Maeda struggled last time out at Wrigley Field, allowing three runs and five walks in 3 2/3 innings. First-pitch honorees will be Bob Baffert and Mike Smith, trainer and jockey of Triple Crown winner Justify.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger, Enrique Hernandez, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Justin Turner

Sale dazzles with 13-K gem as Sox blank M's

Left-hander allows just four hits, one walk in seventh win of season
Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- The Red Sox desperately needed to find a way to quiet the bats of Seattle, which had already put 17 runs on the board in the first two games of its series at Fenway Park.

Enter Chris Sale, who dominated the Mariners' lineup over seven innings in Sunday's matinee finale as the Red Sox breezed to a 5-0 win in the rubber game.

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BOSTON -- The Red Sox desperately needed to find a way to quiet the bats of Seattle, which had already put 17 runs on the board in the first two games of its series at Fenway Park.

Enter Chris Sale, who dominated the Mariners' lineup over seven innings in Sunday's matinee finale as the Red Sox breezed to a 5-0 win in the rubber game.

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With a full arsenal on display, the left-hander allowed just four hits and struck out 13 batters, his second highest K tally of the season.

Video: SEA@BOS: Cora on Sale's dominant outing in 5-0 win

"I think it was his best. He's really tough, even when he's not at his best. So you can imagine what it was looking like today," said Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who went 1-for-4 with a triple and a strikeout. "He is definitely one of the best in the league and he showed it today. It feels like he's right on top of you. He's got long arms and legs and it feels like the ball is on top of you."

"He controls what he can control, which is go out there and dominate for six, seven, eight innings," added Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He does a good job staying the course. He works, goes out there and performs."

In a span of 10 batters from the third through fifth innings, Sale punched out eight by way of strikeout and brought his American League leading total to 153 on the year.

Video: SEA@BOS: Sale mows down Zunino with 100-mph heater

The Red Sox's ace also brought the heat, making a 100.4 mph pitch to Mike Zunino in the fifth inning, which at the time registered as his fastest pitch as a starter per Statcast™, until he ticked things up a notch in Zunino's next at-bat, going to 100.5 to record his final strikeout of the day.

"I think it's just getting back into a little bit better rhythm," Sale said of his increase in velocity. "I've been saying the same thing over the last three or four starts -- it's feeling good and getting into that tempo and getting back into a little bit better rhythm than I had been starting the year. I put a lot of work into it. I'm glad where we're at."

It was the second consecutive double-digit strikeout performance for Sale, who has six games with 10-plus K's this season.

"A lot of people get caught up on strikeouts," said Sale. "They're nice, but at the end of the day your job is to pitch as deep into that game as you can and keep as few runs off the board [as possible]."

While Sale was cruising, so too was Mariners starter Marco Gonzales, as a pitchers' duel highlighted the first four innings of play.

Video: SEA@BOS: Devers plates Bogaerts with a double

After Sale struck out the side in the top of the fifth, the tete-a-tete ended as Boston's bats awoke to the tune of four hits and three runs, with Sandy Leon and Mookie Betts each driving in runs by way of sacrifice flies. Rafael Devers started the scoring with an RBI double.

Mitch Moreland provided some additional cushion with a two-run homer to deep center in the bottom of the sixth, his 11th long ball of the season.

"Mitch, he's been swinging the bat well against lefties. Not surprising there," said Cora. "Overall, a good job by the offense."

Video: SEA@BOS: Moreland jacks a 2-run homer to center

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mookie robs one: After Boston grabbed a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning, Seattle threatened to get right back into the game the very next inning. Andrew Romine pushed a bunt single and advanced to second on a fielder's choice, and with two outs Mitch Haniger sent a long fly ball towards the Mariners' bullpen in right field. However, Mookie Betts had alternate plans, and after battling the sun, made a leaping catch to rob Haniger and Seattle of any runs.

"A bloop and a blast can change the game there," said Betts. "So you just try to keep them off the bases while [Sale is] rolling." More >

Video: SEA@BOS: Betts robs Haniger with snag at the wall

SOUND SMART
With the win, the Red Sox captured the season series over Seattle, 4-3. With the teams currently 1-2 in the AL Wild Card standings, that could prove instrumental in determining home-field advantage should the teams finish with identical records and tiebreakers factor into the equation. Boston is 7-1-1 in its last nine season series vs. the Mariners.

HE SAID IT
"I'll take five every time out. I'm not worried about it. Throughout the scale of a whole year, it's all going to even out. There's going to be days where they score five and I give up six, and vice versa. It's a give-and-take game. I have faith in my guys, I know how hard they work, I know the work they put in. I just try to roll with it." -- Sale, on run support

UP NEXT
Boston has an off-day on Monday before welcoming the Angels to town for a three-game set. The series will feature two of the game's premier sluggers in Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez, who each have belted 23 home runs on the season. Boston has slated David Price in the opener on Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale

Rumor Mill: Rays likely to deal number of vets

MLB.com

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Rays preparing to trade Ramos, other veterans
June 24: The Rays are expected to trade a number of veterans in the coming weeks to clear a path for their youngsters to earn playing time, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Rays preparing to trade Ramos, other veterans
June 24: The Rays are expected to trade a number of veterans in the coming weeks to clear a path for their youngsters to earn playing time, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Catcher Wilson Ramos, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, outfielder Carlos Gomez and reliever Sergio Romo are among those likely to be dealt, and Chris Archer could also be moved if he proves to be healthy.

Archer is currently on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain, but he still has enough time to return and make a few starts before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

• Non-waiver Trade Deadline explained

Other potential trade candidates include starter Nathan Eovaldi, infielder Matt Duffy and reliever Chaz Roe.

Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses Braves' possible Trade Deadline moves

Padres interested in Franco
June 24: The Padres are interested in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, but a deal could be tough to swing. In order to part with its once-promising prospect, Philadelphia would need to acquire a third baseman externally. Doing so wouldn't necessarily be out of the realm, as the club has been linked to Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado.

With the Phils nearing the All-Star break firmly in the postseason hunt, they could be prompted to make an aggressive move ahead of the Deadline. San Diego boasts a bevy of bullpen arms that have been the club's bright spots -- particularly left-hander Brad Hand, who drew significant interest ahead of last year's Deadline. The Padres are believed to want a significant return in exchange for Hand, perhaps for more everyday talent than just Franco.

The Padres have gotten up-and-down production from Christian Villanueva, who hit .321/.411/.692 in March and April, when he was named the National League Rookie of the Month, though the 27-year-old owns a .176/.229/.382 line in the two months since.

Video: PHI@WSH: Franco posts a solid 4-hit showing

Rangers make Beltre, two relievers available
June 23: The Rangers are shopping Beltre, as well as relievers Jake Diekman and Keone Kela, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Beltre, who collected his 3,000th career hit last season and is 34 home runs shy of 500, is hitting .314/.365/.456 with four home runs in 47 games this season. He's missed time due to hamstring injuries, and injuries limited him to 94 games in 2017.

The 39-year-old is a free agent after this season and can veto any proposed trade given his service-time rights, so he could steer his way to a team with a chance to contend for the postseason. The potential third-base market leans heavily to the supply side, with Machado, Donaldson and the Royals' Mike Moustakas potentially on the move prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Morosi: Hot market for hot corner

Diekman, also a free agent at season's end, has a 2.96 ERA over 33 appearances (27 1/3 innings) this season. Kela, the Rangers' closer, has a 3.67 ERA and 18 saves in 29 appearances.

Reds drawing interest in Duvall
June 23: Outfielder Adam Duvall is drawing a "surprising" amount of trade interest according to Rosenthal in a video for FOX Sports. Duvall is hitting .203/.285/.409 with 12 home runs for Cincinnati this season, but has been pretty unlucky according to Statcast™: Entering Saturday, his expected batting average based on launch angle and exit velocity of batted balls was .249.

Over the past two seasons, Duvall slashed .245/.299/.489 with 64 homers in 307 games. He also finished as a Gold Glove Award finalist in both seasons and was selected as an All-Star in 2016. The 29-year-old is under team control over the next three seasons.

O's star Jones 'holds all the cards'
June 23: Five-time All-Star Adam Jones has been stellar for the Orioles, batting .291 with a 109 OPS+ through Friday's action. But Jones told Baltimore Sun reporter Jon Meoli on Friday that the Orioles had not approached him in any capacity about a potential trade, even as the team likely pivots to a rebuilding phase in these weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline.

"I can't let it bother me," Jones told the Sun. "I'm in a different part of my life to where I'm not anticipating a $150 million, $200 million, $300 million offer this offseason. I'm more just, 'Let me go be a pro, do what I do best,' and that's play the game hard and live with the result."

Jones can veto any trade opportunity by virtue of his 13 years of Major League service time and 11 consecutive seasons in Baltimore. Telling the Sun that he "holds all the cards" in a trade scenario, Jones was realistic about his role in the marketplace as he plays through his age-32 season.

"What I'm trying to do is maintain my value and continue the path that I've been on of consistency and performing year-in and year-out," Jones said. "I'm just basically doing me, and not worrying about everybody else."

Video: MIA@BAL: Jones drills a 2-run double to right-center

Jones represents a potentially valuable veteran presence should teams need an outfielder near the Deadline. He is one of a handful of Orioles players including Machado, Zach Britton, Brad Brach and others that make Baltimore arguably the most intriguing potential seller this summer. Jones has hit at least 25 home runs in each of his past seven big league seasons, and he has recorded an OPS below league average just once since 2009.

Nats say asking price on Realmuto too high
June 22: The Nationals could be among the most aggressive teams in making significant roster upgrades these next few weeks, but the cost for Marlins backstop J.T. Realmuto remains prohibitive, at least in the eyes of Nats general manager Mike Rizzo.

Here's what Rizzo said in a candid interview on Friday with MLB Network Radio about potentially acquiring Miami's backstop:

"[The Marlins] are not going to sell him cheap. We know what the return has to be on Realmuto, and we're not willing to meet that price. So unless something changes there, on their end, we're going to go with [Matt] Wieters when he gets healthy and a combination of [Pedro] Severino and [Spencer] Kieboom to back him up."

Feinsand: 10 players whose trade stock is on the rise

The Nats were very publicly linked to Realmuto throughout the winter, but -- as appears to still be the case -- the asking price was too high. Many reports over the offseason alluded that Miami, in the midst of a major overhaul, was asking for at least one of its top two prospects, Victor Robles or Juan Soto, both of whom have excelled in brief MLB stints.

Realmuto, 27, remains under club control through 2020, which assuredly would be one of the many enticing returns for Washington, which has many significant contributors hitting free agency this winter. Realmuto is batting .297/.355/.524 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs in 54 games this season for a Marlins club that entered Friday with a 29-46 record.

Video: Mike Lowell breaks down J.T. Realmuto, his value

Astros remain interested in acquiring Britton
June 22: After nearly trading for O's closer Britton last season, the Astros remain interested in the left-hander, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

Houston and Baltimore agreed on a deal sending Britton to the Astros for multiple players before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2017, but it was reportedly vetoed by Orioles owner Peter Angelos after physicals were exchanged.

Britton has allowed only one hit over 4 1/3 scoreless innings since he returned from right Achilles tendon surgery, and he's walked just one batter after issuing three free passes in his season debut.

The bullpen arguably remains the Astros' biggest weakness, and yet, the club's relief corps has performed incredibly well lately, posting the third-best ERA (2.03) in the Majors during June.

Hector Rondon has emerged as the Astros' primary closer this month, notching four saves in four chances, and Chris Devenski (1.57 ERA), Collin McHugh (1.13 ERA) and Brad Peacock (2.30 ERA) have also excelled this season. Even Ken Giles, who posted a 7.88 ERA in May and allowed three runs in his first two June appearances, has found a groove, tossing four straight scoreless outings.

Rangers willing to pay part of Choo's contract in trade
June 22: The Rangers have made Shin-Soo Choo available and are willing to pay part of the veteran's salary to get a deal done, according to Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

The 35-year-old is owed $42 million over the 2019-20 seasons as part of the seven-year, $130 million contract he signed with Texas in December 2013.

Choo has reached base in 34 straight games and owns a stellar 134 wRC+ this season. However, his defensive capabilities in the outfield are limited at this point, and he's spent much of the year as the Rangers' designated hitter. That, along with his contract, could reduce that number of teams interested in acquiring him.

"No chance" Pirates trade Taillon
June 22: Even if the Pirates decide to sell, Jameson Taillon is not expected to be one of the players available, according to Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

A source told Heyman there is "no chance" Pittsburgh moves its 26-year-old right-hander, who has posted a 4.03 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP this season.

Taillon won't be arbitration eligible for the first time until the 2019-2020 offseason and has four seasons remaining after this one before he reaches free agency.

Pirates players who are more likely to be dealt include Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Corey Dickerson and Ivan Nova.

Mets more likely to trade Wheeler than deGrom, Syndergaard?
June 21: The Mets have been calling around to gauge other teams' trade interest in their players, according to Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

Video: Morning Lineup: Teams that could trade for deGrom

While rivals are dubious the Mets will trade either Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, the club is finding interest in Zack Wheeler, per Heyman. Meanwhile, there hasn't been much chatter yet regarding Steven Matz.

Rosenthal reported Monday that the Mets are "open for business" as it relates to prospective trade offers ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

However, it will likely take a major haul to acquire either deGrom or Syndergaard. A Mets source told Heyman the club would need to get Gleyber Torres back to trade deGrom to the Yankees, which provides a sense of the asking price the club has placed on the ace. Of course, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has already nixed the idea of trading Torres, joking that he still has to "walk around this city."

Wheeler will surely cost teams less than it would take to acquire deGrom or Syndergaard. The righty owns a 4.82 ERA this season and has an extensive injury history, but his FIP is a promising 3.80. He was also hitting 99 mph with his four-seam fastball in his most recent start on June 17 against the D-backs.

Could Phils jump into Machado sweepstakes early?
June 21: The Phillies, who have been thought to be planning a pursuit of Machado when he hits the free-agent market this offseason, are having problems on the left side of their infield: Not only have they been getting little production there, rookie shortstop/third baseman J.P. Crawford recently broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch.

Duquette: 7 potential trade destinations for Machado

According to Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports, Philadelphia -- with several front-office executives having been with Baltimore when Machado was drafted -- would love to add the superstar third baseman, but the question remains whether the Phillies will be a contender as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline nears.

Royals shift focus to trading Moustakas after Herrera deal
June 21: After a trade that sent closer Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals, the Royals are now shifting their focus to moving Moustakas, according to Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

Moustakas is on a one-year deal with Kansas City that includes a mutual option for 2019. He's having a solid season, slashing .263/.319/.480 with 14 home runs after belting a career-high 38 in 2017, though he has been slumping of late. Moustakas has played his entire eight-year career with the Royals.

Bregman shaves mustache between at-bats

Something was on Alex Bregman's mind on Sunday. The Astros third baseman just couldn't shake the thought. It was with him while he popped out in the first inning of Houston's 11-3 win over the Royals, and it followed him when he walked in the team's eight-run second inning.

Rays sweep Yanks on Bauers' walk-off HR

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- As Sunday's game stretched into the 12th inning, Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers said he had seen enough.

"In the dugout, we were saying, 'OK, it's time. … OK, it's time,'" Bauers said.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- As Sunday's game stretched into the 12th inning, Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers said he had seen enough.

"In the dugout, we were saying, 'OK, it's time. … OK, it's time,'" Bauers said.

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When Bauers got his chance, it was time for him to be the hero.

Bauers smashed a walk-off homer in the 12th inning on Chasen Shreve's first offering, leading the Rays to a 7-6 victory over the Yankees on Sunday at Tropicana Field and completing a three-game sweep. It was also the Yankees' first three-game losing streak this season.

Video: NYY@TB: Cash on Bauers' walk-off homer in 12 innings

"It's unreal," Bauers said. "I still can't catch my breath. This is something a lot of people dream of, but not many people get to do."

Truthfully, Bauers said, the game was filled with Tampa Bay heroes. Rays manager Kevin Cash agreed.

"So many people did so many things to make this win possible," Cash said. "I'm not sure I can [absorb] all that happened. I just know that so many people contributed to it. It was a very, very special weekend for our ballclub."

Video: NYY@TB: Bauers on his walk-off home run in the 12th

Bauers' homer was the Rays' first hit since the third inning, as both teams engaged in a bullpen scrum. Shreve was the Yankees' seventh pitcher, and the Rays also used seven arms.

Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (7-3), summoned unexpectedly in the 12th inning when reliever Jonny Venters sustained a pulled hamstring while trying to cover on Brett Gardner's leadoff bunt, got the victory. Yarbrough was called upon after throwing 75 pitches Friday night against the Yankees.

Video: NYY@TB: Yarbrough retires Romine to strand 2 runners

"I don't know what would've happened if it kept going [for several more innings]," Yarbrough said. "They asked me if I could possibly throw today, pure emergency, and I said I could. You never know how the game is going to transpire. Bauers really came up clutch. But before that happened, I think every guy who threw today did great."

Cash said he was particularly impressed with left-hander Vidal Nuno, who hadn't pitched since June 14 but worked four innings and got the Rays into the ninth with the score tied.

"The way [Nuno] kept himself ready, then navigated through that lineup, with a lot of difficult matchups, was really something we needed," Cash said.

Video: NYY@TB: Nuno makes a great spin and throw to 1st

The Rays mounted a formidable offensive game in the first three innings, when they took a 6-3 lead and pounded six extra-base hits off Yankees starter Domingo German.

Kevin Kiermaier led off the first with a hustling triple on a liner through the hole that reached the left-center-field wall, then scored on Matt Duffy's double down the right-field line. One batter later, Carlos Gomez's double drove home Duffy.

Video: NYY@TB: Gomez ropes an RBI double into left field

The Yankees roared back for a 3-2 lead on Miguel Andujar's three-run homer in the second. The Rays tied it in the bottom of the frame on Adeiny Hechavarria's solo shot.

The Rays kept things going in the third with three more runs. Gomez singled to drive in Bauers, who led off the inning with a triple. Mallex Smith then beat out a chopper to the mound, giving the Rays a pair of baserunners, and Jesus Sucre drove them both home with a double, making it 6-3.

Video: NYY@TB: Sucre lines a 2-run double to left field

Rays starter Matt Andriese was lifted after allowing two baserunners to begin the fourth, but Jose Alvarado wiggled out of the jam. But when Alvarado issued a one-out walk to Gardner in the fifth, the Rays turned to Diego Castillo, who was touched for back-to-back RBI doubles by Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton, pulling the Yankees to within one.

The offensive pace soon slowed to a crawl with effective bullpen work from both sides. But Stanton -- who notched his second career five-hit game -- led off the eighth with a solo homer off Nuno, tying the game at 6 and setting up the extra-inning finish.

Video: NYY@TB: Alvarado freezes Walker to strand 2 runners

"The way our guys came back off the road trip to get this sweep was really something we needed," Cash said. "It was nice to outlast them today and get something against them that has happened too many times against us in my four years -- a walk-off win. It's very satisfying."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nuno finished his four-inning stint by escaping a ninth-inning jam. Gardner slammed a two-out double off the right-field wall -- narrowly missing a homer -- and Aaron Judge was walked intentionally. Nuno then coaxed Gregorius into an inning-ending grounder to Hechavarria at shortstop, preserving the tie.

Video: NYY@TB: Nuno retires Didi to escape a jam in the 9th

SOUND SMART
The win marked the second time in Rays history that the team swept a series of three games or more against a team that entered the series with the best record in the Majors. It also happened June 17-19, 2008, against the Cubs -- in a season when the Rays ultimately reached the World Series.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Yankees pinch-hitter Clint Frazier led off the eighth with a towering shot to left field. Off the bat, it looked like a home run. But it struck a speaker dangling from the "B'' ring catwalk and caromed back toward short left field, where it was deftly caught by Hechavarria. According to Tropicana Field ground rules, any fair ball that strikes the "B'' ring is in play.

Video: NYY@TB: Hechavarria catches Frazier ball off speaker

HE SAID IT
"I was just trying to get on base. Get a runner on first and anything can happen. I wasn't trying to do too much. That's usually when good things happen.'' -- Bauers, on his walk-off, 12th-inning homer

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the 11th inning, Rays shortstop Willy Adames drew a one-out walk, then was called out trying to steal second base as Yankees catcher Austin Romine threw to Gregorius. The Rays opted for a replay, and the call was overturned after one minute and nine seconds. Adames was ruled to have beaten the throw.

Video: NYY@TB: Adames steals second after overturned call

UP NEXT
It will be a battle of left-handers when the Rays open a two-game series against the Nationals at Tropicana Field on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Tampa Bay will start Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48 ERA), who got the win on Wednesday at Houston despite issuing a career-high seven walks. Washington starts Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has lost two straight decisions and is seeking his first victory since May 28. Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in his career against the Rays.

Joey Johnston is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jake Bauers, Adeiny Hechavarria, Vidal Nuno, Ryan Yarbrough

Injury updates: Sanchez, Bryant, Nimmo, Tanaka

MLB.com

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Gary Sanchez, Yankees
Sanchez is likely heading to the disabled list after exiting in the 10th inning Sunday with a right hip/groin injury, according to manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees slugger, who will stay behind in St. Petersburg to get an MRI on Monday, was hustling to avoid a double play but came up lame after crossing first base.

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Gary Sanchez, Yankees
Sanchez is likely heading to the disabled list after exiting in the 10th inning Sunday with a right hip/groin injury, according to manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees slugger, who will stay behind in St. Petersburg to get an MRI on Monday, was hustling to avoid a double play but came up lame after crossing first base.

"It just depends on the severity of it," Boone said. "We'll know a lot more clearly tomorrow and have a better idea of the timeline."

Sanchez is batting .190 in 63 games, but he's suffered from some bad luck on balls in play. His .194 BABIP is the lowest mark in the American League among qualified players. Austin Romine will likely take over as New York's primary catcher while Sanchez is sidelined.
More >

Video: NYY@TB: Boone on the severity of Sanchez's injury

Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses Sanchez's injury

Kris Bryant, Cubs
Bryant was out of the lineup for a second straight day against the Reds on Sunday as he deals with soreness in his left shoulder. The club called it general wear and tear and that he might need Monday off, too. There was no talk of a DL stint at this point.
More >

Video: Maddon and Bryant on third baseman's sore shoulder

Brandon Nimmo, Mets
Nimmo left Sunday's game against the Dodgers with a sore right pinkie finger after being hit by two pitches from left-hander Rich Hill, the second of which struck Nimmo's right hand in the fifth inning. After a lengthy discussion with manager Mickey Callaway and trainer Brian Chicklo, Nimmo remained in the game through the sixth but was eventually pulled due to soreness in the finger. X-rays were negative, but Nimmo will go for an MRI on Monday to double-check that nothing is broken.

Nimmo, who has now been hit by a National League-high 12 pitches this year, has blossomed into an All-Star candidate as arguably the brightest spot offensively for the Mets. He's hitting .283 with a .974 OPS.
More >

Video: LAD@NYM: Nimmo hit in hand by pitch, later exits game

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
Tanaka threw a 26-pitch bullpen session before New York's series finale against Tampa Bay on Sunday morning. It was his first time throwing off a mound since going on the disabled list on June 9 with mild strains in both of his hamstrings.

Tanaka, who did some light running in the outfield at Tropicana Field after the session, was encouraged by his ability to throw his entire repertoire of pitches without limitation. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Tanaka will throw another bullpen session on Tuesday at the team's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., and that he will be reassessed after that.
More >

Video: NYY@TB: Yankees broadcast on Tanaka's rehab progress

Tommy Pham, Cardinals
Pham was scratched from Sunday's finale against the Brewers with flu-like symptoms. Pham was originally in his typical No. 2 spot in the order when he arrived at Miller Park for the finale of a four-game set, but he was removed after feeling lightheaded in the batting cage and replaced by Harrison Bader in center field.
More >

Video: Matheny discusses Pham getting scratched from lineup

Travis Shaw and Lorenzo Cain, Brewers
Shaw left Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals during his third-inning at-bat due to a nagging right wrist injury. Shaw fouled a pitch off in an 0-2 count, lunged back and caught himself, then leaned over in pain.

"I don't really have any new information right now," Shaw said after the game. "Hopefully, we'll know more in the next day or two. Obviously, there was a pretty good twinge on the swing. There was no way I could have kept going."

Shaw missed two games last week due to the injury. The left-handed hitter is batting .242/.339/.480 in 73 games this year.

Neither Shaw nor Cain, who exited early Thursday and Saturday and was not in the lineup Sunday with a groin/hamstring injury, is expected to require a DL stint, according to manager Craig Counsell. Cain is batting .321 with three homers, 21 runs and six steals in his past 28 games.
More >

Video: STL@MIL: Shaw leaves the game with a wrist injury

Jonny Venters, Rays
Venters exited Sunday's game in the 12th inning after suffering a right hamstring strain while trying to cover first base. The veteran reliever sprinted off the mound after a bunt by the Yankees' Brett Gardner but pulled up in obvious pain before reaching first base. Manager Kevin Cash said that Venters will be placed on the 10-day DL.

"I was pretty close to the bag, and [the hamstring] kind of grabbed on me," Venters said. "I've never had a hamstring [issue] before, so I don't think it's real serious. Hopefully it's just a mild strain and I miss as little time as possible."

Venters was enjoying a solid comeback campaign after not pitching in the big leagues since 2012, posting a 3.95 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.
More >

Video: NYY@TB: Venters exits the game with hamstring strain

Jordan Lyles, Austin Hedges and Travis Jankowski, Padres
Lyles was placed on the 10-day DL with right elbow inflammation Sunday after being scratched from Saturday's start. The 27-year-old righty is expected to travel to San Diego to be examined by team doctors. Lyles has posted a 4.79 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in eight starts since transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation in mid-May.

Hedges, meanwhile, was activated from the DL after being sidelined since May 1 with right elbow tendinitis. Hedges' recovery took longer than expected, as his first rehab assignment was shut down in late May when he experienced a recurrence of elbow soreness. The Padres backstop, who hit .385/.422/.718 during his Minor League rehab stint, said that soreness has subsided entirely.

Jankowski was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup due to a sore left quad. Manager Andy Green said Jankowski would likely be available to pinch-hit.
More >

Caleb Smith, Marlins
Smith exited Sunday's game vs. the Rockies in the second inning with left shoulder tightness. With one out and the bases clear, the rookie southpaw winced after throwing a first-pitch breaking ball to Gerardo Parra and was quickly visited by the club's training staff and manager Don Mattingly. Smith, who yielded two runs with one strikeout in 1 1/3 innings, has registered a stellar 10.2 K/9 rate in 16 starts this season.
More >

Video: MIA@COL: Smith exits the game with shoulder tightness

Jean Segura, Mariners
Segura sat out a fourth straight game Sunday with an infected right forearm, but the Mariners expect their hot-hitting shortstop to be back in the lineup Monday to start a four-game series in Baltimore.

Segura had the infection drained by a doctor on Friday, but it was still limiting his ability to throw and swing a bat. On Saturday, Segura took ground balls at shortstop in pregame work, then flipped the ball underhand to a nearby teammate. But Sunday, the 28-year-old was making the throw to first during infield work with coach Manny Acta.

Segura said the infection caused a pinching sensation, like someone tugging at the bat when he was swinging. He did some light swinging in the cage on Saturday, but that figures to be the last remaining issue.
More >

Arodys Vizcaino and Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
The Braves placed Vizcaino on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday, retroactive to Thursday, with right shoulder inflammation. Vizcaino's right shoulder has bothered him throughout the season, and he hasn't pitched since June 17. It was hoped that he'd be able to return this weekend after undergoing treatment and receiving a cortisone injection last week, but the Braves are being cautious with their closer and will give him additional time to recover.
More >

Acuna has been on the DL since sustaining a mild left ACL strain May 27, and the Braves continue to take a cautious approach with baseball's top prospect per MLB Pipeline.

"We're still evaluating," Braves manager Brian Snitker said following Sunday's 7-3 win over the Orioles. "He's feeling good, but we're still talking to the doctors about when is the right time. We don't want to rush him back. We want to make sure everything is healed."

Though the Braves have not revealed specific plans, Snitker indicated that Acuna will likely remain on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett when the Stripers begin a three-game series in Norfolk on Monday. If Acuna makes the trip, there is a chance he does not return to the Braves until Friday, when Atlanta opens a three-game set in St. Louis.
More >

Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Miller and Tyler Olson, Indians
Carrasco (right elbow contusion) and Miller (right knee inflammation) will travel with the team as the Indians embark on a nine-game road trip, starting with a three-game series against the Cardinals on Monday. Carrasco is still on schedule to begin throwing bullpen sessions starting next week, though a specific date hasn't been set. Miller, who was placed on the 10-day DL on May 26, is set to resume throwing Monday.

Meanwhile, Olson began his throwing program on Sunday, one day ahead of schedule.
More >

Walker Buehler and Chris Taylor, Dodgers
Buehler made 17 pitches off the bullpen mound Sunday, his first true test since going on the disabled list June 9 with a microfracture of a right rib. There is no indication when Buehler will return to the rotation and there seems to be no rush, as the Dodgers had expected to back off him at some point in the season to limit his innings.

Taylor remains day to day with a tight hamstring and is available for pinch-hitting, and manager Dave Roberts reiterated that the club does not intend to put him on the DL. Roberts said the impressive play of Enrique Hernandez, who is replacing Taylor at shortstop and hit two homers on Sunday, also allows time for Taylor on the bench. Taylor drove in two runs Saturday night as a pinch-hitter.
More >

Video: LAD@NYM: Taylor rips a pinch-hit 2-run double

Jeremy Hellickson and Brandon Kintzler, Nationals
Hellickson (right hamstring) and Kintzler (right forearm) are nearing a return to the Nationals after completing rehab assignments with Class A Advanced Potomac on Sunday. Hellickson started and tossed 83 pitches over 4 2/3 innings, and Kintzler fired a scoreless inning in relief. Hellickson was touched up for 11 earned runs on nine hits and three walks, but the bumpy outing did not bother manager Dave Martinez.

"I'm more concerned about the way he feels," Martinez said. "And we'll go from there."

Both players were only expected to require one Minor League rehab outing before returning. Kintzler, who has been on the DL since June 10, could return to the Nationals on Monday, while Hellickson -- out since June 5 -- could start Friday or Saturday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. More >

Jason Vargas, Mets
The Mets placed Vargas on the 10-day disabled list Sunday due to a right calf strain, which he experienced the day after his most recent start on Tuesday. Vargas spent the next few days nursing the injury, but ultimately could not recover in time to make his scheduled start Sunday against the Dodgers. Jerry Blevins, who has 532 career appearances as a reliever, made his first career start in place of Vargas.
More >

Homer Bailey, Reds
Whether it is at Triple-A Louisville or elsewhere, Bailey's Minor League rehab stint is expected to be a long one. On Saturday night, Bailey allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits over six innings and 86 pitches in Louisville's 13-12 win over Norfolk.

A return to the big leagues does not appear imminent for Bailey, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list June 2 with right knee inflammation shortly after he was demoted to the bullpen. In his last start for the Bats on June 11, Bailey allowed five runs on six hits in three innings. His rehab process was paused when pain lingered in his right knee, but that no longer seems to be an issue.

"His health is good," Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. "It's more about how the ball's coming out of his hand and the quality of the pitches. He feels pretty good."
More >

Reds score 7 in 7th for 7th straight win

Cincy sweeps Cubs in four games for first time since 1983
Special to MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- After a dismal April and May that had them off to their worst start since the Great Depression, the Reds are beginning to regain some swagger under interim manager Jim Riggleman. This weekend, Cincinnati accomplished something it hadn't done in more than 35 years -- sweep the Cubs in four games.

Jesse Winker's pinch-hit three-run home run highlighted a seven-run seventh inning as the Reds overcame a five-run deficit to rally for their seventh consecutive victory, 8-6, on Sunday at Great American Ball Park.

View Full Game Coverage

CINCINNATI -- After a dismal April and May that had them off to their worst start since the Great Depression, the Reds are beginning to regain some swagger under interim manager Jim Riggleman. This weekend, Cincinnati accomplished something it hadn't done in more than 35 years -- sweep the Cubs in four games.

Jesse Winker's pinch-hit three-run home run highlighted a seven-run seventh inning as the Reds overcame a five-run deficit to rally for their seventh consecutive victory, 8-6, on Sunday at Great American Ball Park.

View Full Game Coverage

"That's a really strong club over there," said first baseman Joey Votto, whose RBI double gave the Reds the lead for good after surviving a replay review. "It shows the work we've been doing behind the scenes, and then to execute on the field and beat a club like the Chicago Cubs is probably something we should hang our hat on."

Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses Reds, Indians heating up Ohio

The Reds scored seven times on seven hits and three walks in the big seventh frame -- one free pass coming with the bases loaded -- as they sent 13 batters to the plate to complete their first four-game sweep of the Cubs since 1983.

Video: CHC@CIN: Winker delivers pinch-hit 3-run jack in 7th

Right-hander Michael Lorenzen started the Reds' scoring with a pinch-hit solo home run in the fifth, helping spark the rally that extended Cincinnati's longest winning streak since a 10-game stretch in 2012, when it won the National League Central title.

"Games like this," said Lorenzen, "it just feels like we're not meant to lose."

Raisel Iglesias earned his 13th save for the Reds. Jackson Stephens (1-0) got the win for Cincinnati, and Pedro Strop (3-1) took the loss for Chicago.

Video: CHC@CIN: Iglesias saves Reds' 7th straight victory

Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run home run for the Cubs, who played their final game of the season at Great American Ball Park. The Reds still have 10 games remaining at Wrigley Field.

Sal Romano's career-high scoreless streak reached 14 innings before Jason Heyward's two-run double on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth put the Cubs ahead, 2-0. Javier Baez followed with an RBI single to make it a three-run lead.

Rizzo followed with a two-run blast to right field, his 12th of the season, and the Cubs led 5-0.

Video: CHC@CIN: Heyward, Rizzo anchor Cubs' 5-run 5th inning

"If I had to do it over again, I would have thrown a curveball," Romano said. "But it's not about me today. It was a really good win for us."

Romano allowed five runs, walked one and struck out six over his five innings but earned a no-decision when the Reds rallied.

"He threw a lot of bad pitches in that [fifth] inning, after being so clean," Riggleman said. "He didn't get away with anything."

Video: CHC@CIN: Romano K's Schwarber to retire the side

Mike Montgomery, who was an emergency starter for the Cubs after Tyler Chatwood's wife went into labor early Sunday morning, had allowed one hit through 4 2/3 innings when Lorenzen launched his 1-1 pitch for a solo homer to get the Reds on the board.

The Cubs got that run back when Albert Almora Jr. hit his third homer of the season, a solo shot off Stephens in the seventh.

But the Reds erupted for seven runs in the seventh, including three on Winker's third career pinch-hit home run on Strop's first pitch to cut the deficit to 6-5.

It's only the third time since 1970 that the Reds have had two pinch-hit home runs in a game.

Votto's RBI double put Cincy ahead, 7-6. Jose Peraza's bases-loaded walk forced in another run to give the Reds a two-run cushion they wouldn't relinquish.

"To come back and slowly chip away then get ahead late in the game, I think it's a really good sign," Votto said. "We didn't give up. We had a really bad start. It's a long season. We have to continue to work. Hopefully by the end, we have some really good things to say about the season."

Video: CHC@CIN: Reds discuss comeback win, sweep vs. Cubs

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Romano got a lift from his defense when Almora was thrown out trying to score from first on Baez's double to end the third. A perfect relay from Peraza gave left fielder Adam Duvall his third assist of the season. That run would prove to be an important one when the Reds scored seven times in the seventh. 

Video: CHC@CIN: Reds relay to nab Almora at the plate

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
It was a good series for Reds pitchers at the plate. The day after Anthony DeSclafani became the first Reds pitcher since 1959 to hit a grand slam, Lorenzen launched a solo home run off Montgomery with two outs in the fifth. It was his third career home run and second as a pinch-hitter. He last homered on April 6, 2017, off the Phillies' Adam Morgan. Lorenzen is 2-for-4 this season. On the mound, he is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 12 appearances with one save.

Video: CHC@CIN: Pitcher Lorenzen drills 3rd career home run

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Reds had already put together an incredible rally just to tie the game in the seventh -- having scored six runs without making an out -- when their superstar first baseman stepped to the plate with the go-ahead runs aboard. Votto, of course, didn't waste his chance to give Cincinnati the lead, ripping a tiebreaking double into the right-center-field gap off Strop and sliding in just ahead of the tag at second. The Cubs challenged whether Votto was tagged out at second, but the safe call would stand after review.

Video: CHC@CIN: Votto hits go-ahead double, safe on review

UP NEXT
The Reds begin a three-game series at SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Monday, with right-hander Tyler Mahle making his 16th start of the season and second against the Braves. Mahle is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his past four starts. He earned a no-decision after allowing three earned runs over six innings in a 9-7 win over Atlanta on April 24. The Braves will counter with right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who is 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four career starts vs. Cincinnati. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET.

Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds

Here is the best game every day this week

MLB.com @RichardJustice

This new week begins with the Ohio baseball teams -- that's the Indians and Reds, if you're sharp on your geography -- putting seven-game winning streaks on the line in St. Louis and Atlanta, respectively.

History buffs may remember that the Indians have had a couple of streaks in recent years, including a little 22-0 run last season that was part of a 27-1 stretch.

This new week begins with the Ohio baseball teams -- that's the Indians and Reds, if you're sharp on your geography -- putting seven-game winning streaks on the line in St. Louis and Atlanta, respectively.

History buffs may remember that the Indians have had a couple of streaks in recent years, including a little 22-0 run last season that was part of a 27-1 stretch.

For the Reds, last weekend brought the first four-game sweep of the Cubs in 35 years and a shot of optimism that the great rebuild is headed in the right direction.

The Reds are a respectable 29-30 under interim skipper Jim Riggleman, who probably shouldn't have "interim" in his title much longer.

Elsewhere, this is an important week for the D-backs, who could learn a lot more after right-hander Shelby Miller takes the mound on Monday for the first time in 429 days on Monday.

In a tight National League West race, every little thing is connected to every other little thing. For instance, the Dodgers will watch Clayton Kershaw continue his latest comeback later this week after he passed one test -- 55 pitches against the Mets on Saturday -- in his first start in three weeks.

Video: LAD@NYM: Kershaw tosses 3 innings, strikes out 4

And this week includes another Yankees-Red Sox series, the Braves beginning one of their most important road trips of the season and the Nationals in a very unfamiliar place: third place in the NL East.

Here's a look at the best game each day (all times ET):

Monday: D-backs at Marlins (7:10 p.m., MLB.TV)

The Cardinals and Braves both considered Miller a future ace at one time. Now, having been traded twice, Miller makes his return from Tommy John surgery on Monday against the Marlins in an outing that could be an important part of Arizona's attempt to take the NL West from the Dodgers.

Tuesday: Yankees at Phillies (7:05 p.m., MLB.TV)

This is the kind of regular-season matchup we love. First, it pits two aces -- Luis Severino of the Yankees and Jake Arrieta of the Phillies -- against each other. It also pits two teams in tight division races. The Yankees have been unable to shake the Red Sox in the American League East, while the Phillies and Braves continue to lead the favored Nationals in the NL East.

Wednesday: Indians at Cardinals (8:15 p.m., MLB.TV)

The Indians have averaged 7.7 runs a game during a streak that has stretched their lead in the AL Central from 2 1/2 games to eight. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have lost eight of 12 as they return home for six games against the Indians and Braves.

Thursday: Cubs at Dodgers (3:10 p.m., MLB Network, MLB.TV)

The Dodgers could win the NL West without Kershaw being at his best, but it's pretty much impossible thinking they could make a deep October run without him. He got through his outing on Saturday without any problems and will look to go deeper into a game and shake off a bit more rust in his second turn. The Cubs, swept in a four-game series by the Reds this weekend, have spent just five days in first place as they try to get a sluggish offense on track.

Friday: Red Sox at Yankees (7:05 p.m., MLB Network, MLB.TV)

These two old friends have split their first six games this season and haven't been separated by more than 2 1/2 games in the standings since late April. Both are going to the playoffs for the second year in a row, and so the rest of this season will be about deciding which team avoids the AL Wild Card Game.

Saturday: Nationals at Phillies (6:05 p.m., MLB.TV)

The Nationals begin the week in third place as the Braves and Phillies continue to be baseball's surprise teams. Actually, the surprise part of this ended weeks ago. Now it's about finding out if the Phils can hold off the team a lot of people expected to win the NL East by miles.

Sunday: Braves at Cardinals (2:15 p.m., MLB.TV)

This series marks the beginning of a 10-game trip in which the Braves will play the Cardinals, Yankees and Brewers. Atlanta napped a three-game losing streak against Baltimore on Sunday. As for the Cardinals, they won back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday for the first time since June 8-9.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Braves make biggest leap in Power Rankings

Atlanta jumps from 9th to 4th thanks to its mighty offense
MLB.com @alysonfooter

The halfway point of the season is coming up, and nearly every division is lacking, so far, a runaway winner.

The American League Central might be the only division that doesn't fit this description. A combination of the Indians' seven-game winning streak and the Tigers' five-game losing streak, along with Cleveland being the only club over .500, suggests that race may be over. But at least two or three teams in each other division are either in first place or within a couple of games of overtaking the lead.

The halfway point of the season is coming up, and nearly every division is lacking, so far, a runaway winner.

The American League Central might be the only division that doesn't fit this description. A combination of the Indians' seven-game winning streak and the Tigers' five-game losing streak, along with Cleveland being the only club over .500, suggests that race may be over. But at least two or three teams in each other division are either in first place or within a couple of games of overtaking the lead.

The National League continues to prove to be the most competitive. Only one team -- the Padres -- has a double-digit deficit.

Biggest jump:

The Braves jumped five spots, from No. 9 to No. 4. Atlanta, tops in the NL in OPS (.756) and slugging (.428), has relied on that offense during a stretch in which its pitching is being tested. The Braves scored 56 runs over their past 10 games but also allowed 43, and now they may be without their closer, Arodys Vizcaino (sore shoulder) for a period of time. The upcoming series with the Reds should be a good one -- Cincinnati, six games over .500 since May 8, is coming off a four-game sweep of the Cubs.

Biggest drop:

The Nationals dropped five spots, from No. 7 to No. 12. Entering their finale with the Phillies on Sunday night, the Nats had lost nine of 12, mostly due to a slumping offense. Bryce Harper is struggling mightily -- over his past 12 games through Saturday, he was hitting .103 with no homers and two RBIs.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1. Astros (1 last week)

The Astros have lost five times all month and are an MLB-best 28-9 vs. sub-.500 teams. While the Astros, Yankees and Red Sox continue to compete for the top record, the Astros have arguably the most complete team -- there are simply no holes in their rotation or their lineup, and any stumbles by the bullpen are masked by the relentless offense. That attack is led by Jose Altuve, 11-for-25 in his past eight games. Another major contributor this month has been Evan Gattis, who has eight homers and an MLB-best 25 RBIs in 21 June games.

Video: KC@HOU: Altuve lines a 2-run single to center field

2. Yankees (2)

Under the category "You Can't Predict Ball," we present the Yankees, who swept a three-game series from the contending Mariners, then were swept by the under-.500 Rays. Prior to their weekend in St. Petersburg, the Yankees hadn't been swept in a series of three or more games since dropping three to the Indians last August. The Yankees' schedule doesn't let up for a while -- their upcoming series are against the Phillies, Red Sox and Braves.

3. Red Sox (3)

The Red Sox had a mediocre week, going 3-3 against the Twins and Mariners. Win or lose, though, the offense has been relatively consistent throughout -- in those six games, the Sox scored 33 runs. If every team goes through a lull in the season, the Sox may be in the middle of theirs -- they've lost five of nine, and, before Chris Sale shut down the Mariners on Sunday, pitchers had allowed 40 runs over eight games.

Video: SEA@BOS: Sale fans 13 over 7 dominant innings

4. Braves (9)

Atlanta is proving to be a major player in the NL East and, three months into the season, should no longer be presumed to be weaker than the Nationals based solely on last year's standings. What's impressive is that the young Braves are going through growing pains while maintaining their place among the elite teams. Still, if proof is needed that baseball is indeed a long season, consider this: Atlanta's rotation, entering the finale with the Orioles on Sunday, had allowed 16 runs over 21 1/3 innings over four games, but in their previous six, had allowed just two runs over 36 innings.

5. Brewers (5)

The Brewers have the most wins in the NL and were helped in the standings by their rivals, the Cubs, who dropped four straight to the Reds. Milwaukee has the second-lowest cumulative ERA, at 3.41, and its bullpen has the best weapon in baseball -- reliever Josh Hader, who has 148 strikeouts over 87 1/3 innings and a 0.87 WHIP.

Video: STL@MIL: Hader K's Flaherty, the side in the 6th

The rest of the Top 20:
6. Indians (10 last week)
7. Mariners (4)
8. D-backs (8)
9. Cubs (6)
10. Dodgers (11)
11. Phillies (14)
12. Nationals (7)
13. Angels (13)
14. Cardinals (12)
15. Athletics (16)
16. Rockies (15)
17. Giants (17)
18. Rays (19)
19. Twins (NR)
20. Tigers (23)

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