Phillies

Best of MLB: Cardinals handle Braves, 6-5, run win streak to 8

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Best of MLB: Cardinals handle Braves, 6-5, run win streak to 8

ST. LOUIS -- Randal Grichuk and Paul DeJong homered and the St. Louis Cardinals stretched their winning streak to eight games with a 6-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.

Carlos Martinez (9-9) tossed six solid innings and also drove in a run for the Cardinals, who moved within 1/2 game of the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.

Brandon Phillips homered for Atlanta, which lost its fifth in a row.

The eight-game run is the longest for St. Louis since the Cardinals won eight in a row April 28-May 5, 2015.

Grichuk hit his 15th homer of the season in the second to tie the game 2-all. He also added a double in a three-run outburst in the fifth.

DeJong led off the seventh with his team-high 17th home run (see full recap).

Benintendi 2 HRs, 6 RBI, Red Sox rout Severino, Yanks 10-5
NEW YORK -- Rookie Andrew Benintendi rocketed a pair of three-run homers off All-Star Luis Severino and the Boston Red Sox bounced back from a tough loss, roughing up the New York Yankees 10-5 Saturday.

A day after blowing a late lead, the AL East leaders battered Severino for a career-worst 10 runs. Drew Pomeranz pitched the Red Sox to their ninth win in 10 games, and restored their 4-game lead over New York.

Boston began bruising the Yankees' staff even before the first pitch -- starter Jordan Montgomery was hit in the head by a flyball while he signed autographs as the Red Sox took batting practice. Montgomery is still expected to pitch Sunday night against ace Chris Sale in the series finale.

The 23-year-old Benintendi, who also homered Friday night, is on quite a tear in August. He is 15 for 31 with four home runs and five steals this month, reaching base 20 times in eight games (see full recap).

Upton's HR caps comeback for Tigers in 12-11 win over Twins
DETROIT -- Justin Upton hit a two-run homer off Matt Belisle in the ninth inning, giving Detroit a 12-11 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night after the Tigers wasted a five-run lead and then overcame a five-run deficit.

Detroit had been 0-54 this year when trailing after eight innings and had lost six of seven but rallied to stop the Twins' six-game winning streak.

After James McCann hit a grand slam in a five-run first inning against Jose Berrios, the Twins tied the score 5-5 in the third, then scored twice in the fourth, once in the fifth and three times in the sixth for an 11-6 lead.

Upton hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and McCann hit into a run-scoring forceout in the eighth and scored on Jose Iglesias' home run against Trevor Hildenberger that cut Detroit's gap to 11-10.

Shane Greene (3-2) escaped a bases-loaded jam when he struck out Miguel Sano on a slider. Mikie Mahtook singled against Belisle (0-2) starting the bottom half and Upton drove a high fastball into the left-field seats (see full recap).

Stanton blasts 41st homer in Marlins' 4-3 win over Rockies
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton continued his power surge with his 41st homer and drove in three runs in the Miami Marlins' 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.

Stanton went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and is hitting .382 (13 for 34) with eight home runs and 15 RBIs in his last nine games. He needs one home run to tie Gary Sheffield for the Marlins' single-season mark set in 1996.

Stanton has hit 20 home runs in his last 32 games. The last player to accomplish the feat in the same season was the Los Angeles Dodgers' Shawn Green in 2002, according to STATS LLC.

Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon went 4 for 5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases. It was the 15th time this season Blackmon has had at least three hits and his third four-hit game (see full recap).

Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

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Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Klentak's trip to the winter meetings netted two veteran relievers, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

Now, Klentak's focus becomes starting pitching. He'd like to add at least one before spring training begins, and chances are good that he will.

"We will probably slow down on the reliever front for a little while," the Phillies general manager said on Wednesday, Day 3 of the meetings. "I think for right now, we’ll probably shift our focus back toward the starting pitcher market, see what comes of that and just be patient with it.

"My expectation is that we will have another move before we go to spring training. I would not be surprised if we’re done for the winter meetings, but I would be surprised if we’re done for the offseason."

The Phillies have probed the free-agent market — big-ticket items such as Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are unlikely — and spent the fall gauging other teams on which starters could become available in trades.

"I couldn't handicap the way it'll happen or even if it'll happen," Klentak said. "I think we're continuing to stay engaged with some agents. There's a few teams we've talked to about trades, some short-term options, some more controllable options. I just don't know.

"We've said as an industry and the Phillies have talked about this for a long time: it's so important to be able to develop your own starting pitchers because to acquire them in a trade is incredibly expensive in terms of player capital and to acquire them in free agency is incredibly expensive in terms of total dollars. Maybe never in our history has it been more important to develop starting pitchers."

In recent seasons, the Phillies have added starting pitchers (Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Clay Buchholz) near the end of their contracts. The Phils could still do that and have the money to take on a salary dump. But there would be merit to taking on a younger pitcher who has more contractual control, and the Phillies have the prospects to get in the hunt for Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, three pitchers who fit this profile.

The Phillies have a logjam in the middle infield with J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery pushing Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. Galvis and Hernandez are both available for trades. Officials from other clubs say the Phillies have been aggressive in shopping Galvis. The Phils will look to get pitching for Galvis, but the return might not be robust because he is a rental player who will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Hernandez figures to bring a better return because he has three years of contractual control remaining. A person from a club that has spoken to the Phillies about Hernandez said the Phils are looking for two pitchers for him.

Another starting arm is needed to complement a group of starters that includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Ben Lively.

It's possible the Phils could also look for a veteran outfielder to come off the bench. But it's just as possible that the Phils give in-house prospect Roman Quinn a chance to be that guy. Quinn, a dynamic, speedy switch-hitter, has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor-league career, including last season when he missed significant time at Triple A with an elbow injury. He will turn 25 in May. It might be time to bring him, even if it means filling a reserve role.

"This is a year we want to find out about our young kids," Klentak said. "If we can find out about Roman Quinn, we would like to do that. On the flip side, if we have a chance to bring in a great makeup, complementary player that can help our young kids and show them the ropes a little bit, then we’d be open to that, too. That’s not likely to be an early offseason venture."

Also, as the rest of the offseason plays out, the Phils will monitor the availability of Miami outfielder Christian Yelich. The Phils have long liked Yelich and would certainly try to make a play for him. But as much as the Phillies like the player, Klentak has made it clear he's not in a hurry to subtract core players and prospects. That could hurt the Phillies' chances because it would take a big package of talent to get Yelich.

Notes
The Phillies pick third in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday morning. They will likely make a pick, but there's a strong possibility they will make it for another club and quickly trade the player. If the Phils lost someone in the draft, it could be outfielder Carlos Tocci or lefthander Brandon Leibrandt.

Klentak hinted that hard-throwing pitching prospect Seranthony Dominguez would begin transitioning to the bullpen in spring training. Mark Appel will also make the move to the bullpen.

Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

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Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Miami has agreed to trade left fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, the third All-Star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement had not been announced and was subject to a physical.

"Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the winter meetings. "We're at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It's not just a formality."

An All-Star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning NL MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects. The Cardinals had a deal in place for Stanton last week, but he invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the move.

"I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations," Matheny said. "Unfortunately, that didn't work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?"

Ozuna likely will be in the outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. St. Louis could trade right fielder Stephen Piscotty.

Matheny wouldn't commit to an alignment.

"Something we're appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven't been before," he said. "You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you're going to have to be flexible."

Center fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman's group on Oct. 2.

Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.