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).

Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

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Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jerad Eickhoff is an important man in this Phillies season. He needs to be closer to the guy who pitched to a 3.65 ERA in 197 1/3 innings in 2016 than the one who had a 4.71 ERA in 128 innings last season.

It all starts with good health. Eickhoff, 27, missed time with an upper-back strain and a nerve issue near his right shoulder last season.

He is healthy now and has made a tweak in his mechanics to ease pressure on his shoulder. He made his spring debut with two hitless, scoreless innings in a 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa on Thursday (more on the game here). Eickhoff threw 17 pitches, 14 of which were strikes. He struck out two, walked none and hit a batter. 

“No matter what game it is that you pitch in, you get that intensity, there’s a hitter in the box, you still get butterflies being back at it,” Eickhoff said. “Today was a big day, facing some competition. The live batting practice was checking off the first box. A game setting was kind of the second box, so I think the sky is the limit from here. I feel great.”

Eickhoff developed a mechanical flaw last season as his body would often fall toward first base after delivering the ball. That put pressure on his shoulder. He has tried to correct the flaw this winter by holding his glove a little higher before he releases the ball. That helps him get going toward home plate.

If healthy, Eickhoff will be in the starting rotation. (Former bench coach Larry Bowa is high on him). But he’s taking nothing for granted.

“I try to approach every spring like I’m trying to win a job,” Eickhoff said. “I have something to prove every year.”

Notes
• Andrew Knapp caught and batted leadoff. He worked a walk to lead off the game and that impressed manager Gabe Kapler. Kapler advised not to read into batting order positions this early in camp. 

“These are practice settings,” he said.

• The Phillies play their Grapefruit League opener Friday afternoon against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Rotation candidates Nick Pivetta and Mark Leiter Jr. are expected to get some work. Non-roster invite Francisco Rodriguez, he of the 437 career saves, could also get an inning.

Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

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Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. — This was a nice little glimpse of the future.

Seven of the eight pitchers used by the Phillies in Thursday’s 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa were prospects who likely need a little more time in the minors, but could someday be mainstays in Philadelphia.

Jerad Eickhoff started and pitched two scoreless innings (see story). After him, prospects Jose Taveras, Tom Eshelman, Franklyn Kilome, Enyel De Los Santos, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin and Ranger Suarez kept the shutout intact. None of the Phillies’ pitchers walked a batter, though Eickhoff did hit one.

“No walks, that’s fairly unusual for spring training,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was like Command City. Guys were on top of it.”

Kapler singled out Dominguez, a strong-bodied, power-armed, 23-year-old right-hander who earned a spot on the 40-man roster in November. Dominguez allowed a leadoff single in the seventh then came back with three swinging strikeouts, all on high-80s sliders.

“He maintained his composure, had electric stuff and the bravado of a seasoned veteran,” Kapler said.

Dominguez, signed out of the Dominican Republic for $25,000 in 2012, touched 100 mph with his fastball as a starter in the Florida State League early last season. He ended up missing time with biceps tendinitis, but is healthy now. The Phillies have reduced his pitch mix from four to three (fastball, slider, changeup) and he will convert to the bullpen, where he profiles as a potential closer, this season. He is likely to open at Double A Reading. Don’t rule out seeing him in Philadelphia later this season if all goes well.

“As a bullpen guy, he could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

“He has a top-of-the-scale fastball,” director of player development Joe Jordan said. “He has a chance to really dominate in the late innings.”