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Best of MLB: Cardinals rout Nationals to avoid sweep

Best of MLB: Cardinals rout Nationals to avoid sweep

WASHINGTON -- Mike Leake outpitched 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Stephen Piscotty homered and had five RBIs, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Leake (1-1) gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked none over seven shutout innings. The right-hander allowed hits to the first two batters, then picked off a runner before getting 19 straight outs. The streak ended when Daniel Murphy singled with two outs in the seventh.

By that time, St. Louis had taken a 3-0 lead against Scherzer, who yielded only one earned run. He did, however, throw three wild pitches -- two in the third inning -- after tossing only two all last year while going 20-7.

Scherzer (1-1) allowed three runs, four hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out 10, the 50th time in his career he reached double figures in strikeouts.

Piscotty hit RBI singles in the first and fifth innings before launching a three-run drive in the ninth off Joe Blanton. The five RBIs tied a career high (see full recap).

Inciarte hits 2 HRs, Braves end 5-game skid, top Marlins
MIAMI -- Ender Inciarte hit two home runs and Tyler Flowers had a go-ahead single in the ninth inning Wednesday night to help the Atlanta Braves break a five-game losing streak by rallying past the Miami Marlins 5-4.

Miami's Giancarlo Stanton hit a pair of two-run homers, his first of the year. Freddie Freeman hit his third homer for the Braves.

The Braves went 2-6 on a season-opening trip before heading home to open their new ballpark Friday. They can only hope for the kind of success they've had at Marlins Park, where they're 32-15.

Atlanta also hopes for a glitch-free day at SunTrust Park in the opener against San Diego. The retractable roof at Marlins Park couldn't prevent a 27-minute delay in the fourth inning during a thunderstorm, which caused several banks of lights to go out (see full recap).

Rookie lefty Garrett stays perfect as Reds sweep Pirates
PITTSBURGH  -- Reds rookie Amir Garrett threw another gem, taking a shutout into the seventh inning and leading Cincinnati over the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-2 Wednesday night for a three-game sweep.

Garrett (2-0), the former St. John's basketball player, blanked the Pirates until David Freese hit a two-run homer.

Garrett gave up five hits, walked none and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings. In his major league debut last week, the 24-year-old lefty pitched six scoreless innings to win at St. Louis.

Jose Peraza, Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart each had three of the 15 hits for the Reds, who didn't homer for the first time this season. Peraza had a two-run double to cap a four-run fourth against Ivan Nova (1-1) that broke a scoreless tie.

The Pirates were outscored 21-5 in the series and were hitless in 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position (see full recap).

Montgomery impresses in debut as Yanks rally past Rays
NEW YORK -- Jordan Montgomery showed power and poise in his major league debut after allowing Rickie Weeks' two-run homer in the first inning, and the New York Yankees rallied past the sloppy Tampa Bay 8-4 Wednesday to get back to .500.

New York's Brett Gardner and Weeks both left the game after a collision at first base in the sixth inning. Running hard on a comebacker, Gardner slammed into Weeks, who had not played first in the major leagues before this season and stayed in the baseline as he reached for reliever Xavier Cedeno's poor throw. Both fell to the field as Chase Headley came home with the go-ahead run.

Gardner was diagnosed with a bruised jaw and a strained neck, and Weeks with neck and right shoulder soreness.

New York rebounded from a 3-0, fifth-inning deficit and won its third straight after a 1-4 start. Aaron Judge homered for the third straight game, a long drive to center, and had three RBIs. Errors by shortstop Tim Beckham and Cedeno led to four unearned runs.

A 24-year-old left-hander, Montgomery earned the fifth-starter's job over a group that included Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Bryan Mitchell. Montgomery opened with strikeouts of Steven Souza Jr. and Kevin Kiermaier, then walked Evan Longoria and allowed Weeks' long home run to left (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs

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MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

The red-bearded slugger connected on the 29th anniversary of the Dodgers' last game-ending postseason homer: Kirk Gibson's famous pinch-hit drive to beat Oakland in the 1988 World Series opener.

"One of my earliest baseball memories, I was 4 years old at my grandma's house watching that game in `88 and seeing Gibby hit that homer," a smiling Turner said. "So yeah, it feels pretty cool. I thought about doing the fist pump around the bases, but we'll wait until we get to the World Series for that, hopefully."

Turner drove in every run for Los Angeles, going the other way for a tying single in the fifth before sending a long shot to center field off John Lackey in the ninth. A fan wearing a blue Dodgers jersey reached over a railing to catch the ball on the fly.

Turner's second homer of the postseason ended another dramatic night for the Dodgers, who remained unbeaten in these playoffs and moved within two wins of their first World Series appearance since 1988.

"It's very cool, and J.T., we were talking about it in there after the game," manager Dave Roberts said. "Twenty-nine years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it."

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Midseason acquisition Yu Darvish starts for the Dodgers against Kyle Hendricks.

Yasiel Puig drew his third walk of the game leading off the ninth, and Charlie Culberson bunted him to second. After losing pitcher Brian Duensing struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, Chicago manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen for the 38-year-old Lackey, who pitched on consecutive days for the first time in his 15-year career.

Lackey got the call over All-Star closer Wade Davis, and the veteran starter walked Chris Taylor on six tense pitches.

Turner stepped up and ended it with his fourth career playoff homer. He's been at his best in October, batting .377 with 22 RBIs in the postseason.

"We've been doing it all year long," Turner said. "We're never out of a game. As long as we have outs left, we're going to keep fighting."

Completing the poetry of the moment, a fan in a Chase Utley jersey in the center-field bleachers caught the ball in his glove.

Addison Russell homered in the fifth for the Cubs, who are down early in this rematch of the 2016 NLCS. Chicago won that series in six games and went on to its first World Series championship since 1908, while the Dodgers have been absent from the Fall Classic since 1988.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got the victory with a hitless ninth despite hitting Anthony Rizzo on the hand with a one-out pitch. That ended the Los Angeles bullpen's impressive streak of 22 straight Cubs retired to begin the NLCS, but the Dodgers have thrown eight hitless and scoreless innings of relief in the NLCS.

After a collective offensive effort drove the Dodgers to a 5-2 win in Game 1, Turner did it all in Game 2. He has 10 RBIs in the Dodgers' five postseason games, getting five in the playoff opener against Arizona.

Jon Lester yielded three hits and five walks while failing to get out of the fifth inning in the shortest start of his long postseason career, but the Dodgers couldn't take advantage of a rare shaky night by the Cubs' star left-hander.

Rich Hill struck out eight in five more impressive innings for the Dodgers, but he was pulled for pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson in the fifth in a debatable decision by Roberts.

Russell was off to a 4-for-22 start in the postseason with nine strikeouts before the slugging shortstop put a leadoff homer into the short porch in left field.

Turner evened it moments later by poking a single to right after a leadoff double by Culberson, the Dodgers' improbably successful replacement for injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager.

The Dodgers chased Lester with two outs in the fifth, but reliever Carl Edwards Jr. came through after several recent postseason struggles, striking out pinch-hitter Chase Utley and then pitching a strong sixth.

Lester was the co-MVP of last season's NLCS, winning Game 5 at Dodger Stadium and yielding two runs over 13 innings in the series. He had nothing near the same success against the Dodgers' revamped lineup in this one, issuing four walks in the first four innings and repeatedly escaping jams.

Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward held up Turner in the third when it appeared he could have scored from first on Cody Bellinger's double to the gap.

Javier Baez, the other co-MVP of last season's NLCS for Chicago, got to third base in the third with one out but also was stranded.

Up next
Cubs: Hendricks dominated Chicago's playoff opener with seven scoreless innings against the Nationals, but yielded four runs in four innings during the team's wild Game 5 victory in Washington. He is starting on normal rest.

Dodgers: Darvish was outstanding in Game 3 against the Diamondbacks, earning his first career postseason victory with seven strikeouts over five innings of two-hit ball. He was acquired 

MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

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MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

HOUSTON — Jose Altuve raced home on Carlos Correa's double in the ninth inning, Justin Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Correa also homered, but Houston needed a daring dash from Altuve to get Verlander a win. The 5-foot-6 AL MVP front-runner reached with a one-out single against closer Aroldis Chapman , then sprinted around from first base on Correa's shot to right-center field, sliding past catcher Gary Sanchez as he misplayed a short-hop. Altuve had two more hits and is 13 for 23 (.565) this postseason.

Verlander pitched another gem for the Astros, setting a postseason career best for strikeouts and allowing five hits in his second career complete game in the postseason. He threw a season-high 124 pitches and retired baby Bronx Bombers Aaron Judge, Sanchez and Greg Bird in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the inning, Judge picked up Correa's hit in right field and threw toward second base. Shortstop Didi Gregorius fielded there, and his throw beat Altuve to the plate by a few steps. But Sanchez bobbled the one-hop as Altuve slid by, and the Astros mobbed Correa in shallow center field. Altuve pointed toward Correa and his teammates from behind the plate (see full recap).

Puig, Taylor power Dodgers past Cubs in NLCS Game 1
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Yasiel Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Los Angeles Dodgers overcame a short start by Clayton Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NL Championship Series opener.

Charlie Culberson doubled, drove in the tying run and scored another while replacing injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager for the resourceful Dodgers, who improved to 4-0 in this postseason.

With another collective offensive effort and four innings of perfect relief pitching, Los Angeles calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by Chicago on the way to its first World Series championship in 108 years.

Game 2 is Sunday, with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago's Jon Lester (see full recap).