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Best of MLB: Cardinals win game marred by scary injury to Diamondbacks' Robbie Ray

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Best of MLB: Cardinals win game marred by scary injury to Diamondbacks' Robbie Ray

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis starter Michael Wacha pitched six innings and Jedd Gyorko drove in the lone run with one of his three hits Friday night, leading the Cardinals to a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Wacha (8-4) allowed three hits. He has won five of his last six starts and improved to 7-1 in 12 starts at Busch Stadium this season.

Wacha finished strong. He pitched out of a jam in the sixth. He gave up a single and double with two outs before striking out David Peralta to end his night.

Trevor Rosenthal, the third reliever for St. Louis, earned his fifth save with two innings of work.

Arizona starter Robbie Ray left the game in the second inning after getting hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of rookie Luke Voit. The ball caromed in the air into foul territory where third baseman Daniel Descalso caught it for the out.

Ray lay prone on the mound for several minutes before sitting up with his teammates surrounding him. He was driven off the field on a cart and was taken for an examination (see full recap).

Royals down Red Sox to win 9th in a row
BOSTON -- Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas homered off emergency starter Rick Porcello, who took over when David Price went back on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left elbow, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Red Sox 4-2 Friday night for their season-high ninth straight win.

Boston has lost five of six and nine of 14, dropping out of the AL East lead for the first time since June 29 and falling a half-game behind the New York Yankees.

Price started the season on the DL and didn't make his first start until May 29. The 31-year-old left-hander, winner of the 2012 AL Cy Young Award, is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA.

Porcello (4-14), who had been scheduled to pitch Saturday, leads the major leagues in losses. He allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings.

Jason Vargas (13-4) gave up one run and five hits in six innings. Vargas, who had been winless in three starts since June 30, is one shy of his career high for wins, set in 2012 with Seattle.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a one-hit ninth for his 22nd save in 25 chances, getting rookie Rafael Devers to hit into a game-ending forceout after Andrew Benintendi's two-out single (see full recap).

Brewers beat Cubs to open crucial series
MILWAUKEE -- Brent Suter tossed seven scoreless innings and the Milwaukee Brewer slipped past the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Friday night to move within one-half game of first place in the National League Central.

Suter (2-1) limited the Cubs to four hits. He struck out five and walked one in a career-long outing.

Milwaukee pushed across a run in the second on Manny Pina's run-scoring groundout.

In the fourth, Hernan Perez led off with a sharp grounder to the right side that Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo fielded cleanly. Rizzo was slow to get to his feet, however, and his feed to Jose Quintana covering the base was late. Initially called out, Perez was awarded first after a brief review.

Perez later scored on a fielder's choice.

Javier Baez's solo homer with one out in the eighth off newly acquired reliever Anthony Swarzak cut the lead to 2-1.

Quintana gave up four hits and two runs in six innings.

Corey Knebel notched his 18th save in 23 attempts (see full recap).

Tanaka stifles Rays as Yanks win 5th straight
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka took a perfect game into the sixth inning and struck out a career-high 14, pitching the New York Yankees past the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 Friday night for their fifth straight win.

Brett Gardner hit a leadoff home run, Aaron Judge lined his AL-leading 33rd homer and Clint Frazier added a three-run shot to boost Tanaka (8-9). With their spurt, the Yankees were poised to move past Boston and into the AL East lead for the first time in a month.

On Thursday night, Gardner won the opener of this four-game set between playoff contenders with a homer in the 11th. Judge wound up losing half of his front left tooth in the celebration -- he got a temporary fix earlier in the day.

Tanaka struck out the first five batters, all swinging. He set down 17 in a row before Adeiny Hechavarria grounded a sharp, two-out single up the middle, past diving shortstop Didi Gregorius. Tanaka impassively watched the ball roll into center field and, after a brief ovation from the fans, went back to work (see full recap).

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Even though the Grapefruit League schedule starts on Friday and opening day is less than six weeks away, the Phillies are still hungry to improve their pitching.

In an interview with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday, Phillies owner John Middleton said the team was “very” active in pursuing potential upgrades. Middleton went on to say that he would “love” to do something on that front.

Middleton made the comments as a number of attractive free-agent pitchers, including Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, remain unsigned.

“We’re having talks every single day with different people,” Middleton said. 

Middleton gets updates on those talks regularly from general manager Matt Klentak.

“Matt kind of now knows me, when we walk in the office and see each other for the first time he basically says [since] the last time I talked to you, John, at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon nothing happened or this has happened,” Middleton said with a laugh. “Then I’ll see him at lunch time and still nothing has happened or this has happened. We have a lot of conversations about that.”

Middleton is eager to win, but he remains committed to seeing the rebuild through. Klentak has often said he won’t make a shortsighted move that would jeopardize the future. He has said his goal is to play in October for a decade, not just one year. That’s Middleton’s goal, too.

If the Phillies were to make an upgrade on the pitching side in the coming days or weeks, it would have to be on their terms. They have been in continuous contact with Arrieta’s representatives all winter, but won’t go to five or more years to sign the right-hander who turns 32 in March. If Arrieta were willing to sign a deal in the two- to four-year range, the Phillies would definitely have interest (more on all that here).

Stay tuned on that one. Camps are open. Free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez have signed in recent days. Like Arrieta, they are represented by Scott Boras. The pitching logjam looks ready to break and could have an impact in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are methodically striving to become playoff relevant again.

“We wouldn’t be out talking to people the way we are if we didn’t think that we could get that little extra push,” Middleton said. “I think we all feel this way. [It] just has to be done in an intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable way.

“But, yeah, I’d love to do something."

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Longstanding rumors linking the Phillies to free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta continue to percolate. On Tuesday morning, baseball reporter Jon Heyman tweeted that the Phillies and Arrieta were engaged in "dialogue."

Here’s what we know: At the winter meetings in December, Phillies officials met with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, to go over a number of Boras’ clients. At the time, Arrieta was looking for a deal in the neighborhood of seven years and $180 million to $200 million. Those parameters were not a fit for the Phillies, who have placed a premium on short-term contracts while they move their rebuild forward.

The Phillies have remained engaged with the Arrieta camp throughout the winter and they have made it clear that if the pitcher’s price tag comes down, they would have interest in a union. It is believed the Phillies would be willing to sign Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, to a two- or three-year contract, at a significant salary and possibly with some creative structure such as an out after one year.

Earlier this winter, the Phillies had reservations about meeting free agent Carlos Santana’s original contract demands of upwards of five years. When Santana’s demands were lowered to three years, the Phillies pounced and signed him for $60 million. Such a lowering of demands could make Arrieta a Phillie. Of course, there are other teams interested. Arrieta has long been linked to the Cardinals and Nationals.

Arrieta would come with some risk. All pitchers of his age and odometer reading do. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2015 while going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. He went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA the following season and slipped to 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 2017. That trend downward has coincided with a slight drop in velocity and that has given teams pause at signing Arrieta to a long-term deal. It would seem that even the Cubs had reservations about Arrieta as they let him walk and signed free agent Yu Darvish.

In the last few days, a couple of big-name Boras clients have signed. Eric Hosmer went to the Padres and J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox. Arrieta might be next. If he would come at the Phillies’ price, he might end up being a Phillie.

Signing Arrieta would cost the Phillies a second- or third-round draft pick in June.