Phillies

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 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.