Best of MLB: Indians' win streak ends at 22 with loss to Royals

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Best of MLB: Indians' win streak ends at 22 with loss to Royals

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians can return to clinching their division and playoff preparations.

Their historic winning streak is, well, history.

Cleveland had its AL record run stopped at 22 straight games on Friday night as the Indians were beaten 4-3 by the Kansas City Royals, who became the first team to conquer the defending league champions since Aug. 23.

Jason Vargas (16-10) pitched into the sixth and Brandon Moss homered off Trevor Bauer (16-9) as the Royals ended baseball's longest win streak in 101 years. The Indians set a new league mark and came within four of matching the overall record held by the 1916 New York Giants.

Following a magical, walk-off win in extra innings on Thursday night, the Indians couldn't muster another late rally and fell for the first time in more than three weeks.

When Francisco Lindor struck out with a runner on first to end it, the packed crowd gave the Indians a prolonged standing ovation. Manager Terry Francona and the Cleveland players came out of the dugout to salute their fans (see full recap).

Dodgers' rebound continues with 7-0 blanking of Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Alex Wood threw six shutout innings, Corey Seager hit a three-run homer during a five-run second and the Los Angeles Dodgers' rebound continued with a 7-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday.

Wood (15-3) allowed three hits with eight strikeouts and one walk for Los Angeles, which has won three in a row after losing 11 consecutive games and 16 of 17.

The teams entered the highly anticipated three-game series having clinched playoff berths and owning the top two records in the National League. The Dodgers lowered their magic number to clinch the NL West to six.

Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig homered in the Dodgers' first Washington appearance since winning Game 5 of the NL Division Series last October.

The NL East champion Nationals fell six games back of Los Angeles in the chase for home-field advantage in the playoffs (see full recap).

Cozart homers twice as Reds beat Pirates
CINCINNATI -- Zack Cozart hit two of Cincinnati's four solo home runs and the Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Friday night.

Joey Votto and Scott Schebler both homered, sending the Pirates to their third straight loss and eighth in the last nine games.

Chad Kuhl gave up all four home runs, a single-game career high for the second-year right-hander. He previously hadn't allowed more than two in any game and yielded only four over a combined 12 starts in July and August.

The Reds reached Kuhl (7-11) for eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

Homer Bailey allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings for his first win in six starts since Aug. 11. Bailey (5-8) gave up five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. He also hit a batter (see full recap).

Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff

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Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies will be without Mark Leiter Jr.'s versatile arm for about six weeks. An MRI performed Monday on the pitcher's sore right forearm showed a strained flexor muscle.

Leiter had a good chance to make the opening day roster as a long reliever or fifth starter. With him out, the Phillies could be in need of a swingman.

Could Ben Lively be that guy?

"I can pitch anywhere," the competitive 26-year-old right-hander said. "I don't care. Wherever they want, I'll pitch."

Lively did nothing to hurt his chances of making the club as he turned in five shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in a rain-shortened 2-0 win Tuesday afternoon. He allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out four. He was particularly impressive in the fourth inning, striking out Justin Smoak and retiring Russell Martin on a tapper back to the mound with runners on second and third.

"I just tried to bear down and stick to the game plan," Lively said. "There's too much technology around here now. We have all the heat maps and we talked about it before the game and I just stayed with it."

Lively made 15 starts with the big club last year and 10 of them were quality starts in which he went at least six innings and gave up three or fewer earned runs. Lively doesn't have power stuff. He gave up 9.1 hits per nine innings last season and struck out just 5.3 per nine. Management would love to see some improvement in those areas — i.e., more of what he displayed on Tuesday.

"Lively was strong today," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He came out and attacked the zone.

"One of the things that is important is that we see some swing and misses with Lives and we saw a couple of bat-missing moments today that were, to me, a big deal. He induces quick contact, which is important, but we also like to see the ability to miss bats and we saw that on a couple of occasions, (Curtis) Granderson being most notable."

Granderson struck out twice against Lively.

"We look at past tendencies from recent years," Lively said of his pregame study. "The main one we looked at today was Granderson. He has a low slugging percentage on the outer half (of the plate), so we pounded him on the outer half the whole time."

With Jerad Eickhoff headed to the disabled list and Nick Pivetta likely to join Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez in the starting rotation, Lively appears to be vying for the fifth starter's job with Zach Eflin and non-roster invite Drew Hutchison. But he and Hutchison also could be vying for a long man's job in the bullpen.

By mid-April, the Phillies will probably have an eight-man bullpen. But they could break with an extra reliever because they won't need a fifth starter until April 11.

However it shakes out, Lively did not hurt his chances of landing some role with his performance Tuesday.

Roster moves
The Phillies sent catcher Logan Moore, infielder Mitch Walding and outfielder Andrew Pullin to minor-league camp.

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

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What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been noticeably absent from game action in minor-league camp.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, says there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"He had the flu and he's over it now," Jordan said. "He's fine now. No issues. He's 100 percent."

Jordan said Sanchez got up to 30 pitches in a bullpen session this week.

"He let it go with all his pitches," Jordan said.

Jordan added that Sanchez would pitch in a game in the next few days. He added that Sanchez would open the season on time with the Clearwater club, though his innings will be watched at the outset until he's fully stretched out.

Sanchez, 19, is a power-armed right-hander with remarkable control. He went 5-7 with 3.03 ERA in 18 starts at Lakewood and Clearwater, both Single A affiliates, last season. He pitched 95 innings, struck out 84, walked 18 and had a WHIP of 0.958.