Phillies

Best of MLB: J.D. Martinez becomes 18th player with 4 HRs in a game

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Best of MLB: J.D. Martinez becomes 18th player with 4 HRs in a game

LOS ANGELES — J.D. Martinez keeps doing damage and the Arizona Diamondbacks keep winning.

Martinez tied a major league record by slugging four of Arizona's six home runs, and the Diamondbacks routed the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers 13-0 on Monday night for their 11th straight victory.

"We were part of history," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "You can't believe it after it keeps happening -- second, third and finally the fourth time. It was amazing. J.D. works as hard as anybody at his swing, perfecting his craft, and he deserves that moment."

Martinez was the headliner on a big night for a couple Diamondbacks.

Robbie Ray struck out a career-high 14 while helping second-place Arizona to its longest win streak since it also won 11 in a row from June 18-30, 2003.

"He has our number," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He was exceptional."

Martinez is the 18th player in major league history to hit four homers in a game, and the 16th in the modern era. The team's six homers tied for the most in Dodger Stadium history by a visitor.

"I felt like it was one of those days," Martinez said. "I was seeing the ball well and when I was swinging, I was hitting it." (See full recap)

Indians win 12th straight game
CHICAGO — Trevor Bauer was sharp again to win his eighth straight decision, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 on Monday for their 12th straight victory.

Bauer (15-8) gave up two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts and one walk over 6 1/3 innings as the Indians allowed more than two runs for just the third time in the winning streak.

Jose Ramirez hit his third home run in two games and 23rd of the season, and Carlos Santana added his 22nd to power the Indians' offense.

James Shields (2-6) kept the White Sox in the game before taking a line drive by Francisco Mejia off the knee in the top of the seventh. Shields limped off the field and is considered day-to-day.

The veteran right-hander allowed four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings, extending his streak to 11 starts without a win.

The 21-year-old Mejia, a top catching prospect, had a run-scoring single in the fourth for his first hit and RBI in his first career start for the Indians (see full recap).

Jake Arrieta exits with injury as Pirates rout Cubs
PITTSBURGH — Josh Bell broke the National League record for most home runs by a rookie switch hitter, hitting his 24th of the season off hurting Chicago ace Jake Arrieta to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Cubs 12-0 on Monday.

Bell had three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run shot off Arrieta in the first inning. Bell moved ahead of former Atlanta star Chipper Jones, who hit 23 for the Braves in 1995. Max Moroff added three hits and four RBIs for Pittsburgh, including a solo home run off Arrieta (14-9) in the third.

Arrieta was removed later in the third inning with an apparent right leg injury. The 2015 Cy Young Award winner clutched his right leg several times following a pitch to Bell. Arrieta attempted to throw a practice pitch after being visited by trainers but failed to release the ball while in obvious pain.

Chad Kuhl (7-10) allowed four hits in seven innings for the Pirates, striking out a career-high eight. Pittsburgh has won three straight (see full recap).

Carlos Martinez throws three-hit shutout in Cardinals' win over Padres
SAN DIEGO — Carlos Martinez threw a three-hitter and struck out 10, Yadier Molina hit a two-run single and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the San Diego Padres 2-0 Monday for their fourth victory in five games.

The Cardinals remained three games behind Colorado in the race for the NL's second wild card.

It was the second career shutout and complete game for Martinez (11-10). He got his first of each on June 10 when he threw a four-hitter and struck out 11 in a 7-0 victory against Philadelphia. He also pitched nine scoreless innings against San Francisco on May 20 in a game the Cardinals lost 3-1 in the 13th.

Martinez allowed only three singles and walked three. The Padres didn't get a runner into scoring position the whole game and never had two runners on in any inning.

Luis Perdomo (7-9) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings (see full recap).

Billy Hamilton's walk-off HR pushes Reds past Brewers
CINCINNATI — Billy Hamilton hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, sending the Cincinnati Reds over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 Monday.

Hamilton, who leads the majors with 58 stolen bases, sent a drive into the left-field seats for his fourth homer of the season. He connected off Josh Hader (1-3).

The last-place Reds opened a three-game series by stopping the playoff-contending Brewers. Raisel Iglesias (3-2) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.

Hamilton had two hits and also threw a runner out at the plate from center field (see full recap).

Even with eye on top talent like Manny Machado, Phillies will give core more time

Even with eye on top talent like Manny Machado, Phillies will give core more time

ORLANDO, Fla. — On Day 1 of the winter meetings Monday, the Phillies' longstanding interest in Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado bubbled to the surface once again. The subject will continue to percolate all winter and beyond as the Orioles mull whether to trade the star player or let him play out the 2018 season, his final one before free agency.

It makes much more sense for the Phillies to try to sign Machado as a free agent next winter rather than surrender prospects — and ultimately big cash in the form of an extension — for him this winter. But if the Orioles create a market for Machado this winter, the Phillies will be in on it. At the moment, all is quiet.

It's no secret that the Phillies have deep pockets and no secret that they will spend big on top talent like Machado once their rebuild gets into the red zone. Klentak confirmed that again on Monday.

"There will come a time when we are one piece away and that one piece is a fill in the blank — starting pitcher, closer, cleanup hitter — and in that moment, when we feel that we are one piece away, or two pieces away, that's when we open up the wallet and we go do what we need to do," he said.

"But for right now, we are on the cusp of getting to where we want to go, to developing this next young core. This is what happened with (Jimmy) Rollins and (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard and (Cole) Hamels. We need to give these guys a chance to become that next group."

The Phillies showed improvement in the second half of last season. They went 38-38 over the final 76 games. Klentak wants to give the team's core the chance to continue its improvement in 2018.

"The most important thing we can do next year is let this young core develop and get the reps that they need to continue their improvement," Klentak said.

"We scored almost a full run more per game in the second half than we did in the first half. That was driven by (Nick) Williams, (Rhys) Hoskins, (J.P.) Crawford and (Jorge) Alfaro joining Cesar (Hernandez), Freddy (Galvis), (Maikel) Franco, Odubel (Herrera), (Aaron) Altherr, (Andrew) Knapp. That's exciting to me. Not only do we need to let that play out, we want to let that play out. 

"We want to see what that group can do now that they're more than three months into their major-league careers. What can they do in their first full season? Or their second full season? Baseball aging curves tell us that these players are likely to get better. How much better? We don't know. But we're only going to find out if we let them play." 

Phillies to upgrade bullpen with impending return of Pat Neshek

Phillies to upgrade bullpen with impending return of Pat Neshek

ORLANDO, Fla. — On the day he was traded from the Phillies to the Colorado Rockies in July, Pat Neshek stood in front of his locker and talked about how much he liked his time in Philadelphia. He gazed into his crystal ball and envisioned himself returning to the Phillies as a free agent over the winter.

The image in Neshek's crystal ball is about to come to life. The Phillies are on the verge of re-signing the 37-year-old right-hander, multiple sources said on Monday, the first day of baseball's winter meetings. When the deal is wrapped up in the next few days, it will be worth $16.25 million for two years with a club option for a third.

"We've been talking with the agents of a bunch of relief pitchers and we're on the goal line with one," said Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, who initially acquired Neshek in a trade with Houston 14 months ago then watched the pitcher deliver four outstanding months that landed him on the National League All-Star team.

There is not a no-trade clause in Neshek's new deal, so the Phillies could peddle him once again if they are not in contention. The Phillies got three prospects for Neshek in July — infielder Jose Gomez and right-handed pitchers J.D. Hammer and Alejandro Requena. Hammer was recently named to the Arizona Fall League's All-Prospect team.

Neshek pitched in 43 games (40 1/3 innings) for the Phillies in 2017 and gave up just five runs while walking five and striking out 45. In Colorado, Neshek continued to shine. He finished the season with a 1.59 ERA in 71 games. Overall, he pitched 62 1/3 innings and gave up just 11 earned runs while walking six and striking out 69.

Neshek is expected to help set up for Hector Neris and complement Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos and Hoby Milner, all relatively young relievers who showed breakthrough signs in 2017. The Phillies could continue to add to their bullpen before the winter is complete. Sources say they have shown interest in free-agent lefty Jake McGee.

"I think we’re open-minded to bringing in multiple bullpen reinforcements," Klentak said. "One of the goals leading into next season is to improve our run prevention. Obviously, there are a lot of ways we can do that. One way — and this is sort of the simple narrative — is to address our starting pitching. We will continue to explore ways to improve our starting pitching, but I also think we need to be prepared to improve our run prevention in other areas. Improving our bullpen is one way to do that.

"I think if we can run out a bullpen of seven or eight guys that are all high-leverage type arms, then we can start matching up in the fifth or sixth inning. If there are days when our young starters throw 100 pitches to get us through five or six innings, we shouldn't be in a position where that’s taxing our bullpen because we have the ability to carry an eighth bullpen member next year. We shouldn’t be in a position where we lose our competitiveness in the sixth inning because we should have a deep bullpen where we start throwing really good players out there early in the game. If it turns out that’s the best way for us to improve our run prevention, then that’s the way to do."

The Phillies will continue to look for starting pitching at these winter meetings and beyond. They are open to trading Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez and would look to get starting pitching in a deal for one of them. The Angels, according to sources, covet Hernandez as both a second baseman and leadoff man, but the Phillies' asking price is high.

Also on Day 1 of the winter meetings ...

The Phillies lost outfielder Cameron Perkins and infielder Engelb Vielma on waivers to Seattle and Pittsburgh, respectively. With two openings on the 40-man roster, the Phils can add a player in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. They have the third overall pick.

"I would expect that we would take advantage of the third pick in some form or fashion," Klentak said. "Whether we draft a player and retain that player or draft a player and make a trade, I think we’ll look to do something with it. That was a big part of why we put the two guys on waivers that we did. It was just to free us up to be able to participate on Thursday."