Phillies

Best of MLB: Yan Gomes' walk-off homer caps Indians' comeback

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Best of MLB: Yan Gomes' walk-off homer caps Indians' comeback

CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning off closer Greg Holland as the Cleveland Indians rallied for four runs in their last at-bat for Corey Kluber and beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Tuesday night.

After Austin Jackson tied it with a two-out bloop RBI single, Gomes connected on the first pitch from Holland (2-3), driving it into the seats in center field to touch off a wild celebration in Progressive Field.

Gomes flung his helmet and skipped around the bases as the Indians players danced out of their dugout at the improbable walk-off win.

Kluber (10-3) deserved it. The right-hander gave up three hits, struck out 11, threw his second straight complete game and continued his dominance since returning from the disabled list on June 1 (see full recap).

Sale strikes out 13 as Red Sox stay hot
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Chris Sale allowed two hits in eight innings and struck out 13, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 on Tuesday for their seventh straight victory.

Sale (14-4) reached double digits in strikeouts for the 15th time this season, the first time that's been done since Randy Johnson in 2002.

The win pushed Boston's AL East lead over the New York Yankees to four games.

Dustin Pedroia, back in the Boston lineup as a DH after a stint on the disabled list with left knee inflammation, scored the first run on a fielder's choice in the fourth. A bad throw by Austin Pruitt (6-3) prevented a possible inning-ending double play on Rafael Devers' chopper to the mound.

It was the only run allowed by Pruitt in his fourth major league start. He pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a win at Houston last Wednesday.

Sale (14-4) gave up singles to Wilson Ramos in the fifth and Peter Bourjos in the sixth. The Rays did not get a runner to second base until the seventh, when Sale followed a walk to Logan Morrison with a wild pitch. It was his only walk (see full recap).

Stanton hits MLB-leading 38th HR in Marlins’ win
WASHINGTON -- Giancarlo Stanton hit his career-high and major league-leading 38th home run of the season and drove in three runs as the Miami Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Stanton crushed a first-pitch fastball from A.J. Cole (1-2) deep into the center-field stands in the fifth for a 4-1 lead following singles by Miguel Rojas and Dee Gordon.

Derek Dietrich also homered and drove in three runs for the Marlins, who scored seven runs on six hits. Gordon's RBI double and Dietrich's two-run single put Miami up 7-1 in the seventh.

Vance Worley (2-2) thwarted the Nationals for the second time in nine days. He allowed one run on six hits over six innings after holding Washington to two hits during seven shutout frames in Miami's 7-0 win on July 31.

Bryce Harper went hitless but drove in two runs for Washington.

Stanton's hit 37 home runs in 2012 and 2014. The slugger has 31 home runs all-time against Washington and his 18 at Nationals Park are the most by any visiting player (see full recap).

Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta goes to school on Justin Verlander

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Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta goes to school on Justin Verlander

BOX SCORE

DUNEDIN, Fla. — For a gazillion years, pitchers have been told to keep the ball down. That is still valuable advice, but with more and more hitters looking to launch the ball with an upward swing path these days, power pitchers are striking back with a high fastball above the bat head.

Nick Pivetta has a power fastball and he’s working on this technique. He consciously threw some fastballs above the belt in his two-inning spring debut Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“We're telling all of our pitchers, we're asking them to do some new things,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “And there's going to be some times in spring training games when you get hit a little bit.”

That’s OK. The new-school Phillies want their players to be open to new ideas. Pivetta, who struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings in 26 starts last season, is open learning to ride a high fastball by a hitter looking to launch. He watched on television as Justin Verlander did that for Houston in the postseason last year and he’s watched more video of Verlander and interacted with Phillies coaches about the strategy this spring.

“A key point that they brought to me was how Verlander pitched in the playoffs,” Pivetta said. “I think that’s something I can learn from a lot of the time, how he did it when he came over to Houston.

“It’s part of pitching. You’ve got to be able to command the zone, both the top and bottom. It’s not to say we’re going to only throw up. It’s just something else to work on.”

Pivetta pitched two innings and struck out three in the 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays. He allowed three hits, a walk and two runs in the first inning. One of the hits was a solo homer by Curtis Granderson on a hanging breaking ball.

Kapler was pleased with Pivetta’s performace and his reponse to trying new things.

“He executed his game plan today,” Kapler said. “He executed some pretty nasty sliders at the bottom of the zone. He executed some fastballs at the top of the zone. He missed some bats, which is really encouraging.

“One of the things we’re working on with him is elevating a little bit. He has velocity and strong pitch characteristics to pitch up in the zone. But he also has the ability to pitch down in the zone with his slider and his curveball.

“He kicked ass today. He did everything we asked him to do.”

The Phillies host the Orioles on Saturday. Zach Eflin will be the starting pitcher.

Lost and found — K-Rod enjoys solid debut with Phillies

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Lost and found — K-Rod enjoys solid debut with Phillies

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DUNEDIN, Fla. — Francisco Rodriguez navigated the narrow streets of this friendly, little, old-school spring training burg looking for a place to park his Mercedes late Friday morning.

Finally, after asking several people for directions, he found a spot near the grounds crew shed at Dunedin Stadium.

The episode was a bit of a metaphor for Rodriguez’s workday with the Phillies. Back on the mound in a game situation for the first time since last summer, Rodriguez allowed a walk to the first batter he faced and later a single, but stayed composed and left two runners on base in notching a scoreless inning in his first action of the spring in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I felt kind of lost the first couple of batters,” Rodriguez said. “But once I got a ground ball, I started locating. It had been a while since I was on the mound in a game.”

Rodriguez, 36, is the most decorated player in Phillies camp. He is a six-time All-Star and baseball’s active leader in saves (437) and appearances (948). Released twice last season, he is trying to win a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen as a non-roster invite to camp.

He opened last season as Detroit’s closer, but was released in June after recording a 7.82 ERA in 28 games. The Nationals took a peek at him in the minors a few weeks later and also let him go.

Rodriguez said he was not healthy last season. He said he had issues with his groin and hamstring.

“I couldn’t be 100 percent,” he said. “But that’s not an excuse. I should have found a way to get the job done in Detroit and I couldn’t. That’s one of the reasons that I’m in this situation now.”

Rodriguez ranks fourth all time in saves behind Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith. He does not have the power fastball that once earned him the nickname K-Rod — he topped out at 89 mph Friday — but location, a good changeup and old-fashioned savvy are still strengths. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz was influential in bringing in Rodriguez for a look. The two were together in Milwaukee, where Rodriguez was an All-Star in 2014 and 2015.

“He’s a great reliever,” Kranitz said.

Does he have anything left?

“I believe so, yes,” Kranitz said.

Kranitz went on to say that Rodriguez was a high-character guy who would help the Phillies’ young pitchers.

Rodriguez was asked what pushed him to continue his career and come to camp essentially on a tryout.

“I love the game,” he said. “I don’t think I have to prove anything. I don’t think I went to Walmart and bought 900 appearances and 437 saves. I did that with a lot of pride and hard work. This is the only thing I know how to do, play baseball. God gave me the opportunity to throw a baseball and I’m going to continue to do it.”

The Phillies may go with an eight-man bullpen. That could help Rodriguez’s chances of sticking. But he will have to pitch well.

“I’m looking forward to having a great spring,” he said.