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MLB Wrap: Nats beat Tigers for two-game sweep

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MLB Wrap: Nats beat Tigers for two-game sweep

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano combined for shutout relief after Dan Haren nearly squandered a four-run lead, and the Washington Nationals beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 Thursday to complete a two-game sweep of the AL champions.

Adam LaRoche singled in the first and second innings for his first consecutive multihit games this season, helping the Nationals to their first four-game winning streak of the year. Ryan Zimmerman, in a 2-for-14 slide coming in, had three hits.

Bryce Harper hit an RBI groundout in the first following Denard Span's leadoff double, and Harper came home from second when LaRoche singled and centerfielder Austin Jackson let the ball get past him for an error. Ian Desmond followed with a run-scoring single for a 3-1 lead.

Tigers pitcher Doug Fister (4-1) had an RBI single in the second off Haren (4-3), but the Nationals made it 5-1 in the bottom half on consecutive run-scoring singles by Zimmerman and LaRoche.

LaRoche has eight hits in his last 14 at-bats, raising his average from .129 through May 1 to .196 (see full recap).

Mets hit second straight walk-off
NEW YORK -- Center fielder Juan Lagares robbed Andrew McCutchen of a go-ahead hit in the top of the ninth inning, then pinch-hitter Mike Baxter's single in the bottom half sent the New York Mets over the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Thursday night.

Baxter delivered his second winning pinch-hit in three days. His 10th-inning single Tuesday beat the Chicago White Sox.

This time, Baxter batted for Lagares and won it.

Lagares was equally responsible for the victory. Before the game, Mets manager Terry Collins said the rookie might win a game with his glove -- he was right, maybe sooner than he expected.

Called up from Triple-A on April 23 because of his bat and mitt, the center fielder preserved the ninth-inning tie with his defensive gem (see full recap).

Kimbrel saves 100th game in Braves' win
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brian McCann hit a two-run homer and an RBI single in his third game this season after coming off the disabled list, and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 6-3 on Thursday night to begin a four-game series between NL division leaders.

Freddie Freeman and B.J. Upton both drove in a run to help back Julio Teheran (2-0), who pitched seven efficient innings in his 10th career start after his last scheduled outing was rained out Saturday against the Mets. Craig Kimbrel earned his 100th career save, becoming the second-youngest pitcher to do so (see full recap).

Rays win on bases-loaded walk
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Luke Scott drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the 10th inning to give the Tampa Bay Rays a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.

Scott fell behind 0-2 in the count before taking four straight balls from Brad Lincoln. The Rays loaded the bases on Evan Longoria's double off Aaron Loup (1-3) and two walks.

The game featured a rare matchup of reigning Cy Young Award winners, however David Price and R.A. Dickey were not involved in the decision. It was only the third time since the Cy Young has been awarded in both leagues that reigning winners have faced each other the following season.

Kyle Farnsworth (2-0) pitched one inning to get the win (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

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Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

WASHINGTON -- Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 -- also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended (see full story).

Turner, Taylor repay Dodgers' patience by sharing NLCS MVP
CHICAGO -- Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner's case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor's case, it was Los Angeles' willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner's head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

"He's a dynamic player and a table setter," said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. "When he goes, we usually go as a team."

"I talk to him as much as I can. He's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did," said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster (see full story).

Rare Jackie Robinson rookie jersey up for auction
NEW YORK -- A rare jersey from Jackie Robinson's historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago could be available for someone with a few spare millions.

The jersey, part of a Heroes of Sports offering by Heritage Auctions, has been certified by Mears, one of the top memorabilia authentication companies. It is accompanied by a letter from Robinson's widow, Rachel, saying it is the one brought home by the Hall of Famer at the end of the 1947 season, when he became the first black player in the majors and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

"This is the only one known from the `47 season, the only one that survived," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It stayed in his closet for five decades plus until it was eventually sold to a private collector in the early 2000s."

The online auction opened Friday and closes at 11 p.m. on Nov. 19. The entire collection is from one owner and can be viewed on Heritage's website. Other items available for bidding include Babe Ruth's pants from the Hall of Fame induction in 1939, Keith Hernandez's 1978 Gold Glove award, a Wilt Chamberlain jersey from 1966, Bill Vukovich's Indianapolis 500 trophy from 1953 and Muhammad Ali's shoes from his fight against Ken Norton in 1973.

Ivy said the Robinson jersey has been valued at more than $3 million. He wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed that.

"It's tough to estimate a piece like this -- it's a one of a kind," he said. "As far as collectibles a rookie (jersey) is always sought after, something that's significant."