Giancarlo Stanton

Best of MLB: Giancarlo Stanton homers twice to reach 59 in Marlins' win

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Best of MLB: Giancarlo Stanton homers twice to reach 59 in Marlins' win

MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton homered twice to become the first player to hit 59 in a season since 2001, and the Miami Marlins opened the last series of Jeffrey Loria's tenure as owner by beating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Thursday night.

Stanton hit a solo home run in the fourth, then added a two-run drive in the eighth that would have gone 467 feet unimpeded, according to MLB's Statcast.

He has 33 home runs since the All-Star break and 10 multihomer games this season. He became the sixth player to reach 59, joining Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth.

Ichiro Suzuki got his 27th pinch hit of the year, one shy of the record John Vander Wal set in 1995.

Dee Gordon got two hits for the Marlins, who despite a 75-84 record assured themselves of second place in the NL East, their highest finish since 2009 (see full recap).

Astros pound Red Sox to keep Boston from clinching
BOSTON -- Major league batting leader Jose Altuve had three of Houston's 17 hits, Carlos Correa had four and the Astros chased Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez in the second inning to win 12-2 on Thursday night and keep Boston from clinching the first back-to-back AL East championships in franchise history.

Despite the loss, the Red Sox were guaranteed no worse than a tie for the division title when the Yankees lost 9-6 to Tampa Bay.

Boston needs one more win or Yankees loss to win the division; otherwise, the teams would meet in a one-game tie-breaker in New York on Monday to see who needs to play in the wild-card game and who advances to the AL Division Series -- likely facing the Astros.

Altuve had two singles and his 39th double to raise his batting average to .350. Brad Peacock (13-2) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, striking out two and walking one for the AL West champion Astros (see full recap).

Brewers inch closer to Rockies for 2nd wild card
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers closed within two games of Colorado for the National League's second wild card with three games left, rallying to beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 Thursday as Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning.

Milwaukee (84-75) closes the regular season at St. Louis, and the Rockies host the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers are assured of their best record since finishing 96-66 in 2011, when they lost to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, Milwaukee's last playoff appearance.

After Cincinnati tied the score in the sixth on RBI singles by Scooter Gennett against Brent Suter and Jesse Winkler off Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes (5-3) entered with two on and the Reds loaded the bases when the reliever bobbled Jose Peraza's bunt for an error.

Hughes struck out Adam Duvall and got Stuart Turner to ground into a double play (see full recap).

Best of MLB: Red Sox's Sale reaches 300 Ks; Marlins' Stanton hits 56th HR

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Best of MLB: Red Sox's Sale reaches 300 Ks; Marlins' Stanton hits 56th HR

BALTIMORE -- Chris Sale was at his very best -- right down to his momentous last pitch -- in another meaningful victory for the Boston Red Sox.

Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and Boston moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.

Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his 111th and final pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Red Sox manager John Farrell sent Sale back out for the eighth inning to give him a shot at getting No. 300 (see full recap).

Stanton hits 56th homer, Marlins sweep Mets
MIAMI -- Home runs before small crowds in the eighth inning of lopsided games between also-rans count, too, which is fortunate for Giancarlo Stanton.

Now he needs only five more for 61.

Stanton hit his major league-leading 56th homer in the eighth Wednesday to punctuate the Miami Marlins' 9-2 win over the New York Mets, which completed a three-game sweep.

Announced attendance was 16,033, but the actual turnout was perhaps one-third that total. The Marlins are destined to miss the playoffs for the 14th year in a row despite Stanton's homer show (see full recap).

Rays, Snell end Cubs' 7-game winning streak
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Their seven-game winning streak is over and the Chicago Cubs are still being challenged for the NL Central lead with 11 games left in the season.

Blake Snell gave up two hits in seven shutout innings and the Tampa Bay Rays ended the Cubs' season-best winning streak 8-1 on Wednesday night.

The Cubs, who had not lost since being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series in Chicago on Sept. 8-10, are scheduled to open a four-game series in Milwaukee on Thursday night, holding a 3 1/2-game lead over the Brewers.

"It's going to be very exciting," manager Joe Maddon said. "We got the split here, which is good. Moving it forward, you've got to beat ‘em straight-up sometimes and that's what we're going to have to do,” (see full recap).

Nationals rally for 6 runs in 8th to beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Manager Dusty Baker was hardly surprised that the heart of the Nationals' order took so many pitches in the eighth inning.

"It's easy to be patient when they're not near the strike zone," he said. "We capitalized on it. You're going to get hits after that."

Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino issued three bases-loaded walks in the six-run eighth, Gio Gonzalez pitched seven strong innings and Washington beat Atlanta 7-3 on Wednesday night (see full recap).

Rhys Hoskins the 'alien' lifts Phillies to wild '2-celebration' win

Rhys Hoskins the 'alien' lifts Phillies to wild '2-celebration' win

BOX SCORE

It took the Phillies two tries to get it right, but they finally had their walk-off victory celebration on Tuesday night.

Or was it Wednesday morning?

Oh, what does it matter.

The Phillies opened a 10-game homestand with a wild win over the Miami Marlins. The Phils prevailed, 9-8, on an RBI double to left by rookie Nick Williams with two outs in the bottom of the 15th inning (see observations).

As Aaron Altherr (he reached on a one-out base hit) sprinted home with the winning run, Phillies players streamed out of the dugout to mob Williams, who had a three-hit night. His game-winning hit came just after midnight and it ended four hours and 57 minutes of baseball that wasn't always pretty.

The Phillies trailed, 7-2, after starter Nick Pivetta struggled, but they stormed back in the late innings. Rhys Hoskins smacked the first of his two home runs to help get the comeback started. The Phils scored three runs in the eighth, then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning on a pinch-hit single by Hyun Soo Kim.

Actually, the Phillies thought they had won the game on Kim's hit in the ninth inning. The hit scored Williams with the tying run and Cesar Hernandez initially appeared to slide home with winning run. That set off a Phillies' celebration as players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Kim. He was doused with bubble gum and had his jersey torn off by jubilant teammates.

Turned out the celebration was premature. The Marlins challenged the initial safe call on the field and won. Hernandez was ruled out at the plate and Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton had his third assist of the night — one at second, one at third and one at home. The Phillies' celebration went for naught (forcing the grounds crew to scurry out and clean up the remnants) and the game moved on to extra innings.

Marcell Ozuna quickly put the Marlins ahead with a solo homer off Hector Neris in the top of the 10th and hard-throwing Miami right-hander Brian Ellington got the first two outs in the bottom of the inning.

The Marlins were one out away from a victory in 10 innings. All that stood in their way was Hoskins, and that's a pretty formidable roadblock lately. Hoskins, who has uncanny plate discipline for a rookie, worked the count to 2-0 and got the fastball he was looking for. It came in at 100 mph and left at 102 mph. It landed 413 feet away, over the centerfield wall, tying the game at 8-8.

For Hoskins, the home run felt good not only because it deadlocked the game. It also came against the same pitcher who hit him in the hand two weeks ago in Miami, knocking him from the lineup for a day. 

What Hoskins is doing to baseballs is nuts. He did not hit his first home run until Aug. 14. He now has 16 and that's just five off Tommy Joseph's team lead of 21. With 18 games left, it's not out of the question that Hoskins could lead this team in home runs, and that's rather amazing considering he did not come up until Aug. 10.

"He's an alien," Williams said. "He's not human. That's not real. That's crazy. And I'm hitting behind him, too, and I'm just constantly watching him and I'm like, 'Oh, my God.' What he's doing is amazing. He plays hard. He's a smart player. And what he's doing, I just love watching and being a part of it."

Hoskins laughed when he heard that Williams had called him an alien.

"That guy is pretty good himself, too," Hoskins said. "So I guess we can be alien friends."

Since starting his big-league career 0 for 10 in his first three games, Hoskins is hitting .327 with a .449 on-base percentage and a .827 slugging percentage.

Williams has also been impressive. In 65 games in the majors, he's hitting .292 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs. Williams had a bit of a reputation for not hustling in the minors. But his work ethic and energy level have been outstanding in the majors. He competes every play. In fact, the whole team did Tuesday night. The bullpen picked up 10 innings and allowed just one run that made the comeback and the win possible.

"We battled," Williams said. "This says a lot, especially for a team in last place. We're constantly trying to compete each and every day. These guys are hungry and they want to show they deserve to be up here. Tonight just shows we fight and we compete.

"We had two walk-offs today. I think that was the first time in the history of baseball that's taken place. It was a two-celebration game. I'm just glad one of them counted."