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Best of MLB: Cardinals win game marred by scary injury to Diamondbacks' Robbie Ray

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Best of MLB: Cardinals win game marred by scary injury to Diamondbacks' Robbie Ray

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis starter Michael Wacha pitched six innings and Jedd Gyorko drove in the lone run with one of his three hits Friday night, leading the Cardinals to a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Wacha (8-4) allowed three hits. He has won five of his last six starts and improved to 7-1 in 12 starts at Busch Stadium this season.

Wacha finished strong. He pitched out of a jam in the sixth. He gave up a single and double with two outs before striking out David Peralta to end his night.

Trevor Rosenthal, the third reliever for St. Louis, earned his fifth save with two innings of work.

Arizona starter Robbie Ray left the game in the second inning after getting hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of rookie Luke Voit. The ball caromed in the air into foul territory where third baseman Daniel Descalso caught it for the out.

Ray lay prone on the mound for several minutes before sitting up with his teammates surrounding him. He was driven off the field on a cart and was taken for an examination (see full recap).

Royals down Red Sox to win 9th in a row
BOSTON -- Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas homered off emergency starter Rick Porcello, who took over when David Price went back on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left elbow, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Red Sox 4-2 Friday night for their season-high ninth straight win.

Boston has lost five of six and nine of 14, dropping out of the AL East lead for the first time since June 29 and falling a half-game behind the New York Yankees.

Price started the season on the DL and didn't make his first start until May 29. The 31-year-old left-hander, winner of the 2012 AL Cy Young Award, is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA.

Porcello (4-14), who had been scheduled to pitch Saturday, leads the major leagues in losses. He allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings.

Jason Vargas (13-4) gave up one run and five hits in six innings. Vargas, who had been winless in three starts since June 30, is one shy of his career high for wins, set in 2012 with Seattle.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a one-hit ninth for his 22nd save in 25 chances, getting rookie Rafael Devers to hit into a game-ending forceout after Andrew Benintendi's two-out single (see full recap).

Brewers beat Cubs to open crucial series
MILWAUKEE -- Brent Suter tossed seven scoreless innings and the Milwaukee Brewer slipped past the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Friday night to move within one-half game of first place in the National League Central.

Suter (2-1) limited the Cubs to four hits. He struck out five and walked one in a career-long outing.

Milwaukee pushed across a run in the second on Manny Pina's run-scoring groundout.

In the fourth, Hernan Perez led off with a sharp grounder to the right side that Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo fielded cleanly. Rizzo was slow to get to his feet, however, and his feed to Jose Quintana covering the base was late. Initially called out, Perez was awarded first after a brief review.

Perez later scored on a fielder's choice.

Javier Baez's solo homer with one out in the eighth off newly acquired reliever Anthony Swarzak cut the lead to 2-1.

Quintana gave up four hits and two runs in six innings.

Corey Knebel notched his 18th save in 23 attempts (see full recap).

Tanaka stifles Rays as Yanks win 5th straight
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka took a perfect game into the sixth inning and struck out a career-high 14, pitching the New York Yankees past the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 Friday night for their fifth straight win.

Brett Gardner hit a leadoff home run, Aaron Judge lined his AL-leading 33rd homer and Clint Frazier added a three-run shot to boost Tanaka (8-9). With their spurt, the Yankees were poised to move past Boston and into the AL East lead for the first time in a month.

On Thursday night, Gardner won the opener of this four-game set between playoff contenders with a homer in the 11th. Judge wound up losing half of his front left tooth in the celebration -- he got a temporary fix earlier in the day.

Tanaka struck out the first five batters, all swinging. He set down 17 in a row before Adeiny Hechavarria grounded a sharp, two-out single up the middle, past diving shortstop Didi Gregorius. Tanaka impassively watched the ball roll into center field and, after a brief ovation from the fans, went back to work (see full recap).

Ricky Bo's MLB rule changes if he was commish for a day

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Ricky Bo's MLB rule changes if he was commish for a day

I think most of us would agree baseball has gotten too slow and there's too much inactivity in the modern game.

MLB met last week to discuss possible rule changes, so here are mine, all designed to either speed up the game or make it more exciting.

1. Instant decisions on challenges

No more of this 45-second crap deciding whether to challenge a play. No more of the manager holding up his hand while waiting for his bench coach to get off the phone with the video coordinator to decide whether to challenge. Either you make the call with your naked eye or don't.

It makes the games several minutes longer and can take pitchers out of their rhythm.

2. Move bullpens closer to dugouts

This might not make a huge impact on the length of games, but moving bullpens closer to dugouts would cut down on the 20- to 30-second run-ins from the bullpen, especially with how often teams make pitching changes these days.

The whole process of a manager slowly walking to the mound, taking the ball, making the call to the 'pen and the pitcher coming in for him warmups would be sped up.

3. Four total pitching changes per game per team (barring injury)

It would add a lot of strategy to the games if you limited the number of decisions a manager can make. The game is overly specialized these days so it would mean we'd see less of a lefty specialist coming in for one batter and then coming out.

It might also create some more offense.

4. Limiting defensive shifts

Two infielders on each side just like it was for a generation. I get that teams want to use the available data to determine where to place their infielders for specific hitters, but it wipes away so many hits and has turned the sport into a strikeout-fest.

Hitters who have trouble beating the shift are trying more than ever before to beat it by hitting the ball out of the ballpark. The result is more home runs but also so many more strikeouts. We're on pace for about 500 more strikeouts than any season in history.

This last one won't be popular, but down with the shifts!

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Forget Machado (for now), Phils reportedly eyeing HOF third baseman

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Forget Machado (for now), Phils reportedly eyeing HOF third baseman

Forget Manny Machado (for now). The Phillies are reportedly also interested in an older third baseman who can still hit but would come much cheaper.

That would be Rangers 3B and future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Beltre, according to MLB's Jon Paul Morosi

"The Phillies also have interest in Beltre, sources say, as much for his professionalism as his production," Morosi wrote. "The Phils have the youngest group of position players in the Majors, and team officials see long-term value in Beltre's influence on an emerging core."

Beltre turned 39 in April and has been on the DL four times in the last two seasons, including twice this season with hamstring strains. Still, he's remained one of the better all-around third basemen in the majors, hitting .304 with an .877 OPS the last three seasons. He'd be an unquestioned upgrade at third over Maikel Franco, who has talked over the years about how much he admires Beltre's game.

Beltre is in the final year of his contract and is owed $18 million. The deal includes a full no-trade clause and Beltre would need to waive it to potentially join the Phils. The Phillies are a fringe contender but the Rangers are already out of it at 32-44 and 18 games back in the AL West.

This week, Phillies GM Matt Klentak said he is not opposed to trading for a rental player so long as the Phillies hang around the playoff picture in the next month. Royals 3B Mike Moustakas is another player to monitor in that regard.

Of course, this doesn't mean the Phillies are out on Machado but trading for him midseason would be much more complicated and there's little chance he'd re-sign before first testing the free-agent market.

If the Phillies do trade for him, they just have to make sure everyone in the clubhouse knows the rules about touching his head.

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