Phillies

Best of MLB: Mookie Betts ties MLB record with 8 RBIs in leadoff spot as Red Sox rout Jays

Best of MLB: Mookie Betts ties MLB record with 8 RBIs in leadoff spot as Red Sox rout Jays

TORONTO -- Mookie Betts hit two home runs and matched a career-high with eight RBIs to help the Boston Red Sox rout the Toronto Blue Jays 15-1 on Sunday.

Betts went 4 for 6 as AL East-leading Boston won for the sixth time in seven games, completing the three-game sweep. He hit an RBI single in the second, a three-run homer in the fourth, a two-run blast in the sixth, and a two-run single in the seventh. It was the second multihomer game of the season for Betts, who also hit two at Philadelphia on June 14. Betts had eight RBIs against Arizona on Aug. 14, 2016.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Betts' eight RBIs are tied for the most ever by a leadoff hitter.

Drew Pomeranz (8-4) pitched six innings for his third straight road win.

Hanley Ramirez had three hits, including a two-run homer, as the Red Sox collected a season-high 21 hits.

Joe Biagini (2-8) took the loss as he was chased in the sixth inning by Betts' second homer (see full recap).

Harper homers twice, Scherzer dominates as Nats beat Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Bryce Harper homered twice against Carlos Martinez, Max Scherzer struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings and the Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 on Sunday night.

Harper also doubled and had four RBIs to pace Washington, which snapped a three-game skid and had lost five of seven.

The Cardinals had won four straight and six of seven overall, including series victories over the Arizona Diamondbacks and Nationals.

Scherzer (10-5) allowed two hits and two walks while lowering his major league-leading ERA to 1.94. Scherzer's double-digit strikeout performance was his 10th this season and 59th of his career.

Martinez (6-7) entered the game ranked fourth in the NL in ERA but allowed five runs in five innings (see full recap).

Belt leads Giants over Pirates 5-3 for 6th straight win
PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Belt started San Francisco's comeback with an RBI single in a three-run seventh inning, then added a two-run homer in the eighth as the Giants beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Sunday for their season-high sixth straight win.

Jordy Mercer's two-run homer in the third off Jeff Samardzija (4-9) put the Pirates ahead.

Trevor Williams took a two-hit shutout into the seventh, when Hunter Pence walked leading off and Buster Posey doubled. Belt and Brandon Crawford hit consecutive run-scoring singles off left-hander Tony Watson (4-2), and Kelby Tomlinson's sacrifice fly gave San Francisco a 3-2 lead.

Belt homered in the eighth off Edgar Santana, his 16th this season (see full recap).

Indians snap Verlander's streak in rout of Tigers
DETROIT -- Jose Ramirez homered twice, and the Cleveland Indians snapped Justin Verlander's decade-long streak of games with at least one strikeout, chasing the Detroit star in the fourth inning of an 11-8 win over the Tigers on Sunday.

Verlander (5-5) had struck out a batter in 331 consecutive appearances and was tied with Curt Schilling for the sixth-longest streak since 1913. He hadn't gone without a strikeout since April 28, 2007, when he lasted only three innings against Minnesota.

On Sunday, he allowed seven runs and nine hits with three walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Mike Clevinger (4-3) allowed a run and two hits in six innings. He walked five and struck out seven.

The Indians held on after Detroit scored six runs in the ninth inning, including homers by James McCann and Nicholas Castellanos. Cody Allen retired the final batter for his 16th save in 17 chances (see full recap).

Reminder: Phillies got Wilson Ramos for almost nothing

Reminder: Phillies got Wilson Ramos for almost nothing

A reminder after his historic Phillies debut last night: Wilson Ramos was acquired for practically nothing. 

When the surprising trade was announced on July 31 — 17 days after Ramos had injured his hamstring — it was for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays took the cash. 

Teams around both leagues in need of a catcher or DH are probably kicking themselves right now. There was a trade market for Ramos in early July, with a lot of buzz about a return to the Nationals. (Matt Wieters has not had a productive offensive season.)

Then came Ramos’ hamstring injury, which apparently thinned out the market to the point that Tampa chose to take the only decent offer left, which came from the Phillies. 

Ramos last night became the first player in recorded history with at least three extra-base hits and three RBIs in his Phillies debut. He became the first Phillies catcher with three extra-base hits in a game since Chooch midway through 2014. 

There just aren’t many catchers like Ramos, which is why for weeks I’ve been writing that he’ll end up being their most impactful July addition. The last three seasons, Ramos has hit .296 with an .827 OPS. 

There are catchers like Buster Posey and J.T. Realmuto who can hit for a high average but don’t have as much power as Ramos. There are guys like Gary Sanchez, who have the power but not the ability to hit .290 to .300. Ramos has both skills, which is rare for catchers these days. 

The Phillies have seen flashes this season from Jorge Alfaro but not nearly enough consistency at the plate or behind it. A team in a pennant race needs that kind of defensive reliability from its catcher. If that catcher also happens to be perhaps the most well-rounded hitter at his position the last three years, even better. 

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Wilson Ramos has a debut to remember as Phillies bounce back with crucial win over Red Sox

Wilson Ramos has a debut to remember as Phillies bounce back with crucial win over Red Sox

BOX SCORE

Wilson Ramos, all 250 pounds of him, rounded second base like a runaway buffalo and headed for third. He slid in safely with just the second triple of his career – and first since 2011 – pumped his fist emphatically and gave the Phillies’ dugout one of those looks that said, “Let’s bleeping go!”

The moment verified two things:

One, Ramos’ hamstring is healthy.

And two, the big catcher, who goes by the nickname “The Buffalo,” is all-in with his new team and its quest to end a six-year postseason drought.

Ramos’ triple came with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Phillies locked in a tie ballgame with the Boston Red Sox. Moments later, he trotted home with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Scott Kingery and the Phillies were on their way to a 7-4 win over baseball’s best team (see first take).

Ramos, 31, had been acquired by the Phils from Tampa Bay before last month’s trade deadline. The Phils picked him up even though he was on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. He was deemed healthy and activated from the disabled list earlier Wednesday and had a debut that included two doubles, a triple and three RBIs. Two of the RBIs came on a seventh-inning double that helped seal the game. It was the first time he’d had three extra-base hits in a big-league career that started in 2010.

The Phils added Ramos because they needed an offensive boost and he delivered it. 

“Today is a special day, especially for me, my Phillies debut,” Ramos said. “I remember feeling the same in my MLB debut. I went 4 for 5 in my MLB debut. This one, pretty similar. It made me feel excited. I wanted to show everybody here what I can do and that’s what I can do.”

A night after giving up a tie-breaking homer in a 2-1 loss to Boston, Tommy Hunter, one of seven relievers employed by manager Gabe Kapler, got the win.

Hunter shared it with his former Tampa Bay teammate, Ramos.

“The dude is a stud,” Hunter said. “I played with him last year. You can’t expect anything less from a buffalo. He’s a welcomed addition. And we can’t welcome him with more open arms than what we have tonight.”

The victory was one of the Phillies’ best of the season because they came from three runs down against a powerhouse team, and it was one of their most important because it came at a time when the doubters were beginning to stir after the club had gone 2-5 in its previous seven games to fall out of first place in the NL East and slip two games behind the Atlanta Braves in the standings.

“We have had a lot of special wins,” Kapler said. “That one was a lot of fun, I can tell you that. Any time the action starts early and you’re starting to make decisions early in the game and you’re thinking about tomorrow’s game and the doubleheader and all of that all at once, it’s really stimulating and invigorating and I think that’s how we all felt in the dugout tonight – invigorated.

“Through good and bad, our job is to keep laser-sharp focus on the step right in front of us. We’re not thinking about 15 games down the road. We’ve shown that we can turn the page, we can take a punch and come out fighting the next day. So we’re certainly not thinking about last night or what’s going on around us. Our focus is squarely on this game and we showed that tonight and now our focus is on tomorrow.”

With the win, the Phillies, who still trail Atlanta by two games, improved to 66-53. They have equaled last season’s win total – with 43 games remaining.

Two of the Phillies’ wins have come in four games against Boston in the last two weeks. Both times, the Phillies lost the previous night’s game by a score of 2-1.

“They have tremendous athletes and pop up and down the lineup, but we feel we can go toe to toe with them and we feel like we’ll continue to go toe to toe with the best in baseball,” Kapler said.

There were other standouts besides Ramos. Newcomer Justin Bour got the start at first base, had a pair of hits, scored an important run in the seventh inning and made a crucial defensive play to keep the game tied in the top of the sixth.

The bullpen was also a standout. Hector Neris left the bases loaded in the third after the Sox scored three times against ineffective starter Vince Velasquez. Neris had spent the previous five weeks in Triple A, working on his splitter and regaining his confidence.

“Hector Neris saved this game for us,” Kapler said. “He came into a spot where the game was about to be out of hand. He got a pop out and a punch-out. He threw some nasty splits. This is a guy who went down to Triple A for us. He had a pride-swallowing moment. He worked his tail off to get his stuff back. He came up and just executed beautifully for us tonight. We definitely don't win that game without the contributions of Hector Neris.” 

In all, the bullpen pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

Against the majors’ best offense.

Impressive win. Important win.

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