Best of MLB: Rangers blitz Astros in opener of series relocated for storm

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Best of MLB: Rangers blitz Astros in opener of series relocated for storm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Shin-Soo Choo homered and drove in four runs Tuesday night, helping the Texas Rangers rout the Astros 12-2 in the opener of a series relocated to Florida due to flooding in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Adrian Beltre of the Rangers drove in three runs to pass Hall of Famer Ernie Banks for 28th on the career RBI list with 1,637 while Joey Gallo hit a two-run homer off Mike Fiers (8-9) before an announced crowd of 3,485 at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The three-game series that concludes Thursday was moved from Minute Maid Park because of flooding in the Houston area, with the Astros serving as the home team after the Rangers declined a proposal to play the games in Arlington, Texas.

It's only the fourth time in major league history that games have been relocated to neutral sites because of weather (see full recap).

Sale fans 11 as Red Sox shut out Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Chris Sale and two relievers combined on a four-hitter, Hanley Ramirez hit a solo home run and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Sale (15-6) fanned 11 in his ML-best 17th double-digit strikeout game, raising his league-leading total to 264. His 15 wins lead the AL.

Sale, who matched a season-worst by allowing seven runs in his previous outing, pitched seven innings. The left-hander has not allowed a run in 22 innings against the Blue Jays this season.

After Toronto DH Kendrys Morales hit a one-out double in the second inning, Sale retired 17 consecutive batters before Morales singled to begin the eighth.

Kevin Pillar chased Sale with a single, and Addison Reed came on to strike out pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera and Miguel Montero. Ryan Goins singled to load the bases for Steve Pearce, but he grounded into a fielder's choice.

Craig Kimblrel finished for his 31st save in 35 chances.

Toronto has lost nine of 11 (see full recap).

Nationals top Marlins despite Stanton’s 51st HR
WASHINGTON -- Giancarlo Stanton tied a major league record with his 18th home run in August, but Anthony Rendon had four RBIs and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 8-3 on Tuesday night.

Stanton hit a long homer in the first inning off Edwin Jackson (5-3), his 51st this season, to open the scoring following a 26-minute rain delay. His August output matched the mark set by Rudy York with the Detroit Tigers in 1937. Sammy Sosa set the record for homers in a month when he hit 20 in June 1998, and Stanton has two games left this month to catch the former Cubs slugger.

Stanton added an RBI with a deep sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.

Rendon's three-run double in the seventh came after Washington's bullpen thwarted a rally earlier in the inning. Daniel Murphy also had a two-run single.

The Nationals, 16-7 since Aug. 6, had five runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings against Vance Worley (2-4) (see full recap).

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


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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Wilson Ramos' dominant Phillies debut wakes up offense in win over Red Sox

Wilson Ramos' dominant Phillies debut wakes up offense in win over Red Sox


Wilson Ramos made a big impact in his first game with the Phillies.

Make that a huge impact.

Ramos, acquired in a trade deadline deal two weeks ago and activated from the disabled list on Wednesday afternoon, had a career-high three extra-base hits to help the Phillies come from three runs down to beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-4, at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

Ramos had two doubles and a triple on his way to three RBIs.

Ramos started a game-tying, three-run rally in the fourth inning with an RBI double.

Two innings later, he led off with a triple – just the second of his career and first since 2011 – and scored the go-ahead run on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Scott Kingery.

In the seventh, Ramos drove in two more runs with his second double of the game. The Phils sent eight men to the plate in that inning and scored three runs.

The Phillies’ bullpen was outstanding with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

Over the course of two weeks, the Phillies played the Red Sox four times. The Phils won two and lost two, a more than respectable showing against baseball’s best team.

In those four games, Phillies pitching allowed just eight runs.

The Phillies, who entered the day two games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East, are 66-53. They have matched their wins total from last season with 43 games remaining.

Vince Velasquez struggled for the second straight outing. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings and gave up three runs, all of which came in the third inning.

Velasquez’s wounds in the third inning were largely self-inflicted. He issued a one-out walk to the pitcher then hit Andrew Benintendi with an 0-2 pitch before the Red Sox loaded the bases on an infield hit by Brock Holt. That brought Mitch Moreland to the plate and he unloaded on a 1-1 fastball, sending a line drive to the wall in left-center to clear the bases. The ball got by centerfielder Odubel Herrera, who may have saved a run if he could have cut off the ball.

After Moreland’s hit, Velasquez walked the next two batters to re-load the bases. Hector Neris came on and got two outs to stop the damage.

Neris’ work in his first action since returning from Triple A was important because it kept the game close and the Phillies were able to tie it with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Rhys Hoskins reached base on an error to start the rally. Nick Williams singled and Ramos launched an RBI double off the right-field wall for a run. Herrera drove home the second run with a ground ball to first and Carlos Santana tied it with a pinch-hit single to right.

Santana did not start as manager Gabe Kapler went with Justin Bour at first base (see story). Santana essentially filled Bour’s pinch-hitting role and came through with his 67th RBI.

Bour made a big contribution on defense to stop a Boston threat in the top of the sixth. The Sox had runners on first and second with two outs in a tie game. Reliever Tommy Hunter got pinch-hitter Steve Pearce to hit a ground ball to the right side. The ball had a chance to get through the hole because Cesar Hernandez was shifted toward second base. Hernandez was able to halt the ball and make an off-balance throw to Bour at first. Initially, it looked like Bour was not able to hold the bag as he stretched for the throw. But replays showed he did hold the bag for the third out and that prevented the go-ahead run from scoring.

In the bottom of the inning, the Phillies rallied to break the tie on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Kingery. Ramos scored on the play after opening the frame with a triple.

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