MLB: Sánchez blanks Cubs, Nationals keep slugging in 9-3 victory
CHICAGO (AP) — Aníbal Sánchez pitched one-hit ball into the ninth inning and helped himself with two perfectly placed bunts, leading the Washington Nationals to a 9-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Washington had a short turnaround with an afternoon start after its 7-1 victory at Pittsburgh on Thursday night. The Nationals didn’t arrive in Chicago until early Friday morning, but their loaded lineup looked as if it got more than enough rest.
Juan Soto and Adam Eaton homered as Washington improved to 13-4 in its last 17 games, putting pressure on NL East-leading Atlanta and strengthening its position atop the wild card standings. It has outscored its opponents 129-66 since Aug. 5.
Chicago had won five in a row, but it was unable to overcome a shaky start by Jon Lester (10-9) and another rough performance at the plate.
Sánchez (8-6), who flew into Chicago ahead of time on Thursday, allowed one earned run while improving to 8-0 in his last 16 starts.
Indians 4, Royals 1
CLEVELAND (AP) — Brad Hand bounced back from his recent struggles to record his 30th save, Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer and Cleveland beat Kansas City.
The All-Star closer, who had blown three consecutive saves, gave up a leadoff single to Alex Gordon in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert bounced into a double play, extending his hitless streak to 0 for 39, and Bubba Starling grounded out to end the game.
Lindor hit his 22nd homer, a blast to right field off Jakob Junis (8-12) to give Cleveland a 4-0 lead.
Rookie Zach Plesac (7-4) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings.
Pirates 3, Reds 2
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pablo Reyes hit a game-ending RBI single, driving in pinch-runner Joe Musgrove, and Pittsburgh rallied to beat Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh won for just the ninth time in 39 games since the All-Star break by chipping away at Reds closer Raisel Iglesias (2-9).
The Pirates put together three straight singles to start the ninth, the last a flare to shallow center by Adam Frazier that scored pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez. A sacrifice bunt by Jacob Stallings moved Musgrove to third and Reyes sent a drive to the gap in left-center to give Pittsburgh its eighth straight home victory over the Reds.
Felipe Vázquez (4-1) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth.
Rays 7, Orioles 1
BALTIMORE (AP) — Austin Meadows hit his first career grand slam to cap a seven-run second inning, Trevor Richards shined in his second start with Tampa Bay and the Rays beat Baltimore.
Meadows hit a 2-0 pitch from Ty Blach (0-2) deep into the center-field seats to send Tampa Bay to its fourth straight win over Baltimore.
Tampa Bay has won 11 of its last 12 away games and now sits atop the AL wild-card standings. The Rays’ 42-23 road record is the best in the majors.
Richards (1-0) allowed Baltimore two hits and a walk over six shutout innings.