Monday, July 16, 2018
Sports

Jays follow team meeting with bounceback win

TORONTO — After a pregame players meeting provided a jolt of positive energy, J.A. Happ helped the Blue Jays to rebound.

Happ pitched six-plus strong innings, former Ray Melvin Upton hit a two-run homer and Toronto stopped a four-game losing streak by beating the Red Sox 3-2 Saturday.

The Blue Jays closed within one game of AL East-leading Boston.

"It was a big win, no doubt," Happ said. "We had better energy than we've had in a while (Saturday). From first pitch to last, it seemed like our dugout was really into this one."

Toronto, whose players met behind closed doors for about an hour before the game, avoided matching its longest skid this season.

"It was just nice to get everybody together and talk about it and get back on the same page," catcher Russell Martin said. "I think it was just to reassure, to make sure that everybody is in a good mind-set and focusing on what they need to focus on. "

Happ declined to discuss specifics but said the meeting was "overwhelmingly positive."

Upton and Devon Travis both made costly errors in Friday's 13-3 loss but followed with good days at the plate. Travis had three hits for the Blue Jays and is 6-for-9 in the first two games of the series. Upton hit his 20th homer, a two-run drive in the second off Eduardo Rodriguez.

"Two guys who took a lot of heat (Friday) night came through for us," manager John Gibbons said.

DODGERS 5, MARLINS 0: Left-hander Rich Hill was pulled after pitching seven perfect innings for the Dodgers, who wound up with a combined two-hitter. Manager Dave Roberts replaced the oft-injured Hill after 89 pitches, saying there were signs of the return of a blister that has landed him on the disabled list twice this season. Joe Blanton gave up a two-out single to Jeff Francoeur in the eighth.

ORIOLES 11, TIGERS 3: Matt Wieters hit two of Baltimore's four home runs, and the visiting Orioles chased Jordan Zimmermann in the second inning and moved back ahead of Detroit in the AL wild-card race.

ASTROS 2, CUBS 1: Rookie Alex Bregman homered and Collin McHugh combined with his bullpen on a two-hitter for host Houston as it tried to gain ground in the AL wild-card race.

MARINERS 14, A'S 3: Felix Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings to help visiting Seattle to its seventh win in eight games against Oakland this season.

ROYALS 6, WHITE SOX 5: Whit Merrifield hit a go-ahead two-run double in a three-run seventh inning, and visiting Kansas City held on.

NATIONALS 3, PHILLIES 0: Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer off former Mitchell High standout Patrick Schuster in the eighth inning to lift host Washington.

CARDINALS 5, BREWERS 1: Randal Grichuk threw out a runner at home from centerfield in the eighth then doubled in the bottom half to key a five-run rally for host St. Louis.

REDS 8, PIRATES 7: Joey Votto celebrated his 33rd birthday with four hits, including a home run, and visiting Cincinnati handed Pittsburgh its 10th loss in 12 games.

Around the league

STRASBURG'S STATUS: Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg said he isn't sure whether he will pitch again this season. Strasburg left Wednesday's start in the third inning with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow.

PIERZYNSKI RETIRING: Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski has decided to retire after 19 seasons, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Pierzynski, 39, was seen hugging teammates and handing out cigars after Saturday's 4-3, 10-inning win over the Mets.

DODGERS: Left-hander Scott Kazmir, who was pulled early from a rehab start last week, was diagnosed with thoracic spine inflammation, and no timetable was given for his return.

INDIANS: Right-hander Danny Salazar will miss his next scheduled start with a sore pitching forearm. Salazar was on the disabled list for elbow inflammation a month ago and was lifted after four innings Friday after feeling tightness in his forearm.

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