The Pittsburgh Pirates capitalized on some pinpoint pitching to defeat the Atlanta Braves 3-1 on Monday and remain tied for the NL Central division lead.
Starter James McDonald struck out nine batters in 5-1/3 scoreless innings, then watched as four Pittsburgh relievers contained the Braves to preserve his win and keep the surprising Pirates (53-47) level with the St Louis Cardinals.
“He [McDonald] came out and was ready to compete from pitch one,” Pittsburgh catcher Michael McKenry told reporters. “He battled his rear end to give us a chance today, he was awesome.”
“It’s been a whirlwind year and it’s been fun,” McKenry added.
McDonald (7-4) left the game with a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning after the Braves loaded the bases with one out, but reliever Chris Resop got two straight outs to escape the jam.
Pittsburgh scored twice in the second inning and once in the sixth to beat red-hot starter Tim Hudson (9-7), who had not lost in his previous six starts.
Atlanta’s Chipper Jones came off the disabled list and hit an eighth-inning homer in his first game since July 8 to complete the scoring.
CARDINALS 10, ASTROS 5
In St Louis, catcher Yadier -Molina fell only a triple shy of hitting the cycle for the second time in three games as St Louis downed Houston.
After a single, double and a homer, Molina missed his only shot for the cycle when he took a called third strike in the eighth. His homer came in the fourth off J.A. Happ (4-12).
Trailing 8-1, Houston’s Carlos Lee made it interesting with his 16th career grand slam in the eighth, cutting the gap to three runs before St Louis answered with two.
In other NL action, it was:
‧ Padres 5, Phillies 4
‧ Mets 4, Reds 2
‧ Dodgers 8, Rockies 5
AP, CLEVELAND, OHIO
Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis delivered his first career hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning to give the Indians a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
Kipnis hit a pitch from Hisanori Takahashi through the gap between first and second base, giving the Indians their 11th home win in their last at-bat this season and breaking a four-game losing streak.
Bobby Abreu’s two-run homer had put the Angels ahead 2-1 in the eighth, but Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp (5-2) pitched a scoreless ninth to enable the late rally.
RANGERS 20, TWINS 6
In Arlington, Texas, the hosts piled on a league-best 27 hits to rout Minnesota.
Ian Kinsler homered and drove in four runs, while Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz had four hits, as all but one of the Rangers starters had at least two.
Michael Young also went deep and had three RBIs for Texas, which had 18 runs by the end of the fifth inning.
Things were so one-sided that outfielder Michael Cuddyer pitched the eighth inning for the Twins. He gave up a double, a single and a walk to load the bases, but got outs on a fly ball and a pop-up to complete a scoreless inning.
He was the first Twins position player to pitch in a game for 21 years.
ROYALS 3, RED SOX 1 (14)
In Boston, Eric Hosmer doubled leading off the 14th inning and scored when Mike Aviles’ bunt bounced over the head of an onrushing Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, giving Kansas City the victory over Boston.
The Red Sox threatened to score five times in the last six innings, but the Royals made their best chance count.
In other AL action, it was:
‧ White Sox 6, Tigers 3
‧ Yankees 10, Mariners 3
‧ Athletics 7, Rays 5
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