Braves hold on to beat Phillies; 3-way tie still possible

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The Braves made it far too interesting after taking an 8-2 lead in the sixth inning Saturday, giving up two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth, yet they held on to beat the Phillies 8-7 and guarantee that Bobby Cox will manage at least one more game.
With the victory, the Braves are 91-71. The Padres and Giants are currently playing this afternoon, with San Diego going for a three-game sweep. If the Padres win, all three teams will be 91-71, leading to one-game playoffs on Monday and Tuesday. If the Giants prevail, then the NL playoff picture will be set, with the Padres being eliminated.
The Braves seemed to be staring at an easy win today with Tim Hudson in command. He allowed just two hits in the contest. However, both were two-run homers. John Mayberry Jr. hit one in the third, and Jayson Werth hit the second in the seventh, bringing the Phillies back to within four runs.
Things got dicey in the eighth, as the Braves turned to Jonny Venters to replace Hudson. After two quick outs, Venters allowed a single and then had Mike Sweeney reach on an Omar Infante error. That brought in Billy Wagner, who gave up a single and a double to make it an 8-7 game.
Wagner got out of trouble after intentionally walking Jayson Werth and striking out Raul Ibanez. He then struck out Shane Victorino, Brian Schneider and Greg Dobbs all looking in the ninth, ending the game.
Of real concern to Atlanta has to be that both Infante and Brooks Conrad committed errors in the game. Those two switched positions today, with Infante moving from third to second, because of Conrad’s recent problems making throws from the hot corner. The Braves may want to reevaluate things now. Infante offers superior range at second base, and that is the busier position of the two.
The Braves offense shined today, but it did so against a bunch of pitchers just getting their work in. After Cole Hamels opened with two hitless innings, the following seven pitchers allowed 14 hits and six walks. Roy Oswalt gave up a run in his one inning, and Joe Blanton allowed two in his.
The Phillies could have suffered something of a blow in the seventh, as lefty specialist J.C. Romero left with an apparent injury. He’s struggled much of the year, but he was still going to be counted on for matchup purposes in the postseason.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.