And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 9, Red Sox 1: Attention Red Sox Nation: set sphincters to Defcon 1.  The Rays sweep and they are now three and a half out in the wild card. And these two play each other four more times. B.J. Upton was 4 for 4 with a grand slam.

Cardinals 6, Braves 3: Attention Braves, er, whatever it is they have: set sphincters to Defcon 2.  The Cardinals sweep and are now four and a half back of Atlanta in the wild card, though these two don’t play head-to-head again. The Cardinals have a three-game series at Philadelphia this weekend, but other than that the schedule is all tomato cans. I suppose the same can be said for Atlanta — a series with the Phillies and then some losing teams — but the Braves face a better brand of tomato can, including a Washington team that gives the Braves fits.  This is all suddenly interesting/terrifying.

Rockies 4, Reds 1: Rookie Drew Pomeranz threw five shutout innings in his major league debut. I’m guessing the Indians could have used a performance or two like that from a pitcher some time since late July. Pity.

Rangers 8, Athletics 1: C.J. Wilson struck out 11 in eight shutout innings and Adrian Beltre hit two homers. This technically eliminated the A’s. So those of you who pre-ordered A’s playoff tickets, well, sorry.

Yankees 6, Angels 5: The Yankees snapped a four-game losing streak. Probably shoulda been five given that you’re never going to make a lot of money betting on stuff like “Peter Bourjos drops an easy fly ball, allowing two runs to score.”

Royals 2, Mariners 1: Everett Teaford, who despite the name is not a late-19th century British explorer, pitched five shutout innings for the Royals. And then, as the leader of the Teaford Expedition, he became the first white man to scale Mt. SomethingOrOther in the godless lands of darkest Africa, all of which he claimed in the name of Queen Victoria. Then he steamed home on a Dreadnaught class battleship or something and wrote he experiences up in an adventure novel for schoolboys.

Brewers 3, Phillies 2: He’s cut! The Russian is cut! Oh, well, not really. It’s just that shocking to see the Phillies lose one. The Brewers strung together three hits to rally in the seventh and hand Vance Worley his second loss of the year.

Marlins 4, Pirates 1: Six scoreless for Javier Vazquez, who has been great in the garbage time portion of the season. He’s 4-2 with a 1.95 ERA in his last nine starts.

Indians 7, White Sox 3: I guess that was an unfair swipe at the Ubaldo Jimenez trade up there in the Reds/Rockies recap, because Jimenez himself pitched well yesterday, giving up two runs over six innings. Luis Valbuena was 3 for 5 with a homer. Which isn’t exactly something he does a lot of.

Nationals 8, Astros 2: He only went three innings — this is really a shakedown cruise following his time in dry dock — but Stephen Strasburg was effective, striking out four in those three innings and allowing a run. I’m fine with the short outing, by the way. It’s not like he’s drawing butts to the seats like some suspected he might, so it’s not like anyone should feel obligated to give the hometown fans five or six innings of the kid.  Let him pitch a bit, get him out before he has any stressful situations and build optimism over the offseason.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: Adam Loewen shows his former team that, as a pitcher, he makes a pretty good hitter. The Blue Jays’ conversion job hit the game-tying homer and then Jose Bautista broke the tie with a sac fly.  The Orioles are absolutely atrocious in Toronto. Well, they’re atrocious everywhere, but really, really atrocious in Toronto, having dropped 29 of the past 34 games they’ve played north of the border.

Padres 7, Diamondbacks 6: The Padres hand the Diamondbacks their first home loss in 15 games. Two RBIs a piece for Nick Hundley, Jesus Guzman and James Darnell. Not sure I’ve thought about Nick Hundley since I saw a Padres-Royals spring training game back in March. Man, that seems like it was 15 years ago. The season, she is long.

Giants 8, Dodgers 1: Madison Bumgarner struck out eight and allowed three hits in five innings, helping the Giants avoid the sweep.

Tigers 2, Twins 1: Nine in a row for Detroit behind seven scoreless innings for Doug Fister. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just called: the Tiger’s application for exclusive rights to the name “most dangerous playoff team” has officially been accepted. Anyone else who looks hot heading into October must call themselves “the team no one else wants to play.” Anything beyond that and they’re probably gonna get sued.

Cubs 10, Mets 6: A six-run 11th dooms the Mets on the night tribute was paid to those who lost their lives on 9/11. Sort of puts six-run 11th innings in perspective.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).