Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

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The Pirates finally got a look at offseason acquisition A.J. Burnett on Saturday in Pittsburgh. And they had to be pretty pleased with what they saw.

Burnett loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning, but he wiggled out of that jam with two strikeouts and a lineout, and wound up yielding just three hits over seven shutout innings against the defending World Series champion Cardinals.

The 35-year-old right-hander struck out seven, walked just two and allowed only three hits.

53 of his 76 pitches went for strikes.

Burnett is fully recovered from the fractured orbital bone that he suffered during a late-spring bunting drill and looks poised to provide the Pirates’ starting rotation with some semblance of stability this summer. In case you’re keeping score at home, the National League Central remains a far more comfortable division for pitchers than the American League East.

Your Saturday box scores:

Cardinals 0, Pirates 2

Reds 1, Cubs 6

Marlins 2, Nationals 3

Rangers 10, Tigers 4 (Game 1)

Giants 4, Mets 5

Yankees 15, Red Sox 9

White Sox 4, Mariners 0

Dodgers 5, Astros 1

Rangers 2, Tigers 3 (Game 2)

Blue Jays 9, Royals 5

Rockies 4, Brewers 9

Twins 1, Rays 4

Braves 3, Diamondbacks 2

Phillies 1, Padres 5

Orioles 3, Angels 6

Indians 5, Athletics 1

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.