Braves overcome 9-0 deficit, beat Nationals in 11 innings

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One can’t help but wonder just how late Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were out last night.

Down 9-0 after five innings, the Braves rallied to beat the Nationals 11-10 in 11 innings Friday and cut Washington’s NL East lead down to 2 1/2 games.

It was the first time since 1987 that the Braves had come from 9-0 down to win. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said afterwards that it was, “Arguably the worst game I’ve ever managed.”

This one was all Stephen Strasburg early, but the Braves got to the young All-Star for four runs in the sixth and kept piling on from there. Storen, just back from elbow surgery, gave up his first two runs of the season in the eighth, with Sean Burnett allowing two more in the frame. Clippard then blew his third save when he gave up two runs in the ninth, putting the Nationals in a 10-9 hole.

Still, the biggest surprise may have come in the bottom of the ninth, with David Espinosa homered off Craig Kimbrel. It was just the fifth homer allowed by Kimbrel in 135 2/3 career innings, and it resulted in his second blown save of the year. He entered with a 1.22 ERA.

The Braves went on to win in 11 after Paul Janish singled in Dan Uggla. Chad Durbin pitched a perfect inning for his first save since 2009.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.