Ben Sheets tosses six scoreless innings in win over Nationals

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After holding the Mets scoreless last Sunday in his first major league start since July 19, 2010, Ben Sheets kept on trucking this afternoon.

Sheets tossed six scoreless innings against the Nationals as part of a 4-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Nationals Park. The 34-year-old right-hander gave up just five hits while walking three and striking out six.

After missing all of last season recovering from two major elbow operations, including Tommy John surgery, Sheets now has 12 scoreless innings over his first two starts with the Braves. Just how long he’ll hold up is a legitimate question, but he’s provided quite a lift to Atlanta’s rotation already.

Edwin Jackson suffered the tough-luck loss for the Nationals, giving up just one run over seven innings while striking out nine. His only mistake came on a solo home run by Brian McCann in the top of the second inning. Michael Bourn scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning while Chipper Jones added a two-run pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth inning for some insurance.

The Braves have taken the first two games of the weekend series to move to within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Nationals. Randall Delgado will start for the Braves in the nightcap while John Lannan will make his first major league start of the season for the Nationals.

Red Sox beat Yankees 11-6 to clinch AL East for third consecutive season

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The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.

AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.

With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.