And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 2, Cardinals 1; Pirates 6, Cardinals 0: First. Place. Pirates. And the best record in baseball. A walkoff in the opener and a beatdown in the nightcap. Six straight losses by the reeling Cardinals, who lost Yadier Molina to the DL on top of it all. And maybe — just maybe — the end to the now-silly “are the Pirates for real?” talk.

Rangers 14, Angels 11: 1998 called and said it wants its final score back. Angels fans called and wants that last pitch from Daniel Stange back. The one he tossed to Leonys Martin, who hit the walkoff three-run homer.

Phillies 7, Giants 3: Philly finally wins a game, breaking their eight-game losing streak. Look for Ruben Amaro to give quotes today about how they are now competitive, followed by long-term contract extensions to Delmon and Michael Young and a trade for Vernon Wells.

Tigers 5, Nationals 1: Alex Avila hit a grand slam. But the biggest hit of the night came from Dave Dombrowski picking up Jose Iglesias as part of the Jake Peavy trade. He’s gonna look awfully good at short for the Tigers. Rick Porcello and Doug Fister may go and pick him up at the airport, actually.

Braves 11, Rockies 3: Two homers for Freddie Freeman as the Braves extend their division lead to a whopping ten games. Note: the Braves have not lost a game since they opened a Waffle House at Turner Field. This is a simple fact.

Dodgers 3, Yankees 2: Mark Ellis with the walkoff single. He’s hitting .415 with a homer and eight RBIs since the break. The Dodgers extended their NL West lead to three and a half games.

Orioles 4, Astros 3: Chris Davis hit his first homer since the All-Star break. If you believe some of my commenters and friends on Twitter, this is clear evidence that he stopped using steroids at the break and began again yesterday afternoon at, oh, 4pm. People are dumb.

Indians 7, White Sox 4: A four-run eighth inning keyed by a Ryan Raburn pinch hit RBI single. The Indians have won nine in a row at home.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 2: Brandon Workman gets his first win, striking out nine in six innings of work, on the night that the Sox pick up Jake Peavy.  Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run homer.

Mets 4, Marlins 2: Zack Wheeler took a no-hitter into the seventh but he allowed the Fish to tie it up that inning. The bullpen held after that, however, and John Buck hit an RBI single in the 10th to win it.

Rays 5, Diamondbacks 2: Fauxsto Caromona pitched a complete game and Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar each drove in a pair. Tampa Bay maintains its half-game lead in the AL East.

Brewers 6, Cubs 5Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Brewers sweep the twin-bill. Glad of that actually. Not for them, really, but that one of the teams won both games. As I’ve been saying for years, there is little more pointless in the world than a split doubleheader between non-contending teams. Inquiring about its significance is like a philosophical question from a depressed philosopher.

Royals 7, Twins 2: Two homers from Mike Moustakas and seven solid innings from the now apparently not-selling Kansas City Royals. Seven back in the Central and five back in the wild card race.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 0: Mark Buehrle with seven shutout innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 20.  Jose Bautista and Emilio Bonifacio each homered.

Padres 4, Reds 2: That’s five straight losses for the Reds, who need to get the heck back home. Nick Hundley’s two-run double in the eighth made the difference. Will Venable went 3 for 3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI.

It’s trade deadline day, babies. Keep it locked on HBT and you won’t miss a thing.

Nationals complete NLCS sweep of Cardinals, punch ticket to World Series

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The Nationals will officially appear in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The team that had a 19-31 record in late May, putting manager Dave Martinez on the hot seat, improbably fought back to snag a Wild Card slot, won the play-in game, beat the heavily-favored Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and polished off a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Tuesday night, winning 7-4.

After Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless top of the first inning, the Nationals’ offense wasted no time getting to work. Single, double, sacrifice fly, RBI double, intentional walk, reach on error, RBI single, two-run single, sacrifice bunt, two-run single. That’s how the Nats hung a seven-spot in the opening frame against Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

To the Cardinals’ credit, they cleaned things up from there. The Nationals would not score for the rest of the game while the Cardinals clawed back for a run in the fourth before plating three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina went yard off of Corbin in the fourth. In the fifth, a Tommy Edman ground out and a José Martínez two-run double accounted for the Cardinals’ runs in the fifth.

Corbin ultimately gave up the four runs on four hits and three walks with, impressively, 12 strikeouts across five innings of work. Tanner Rainey worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Sean Doolittle did the same in the seventh.

Doolittle remained in the game in the eighth, getting the first two outs before relenting a single to Marcell Ozuna. Right-hander Daniel Hudson entered for the four-out save opportunity. Hudson hit Molina with a fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Paul DeJong. DeJong worked a full count, then walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter emerged from the dugout to take his cuts against Hudson. After five tense pitches to Carpenter, Hudson got him to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Nats went down quick in the bottom of the eighth. Hudson emerged from the dugout to send the Nationals into the World Series. He did just that, getting Kolten Wong to fly out to shallow left field for the first out. Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher in fair territory for out number two. At long last, Edman flied out to center field. Nationals win 7-4.

The only other time the franchise reached the Championship Series was in 1981 when the Expos lost three games to two to the Dodgers. The Expos/Nationals then went from 1982-2011 without a playoff appearance. The Nationals lost four Division Series appearances in a row in 2012, ’14, and ’16-17, three of which went the maximum five games. Now they’re in the World Series, improbably. They will await the winner of the ALCS, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.