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Starling Marte to be activated today after PED suspension

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte will return from his 80-game PED suspension today. Yesterday he faced the press. He apologized for letting his team and the fans down, bus still says that he isn’t sure what substance got him suspended.

He tested poisitive for Nandrolone, but claims he did not inject himself with the steroid. He says that it was a matter of “not being careful enough,” in monitoring what he took while at home in the Dominican Republic in the offseason. He said, however, that he “respects” and “understands” whatever guff he takes from his teammates, the fans or the press.

The Pirates went 39-41 during Marte’s absence and are 45-48 overall. They’ve surged of late and, thanks to a lackluster NL Central this season, are nominally in contention, six games back of the Brewers. Marte was hitting .241 with two homers and seven RBIs in 13 games when he was suspended. He hit .304 with a home run and three RBIs in 12 minor league rehab starts. Marte had taken over in center field, moving Andrew McCutchen to left, but McCutchen has returned to center in Marte’s absence. He will remain there and Marte will play in left.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.