And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 3, Phillies 2: The Nats become the first team to clinch a playoff spot this year, though they had to wait until the Braves-Marlins game ended to make it official. Here Stephen Strasburg tossed eight shutout innings — making it 34 straight scoreless innings for him — and struck out ten. It’s the Nats’ fourth division title in six years. Now all they have to do is figure out how to advance past the Division Series. Until then, at least we have this video of Anthony Rendon pouring his celebratory Budweiser down Bryce Harper‘s butt crack:

Braves 10, Marlins 8: The Braves made the Nats wait for the champagne, but they handed the division to Washington all the same with this win. Quite a late rally for the Braves who were trailing 8-5 in the ninth and then saw Rio Ruiz hit a two-run single with two outs to force extras. They then watched Lane Adams hit a two-run homer to walk things off in the 11th. Earlier the Marlins blew a 3-0 lead, then the Braves blew a 5-3 lead, so yeah it was one of those days.

Indians 3, Orioles 2: That’s 18 straight wins for Cleveland. Roberto Perez and Francisco Lindor each hit solo home runs off of Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the sixth to give the Tribe the lead for good. The Indians are now in a five-way tie for ninth longest winning streak of all time. Next on the list is the 1947 New York Yankees and the 1906 White Sox, each of which won 19 in a row. At the top the list: the 1916 Giants who won 26 in a row.

Cardinals 7, Pirates 0: Michael Wacha tossed eight shutout innings and Yadier Molina knocked in five runs. St. Louis has won seven of eight and move to within two games behind Chicago in the NL Central.

Brewers 3, Cubs 1: The Brewers are only two back as well after sweeping the Cubs. Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Zach Davies allowed one run over seven innings. Chicago scored three runs in the whole dang series. The last month will give us a race in the Central after all, it seems.

Rockies 8, Dodgers 1: Holy crap, the Dodgers keep losing. Ten straight now, and 15 of 16. They are the only team in baseball history to both lose 15 of 16 and win 15 of 16 in the same season, so at least their futility is accompanied by some fun trivia. Tyler Chatwood shut ’em out for five innings and three relievers did it for three more innings. Rich Hill ran out of gas at five innings and then the L.A. bullpen imploded, mostly via a Mark Reynolds grand slam, surrendered by Walker Buehler. Frankly it’d be way better if he had given it up on Saturday when L.A. dropped their ninth so we could use that video clip we all like to see when something bad happens for the ninth time. Oh, hell, I had the day off yesterday so let’s use it anyway:

Diamondbacks 3, Padres 2: J.D. Martinez hit two homers and Paul Goldschmidt hit one himself and that’s all there was. Still not gonna say that the Dodgers will choke this thing away, but the Dbacks are now only nine games back. Nine games? NINE GAMES.

Blue Jays 8, Tigers 2:  Teoscar Hernandez is not a player most of us think about all that much but he probably gave Anibal Sanchez nightmares last night after he hit two homers and drove in five. Heck, every Jays batter probably gave Sanchez nightmares after they scored seven runs on 12 hits off of him in less than five innings.

Reds 10, Mets 5: New York had a 5-2 lead heading into the seventh but the Reds tied it up with three that inning and poured it on with two more in the eighth and three more in the ninth. Highlight of the game: Reds manager Bryan Price came out to argue after one of his batters was ejected to end the top of the seventh, then halted the argument during “God Bless America,” and then put his hat back on and continued to argue after the song was over:

Rays 4, Red Sox 1: Wilson Ramos and Lucas Duda each hit a solo homer for the Rays who handed Rick Porcello his 17th loss of the year. There have been 204 20-game losers going back to 1900, but unless I’m missing one, none of them have pitched for a playoff team. Porcello’s Red Sox appear playoff bound and, if he takes all of his remaining turns, he has three starts left. I’m guessing the Sox won’t let it happen, but it sure would be something.

White Sox 8, Giants 1: I thought I had a pretty good weekend — I got a good hike in, made a couple of good meals and on Friday I met two of our commenters emeritus, Paper Lions and Historiophiliac, in actual person — but Jose Abreu hit for the cycle on Saturday and hit two homers and drove in three yesterday, so I guess he wins. Carson Fulmer — who sounds more like a quarterback than a pitcher — allowed one run over six innings and struck out nine. For the record, Paper Lions and Historiophiliac are cool people. Just thought you should know that.

Royals 11, Twins 3Brandon Moss homered and drove in four and Jason Vargas won for the first time in a good while by allowing one run over five innings. Eric Hosmer had four hits. He had 11 hits in the four-game series against the Twins.

Yankees 16, Rangers 7: Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez each hit two homers. Judge is now over 40 homers for the year, and is eight behind Mark McGwire’s rookie record. Sanchez now has 30 on the year and 50 in his first 161 big league games. That one-two punch is gonna be fun to watch for years. Meanwhile, all Didi Gregorius did was notch four hits while driving in four. The Yankees have won three straight series and stand three and a half games ahead of Minnesota for the AL’s top Wild Card spot.

Athletics 10, Astros 2: A four-game sweep of the mighty Astros by the lowly Athletics, who outscored Houston 41-15 in the series. Matt ChapmanRyon HealyBoog Powell and Matt Olson all homered and Kendall Graveman allowed one run over six. The A’s then used five pitchers to finish the final three innings because September.

Angels 5, Mariners 3Mike Trout and Luis Valbuena hit solo homers and Justin Upton hit a two-run double in the Angels’ decisive three-run eighth inning. The Angels pull to within one game of the Twins for the second Wild Card.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.