Austin Riley double in 9th lifts Braves over D-backs 1-0 for sweep

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ATLANTA — Austin Riley hit a run-scoring double off Mark Melancon in the ninth inning, giving the Atlanta Braves a 1-0 victory over Arizona and a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks.

Max Fried, Dylan Lee and Kenley Jansen (5-0) combined on a four-hitter for the Braves, who at 62-41 moved 21 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 2019 at 97-65.

Matt Olson singled with one out in the ninth against Melancon (3-9) and scored when Riley’s double hit the fence in right-center on two hops. Olson slid headfirst, easily beating the throw.

Jansen (5-0) walked pinch-hitter Alek Thomas with two outs in the top half but was caught stealing second by catcher Travis d'Arnaud when Thomas took a foot off the bag after passing the base with a headfirst slide.

Atlanta had lost eight of its last previous series finales. The Braves have swept six series this season but were just 1-5 in their prior six chances to sweep.

The Braves are 39-14 since June 1, the best record in the majors over that span. They stayed three games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.

Atlanta is a big league-best 47-8 when scoring first.

Fried, an All-Star who has a 2.09 ERA over his last eight starts, allowed four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings.

Arizona’s Merrill Kelly gave up three hits and two walks in seven innings with eight strikeouts, He lowered his ERA to 1.31 over his last six starts.

LIFE OF RILEY

Riley’s second double broke was his 27th extra-base hit of the month, passing Hank Aaron in July 1961 for most extra-base hits for the Braves in a month. Riley leads the majors with 61 extra-base hits.

DOUBLED UP

McCarthy caught William Contreras‘ flyball in the left-field corner in the second but dropped the ball as he tried to transfer it to his glove while running into the wall. With runners on first and second, McCarthy threw to shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, who relayed third baseman Josh Rojas for one out. Rojas threw to second for the second out of the inning-ending double play.

UP NEXT

Braves: Open a two-game home series against Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Diamondbacks: Start a series Monday at Cleveland.

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.