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Pirates Earn DH Sweep

Pittsburgh Pirates' John Ryan Murphy (18) scores past St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina during the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS — Erik Gonzalez and Adam Frazier singled in runs, rookie Cody Ponce earned his first big league victory and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 Thursday night for a doubleheader sweep.

Cole Tucker drove in the go-ahead run in extra innings in the Pirates’ 4-3 win in the opener.

Ponce (1-1) was used as a reliever in his first two appearances this season and made his first major league start. He went 5 2/3 innings, holding the Cardinals scoreless and scattering five hits.

“You know what, it’s awesome. It’s a fun time,” Ponce said. “The nerves were definitely there when I stepped out there for the first inning. I was more comfortable in the second. I just wanted to do my best.”

Rookie Nick Turley pitched the seventh to record his first save in the majors. Prior to this year, Turley hadn’t appeared in affiliated ball since 2017 due to elbow injuries.

Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton was happy his two rookies each notched a first in the second game.

“For Ponce’s first big league start, that was extremely impressive,” Shelton said. “He stepped up and pitched his butt off. I thought he did a helluva job.

“We had two firsts tonight. Nick got his first major league save. That was big for him. He’s worked really hard to get back. All the credit goes to him mentally and physically.”

St. Louis rookie Johan Ovideo (0-1) took the loss. He pitched five innings, allowing four hits and two runs. Kwang Hyun Kim pitched six innings in the opener, allowing three hits and an unearned run.

“Great starting pitching on both ends of the doubleheader,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said.

“Going in we were comfortable and confident. We were going to get six innings out of the starters, which is what we did. Got two earned runs. We would have taken that every day of the week, but it wasn’t enough for us to bring one home – or two.”

Pittsburgh scored both runs in the third. Gonzalez and Frazier hit back-to-back singles, scoring J.T. Riddle and John Ryan Murphy.

The seven-inning first game went to extras tied at one, and Tucker scored automatic runner Jarrod Dyson with a single off John Gant (0-2) in the eighth. Pittsburgh added two more runs with two outs on an RBI single by Bryan Reynolds and an error by third baseman Brad Miller of a ball hit by catcher Jacob Stalling.

Chad Kuhl delivered six innings of one-run ball for Pittsburgh, Chris Stratton (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh and Richard Rodriguez allowed two runs but got his second save by pitching the eighth.

“I feel really good every time out there,” said Kuhl, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery. “I’m happy with where I’m at and excited to see where I go from here.”

St. Louis scored on a sacrifice fly by Kolten Wong and single by Paul Goldschmidt that bounced off Rodriguez. But Rodriguez struck out the final two batters, both left-handers, to nail down the win.

It was the fifth extra-inning game this season for Pittsburgh and the first for St. Louis. This was the Pirates first victory in the new format, and dating to last season, they had lost 11 straight extra-inning games.

Yadier Molina led off the fifth with a home run against Kuhl for a 1-1 tie. It was Molina’s 157th career home run, passing Matt Holiday for 11th on the Cardinals career list. He also passed Joe “Ducky” Medwick with his 924th career RBI for eighth in Cardinals history.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead when Stallings hit a two-out single to score Tucker in the fourth inning for an unearned run off Kim. Stallings has hit safely in six of his last seven games.

BACK AFTER SITTING OUT

OF Dexter Fowler returned to the starting lineup and played right field in Game 1 of the doubleheader. Fowler, along with pitcher Jack Flaherty, opted to sit out Wednesday’s game to protest social injustice after the shooting of a Black man by a police officer in Wisconsin.

Flaherty said he discussed unified protest across baseball with players Thursday, but nothing materialized in part because of pushback from some players who didn’t want to sit out.

“It’s tough because yesterday would have been the day for league-wide action, and it wasn’t able to happen league-wide yesterday,” Flaherty said. “Hopefully it could happen today, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be able to happen today.”

Marmolejos’ slam gives Mariners a twinbill split with Padres

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Rookie Jose Marmolejos hit his first grand slam and Shed Long Jr. also connected in the six-run first inning that carried the Seattle Mariners to an 8-3 victory against the San Diego Padres and a split of Thursday’s doubleheader.

The Mariners took two of three from the Padres, who got three home runs in the doubleheader from red-hot Manny Machado.

In the first game, Wil Myers hit a game-ending three-run homer to cap a seven-run rally with two outs in the seventh inning and give the Padres a 10-7 win. Machado had two homers among his three hits and drove in four runs.

The Mariners jumped all over Garrett Richards (1-2) in the first. Marmolejos, added as the “29th” player for the doubleheader, hit his grand slam with one out and Long connected with two outs to give Seattle a 6-0 lead and chase Richards. It was Marmolejos’ third and Long’s second.

Machado homered in the bottom of the first off Yusei Kikuchi (1-2), his 11th. The Padres continued to cut into the lead on Jurickson Profar’s RBI single and Trent Grisham’s RBI single. That scored Jorge Mateo, aboard on his first career hit, a ground-rule double.

In the first game, San Diego rallied from a 7-3 deficit to stun the Mariners.

Seattle’s Taylor Williams (0-1) took the loss. Pierce Johnson (3-1) got the win.

DODGERS 7, GIANTS 0, 1st game

DODGERS 2, GIANTS 0, 2nd game

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Clayton Kershaw pitched six scoreless innings, leading Los Angeles past San Francisco in Game 1 of a doubleheader shutout sweep.

Joc Pederson homered and Will Smith added an RBI double as the Dodgers won the nightcap. They used relievers and didn’t allow a baserunner until Brandon Belt’s leadoff single in the fifth — San Francisco’s lone hit until Belt singled again in the seventh.

The Dodgers recorded two shutouts in a day for the first time since Sept. 19, 1971, against Atlanta. Those scores were 12-0 and 4-0.

AJ Pollock hit a two-run homer and Dodgers star Mookie Betts became the fourth-fastest among active players to reach 1,000 hits in his 824th game with his sixth-inning single in the opener.

Kershaw (4-1) won his third straight start, striking out four and issuing no walks. Josh Sborz completed the four-hit shutout. Victor Gonzalez (2-0) pitched 2 1/3 innings for the Game 2 win, finished by Kenley Jansen for his eighth save after he missed his first chance Tuesday.

Giants starter Logan Webb (2-3) was done after 3 2/3 innings, tagged for five runs on four hits. Kevin Gausman (1-2) took the loss in the late game.

REDS 6, BREWERS 1, 1st game

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jesse Winker homered twice, prized prospect Jose Garcia singled in his first big league at-bat and Cincinnati beat Milwaukee.

Winker had a two-run shot in the fifth, his eighth, to put the Reds up 5-0 and a solo shot in the third. Nick Castellanos also homered.

Reds starter Sonny Gray (5-1) allowed four singles over five scoreless innings, striking out four and walking two.

Omar Narvaez accounted for Milwaukee’s run with a solo homer, his second, in the sixth off Nate Jones.

Houser (1-3) allowed four runs and nine hits in four innings as the Reds snapped a four-game losing streak.

Awkward activism: MLB’s uneven response to racial injustice

(AP) — In a typically awkward way, Major League Baseball has been pulled into America’s discussion about racial injustice.

Some teams are playing. Some aren’t. Two teams walked off the field after the national anthem.

But across the sport, one theme became clear: Baseball shouldn’t avoid potentially difficult conversations and decisions regarding social issues. Though the process may be imperfect, there was agreement that coaches, players and teams should speak their mind.

“This is at the forefront now,” said Oakland infielder Tony Kemp, who is Black. “By sitting out tonight’s game, I feel like it’s just a small building block of what we want to see. These couple days are historic times in sports. One day our kids are going to look back and ask us what was going on and what did we do to help bring awareness to these issues in the world and we’re going to say, ‘One game we just decided not to play.'”

Oakland’s game at Texas was among seven that were postponed by Thursday evening, along with Philadelphia at Washington, Baltimore at Tampa Bay, Minnesota at Detroit, Colorado at Arizona and Boston at the Blue Jays in Buffalo, New York. Some games were played as scheduled.

The New York Mets and Miami Marlins jointly walked off the field after a moment of silence, draping a Black Lives Matter T-shirt across home plate as they chose not to start their scheduled game Thursday night.

The national anthem was played and all players and coaches stood.

Mets outfielder Dominic Smith — a Black man who wept Wednesday night while discussing the shooting by police of a Black man in Wisconsin over the weekend — then led New York onto the field. Players took their positions, then reserves and coaches filed out of both dugouts and stood silently for 42 seconds. The game was then postponed.

Without much apparent guidance from MLB, teams were left to make decisions for themselves. Some games were officially postponed a few hours before the scheduled start time. Others, like Colorado-Arizona, appeared to be on schedule until a few minutes before first pitch.

St. Louis Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty was frustrated there wasn’t a more unified response. Baseball has sometimes lagged behind its pro sports counterparts in addressing social issues.

“It’s tough because yesterday would have been the day for league-wide action, and it wasn’t able to happen league-wide yesterday,” Flaherty said. “Hopefully it could happen today, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be able to happen today.”

The decisions not to play Thursday night came a day after three MLB games were postponed in response to the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake.

The Phillies met Thursday about 5Ç hours ahead of the scheduled start of the game at Nationals Park. After 30 to 40 minutes of discussion, the players decided to not play.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi passed that along in a phone call to Nationals counterpart Dave Martinez, who said the Nationals would join their opponents in sitting out.

“We’re in this together — this fight for equality and social justice,” Girardi said. “In this world, I’ve always believed, there’s two things you can’t live without. It has nothing to do with food and water. It’s love and hope. And I don’t think we’re doing a good job in our country giving that to everyone and I think that needs to be the focus here.”

A statement from The Players Alliance, which consists of more than 100 current and former Black players, said current players will donate their salaries from Thursday and Friday in “supporting our efforts to combat racial inequality and aid the Black families and communities deeply affected in the wake of recent events.”

Baseball has dealt with a slow decline in the number of Black players for decades. In recent seasons, the percentage of Black players has hovered around 8%. For a sport that proudly recognizes Jackie Robinson — who broke MLB’s color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers — the decline has been frustrating for some.

Baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Friday. It’s normally on April 15 but was moved because of the COVID-19-altered schedule to Aug. 28, which is the anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963 and also the day in 1945 when Dodgers GM Branch Rickey met with Robinson to discuss breaking the color barrier.

“I think he would be amazed at the lack of progress in his eyes,” said Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain, who is Black. “I don’t know personally what he went through but I know the stories. I know for a fact it wasn’t easy for him to be in the situation he was in. He paved the way for guys like me to go out and play this game and be in this position today. I’ll always thank him for that.

“The fact we’re talking about this in 2020, I don’t see the progress in that. It’s almost like we’re going backwards.”

The three games postponed Wednesday — the Cincinnati Reds and Brewers in Milwaukee, Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco — were being made up as part of doubleheaders Thursday.

Those baseball postponements came after the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks didn’t come out on the floor for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. NBA officials later announced that all three of the day’s scheduled playoff games had been postponed, and games scheduled Thursday also weren’t played.

MLS and WNBA games have also been postponed.

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