MLB

Phillies and Braves close the gap in NL East: Giants leave it late

The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves are making things interesting in the NL East after comeback wins.

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Phillies and Braves close gap in NL East, Giants strike late

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves picked up unlikely victories on Thursday night as the National League East race continued to tighten up.

Philadelphia scored four runs in the ninth inning to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6, while Atlanta struck for six in the eighth to roll past the St Louis Cardinals 8-4. Those results combined with the New York Mets' 4-2 loss to the Miami Marlins means the top three teams in the division are within 1.5 games of one another.

In Washington, a two-run double from J.T. Realmuto and a two-run single by Rhys Hoskins provided the winning margin for the Phillies as they won their fifth in a row to move within a half-game of the first-placed Mets. At least the Nationals could take some satisfaction in the Phillies earning the win; that was not the case in St Louis.

The Cardinals led 4-2 with two outs in the eighth when Freddie Freeman singled and Austin Riley tied the game with his 23rd homer.  After Dansby Swanson doubled, Adam Duvall got hit by a pitch and the next five Atlanta batters walked to force in four more runs before Freeman lined out to end the inning.

According to Stats Perform, the Cardinals' 26 bases-loaded walks this season are the most since the 1999 Seattle Mariners issued 28. With the victory, Atlanta (55-54) moved over .500 for the first time this season after having been one game under the .500 mark 28 different times.

Giants stun Diamondbacks with rally

The San Francisco Giants, who own the best record in MLB, were on the verge of being shut out by the team with the worst record before pulling off yet another miraculous rally. Down 4-0 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Giants scored four times in the top of the ninth to tie the game before Kris Bryant's double in the 10th provided the winning margin in a 5-4 victory.

Though Anthony Rizzo failed to drive in a run for the first time in seven games as a New York Yankee, fellow newcomer Joey Gallo picked up the slack. The former Texas Ranger pounded out two doubles and his 26th home run of the season, driving in three runs as the Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners 5-3.

Joey Votto got back in his power-hitting groove with a three-run homer that followed blasts by team-mates Eugenio Suárez and Jonathan India as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-4.

Báez whiffs for Mets

The Javy Báez honeymoon did not last long in New York. The new Mets shortstop struck out in all five of his trips to the plate, leaving eight men on base in New York's loss to Miami.

Bichette's Blue Jays bomb

Bo Bichette joined Troy Tulowitzki (2016) and Tony Batista (1999) as the only Toronto shortstops to reach 20 home runs in a season with a two-run, fourth-inning shot in the Blue Jays' 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Thursday's results 

Cincinnati Reds 7-4 Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies 7-6 Washington Nationals
New York Yankees 5-3 Seattle Mariners
Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers 8-1 Boston Red Sox
Miami Marlins 4-2 New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels 5-0 Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals 3-2 Chicago White Sox
Atlanta Braves 8-4 St Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies 6-5 Chicago Cubs
San Francisco Giants 5-4 Arizona Diamondbacks
Minnesota Twins 5-3 Houston Astros

Mets at Phillies

The NL East race is the closest of any division, and the top two teams will face off as Marcus Stroman and the New York Mets (56-52) visit Kyle Gibson and the Philadelphia Phillies (56-53).