DETROIT (AP) Max Scherzer struck out 14 batters in eight shutout innings, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
Scherzer (14-4), last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, held Pittsburgh to three hits and two walks. Since June 22, he is 6-1 in 10 starts with a 1.78 ERA and 85 strikeouts.
Scherzer’s performance and a homer from J.D. Martinez gave the Tigers a much-needed sweep of the two-game set and a split of the four games in the home-and-home series that started Monday in Pittsburgh.
Francisco Liriano (3-9) took a tough loss for Pittsburgh, allowing two runs on three hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out nine, but wasn’t able to match Scherzer’s brilliance.
Nick Castellanos had a two-run single in a three-run eighth. That became important when Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run homer off Phil Coke in the ninth.
ROYALS 7, ATHLETICS 3
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Nori Aoki and Billy Butler each drove in two runs during a five-run seventh inning that rallied surging Kansas City past Oakland.
The Royals (66-54) have won 18 of 22 to move 12 games above .500 for the first time since July 20, 2003. Kansas City took the season series, winning five of seven against the Athletics, who have the best record in the majors at 73-48.
Aoki’s two-run triple put the Royals ahead 5-3. Butler’s single scored Aoki and Alcides Escobar.
Jeff Samardzija (3-2) took the loss, giving up four runs – three earned – and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He left with a 3-2 lead, but Ryan Cook failed to hold it. Cook faced three batters and all of them scored, ending his streak of 21 consecutive shutout innings.
Aaron Crow (6-1), the third of six Kansas City pitchers, retired his only batter. Greg Holland got two outs for his 36th save in 38 opportunities.
DODGERS 6, BRAVES 4
ATLANTA (AP) – Drew Butera hit a two-run homer, his first in almost three months, and Roberto Hernandez threw six strong innings against slumping Atlanta to earn his first win with Los Angeles.
Hernandez (7-8), making his second start since his trade from the Phillies last week, allowed one run on three hits and four walks in six innings.
Kenley Jansen struck out B.J. Upton with runners on second and third for his 34th save.
Butera’s second-inning homer off Aaron Harang (9-7) was his third of the season and first since May 16. Adrian Gonzalez drove in three runs with three hits, and Dee Gordon scored four runs for the NL West leaders, who won three of four in the series.
The Braves, chasing first-place Washington in the NL East, have lost 12 of 14.
BREWERS 6, CUBS 2
CHICAGO (AP) – Mike Fiers struck out a career-high 14 through six innings of three-hit ball, and Milwaukee beat Chicago to widen its NL Central lead.
Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds homered for the Brewers, who broke out of their recent slump at the plate despite resting Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Jean Segura. Braun was held out of the lineup with a sore right hand.
Scooter Gennett drove in two runs with a double.
Fiers (2-1) walked one in his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville to face the Dodgers last Saturday. In that one, he pitched eight strong innings and outdueled Zack Greinke for his first win this season.
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (6-13) lasted just 4 2-3 innings and allowed five runs. Jackson has lost six of his last seven decisions.