Moved to top of order, slumping Harper homers for Nationals

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper hits a three-run homer off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl during the fifth inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Washington. Behind the plate is Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) Slumping Bryce Harper was moved to the leadoff spot for the first time since 2013 and responded with a three-run homer that helped Max Scherzer win his fifth straight start as the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-4 Wednesday night.

Harper entered in a 5-for-35 slump and had not gotten an extra-base hit since April 16. He grounded out in the first inning against Chad Kuhl (3-2), followed Wilmer Difo’s go-ahead homer in the third with a flyout, then gave the Nationals a 5-0 lead in the fifth with his ninth homer this season.

Scherzer (6-1) allowed two runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walked one.

YANKEES 4, ASTROS 0

HOUSTON (AP) – Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Ken Giles (0-1), who punched himself on the face and chin when he walked to the dugout after he was knocked out later in the inning, then threw a bat in the dugout and kicked it. New York won for the ninth time in 10 games.

Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery was removed after one inning and seven pitches because of tightness in his left elbow and will return to New York on Wednesday to be examined.

Justin Verlander allowed tied a career-high by striking out 14 and allowed just three hits – all singles – in eight innings.

Domingo German, who could take over Montgomery’s starting spot, scattered four hits over four innings, and David Robertson (2-1) pitched around Jose Altuve’s two-out single in the eighth.

ROCKIES 3, CUBS 1

CHICAGO (AP) – Charlie Blackmon and David Dahl opened the game with consecutive homers off Kyle Hendricks (2-2), and Nolan Arenado also homered as Colorado stopped a three-game slide.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon put Anthony Rizzo in the leadoff spot to try to help the big first baseman out of his slump, and he opened with his fourth career leadoff homer.

Jon Gray (3-4) allowed three hits in seven innings, Adam Ottavino worked the eighth and Wade Davis finished the three-hitter for his 11th save.

RANGERS 8, INDIANS 6

CLEVELAND (AP) – Joey Gallo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa homered on consecutive pitches off Nick Goody (0-2) in the 12th inning.

Michael Brantley tied the game in the ninth with a two-out grand slam off Keone Kela, but the Rangers bailed out their closer who entered the game with a 6-2

Alex Claudio (1-1) allowed two hits in three scoreless innings.

BRAVES 3, METS 2

NEW YORK (AP) – Mike Soroka (1-0) gave up one run and six hits in six innings as the 20-year-old right-hander won his big league debut Soroka joined Ronald Acuna Jr., who is about four months younger, and the 21-year-old Ozzie Albies to give Atlanta the three youngest players in the majors.

Atlanta (17-11) began the game with four consecutive hits off Noah Syndergaard (2-1) to build a three-run cushion. Freddie Freeman laced a two-run double to drive in Albies and Acuna, and Nick Markakis added an RBI single.

Arodys Vizcaino got his fourth save when Jose Reyes flied to Acuna at the edge of the center-field warning track with a runner on second.

Syndergaard lasted six innings but allowed 10 of Atlanta’s 15 hits, equaling a career high.

BREWERS 7, REDS 6

CINCINNATI (AP) – Ryan Braun hit a tiebreaking double off Homer Bailey (0-4) for a 5-3 lead in the fifth and Travis Shaw ended his 0-for-19 slide with a two-run homer. The Reds fell to 7-23, matching the 1931 and 1934 teams for worst 30-game start in franchise history, and are winless in Bailey’s seven starts.

Chase Anderson (3-2) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. Jeremy Jeffress pitched out of a two-on threat by fanning Joey Votto and retiring Scott Schebler on a grounder, then finished for his first save since 2016.

MARLINS 2, PHILLIES 1

MIAMI (AP) – Pinch-hitter Yadiel Rivera improved his .100 batting average with a one-out RBI single in the 10th that followed Cameron Maybin’s triple against Yacksel Rios (3-1). Miami won its fourth straight and Philadelphia lost its fourth in a row.

Junichi Tazawa (1-1) loaded the bases in the 10th, but escaped when Maikel Franco lined out. The Phillies went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

TIGERS 2, RAYS 1

DETROIT (AP) – Matthew Boyd (1-2) allowed one run and seven hits in six innings. Shane Greene, who allowed a pair of ninth-inning homers in a loss to Tampa Bay on Monday, worked a perfect ninth a night later for his fifth save.

Leonys Martin hit a tiebreaking double in the fifth.

Chris Archer (2-2) gave up two runs and six hits as Tampa Bay (13-15) lost for only the second time in 11 games,

ROYALS 7, RED SOX 6

BOSTON (AP) – Alex Gordon hit a tying home run off Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning, and Jorge Soler hit a three-run homer against Brian Johnson (1-1) in the 13th.

Boston led 3-2 before Gordon’s one-out drive off Kimbrel, who was trying for his 299th save but instead blew an opportunity for the first time in eight tries this season.

Jon Jay had four singles and a sacrifice fly in the 12th that put Kansas City up 4-3. But Eduardo Nunez homered against Kelvin Herrera (1-0) in the bottom half.

After Boston scored twice in the 13th, Brian Flynn got the first save of his five-year big league career when Nunez flied out to the center-field wall.

CARDINALS 3, WHITE SOX 2

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Matt Carpenter tied the score against Joakim Soria (0-1) when he led off the ninth with his 100th home run, and Yadier Molina hit a game-ending single as St. Louis stopped a three-game losing streak.

Bud Norris (1-0) picked up his first win of the season with a perfect ninth.

BLUE JAYS 7, TWINS 4

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Kendrys Morales homered twice for Toronto and reached base all five times he batted, including an intentional walk in the 10th inning when the Blue Jays scored twice on wild pitches by John Curtiss.

Toronto’s bullpen finished with five scoreless innings. Tyler Clippard (4-0) pitched a perfect ninth and Roberto Osuna needed just six pitches in a 1-2-3 10th for his eighth save.

DIAMONDBACKS 4, DODGERS 3

PHOENIX (AP) – Daniel Descalso atoned for a costly error with a two-run, go-ahead triple in the seventh inning and Arizona rallied to beat Los Angeles, handing the Dodgers their fourth straight loss and seventh in eight games.

The Diamondbacks won for the fifth time in six games, improving to 21-8, tied with Boston for best record in baseball and Arizona’s best start through 29 games in the franchise’s history.

Clayton Kershaw left the game after six innings with a 3-2 lead but the Dodgers couldn’t hold it.

A.J. Pollock homered for the fourth time in six at-bats – after his three-homer performance the previous night – and Christian Walker hit a towering pinch-hit solo shot measured by Statcast at 479 feet. They were the only runs allowed by Kershaw, who gave up six hits, struck out six and walked one and remained 1-4.

Lefty Adam Libertore (1-1) relieved Kershaw and gave up singles to Deven Marrero and John Ryan Murphy to bring up Descalso, who lashed a triple into the right-field corner to bring home both runners and make it 4-3.

Silvino Bracho (1-0), just up from Triple-A Reno, pitched a scoreless seventh to get the win. Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless ninth for his 10th save in 10 tries.

ANGELS 3, ORIOLES 2

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Justin Upton hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded, and Los Angeles blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning before snapping a four-game skid with a victory over Baltimore.

Martin Maldonado and Ian Kinsler delivered one-out singles in the ninth against Brad Brach (0-1) before Mike Trout drew his fourth walk to load the bases. Upton, who had gone 0 for 3 after Trout’s three previous walks, lined a clean single to left.

Nick Tropeano pitched scoreless one-hit ball into the seventh inning for Los Angeles, but was denied a victory when Cam Bedrosian (1-0) blew his second save in three chances this season.

Manny Machado had a run-scoring double before Adam Jones delivered the tying RBI single off Bedrosian, who struggled in place of injured closer Keynan Middleton.

Machado had two hits and a key throwing error for the Orioles, who have lost seven of nine.

PADRES 3, GIANTS 2

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Eric Hosmer homered off Giants closer Hunter Strickland with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting San Diego over San Francisco.

Hosmer also tripled earlier and scored, and Christian Villanueva hit his ninth home run of the season in the Padres’ third win in 10 games.

Kirby Yates (1-0) retired three batters for the win. Brad Hand, who took the loss after giving up three runs in the ninth on Monday, pitched the ninth for his seventh save.

The Giants retired 10 consecutive batters before Hosmer connected on a 2-1 pitch from Strickland (2-1).

MARINERS 6, ATHLETICS 3

SEATTLE (AP) – Nelson Cruz hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the fifth inning, Dee Gordon had five hits, and Felix Hernandez pitched six solid innings to send Seattle over Oakland.

A’s right-hander Andrew Triggs kept his team in a 1-1 tie through four innings at Safeco Field, but struggled in the fifth. With two outs and two runners on, Cruz hammered Triggs’ first pitch over the fence in left-center to give Seattle a lead it would not relinquish.

The Mariners held on for their third consecutive victory and sixth in their past seven.

Seattle closer Edwin Diaz struck out two in a shutout ninth to earn his majors-leading 12th save, protecting a quality start by Hernandez (4-2), who gave up three runs and three hits while striking out seven and walking four.

Triggs (2-1) lost for the first time in 2018 after lasting 4 2/3 innings and giving up four runs and six hits while striking out three and walking four.