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By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The past two games at Citi Field, the St. Louis Cardinals have shown exactly why they own the best record in baseball.
Matt Adams hit a long three-run homer, Jason Heyward also connected and the Cardinals enjoyed their second consecutive offensive outburst, roughing up Bartolo Colon in a 9-0 rout of the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
“These are the fun ones. The ones where every inning it seems like we’re going out there and putting up a crooked number,” Adams said.
Matt Holliday and Kolten Wong both had three hits to back Carlos Martinez (4-2), who pitched 6 1-3 innings of four-hit ball. Following a 10-2 victory Tuesday night, St. Louis improved the top mark in the majors to 27-13.
“Just goes to show what kind of team we have when we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Wong said.
Two relievers finished a four-hitter for the Cardinals, who have outhit New York 29-9 over the last two games.
“We had production all the way through the lineup,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Pitching four days before his 42nd birthday, Colon (6-3) finally began to show his age.
Trying again to become baseball’s first seven-game winner, he was hit hard all game and even walked two batters – one more than he had all season.
And coupled with Washington’s victory over the New York Yankees, the Mets’ loss dropped them out of first place in the NL East for the first time since April 14.
Colon was charged with nine runs – eight earned – and 11 hits over 4 1-3 innings. He had gone a team-record seven straight starts without issuing a free pass following a walk to Ryan Zimmerman on opening day in Washington.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him struggle so much with the command side,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Colon caught a break in the first inning when Jhonny Peralta’s two-out drive to center bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, scoring one run but stopping another runner at third.
His good fortune ran out in the fourth – moments after the hefty Colon reached third during a rare jaunt around the bases.
Heyward led off with his fourth home run, and Randal Grichuk was safe on a throwing error by third baseman Eric Campbell. After an RBI single by Wong, Colon walked Matt Carpenter on a 3-1 pitch.
It was the first free pass issued by the right-hander in 48 2-3 innings, breaking the previous franchise record of 47 2-3 innings by Bret Saberhagen in 1994.
Holliday followed with a run-scoring single, and Adams made it 7-0 when he launched a shot that banged off a potato chip advertisement above the Mets’ bullpen in right-center.
Grichuk had an RBI double and Wong added a run-scoring single in the fifth after a leadoff walk to Heyward.
Despite his second consecutive poor outing, the happy-go-lucky Colon kept his sense of humor.
“Got my behind whipped,” he said through a translator. “Now I have to change the approach and throw more balls than strikes.”
With the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead and one out in the third, Grichuk raced in for a diving catch in right-center that pinned Colon at third and kept the bases loaded. At the plate, Grichuk became the first Cardinals player to hit a double and a triple in consecutive games since Red Schoendienst in 1952. That gave Grichuk five extra-base hits and four RBIs in two games since striking out five times Monday night.
THE ONE AND ONLY
Colon fell to 4-1 in seven starts against the Cardinals. That leaves the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team he’s faced only once, as the only club yet to hand him a loss.
“He’s an aggressive pitcher. He likes to come right after us, so we all kind of collectively, we just said we were going to be aggressive at him, too,” Wong said.
Cardinals: In the four-game series finale Thursday afternoon, Jaime Garcia comes off the DL to make his first major league start since June 20. The 28-year-old lefty had a setback in spring training from thoracic outlet surgery, performed in July 2014 to alleviate numbness and tingling in his pitching arm and hand.
Mets: RHP Dillon Gee (groin strain) is scheduled to make another rehab start Thursday for Class A St. Lucie at Dunedin. If he’s ready to come off the DL after that, the Mets could have a decision to make about whether Gee goes back into the rotation and who might come out.
Cardinals: Garcia threw 90 pitches over six strong innings Friday in a Double-A rehab start and gets a chance to fill the rotation spot that opened when ace Adam Wainwright sustained a season-ending Achilles injury last month.
“If it doesn’t work, next man. Who’s going to take it? That’s what it is right now,” Matheny said.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-4) is 9-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his past 11 starts at home, dating to last July. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year was 3 for 3 at the plate in his most recent outing, including two hits in a 10-run inning against Milwaukee.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are off to the best start in franchise history.
Jeremy Guthrie pitched six shutout innings and the Royals beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-1 on Wednesday night.
The Royals, who won for the fifth time in six games, improved to 26-14, the franchise’s best record after 40 games.
“It’s surprising,” Guthrie said. “All the great teams they had here in the `70s and `80s to not have a faster start than that. It speaks highly of this team.”
The Royals made the playoffs last year for the first time since 1985, but lost to the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the World Series.
“You could tell in spring training everyone was locked in to get back,” said Eric Hosmer, who doubled and scored a run. “We’re a team on a mission. We’re trying to get back to what we fell short of last year. This is a great start for us.”
The Royals continue to build off last season, when they won 100 games, including 11 postseason victories.
“There is a real strong feeling when they walk through those clubhouse doors, they are going to win the baseball game that day,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s a great feeling to have.”
The Royals tied a club record with 24 consecutive scoreless innings, which was set June 9-12, 1976. That streak ended in the seventh when Brandon Phillips’ two-out double off reliever Ryan Madson scored Zack Cozart.
The Reds lost their fifth straight, a season high.
Guthrie (4-2) pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out predicament in the first inning and won his third straight start. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out three. Guthrie retired 13 on fly balls and two on grounders.
Reds right-hander Jason Marquis (3-4) was pulled after 3 2-3 innings, yielding four runs, four hits, two sacrifice flies, two walks and a wild pitch. In losing his past three starts, Marquis has surrendered 21 hits and 15 runs in 12 1-3 innings for a 15.33 ERA.
Will Marquis remain in the rotation?
“That’s a tough question when you’re struggling,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “That’s a tough question when you’ve lost five games in a row and there have been some really poor performances in those losses.”
Mike Moustakas, who hit .212 last season, had three hits for his 16th multi-hit game to raise his average to .342.
Kendrys Morales and Alex Gordon drove in two runs each. Morales’ 32 RBIs ranks second in the American League.
Phillips had three of the Reds’ nine hits.
“I can see why the Royals made it to the World Series last year,” Phillips said. “I give credit where it’s due and I feel like that’s the best team we’ve played. We’ve played the Cardinals and they’re a good team, but the Royals are the best team we’ve played.”
Gold Glove LF Alex Gordon crashed face first into the Royals’ bullpen fence to catch Todd Frazier’s scorcher to end the fifth. Gordon said his son imitates his fearless catches at home. “He says, `Hey, here goes Alex Gordon,’ runs into the wall and falls down,” Gordon said. “He’s probably going to do it tomorrow when I see him. It’s pretty funny. He does it just like Daddy. He runs into the wall and lays there for about 10 seconds. He’s got it down.”
Reds: LHP Manny Parra (strained neck), who struck out the side in his only inning Tuesday, will continue his minor league rehab with Triple-A Louisville with another inning on Friday. … LHP Sean Marshall, who has not pitched this season, had season-ending shoulder surgery Wednesday.
Royals: Backup C Erik Kratz (torn left planter fasciitis) will report Thursday to Triple-Omaha for a minor league rehab. … LHP Jason Vargas (flexor strain) will throw a simulated game Friday.
Reds: RHP Mike Leake, who starts the series opener Friday at Cleveland, gave up a career-high nine runs and three homers in five innings in his previous start, Saturday at San Francisco.
Royals: RHP Chris Young has never beaten the Cardinals, his Friday opponent. He is 0-3 with a 3.65 ERA in five career starts against St. Louis.
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Rhett Wiseman hit a walk off homer to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning, powering Vanderbilt to a come-from-behind 7-6 win over Missouri Wednesday in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Vandy (40-17) rallied from a 6-2 deficit with two late homers before tying the game on a walk, single and error in the ninth.
Jeren Kendall hit a two-run shot in the seventh and Dansby Swanson’s second homer of the game in the eighth cut it to 6-5. Nolan Rogers walked to open the ninth and scored on a single by fellow pinch-hitter Penn Murfee and an error by center fielder Jake Ring.
Kyle Wright (5-1) got the final two outs of the 10th for Vandy after Jordan Sheffield’s five scoreless innings.
Ryan Howard went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead Missouri (30-27), which falls into the loser’s bracket. Brett Bond drove in two runs.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs have signed four players from their rookie minicamp this past weekend and waived three other players to make room for them on their roster.
With a big need for depth on the offensive line, the Chiefs kept former Kansas center Daniel Munyer, South Alabama offensive guard Melvin Meggs and Baylor offensive tackle Kelvin Palmer.
The Chiefs also signed Sam Houston State running back Keshawn Hill.
To make room for them, the Chiefs waived offensive lineman Charles Sweeton along with fullback Manasseh Garner and tight end Earnest Pettway.
The Chiefs begin their optional full-squad workouts next week.
by Howie Rumberg, AP
NEW YORK (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals started joking as Randy Choate put on Randal Grichuk’s batting gloves in the ninth inning. The fun in the dugout increased as he took Michael Wacha’s bat and headed to home plate for the first time in more than a decade, and there was lots laughter when the reliever drew a walk.
With an eight-run lead, it’s pretty easy to kid around.
Grichuk had three extra-base hits and drove in three runs a night after striking out five times, Mark Reynolds homered among his three hits and the Cardinals teed off on Mets starter Jonathon Niese for a 10-2 victory over New York on Tuesday night.
“I just don’t want to get hit,” Choate said after his first plate appearance since April 26, 2004, with Arizona. “I’m not a good hitter.”
He didn’t need to be.
After his team went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position in a 2-1, 14-inning loss Monday night, Cardinals manager Matheny loaded his lineup with right-handers to face the lefty Niese, leaving Jason Heyward, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams on the bench.
The new look order broke out to match the Cardinals’ season high for hits, set on April 28 against Philadelphia – Wacha was the recipient of that largess, too. The NL Central leaders upped the majors best record to 26-13 with their fourth win in 10 games.
Every starter had a hit except for Matt Holliday, who added a sacrifice fly, and the Cardinals went 6 for 14 with runners in scoring position. Wacha contributed a safety squeeze in the second to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead, and he bunted for a single in the six-run sixth, when second baseman Daniel Murphy failed to cover first.
“Just good, tough at-bats all the way through,” Matheny said.
Wacha (6-0) gave up a two-run homer to Murphy in seven innings of four-hit ball to join the Mets’ Bartolo Colon and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez for most wins in the majors. The six wins are a career high for the 23-year-old right-hander.
“It’s always good whenever you’re on the mound with that kind of run support,” Wacha said.
In a matchup between two of the NL’s top 10 ERA leaders only Wacha lived up to the billing.
Niese (3-4) had his second straight rough outing. After giving up six runs to the Cubs on Thursday, he was off from the first batter, a single by Peter Bourjos.
“He didn’t have his two-seam fastball,” manager Terry Collins said. “Every time he called it, or it was called for, it either went straight or he cut it and a lot of them, instead of cutting away from the barrel, came into the barrel.”
Grichuk followed with an RBI double off the wall in left. Grichuk tripled off the glove of center fielder Juan Lagares leading off the third and added a two-run double in the sixth.
“Definitely try to flush it,” Grichuk said of Monday’s five-K performance. “It’s not easy to forget about it period, but after that first knock in the first I got to relax a little bit.”
The first four batters in the sixth reached on hits, with Kolton Wong’s two-run double chasing Niese.
Niese allowed a career high-tying eight runs and 11 hits.
Cardinals: OF Jon Jay (left wrist tendinitis), out since May 10, swung a bat indoors and made some throws on the field.
Mets: Closer Bobby Parnell (Tommy John surgery) pitched 1 1-3 innings in an extended spring game at Port St. Lucie, Florida. He allowed four hits, three runs – two earned – and struck out two. He did not walk a batter.
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez has not been able to finish the sixth in any of his three starts in May. He’s allowed 16 runs in those starts and is 0-2 this month.
Mets: Colon has gone 45 1-3 innings without walking a batter, 2 1-3 innings off Brett Saberhagen’s club record. The right-hander, who turns 42 on Sunday, is 4-0 in six starts against the Cardinals.
Lagares knocked off Wacha’s glove with a sharply hit ball up the middle leading off the third. Wacha took a stab at the comebacker and his glove went flying as the ball squirted through for an infield hit. “It was just a stinger, fortunately” Matheny said.
WRESTLING THE METS
Retired wrestling star Goldberg took batting practice at Citi Field and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The former WWE champion who played in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons said he once took batting practice at a major league stadium between turns by Barry Larkin and Mark McGwire. He said it was “the coolest moment and the most emasculating moment of my career.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It has been 23 years since the Kansas City Royals logged consecutive shutouts.
Yordano Ventura, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis combined on a four-hitter and the Royals beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-0 on Tuesday night.
The Royals, who beat the New York Yankees 6-0 on Sunday, had back-to-back shutouts for the first time since Sept. 29-30, 1992, when Dennis Rasmussen and Rick Reed blanked the California Angels.
The Reds have lost four straight, matching their longest streak of the season.
Ventura (3-3), who was 0-3 in his five previous starts since a victory on April 12, allowed four singles, struck out six and walked none. He reached a three-ball count on only four hitters and retired all of them, lowering his ERA to 4.56.
“This is the best I’ve felt this season,” Ventura said with teammate Christian Colon acting as his interpreter. “All my pitches were sharp. I was just focused on having my pitches down in the zone and having quality pitches.”
Ventura left his previous start with an index fingernail tear and that flared up again.
“I started to feel something in the sixth inning and Ned (Yost, manager) just told him let’s get your ready for the next start, let’s take you out of this one,” Ventura said.
Ventura retired 14 on ground balls.
“He went seven innings and got a lot of ground balls,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It shows what a plus fastball, plus changeup can do. When he changes speeds like that you have to gear up for the velocity and then adjust when he changes speeds. He did a good job.”
Herrera gave up a walk in the eighth, but nothing else. Davis worked a spotless ninth, claiming his seventh save in as many opportunities. Yost said Davis finished because closer Greg Holland woke up with a stiff neck.
Mike Moustakas went 3 for 4 with two doubles and drove in two runs. His double in the fifth drove in one run and his seventh-inning double made it 3-0.
Infante, who had two hits, drove home the other run with a two-out single in the second.
Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto (3-4) allowed three runs and nine hits, while walking one and striking out four.
“They’re a good team. There are no excuses,” Cueto said through a translator. “I did what I had to do.”
In his four losses, the Reds have scored a total of two runs.
“I did my job and I expect the rest of the team to do their job,” Cueto said. “You want to have a little more run support but there’s nothing you can do.
DOUBLE THE FUN
The Royals collected three doubles bringing their major-league leading doubles total to 85.
SS Rafael Furcal, who signed a minor league contract with the Royals in spring training, announced he is retiring after 14 seasons in the majors. He combined to hit .240 in seven games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Single-A Wilmington. Furcal, 37, was the 2000 National League rookie of the year and an All-Star in 2003, 2010 and 2012. He retires with a .281 average, appearing in postseason play 10 times.
Reds: LHP Manny Parra (strained neck) struck out all three Norfolk batters he faced to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. . DH Devin Mesoraco (left hip impingement) did some catching drills. He has not caught since April 12. . LHP Sean Marshall will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery Wednesday. Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek will perform the procedure.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (flexor strain) threw a bullpen session Tuesday and is penciled in for a simulated game Friday. … C Erik Kratz (torn left plantar fasciitis) will likely start a minor league rehab assignment at the end of the week.
Reds: RHP Jason Marquis, who has given up 17 hits and 11 runs in 8 2-3 innings in losing his previous
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former NL Rookie of the Year Rafael Furcal is retiring after 14 major league seasons.
The 37-year-old signed a minor league contract with Kansas City during spring training, and the Royals placed him on the voluntary retired list Tuesday. He hit .240 with one double in 25 at-bats for Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
“To play in the major leagues for 14 seasons was a dream come true,” Furcal said in a statement. “I love the game, but at this point, I don’t feel like I can play up to my standards anymore and want to spend more time with my beautiful family.”
A three-time All-Star who won a World Series title with St. Louis in 2011, the 37-year-old shortstop hit .281 with 311 doubles, 113 homers and 314 steals for Atlanta (2000-05), the Los Angeles Dodgers (2006-11), the Cardinals (2011-12) and Miami (2014). He won the rookie award with the Braves in 2000.
An All-Star in 2012, Furcal missed the 2013 season after right elbow ligament-replacement surgery that March. He appeared in nine big league games last year, leaving what turned out to be his finale on June 21 after injuring his left hamstring.
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Reggie McClain threw seven impressive innings to lead Missouri past South Carolina 5-1 on Tuesday in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
The seventh-seeded Tigers (30-26) face No. 2 Vanderbilt on Wednesday when the tournament moves to a double-elimination format. South Carolina (32-25) is eliminated and now in serious danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 16 years.
Missouri jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning and had 11 hits on the day. Trey Harris led the Tigers with three hits. McClain (7-7) gave up just one run on six hits while striking out four.
Brecklin Williams threw two scoreless innings of relief for his 13th save.
South Carolina’s Jack Wynkoop (8-5) gave up four runs over seven innings. The Gamecocks’ Gene Cone had two hits.
By HOWIE RUMBERG
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Sam Tuivailala missed his spots. John Mayberry Jr.’s grounder was just a bit too wide for Jhonny Peralta to make a play. St. Louis’ batters failed nearly every time they had an opportunity.
The Cardinals were just a little bit off all Monday night and it cost them with a 2-1 loss to the New York Mets in the opener of a four-game series between division leaders.
“Just a shame we couldn’t figure out a way to get it done,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Pinch hitting against closer Trevor Rosenthal, Mayberry had an RBI infield hit with one out in the bottom of the 14th inning for the winning run.
Lucas Duda beat a shifted, drawn-in infield with an opposite field hit for a run-scoring single off John Lackey in the fourth, but Jason Heyward had a sacrifice fly in the ninth off closer Jeurys Familia as the Mets wasted another 1-0 lead for Matt Harvey.
The division leaders then struck out a combined 12 times in extras before Tuivailala (0-1) walked Eric Campbell and Duda to open the 14th. Rosenthal relived and got Michael Cuddyer to ground into a fielder’s choice. Rosenthal then walked intentionally Daniel Murphy to load the bases.
“Just trying to aim it too much and didn’t have the command,” Tuivailala said. “It led to walks and that’s what lost us the game.”
Mayberry, who entered batting .114, grounded the first pitch off diving drawn-in shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s glove. Campbell slid home ahead of a late throw that stretching catcher Yadier Molina could not reach.
“Sometimes it’s good to have luck on your side,” Mayberry said. “Anyway you can get it done.”
Carlos Torres (2-2) pitched two innings for the NL East-leaders’ third straight win after a five-game skid. The Mets were the last major league team to play extra innings this season.
Heyward doubled with one out in the 14th but reliever Seth Maness had to bat because St. Louis was out of position players. The Central-leading Cardinals didn’t get into New York until after 3 a.m. following their Sunday night game in St. Louis, a 2-1 win.
The Cardinals went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
It was the third consecutive start in which New York gave Harvey one run of support. Harvey outpitched Lackey in a taught duel before giving way to Familia in the ninth.
Familia gave up one out singles to Matt Adams and Molina. Heyward then hit a 245 foot flyball to right field, but Curtis Granderson’s throw was several feet up the third base line and pinch-runner Pete Kozma easily slid home safely. It was Familia’s first blown save in 14 chances.
“Great execution,” Matheny said. “Heyward put together a real tough at-bat to get the run in.”
Harvey gave up six hits and matched a season-high with nine strikeouts in running his scoreless innings streak to 16 and lowering his ERA to 1.98 from 2.31.
“Good pitcher. One of the best in the league right now,” Peralta said. “He is really smart – whatever pitch he wants to throw, he makes it in good spots.”
Lackey, at 36, more crafty than his overpowering opponent who is 10 years his junior, was every bit as good. Facing the Mets for just the third time and first since 2008, when he was with the Angels, Lackey stifled New York for seven efficient innings, allowing three hits and a run.
He held the Mets hitless until Granderson doubled leading off the fourth.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia (setback from thoracic outlet syndrome) is set to make his first start of season Thursday in the series finale and he had a bullpen session Monday. Manager Mike Matheny didn’t sound too concerned with the results of the `pen. “He’s in,” Matheny said. “He’ll be ready Thursday.”
Cardinals: St. Louis is 7-0 when RHP Michael Wacha (5-0) starts. In three career starts against New York, Wacha has held the Mets to a .220 batting average.
Mets: Jonathon Niese (3-4) is coming off a difficult outing in which he gave up six runs – four earned – in 6 1-3 innings to the Cubs, boosting his ERA to 2.49. While with Atlanta, Heyward hit .328 (9 for 28) with two homers and eight RBIs against the LHP.
Matheny was getting regular updates Sunday on the progress of former Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller, who lost a no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning for the Atlanta Braves. “I can’t just turn it off on any of these guys,” Matheny said. “We preach this family thing, but it’s true. We care about them. It’s hard to just sever that.”
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — After nearly 50 years, professional baseball returns this week to Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin.
The Joplin Blasters, a new member of the American Association of Independent Baseball, will play an exhibition game Tuesday. It will be the first game since a nearly $5 million project that mostly rebuilt the stadium. The first official game is Thursday.
The stadium was once the home of a New York Yankees farm club, and players such as Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb and Stan Musial played there. Professional baseball left Joplin in the early 1950s. Since then, Missouri Southern, high schools and other baseball teams have used the stadium.
The Joplin Globe reports final touches are being made on some parts of the stadium but the construction project is 95 percent completed.