The Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A marquee pitching matchup between Charlie Morton and David Price was overshadowed by the MLB rulebook.
Morton struck out 11 over seven innings and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided a three-game sweep by beating Price and Boston 3-2 in a game that the Red Sox protested on Wednesday.
Confusion reigned in the top of the eighth when a series of defensive changes involving reliever Adam Kolarek prompted Boston manager Alex Cora to protest the game due to the placement of subs into the Rays lineup after the designated hitter was removed.
Umpire crew chief Angel Hernandez, through a pool reporter, said Rays manager Kevin Cash did not specify where Kolarek and the others would be placed in the lineup and that by rule it became his decision.
“In case the manager fails or refuses to make the decision, the plate umpire is authorized to decide the necessary batting order,” Hernandez said. “The umpire’s decision is final.”
Kolarek replaced Morton and retired pinch-hitter Sam Travis on a pop fly. The left-hander then shifted to first base when Cash brought in reliever Chaz Roe, who got a fly ball from Mookie Betts.
After Kolarek then returned to the mound and Nate Lowe entered to play first base, Cora met with the umpires, which prompted around a 15-minute stoppage as the umpires discussed the matter.
After the protest was made and the game resumed, Kolarek got a first-pitch grounder from Rafael Devers.
During the lineup changes, Cora argued that Kolarek should have been placed ninth in the Rays batting order since he was replacing Ji-Man Choi at first base.
However, Kolarek was placed in the third spot, replacing designated hitter Austin Meadows, while Lowe went into the nine hole. Cora maintained that since Kolarek had replaced Choi, the Rays still had a DH in the game and there was only one lineup spot in which to place Kolarek.
“The pitcher moved to a position and we felt there were some illegal substitutions,” Cora said. “It was a mess, and I wasn’t even able to keep up with Angel. So we protested the game, and we’ll see where it goes.”
An unhappy Cora again talked with the umpires after the third out, which delayed the start of the bottom of the eighth.
“There appeared to be some confusion, but I’m confident we got it right at the end of the day,” Cash said. “Obviously, it’s not customary what took place.”
Morton (12-3) allowed two runs and five hits in lowering his AL-best ERA from 2.61 to 2.60.
“I don’t think I made a ton of great pitches,” Morton said. “Obviously I was able to make some good ones, and I thought we played well defensively.”
The Red Sox slipped back into third place in the AL East as they face the Yankees in a pair of key four-game series on consecutive weekends.
Cubs 4, Giants 1
SAN FRANCISCO — Javier Baez homered in the first inning, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora Jr. also went deep, and Chicago beat San Francisco after starter Jon Lester was scratched with an illness.
Baez hit his 25th homer and Bryant his 21st to help Chicago avoid a three-game sweep. The Cubs bounced back from a 5-4, 13-inning loss Tuesday night to give manager Joe Maddon his 442nd win with Chicago, tying Joe McCarthy for fifth in franchise history.
Bryant left in the fifth inning because of soreness in his right knee.
Kyle Ryan (3-1), the second of six pitchers used by the Cubs in place of Lester, retired five batters. Craig Kimbrel allowed two singles in the ninth but got Brandon Belt to fly out for his seventh save.
Earlier in the day, the Cubs optioned shortstop Addison Russell to Triple-A Iowa about two months after Russell completed a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. The move made room for catcher Willson Contreras to return from the injured list.
The Cubs lead in the NL Central was down to a half-game before tagging San Francisco starter Tyler Beede (3-4) for three home runs in the first four innings.
Astros 4, Athletics 2
HOUSTON — Jose Altuve and George Springer both hit two-run homers to back up another solid start by Justin Verlander and give Houston a win over Oakland.
Houston bounced back after Tuesday’s 4-3 loss in 11 innings snapped a six-game winning streak and improved to 9-2 against the Athletics this season.
Verlander (13-4) allowed two singles and one run, which was unearned, while striking out 11 in six innings for his third straight win. Roberto Osuna allowed two hits and a run in the ninth before striking out Chris Herrmann for his 23rd save.
Oakland starter Chris Bassitt (7-5) yielded five hits and four runs in six innings for the loss after winning his previous two starts.
Brewers 5, Reds 4
MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun and Keston Hiura homered, Yasmani Grandal hit a go-ahead single and Josh Hader made a lights-out relief appearance to lift Milwaukee over Cincinnati to avoid a three-game sweep and end a five-game skid against Cincinnati.
Josh VanMeter hit his second homer and Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett had RBI hits to help Cincinnati build a 4-2 lead against starter Jhoulys Chacin. Braun kept Milwaukee close with a two-run shot in the first, his 15th homer of the season, and the Brewers rallied with Grandal’s two-run hit in the fifth.
Nationals 3, Rockies 2, 1st Game
Nationals 2, Rockies 0, 2nd Game
WASHINGTON — Patrick Corbin pitched six shutout innings for his first victory in nearly a month, and Washington Nationals completed a day-night doubleheader sweep of Colorado.
Washington won for the 23rd time in its last 32 home games and improved to 36-15 overall since May 24, the best record in the majors in that span.
The Nationals also posted their fourth straight doubleheader sweep dating to last season.
Colorado has dropped nine of its last 10 and 16 of 19.
In the first game, Anthony Rendon homered on the first pitch of the seventh inning to lift Washington.
Corbin (8-5) left the bases loaded in the first, but allowed just one runner to reach scoring position in his final five innings. He struck out seven.
Sean Doolittle handled the ninth for his second save of the day and his 23rd in 27 chances this year.
Phillies 4, Tigers 0
DETROIT — Vince Velasquez pitched impressively into the sixth inning and Philadelphia beat Detroit to finish a quick two-game sweep.
J.T. Realmuto and Nick Williams homered for Philadelphia, which has won five of six.
Bryce Harper had the day off for the Phillies, but they didn’t need much offense. Velasquez (3-5) allowed four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out nine.
Zimmermann (0-8) allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Detroit is 8-35 since the start of June.
PHOENIX — Carson Kelly hit a three-run homer, Taylor Clarke pitched six effective innings and Arizona beat Baltimore.
Arizona closed out the series win with Kelly’s homer off John Means (8-6) in the fourth inning, a bounce-back performance by Clarke (3-3) and a little late-inning drama.
Arizona’s Yoshihisa Hirano and Archie Bradley worked out of bases-loaded jams in the seventh and eighth innings. Greg Holland started the ninth, but was visited by Arizona’s trainer after a walk, then was removed by manager Torey Lovullo following another walk. Yoan Lopez got the final three outs for his first career save.
Mariners 5, Rangers 3
SEATTLE — Mike Leake outpitched Mike Minor in what could be the final start for each before the upcoming trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach hit a pair of solo home runs, and Seattle beat Texas.
Leake and Minor (8-6) have both been the subject of trade rumors — Minor more than Leake — leading up to next week’s trade deadline. But it was Leake with the better performance in his first start since taking a perfect game into the ninth inning last Friday against the Angels. Leake (9-8) threw seven innings, his only mistake giving up a two-out, two-strike home run to Rougned Odor in the sixth inning.
Anthony Bass worked a perfect eighth in relief of Leake and Roenis Elias pitched the ninth for his 13th save.
Cardinals 14, Pirates 8
PITTSBURGH — Paul DeJong hit a career-high three home runs, including one during a nine-run second inning, and St. Louis routed Pittsburgh.
DeJong, Andrew Knizner and Paul Goldschmidt each hit two-run homers in the second while the Cardinals batted around against starter Jordan Lyles (5-7). St. Louis also had five doubles for a total of eight extra-base hits in the inning, tying a major league record.
St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright (7-7) used 105 pitches to get through five innings and gave up four runs, five hits and four walks while striking out five.
Pirates reliever Keone Kela made his return from the injured list and a two-game suspension for an unspecified violation of his contract by working one scoreless inning. Pirates position players Jose Osuna and Jacob Stallings pitched the final three innings.
Indians 4, Blue Jays 0
TORONTO — Shane Bieber pitched a one-hitter, allowing only a double by Eric Sogard in the seventh inning, and Cleveland beat Toronto.
The Indians improved to 14-4 in July. They are 30-12 since June 4, the best record in the majors over that span.
Bieber (10-3) struck out 10 and walked one in his second career complete game.
Greg Allen had three hits and an RBI and Jose Ramirez had two hits and scored a run.
Marcus Stroman (6-11) allowed one run and five hits in seven innings. The loss was Stroman’s first since June 20 at Texas, ending a streak of five unbeaten starts.
Royals 2, Braves 0
ATLANTA — Brad Keller allowed four hits in seven innings and added a single for his first career RBI in his Georgia homecoming, and Kansas City beat Julio Teheran and Atlanta.
Keller (7-9) won his fourth straight decision as the Royals swept the two-game series.
Teheran (5-7) allowed four hits with two runs, none earned, in six innings.
Ian Kennedy pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save.
Ronald Acuna Jr.’s infield hit in the third inning extended his on-base streak to 29 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
Marlins 2, White Sox 0
CHICAGO — Rookie Zac Gallen pitched seven innings of two-hit ball for his first major league win and Cesar Puello hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning as Miami won its second straight game, beating Chicago.
Puello launched his fourth homer deep to left on the first pitch from Reynaldo Lopez, making a winner out of Gallen (1-2) in his sixth start since joining the Marlins rotation on June 20.
The 23-year-old Gallen struck out nine, walked one and hit two batters in his longest outing to date.
Sergio Romo worked around two singles in the ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances.
Angels 3, Dodgers 2
LOS ANGELES — Kole Calhoun had a homer and two doubles while driving in two runs in his second straight big game at Dodger Stadium, and the Angels swept the Freeway Series for the first time in franchise history with a win over the Dodgers.
Mike Trout drove in a run and scored another in the fourth straight victory overall for the Angels, who took two from Dodgers in Anaheim last month and two more in Chavez Ravine to earn their first sweep of this local rivalry series since interleague play began in 1997.
Justin Turner homered for the Dodgers. Cody Bellinger was ejected by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna after arguing two called strikes in the eighth inning.
Ross Stripling (4-4) pitched five innings of three-hit ball for the Dodgers, giving up two runs before leaving with a stiff neck.
Jaime Barria (4-3) yielded three hits and two walks over five innings for the Angels.