MLB Roundup: Judge hits 20th home run as Yankees hold off Mariners, 5-4

SEATTLE (AP) — During the New York Yankees recent slump, Aaron Judge talked of needing to get the bats started early and stop being in the position of playing from behind as much.

For the past two games, the Yankees big slugger has done his part in making sure New York’s offense is providing some early punch.

“It’s big. You can just tell the flow of the game is different,” Judge said. “Our pitchers are able to attack guys differently. Guys at the plate maybe a little more comfortable knowing that we already got a lead now I can focus on really trying to get my pitch and drive it instead of trying to do too much.”

Judge capped New York’s early offensive outburst against Seattle All-Star Yusei Kikuchi with his 20th home run of the season, and the Yankees held on for a 5-4 win over the Mariners on Wednesday night.

For the second straight game, the Yankees scored a flurry of runs in the first two innings, but this time had to withstand Seattle’s late rally.

Judge’s two-run homer was clubbed into the second deck of the left field seats and gave New York a 5-1 lead. Luke Voit had a two-out RBI single in the first inning and Gleyber Torres followed with a two-run single as the Yankees scored three in the first inning for the second straight game.

“When we get a lead it just changes everything for us,” Judge said.

Kikuchi (6-4) struggled badly in his first start since becoming an All-Star for the first time. His fastball velocity was down and both his cutter and slider caught too much of the plate early in the game.

The result was a lot of loud contact from the Yankees that Kikuchi was fortunate didn’t result in more runs. Kikuchi allowed a season-high five runs and eight hits and settled down later in his outing to retire the final seven batters and get through five innings.

“The main thing was the velocity of my fastball wasn’t there, as well as my command of it,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter. “And my secondary pitches just weren’t as sharp as always as well.”

Domingo German was originally slated to start for the Yankees, but underwent an emergency root canal on Wednesday morning and was scratched from starting. Nick Nelson started and failed to make it out of the first inning thanks to three walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch that plated a run for Seattle.

Luis Cessa (2-1) became the difference maker for the Yankees. Cessa threw 3 1/3 solid innings after Nelson, including escaping a jam in the first inning. Cessa allowed just one hit.

“He was awesome. To be as pitch efficient as he was so to be able to give us 3 1/3 (innings), that was, that was huge. That was the bridge,” New York manager Aaron Boone said.

German felt well enough to throw three innings out of the bullpen. He struck out five, but also gave up Tom Murphy’s three-run homer in the sixth inning. All three runs were unearned after Gio Urshela’s error to begin the inning.

It was Murphy’s first home run since June 1.

Jonathan Loaisiga pitched a perfect eighth and Chad Green pitched the ninth for his third save in place of Aroldis Chapman, who has struggled of late and pitched in Tuesday’s opener.

“I just felt in my gut that it called for (Green) in that spot, and that’s why I went with it,” Boone said.

Angels 5, Red Sox 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani hit his major league-leading 32nd homer, a season high by a Japanese player in the major leagues, helping the Los Angeles Angels beat the Boston Red Sox.

Fellow All-Star Jared Walsh homered twice for the Angels, who won for the sixth time in seven games and took two of three from the AL-leading Red Sox.

Ohtani topped Hideki Matsui’s total with the 2004 Yankees by hitting a 433-foot shot to right off Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5), putting the Angels ahead to stay in the fifth inning. The two-way star has 15 homers in his past 20 games.

Andrew Heaney (5-6) pitched six-hit ball into the sixth, and Raisel Iglesias struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save.

Rays 4, Indians 0, first game

Rays 8, Indians 1, second game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined for seven hitless innings to finish a doubleheader sweep.

Collin McHugh (two perfect innings), Josh Fleming (7-4 after allowing one walk in 2 2/3 innings), Diego Castillo (one out), Matt Wisler (one inning) and Pete Fairbanks (one inning) combined in a game that will not go into the official list of no-hitters because shortened to seven innings under pandemic rules.

Taylor Walls put the Rays up 2-0 in Game 2 on two-out RBI singles off Sam Hentges (1-4) in the second and fourth.

Kevin Kiermaier homered and drove in a career-high five runs, Vidal Brujan had an RBI single in his major league debut, and the Rays win the opener 8-1. Cleveland has lost nine in a row.

Michael Wacha (2-2) allowed one run, four hits and struck out six in six innings. J.C. Mejia (1-4) was the loser.

Tigers 5, Rangers 3

ARLINGTON, Texas — Pinch-hitter Miguel Cabrera hit a go-ahead infield single off the glove of reliever Joely Rodriguez in the seventh inning, overcoming two homers by Joey Gallo off Casey Mize.

Kyle Funkhouser (3-0) worked two scoreless innings. Gregory Soto, Detroit’s only All-Star pick, got six outs for his seventh save.

Kyle Gibson (6-1) struck out seven but allowed eight hits and five runs over 6 1/3 innings. His ERA jumped from an AL-best 1.98 to 2.29.

White Sox 6, Twins 1

MINNEAPOLIS — Lance Lynn (9-3) allowed one run over six innings in his first start since earning a spot on the AL All-Star team and took over the AL ERA lead at 1.99.

Before the game, the White Sox cut outfielder Adam Eaton.

Tim Anderson had four hits and Leury Garcia hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the second off Michael Pineda (3-5), then added a run-scoring triple and a single.

Chicago is 10-2 against Minnesota this season, outscoring the Twins 91-47.

Blue Jays 10, Orioles 2

BALTIMORE — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had three hits and drove in two runs to increase his major league-leading RBI total to 73, Bo Bichette homered and Toronto breezed past Baltimore.

Guerrero hit RBI singles in the first and fourth innings to help Toronto build a 6-0 lead. He also singled in third inning and finished 3 for 4. Bichette drove in three runs and had three hits, including a two-run drive into the left-field seats.

Hyun Jin Ryu (8-5) gave up five hits and one run in five innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Baltimore starter Matt Harvey (3-10) was tagged for six runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Astros 4, Athletics 3

HOUSTON — Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer and Kyle Tucker’s tiebreaking solo shot in the seventh inning lifted Houston over Oakland. The victory was the Astros’ sixth straight.

There was one out in the seventh when Tucker connected off Sean Manaea (6-6) on his home run to right-center to put Houston on top.

Blake Taylor (2-2) wriggled out of a jam in a scoreless seventh for the win. Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth to collect his 16th save.

Matt Olson and Elvis Andrus had solo homers for the Athletics, who lost for the fifth time in six games.

National League

Cubs 8, Phillies 3

CHICAGO — Anthony Rizzo, Joc Pederson and Nico Hoerner each had two hits and an RBI to help Chicago snap an 11-game losing streak with a win over Philadelphia.

The Cubs raced to an early five-run lead off Wheeler and then added on to halt their skid.

Patrick Wisdom added a two-run double for Chicago. Alec Mills (4-2) allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Andrew McCutchen had a two-run homer for Philadelphia. Wheeler (6-5) yielded seven runs, four earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Braves 14, Pirates 3

PITTSBURGH — Pinch-hitter Abraham Almonte had a go-ahead, two-run single off Kyle Crick (1-1) in a five-run sixth inning and added a two-run home run as Atlanta avoided a series sweep.

Drew Smyly (7-3) overcame giving up a three-run home run to Jacob Stallings in the first inning to win his fifth straight start. Smyly labored through five innings, allowing nine hits and three walks while striking out four.

Nationals 15, Padres 5

SAN DIEGO — All-Star Juan Soto warmed up for the Home Run Derby by hitting a three-run shot in the first inning and Washington pounded Chris Paddack and San Diego.

Paddack (4-6) allowed nine runs, eight earned, and nine hits on 75 pitches in two-plus innings. He struck out two and walked one.

Josh Bell and Starlin Castro hit consecutive two-run singles for Washington. Josh Harrison had an RBI single and two-run double, finishing with three hits and three RBIs.

Corbin (6-7) held the Padres to two runs and seven hits in six innings, with three strikeouts and two walks.

Manny Machado hit an RBI single, Eric Hosmer hit his seventh homer and Trent Grisham added a two-run blast for the Padres.

Marlins 9, Dodgers 6

MIAMI — Jesus Aguilar hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the ninth inning and Miami beat Los Angeles for the third straight game.

Aguilar drove the sinker from Dodgers reliever Edwin Uceta (0-3) over the wall in left for his 14th homer of the season and first at home.

Zack McKinstry hit a one-out solo homer in the ninth against Miami reliever Anthony Bender (1-0) to tie it at 6-all.

Garrett Cooper had his first career multi-homer game for Miami with solo shots in the first and sixth.

Justin Turner hit a three-run homer and A.J. Pollock and Mookie Betts had solo shots.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 4

PHOENIX — Eduardo Escobar had a three-run homer among his three hits and Arizona beat Colorado.

The Diamondbacks, owners of the worst record in the majors at 25-63, won consecutive games for the first time since May 10-11, when they beat the Miami Marlins in back-to-back games.

Escobar’s team-leading 19th homer broke open a 3-1 game in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Reliever Matt Peacock (3-6) got the win for Arizona, giving up one run in three innings. Closer Joakim Soria pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.

Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela (2-8) took the loss. Ryan McMahon had an RBI double, and C.J. Cron added an RBI single for the Rockies.

Giants 5, Cardinals 2

SAN FRANCISCO — Alex Wood pitched seven strong innings of three-hit ball, and San Francisco defeated St. Louis.

Darin Ruf homered for San Francisco. Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano doubled in runs as the Giants avoided a three-game sweep.

Dylan Carson had two hits for St. Louis.

Wood (8-3) set down 19 of 22 after allowing Nolan Arenado’s two-out RBI double in the first. He had six strikeouts and two walks and won for the first time in four career starts against the Cardinals. Jake McGee pitched the ninth for his 17th save.

St. Louis starter Johan Oviedo (0-5) couldn’t overcome a shaky start. He allowed two runs and three hits in four innings.

INTERLEAGUE

Reds 5, Royals 2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sonny Gray (2-4) gave up two runs and seven hits over seven innings, and Jonathan India hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh off Scott Barlow (2-3).

Art Warren stranded the bases loaded in the eighth by retiring Hunter Dozier on an inning-ending flyout, and Heath Hembree pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

By Paul Wager