Nats walk off on Taylor's 10th-inning homer, gain on Mets

Nats walk off on Taylor's 10th-inning homer, gain on Mets

WASHINGTON -- Left out of the starting lineup with a sore right knee, Michael Taylor was called off the bench in the bottom of the 10th and made history, crushing a three-run walk-off home run to catapult the Nationals to a 5-2 win over Atlanta on Friday.

The win moved the Nationals to within five games of the Mets, who lost, 6-5, in 11 innings to the Marlins on Friday night.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates gain in NL Central with win over Cards

Pirates gain in NL Central with win over Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Seeking to chip away at the Cardinals' division lead and assert themselves as still serious contenders in the National League Central, the Pirates opened a three-game series at Busch Stadium with a 9-3 statement win on Friday night behind another sensational start from J.A. Happ.

The win moves the Bucs to 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, who had won five of the previous six meetings between the divisional foes at Busch Stadium this year. Pittsburgh, which holds the top NL Wild Card spot, snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Springer makes immediate impact in return

Outfielder back from wrist injury; won't hesitate on field

Springer makes immediate impact in return

HOUSTON -- More than two months after he fractured his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch, Astros outfielder George Springer returned to the lineup for Friday's series opener against the Twins at Minute Maid Park, batting first and playing left field in manager A.J. Hinch's lineup.

Springer jump-started the Astros to an 8-0 victory, leading off the bottom of the first inning with a single to right field off Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey. Springer moved to third when Jose Altuve followed with a hit-and-run single, and scored the opening run of the game on Carlos Correa's grounder to shortstop. Springer finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yankees staying hot on Blue Jays' heels

Yankees staying hot on Blue Jays' heels

A full slate of baseball kicked off Labor Day weekend on Friday, with postseason implications on the line in a number of important series. Three division leaders each saw their lead shrink by one game as playoff races tightened across the Majors.

Here's a look at some key developments that helped shape the playoff picture:

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Statcast: Thwarting thieves and robbing hits

Statcast: Thwarting thieves and robbing hits

Among the top plays from around the Majors on Friday night, Yankees catcher Brian McCann delivered a strike during the second inning at Yankee Stadium to catch another potential basestealer in his tracks.

Statcast™ tracked another strong throw from McCann as well as a diving grab from Odubel Herrera, a flash of speed from Yoenis Cespedes, and a trio of homers from Bryce Harper, Chris Davis and Jose Abreu.

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Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Davis the first to 40 with 2nd straight 2-HR game

Slugger notches five home runs in past three games, leads MLB

Davis the first to 40 with 2nd straight 2-HR game

TORONTO -- It's still early in the month, but Chris Davis is on a quite a run at the plate in September. The Orioles' cleanup man and Major League long ball leader swatted a pair of home runs, again, in the Orioles' 10-2 win over the Blue Jays in the series opener at Rogers Centre, giving him 40 on the season and 100 RBIs to go along with it.

A game after he went yard twice, which included an 11th-inning walkoff blast against the Rays to save the O's from a series sweep on Wednesday, Davis was at it again Friday, going deep in the second and sixth innings to give him five homers in three games this month.

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Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers pound Padres, increase division lead

Dodgers pound Padres, increase division lead

SAN DIEGO -- The Home Run Derby comes to Petco Park next July, but the Dodgers staged their own edition Friday night. In an 8-4 victory over the Padres, Los Angeles launched five home runs, including three taters in a decisive five-run sixth inning.

The win, coupled with a Giants loss, gives the Dodgers a season-high 7 1/2-game lead in the National League West, putting a third straight division title squarely on the horizon. Justin Ruggiano's pinch-hit, two-run shot in the sixth gave L.A. a 5-3 lead before Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Utley went back-to-back later in the frame.

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. Beth Maiman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The Cron Show: Angels gain on C.J.'s big day

The Cron Show: Angels gain on C.J.'s big day

ANAHEIM -- Young slugger C.J. Cron put the Angels on his back on Friday night, finishing a homer shy of the cycle and driving in five runs while leading his team to a 5-2 victory over the division-rival Rangers in Southern California.

The Angels, coming off a 19-loss August, have started September with three straight wins and are now 2 1/2 back of the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. Texas fell to three games back of the Astros in the AL West and maintained a 1 1/2-game lead on the Twins for the final playoff spot.

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David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

'Ferrell Takes the Field' premieres tonight at Petco

Actor expected to be in attendance in San Diego

'Ferrell Takes the Field' premieres tonight at Petco

When Ron Burgundy burst onto the scene as America's most beloved fictional news anchor, a love affair formed between the somewhat inappropriate, mustachioed protagonist and one of the most beautiful cities in America.

So it should come as no surprise that the actor who made Burgundy kind of a big deal in San Diego more than a decade ago would premiere his first baseball movie in a ballpark located in the very city that he implored to "stay classy" in the cult classic "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

When it's one-and-done, Arrieta is the one

With Cubs apparently headed for Wild Card, they must start right-hander, not Lester

When it's one-and-done, Arrieta is the one

Jon Lester is the one guy on the Cubs who has been to the mountaintop, having pitched his club to victory three times on the World Series stage, en route to two rings. Lester has appeared in 14 postseason games in all, and the playoff-tested presence he brings to a rotation is why the Cubs invested $155 million in him last winter.

But Jon Lester has no business pitching the one-and-done opening round of the playoffs this year.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Indians continue surge behind Tomlin's 4-hitter

Indians continue surge behind Tomlin's 4-hitter

DETROIT -- Corey Kluber's scratch from his scheduled start did nothing to slow down the resurgent Indians, who used a four-hitter from Josh Tomlin and two big hits from Jerry Sands to roll past the Tigers for an 8-1 win Friday night at Comerica Park.

"Oh, man. He was so good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He changed speeds, pounded the strike zone with all his pitches, had a good curveball. He used his fastball really effectively. That was fun to watch."

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Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ozuna turns Marlins Park into playground for catch

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Ozuna turns Marlins Park into playground for catch

It seemed like Friday's Mets-Marlins game was going to open with a Curtis Granderson home run … well, at least it seemed like that to one person. Or maybe Marcell Ozuna just missed the days of hanging out on cool playground equipment and that's why he climbed the right field wall to catch what turned out to be just a long fly ball. 

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2015 Postseason Schedule

Wild Card Games to begin playoffs on Oct. 6-7; World Series to start on Oct. 27

The 2015 postseason schedule will begin on Oct. 6, with the 111th Fall Classic to open on Oct. 27 in an American League ballpark, thanks to the AL's 6-3 victory in last month's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile. The full postseason schedule can be found at MLB.com/postseason.

Following the scheduled regular-season finales on Sunday, Oct. 4, potentially necessary regular-season tiebreaker games would be telecast exclusively by ESPN the next day. Then the postseason will begin that Tuesday, with the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on ESPN. The National League equivalent is scheduled for Oct. 7, televised exclusively by TBS.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ruggiano opens floodgates in five-run frame

Dodgers' pinch-hitter homers to spark decisive sixth

Ruggiano opens floodgates in five-run frame

SAN DIEGO -- When Don Mattingly told Andre Ethier to grab a bat in the sixth inning Friday night, he was fully aware Ethier probably wouldn't get the chance to swing it.

Instead, Mattingly used Ethier as a pawn in his chess match against Padres interim skipper Pat Murphy. And the move paid off when Justin Ruggiano -- a pinch-hitter for the pinch-hitter -- homered, sparking the Dodgers to an 8-4 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yanks power past Rays to close gap on Jays

Yanks power past Rays to close gap on Jays

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Greg Bird homered to support Luis Severino's third consecutive victory as the Yankees defeated the Rays, 5-2, on Friday at Yankee Stadium to move within a half-game of the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East.

The home runs were the only hits allowed by starter Jake Odorizzi, who worked 6 2/3 innings and was tagged with the loss. Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the second inning, McCann hit a solo shot in the fourth and Bird hit a two-run shot in the seventh.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Four HRs, 8-run frame fuel Cubs' rout vs. D-backs

Four HRs, 8-run frame fuel Cubs' rout vs. D-backs

CHICAGO -- Addison Russell connected on two home runs and Anthony Rizzo hit a grand slam to power the Cubs' offense in a 14-5 win over the D-backs on Friday at Wrigley Field. Rookie Javier Baez added his first home run of the season during an eight-run fifth inning in which 11 Cubs came to the plate.

Baez finished 3-for-4 on the day, Russell went 2-for-3 and scored three runs while Rizzo finished 2-for-3 in a game in which every batter in the Cubs' starting lineup scored. The offense backed starter Jon Lester, who allowed two runs over five innings and struck out three.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Key things to watch for in today's games

Key things to watch for in today's games

Saturdays in the fall carry tons of excitement on the field -- and just as much intrigue in the standings.

Here are five things to watch for in Saturday's slate of games:

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Donaldson projected to be dominant vs. Orioles

Donaldson projected to be dominant vs. Orioles

Welcome to DraftKings fantasy baseball, the Official Daily Fantasy Game of Major League Baseball.

The players listed below could provide difference-making stats for DraftKings participants on Saturday.

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Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Giants drop 7th straight, lose ground in race

Giants drop 7th straight, lose ground in race

DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado went back-to-back in the first, and Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa tossed seven strong innings, propelling Colorado to a 2-1 win over the Giants on Friday at Coors Field.

With the loss, their seventh straight, the Giants fell 8 games behind the Cubs -- who won earlier Friday -- for the second National League Wild Card spot. San Francisco also falls 7 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. Dargan Southard is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prado's 5th hit lifts Marlins in 11, cuts Mets' lead to 5

Prado's 5th hit lifts Marlins in 11, cuts Mets' lead to 5

MIAMI -- The Marlins are aiming to salvage a disappointing season by playing the role of spoiler. They did just that on Friday night when Martin Prado capped a career-high five-hit night with a walk-off double in the 11th inning that lifted Miami to a 6-5 win over the Mets at Marlins Park.

Facing lefty Eric O'Flaherty, the right-handed-hitting Prado laced the ball down the first-base line. Christian Yelich, who has been playing with a bruised right knee, raced around the bases, scoring from first. Prado collected the seventh walk-off hit of his career, and Miami made the National League East race a little more interesting, with New York's lead cut to five games over Washington, which enjoyed a walk-off win of its own on Friday night.

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Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Revere deflects fly ball over the wall for home run

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Revere deflects fly ball over the wall for home run

The MLB rulebook defines an assist as an instance in which a fielder "throws or deflects a batted or thrown ball in such a way that a putout results." But that just seems so limited, no? Baseball is quite the giving game, and there are a lot of ways to assist on a baseball field.

You could use your head to assist a ball on its way to first base, or your ballpark could assist a fly ball to the shortstop. Or, like Ben Revere during Friday's Orioles-Blue Jays game, you could assist Matt Wieters in his quest to hit a home run.

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Responding to Boras, Mets stick with Harvey plan

Responding to Boras, Mets stick with Harvey plan

MIAMI -- Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said Friday that the club will not change its plan for Matt Harvey as the right-hander nears the end of his first season after Tommy John surgery. Harvey's agent, Scott Boras, told CBS Sports that Harvey needs to be kept on an innings limit to protect his health.

Boras said that Harvey, who has tossed 166 1/3 innings so far this season, should log no more than 180 innings, including the playoffs. Ricco, however, said the Mets will simply continue to stick to their plan for their ace.

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Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taylor comes off the bench for special moment

Nursing a sore knee, delivers game-winning homer

Taylor comes off the bench for special moment

WASHINGTON -- Michael Taylor's right knee was almost too sore for him to play on Friday night. It's why Nationals manager Matt Williams kept the rookie outfielder out of the starting lineup for a third straight game, and it's why Taylor was passed over as one pinch-hitting opportunity after another passed by in the first nine innings.

But in the bottom of the 10th inning in an early September game too important to squander, Williams called for Taylor to hit. When a sacrifice fly would have made him a hero, Taylor hammered a 1-0 Brandon Cunniff slider, notching the first pinch-hit walk-off home run in team history as the Nationals toppled the Braves, 5-2.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ has been 'nice shot in the arm' for Bucs

Lefty continues strong run since coming to Pittsburgh from Mariners

Happ has been 'nice shot in the arm' for Bucs

ST. LOUIS -- Wincing through the Pirates getting swept in Milwaukee and noting who they had leading them into the series at Busch Stadium, many Pittsburgh fans wondered, "Why even play the game?"

As Pirates manager Clint Hurdle often likes to say, "This is why you play the game." So J.A. Happ, he with the lifetime 1-8 record and 6.79 ERA against the Cardinals, can wave his magic left arm and silence the Redbirds and 44,338 in their house, as he did splendidly Friday for the first seven innings of the Bucs' 9-3 win.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brault among 10 top prospect performers Friday

Pirates No. 25 prospect hurls eight scoreless frames for Curve in his longest Minor League start

Brault among 10 top prospect performers Friday

Steven Brault just keeps getting better.

The Pirates' No. 25 prospect added to an already dominant second-half performance Friday with eight scoreless innings in Double-A Altoona's 8-0 win over Binghamton. He allowed just three hits while striking out five in the longest outing of his Minor League career.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners hang on to top A's in slugfest

Mariners hang on to top A's in slugfest

OAKLAND -- Two-run homers by Stefen Romero and Kyle Seager proved the difference for the Mariners in an 11-8 victory over the A's on Friday in a game featuring 28 hits, 19 runs and 15 pitchers.

Romero's first home run of the season gave Seattle a 9-5 lead after the Mariners had trailed 5-1 in the second and Seager launched his 22nd of the season in the ninth to cap a three-hit night. The A's closed the gap with three runs in the sixth, but stranded two runners in both the seventh and eighth, en route to their third straight loss. Seattle has won seven of its last 10 games to improve to 64-71 and is 10-4 on the season against Oakland (58-77).

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Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blastoff: 10th Astro reaches 10-homer mark

Club record set on Conger's grand slam; Houston 1 shy of MLB record

Blastoff: 10th Astro reaches 10-homer mark

HOUSTON -- The Astros' co-leader in home runs hit eighth Friday night, though infielder Luis Valbuena is in a logjam at first base and is unsure if he'll see his name in the lineup each day.

Pinch-hitting for Valbuena in the sixth inning of Friday's 8-0 win was Chris Carter, another competitor for first-base playing time, who has 18 homers himself. Batting in the nine-hole was catcher Hank Conger, whose fourth-inning grand slam gave him 10 home runs on the year, setting a franchise record as he became the 10th Astro to reach double-digit home runs this season.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Danks in complete control in win over Royals

Danks in complete control in win over Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Adam Eaton had four hits, including a three-run homer, and Alexei Ramirez had four hits as well as the White Sox gave left-hander John Danks plenty of support in a 12-1 romp over the Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Tyler Flowers also hit a three-run homer for the White Sox, who banged out 17 hits.

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Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hot-hitting Cespedes finds himself in middle of rally

Hot-hitting Cespedes finds himself in middle of rally

MIAMI -- Needing a big bat for their playoff push, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. On Friday night, the hot-hitting outfielder nearly bolstered New York's chances with one swing of that big bat.

The Mets chipped away at a three-run deficit before Cespedes hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning of a 6-5, 11-inning defeat to the Marlins. The loss, coupled with Washington's win, cut New York's National League East lead to five games. Cespedes has opened the final full month of the regular season with a 7-for-15 outburst, hitting three home runs, driving in five runs and scoring five.

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Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.