ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals clinched their first NL Central title in four years, beating the Chicago Cubs 7-0 Friday night behind the strong pitching of Lance Lynn and home runs by David Freese and Matt Holliday.
St. Louis (95-65) has won six of seven and is tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NL. They are assured of home-field advantage when the NL division series starts Thursday.
Adam Wainwright (18-9) was moved up to start Saturday, putting the St. Louis ace on track to start his team's postseason opener against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Backup outfielder Adron Chambers singled home the winning run in the 14th inning as the Cardinals outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates and cut into their NL Central lead with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night.
Sam Freeman (1-0) allowed a walk in a scoreless 14th for the Cardinals, who saddled the Pirates with their fourth straight loss and pulled within two games of them with a win in the 4-hour, 55-minute game.
Pittsburgh had four hits the first time through the order against Adam Wainwright and led 3-0 after two innings on homers by Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer. They had six hits the rest of the way.
Both teams had chances in extra innings before the Cardinals, who had dropped four of five, cashed in.
Jon Jay singled off Jared Hughes (2-3) with one out in the 14th with his fourth hit. Jay stole second and then raced home and beat left fielder Starling Marte's throw.
The Cardinals made more moves in advance of Tuesday's match up against the Central-leading Pirates.
The team recalled infielder Jermaine Curtis from the Triple-A club and optioned Michael Blazek to Memphis. Curtis was batting .259 in Triple-A with four homers and 42 RBIs. First pitch tonight at 7:15.
CHICAGO (AP) — Alex Rodriguez stepped up to the plate greeted by a standing boo-vation and blooped a single in his first at-bat of the season.
Hours after Major League Baseball suspended the New York Yankees star through the 2014 season in the Biogenesis drug case, Chicago White Sox fans got their say Monday night.
And, boy, did they let him hear it.
They jeered him during pregame warmups and introductions, and they really tore into him when he walked to the batter's box leading off the second inning.
On the third pitch, Rodriguez dunked a hit into shallow left field. He made it to third base with no outs, but was stranded.
Rodriguez flied out in his next two at-bats and then took a called third strike in the eighth inning while fans chanted "Steroids! Steroids!" He also handled a few grounders at third base as Chicago snapped a 10-game losing streak with an 8-1 win over the struggling Yankees.
At 38 and coming back from hip surgery, Rodriguez said he's fighting for his career.
He did not deny using performance-enhancing drugs in a news conference at U.S. Cellular Field after the punishment came down, and he said he will talk about whether he used PEDs at another time when he is more free to speak.
He did, however, dig in for a battle, saying no one else will defend him unless he stands up for himself. Then, he took to the field, batting fourth against the White Sox.
"There's nothing about it that's been easy," Rodriguez said. "All of it has been challenging. I'm sure there's been mistakes made along the way. We're here now. I'm a human being. I've had two hip surgeries. I've had two knee surgeries. I'm fighting for my life. I have to defend myself. If I don't defend myself, no one else will. There's a process. I'm happy with the process. In due time, hopefully whatever happens, happens."
The Yankees are hoping something good happens with him on the field. They're out of playoff position and desperate for power, especially their third basemen — the players they've had playing that spot this season had a combined 32 RBIs, fewest in the majors according to STATS, and were hitting .215 with four homers.
Rodriguez, with 647 career home runs, arrived at the ballpark in a dark gray Cadillac around 3:10 p.m. CT and waved when a fan shouted "A-Rod!" on his way into the stadium.
In the clubhouse, his locker was jammed with the usual clothing and equipment, and there was a scouting report on his chair.
It all looked so ordinary, yet there was nothing ordinary about this day.
The three-time MVP was one of 13 players disciplined on Monday, one of the biggest mass suspensions in the history of the game.
All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games each. Rodriguez, however, got 211 games, due to start Thursday.
He will appeal his suspension, and that means he will likely be able to play the rest of this season while his case winds through arbitration.
Prior to his first game since last Oct. 18, Rodriguez signed autographs and drew a crowd — of both fans and photographers.
Rodriguez said "a lot" went into his decision to appeal his case but added "I'm not going to get into any of that today."
"What we've always fought for was for the process, and I think we have that and at some point we'll sit in front of an arbiter and give our case," he said. "And that's as much as I feel comfortable telling you right now."
Asked if he denies using PEDs, Rodriguez said, "Like I said, we'll have a forum to discuss all of that and we'll talk about it then."
If he hasn't used PEDs since then, why not say it?
"There's a lot of things that have been thrown to the wall, and I think when the time is right, there will be an opportunity to do all of that," he said. "I don't think that time is right now. And I don't want to interfere or get in the way of anything that — with the process."
On Friday, Rodriguez hinted that the Yankees did not want him back and were trying to avoid paying him the $94.5 million they still owe him through 2017.
Union executive director Michael Weiner said those comments were probably out of frustration and that Rodriguez would probably agree they were "counterproductive."
Weiner also said he and Rodriguez have talked since then — but not about those comments.
"But I would guess that all things considered, and having thought about it a little bit, he's probably not very happy with those comments," Weiner added.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, brushed off a question about his comment on Friday, saying "Today is another day, and I'm focused on what my job is and my responsibilities to the New York Yankees and to the fan base of New York."
He thanked the fans, media, people from the Dominican Republic and Hispanics "all over the world" for the support.
Whether he has the Yankees' support is another issue.
"If I'm productive, I think they want me back," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez batted .120 (3 for 25) with no RBIs last postseason, including 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers.
"It's been a long time for me, and the last time I was on the field it wasn't pretty," he said. "I was horrific."
NEW YORK (AP) - A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that all players targeted for drug suspensions other than Alex Rodriguez have accepted 50-game penalties from Major League Baseball.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the suspensions had not yet been announced.
The person says All-Stars Nelson Cruz of Texas, Jhonny Peralta of Detroit and Everth Cabrera of San Diego are among the 12 who accepted penalties Monday.
Others include Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; San Diego pitcher Fautino De Los Santos; and free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto.
MLB informed the Yankees on Sunday that Rodriguez will be suspended for his links to the Biogenesis of America clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs, a person familiar with that decision said. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity because no statement was authorized.
The Yankees weren't told the exact length of the suspension, though they were under the impression it will be through the 2014 season, the person said.
Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension two weeks ago, bringing to 14 the number of players - including Rodriguez - facing discipline in the probe, which was sparked when the Miami New Times published documents obtained from former Biogenesis associate Porter Fisher that linked several players to the clinic.
Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon will hold his first-ever “Twittercast,” taking over @Cardinals for Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates.
“While his voice is synonymous with Cardinals baseball, this will be Mike’s social media debut,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. “This should be a lot of fun as Mike makes the transition from behind the microphone to behind the computer or smart phone for one night to tell the story of the game in 140 characters or less.”
During Wednesday’s game versus the Pirates – which is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. in Pittsburgh at PNC Park – Shannon will step away from his play-by-play seat on the Cardinals Radio Network and into Mike Shannon’s Grill in Edwardsville, IL, where he will host the @Cardinals Twitter Takeover.
Throughout the game, Shannon will comment on game action, share personal anecdotes, tweet answers to fan questions and more on @Cardinals under the hashtag #MikeShannon.
This marks the first time that the Cardinals Twitter account will be taken over by a personality. The first @Cardinals Twitter Takeover occurred earlier this season when fan retweets told the story of the game during the club’s annual Social Media Night at the Ballpark. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation by submitting their questions for Mike on Twitter by using the hashtag #MikeShannon.
Shannon has manned the Cardinals broadcast booth since 1972.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Carpenter drove in the go-ahead run with an infield single and Pete Kozma hit a three-run double against Clayton Kershaw, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday in the rubber game of their series.
The Cardinals improved the major league's best record to 32-17 and increased their NL Central lead over Cincinnati to 1 1/2 games.
Kozma led off the seventh with a bloop double off the glove of shortstop Dee Gordon as he dived for the ball in short center field. One out later, Carpenter grounded a single off the glove of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, allowing Kozma to score. Pinch-hitter Matt Adams added an RBI single in the ninth.
Seth Maness (4-1) got credit for the victory in relief of starter Shelby Miller despite retiring only two of the six batters he faced.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adrian Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs, Mark Ellis lined a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated St. Louis 5-3 on Saturday to snap the Cardinals' three-game winning streak.
The last-place Dodgers, who had lost five of seven, blew a two-run lead before Ellis' two-out hit off Seth Maness (3-1) scored Carl Crawford from first base to make it 4-3.
Paco Rodriguez (1-2) earned his first major league victory, getting three outs on 10 pitches. Brandon League worked the ninth to earn his 10th save in 12 chances.
The NL Central-leading Cardinals tied the game at 3 on David Freese's broken-bat RBI double and Pete Kozma's infield single in the sixth. Nick Punto made a diving stop behind third base, but he couldn't throw out Kozma.
CHICAGO (AP) - Travis Wood pitched impressively into the seventh inning to outduel Lance Lynn, Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run homer and the Chicago Cubs snapped the St. Louis Cardinals' six-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory last night.
The Cardinals' streak was their longest since an eight-game run July 11-21, 2010.
Wood (2-3) allowed one run and five hits while striking out eight in 6 2-3 innings for his first win since April 27 at Miami.
Carlos Marmol relieved Wood with two outs in the seventh and pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings. In the eighth he allowed a single to Yadier Molina and walked Jon Jay before getting out of the inning by picking Molina off between second and third.
Lynn (5-1) was trying to become the National League's first pitcher to win six games.
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Jake Westbrook allowed one run over six innings for his 100th career win and the St. Louis Cardinals held off the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 on Thursday night.
Westbrook (2-1), came in with a 0.98 ERA, best in the majors - it increased to 1.10. In his 12th season, he walked three and struck out four. The Brewers were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position against him.
Westbrook allowed Norichika Aoki's double to open the game and then nothing more until one out in the fourth when the Brewers pushed across a run on three consecutive singles. He struck out Alex Gonzalez and then fanned Wily Peralta (2-2), his third strikeout of the inning.
Westbrook left with a 6-1 lead for the relievers to protect, but the Brewers scored twice in the seventh, one in the eighth and one in the ninth.