Baseball / MLB

Max Kepler slugs three homers as Twins avoid sweep

AP

Max Kepler homered three times and Jose Berrios (8-2) locked up Cleveland’s lineup into the seventh inning as the Minnesota Twins avoided a sweep — and their first three-game losing streak — by beating the Indians 5-4 on Thursday night.

Kepler, who entered hitless in his previous 21 at-bats, connected in the first, third and seventh innings off Indians starter Trevor Bauer (4-6). Kepler also walked in the fifth.

The 26-year-old outfielder came up in the ninth with a chance to become the 19th player in history to hit four homers in one game — a feat rarer than a perfect game. But left-hander Josh Smith kept the left-handed swinging Kepler in the park, getting him to hit a hard grounder to the right side that he beat out for a single.

Kepler said history wasn’t on his mind.

“I thought about it for a second, but I got back within myself and had the same approach as every other at-bat — see it and try to put the bat on it,” he said.

It was Kepler’s second career three-homer game. The other one also came against the Indians on Aug. 1, 2016.

“The game is very unique. Odd things like this happen and crazy situations that you can’t really pin,” Kepler said. “But I’m honored to be a part of it. Some days you don’t see the ball great, other days you see it like a beach ball.”

The AL-Central leading Twins took the series finale and again moved 10½ games ahead of Cleveland, whose run of three straight division titles could be coming to an end.

Rookie Oscar Mercado’s pinch-hit homer in the ninth pulled the Indians to 5-4 before Taylor Rogers retired Roberto Perez on a groundout for his sixth save.

Athletics 7, Angeles 4

In Anaheim, Stephen Piscotty homered and drove in two runs, while Mike Fiers pitched six solid innings in Oakland’s triumph over Los Angeles.

Ramon Laureano had two RBIs and Mark Canha reached base four times for the Athletics, who rebounded from a five-game skid by taking two of three in Anaheim.

Mike Trout hit a two-run homer for the Angels, who made three errors and have lost three of four. Teammate Shohei Ohtani went 1-for-4 and scored a run.

Astros 7, Mariners 7 (14)

In Seattle, Myles Straw led off the 14th inning with a triple and scored on Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly, and Houston outlasted the pesky Mariners in the longest game of the season by innings for either team.

Seattle staged tying rallies in the ninth and 10th innings and loaded the bases in the bottom of the 14th thanks to three walks by Chris Devenski (1-0), but the right-hander got Shed Long to fly out to end it.

Houston led 5-1 after 6½ innings but Seattle chipped away, tying it 6-6 in the ninth on Edwin Encarnacion’s single against closer Roberto Osuna. That prevented Justin Verlander from becoming the first 10-game winner in the AL.

Matt Festa (0-1) allowed Straw’s triple — a ball that was played poorly by right fielder Domingo Santana — and one walk in the 14th for the Mariners.

Brewers 5, Marlins 1

In Milwaukee, Christian Yelich hit his major league-leading 23rd home run and Mike Moustakas added two homers to lead the hosts over Miami.

Milwaukee won the series finale after getting outscored 24-3 in the first two games. The Brewers are a percentage point behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.

Rockies 3, Cubs 1

In Chicago, Peter Lambert (1-0) allowed four hits over seven innings and struck out nine to win his MLB debut. The 22-year-old right-hander was selected in the second round with the 44th overall pick of the 2015 amateur draft.

In Other Games

Cardinals 3, Reds 1

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 2

Red Sox 7, Royals 5

Rangers 4, Orioles 3

Mets 7, Giants 3

Pirates 6, Braves 1

Rays 6, Tigers 1

Padres 5, Nationals 4