Baseball / MLB

Tampa Bay starter Charlie Morton improves to 8-0

AP

Charlie Morton is proving his worth to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The 35-year-old right-hander, signed to a $30 million, two-year contract in free agency, remained unbeaten with his new team on Monday night, limiting the Oakland Athletics to two hits over seven shutout innings of a 6-2 victory.

The win, Tampa Bay’s sixth in seven games, nudged the Rays ahead of the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Morton (8-0, 2.10 ERA) is one of the reasons the budget-minded team with one of baseball’s lowest payrolls feels this could be a special season.

“He’s a huge pickup for this team,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said after making a leaping catch at the wall to rob Oakland’s Jurickson Profar of an extra-base hit and then delivering a two-run homer for a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning.

“The way Charlie Morton has been going for us all year, the spark and dominance he has brought to the table,” Kiermaier added, “I wanted to make that play for him.”

Brandon Lowe homered for the third time in two days, snapping a scoreless tie in the sixth inning and helping the Rays take a half-game lead over Yankees, who were rained out at home where they were to play the Mets.

Morton extended his career-best winning streak to 11 games dating to Aug. 17, when he was with the Houston Astros.

The stretch covers 21 starts — 14 of them with Tampa Bay since signing as a free agent — and is the longest active streak in the major leagues ahead of Milwaukee’s Zach Davies, who’s 7-0 over his past 14 starts.

Morton allowed two hits — singles to Marcus Semien in the first and third innings — and retired the last 14 batters he faced. In addition to Kiermaier’s highlight-reel catch, Morton benefited from Tommy Pham also making a leaping catch at the wall in left field.

“I’m not surprised by it anymore. They are awesome,” Morton said of his teammates’ defensive gems. “You get so much confidence in the guys behind you. I feel like if a ball is hit really, really hard, you still have a chance with those guys out there.”

Stephen Piscotty ruined Tampa Bay’s bid for a shutout, driving in Mark Canha with an RBI double and then scoring on Robbie Grossman’s run-scoring single in the ninth.

Rockies 6, Cubs 5

In Denver, Ryan McMahon had a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning as Colorado rallied past Chicago.

Ian Desmond blasted a 148.1-meter homer, and Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon also went deep for the Rockies, who trailed 4-0 early but still won their ninth straight at home.

Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and David Bote homered for the Cubs.

Steve Cishek (1-3) gave up two hits in the ninth.

Scott Oberg (4-0) got the win.

Chicago’s Yu Darvish and Rockies starter German Marquez each allowed four runs in six innings. Darvish yielded six hits, including two homers, while fanning three batters.

Diamondbacks 13, Phillies 8

In Philadelphia, Arizona belted three straight home runs to open the game and finished with a team-record eight in a victory over Philadelphia in a homer-happy game.

Scott Kingery hit two of the Phillies’ five home runs for the combined MLB record of 13 homers in one game.

Angels 5, Dodgers 3

In Anaheim, Mike Trout hit a tying two-run homer in the seventh, and Shohei Ohtani slid home from third with the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning of the Angels’ comeback victory over the Dodgers.

After Ryu Hyun-jin pitched the Dodgers to a 3-1 lead through six innings and a chance at his seventh consecutive victory, the Angels rallied against the Dodgers’ bullpen to win the Freeway Series opener at a sold-out Angel Stadium.

One inning after Trout dramatically tied it with a two-out homer off Dylan Floro, the Angels scored two runs without a hit off beleaguered Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly (1-3).

Ohtani entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth and walked.

In Other Games

Rangers 4, Red Sox 3

Cardinals 4, Marlins 1

Braves 13, Pirates 7

Nationals 12, White Sox 1

Mets at Yankees — ppd.