For just one day, the Atlanta Braves dropped out of first place, but after taking back first place on Thursday, Mike Foltynewicz made sure they remained on top on Friday night. Foltynewicz went the distance, striking out 11 and walking just one in the Braves' 4-0 shutout of the Washington Nationals. Foltynewicz's outing was his first career complete game, as he only allowed two hits on the night. At one point, he retired 20 batters in a row before leading off the eighth inning with his lone walk. This was enough to out-pitch Stephen Strasburg, who left after 6.2 innings with cramping in his left wrist. Strasburg said after the game that he was not seriously injured. Dansby Swanson broke the game open in the seventh inning with a three-run shot off of Strasburg, as the Braves have now scored an NL-best 106 runs in the seventh inning or later. Atlanta has now won five of their past seven games, as their starter also remained hot as of late on the mound. Foltynewicz improved to 3-1 with a 0.56 ERA in his last five starts, as he threw 73 of his 106 pitches for strikes on Friday. Atlanta scored all four of their runs to support the right-hander in the seventh inning, scoring their first run on an error. Strasburg suffered his fifth loss of the season, as the Nats fell a game and a half behind the Braves in the NL East. They will battle for two more games at SunTrust Park this weekend, including on Saturday night.
Cole, Astros Get Best of Sale, Red Sox
The Houston Astros' challenging week continued on Friday night, but it was a challenge that they passed on this night. Gerrit Cole improved to 6-1 with seven strikeouts over seven innings as the Astros' beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-3. Cole allowed three runs, two on solo home runs, as the Astros took the first two games of the series. George Springer recorded three hits, while Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis both went deep to help Houston pull away from Boston late. Cole surrendered back-to-back home runs to J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland in the fourth inning, but that would be it Martinez's long ball was his major league-leading 19th homer of the season. Cole won his fourth straight decision, as he raised his AL-leading strikeout total to 116. Sale dropped to 5-3 with his second straight loss, as he allowed four runs over six innings. He struck out six on the night, keeping him right behind Cole on the season with 110 punch-outs. The Red Sox had a tough day overall when they were forced to put Mookie Betts on the disabled list with an abdominal strain. Their slugger had missed six games before the move was made official. They sit a half game ahead of the New York Yankees, and two games ahead of the Astros, for the American League's best record. They will continue their series at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night.
Haniger Powers Mariners to Another Extra-Inning Win
The Seattle Mariners kept pace with the Houston Astros in the AL West with another thrilling victory at Safeco Field on Friday night. Mitch Haniger went deep in the 13th inning to lift the Mariners past the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, in walk-off fashion. The win not only improves Seattle to 6-0 in extra innings this season, but also keeps them a game behind the Astros for first place in the West. Haniger's home run to right-center field ended the game after four hours, 16 minutes, giving them a walk-off shot in extras for the second straight weekend. Haniger finished with three walks on the day as well, connecting with his 12th home run and eighth game-winning RBI. Roenis Elias threw two scoreless innings and recorded his first win after getting called up from Triple-A earlier in the day. Matt Andriese gave up the game-winner to Haniger after throwing a scoreless inning, suffering his third loss as the seventh pitcher of the day for Tampa Bay. The game was extended in the ninth inning after Matt Duffy singled home a run, handing Edwin Diaz his third blown save in 22 opportunities this year. Tampa Bay did face their former reliever, Alex Colome, for the first time after trading him to Seattle last week. Colome threw a scoreless eighth inning against his former team. The Rays continued to experiment with starting games with the bullpen, as Sergio Romo made his fifth start, facing five batters over 1.1 innings. Mike Leake got the start for Seattle, striking out a season-high eight while allowing two runs over seven innings. The Mariners will host the Rays two more times this weekend, with Game 2 coming on Saturday night.