Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a leadoff homer and later connected for a two-run shot as the New York Mets completed a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays with a 9-6 win Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Jason Bay, who had been 1 for 21 since returning from a rib injury, added a solo home run in the second inning and Lucas Duda drove in three runs for the Mets.
Nieuwenhuis began the afternoon with a home run off Jeremy Hellickson (4-3), the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, and connected again during a four-run fourth, helping the Mets take an 8-4 lead.
Hellickson, 0-3 over his last five starts, gave up a career-high eight runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.
New York starter Johan Santana (4-3) allowed four runs and six hits over five-plus innings. Frank Francisco struck out Ben Zobrist with the bases loaded on a 3-2 pitch for his 16th save.
Tigers 5, Cubs 3 - Justin Verlander pitched eight solid innings and helped himself with a pair of sacrifices as Detroit capped its trip with a win in Chicago. Verlander (6-4) yielded five hits, struck out eight, and walked none in his first win since May 18. Austin Jackson hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh and a two-run homer in the ninth to help the Tigers to their fourth win in five games.
Orioles 12, Pirates 6 - Steve Pearce homered and drove in a career-high five runs, Matt Wieters had four hits and five RBIs, and host Baltimore cruised past Pittsburgh for a three-game sweep. Mark Reynolds went 4 for 5 with a homer for the Orioles, who built a 10-0 lead en route to their fifth straight victory. Much of the damage came against former Oriole Erik Bedard, who yielded seven runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Athletics 8, Rockies 2 - Jarrod Parker (3-3) allowed just three singles over seven scoreless innings, and Brandon Moss drove in three runs to help Oakland beat slumping Colorado for it first series sweep on the road since 2010. Josh Reddick added a solo home run, his 15th of the season. The Rockies committed three errors and catcher Wilin Rosario had two passed balls as they dropped their season-high eighth straight.
Reds 12, Indians 5 - Brandon Phillips hit one of Cincinnati’s three homers and drove in four runs, leading the Reds to their first three-game sweep of visiting Cleveland since 2008. Joey Votto and Ryan Ludwick also went deep for the Reds, who had a season-high 17 hits. Votto hit a three-run shot in the first inning off Josh Tomlin (3-4), who had been 4-0 in five career interleague starts.
Astros 6, Giants 3 - Houston’s J.D. Martinez hit his first career grand slam to end an 0-for-12 skid after Barry Zito (5-4) walked three straight to open the third inning as the Astros avoided a three-game sweep in San Francisco. Matt Downs also homered and Justin Maxwell drove in a run for the Astros, who had dropped 13 of their previous 17 games. Wandy Rodriguez (6-4) went six innings to win his third straight decision, allowing three runs and six hits.
Phillies 6, Twins 1 - Joe Blanton (6-6) gave up seven hits and struck out seven in his second complete game of the season, snapping an ugly string of five straight starts with at least five runs allowed, and Jim Thome hit a three-run homer to lead Philadelphia over Minnesota in Minneapolis. Ty Wigginton also homered and Jimmy Rollins added three hits for the Phillies, who took two of three in the series. Scott Diamond (5-2) gave up four runs and five hits in six innings.
Cardinals 5, White Sox 3 - David Freese homered, doubled, and drove in three runs, leading host St. Louis over Chicago. Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (5-6) retired the first 12 batters on 41 pitches before giving up a leadoff single in the fifth inning to Paul Konerko. Adam Dunn tied Texas’s Josh Hamilton for the major league home run lead with his 22d, a three-run shot in the sixth that pulled the White Sox to 5-3.
Diamondbacks 11, Rangers 3 - Jason Kubel hit a two-run homer and Gerardo Parra added a three-run shot to back Daniel Hudson’s seven solid innings in Arizona’s victory in Arlington, Texas. Hudson retired 16 of 17 batters after the Rangers scored their first run.
Royals 4, Brewers 3 - Brayan Pena’s single drove in the tying run in the ninth inning and led to Jarrod Dyson scoring the winner on shortstop Edwin Maysonet’s misguided cutoff throw across the infield, as host Kansas City edged Milwaukee.
Padres 6, Mariners 2 - Edinson Volquez pitched effectively into the seventh inning and San Diego beat host Seattle for its first series sweep of the season. Volquez (3-6) was in command all night, allowing one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked four.