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MLB: Hoskins sparks Phillies over Mets before key Atlanta trip

Philadelphia Phillies' Rhys Hoskins, left, rounds the bases after hitting a home run off New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, left, during the first inning of a baseball game, on Sept. 19, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Rhys Hoskins became the seventh-fastest player to hit 50 career home runs and the Philadelphia Phillies kept pace in the NL East with a 4-0 victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday night.

Zach Eflin and five relievers combined on a six-hitter and Odubel Herrera added two-run homer for the Phillies. They won consecutive series for the first time since July 25 and stayed 5 1/2 games behind division-leading Atlanta.

Seven of Philadelphia's final 11 games are against the Braves, including a four-game series beginning Thursday night in Atlanta.

Hoskins' opposite-field solo shot against Noah Syndergaard (12-4) in the first inning was his 32nd homer of the season and 50th in 192 career games. Only Rudy York (153), Mark McGwire (161), Gary Sanchez (161), Ryan Braun (171), Aaron Judge (174) and former Phillies slugger Ryan Howard (182) reached 50 quicker, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The 25-year-old Hoskins later added his 35th double, and Jose Bautista had a pinch-hit RBI double in the fifth off Jerry Blevins. Eflin (11-7) struck out nine and allowed three hits in five innings. Luis Avilan, Victor Arano and Adam Morgan each went one inning.

BRAVES 7, CARDINALS 3

ATLANTA (AP) -- Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs, Touki Toussaint pitched into the sixth inning and NL East-leading Atlanta beat St. Louis to snap a four-game skid.

The Braves need any combination of six victories or Philadelphia losses to win their first division title since 2013. St. Louis began the day leading Colorado by 1 1/2 games for the second wild-card spot.

Closer A.J. Minter, working in a non-save situation in the ninth, walked two to load the bases, but he struck out Jose Martinez and got Paul DeJong to pop up.

Freeman's 23rd homer, an opposite-field shot to left-center, put the Braves up 2-0 in the fourth against Jack Flaherty (8-8). Toussaint (2-1) allowed five hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

RAYS 9, RANGERS 3

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Tommy Pham homered twice and extended his on-base streak to 21 games and late-surging Tampa Bay completed a three-game sweep of Texas.

The Rays have won 14 of 17 games in September. They have 11 remaining and entered the day 5 1/2 games behind Oakland for the American League's second wild card.

Adrian Beltre hit his 13th homer for the last-place Rangers. It was the 475th of his career to match Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 30th on the career lost. He's 15th with 3,159 hits.

Ryan Yarbrough (15-5), the second of five Tampa Bay pitchers, went four innings for the win.

Jake Bauers had a two-run single and scored on Willy Adames' single in the second off lefty Yohander Mendez (2-2) to put the Rays ahead to stay at 3-0. Pham hit his 18th homer leading off the third, and Matt Duffy's two-run double in the fourth made it 8-1.

Pham went deep again in the eighth for his seventh career multihomer game. The homer was off 45-year-old Bartolo Colon, who was pitching in relief for the first time since his last start Sept. 5.

TWINS 8, TIGERS 2

DETROIT (AP) -- Stephen Gonsalves threw six scoreless innings, and Minnesota pounded Detroit's pitching.

Gabriel Moya started for Minnesota, but was replaced by Gonsalves in the second inning, marking the sixth time this season the Twins used an "opening pitcher." Gonsalves (1-2) allowed one hit and a walk while striking out four.

Ehire Adrianza was 3 for 4 with three runs scored, Tyler Austin was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored and Willians Astudillo was 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Twins, who swept the three-game series against the Tigers. Spencer Turnbull (0-1) made his first major league start, allowing six runs and six hits and a walk in four innings.

PIRATES 2, ROYALS 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Chris Archer pitched seven strong innings, and Pittsburgh beat Kansas City to complete a three-game sweep.

Archer (5-8) allowed one run on six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. The Pirates remain marooned in fourth place in the NL Central despite a five-game winning streak.

Felipe Vazquez allowed a walk in the ninth en route to his 35th save.

Adam Frazier broke a 1-1 tie with a homer to right-center with two outs in the fifth inning off rookie right-hander Heath Fillmyer (3-2). Adalberto Mondesi homored for Kansas Ciy.

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