Dustin Ackley's figurative hand — one home run and four RBIs — beat Bryce Harper's two solo home runs — and led the Seattle Mariners to a 5-3 victory against the Washington Nationals on Sunday. The Mariners avoided a three-game sweep at Safeco as a result, and also brought themselves within a half-game of the American League's second wild card spot.
Ackley struggled mightily for two seasons after being the second overall pick in 2009 and breaking into the majors with a strong rookie campaign in 2011. He's batting .260 with a .721 on-base plus slugging in 2014, a step up over his recent past.
''He was the best college hitter in the (2009) draft,'' Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Ackley. ''Sometimes it just takes time.''
The Mariners had lost three in a row. They also had been 0-11 against the Nationals since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington for the 2005 season.
And the M's overcame an exceptional performance by Harper, who has been searching, like Ackley.
Harper's first blast against Hisashi Iwakuma went an estimated 418 feet, and nearly hit the "Hit It Here Cafe" bullseye in right field. Presumably since he didn't quite hit it "here," Harper just missed a free lunch.
Harper's second home run wasn't near any landmarks in particular, but instead to dead-center field, which is a great sign for his swing. Harper has has an injury plagued, disappointing third season. But he hasn't turned 22 years old yet. Chances are, he's still going to be great.
SUSPENDED GAME AT KAUFFMAN STADIUM TO BE FINISHED AT CLEVELAND: A pennant race, travel itinerary and baseball schedule made for strange bedfellows. The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals will complete their series finale at a different ballpark after inclement weather at Kauffman Stadium caused a suspension during the bottom of the 10th inning. We'll know the result Sept. 22 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
The Indians took a 4-2 lead against Greg Holland after Royals slugger Alex Gordon had tied the score in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run. Cleveland is on the verge of a three-game sweep that would have tightened the AL Central/wild card race. Rather than waiting out the rain with Cleveland needing to fly home for a Monday afternoon game, umpires took the sensible course.
In a result relevant to the Tribe and the Royals, the Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2. The Indians are 3 1/2 back of the Royals in the Central and three back of the Tigers in the wild card.
GIANTS WIN SIXTH STRAIGHT BY ROUTING BREWERS: The San Francisco Giants lead the wild-card hunt by one game in the National League after sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park and winning their sixth straight, 15-5. Pablo Sandoval homered and drove in three, and Madison Bumgarner allowed a run and five hits over six innings of work. Hunter Pence had four hits, among the 16 against Kyle Lohse and the Brewers.
The Giants trail the Los Angeles Dodgers by 2 1/2 games in the NL West and the Brewers fell into a tie for first in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals by dropping their fifth straight. The Cards beat the Cubs 9-6 by overcoming a five-run deficit. The Dodgers thumped the San Diego Padres 7-1 at Petco Park in the return of Hyn-jin Ryu from the disabled list
JOSE BAUTISTA ON HOME RUN BINGE: Bautista homered for the fifth straight game and the Toronto Bur Jays overcame a three-run deficit against Brandon McCarthy and the New York Yankees 4-3 at Rogers Centre. Here's a compilation of his recent dingers:
Derek Jeter had a chance to tie the score in the ninth against closer Casey Janssen, but he popped out in his final regular-season at-bat in Toronto.
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