Guardians’ Bieber strong in win over Royals

CLEVELAND (AP) — Shane Bieber allowed two runs over five innings in his final start before the postseason, Josh Naylor and rookie Will Brennan hit three-run homers and the Cleveland Guardians defeated the Kansas City Royals 7-5 on Sunday.

Bieber (13-8) is scheduled to start Game 1 of the wild-card series Friday for the AL Central champions. Cleveland has won 11 of 13 and is an MLB-best 22-5 since Sept. 5.

The right-hander gave up both runs — one unearned —in the fourth and scattered seven hits, struck out three, walked one. Bieber finished the regular season with 198 strikeouts in 200 innings.

Naylor and Brennan homered off Max Castillo (0-2) in Cleveland’s six-run second.

Naylor played first base and batted cleanup, one spot ahead of his brother Bo, who was the designated hitter. Bo Naylor, called up from the minors Saturday, struck out in all four at-bats.

Josh Naylor’s home run gave Cleveland a 7-0 lead. Brennan, another rookie, hit his first major-league homer earlier in the inning. He also tripled and scored to leadoff the game.

Kansas City cut the score to 7-5 in the eighth, but Trevor Stephan retired Edward Olivares with two on to end the inning. Emmanuel Clase pitched the ninth for his major-league leading 41st save.

Amed Rosario had a sacrifice fly in the first before Cleveland sent nine men to the plate in the second and scored six times with two outs.

Brennan is batting .355 in nine games since being called up from Triple-A Columbus on Sept. 21.

José Ramirez stole his 20th base of the season in the seventh, the fourth time in his career he has hit 20 home runs and stolen 20 bases in a season.

Castillo allowed seven runs in five innings. MJ Melendez and Vinnie Pasquantino each had three hits for the Royals.


CHICAGO (AP) — Willson Contreras got several standing ovations in what could be his final home game at Wrigley Field, Marcus Stroman threw six scoreless innings and Chicago won its seventh straight, beating Cincinnati.

Nelson Velázquez drove in four runs and Seiya Suzuki had two hits and two RBIs. The Cubs, aided by three walks and a hit batter, knocked out a Chase Anderson in a five-run first and cruised to their 11th win in 12 games in their Wrigley Field season finale.

The Reds have dropped six straight and 19 of 23. They’ll need to sweep a three-game series against the Cubs in Cincinnati to avoid the franchise’s second 100-loss season.

Stroman (6-7) gave up five hits, struck out seven and walked two.

Anderson (2-4) lasted just seven batters and got one out. The right-hander was tagged for five runs, walked three and gave up two hits.


DETROIT (AP) — Eric Haase and Victor Reyes homered, and Detroit took advantage of Minnesota’s sloppy play, including three errors in the first inning, for the win.

Twins’ prospect Simeon Woods Richardson (0-1) is the youngest pitcher in the majors this season allowed three runs — two earned — and three hits in five innings. The Twins’ defense did him no favors at the start, committing three errors in the first inning.

The Tigers turned the two throwing errors by catcher Ryan Jeffers and a misplay by first baseman Jose Miranda, along with Miguel Cabrera’s single, a wild pitch, a walk and a stolen base, into two runs.

The Twins scored two unearned runs in the fifth. Jeffers reached on a fielding error and scored when Carlos Correa walked with the bases loaded. Nick Gordon’s sacrifice fly scored Gilberto Celestino.

Alex Lange (7-4) got the win and Gregory Soto picked up his 30th save with a perfect ninth.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Philadelphia Phillies picked up another key victory as they try to end an 11-year playoff drought, using three RBIs apiece from Kyle Schwarber and Bryson Stott, plus Zack Wheeler’s five scoreless innings, to beat the Washington Nationals 8-1 Sunday in a rain-shortened game.

The six-inning win helped Philadelphia take three of four from the worst-in-the-majors Nationals to improve to 86-73 after getting to town on a five-game losing streak.

The Phillies and interim manager Rob Thomson began Sunday with a one-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the third and final wild-card berth in the National League. After Sunday, Philadelphia and Milwaukee both have three games left: Philadelphia at Houston, and Milwaukee hosting Arizona. The Phillies hold the tiebreaker over the Brewers if they finish even.

Wheeler (12-7) had seven strikeouts and no walks and allowed just two hits: doubles by Ildemaro Vargas in the third and César Hernández in the fifth.

Left-hander Patrick Corbin, who helped Washington win the 2019 World Series, gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings Sunday, closing this year with a 6-19 record and 6.31 ERA.


NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge won’t break the American League home run record at Yankee Stadium, remaining at 61 as New York headed on the road for its final four regular-season games after a loss to Baltimore.

Judge struck out three times and walked once, disappointing a crowd of 44,332 that watched the Yankees regular-season home finale in rain for much of a chilly, blustery afternoon.

Trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012, Judge tops the AL with 130 RBIs. His batting average fell to .311, four points behind league leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota.

Baltimore (82-77) guaranteed its first winning season since 2016.

Aroldis Chapman (3-4) was once again wild, walking three, including rookie Gunnar Henderson with the bases loaded, as Baltimore surged ahead in the seventh.

Logan Gillaspie (1-0) pitched a scoreless sixth in his first big league decision, Baker struck out five while getting six straight outs, and Dillon Tate got three outs for his fifth save.


TORONTO (AP) —Teoscar Hernández hit two home runs, Whit Merrifield also connected and Toronto edged closer to clinching home-field advantage in the wild-card round by beating Boston.

The Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep with their 16th win in 19 games against Boston this season. That’s the most victories by any major league team against a division opponent this season and the most wins the Blue Jays have had against an opponent in a single season.

Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman left after three innings because of a cut on his right middle finger. Gausman allowed two runs and four hits, struck out four and walked none. Right-hander Zach Pop (4-0) pitched two perfect innings. Jordan Romano finished for his 36th save in 42 chances.

Merrifield went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and scored twice. He’s 10 for 20 over his past six games.

Bobby Dalbec hit a solo home run and had three RBIs for the Red Sox.

All three Toronto homers came off Boston right-hander Michael Wacha (11-2), who allowed five runs and six hits in four innings and lost for the first time since May 31 against Cincinnati.


HOUSTON (AP) — Jeremy Pena hit an early two-run homer and drove in an insurance run late, lifting Houston over Tampa Bay.

One pitch after Jose Altuve’s leadoff bunt single, Pena belted a cutter by Rays starter Corey Kluber (10-10) over the right-field fence and into the home bullpen. That put the Astros ahead early, and Houston maintained that lead with strong pitching and key defensive plays, including Pena’s diving stop and throw to deny Ji-Man Choi in the fourth inning.

After homering only once in August, Houston’s rookie shortstop has five homers since September and is up to 21 for the season.

Astros starter Luis Garcia (15-8) pitched six innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Rafael Montero recorded his 14th save.

Kluber gave up six hits and just those two runs across five innings, striking out four.