Around the Horn
Thursday’s other MLB games
Padres 6, Reds 2
Francisco Mejia felt nervous in the early innings of his first game behind the plate for the Padres. All he needed was one swing to settle in. Mejia hit a solo homer and a three-run shot during his first start as the team’s up-and-coming catcher, leading San Diego to a victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Mejia connected on his first two swings against Luis Castillo (8-12) for his first homers in the majors . The 22-year-old prized prospect was called up Tuesday as the Padres get him ready for a bigger role next season. He made quite a debut. “Two really good swings, loud contact both ways,” manager Andy Green said. “They tried to sneak a couple fastballs by him, and he’s proven really quickly he can hit a fastball. He did a nice job behind the plate, too. He’s literally getting a crash course on every reliever when they come into the game.” Mejia is the first Padres player to homer in the first two at-bats of his first start. He’s the 13th catcher in Padres history to hit two or more homers in a game. The last was Austin Hedges last season at Philadelphia. The Padres got Mejia from Cleveland in a July trade for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber as the AL Central leaders tried to overhaul their struggling bullpen. Mejia hit seven homers at Triple-A after the deal, and the Padres called him up to start getting him ready for bigger things. He’s expected to catch roughly half the games the rest of the way, getting to know an unfamiliar pitching staff. In his first game, he didn’t let the challenge of handling six new pitchers affect his offense. “I think I’ve done a good job preparing myself,” Mejia said through a translator. “I’ve learned how to divide and separate those two things.” Mejia hit fastballs of 96 and 97 mph on consecutive swings off Castillo, who already knew the catcher could hit. “I faced him in spring training,” Castillo said. “We live near each other in the Dominican and we practice together.” Hunter Renfroe also hit a solo homer off Castillo , who gave up three for the first time in his career. Left-hander Eric Lauer made his second start since returning from a stint on the disabled list with a sore forearm that cost him 25 days. He threw five hitless innings during a 3-2, 13-inning win over Colorado on Aug. 30 in his return. Lauer allowed two hits in four innings Thursday, matching his career high with eight strikeouts. He escaped a bases-loaded, no-out threat in the fourth with a pair of strikeouts and Renfroe’s lunging grab. “Renfroe’s catch in left field was the play of the game,” Green said. “That changed the complexion of everything.” Jose Castillo (2-2) retired the three batters he faced. Scott Schebler and Mason Williams homered off Trey Wingenter in the seventh. The Reds held a moment of silence pregame for victims of a downtown shooting on Thursday morning. A gunman killed three people and wounded two others before he was fatally shot by police officers.
Cubs 6, Nationals 4, 10 innings
Pinch-hitter David Bote had an RBI double and scored in the 10th inning as the Chicago Cubs came back to beat the Washington Nationals in the opener of a four-game series. Bote, who hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 4-3 win over the Nationals on Aug. 12 in Chicago, knocked a 100 mph fastball from Jimmy Cordero (1-2) into right field to score Albert Almora Jr. Bote came home on a single by pinch-hitter Taylor Davis. Daniel Murphy went 1 for 5 with a strikeout in his first return to Washington since the Nationals traded him to the Cubs on Aug 21. Chicago has won two straight and leads the NL Central by 4 1/2 games over Milwaukee. Washington has lost three straight to fall to 69-72. The Nationals are three games under .500 for the first time since April 30. Pedro Strop (4-2) pitched a scoreless ninth, and Jesse Chavez earned his third save. Washington took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Mark Reynolds belted his 13th homer of the season, a two-out, two-run shot to left field. Murphy scored on Ben Zobrist’s sacrifice fly to tie it at 3 in the fifth. Spencer Kieboom had a career-high three hits for Washington. Stephen Strasburg pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Nationals, allowing six hits while walking three and striking out six. He gave up three runs, two earned, while throwing 111 pitches — his most since tossing a season-high 115 on May 20.