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The Grand Slam: Rick Porcello pitches third shutout as Tigers top Rays

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The reeling Detroit Tigers are starting to regain their footing at Tropicana Field, and Wednesday's exceptional outing from Rick Porcello may be the one that gets them balanced again. The 25-year-old right-hander picked up his 14th victory by tossing a three-hit, complete game shutout in the Tigers 6-0 win

The complete game is Porcello's third of the season, which is significant for a few reasons. It's the first time a Tigers pitcher has thrown three complete game shutouts in a season since Jeff Weaver did it in 2002. It also equals the number of shutouts thrown by all other Tigers' starters dating back to Sept. 23rd, 2012. And perhaps most interesting, Porcello entered the season with zero shutouts in 149 career starts. This makes three in 24 starts this season.

'Nine shutout innings. You literally can't ask for anything more,'' said Tiger manager Brad Ausmus.

''I felt pretty good from the get-go really,'' Porcello said. ''Even the hit I gave up to Zobrist was a good pitch, and I felt pretty confident that if I kept making pitches like that I was going to get guys out and pitch deep into the game.''

Offensively, Victor Martinez carried the weight with an RBI double in the first and a grand slam capping a five-run seventh.

JEFF SAMARDZIJA ROUGHED UP BY METS: The Oakland A's snapped a five-game losing streak on Tuesday and looked to begin a new winning streak with Jeff Samardzija taking on the Mets on Wednesday. Acquired from the Cubs in July, Samardzija entered the game unbeaten in his first five starts at his new home, the O.co Coliseum, but he wouldn't make it to six after the Mets knocked him around in their 8-5 win

Samardzjia was actually locked in early, tossing two perfect innings with two strikeouts to start the game. However, Eric Campbell greeted him with a home run in the third, and then Lucas Duda capped a five-run rally with a three-run homer to start New York's barrage. After Oakland trimmed it to 5-2 in bottom half on RBI doubles by Coco Crisp and John Jaso, New York added two more in the fourth and chased Samardzija from the game.

''It's just having trouble putting guys away,'' Samardzija said. ''Probably as simple as that.''

Strangely enough, Samardzija is now winless in 10 career appearances against the Mets. That includes four starts and six relief appearances. On the other side, Zack Wheeler moved to 6-0 since June 30 with 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball. His ERA over that span is a sparkling 2.12.

 

NATIONALS RETURN TO WALKOFF WAYS: The Washington Nationals took a break from their walkoff dramatics on Tuesday, but picked it back up on Wednesday, defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on pinch-hitter Anthony Rendon's first career game-winning hit. That gives Washington four walkoff wins in five games, but more importantly extends their overall winning streak to nine. 

It's interesting to note that Rendon was out of the starting lineup for the first time in 63 games. Coming off the bench cold to hit with the game on the line isn't exactly his forte, but he continued showing his value to manager Matt Williams by contributing in a pinch.

''It was different to say the least, but it was awesome,'' Rendon said of the pinch-hit.

''It's gratifying for (the players), it's exciting for them,'' Williams said. ''It's not a whole lot of fun in the dugout for the staff, but that's OK.''

Another guy who's having fun after an extended  rough stretch is Bryce Harper. He started the rally with a single and advanced to third base on Kevin Frandsen's single before scoring the winner and completing Washington's three-game sweep.

YANKEES DROPS ANOTHER HOME GAME TO ASTROS: A three-game home series with the Houston Astros seemed like a good place for the fading New York Yankees to get back on track. Two games into said series, the Yankees will simply hope to avoid a sweep on Thursday after falling to Houston, 5-2, on Wednesday night.   

Scott Feldman, who shut out the Yankees over 6 2/3 innings on opening day, overwhelmed them again on Wednesday with 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball. He struck out seven to pick up his seventh victory. Robbie Grossman put Houston ahead for good with a two-run single in the seventh, and then Houston's bullpen carried them to the franchise's first series win at Yankee Stadium in four tries. 

Yes, the Yankees are definitely fading and fading fast. But the Astros are no pushovers, even without stellar rookie George Springer available. 

Houston can still have quite an impact on the postseason standings with several games left against the Angels, A's and Mariners.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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