As usual, Sunday’s schedule featured a full slate across MLB. It was a busy day packed with afternoon games, one of which included the Rays’ taking a combined perfect game into the ninth against the Orioles. The Phillies walked off vs. the Nationals to avoid getting swept at home, the Indians salvaged the finale against their AL Central rival first-place Twins. Also, the Cubs might be starting another big second half. 

And more! Let’s get to it. 

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Baseball scores for Sunday, July 14

Rays miss out on combined perfect game

The Rays were three outs away from making history Sunday in Baltimore. Tampa Bay took a combined perfect game into the ninth inning against the Orioles before third baseman Hanser Alberto beat the shift with a leadoff single against Ryan Yarbrough.

Ryne Stanek and Yarbrough combined to throw eight perfect innings, setting down the first 24 batters they faced.

Here’s more on the nearly historic game.

Cubs sweep Buccos and increase lead

The Cubs sputtered into the All-Star break, having gone 12-16 in the last month or so. They held a lead in the NL Central, but it was only a half game and, from their point of view, they really should have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack of mediocrity.

Maybe it is starting to happen. It has every other year in this window of contention, save for last season’s miraculous Brewers run (the Cubs still won 95 in all). 

Here are the Cubs’ second half records under Joe Maddon: 

2015: 50-25
2016: 50-23
2017: 49-25
2018: 40-30

After Sunday’s win in Wrigley, the Cubs are now 3-0 since the break and have already picked up two games on the Brewers. Sunday’s victory was of the come-from-behind variety, too. The Cubs trailed 3-1 early. They scratched together a pair of runs to tie it before Jason Heyward put them up for good: 

That blast was in spite of the wind blowing in, and Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber would later go back-to-back. After a blowout win Saturday and Heyward’s clutch single to help win it on Friday, these Cubs appear to have their mojo back. They have six more games at home to build on this momentum. 

Heyward, by the way, is hitting .275/.359/.474 with 15 homers. In his previous three years with the Cubs, Heyward slashed .252/.322/.367 with a season-high of 11 homers. 

Dodgers survive scare, win series in Boston

I don’t know if we can really call this revenge for the World Series, because this was a regular-season series, but the Dodgers did get back at the Red Sox this weekend by taking two of three. It looked like the Dodgers might get out of Boston at a decent hour, too, but instead the Red Sox tied things up with back-to-back homers from Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez off Pedro Baez in the eighth. 

The Dodgers finally broke the tie by getting three in the top of the 12th to take the series. They have the best record in the majors. 

On the Red Sox’s end, we still just can’t be sure with this team. It seemed like they might have gotten over their World Series hangover the week before the All-Star break, as they had won five of six, but that was against the lowly Tigers and Blue Jays. On the flip side, losing two of three to the best team in baseball when the rubber game went 12 innings isn’t exactly an indictment. The champs remain a mystery wrapped in an enigma. 

Phillies walk off, avoid the sweep at home

The Phillies narrowly avoided getting swept by the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, thanks to third baseman Maikel Franco’s solo home run — his 100th career homer — with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Franco’s shot came off of the first pitch he saw from Nationals reliever Matt Grace. Before the blast, he was 0 for 2 in the game.

Since leading the NL East by 3 1/2 games on May 29, the Phillies are 15-23. Sunday’s win brings the Phillies overall record to 48-45, and they still sit in third place behind the National (49-43).

Giants are hot

The Giants thumped the Brewers in Milwaukee on Sunday and that means they take the series from a team that is usually excellent at home. The Brewers are 9-17 since June 12, but let’s focus on the positive here. The San Francisco Giants are showing great signs of life with a few weeks until the trade deadline. 

The Giants have now won eight of their last 10 games and, to quote the great Bob Uecker, “are threatening to climb out of the cellar.” They now head to Colorado for a four-game series and we know anything can happen there. 

We’ve been talking so much about the Giants selling Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, but they are now just 4 1/2 games out of the second wild card position. There are lots of teams to leap, but can they justify selling if they hang like that? It’s definitely something to watch. 

A’s win with improbable walk-off

The A’s were one of baseball’s hottest teams going into the break, closing with a 21-11 record in games since June 2. They picked right up with where they left off in starting back up after the break, as they swept the White Sox. Things were all tied up on Sunday heading to the bottom of the ninth where the A’s won in most improbable fashion: 

They were actually tied at the seventh-inning stretch, but Ramon Laureano came through with a clutch homer in the bottom of the sevenths to tie it. These A’s, man. They are relentless. They just keep coming and coming. They have now gone 24-11 since a five-game losing streak followed a 10-game winning streak.  

Freeman’s clutch bomb leads to Braves sweep

The Braves have now gone 9-0-1 in their past 10 series after completing a sweep in San Diego. The big blow Sunday came off the bat of All-Star starter Freddie Freeman. A three-run blast to break a scoreless tie: 

Obviously the MVP field right now starts with Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich, but Freeman is hitting .302/.387/.576 with 24 homers and 71 RBI. He’s probably a top-five NL candidate at the moment. 

The Braves’ lead is now seven games in the NL East. 

Highlight of the day: Yankees’ Urshela scores on wild pitch

Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela scored a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a tie with the Blue Jays. It’s the way he managed to tag up at home that’s the impressive part, take a look:

When right-hander Marcus Stroman’s two-out wild pitch with Aaron Judge at the plate sailed to the backstop, Urshela raced home and made a spectacular slide to score. At first, Urshela was called out as it appeared that Danny Jansen tagged Urshela on his jersey. But, the call was reversed after a challenge from New York.

Here’s a closer look:

Along with scoring a run, Urshela finished his day at the plate 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.

Quick hits