Jack Flaherty had another strong start in his scintillating second half, scattering five hits over eight electric innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-0 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Flaherty (10-7) struck out 10 and walked just one to win for the sixth time in his last eight starts and drop his post All-Star break ERA to 0.76. Carlos Martinez worked a perfect ninth inning for his 19th save. St. Louis has won 8 of 11 overall.
“(I’ve made) small adjustments, not really to my mechanics, but mentally to how I was going about things,” Flaherty said. “So little things here and there. (I) just tried to kind of carry it from one start to the next.
“Guys are healthy. We’re playing together. Playing as a team. Not letting any moment get too big.”
The Cardinals dominated the Pirates this season, capturing 14 of the 19 meetings.
Paul Goldschmidt had an RBI double for St. Louis, and Harrison Bader added a run-scoring single off Pittsburgh rookie James Marvel (0-1). Matt Carpenter went 2 for 3 while starting at third base and is hitting .400 (6 for 15) in September as the veteran tries to shake out of a season-long slump.
Marvel, a 36th-round pick in the 2015 draft, was solid in his first major-league start after piling up 16 victories across Double-A and Triple-A this season. Marvel gave up two runs and five hits in five-plus innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
It just wasn’t quite enough to keep pace with Flaherty, who has given up just three earned runs in his last 56 innings dating back to Aug. 1.
Nationals 9, Braves 4 — At Atlanta: Max Scherzer won for the first time in two months, Juan Soto homered and Washington stoped the NL East leaders’ nine-game winning streak, their longest in five years.
Phillies 10, Mets 7 —At New York: Maikel Franco, Scott Kingery and Adam Haseley homered as Philadelphia overcame an early deficit to further tighten the NL wild-card race.
Reds 4, Diamondbacks 3 — At Cincinnati: Relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen lined a game-ending, pinch-hit double in the ninth inning to help Cincinnati snap Arizona’s five-game winning streak.
Dodgers 5, Giants 0 — At Los Angeles: Corey Seager and Matt Beaty homered, Kenta Maeda threw four dominant innings in relief, and Los Angeles reduced its magic number to clinch the NL West to two. The Dodgers (93-52) can lock up their seventh consecutive division title Tuesday at Baltimore when they open a three-game series.
Padres 2, Rockies 1 (10 innings) — At San Diego: Wil Myers singled in Manny Machado with one out in the 10th inning to lift San Diego to a series victory in a matchup between the worst teams in the NL West.
White Sox 5, Angels 1— At Chicago: Danny Mendick hit his first career home run, and José Abreu got his 31st of the season for Chicago. Mendick, Matt Skole and James McCann had two hits apiece for the White Sox, who avoided a three-game sweep.
Indians 5, Twins 2 — At Minneapolis: Mike Clevinger won his 10th straight decision, and Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor homered for Cleveland.
Astros 21, Mariners 1 — At Houston: Gerrit Cole celebrated his 29th birthday by allowing one hit with 15 strikeouts in a season-high eight innings, and Houston completed a four-game sweep. Jake Marisnick and George Springer homered, and rookie Yordan Álvarez had six RBIs and hit three of Houston’s team-record 11 doubles.
Rangers 10, Orioles 4 — At Baltimore: Rookie Nick Solak had three hits and four RBIs, Ronald Guzman and Rougned Odor homered and Texas completed its first four-game sweep at Baltimore in 37 years.
Rays 8, Blue Jays 3 — At St. Petersburg, Fla.: Tyler Glasnow struck out five over two innings in his return from a four-month layoff caused by a strained right forearm, and Tampa Bay completed a four-game sweep that left the Blue Jays as the fifth major league team on pace to lose 100 games.
Athletics 3, Tigers 1 — At Oakland, Calif.: Sean Manaea matched his career high by striking out 10 in his second start following shoulder surgery, and Oakland beat Detroit to give the Tigers their first 100-loss season since 2003.
Marlins 9, Royals 0 — At Miami: Sandy Alcantara became the first Marlins pitcher with two shutouts in his rookie season since Dontrelle Willis. Alcantara (5-12) threw a four-hitter with two walks and eight strikeouts for his first victory since the All-Star break. Willis had two shutouts while winning Rookie of the Year in 2003.