ATLANTA (AP) — Freddie Freeman singled home the winning run in the 13th inning, finally ending the longest scoreless duel in postseason history as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 in the opener of their NL wild-card series on Wednesday.
The East champion Braves won the first game of a postseason series for the first time since the 2001 NL Division Series and can wrap up the best-of-three series on Thursday. If they do, it will snap a record-tying streak of 10 straight playoff round losses.
What began as a pitching showdown between between Cy Young contenders Trevor Bauer of the Reds and Atlanta’s Max Fried devolved into a strikeout contest.
The teams combined for a postseason record 37 Ks — 21 by the Braves. After a couple of hits in the 13th against Archie Bradley, Freeman drove one into center field off Amir Garrett against a five-man infield with one out to end a game that dragged on for more than 4 1/2 hours.
A four-time All-Star, Freeman produced another big year in a pandemic-shortened season after a battle with COVID-19 in July so severe that he said he prayed: “Please don’t take me.”
A.J. Minter escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the 13th for the win — the third straight inning the Reds pushed a runner to third but couldn’t get him another 90 feet.
ASTROS 3, TWINS 1
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Carlos Correa hit a two-out, tiebreaking home run off Cody Stashak in the seventh inning for a two-game sweep that sent the AL Central champion Twins to a record 18th straight postseason loss.
Nine months after Houston’s rules-breaking, sign-stealing system was revealed, the defending AL champion Astros advanced to the Division Series. As the sixth seed, they’ll face Oakland or the Chicago White Sox in a best-of-five matchup starting Monday at Dodger Stadium.
Rookie Cristian Javier worked three hitless innings for the victory in his postseason debut and Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth against his former team, giving the Houston bullpen a total of 9 2/3 scoreless innings in this wild card series with three hits allowed.
Kyle Tucker hit two RBI singles for the Astros and made a key throw from left field for the inning-ending out in the fifth.
Minnesota is 0-18 in the playoffs since winning Game 1 of their 2004 Division Series at the New York Yankees.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run during a four-run first inning, St. Louis’ bullpen held strong after starter Kwang Hyun Kim stumbled in his playoff debut and the Cardinals ruined San Diego’s long-awaited return to the playoffs in the opener of their NL wild-card series.
The Cardinals need one more win to eliminate the Padres from the postseason for the fourth time since 1996. They swept the Padres in the NL Division Series in 1996 and 2005, and won 3-1 in 2006, which was the last time San Diego made the postseason. Game 2 is Thursday.
Giovanny Gallegos (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win and Alex Reyes got the last four outs for the save. Five relievers combined for 5 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and an unearned run.
Right-hander Chris Paddack (0-1) lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs for San Diego.
RAYS 8, BLUE JAYS 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Hunter Renfroe hit a grand slam and top-seeded Tampa Bay completed a two-game sweep to win a postseason series for the first time in 12 years. The East champion Rays advanced to an AL Division Series against the New York Yankees or Cleveland Indians beginning Monday in San Diego.
Renfroe launched the first playoff grand slam in franchise history during a six-run second inning off Hyun Jin Ryu that also included a two-run homer by No. 9 hitter Mike Zunino. Ryu was rocked for a season-high seven runs in 1 2/3 innings, the lefty’s shortest outing of the season for the wild-card Blue Jays.
Tyler Glasnow allowed two runs in six innings, on a pair of homers by Danny Jansen, and struck out eight—
ATHLETICS 5, WHITE SOX 3
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Marcus Semien and Khris Davis homered early off Dallas Keuchel, and Mark Canha made a game-saving catch against the wall as West champion Oakland tied the series 1-1 and forced a deciding Game 3 on Thursday,
Chris Bassitt allowed one run and six hits in seven-plus innings to help the Athletics stop a six-game postseason losing streak dating to 2013.
Jake Diekman walked home a run in the ninth, then retired José Abreu on a sharp grounder for the final out.
Keuchel gave up five runs — three earned — and six hits in 3 1/3 innings. Rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal’s fielding error allowed two runs to score.
MARLINS 5, CUBS 1
CHICAGO (AP) — Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer off a fading Kyle Hendricks in the seventh inning, and Miami beat Chicago in Game 1 of their NL wild-card series.
Jesús Aguilar also homered and Sandy Alcantara pitched three-hit ball into the seventh as Miami conjured up memories of past playoff magic in the franchise’s first postseason game since it won the World Series in 2003. The Marlins, who rallied past the Cubs in a memorable NLCS that year, have never lost a playoff series.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Thursday. Yu Darvish starts for the Central champion Cubs, while rookie right-hander Sixto Sánchez pitches for upstart Miami, looking to make an unexpected division series trip in the same season that roughly half the roster was sidelined by COVID-19.
The Marlins could be without center fielder Starling Marte after he had his left hand broken by a fastball in the ninth inning. The team says Marte has a non-displaced fracture of his fifth metacarpal. Miami is optimistic and is still considering him day to day.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports