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Pirates sweep 4 from Brewers, now 3 back

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Pirates spent a good portion of the first half of the season trying - and failing - to find any sort of traction.

Once they'd figure out one problem, another would pop up. If it wasn't the bullpen, it was the mess left by outfielder Starling Marte's 80-game steroid suspension. Or the back end of the starting rotation. Or the massive funk that baffled star center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

Two hot weeks have changed the discussion dramatically.

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M's get Miami RHP Phelps for 4 prospects

MIAMI (AP) The Miami Marlins' highly touted bullpen has been a bust, and so the dismantling began Thursday.

A seller once again as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, Miami sent right-hander David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners for four prospects, including highly regarded outfielder Brayan Hernandez.

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Lamb's pair of 3-run HRs power Arizona

CINCINNATI (AP) Jake Lamb didn't know about Arizona's late pitching change until an hour before the game. His two homers made it a moot point.

Lamb hit a pair of three-run homers , and Patrick Corbin pitched into the eighth inning during an emergency start on Thursday, leading the Diamondbacks to a 12-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

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Smoak homers twice, Jays hold off BoSox

BOSTON (AP) Steve Pearce blooped the ball to the edge of the outfield grass, and Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt was there.

He planted his feet. He raised his arm to catch it.

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O's rough up Hamels, win all 4 vs. Texas

BALTIMORE (AP) Down by four runs and going up against unbeaten Cole Hamels, the Baltimore Orioles used the long ball and a relentless offense to pull out a victory.

Why, it was just like old times.

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Sandoval to rejoin Giants on minors deal

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Brandon Belt expects Panda-monium in San Francisco once more.

Pablo Sandoval plans to sign a minor league contract to return to the Giants, a person with knowledge of his intentions said Thursday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced. That should happen Friday.

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Dodgers spoil Moncada's debut, run at 11

CHICAGO (AP) While the Chicago White Sox are looking to the future as their top prospect made his debut with the club, the Los Angeles Dodgers are just fine in the present.

The MLB-best Dodgers slugged their way to a 9-1 victory Wednesday night in a rain-shortened game, winning their 11th straight and spoiling the White Sox debut of Yoan Moncada.

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Bryant sprains finger, Cubs' run hits 6

ATLANTA (AP) The Cubs are on the roll that had been long expected from the defending World Series champions.

Manager Joe Maddon said he likes the momentum created by a season-best six straight wins and feels even better about the positive energy in his clubhouse.

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Arenado goes 5 for 6 with 3 HRs, 7 RBIs

DENVER (AP) To fire up Nolan Arenado , just give him a day off.

His manager mandated he sit a game, and Arenado stewed over it for a night before taking it out on the baseball.

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