PITTSBURGH — Andrew McCutchen slapped the ball to third base and prepared to put together another patent sprint to first.
He barely made it out of the batter’s box. Like the rest of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the reigning National League MVP is spinning his wheels at the moment.
McCutchen went 0 for 4 in his return from the disabled list as the Pirates fell to the surging Atlanta Braves 11-3 on Tuesday night for their seventh straight loss.
While he reported no discomfort in his first game since fracturing rib cartilage on Aug. 3, McCutchen didn’t exactly look crisp. In addition to his stumble in the sixth he grounded into a double play in the eighth before being taken out with things well out of reach.
“This is definitely something trying to do, get back in the rhythm of things, get back in the swing of things,” McCutchen said. “That will come sooner rather than later.”
If the Pirates want to steady themselves, McCutchen won’t really have a choice.
Pittsburgh could do little against Aaron Harang (10-7), who struck out four without a walk in 8 1-3 innings. Travis Snider, Starling Marte and Russell Martin had two hits apiece for the Pirates, but Pittsburgh couldn’t get the hits when they mattered after the Braves raced to a quick 4-0 lead.
“There’s tipping points and you look for one good at bat, one big swing with a guy on base that can change the direction of the game and we haven’t gotten that the last week or so,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Justin Upton went 2 for 4 with five RBI for the Braves, including a three-run homer off Francisco Liriano (3-10) in the third and a two-run single in the fifth.
“He gets hot and he can carry us,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s done that a few months so it’s nice to have that big bat right behind (Freddie) Freeman, who is starting to roll the pole a little bit also.”
Jason Heyward went 2 for 5 with three RBI for the Braves while Evan Gattis hit his 19th homer. Atlanta has won five straight.
Pittsburgh is heading in the opposite direction.
The Pirates went 5-9 without their superstar center fielder. He received a standing ovation when he made his first plate appearance but was caught looking at a fastball from Harang that caught the outside corner.
It marked the start of another forgettable night for the Pirates, who matched their longest losing streak since dropping seven in a row from Sept. 7-14, 2012. That skid came in the middle of a late freefall that sent them tumbling out of playoff contention after a promising summer.
ASTROS 7, YANKEES 4
NEW YORK — Chris Carter snapped a ninth-inning tie with a colossal three-run homer, extending his second-half power surge and sending the Houston Astros to a victory over the New York Yankees.
Marwin Gonzalez knocked in two runs with a pinch-hit single, and the fourth-place Astros (53-73) won for the third time in four meetings with the Yankees this season.
Brian McCann hit a two-run homer, and Martin Prado had three hits for the Yankees.
David Robertson (1-4) walked consecutive batters and threw seven straight balls before Carter launched a 3-0 pitch into the raised concrete bleachers in left field for his 30th home run.
Josh Fields (3-6) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win on his 29th birthday. Chad Qualls worked a perfect ninth for his 14th save.
NATIONALS 8, DIAMONDBACKS 1
WASHINGTON — Washington scored six runs in the third inning and ran its winning streak to eight games with a rout of Arizona.
Stephen Strasburg (10-10) allowed one run and three hits over a season-high eight innings, and Asdrubal Cabrera’s bases-clearing double blew the game open to give the Nationals a breather in their longest winning streak since August 2012.
Strasburg struck out four to give him an NL-leading 198 for the season, besting his previous single-season high of 197 in 2012.
The Nationals sent seven batters to the plate in the third before the Diamondbacks recorded an out. Rookie Chase Anderson (7-5) faced six of them, allowing five singles and a walk before he was pulled in the shortest outing of his young career.
David Peralta’s first-inning home run accounted for all the scoring for the Diamondbacks, who have lost four straight.
ANGELS 4, RED SOX 3
BOSTON — Chris Iannetta hit his second double of the game, a tiebreaking drive in the ninth inning off closer Koji Uehara that sent the Los Angeles Angels over Boston.
Brennan Boesch had a ground-rule double with two outs off Uehara (5-3) for the Angels’ first hit since the fourth. Iannetta then lined a double off the left-field wall.
Joe Smith (5-1) got the win for the AL West leaders, and Huston Street recorded his 34th save.
David Ortiz hit his 29th homer, a solo shot in the Boston first that increased his major league-leading total to 91 RBIs.
MARINERS 5, PHILLIES 2
PHILADELPHIA — Hisashi Iwakuma struck out a season-high 11 batters in eight scoreless innings, and Kyle Seager homered to lead Seattle over Philadelphia.
Mike Zunino was 0-for-17 before getting two hits and driving in two runs. The Mariners have won 11 of 14.
Iwakuma (12-6) was masterful while allowing four hits and no walks. Since July 1, the right-hander is 7-2 with a 1.63 ERA, 65 strikeouts and four walks in 72 innings over 10 starts.
Fernando Rodney, came on with two outs and the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning and struck out Cody Asche to record his 36th save in 39 opportunities.
The Phillies, who have scored three runs or less 65 times this season, got just one batter to second base against Iwakuma. They have lost six of eight.
A.J. Burnett (6-14) lost his fifth straight decision and dropped to 0-6 with a 6.41 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
MARLINS 4, RANGERS 3, 10 innings
MIAMI (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI single with two outs in the 10th inning, and Miami beat Texas for its third straight win.
Miami (63-62) surpassed last year’s win total of 62. The Marlins moved over .500 for the first time since June 20.
Jeff Baker reached with one out in the 10th on first baseman Mike Carp’s error. Donovan Solano’s infield single with two outs moved Baker to second.
Neftali Feliz relieved Neal Cotts (2-7) to face Stanton, who singled to right field.
Sam Dyson (2-0) struck out the side in the 10th.
Marcell Ozuna hit his 17th home run and Christian Yelich had three hits for the Marlins.
ORIOLES 5, WHITE SOX 1
CHICAGO — Chris Tillman threw eight strong innings, and AL East-leading Baltimore won its third in a row, beating the Chicago White Sox.
Nick Hundley homered, Chris Davis had a two-run double, and Adam Jones and Delmon Young also drove in runs for the Orioles.
Tillman (10-5) matched a career high with nine strikeouts, giving up one run and three hits. He won for the third time this month as Baltimore improved to 38-26 away from Camden Yards.
Tillman’s lone mistake came in the first when he allowed Jose Abreu’s 32nd home run, tying the Orioles’ Nelson Cruz and Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton for the most in baseball. The homer was Abreu’s first of the month.
Jose Quintana (6-10) lost his third straight start, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings. Chicago matched a season worst by falling eight games below .500.
INDIANS 7, TWINS 5
MINNEAPOLIS — Yan Gomes had three hits including a home run, rookie pinch-hitter Tyler Holt hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the sixth inning, and Cleveland rallied to beat Minnesota.
Oswaldo Arcia homered in his third straight game for Minnesota, capping a five-run first in which Joe Mauer and Kennys Vargas also drove in runs.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer settled down and retired the next 14 batters before coming out for Kyle Crockett (3-0), who got the final out in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Cody Allen — the last of seven Indians relievers — earned his 16th save in 17 chances.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings and bounced a costly two-out, two-strike wild pitch in the fifth that allowed Bourn to score and make it 5-4.
Brian Duensing (3-3) took the loss.
Cleveland has won six of eight.
BREWERS 6, BLUE JAYS 1
MILWAUKEE — Mike Fiers pitched seven dominant innings, and Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez each had a pair of doubles as Milwaukee topped Toronto.
In his third start since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 9, Fiers (3-1) held the Blue Jays to two hits and one run and retired the final 18 batters he faced. Fiers, who posted a career-high 14 strikeouts while pitching six innings in a win over the Chicago Cubs in his previous start on Thursday, struck out six and walked one.
He has given up two runs over his three starts.
Milwaukee won its fifth consecutive game. The Blue Jays have lost six of seven.
The Brewers jumped on Toronto starter J.A. Happ (8-8) immediately, belting three doubles to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
TIGERS 8, RAYS 6, 11 innings
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Victor Martinez drew a tiebreaking bases-loaded walk during a three-run 11th inning, and Detroit beat Tampa Bay.
Ian Kinsler opened the 11th with a triple off Grant Balfour (1-5), a flare to right that got past a diving Kevin Kiermaier. Torii Hunter walked and Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked before Martinez got his free pass.
Hunter scored on Jeff Beliveau’s wild pitch, and Bryan Holaday added a sacrifice fly that gave Detroit an 8-5 lead.
Jim Johnson (5-2) worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the 10th. Joe Nathan gave up Evan Longoria’s RBI single in the 11th before getting his 26th save.
The Tigers, the AL second wild-card leader, won for the fifth time in 13 games.
James Loney homered for the Rays, who had a club-record stretch of 13 consecutive games holding opponents to four runs or less end.
ROYALS 7, ROCKIES 4
DENVER — Omar Infante had three doubles and drove in four runs to help streaking Kansas City knock off Colorado.
James Shields pitched six solid innings to get the win for the Royals, who have won 21 of 26.
Rookie Tyler Matzek (2-9) came into Tuesday with a 9.60 ERA in August, ran into trouble in the seventh. Matzek got the first two outs before allowing a pinch-hit single to Josh Willingham and walking Nori Aoki.
Adam Ottavino came on and gave up consecutive doubles to Infante and Salvador Perez to give the Royals a 4-2 lead.
The Royals scored three more runs in the eighth off Colorado’s bullpen. Infante had a two-run double with the bases loaded.
Shields (12-6) allowed two runs on nine hits and struck out six. Greg Holland threw one pitch to record his 39th save in 40 chances.
CARDINALS 5, REDS 4
ST. LOUIS — Jon Jay was hit by a pitch from J.J. Hoover with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, lifting St. Louis over Cincinnati.
Matt Holliday drew a leadoff walk to start the winning rally. He advanced to third on Matt Adams’ single. After Peter Bourjos ran for Holliday, Jhonny Peralta walked to load the bases. Hoover (1-10) then plunked Jay to force in Bourjos with the winning run.
Pat Neshek (6-0) pitched one inning of scoreless relief as the Cardinals won for the fifth time in six games and remained 2 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central.
The Reds have lost four in a row.
ATHLETICS 6, METS 2
OAKLAND, Calif. — Coco Crisp hit a tiebreaking three-run triple in the fourth inning to help Scott Kazmir earn his career-best 14th win, and Oakland beat the New York Mets to snap a five-game losing streak.
Coming off a miserable road trip when he went 2-for-23, Crisp grounded out and singled before lining a pitch from Dillon Gee down the right field line with the bases loaded.
The A’s, who avoided losing six consecutive games for the first time since 2012, remained a half-game behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
Kazmir (14-5) allowed one run and four hits in six innings. He retired nine of his final 10 batters after giving up a solo home run to Travis d’Arnaud leading off the fourth.
New York had seven hits but lost its third straight. The Mets had been held to four hits or fewer in its previous five games. According to stats provided to the team by Elias Sports Bureau, no club had ever done that in six straight.
Gee (4-6) gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. He fell to 0-5 in his past seven starts and is winless since July 9.
DODGERS 8, PADRES 6
LOS ANGELES — Justin Turner drove in two runs and scored another pair, helping rally the Los Angeles Dodgers past San Diego and snap a three-game skid.
The Dodgers have won six of seven against the Padres, and improved to 8-3 against their NL West rival this season. They avoided their first four-game losing streak.
Carl Crawford hit a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 8-4.
Former Padres pitcher Kevin Correia (2-0) allowed four runs and eight hits over five innings in his Dodger Stadium debut.
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his 35th save.
Padres starter Ian Kennedy (9-11) allowed six runs — five earned — and seven hits in five innings.