Cubs change their mind on protest

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Chicago Cubs have dropped their protest over the pitching delivery of Washington reliever Sean Doolittle.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon made the announcement before Sunday night’s game against the Nationals.

Maddon came out twice in the ninth inning of a 5-2 loss Saturday night to complain to plate umpire San Holbrook about Doolittle. Maddon said he believed the left-handed Doolittle was tapping his right toe on the ground before coming to the plate.

Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. was informed at the end of spring training that his delivery, which featured a similar toe-tap, was illegal. That ruling miffed Maddon and the Cubs.

“The whole thing I really wanted to get done was to protect Carl,” Maddon said Sunday. “I really didn’t anticipate a whole lot to be done with (the protest) even though I still don’t agree with the conclusion because I think it’s exactly what Carl did, only a different version of it. But the point was, I would not be a good parent had I not spoken up for my guy.”

After being told Doolittle’s delivery was legal, Maddon announced the Cubs were playing the game under protest.

Doolittle, who retired the side in order for his eighth save in nine chances, said after the game he thought Maddon had a different motive for coming out.

“In that moment, he’s not trying to do anything other than rattle me and it was kind of tired,” Doolittle said. “I don’t know. Sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is and how much he pays attention to the game and stuff like that. He put his stamp on it, for sure.”

Astros’ win streak ended

BOSTON — Boston rookie Michael Chavis homered, Xander Bogaerts hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning and the Red Sox averted a series sweep against Houston with a 4-3 victory Sunday that snapped the Astros’ 10-game winning streak.

Mookie Betts scored three runs for Boston, which lost the first two games in the first meeting with the Astros since beating them in the 2018 AL Championship Series.

Carlos Correa hit a two-run homer off Chris Sale for Houston, which is 13-4 in May.

Houston outfielder George Springer, who began the day leading the American League with 17 homers, exited in the fifth with lower back stiffness. He took three big swings in the first inning, striking out. On the last two, Springer appeared to reach briefly for the lower right side of his back. He also struck out swinging his next two times up against Sale.

Mets struggling

MIAMI — Sandy Alcantara needed just 89 pitches to throw a two-hitter in a duel with Noah Syndergaard, and the lowly Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 3-0 Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

A day after being shut out on one hit, the Mets dropped their fifth in row, their longest losing streak of the season.

The latest unsightly defeat against a team with the worst record in the majors is sure to intensify speculation about manager Mickey Callaway’s status as the team returns to New York with a 20-25 record.

“I understand that everybody is disappointed — the fans, the ownership, myself, the team — because this is not who we are,” Callaway said.

Callaway again found himself defending Cano, who failed to run when he hit a grounder that bounced off the dirt behind home plate and rolled a few feet fair. Cano stood at the plate questioning the call while the Marlins completed a 2-6-3 double play.

“I saw the ball hit and it didn’t even hit the plate, it hit behind the plate,” Cano said. “I thought it was a foul ball.”

On Friday, Cano jogged to first when he grounded into an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play, and later told Callaway he thought there were two out.

“Things are piling up on Robbie right now,” Callaway said when asked about Cano’s latest bad look. “Come one, let’s face it — the ball lands foul and spins into fair territory. He saw it hit foul, and by the time he looked back up the ball had spun into fair territory and the play was over. Stuff happens like that when things are going bad.”

Syndergaard (3-4) allowed two runs in seven innings, and afterward defended Callaway, who is in his second year as manager.

“I respect the hell out of Mickey,” Syndergaard said. “It’s kind of bull what’s going on right now with the speculation that there could be a change, because we’re still early in the season and just one small step from putting this all together. It’s certainly not on him.”

Part of the Mets’ problem was Alcantara (2-4), who struck out eight, walked one and retired the last six batters for the Marlins’ first complete game shutout since Edinson Volquez tossed a no-hitter against Arizona in June 2017. It was the first complete game for Alcantara, a 23-year-old righty acquired from St. Louis in a trade for Marcell Ozuna before last season.

“I felt great,” Alcantara said. “I felt like a superstar about my complete game.”

He also had a bunt single to set up the first run, and made a nifty behind-the-back grab of J.D. Davis’ one-hopper in the first inning.

The Marlins (13-31), who came into the series with a seven-game losing streak, have their first three-game winning streak of the season. Their bandwagon is growing — the crowd of 15,983 was the biggest at Marlins Park since opening day.

Miami became the first team to hold its opponent to three hits or less in consecutive shutouts since Philadelphia limited Atlanta to three hits on Sept. 1-2, 2014.

The Marlins won with six hits. Curtis Granderson hit his fifth homer for their final run in the eighth.

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