Hamels solid in debut

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Cole Hamels had little trouble in his return to the National League, keeping the Pittsburgh Pirates in check over five innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 9-2 victory on Wednesday night.

Hamels (6-9), acquired in a trade with Texas last week, gave up one unearned run on three hits. The four-time All-Star struck out nine and walked two to pick up his first win for a National League team in more than three years.

Willson Contreras went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs for the Cubs. Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist had three hits apiece while Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez each added two hits and an RBI for Chicago. Reliever Brandon Kintzler worked 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief on his 34th birthday a day after arriving in a trade from Washington.

The Cubs wasted little time jumping on Pittsburgh rookie Nick Kingham (5-6), touching him for four runs in the first inning to give Hamels plenty of breathing room. Kingham needed 51 pitches to get through the first and didn’t come out for the second.

Francisco Cervelli went 3 for 3 with an RBI for Pittsburgh and Starling Marte added two hits but the Pirates never threatened after falling into the early hole to lose for just the fifth time in their last 21 games.

Carrasco blanks Twins

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Cleveland Indians have turned this division race into a late-summer cruise, with the Minnesota Twins already in future-planning mode.

Carlos Carrasco struck out 10 while taking a shutout into the eighth inning, winning his fourth straight start since returning from the disabled list to carry the Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Twins on Wednesday.

Brad Hand recorded the last five outs for his second save in as many attempts with the Indians, who stretched their lead over the Twins in the AL Central to 10 games and improved to 32-15 in intra-division games this season.

“It’s fun,” Hand said. “We’ve played some good baseball, so just try to keep things going and ride it out.”

After the Indians acquired Hand and fellow reliever Adam Cimber from San Diego during the All-Star break, the Twins front office formally surrendered 2018 by trading five regulars in separate trades that fetched 12 players and only one current major leaguer.

Carrasco (13-5), who missed three weeks with a bruised elbow before his reinstatement on July 6, has 63 strikeouts in his last eight starts. This was his fourth turn with double-digit strikeouts, and he won his fifth straight decision. Carrasco picked up a victory with one inning of relief on July 15, right before the All-Star break.

LeBron inspires

BEREA (AP) — LeBron James is inspiring more than just kids with his school in Akron.

Cleveland Browns cornerback T.J. Carrie said Wednesday that the NBA star has motivated him and other athletes to be more active in their communities. “Are we doing enough?” Carrie asked.

Earlier this week, James, who recently left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, opened the I Promise School, a year-round facility designed for at-risk kids and their families, in his hometown.

The school is funded by a partnership between Akron City Schools and the LeBron James Family foundation. Along with a curriculum that caters to a student’s needs, the school has a food pantry and provides transportation and other educational resources to some of the city’s most needy residents. It currently serves only third- and fourth-grade students, but the school plans expand to grades 1-8 by 2020.

Ballplayers needed

NEW MIDDLETOWN — Tryouts for Youngstown Class B 14U, 16U and 18U’s A2Z Athletics and DuraEdge teams for fall and 2019 summer ball will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 16 and 10 a.m. Aug. 18 at Springfield High School.

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