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Orioles, Nationals clinch MLB division titles

September 17, 2014

The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals became the second and third teams to book their places in the Major League Baseball playoffs by clinching their divisions with victories on Tuesday.

Baltimore became American League East champion for the first time since 1997 by beating Toronto 8-2, boosted by home runs from Steve Pearce and Jimmy Paredes.

Washington defeated Atlanta 3-0 to reclaim the National League East title from the Braves, who won it last year.

They joined the Los Angeles Angels in the playoffs. The Angels, who secured their postseason berth on Monday, may have celebrated too hard because they were routed 13-2 by Seattle, which made up ground in the wild-card race.

In another key playoff-shaping game, Milwaukee edged St. Louis in 12 innings to tighten the AL Central struggle.

After winning the World Series in 1983, the Orioles went into decline, including 14 consecutive losing seasons until 2012, but have now taken two AL East titles in three years. They’re kings of a division that includes the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, the free-spending New York Yankees, pitching-rich Tampa Bay, and the Blue Jays, who stood atop the AL East in June.

“You never know who is going to win, but you have to be crazy to think they didn’t have a good ball club,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said

The franchise has enjoyed a rebirth under manager Buck Showalter, whose 1,254th victory thrust him past mentor Billy Martin into sole possession of 36th place on the career list.

Washington also has two division titles in three years. Nationals starter Tanner Roark (14-10) pitched seven scoreless innings as the Braves failed to get any runners past second base. Ian Desmond’s two-run homer broke a scoreless tie.

Seattle closed within one game of the AL wild-card spots by thrashing the Angels 13-2. Mike Zunino hit a two-run double in a four-run fifth inning for the Mariners, who tied a season high for runs.

Los Angeles is guaranteed of a spot in the playoffs — as they cannot possibly be overtaken in a wild-card race — but still have not secured the AL West. They are 10 1/2 games clear of Oakland with 11 to play.

Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez walked, stole second and third and scored the go-ahead run to give the Brewers a vital 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Brewers have won five of six since an extended slump, and closed within four games of the division-leading Cardinals, and stayed within 1 1/2 games of the last wild-card spot.

The Cardinals scored both their runs in the first inning and were then held scoreless for the next 11, allowing Milwaukee to tie the game in the ninth through a homer by Gerardo Parra and a sacrifice fly by Matt Clark.

Kansas City’s Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis both gave up runs for the first time in nearly three months as the Royals’ dominant bullpen was belatedly beaten in a 7-5 defeat by the Chicago White Sox.

The Royals missed an opportunity to make up ground on AL Central leader Detroit, staying 1 1/2 behind while seeing their advantage in the wild-card race cut to one game ahead of Seattle.

Herrera’s scoreless streak ended at 30 2-3 innings, dating to June 24. Also snapped was Davis’ shutout streak of 31 2-3 innings, a club record for a reliever, with the first run charged to him since June 25.

New York’s Derek Jeter was hit on the arm by a Steve Geltz pitch in the eighth inning of a 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay; the fifth time a Yankees batter has been hit by a Rays pitcher in the past week.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi came out of the dugout to remonstrate and was ejected.

New York’s David Phelps was ejected in the bottom half of the eighth after throwing a pitch in tight at the batter. Both dugouts and bullpens emptied, but no brawl erupted.

Jeter, who is retiring at the end of the season, is hitless in 26 at-bats, the second-longest skid of his career. New York’s playoff chase looks hopeless, six games off the wild-card spots with 12 to play.

Minnesota’s Aaron Hicks hit a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning to lift the Twins to a 4-3 victory over Detroit, and Colorado’s Corey Dickerson homered, tripled and drove in four runs to help the Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4, ending a run of seven-straight losses.

New York’s Wilmer Flores homered twice and drove in six runs for the second time this year as the Mets beat Miami 9-1, and Oakland’s tenuous hold on a wild-card berth was further loosened with a 6-3 home defeat by last-place Texas.

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