Porcello earns eighth win as Tigers split series
OAKLAND, California (AP) — Two of the American League’s top teams have struggling closers who are accustomed to being among the best in baseball.
Joe Nathan held on through another rocky ninth inning for his 13th save a day after blowing one, helping the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Thursday for a split of the four-game series between division leaders.
“If Joe’s on you’re going to have quick outs. He’s been one of the best closers, he had an unbelievable year last year,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “If he’s on, he’ll get quick outs. It just wasn’t today.”
On the other side, Oakland’s Jim Johnson — the 2013 AL saves leader — walked off the mound to boos from the home crowd after allowing two runs in the seventh. He is pitching in lower-pressure situations for now.
“I’m throwing pretty good pitches, I just feel like I’m in a little bit of bad luck,” he said.
Miguel Cabrera hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth to back Rick Porcello’s eighth victory.
Porcello (8-2) overcame a career-high six walks, three shy of his season total coming into Thursday’s start. Nathan allowed Josh Donaldson’s leadoff double, an RBI infield single by Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick’s run-scoring double before pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie grounded out to end the game.
Toronto’s nine-game winning streak ended with an 8-6 loss at home, with Omar Infante hitting a two-run single in the 10th inning and the Royals overcoming two home runs by Edwin Encarnacion — his 15th and 16th of the month.
Encarnacion matched a major league record with his fifth multihomer game in a month. Albert Belle did it in September 1995 and Harmon Killebrew in May 1959.
Texas won its second straight four-game series on the round, with Leonys Martin doubling twice and scoring three times in a 5-4 win over the Twins.
The Angles had a 7-5 win over the Mariners, with Erick Aybar hitting a three-run homer, and Houston extended its winning streak to six with a 3-1 result against the Orioles.
The Boston Red Sox won their fourth straight after a 10-game skid.
In the National League, Michael Morse homered and drove in three runs to lift the San Francisco Giants to a 6-5 win over St. Louis, the Diamondbacks beat the Reds 4-0 and the Pirates won 6-3 at Dodgers Stadium.
At Philadelphia, Chris Young hit a two-run homer and Zack Wheeler struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings to lead the Mets to a 4-1 win over the Phillies in the opener of a rare five-game series.