Pirates beat stumbling Rangers in key clash
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Pittsburgh kept pace in the tight National League Central race and dealt a blow to Texas’ fading playoff ambitions with a 7-5 interleague win over the Rangers on Wednesday.
The Pirates remained a game behind NL Central leader St. Louis, which beat Milwaukee, while Cincinnati also maintained its place in the race by shutting out the Chicago Cubs.
Texas has lost nine of its past 12 games, a stretch in which the Rangers have lost four consecutive series. They have gone from a three-game lead in the American League West to a three-game deficit to new leader Oakland, and while the Rangers do provisionally hold the first wild-card spot, their poor form is making even that look shaky.
The race for the second AL wild card is hotting up, as current holder Tampa Bay went down in extra innings to Boston and suffered their 13th loss in 17 games.
The resurgent New York Yankees are the most immediate threat, moving within a game of the Rays by edging Baltimore, overtaking the Orioles for third place in the AL East.
Kansas City is also working its way into the postseason picture after defeating fellow contender Cleveland.
The Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Indians and Royals are separated by just two games, with the teams having between 16 and 18 games left in the regular season.
Pittsburgh’s Clint Barmes homered and drew a bases-loaded walk to lead the Pirates over Texas.
Justin Morneau, acquired from Minnesota less than two weeks ago, snapped an 0-for-14 slump with four hits while scoring twice for the Pirates.
St. Louis kept its nose in front of Pittsburgh by beating Milwaukee 5-1, piling on four runs in the eighth inning, two of them from Matt Adams’ homer.
Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday had two hits apiece for the Cardinals, who have won five straight to stay ahead in the hotly contested division.
Cincinnati remained three games behind St. Louis after a 6-0 win over the Chicago Cubs, with Devin Mesoraco homering for the first time in a month and Jack Hannahan adding his first career pinch-hit homer.
In the NL West, Arizona slightly delayed Los Angeles’ seemingly inevitable coronation as division winner by beating the Dodgers 4-1.
Paul Goldschmidt had four hits and two RBIs for the Diamondbacks, who had lost their previous five against the Dodgers.
Boston is another team which appears certain to take a division title, moving out to a 9-1/2 game lead in the AL East by beating Tampa Bay 7-3, thanks to a Mike Carp pinch-hit grand slam in the 10th inning.
Carp sent a drive over the center-field fence on the first pitch from Roberto Hernandez. It was the first pinch-hit grand slam for Boston in 10 years.
Dustin Pedroia opened the 10th with a walk against Joel Peralta (2-7) and went to second on Shane Victorino’s bunt. After an intentional walk, Hernandez replaced Peralta and walked his first batter on four pitches before Carp connected.
New York closed on the Rays with a 5-4 win at Baltimore, with Robinson Cano hitting a tiebreaking homer leading off the ninth inning.
The Yankees also got solo shots from Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson.
New York has won two of three in the vital four-game series that concludes Thursday.
Chris Davis drove in two runs with a double, making him the first player in Orioles history to have 40 doubles and 40 homers in a season.
Like the Yankees, Kansas City is staging a late surge toward the playoffs and continued that with a 6-2 win over Cleveland.
Alex Gordon homered on the game’s first pitch, and the Royals added a triple and a single over the next six pitches to quickly take a grip on the game.
Kansas City starter James Shields (11-9) gave up two runs and hit a batter in the bottom half of the first before taking control, not allowing another hit until the ninth inning.
Oakland took a grip on the AL West lead with an 18-3 thrashing of Minnesota.
Jed Lowrie’s foul ball turned into a two-run double after umpires changed the call, and that highlighted a 10-run fourth inning for the Athletics.
Every Oakland starter had at least one hit, one run and one RBI as the A’s recorded a season-high 22 hits.
Detroit took advantage of Cleveland’s loss and opened a 6-1/2 game lead atop the AL Central with a 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox, as pitcher Anibal Sanchez struck out 10.
Miami rookie Jose Fernandez shone in his final appearance of the season, pitching seven innings, hitting his first major league homer and engaging in a standoff with the annoyed Atlanta Braves that cleared both benches and bullpens, leading the Marlins to a 5-2 win.
Washington’s Dan Haren gave up one hit in six innings, steering the Nationals to a 3-0 win over the New York Mets.
Los Angeles’ Kole Calhoun hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning which led the Angels to a 5-4 win over Toronto.
Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee pitched eight sharp innings to guide the Phillies to a 4-2 win over San Diego.
San Francisco’s Marco Scutaro and Brandon Belt hit consecutive RBI singles in the eighth inning to lift the Giants to a 4-3 win over Colorado.
Houston’s Brad Peacock gave up one run in six innings to pitch the Astros to a 6-1 win over Seattle, completing a three-game sweep for MLB’s worst team.