AL Playoff Watch: Blue Jays overtake Mariners for second in wild-card race

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Dillon Tate, right, and catcher Adley Rutschman, left, celebrate after a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, in Baltimore. (Nick Wass/AP)

SEATTLE (AP) — Dansby Swanson hit one of Atlanta’s four home runs and the World Series champion Braves took sole possession of first place for the first time all season with a 6-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

Robbie Grossman, Travis d’Arnaud and rookie Michael Harris II also went deep for the streaking Braves, who won their eighth straight and finally jumped a half-game ahead of the Mets in the NL East after chasing them for five months. New York lost 6-3 at Miami earlier in the night.

Atlanta was seven games back on Aug. 8 and 10 1/2 behind on June 1. The only previous day this season the Mets did not hold at least a share of the division lead was April 11.

Carlos Santana homered twice for the Mariners, and J.P. Crawford also connected.

The Toronto Blue Jays are now a half game ahead of the Mariners for second in the AL wild-card race.

The Tampa Bay Rays are 1.5 games ahead of Toronto.


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BALTIMORE (AP) — Gunnar Henderson hit a bases-loaded single in the sixth inning to cap a big Baltimore rally, and Baltimore beat Boston.

It was a much-needed victory for the Orioles, who lost three of four to Toronto in their previous series to fall 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays for the final American League wild card. Baltimore trailed 2-0 after Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the third, but came back with three runs in the sixth.

Henderson’s hit brought in two and gave the Orioles the lead.

Jake Reed (1-0) got the win as the second of five Baltimore relievers who shut out Boston for five innings. The Orioles did not use closer Félix Bautista, instead relying on Dillon Tate for the final four outs. Tate earned his fourth save.

Brayan Bello (1-5) took a shutout into the sixth for a second straight start, but his wildness caught up to him, and reliever Kaleb Ort couldn’t hold the lead.

Bello pitched around a couple of walks in the fifth, but with one out in the sixth, Cedric Mullins singled and the next two hitters walked. Ort relieved Bello and threw a wild pitch to bring home a run.

After a walk to Ryan Mountcastle re-loaded the bases, Henderson — one of Baltimore’s celebrated rookies — singled through the hole into right field.

Bello blanked Texas for six innings last weekend, and although he was charged with the three sixth-inning runs against the Orioles, he allowed only three hits and struck out seven.

Baltimore starter Austin Voth permitted two runs and five hits in four-plus innings. Bogaerts homered to right to open the scoring.

Mullins had three singles, although he was thrown out at second after the first two — once trying to steal and once trying to stretch his hit into a double.


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NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Hicks was benched midgame after failing to catch consecutive drives to left that landed for run-scoring doubles in the fourth inning, and Tampa Bay closed within 3 1/2 games in the AL East.

Randy Arozarena hit an RBI double in the first off Frankie Montas (5-12) to put the Rays ahead to stay.

Wander Franco hit a two-out, two-on drive in the fourth that dropped out of Hicks’ glove along the left-field foul line just in front of the wall. Hicks drooped his head for a few seconds, thinking he caught the ball and the drive was foul, and two runs scored before he reacted and picked up the ball.

Arozarena drove the next pitch to left, and Hicks backpedaled a half-dozen steps while taking a bad route on a difficult fly, and the ball dropped behind him on the warning track as Franco scored for a 4-0 lead.

Drew Rasmussen (10-4), reinstated from the paternity list allowed six hits in six scoreless innings, striking out a career-high 10. The Rays have won for nine of 10 and 15 of 18.

Aaron Judge hit an RBI single in the seventh and Kyle Higashioka homered in the ninth off JT Chargois. With Judge on first after a two-out walk, Gleyber Torries flied out to the right-field warning track.


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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Oscar Gonzalez hit two home runs and drove in five runs, and Austin Hedges added a solo homer as Cleveland held on for a win against Minnesota.

Gonzalez, the surprise rookie, had four hits and Canadian Cal Quantrill (12-5) won his eighth straight decision. Cleveland scored the first seven runs of the game, including four in the first inning after the start was delayed 1:16 due to rain.

Minnesota’s Carlos Correa hit a two-run homer off Guardians reliever James Karinchak in the eighth, but Karinchak stranded the tying run at second to end the inning and Emmanuel Clase finished for his 32nd save.

The Guardians extended their lead in the American League Central to 1 1/2 games over the Chicago White Sox and 2 1/2 over Minnesota. The Guardians and Twins play seven more times over the next two weeks.

Quantrill gave up two runs — one earned — and nine hits in five innings. The Guardians have held on to first despite losing nine of their previous 13 games.


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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Bo Bichette homered for the fifth time in the last four games, Danny Jansen hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth inning and playoff-contending Toronto beat Texas.

Bichette’s 23rd homer was a two-run shot in the third inning that put the Blue Jays up 3-0. He also drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder in the first.

Top Rangers prospect Josh Jung hit a home run in his first career at-bat in the third inning. After Texas tied it at 3 on Corey Seager’s RBI double in the eighth, Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc (0-2) issued a leadoff walk in the ninth. Raimel Tapia then stole second base, went to third on a long flyout and scored on Jansen’s hit.

Tim Mayza (6-0), the fourth Toronto pitcher, got two outs in the eighth before Jordan Romano worked the ninth for his 32nd save in 36 chances. With a runner on second, the right-hander Romano struck out Jung and got pinch-hitter Adolis Garcia on an game-ending flyout. 

The Blue Jays, who maintained a 4 1/2-game lead over Baltimore for the American League’s third and final wild-card spot, won for the 16th time in their last last 22 games.

WHITE SOX 5, A’s 3

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Elvis Andrus hit a tiebreaking double against his former team with two outs in a five-run ninth inning, and Chicago — held hitless until the seventh — rallied past Oakland.

Eloy Jimenez started the comeback from a 3-0 deficit with a one-out homer against A.J. Puk (3-2), who issued a walk and plunked a batter. Andrew Vaughn added an RBI single and Romy Gonzalez delivered a tying single with two outs.

Oakland challenged that pinch-runner Adam Engel was out at the plate on the throw home, but the safe call was confirmed after a replay review.

Andrus then hit a two-run double to left field, putting Chicago ahead 5-3.

Liam Hendriks, another former A’s star, closed it out with a big fist pump after his 32nd save. Aaron Bummer (2-1) pitched the eighth for the win.


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HOUSTON (AP) — Jeremy Peña hit a solo homer and Chas McCormick had a two-run shot in the seventh inning to lead Houston.

The Astros trailed by one entering the seventh when Trey Mancini led off with a single. McCormick then connected on his homer off Andrew Wantz (2-1) to put Houston ahead 3-2. The Astros added an insurance run in the eighth when McCormick drew a bases-loaded walk off José Marte.

Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1) gave up four hits and two runs with six strikeouts in a season-high seven innings for his second straight win. 

Closer Ryan Pressly allowed a solo homer to Taylor Ward with one out in the ninth before striking out the next two batters to get his 26th save in his return from the injured list after being out since August 22 with a neck strain.

Mike Trout homered for the fifth straight game, the longest streak of his career and tying an Angels franchise record.


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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Haase hit two solo homers, Jeimer Candelario had a three-run shot and Detroit beat Kansas City.

Haase opened the second inning by blasting Daniel Lynch’s second pitch 444 feet to the seats above the left-field fountains for his seventh consecutive hit. One out later, Candelario hammered his team-leading 13th homer of the season 445 feet deep to left for a 4-0 lead.

Haase added another shot to left-center in the sixth, his 12th homer of the year and fifth career multi-homer game. He added a two-out RBI double in the eighth.

Kansas City-area product Joey Wentz (1-1) allowed only a pair of two-out hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings for his first major league victory. He struck out five with walked one.

Candelario, Haase and Spencer Torkelson each had three hits as Detroit out-hit Kansas City 17-6. 

Lynch (4-10) allowed six runs on 10 hits, recording 11 outs. He has won just one of his last 11 starts.


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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto hit solo homers and Noah Syndergaard pitched well enough into the seventh inning to keep Philadelphia in playoff position with a win over Washington.

Phillies reliever Brand Hand failed to earn a save in the ninth when he put two runners on and was pulled for Nick Nelson with two outs. Nelson retired .188 hitter Riley Adams on a grounder to earn his first save in the majors.

The Phillies entered with a grip on the third wild-card spot and each win moves them closer to their first playoff berth since 2011. 

Edmundo Sosa tripled and scored in his first at-bat and singled in the fifth, marking eight straight times he had reached base, with a home run, double, walk, home run, single, double, triple, single over three games. Syndergaard (9-9) allowed eight hits and walked none over 86 pitches in six-plus innings.

Nationals starter Patrick Corbin (6-18) gave up 12 hits and five runs in 6 2/3 innings.


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CHICAGO (AP) — Drew Smyly allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings and Yan Gomes and Nico Hoerner homered to lead Chicago.

Smyly (6-8) struck out eight and walked two. The left-hander departed after Austin Dean reached on a fielding error to start the eighth.

Gomes lofted a two-run shot to left center in the second to give the Cubs the lead for good. Hoerner had a two-run flare off Yunior Marte in the sixth to help end a two-game skid and send San Francisco to its fifth straight loss.

After Smyly left in the eighth, Manuel Rodríguez gave up Evan Longoria’s bases-loaded ground rule double to end a shutout bid. Brandon Hughes finished the inning and worked a clean ninth for his fourth save in eight chances. 

Giants starter Carlos Rodón (12-8) struck out 11 in the 5 1/3 innings. He allowed three hits.


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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Oneil Cruz finished a home run short of the cycle, and Pittsburgh kept St. Louis from stretching its lead atop the NL Central. 

Cruz had a two-run triple, a double and an RBI single to extend his hitting streak to six games, matching the rookie’s longest in the majors. The 23-year-old is 12 for 26 (.462) with two homers, two triples and two doubles during the streak. 

Albert Pujols entered as a pinch hitter for the Cardinals and went 0 for 2. The 42-year-old remained at 695 home runs with 23 games remaining in his final big league season. St. Louis has lost three of five while playing the Pirates and Washington Nationals but maintained a sizable lead over the second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.

Roansy Contreras (5-4) gave up one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings for Pittsburgh. The rookie right-hander has allowed four runs in 23 1/3 innings over his past four starts.

Miles Mikolas (11-11) gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings with eight strikeouts for the Cardinals.


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MIAMI (AP) — Pete Alonso hit his 33rd home run but the New York Mets could not erase an early deficit and lost to the Miami Marlins.

New York, which began the day clinging to a half-game lead in the NL East over Atlanta, squandered a pair of good scoring chances by grounding into double plays. The defending World Series champion Braves played later in Seattle.

Garrett Cooper homered, doubled and singled for the Marlins, who have never had a player hit for the cycle. Charles LeBlanc hit a two-run homer for Miami in the eighth. 

Alonso’s two-run shot against Miami starter Edward Cabrera in the sixth pulled the Mets to 4-3. Tyler Naquin followed with a walk that ended Cabrera’s outing. New York loaded the bases against Tanner Scott with one out in the seventh. Steven Okert relieved got Francisco Lindor to hit an inning-ending double-play grounder.

Cabrera (5-2) allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. The rookie right-hander walked two and struck out four. Dylan Floro closed with a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

Mets starter David Peterson (7-4) gave up three runs, seven hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out seven. 


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MILWAUKEE (AP) — TJ Friedl homered to lead off a five-run first inning, left-hander Nick Lodolo pitched eight strong innings and Cincinnati beat Milwaukee.

In a matchup of rookie starters, Lodolo (4-5) easily outperformed Brewers right-hander Jason Alexander (2-3). Lodolo had career bests with 11 strikeouts and eight innings, while Cincinnati’s first six batters reached base off Alexander.

Friedl hit an 0-2 pitch for his first career leadoff home run. Jonathan India hit the next pitch for a stand-up triple and scored on Kyle Farmer’s single. Jake Farley was hit by a pitch, then boos followed an RBI single Donovan Solano that put the Reds up 3-0.

After Aristides Aquino walked to load the bases, Milwaukee — fighting for a wild-card spot — recorded its first outs by turning a double play, but a run scored to put the Reds up 4-0. Alexander appeared to yell into his glove after an RBI single by Jose Barrero made it 5-0.

Tyrone Taylor hit his 16th home run of the season, a two-run shot off Lodolo in the third inning, to cut the Reds’ lead to 5-2.


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DENVER (AP) — Elias Diaz hit a game-ending, three-run homer to give him seven RBIs, C.J. Cron had a 504-foot home run that was the second-longest since tracking began and Colorado beat Arizona after wasting a seven-run lead.

Arizona took a 10-8 lead with a nine-run fifth, but the Rockies rallied to become the first team to win after allowing nine runs in a single inning since the Los Angeles Angels at Texas on Sept. 19, 2008.

It was the Rockies’ third-consecutive victory, giving them their longest win streak in nearly two months. Colorado has scored at least eight runs in each of those games.

“These games matter,” said the Rockies’ Ryan McMahon, who hit a pair of solo homers. “We’re all competitors. We come here every day and we want to win. I know we’re not in it as much as we’d like to be. With the homers, hopefully we just keep hitting a bunch and roll that into next season.”

Diaz, who had four hits and set a career-best for RBIs, had a two-run homer in the second and an RBI single in the fourth, both off Zach Davies.

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