Wild-Card Roundup: Mariners, Astros set for pivotal series

Nelson Velazquez went yard twice, while Salvador Perez, Matt Duffy hit a two-run shot to help the Kansas City Royals sweep the Houston Astros with a 6-5 win.

HOUSTON (AP) — Nelson Velázquez hit two home runs and Salvador Perez and Matt Duffy also homered as the Kansas City Royals built a big lead early and held on for a 6-5 win over the slumping Houston Astros Sunday.

The victory completed a three-game sweep and left Houston two games behind the Texas Rangers and tied with the Seattle Mariners in the AL West. Texas and Seattle were playing each other Sunday afternoon.

Houston finished 39-42 at Minute Maid Park, its first losing record at home since 2014.

Kansas City (54-102) has won six straight games and 10 of 11. The Royals raced to a 6-2 lead after tagging rookie Hunter Brown (11-13) for all four homers in just three innings.


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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Semien homered twice, Corey Seager had a go-ahead, two-run shot and the Texas Rangers held on to beat the Seattle Mariners 9-8 on Sunday to finish a three-game sweep in a crucial AL West series.

Adolis García, Leody Taveras and rookie Evan Carter also went deep as the Rangers hit a season-high six homers, their most at four-season-old Globe Life Field.

AL West-leading Texas (85-70) won its fifth consecutive game and moved 2 1/2 games ahead of defending World Series champion Houston, which was swept at home by 102-loss Kansas City.

Texas, in its first winning season since 2016, won the series opener and moved back into the division lead for the first time in about a month. They had led for all but one day before an August slide.

Teoscar Hernández, who homered, drove in two runs along with Jarred Kelenic and Eugenio Suárez for the Mariners, who nearly erased deficits of five and four runs before getting swept for the second time in three series.

Seattle (84-71) trails Houston by a half-game for the third and final wild card.

The Mariners play their final seven games at home, starting with the Astros on Monday before meeting Texas again in a season-ending four-game series.


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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — George Springer hit an inside-the-park, three-run homer. made a diving catch and threw out a runner, helping the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-5 on Sunday to take two of three in a series of potential playoff opponents.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered twice, making an impressive bat flip after the second, and Bo Bichette also went deep for the Blue Jays. Toronto began the day leading the second AL wild card by one game over Houston and were 1 1/2 games ahead of Seattle.

Isaac Paredes hit his 30th homer for Tampa Bay, which has clinched at the least the AL’s top wild card and started the day 1 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Baltimore, which has the tiebreaker.

Rays first baseman Yandy Díaz left in the third with right hamstring tightness. Díaz is second in the AL with .328 batting average.

Whit Merrifield had a tying, two-run single before Springer put the Blue Jays up 5-2 in the second on his homer off Taj Bradley (5-8). Center fielder Manuel Margot failed in his attempt at a leaping catch at the wall. The ball ricocheted off the wall and bounced along the warning track to the 404-foot sign in center. Springer slid into the plate headfirst well before a relay arrived.

Springer grabbed Curtis Mead’s drive off the right-field wall in the third and made a strong throw on the fly to Bichette, throwing out Mead trying to stretch the hit to a double. Harold Ramirez went to third on the play and Springer then sprinted toward the right-field line to make a sprawling catch on Paredes for the inning’s second out, saving a run.

Bradley retired 10 in a row after Springer’s homer before Guerrero Jr. connected on a homer put Toronto ahead 6-3 in the sixth. The rookie allowed six runs and seven hits in a career-high seven innings.

Paredes cut the Rays’ deficit to 6-5 on a two-run drive in the seventh that gave him 94 RBIs.

Bichette hit his 20th homer and Guerrero got his 26th long ball in the ninth as Toronto grabbed a 9-5 lead.

Twenty-year old rookie Junior Caminero drove in his first run on a 109.2 mph single to left in the Rays’ two-run first.

Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi was pulled after allowing three runs and nine hits over four innings. Trevor Richards (2-1) worked two scoreless innings for the win.

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