Sun, Sep 24, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Clutch hitting propels A's closer to a title

AP , OAKLAND, CALIFORNIAAP, PHILADELPHIA

Florida Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo awaits confirmation from umpire Jerry Layne that Philly Ryan Howard is out at home in the eighth inning of their game on Friday in Philadelphia. Howard earlier hit his 58th home run of the season.

PHOTO: AP

Marco Scutaro drove in the winning run in the 12th inning with a single and Oakland reduced its magic number to win the American League West to two with a 5-4 victory over Los Angeles on Friday.

The A's could clinch their first division title since 2003 by winning either yesterday or today against the Angels.

Pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty doubled to start the 12th and went to third on a groundout. Francisco Rodriguez (2-3) walked Nick Swisher intentionally and the Angels used a five-infielder alignment to face Scutaro.

Scutaro hit a liner to deep left-center for his second game-winning hit this year.

Brad Halsey (5-4) intentionally walked Vladimir Guerrero in the top of the 12th and the A's then turned an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners.

Tigers 7, Royals 3

At Kansas City, Missouri, Sean Casey hit a two-run homer and Detroit improved its lead to 1 1/2 games over Minnesota in the AL Central. Detroit played their first game under bench coach Billy Doran. He took over for manager Buddy Bell, who underwent throat surgery on Friday.

Orioles 7, Twins 3

At Baltimore, Daniel Cabrera took a four-hitter into the seventh inning and Brian Roberts homered and drove in three runs for Baltimore's win over Minnesota.

Yankees 4, Devil Rays 1

At St. Petersburg, Florida, Gary Sheffield returned to the lineup for the first time since May 29 and made an strong debut at first base as New York downed Tampa Bay.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 1

At Toronto, Julian Tavarez pitched his first complete game in six years and Mike Lowell homered to lead Boston past Toronto. Alex Gonzalez doubled twice and had three RBIs for the Red Sox. Aaron Hill drove in the lone run for the Blue Jays, who have lost three of four.

Mariners 11, White Sox 6

At Chicago, Richie Sexson hit two long homers and Seattle scored six runs in the second inning to beat Chicago and drive the defending World Series champions closer to playoff elimination.

Rangers 12, Indians 4

At Arlington, Texas, Mark Teixeira and Michael Young each drove in four runs and Gary Matthews Jr. scored three times for Texas. Carlos Lee hit two solo homers for the Rangers, giving him eight in 52 games since being traded from Milwaukee in July.

Ryan Howard hit his major league-leading 58th homer, Cole Hamels pitched effectively into the seventh inning and the Philadelphia Phillies continued their playoff push with a 5-2 victory over the Florida Marlins on Friday.

Howard moved closer to becoming the sixth player to reach 60 homers when he lined a three-run shot off Ricky Nolasco (11-10) into the seats in left-center in the third inning.

The Phillies (80-73) entered the night a half-game behind Los Angeles in the National League wild-card standings. Philadelphia is 34-19 since July 29, the day before the team traded outfielder Bobby Abreu to the New York Yankees as part of a midseason roster purge.

Hamels (9-8) gave up one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings to win for the fifth time in seven decisions. The rookie left-hander struck out 10.

Astros 6, Cardinals 5

At Houston, Craig Biggio's two-out RBI single capped a two-run rally in the ninth inning that gave Houston a victory over St. Louis. It was the second straight game the Astros rallied to beat the Cardinals.

Reds 4, Cubs 2, 5 innings

At Cincinnati, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer -- one of three off left-hander Rich Hill -- and Cincinnati opened its final home series of the season with a rain-shortened victory over Chicago.

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