Reid Brignac smashed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees on Monday and into top spot in the American League East.
The rookie infielder broke the deadlock by blasting a pitch over the right-field wall against relief pitcher Sergio Mitre to vault the Rays (87-56) a half a game ahead of the Yankees (87-57).
An unlikely game-winner, Brignac only came into the contest when Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford was ejected for arguing a strike call in the ninth.
“[It was] unbelievable. You just feel like you’re floating on clouds,” Brignac told reporters. “I had a couple of walk-offs in the minor leagues, but nothing compared to this.”
The pitching duel between Cy Young Award candidates CC Sabathia and David Price finished all square with both left-handers tossing eight scoreless innings.
Yankees ace Sabathia (19-6) struck out nine batters and allowed just two hits while Price (17-6) surrendered three hits in the no-decision.
Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour was credited with the win after pitching the top of the 11th as the home team used three pitchers in the last three innings.
New York threatened to score in the 10th, but pinch-runner Brett Gardner was thrown out while trying to steal third for the final out of the inning, sending the visitors to their fourth straight loss.
Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3, 11 innings
In Baltimore, Luke Scott singled in the winning run in the 11th inning as Baltimore ended a 12-game losing streak against Toronto.
Brian Roberts homered for the Orioles, now 1-12 against Toronto this season.
Those 12 losses came before manager Buck Showalter arrived in Baltimore and rejuvenated a 32-73 team that has gone 24-15 since his debut on Aug. 3.
Nick Markakis led off the 11th with a single off Brian Tallet (2-6). After a groundout by Ty Wigginton advanced Markakis, Scott lined a single to center that easily brought home the decisive run.
In other AL play it was:
• Athletics 3, Royals 1
• Red Sox 5, Mariners 1
Carlos Ruiz matched a career high with four RBIs, Joe Blanton allowed one run in six innings and the Philadelphia Phillies extended their September surge by beating the Florida Marlins 11-4 on Monday.
Ruiz, Jayson Werth, Chase Utley and Greg Dobbs all homered for the NL East leaders, who are 10-3 this month. The Phillies remained a game ahead of Atlanta, which beat Washington.
Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard reached the 100-RBI mark for the fifth straight season, while Werth and Utley each scored twice. Blanton (7-6) struck out eight and walked two, dropping his ERA to 5.00, the lowest it’s been since May 8.
Dan Uggla hit his 30th home run for Florida, making him the first second baseman in major league history to reach that plateau four times.
Reds 7, Diamondbacks 2
In Cincinnati, Jay Bruce returned from a two-week layoff and homered in each of his first two at-bats as Cincinnati went deep five times against Arizona to secure its first winning season since 2000.
The Reds’ nine-year streak of losing seasons was their longest in a half-century.
With each win, the NL Central leaders close in on another breakthrough — their first playoff appearance since 1995. They moved seven games ahead of second-place St Louis, which lost to the Cubs.
Bruce missed the last two weeks because of a strained abdomen. He hit a solo homer and a two-run shot off Barry Enright (6-4), and later added an RBI single. Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto and Orlando Cabrera also homered.