The Oakland Athletics opened a three-game lead atop the American League West division by beating nearest rivals Texas 6-2 in a bloody encounter on Tuesday, with Brandon Moss and John Jaso hitting homers off star Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish.
In other important results, Pittsburgh inflicted the first loss of the season upon Cincinnati pitcher Mat Latos to close the gap between the teams to half a game, while Boston won both games of a double-header over Tampa Bay to extend their lead in the AL East.
Baltimore stayed on Boston’s tail by getting the better of ace Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander, while the Chicago Cubs beat majors-leading St Louis.
San Francisco snuck home to end San Diego’s seven-game winning streak and Toronto beat Colorado to notch their seventh straight victory.
Oakland’s Jarrod Parker (6-6) limited the Rangers to three hits over seven innings to improve to 4-0 in his past five starts.
Darvish (7-3) struck out 10, increasing his majors-best total to 137, but still has not won in more than a month.
Moss put the Athletics ahead to stay with a homer leading off the second, while Jaso led off the next inning with his own long shot to make it 3-0.
The Rangers got within 3-2 in the third when Ian Kinsler scored on a vicious collision at the plate, his face slamming into the mask of catcher Jaso while sliding feet-first. Kinsler needed three stitches near his left jaw and had blood on his jersey when he returned to the field to play second base.
Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez singled home a pair of runs in the first inning and that proved more than enough for the Pirates to beat Cincinnati 4-0.
No run support meant a loss for Reds starter Mat Latos (6-1), who had gone 21 regular-season starts — dating back to August — without suffering a loss.
Latos had nine of Cincinnati’s 17 strikeouts, which matched the club’s nine-inning record. The Reds also had 17 strikeouts on opening day, but that game went 13 innings.
Boston beat Tampa Bay 5-1, then 3-1 to take both games of a double-header.
David Ortiz drove in three runs in the opener and Alfredo Aceves (4-1) pitched five solid innings for his third straight win.
In the night game, Jonny Gomes hit a walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning.
Daniel Nava was aboard on a leadoff walk when Gomes followed with a towering shot off Joel Peralta (1-3) that cleared the Green Monster.
Nava also homered in the second and Felix Doubront pitched eight shutout innings for Boston.
Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones homered off Justin Verlander to help the Orioles to a 5-2 win over Detroit.
Hardy hit his third homer off Verlander (8-5) this month, connecting for a two-run shot in the fourth inning, while Jones added a three-run drive in the fifth.
Verlander gave up five runs in five innings.
Manny Machado hit a double and made two sparkling plays in the field for Baltimore.
Chicago’s Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom hit back-to-back homers in a four-run first inning that set up the Cubs for a 4-2 win over St Louis.
The four runs were plenty for Jeff Samardzija (4-7), who gave up two runs in 8-1/3 innings to steer the Cubs to their first win at St Louis in six attempts.
The Cardinals have lost three of five games, but still lead the majors with a 45-26 record.
San Francisco’s Juan Perez hit a tiebreaking single with two outs in the eighth inning to lift the Giants to a 5-4 win over San Diego.