The Tampa Bay Rays again closed within half a game of the American League lead with a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, with David Price pitching his third complete game of the season.
Having allowed Boston to eke out their lead with a win on Tuesday, the Rays closed in again thanks chiefly to Price’s powerful performance and a two-run single from Wil Myers.
Tampa Bay’s Price (5-5) needed only 97 pitches for his seventh career complete game and did not walk a batter. Since returning from a triceps strain, he is 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts.
James Loney had two hits and drove in a run for the Rays.
Both teams are edging away from the AL East Division’s power team, the New York Yankees, who lost to Texas and their new pitcher, Matt Garza.
Garza pitched into the eighth inning of his Rangers debut, allowing only one unearned run on his own throwing error as the hosts beat the Yankees 3-1.
Garza (1-0) was 6-1 in his 11 starts this season for the Chicago Cubs before being traded on Monday to the Rangers, who had long coveted the right-hander. He was 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA his past six starts for Chicago, winning the past five.
After giving up consecutive singles to start his first game in a Rangers jersey, Garza retired 15 of the next 16 batters.
The Baltimore Orioles also slipped back in the tight division after a narrow loss to Kansas City.
The Royals’ Eric Hosmer hit two home runs and Alcides Escobar drove in the winning run in the ninth to lift Kansas to a 4-3 win.
David Lough singled and scored the game-ending run when Escobar doubled with one out in the ninth.
Hosmer homered in the first and his two-run home run in the eighth tied the score 3-3. It was Hosmer’s third multihomer game and his second this season.
Elsewhere, St Louis racked up 11 runs in their win over Philadelphia, as Jake Westbrook pitched seven solid innings and contributed offensively with his second career steal.
Westbrook (7-4) had his first career three-hit game and drew a two-out walk in the fourth, stole second and scored for a 4-0 Cardinals lead.
Pittsburgh pitcher Francisco Liriano put in a commanding performance against Washington, not allowing a hit until the sixth inning against the struggling and depleted Nationals, steering the Pirates to a 4-2 win.
Liriano (10-4) walked the first batter he faced, then retired 11 in a row. After a walk, he sent down five more batters before giving up his first hit.
Pedro Alvarez homered for Pittsburgh off Stephen Strasburg (5-8), who suffered an unlucky loss, having struck out 12 with no walks and only two hits.
The Nationals fell to 0-6 since the All-Star break — scoring a total of 13 runs in that span.
Cincinnati’s Mike Leake shone on the mound and at the plate as the Reds beat San Francisco. Leake pitched six-plus innings of wildly effective ball and had the third three-hit game of his career, leading the Reds past the Giants 8-3.
Leake (10-4) allowed a career-worst 12 hits, but just one run. He also snapped a 0-for-26 skid — his longest hitless streak — with two singles and a double.
Cincinnati finished 6-1 against the Giants this season and most of the wins were not even close, scoring 45 runs against 14.
In this game, the Giants had 15 hits, but were four-for-16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 on base.