St Louis averted a five-game sweep at Pittsburgh and ended a season-worst seven-game losing streak by routing the Pirates 13-0 on Thursday, closing the gap between the National League’s top two teams.
The key game rapidly turned into a mismatch as the Cardinals closed within 1.5 games of their Central Division rivals.
Meanwhile, the American League leaders, the Boston Red Sox, pushed their lead over idle Tampa Bay to one game by producing a six-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to rob Seattle of victory.
Among other games, Atlanta notched their seventh straight win by beating Colorado to extend their giant lead in the NL East. Texas pitcher Yu Darvish matched his Major League Baseball best with 14 strikeouts to lead the Rangers over Arizona, while the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly returned to the winners’ list by downing the Chicago Cubs.
St Louis were staring at the prospect of suffering a five-game sweep for the first time in 97 years, but pulled out an important victory thanks chiefly to pitcher Joe Kelly (2-3), who pitched six scoreless innings and contributed two hits at the plate.
Tony Cruz added three hits, including a two-run double during an eight-run seventh inning.
Boston’s Daniel Nava hit a long single to center field to cap the Red Sox’s crowd-pleasing comeback and an 8-7 victory over Seattle.
Henry Blanco hit a grand slam, while Felix Hernandez pitched seven strong innings to help Seattle take a 7-1 lead after five innings. However, Boston scored once in the eighth and six more in the ninth against three relievers who recorded just one out.
Atlanta’s Justin Upton drove in five runs with two homers to help power the Braves to an 11-2 win that completed a four-game sweep of Colorado.
The Braves outscored the Rockies 31-5 in the last three games of the series, and boosted their lead in the NL East to a seemingly invincible 11.5 games.
Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (8-5) matched his career high with 11 strikeouts, including six in a row covering the third and fourth innings. He only lasted five, giving up one run or less for his third straight start.
Texas got a powerful pitching performance from Yu Darvish, and three solo homers, in the 7-1 win over Arizona.
Darvish (10-5) had no walks over seven scoreless innings. It was his major league-leading eighth game this season with at least 10 strikeouts. He struck out 10 of the first 13 batters.
Arizona had to make a side trip to Texas, on the way from Tampa Bay to Boston, to make up the game postponed on May 29 because of unplayable field conditions.
Los Angeles’ Yasiel Puig hit a long home run and scored two runs to lead the Dodgers past the Chicago Cubs 6-4.
Hanley Ramirez and Jerry Hairston each drove in two runs for the Dodgers, who got a win a night after having a four-game winning streak snapped. Los Angeles are 11-2 since the All-Star break.
Cleveland’s Ryan Raburn homered twice and drove in four runs as the Indians won their eighth consecutive game, topping the Chicago White Sox 6-1.
Kansas City won its ninth straight game — the club’s longest winning streak in more than a decade — by beating Minnesota 7-2, thanks to Billy Butler’s hitting and Lorenzo Cain’s spectacular catch in center field.
Los Angeles’ Mark Trumbo homered in the Angels’ four-run first inning, which laid the platform for an 8-2 win over Toronto that snapped the Angels’ six-game skid.