St Louis’ Matt Carpenter had four hits and scored the winning run on Matt Holliday’s single in the 12th inning, helping the Cardinals beat Pittsburgh 6-5 on Thursday to tighten the race for the National League Central Division title.
The Cardinals’ second extra-inning triumph over Pittsburgh in three days saw them move within two games of the sagging Pirates, who have dropped five of six.
Cincinnati stayed right on St Louis’ heels, beating Cleveland to be half a game back.
Over in the American League Central, Detroit increased their lead with a win over Kansas City and the fight for the AL East heated up as Boston lost a tight game against Toronto, while Tampa Bay closed in with a comfortable win over Seattle.
Pittsburgh led St Louis 4-0, but gave up that lead in just one inning.
Cardinals rookie Kevin Siegrist (1-1), the hosts’ seventh pitcher, struck out two in a perfect top of the 12th against the heart of Pittsburgh’s batting order.
In the bottom of the frame, Carpenter sparked the winning rally with a one-out walk. He went to third on Jon Jay’s single, before Holliday grounded a single up the middle off Bryan Morris (5-6) to drive in the winner.
Cincinnati’s Joey Votto hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning as the Reds held on for a 2-1 win over Milwaukee.
Cincinnati starter Tony Cingrani (6-2) allowed only one run, while pitching into the seventh inning.
The Reds have won five straight, thanks chiefly to their rotation. The starters are 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA in the past seven games.
Detroit’s Prince Fielder ended a three-week homer drought by hitting a two-run shot in the first inning which sparked the Tigers to a 4-1 win over Kansas City.
The Tigers took the opener of this key five-game series and pushed their AL Central lead over second-placed Cleveland to 6.5 games, with the Royals a further two games back.
Toronto pinch-hitter Mark De-Rosa hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning which lifted the Blue Jays to a 2-1 victory against Boston. The defeat saw the Red Sox’ lead in the AL East sliced to two games over Tampa Bay.
Toronto starter Buehrle (9-7) came in 0-4 with a 4.97 ERA in his previous eight starts against the Red Sox, a team he had not beaten since 2009, but emphatically ended that run by going seven innings, allowing only one run.
Tampa Bay made up ground with a 7-1 win over Seattle, with Alex Cobb pitching five strong innings in his first big league game since being hit in the head by a batted ball two months ago.
Cobb (7-2) ended his night by striking out Nick Frankiln on a full-count pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field, having given up one run.
Los Angeles’ Chris Nelson hit his first two home runs of the season, including a grand slam against his former team, to send the Angels to an 8-4 win over the New York Yankees.
Washington pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning, giving the Giants an unlikely 4-3 win over Washington.
New York’s Marlon Byrd lined a two-out double over the head of hesitant right-fielder Chris Denorfia, giving the Mets a 4-1 win over San Diego.
Oakland’s Sonny Gray struck out nine on the way to an impressive first major league victory, leading the Athletics to a 5-0 victory that averted a three-game sweep by lowly Houston.