Boston’s Shane Victorino hit a go-ahead single in the 10th inning that gave the Red Sox a 9-8 win against the New York Yankees on Thursday, shoring up their playoff position while dealing a blow to the chances that their arch rivals will also be able to play in the post season which starts in October.
Boston’s win, combined with Tampa Bay’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels, moved the Red Sox to a comfortable 6.5-game lead atop the American League (AL) East division, while the Yankees remained stuck 2.5 games behind the Rays for the second wild-card spot and with games fast running out.
In the day’s other vital game, Cincinnati beat St Louis to move within 1.5 games of the Cardinals in the close battle for playoff spots in the National League (NL) Central division.
Boston’s Stephen Drew hit a tying single off Mariano Rivera with two outs in the ninth inning to force an extra innings.
With one out in the tenth, Jacoby Ellsbury singled off Joba Chamberlain (2-1) and stole second base. Victorino — having received the benefit of an umpire’s call on whether he swung through on a ball outside the strike zone — then lined a single that scored Ellsbury.
New York had erased a 7-2 deficit with six runs in the seventh, but could not quite close out the opening game of a key four-game series.
Tampa Bay’s chances of mounting a late challenge to Boston for the AL East title faded further with a 6-2 loss against the Angels.
Collin Cowgill hit a three-run double, one of 11 hits Los Angeles had against reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price through his first 2-1/3 innings.
Price (8-7) was charged with six runs while striking out six. He has lost consecutive starts for the first time since 2011.
Angels’ starter Jerome Williams (6-10) ended a run of eight-straight losing decisions. He allowed two runs over 6-1/3 innings and struck out seven. He was winless in his previous 13 starts.
Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier hit two homers, including the first of Cincinnati’s three off Lance Lynn, as the Reds beat St Louis 6-2.
Cincinnati won three of four in the series to further tighten the NL Central scenario. Pittsburgh lead the division by 1.5 games from the Cardinals, who in turn have the same margin over the Reds.
Lynn (13-10) lasted five innings and gave up three homers for only the second time in his career.
St Louis had won the previous seven series between the two teams. Cincinnati’s lone loss in this set was 5-4 in 16 innings on Wednesday.
Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas homered to lead off the bottom of the 13th inning and give the Royals a 7-6 win over Seattle.
Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt broke out of a slump with two hits and two RBIs, while Martin Prado and Aaron Hill also drove in runs to help the Diamondbacks beat San Francisco 4-2.
Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez allowed one run over seven innings, steering the Orioles to a 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
The Oakland Athletics dropped out of a share of top spot in the AL West after a 3-2 loss at home against lowly Houston.