Tampa Bay leapfrogged Boston to reclaim first place in the American League East Division, as David Price put in a commanding pitching performance to steer the Rays to a 2-1 win over the Red Sox on Monday.
Tampa Bay moved equal top of the American League overall along with Oakland, who beat Toronto to stay six games clear in the West.
In the day’s key National League games, Pittsburgh beat St Louis to close the gap in the Central Division to just half a game, while Atlanta edged Colorado in 10 innings to stretch their advantage in the East to nine games.
Tampa Bay’s Price (6-5) was dominant, allowing only two hits up until a downpour in the middle of the eighth inning. He stayed in the game after the 39-minute break, but retired just one more batter before departing.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 26th save. He gave up a single, a walk then a wild pitch, before striking out Mike Napoli with a full-count change-up to end the game.
Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano allowed one run over seven dominant innings to steer the Pirates to a 9-2 win over the St Louis Cardinals, while Pedro Alvarez hit his National League-leading 27th home run for the Pirates.
Liriano (11-4) struck out eight and walked just two to win his fifth straight start.
The Pirates kicked off the key series at PNC Park by sending the Cardinals to their fourth straight loss, scoring just four runs in that skid.
Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons drove in Dan Uggla from first base with a triple in the 10th inning, giving the Braves a 9-8 win over the Colorado Rockies.
After Uggla led off with a walk, Simmons hit Edgmer Escalona’s pitch into the gap in left-center field.
Atlanta’s Scott Downs (1-0) earned the win after being acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels earlier in the day and arriving at Turner Field not long before the first pitch. He allowed one hit in 1-1/3 innings.
Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes homered and hit a two-run triple to help the Athletics down the Toronto Blue Jays 9-4.
Josh Reddick added a two-run double and had three RBIs, including a sacrifice fly in Oakland’s four-run first inning.
Cespedes led off the eighth with his 16th home run, snapping a career-worst 25-game homerless streak for the Home Run Derby champion.
San Diego’s Chris Denorfia hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer off Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Padres a 2-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Texas’ Geovany Soto hit a game-ending homer after A.J. Pierzynski went deep to tie the game earlier in the ninth, giving the Rangers a 4-3 comeback win over the Los Angeles Angels and their first victory in five games.
Cleveland pinch-hitter Jason Giambi homered leading off the ninth inning to give the Indians their fifth straight victory, 3-2 over the Chicago White Sox.
Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez broke a scoreless tie in the ninth inning with an RBI single as the Brewers went on to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-0.
New York’s Ike Davis had a go-ahead RBI double in a three-run seventh inning which lifted the Mets to a 6-5 win over the Miami Marlins.
LO TO MAKE HIS DEBUT
Staff writer, with CNA
Taiwanese reliever Lo Chia-jen has been recalled from Double-A Corpus Christi and will make his debut on a Major League active roster, his team, the Houston Astros, announced on Monday.
Lo, a native of Pingtung County, will become the 10th Taiwanese to appear in the major leagues after Chen Chin-feng, Tsao Chin-hui, Wang Chien-ming, Kuo Hong-chih, Hu Chin-lung, Lin Che-hsuan, Ni Fu-te, Chen Wei-yin and Lee Chen-chang.
The 27-year-old right-hander, who was part of Taiwan’s team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic, signed with the Astros in 2009, but his progress has been impeded by injuries. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011.
This season, Lo nearly made it to the team after his impressive performance during spring training, where he recorded a 2.08 ERA during nine appearances for the Astros. He nonetheless racked up a 3.24 ERA with six saves over 17 appearances for Corpus Christi, Class A Quad Cities and Class A Tri-City.
The Astros had recalled Lo and another reliever, Josh Zeid, in the wake of a deal that saw closer Jose Veras go to the Detroit Tigers in order to strengthen the team’s thin bullpen.
The Taiwanese reliever has worked 7-2/3 scoreless innings in his past seven appearances.