Detroit’s Torii Hunter hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Tigers a dramatic 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, boosting their commanding lead in the American League (AL) Central division.
Detroit’s win, combined with Cleveland’s loss at Atlanta, meant the Tigers led the division by 6.5 games, with the teams having 28 and 29 games left respectively. The Tigers and Indians were set to begin a vital series yesterday.
Elsewhere, Baltimore put some life back into its flagging playoff hopes with a win over Boston, while Pittsburgh’s post-season ambitions hit a speed hump with a home defeat by Milwaukee.
Detroit scored four times in the ninth off A’s reliever Grant Balfour (0-3). A two-out walk set up Victor Martinez’s RBI single, and then Hunter connected for the walk-off homer as the Tigers avoided a four-game series sweep.
Detroit starter Max Scherzer (19-1) was denied his 20th win, taking a non-decision after giving up six runs in five innings.
Star Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hurt his abdomen making an awkward slide while attempting a double in the fifth inning. He insisted he would be back in the lineup yesterday for the start of their key series against Cleveland.
Oakland slipped three games behind Texas in the fight for the AL West division lead.
Atlanta catcher Brian McCann hit a three-run homer, which was enough to give the Braves a 3-1 win over Cleveland.
McCann went deep in the third after Justin Upton kept the inning going with a two-out single. Upton had to leave the game in the sixth after being struck on the left hand by a pitch, but X-rays showed no fracture.
Braves starter Kris Medlen (11-12) pitched seven scoreless innings to cap a series of dominant pitching by the Braves, who surrendered just three runs in three games.
Baltimore’s Chris Tillman pitched seven strong innings to earn his 15th victory of the season and steer the Orioles to a 3-2 win over Boston, who avoided a three-game sweep.
Tillman (15-4) allowed two runs, while striking out eight.
The Red Sox remained 2.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East, with Baltimore another four games back.
Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo pitched seven scoreless innings to guide the Brewers to a 4-0 win over Pittsburgh.
The Pirates fell one game behind National League Central-leading St Louis, who were scheduled to start a three-game series at Pittsburgh yesterday.
Gallardo (10-9) allowed one walk, while striking out five, and improved his career record against the Pirates to 11-4, including 5-2 in Pittsburgh.
Aramis Ramirez homered for the Brewers against his old side, having also gone long on Tuesday for his 350th career home run.
Los Angeles’ Jason Vargas pitched seven scoreless innings to give the Angels a 2-0 win over Tampa Bay, and a fifth win in six games.
Kansas City’s Bruce Chen bounced back with a solid start as the Royals downed Minnesota 3-1 to complete a sweep for their fifth straight win.
New York’s Carlos Torres held Philadelphia scoreless over the first six innings to set up the Mets’ 11-3 win over the Phillies.
Washington’s Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond each hit a three-run homer, leading the Nationals over Miami 9-0.
Seattle’s Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run homer after Nick Franklin gave Seattle an early lead with a solo shot, providing enough for the Mariners to beat Houston 3-2 and end a six-game skid.