Reds, Cards win to tighten NL Central

DIVISION LEADERS::Joey Votto shook off his slump to hit a single and two-run homer to lead the Reds 3-2 over the Dodgers, while St Louis beat Pittsburgh 12-8

AP, SAN FRANCISCO

Sun, Sep 08, 2013 - Page 18

MAJOR LEAGUES

Cincinnati won and St Louis beat Pittsburgh on Friday to leave the top three teams in the National League Central division separated by just two games as the regular season moves toward its final month.

St Louis piled on 12 runs to beat Pittsburgh and close within half a game of the NL Central leader, while Cincinnati edged the Los Angeles Dodgers to stay within 1.5 games of the Cardinals and two of the Pirates.

In the American League East division, Boston rallied past their archrivals the New York Yankees to extend their lead to 7.5 games over Tampa Bay, who lost in Seattle.

Detroit’s bats lit up in a rout of Kansas City that kept the Tigers 6.5 games clear in the AL Central, while Texas lost a close game against the Los Angeles Angels and were replaced atop the AL West by Oakland.

Cincinnati’s Joey Votto emerged from his deep slump with a single and a two-run homer that led the Reds to a 3-2 win over the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

Votto hit a two-run homer off J.P. Howell (2-1) in the fifth inning for a 3-2 lead.

The Dodgers lost pitcher Chris Capuano to a mild groin strain in the second inning. Already this week, the team had to push Ryu Hyun-jin back from a scheduled start because of a sore back.

St Louis’ Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay had three hits apiece as the Cardinals beat Pittsburgh 12-8.

The Cardinals opened a seven-run seventh inning with nine straight hits off three relievers, including Yadier Molina’s three-run homer.

Jay had three RBIs and Beltran drove in two runs.

Atlanta, who have a runaway lead in the NL East, lost 2-1 against Philadelphia, with Cody Asche hitting a two-run homer for the Phillies in the seventh inning.

Asche’s homer came on the first pitch he saw from Mike Minor in the seventh. In his first time facing the Phillies this season, Minor (13-6) allowed four hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking one.

However his impressive performance was bettered by Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee (12-6), who allowed just one run and no walks, while striking out 10 in eight innings.

Boston’s Mike Napoli hit a tying grand slam in the seventh and Shane Victorino had a go-ahead homer one inning later as the Red Sox rallied past the New York Yankees 12-8 for their fourth straight victory.

Boston erased a five-run deficit in another thrilling game between these longtime rivals. One night earlier, the Yankees took an 8-7 lead with a six-run seventh — only to lose 9-8 in 10 innings.

New York have lost consecutive games when scoring at least eight runs for the first time since 1949, according to STATS. The last time it happened with both games at home was in 1911 against Cleveland.

Napoli also doubled, singled and walked twice in a perfect night at the plate. He scored three times, one night after sparking Boston’s ninth-inning comeback with a two-out single.

The Yankees remain 2.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the fight for the second and last wild-card berth.

The Rays missed a chance to extend their advantage when they lost 6-4 to Seattle, with Justin Smoak doubling in two runs for the Mariners in the eighth inning.

The Rays’ nearest rivals for the wild-card berth are Cleveland and Baltimore, both of whom won to close within two games.

After tying the game in the top of the eighth, the Rays could not keep the Mariners from going ahead.

In the eighth, Seattle’s Kyle Seager hit a fly ball to a gap in left-center, where Desmond Jennings grassed the attempted catch and Seager reached second base. After a walk, Smoak’s hit down the right field line just missed the glove of a diving Wil Myers. Seager and pinch runner Abraham Almonte scored to give the Mariners a 6-4 lead.

Detroit’s Omar Infante set career highs with five hits and six RBIs, while Andy Dirks also went five-for-five as the Tigers pounded Kansas City 16-2.

Austin Jackson drove in four runs as the Tigers finished with a season-high 26 hits. Dirks, who is hitting .410 against Kansas City this season, scored four times.

Infante had run-producing singles in the second, fourth and seventh innings and a three-run double in the fifth.

Los Angeles’ Mark Trumbo hit a three-run homer to help the Angels edge Texas 6-5.

C.J. Wilson (15-6) pitched into the seventh inning, allowing seven hits, persevering through a few jams for his first win over the Rangers since he left the club two seasons ago.

The Rangers slipped half a game behind Oakland, who won 7-5 over Houston, with Josh Donaldson having three hits including a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

Cleveland continued their wild-card push with an 8-1 win over the New York Mets, thanks chiefly to Scott Kazmir, who pitched a season-high 12 strikeouts.

San Francisco pitcher Yusmeiro Petit was on track for a perfect game until he gave up a two-out single in the ninth, but did record a complete game shutout as the Giants beat Arizona 3-0.

Baltimore’s Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 48th home run as the Orioles beat Chicago 4-0 to extend the White Sox losing streak to eight games.

San Diego pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman singled in the winning run in the ninth inning to give the Padres a 4-3 win over Colorado.

Toronto’s R.A. Dickey pitched into the seventh inning to lead the Blue Jays to a 6-5 win over Minnesota.

Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez allowed one hit and struck out nine in seven innings to steer the Marlins to a 7-0 win over Washington.

Chicago rookie Junior Lake hit his first career grand slam in Chicago’s five-run first inning that set up an 8-5 win over Milwaukee.