Oakland strengthened their grip on the American League West title by beating nearest rivals Texas 1-0 on Saturday, led by Bartolo Colon who pitched eight scoreless innings as the Athletics moved 5.5 games clear of the Rangers.
With the two teams having only 14 and 15 games respectively to play in the regular season, the A’s won the crucial series and appeared bound for the American League West title.
A wild-card place looks the most the Rangers can hope for now, but they may miss out there too, as they are locked on the same 81-66 record as the other current wild-card holders Tampa Bay and they are only 1.5 games above nearest challengers the Cleveland Indians, with the New York Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals close behind.
The Boston Red Sox remained 8.5 games clear atop the American League East after beating the archrivals the Yankees for the fifth time in six games in just over a week.
The Tampa Bay Rays had a shutout win over Minnesota to move three games clear of the Yankees. Baltimore, who lost in Toronto, and Kansas City, which scored the only run of the game against the Detroit Tigers, are both half a game behind New York.
In the National League Central, Pittsburgh and St Louis are once again tied at the top after the Pirates edged the Chicago Cubs and the Cardinals lost to the Seattle Mariners. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers to remain 2.5 games behind the top pair.
Oakland’s Colon (16-6) struck out seven and lowered what is already his career-best ERA to 2.73.
Rangers starter Yu Darvish (12-9) struck out 10 over seven innings. The Japanese has lost his past four starts, the last two by 1-0 scores, and is winless in his past six.
Even though Darvish struck out the side in the first, Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk and scored on a two-out double by Brandon Moss.
Boston’s Jon Lester pitched eight dominant innings to steer the Red Sox to a 5-1 win over New York. Lester (14-8) allowed one run, striking out five.
Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino each had two hits as the surging Red Sox won for the 16th time in 19 games.
Kansas City held on for a 1-0 win over American League Central-leading Detroit by throwing out Prince Fielder at home plate to end the game.
Fielder walked to open the ninth. The Tigers’ burly first baseman then tried to score from first on Omar Infante’s two-out double, but Alex Gordon made a strong throw from the left-field corner to shortstop Alcides Escobar, who relayed perfectly to catcher Salvador Perez and he tagged a sliding Fielder to end it.
Royals’ starter Ervin Santana (9-9) won for the first time in six weeks.
The defeat sliced Detroit’s lead in the Central to five games over Cleveland, who beat the Chicago White Sox 8-1.
Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9) allowed one run in 8-1/3 innings, striking out eight, to win his third straight start.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run homer and Lonnie Chisenhall added a three-run shot in a five-run fourth inning that powered the Indians to their 11th straight win against Chicago.
Cleveland are the main threat to Texas and Tampa Bay in the wild-card race, but the Rays boosted their hopes of staying in front by beating the Minnesota Twins 7-0.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore and five relievers combined on the shutout.
Moore struck out five over three innings, but did not return after a two-hour rain delay in the middle of the fourth inning. He has only allowed one earned run in 14-2/3 innings since returning from injury earlier this month.
The Rays blanked the Twins for the second straight day and threw their 15th shutout of the season. Tampa Bay beat Minnesota for the 11th time in a row.
Baltimore’s wild-card hopes were dented by a 4-3 loss to Toronto.
Colby Rasmus hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning to lift the Blue Jays into the lead, while reliever Jeremy Jefress (1-0) won for the first time in more than two years.
In the tight National League Central, Pittsburgh moved back into a share of the lead with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Pirates’ rookie starter Gerritt Cole (8-7) gave up one run in seven innings, striking out seven.
Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the seventh to complete the scoring, after Jose Tabata had gone long earlier for Pittsburgh.
St Louis lost their solo grip on top spot, suffering a 4-1 home defeat against Seattle.
Mariners’ rookie James Paxton (2-0) pitched six scoreless innings, giving up only two singles.
Cincinnati kept pace in the division race with a 7-3 victory over Milwaukee.
Joey Votto and Choo Shin-soo each hit two-run homers for the Reds. Votto had three RBIs, including the towering drive of the right-field foul pole in the sixth.
Atlanta widened their lead atop the National League East to 11 games — with only 14 to play — by beating San Diego 2-1.
Kris Medlen pitched 7-1/3 scoreless innings to win his fourth straight start.
It was the Braves’ first win of the season over the Padres, having lost the previous four.
The Los Angeles Dodgers hold a similarly commanding lead in the National League West, sitting 11.5 games clear, but suffered a 19-3 belting at the hands of the San Francisco Giants.
The 19 runs were the most Los Angeles has ever given up at Dodger Stadium, having conceded 19 in a 1961 game when they played at Memorial Coliseum, the year before Dodger Stadium opened.
Hunter Pence hit a grand slam and had a career-high seven RBIs for the Giants.
The Philadelphia Phillies ended the Washington Nationals’ seven-game winning streak with a 5-4 win, as Carlos Ruiz had two doubles and three RBIs, while John Mayberry homered.
The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies 9-2, with the game of two also-rans overshadowed by the announcement that longtime Rockies star Todd Helton plans to retire at the end of the season.
Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver pitched six solid innings to guide the Angels to a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros.
Miami and the New York Mets split a double-header, with the Marlins winning the day game 3-0 and the Mets taking the nightcap 3-1.