Nationals deny Braves NL East title

DOUBLE TROUBLE::Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings to sweep a double-header, while the Rangers beat the Rays to pull even with them in the AL wild-card race

AP, WASHINGTON

Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - Page 19

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Tanner Roark threw seven shutout innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 4-0 to sweep a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday, ensuring the Braves leave Washington without the NL East title.

Roark (7-0) allowed just two hits, struck out six and retired the final 13 batters he faced.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run, Ian Desmond an RBI double and Adam LaRoche an RBI single in the eighth inning. Steve Lomardozzi had a second-inning RBI single off Freddy Garcia (1-2).

Washington entered the nightcap, which followed the Nationals’ 6-5 win in the makeup of a series opener postponed by a shooting rampage a day earlier at the nearby Navy Yard, within 4.5 games of Cincinnati for the NL’s second wild-card berth. The Nationals, who have won 10 of 11, have 11 games remaining.

Craig Kimbrel had converted 37 consecutive save chances since early May, and Andrelton Simmons began the day with the second-best fielding percentage among National League shortstops. However, they conspired to blow a three-run lead in the ninth inning of the first game.

Kimbrel (3-3), who leads the major leagues with 47 saves, blew a save chance for just the fourth time this season.

CARDINALS 11, ROCKIES 4

In Denver, Colorado, Matt Holliday had four hits, including a two-run homer, to help St Louis take over sole possession of the NL Central lead.

The Cardinals entered the night tied with Pittsburgh, who lost 5-2 at home to San Diego. St Louis reduced their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to five, with 11 games remaining.

Joe Kelly (9-4) allowed three hits over five sharp innings, before turning a 10-0 lead over to the bullpen.

Juan Nicasio (8-8) lasted just 2-2/3 innings and allowing eight runs, which tied a career high.

Holliday led an 18-hit night by the Cardinals, who had seven players with at least two hits. Holliday finished four-for-four with a walk, double and two-run homer against his former team. He drove in three runs and scored twice.

The Cardinals ran away with the game in the third, when they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six times. Daniel Descalso had a two-run triple in the inning, while Holliday added a double and an RBI single.

Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer finished two-for-three with a walk and an RBI to raise his average to.331, which is tops in the NL.

PADRES 5, PIRATES 2

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jedd Gyorko blasted a three-run homer among his three hits for San Diego.

Ronny Cedeno added three hits for San Diego, who beat the Pirates for the second straight game and dropped Pittsburgh one game behind St Louis in the NL Central. The Cardinals beat the Rockies 11-4.

Luke Gregerson worked the ninth for his fourth save.

Eric Stults (9-13) allowed two runs over five innings to pick up his first win in more than two months. Stults struck out five and walked one.

Andrew McCutchen went two-for-three and Marlon Byrd drove in both of Pittsburgh’s runs.

Jeff Locke (10-6) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, striking out five and walking three.

DODGERS 9, DIAMONDBACKS 3

In Phoenix, Arizona, Juan Uribe and Adrian Gonzalez homered and Zack Greinke pitched six strong innings as Los Angeles inched closer to clinching the NL West title.

One day after coming off the disabled list, Matt Kemp went four-for-four with two doubles and three RBIs.

The Dodgers, who once languished in last place 9.5 games out, snapped a four-game skid and can clinch the division title by beating Arizona.

Greinke (15-3) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings to improve to 7-0 in his last nine starts.

Patrick Corbin (14-7) gave up six runs and seven hits in two innings plus three batters, his shortest outing of the year. After starting the season 12-1, Corbin is 2-6 in his last 10 starts.

Aaron Hill hit a solo home run for the Diamondbacks.

Hanley Ramirez, who had missed the Dodgers’ previous four games with a sore back, reached base four times with a single and three walks and scored three runs.

In other NL action, it was:

‧ Phillies 6, Marlins 4

‧ Giants 8, Mets 5

‧ Brewers 4, Cubs 3

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AP, ST PETERSBURG, Florida

Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus homered and drove in three runs each as the Texas Rangers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

The Rangers pulled even with the Rays at the top of the AL wild-card race.

The Rangers, who held the No. 1 wild-card spot or the AL West lead for most of the summer, won for only the fourth time in 17 games.

Kinsler hit Jeremy Hellickson’s first pitch for his 12th home run, breaking a streak of seven homerless games for the Rangers, their longest in 23 years. The 1-0 lead marked the first time Texas have led in a game since Sept. 8.

Kinsler added a two-run single in the Rangers’ four-run third, driving in three runs on the first two pitches he saw from Hellickson (11-9). Andrus followed with his third home run of the season to put the Rangers up 5-0.

Alexi Ogando (7-4) won in his first start since Aug. 13, giving up two hits in five innings

ORIOLES 3, RED SOX 2

In Boston, Danny Valencia tripled to stop closer Koji Uehara’s streak of 37 consecutive outs, while pinch-runner Alexi Casilla scored on Matt Wieters’ sacrifice fly in the ninth inning to lift Baltimore over Boston.

The Orioles overcame a 2-0 deficit on Brian Roberts’ run-scoring groundout in the fifth and Chris Davis’ 51st homer of the season in the sixth that tied the score 2-2. Davis broke the club record set by Brady Anderson in 1996.

Uehara (4-1) fell four outs short of Bobby Jenks’ major league record for a reliever of 41 consecutive retired batters set in 2007 and Mark Buehrle’s mark for all pitchers of 45 in 2009. The run was the first off Uehara in 30-2/3 innings and ended a streak of 27 scoreless outings since July 9.

TIGERS 6, MARINERS 2

In Detroit, Michigan, Miguel Cabrera homered, while Austin Jackson hit a two-run single as Detroit held off Seattle, despite a short-handed bullpen.

The AL Central-leading Tigers were ahead 3-2 when they escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth while playing without closer Joaquin Benoit and left-handed reliever Drew Smyly. They were both given the night off.

Anibal Sanchez struck out 10 in 6-1/3 innings, but the Mariners tied it at 2 against him in the seventh, forcing Detroit’s relievers into action. Al Alburquerque (3-3) got out of the seventh, and Phil Coke and Jose Alvarez made it through a dodgy eighth. Alvarez got two outs in the ninth, and Jose Veras finished.

Yoervis Medina (4-6) took the loss.

BLUE JAYS 2, YANKEES 0

In Toronto, R.A. Dickey pitched seven innings to win his fourth straight decision, while Colby Rasmus and Rajai Davis homered as Toronto handed slumping New York their fourth straight loss.

The Yankees came in 2.5 games behind Texas in the AL wild card race and lost for the eighth time in 12 games. The Yankees have 11 games remaining.

Dickey (13-12) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out eight.

The knuckleballer retired the final 11 batters he faced and 15 of the last 16.

Dickey has not lost since the Yankees beat him in the Bronx on Aug. 21. He is 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts since.

Sergio Santos pitched the eighth and Casey Janssen finished in the ninth for his 31st save in 33 chances.

In other AL action, it was:

‧ Indians 5, Royals 3

‧ Athletics 2, Angels 1

‧ White Sox 4, Twins 3

In interleague play, it was:

‧ Reds 10, Astros 0