Rays beat Rangers, close on wild-card

STILL IN THE HUNT::The Yankees ended a four-game losing streak to avoid falling farther behind Tampa Bay and Texas in the fight for the second AL wild-card

AP, ST PETERSBURG, Florida

Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - Page 19

MAJOR LEAGUES

The Tampa Bay Rays took over the top spot in the American League wild-card playoff race with a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, while the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 to close in on their first National League division title since 2005.

Desmond Jennings had an RBI single in the 12th inning for the Rays, who have won two of the first three games of the four-game series against the Rangers.

Texas still have a half-game lead over Cleveland, who lost at Kansas City, for the second wild-card spot in the AL playoffs.

In Washington, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla each homered in a three-run sixth inning for the Braves, who ended a three-game losing streak and widened their lead over the Nationals for the NL East division title.

Brian McCann and Jordan Schafer also drove in runs for Atlanta, while Kameron Loe (1-2) got one out for the win.

Washington’s Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 29 straight, the longest in Major League Baseball this season.

In other games with playoff implications, the San Diego Padres rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are trying to clinch their first postseason berth in 21 years.

Pittsburgh fell two games behind St Louis, who beat Colorado 4-3, for first place in the NL Central division, but still have a slight lead over Cincinnati for the first wild-card spot.

Logan Forsythe and Rene Rivera delivered consecutive RBI singles in the ninth inning off Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon.

The Arizona Diamondbacks also prevented the Los Angeles Dodgers from clinching the NL West division title with a 9-4 victory at home.

Paul Goldschmidt homered in the first inning for Arizona, moving him into the NL lead with 34 home runs this season.

Yasiel Puig hit a solo home run for the Dodgers, who have lost five of six and had one more chance to clinch in Arizona in the series finale yesterday.

In AL games, the Baltimore Orioles got a tiebreaking two-run single from Chris Davis in the 12th inning to beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 and close to within one game of Texas for the AL’s second wild-card playoff spot.

The Orioles played their 114th errorless game, surpassing the 2008 Houston Astros for Major League Baseball’s most since 1900.

The Kansas City Royals also beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2 to improve their chances at snagging one of the wild-cards in the AL. Bruce Chen worked five innings and Salvador Perez doubled home two runs for Kansas City.

Chen was pulled in the sixth after giving up a single to Michael Bourn and walking Nick Swisher to lead off the inning. Four Royals relievers preserved the lead, allowing just one hit.

The New York Yankees rallied from three runs down to end a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays and avoid falling farther behind in the AL wild-card race.

New York entered three-and-a-half games behind Tampa Bay and Texas for the second wild-card.

Vernon Wells had a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning and Mariano Rivera earned a four-out save for the Yankees.

Elsewhere in the league, Adam Wainwright pitched effectively into the eighth inning after a shaky start and helped himself at the plate with three hits as the St Louis Cardinals beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3 to expand their lead in the NL Central division race.

Wainwright went three for three with a double and two RBIs to help the Cardinals stretch their lead to two games over Pittsburgh.

Miami’s Ed Lucas homered in the 10th inning to lift the Marlins to a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in 10 innings.

The Mets’ Josh Satin hit a two-run single to cap a four-run rally in the ninth inning that sent the New York Mets past the San Francisco Giants, 5-4.

Milwaukee’s Sean Halton hit his first career grand slam and Tyler Thornburg allowed just two singles over six innings as the Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 7-0.

Los Angeles’ Josh Hamilton hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth inning, then put the Angels ahead with a sacrifice fly in the 11th in a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics.

The Minnesota Twins avoided a three-game sweep with a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. Scott Diamond pitched into the seventh inning for his first win since June.

Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma extended his scoreless innings streak on the road to 25 and Justin Smoak homered as the Mariners beat the Detroit Tigers 8-0.

The Cincinnati Reds got a two-run double from Jay Bruce in the 13th inning to defeat the Houston Astros 6-5 in 13 innings.