Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas all won on Thursday to keep the fight alive for the two wild-card berths in the American League, with three games to play in the regular season.
Tampa Bay beat New York 4-0, tarnishing the farewell home appearance of veteran Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, while Cleveland withstood a ninth-inning rally by Minnesota to win their seventh straight and a ninth-inning homer lifted Texas over the Los Angeles Angels.
The Rays lead the wild-card standings, a game ahead of the Indians, with the Rangers a further game back and needing the two teams ahead to falter over the final three games if they are to get a spot in the sudden-death wild-card game.
Tampa Bay won their seventh straight by downing the Yankees, but the result was only incidental for the home fans, who had come to bid farewell to Rivera.
Rivera, who retired four straight batters in his last home game, came out of the game with two outs in the ninth as fellow veterans Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out to the mound to relieve him.
During four minutes of thunderous chanting from the sellout crowd of 48,675, an overcome Rivera sobbed as he buried his head on the shoulder of Pettitte and then hugged Jeter.
Rivera wiped his eyes as he walked off and blew a kiss to the crowd. He hugged tearful manager Joe Girardi in the dugout, grabbed a towel to dab the tears, and then came out again and doffed his cap to the crowd. All the while, the Rays remained in their dugout applauding.
“I was so thankful they came out,” Rivera said after the game.
Cleveland, like the Rays, also won a seventh straight game, though it was a close-run thing, edging Minnesota 6-5.
The Twins scored four runs in the ninth, and had runners on first and second before Indians reliever Joe Smith struck out Oswaldo Arcia to end it.
Yan Gomes hit a towering two-run homer for Cleveland, while Michael Brantley added three hits and two RBIs from the leadoff spot.
Texas remained in the hunt with a 6-5 win over the Angels, with pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar hitting a homer leading off the ninth inning.
It was the fourth straight time the Rangers have beaten the Angels on a walk-off homer at home. They did it each time in a three-game sweep in late July.
Texas managed to win, despite committing four errors in one inning.
In Thursday’s other games, Kansas City edged the Chicago White Sox 3-2, with Jeremy Guthrie pitching seven strong innings for the Royals.
Baltimore pitcher Miguel Gonzalez allowed only one unearned run in seven innings to steer the Orioles to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the National League, Atlanta scored five runs in the first inning to set up a 7-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, with Jason Heyward having a career-high five hits, including a leadoff home run, for the Braves.
San Diego’s Alexi Amarista hit an RBI single in the 11th inning to lift the Padres to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Milwaukee’s Scooter Gennett capped a four-run second inning with a two-run single which helped the Brewers beat the New York Mets 4-2.
San Francisco’s Angel Pagan hit a tiebreaking home run leading off the eighth inning as the Giants edged the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2.