Indians close on wild-card berth

BACK IN CONTENTION::Cleveland beat Minnesota 5-1 for their ninth straight win, while Andy Pettitte pitched a five-hitter in his last game to lift the Yankees over Houston 2-1

AP, MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota

Mon, Sep 30, 2013 - Page 19

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The Cleveland Indians won their ninth straight game and took sole possession of the AL wild-card lead on the next-to-last scheduled day of the regular season, beating Minnesota 5-1 on Saturday behind Scott Kazmir’s 11 strikeouts.

Seeking their first post-season appearance since 2007, the Indians (91-70) hold a one-game lead over Tampa Bay and Texas (both 90-71).

Cleveland is assured of at least a tie for the AL wild card. With three teams seeking the two wild cards, yesterday’s results could decide the matter or lead to one or two tiebreaker games at the start of next week.

After a rain delay of 2 hours, 26 minutes at the start, Kazmir (10-9) allowed one run and six hits in six innings.

Cole De Vries (0-2) allowed five runs in five innings.

YANKEES 2, ASTROS 1

In Houston, Texas, Andy Pettitte completed his career in a most fitting fashion.

The 41-year-old left-hander pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game since 2006, leading the New York Yankees over his hometown Houston Astros.

“It couldn’t end any better,” Pettitte said, trying to hold back tears.

Houston extended their team-record losing streak to 14 with their 110th loss of the season.

Pettitte (11-11) never had a losing record in 18 major league seasons. He was 256-153 with a 3.85 ERA and excelled in October last year, when he compiled a record 19 post-season wins.

He struck out five and walked two in a 115-pitch effort.

Paul Clemens (4-7) took the loss.

BLUE JAYS 7, RAYS 2

In Toronto, the Tampa Bay Rays dropped into a tie with Texas for the second AL wild-card berth, losing to Toronto as Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar hit two-run homers.

The Rays and Rangers are even, one game behind Cleveland.

A.J. Happ (5-7) got the win. Alex Torres (4-2) lost in relief.

Yesterday, Matt Moore (16-4) was to start for the Rays against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Todd Redmond.

RANGERS 7, ANGELS 4

In Arlington, Texas, Craig Gentry doubled, scored and bunted home a run, helping the Texas Rangers beat the sloppy Los Angeles Angels for their sixth straight win.

The Rangers, trying to make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, and Tampa Bay are tied for the second AL wild-card spot, a game behind Cleveland.

The Angels made five errors for a game for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, also against Texas. Garrett Richards (7-8) threw two wild pitches and made an error.

Joakim Soria (1-0) got his first major league victory since July 23, 2011, and Joe Nathan got his 43rd save in 46 chances.

The 11:07am start was the earliest home game in the 42 seasons the Rangers have played in Texas — the game was moved up eight hours because of the threat of bad weather. Nathan closed it out in heavy rain.

ORIOLES 6, RED SOX 5

In Baltimore, Steve Pearce drove in the go-ahead runs with a double in the eighth inning as the Baltimore Orioles rallied to a 6-5 win over the Boston Red Sox, who clinched home-field advantage throughout the post-season earlier in the day.

The victory brought a measure of consolation for the Orioles, making them the only AL East team to win the season series against the Red Sox.

Boston was assured of the best record in the American League when Oakland lost to Seattle with one day to spare in the regular season. The Red Sox will open their division series at Fenway Park on Friday against the winner of the wild-card playoff — either Cleveland, Tampa Bay or Texas.

Kevin Gausman (3-5) pitched 1-1/3 innings to get the win, and Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his 49th save. Junichi Tazawa (5-4) took the loss.

In other AL action, it was:

‧ Mariners 7, Athletics 5

‧ White Sox 6, Royals 5

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AP, CINCINNATI, Ohio

Neil Walker hit two of Pittsburgh’s six homers — their biggest power surge in six years — and the Pirates clinched home-field advantage for the NL’s wild card playoff game by beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Saturday.

Pittsburgh will host the Reds tomorrow night in the Pirates’ first playoff appearance in 21 years. They went 50-31 at PNC Park, the third-best home record in the NL.

Pittsburgh hit five homers off Bronson Arroyo (14-12), who had never given up that many in a game in his career. Walker homered twice off the right-hander, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez also hit solo homers, and Marlon Byrd had a two-run shot that ended Arroyo’s outing in the fifth and made it 6-3.

Prospect Andrew Lambo hit his first homer off Logan Ondrusek, the first time the Pirates had six in a game since Aug. 22, 2007 at Colorado.

Pirates starter Charlie Morton also struggled, leaving with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth. Vin Mazzaro (8-2) fanned Zack Cozart and retired Ryan Hanigan on a fly ball as the slumping Reds left the bases loaded for the second time in the game.

CARDINALS 6, CUBS 2

In St Louis, Missouri, Adam Wainwright earned his 19th victory in a tuneup for the NL division series opener and St Louis showed no letup after clinching the NL Central, beating Chicago for their fifth straight win.

Matt Holliday homered for the second day in a row and Yadier Molina drove in two runs for St Louis (96-65).

Wainwright (19-9) allowed two hits in shutout 5-1/3 innings and tied for the league lead in victories with Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann, who lost his last scheduled start on Wednesday in St Louis.

Seth Maness earned his first career save by getting Darwin Barney on a double-play ball.

Edwin Jackson (8-18) allowed six runs and eight hits in 2-2/3 innings before leaving with mild side discomfort. He leads the majors in losses.

PHILLIES 5, BRAVES 4

In Atlanta, Georgia, Chris Johnson made a headfirst dive into first base, but was thrown out to end the game, then argued in the dugout with Atlanta coach Terry Pendleton after the Braves lost to Philadelphia.

Down 5-1, the Braves rallied in the ninth on Justin Upton’s three-run homer, his 27th, with two outs. Freddie Freeman singled and Evan Gattis walked to keep the rally going against Jonathan Papelbon.

Johnson hit a grounder to the hole and Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins made a diving stop, got up and made a one-hop throw to first baseman Darin Ruf for the final out.

When Johnson got to the dugout, Pendleton grabbed him and there were angry words before they pulled apart.

Mike Minor (13-9) took the loss after allowing two earned runs in six innings.

Philadelphia rookie Ethan Martin started and allowed a first-inning run in three innings.

Fellow rookie Luis Garcia (1-1) pitched two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win.

In other NL action, it was:

‧ Brewers 4, Mets 2, 10 Inns

‧ Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 0

‧ Padres 9, Giants 3

‧ Rockies 1, Dodgers 0

In interleague play, it was:

‧ Marlins 2, Tigers 1, 10 Inns