Daisuke Matsuzaka won for only the second time since early last month and David Ortiz homered for the fourth time in seven games as the Boston Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Friday night to capture their first AL East title in 12 years.
Boston will open the playoffs at home against the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels, while Central Division champ Cleveland will open at home against the New York Yankees.
Mike Lowell had two RBIs and Ortiz stretched his streak for reaching base to 11 straight plate appearances with a double and single before grounding out.
Kevin Slowey (4-1) gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings, the first major league loss for the rookie. Minnesota fell to 78-82, guaranteeing its first losing season since 2000.
Orioles 10, Yankees 9
In Baltimore, Alex Rodriguez hit his 54th homer, drove in four runs and scored twice, but a rare blown save by Mariano Rivera allowed Melvin Mora to bunt home the winning run and end the Yankees' string of nine straight division titles.
Rodriguez has 155 RBIs, tied with Joe DiMaggio for the 10th most in Yankees history, and has the highest total since 1937. Johnny Damon also homered for New York, which became the first team in major league history to hit 200 home runs in eight consecutive seasons.
Indians 5, Royals 3
In Kansas City, Missouri, C.C. Sabathia picked up his 100th career victory as the Indians wrapped up home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
The Indians claimed their 95th victory, tying them with the Boston Red Sox for the most wins in the American League. But Boston holds the tiebreaker by winning the season series.
Angels 2, Athletics 0
In Oakland, California, John Lackey took over the American League lead in earned-run average and Vladimir Guerrero homered and drove in two runs as Los Angeles beat Oakland.
Lackey (19-9) allowed two hits in seven innings, struck out two and walked none, lowering his ERA to 3.01, ahead of Cleveland's Fausto Carmona (3.06) and Oakland's Dan Haren (3.07).
Blue Jays 5, Devil Rays 4
In Toronto, Adam Lind hit a two-run homer and Matt Stairs added a solo shot as the Blue Jays won for the fourth time in five games.
Carlos Pena hit his 45th home run and Jorge Velandia went deep for Tampa Bay.
Dustin McGowan (12-10) gave up four runs in six-plus innings.
White Sox 5, Tigers 2
In Chicago, Paul Konerko hit a three-run home run and Jim Thome hit his 506th career homer to lead the White Sox past the Tigers.
Javier Vazquez (15-8) pitched crisply into the eighth inning for the White Sox.
Magglio Ordonez, who is battling Ichiro Suzuki for the AL batting title, was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Mariners 6, Rangers 4
In Seattle, Adrian Beltre led off the ninth with a single and rookie Jeff Clement followed with a homer to lead the Mariners over the Angels.
J.J. Putz (6-1) pitched the ninth for the win. He struck out Travis Metcalf, who had hits in his previous three at-bats, to strand the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Alfonso Soriano hit another leadoff homer and Carlos Zambrano kept his cool as the Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central with a 6-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
Thousands of Chicago fans made the five-hour road trip and cheered every move by the Cubs, who earned their first playoff spot since 2003 when Milwaukee later lost to San Diego 6-3.
Since returning from a strained thigh that sidelined him for most of last month, Soriano has gone on a tear. He has 13 homers this month, matching Ernie Banks' record of 50 years ago.
Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 2
At Denver, Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks clinched a playoff spot, stopping the Rockies' 11-game winning streak and putting a crimp in their postseason plans.
Arizona's win combined with the New York Mets' loss to Florida put Arizona into the postseason for the first time since 2002.
Padres 6, Brewers 3
At Milwaukee, Khalil Greene hit a go-ahead double and drove in three runs as the wild card-leading Padres eliminated the Brewers from postseason contention.
Greg Maddux (14-11) gave up three runs and six hits in five innings for his 347th win. San Diego has a two-game lead in the wild card but remained one game behind Arizona in the NL West.
Marlins 7, Mets 4
At New York, Third baseman David Wright missed an easy force play and Oliver Perez hit a pair of batters with the bases loaded as the Mets stumbled out of the NL East lead.
New York has lost five straight and 11 of 15 to fall one game back of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets' eighth straight home loss dropped them out of first place for the first time since May 15.
Phillies 6, Nationals 0
At Philadelphia, Cole Hamels struck out 13 in eight dominant innings and Ryan Howard hit his 45th homer as the Phillies moved closer to ending a 14-year playoff drought.
Hamels (15-5) shut down the Nationals with an overpowering fastball and his trademark changeup. He allowed six hits in his third start since missing a month with a strained elbow.
Braves 7, Astros 2
At Houston, Jeff Francoeur hit the go-ahead two-run homer as the Braves beat the Astros.
Rookie left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes (2-2) gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings one night after the Braves were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Philadelphia.
Cardinals 6, Pirates 1
At Pittsburgh, Jim Edmonds broke open a tight game with a three-run single in the eighth inning, helping the Cardinals win their third straight.
So Taguchi drove in two runs and David Eckstein scored three times for the defending World Series champions, who have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
Dodgers 8, Giants 3
At Los Angeles, David Wells capped off his season with a victory and singled home a run and James Loney continued his torrid month with another homer as the Dodgers beat the Giants.
Wells (9-9) allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings. He completed his 21st big league season with a career-worst 5.43 ERA, but was 4-1 in seven starts with the Dodgers.
Wells signed with the Dodgers after being designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
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Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017