Athletics 12, Tigers 4
DETROIT (AP) — Seth Smith homered, doubled and drove in four runs, and the Oakland Athletics avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Detroit Tigers 12-4 in a matchup of AL playoff contenders.
Both teams began the day in second place in their divisions, and Oakland held an edge in the wild-card race. The Tigers fell 2½ games behind the Central-leading Chicago White Sox, who played later at Kansas City.
Outscored 18-4 in the first two games, Oakland held down Miguel Cabrera to win the finale. Cabrera singled in four at-bats, and tops the AL in batting at .333.
Indians 4, Twins 3, 10 innings
CLEVELAND (AP) — Casey Kotchman singled with the bases-loaded in the 10th inning, giving the Cleveland Indians a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Pinch-hitter Shin-Soo Choo doubled off the wall in left-center to start the inning against reliever Anthony Swarzak (3-5). Choo took third on Jason Kipnis' groundout before Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley were intentionally walked to load the bases.
Kotchman fouled off the first pitch before bouncing a ground ball up the middle against the drawn-in infield for his third hit of the game.
Esmil Rogers (3-1) pitched a perfect inning for the win. Both teams used five pitchers.
Yankees 10, Blue Jays 7
NEW YORK (AP) — Streaking Ichiro Suzuki (EE'-cheer-oh soo-ZOO'-kee) hit a go-ahead, two-run double in a seven-run fourth inning capped by Nick Swisher's grand slam, and the New York Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-7 Thursday night to open a one-game AL East lead over idle Baltimore.
After struggling for much of the summer, the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays and have won five in a row, their longest winning string since June 23-27.
Backed by an 8-2 lead, Phil Hughes (16-12) lasted just five innings.
Toronto trailed 10-4 before a three-run eighth. David Robertson got three outs for his second save this season and first since May 8.
Rays 7, Red Sox 4
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — B.J. Upton hit a game-ending, three-run homer off Vicente Padilla, capping Tampa Bay's six-run ninth inning and lifting the Rays to a sorely needed 7-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
Tampa Bay salvaged a split of the four-game series and remained 5½ games back of Oakland for the second AL wild-card slot. The Rays (80-70) have 12 games left on their schedule.
Andrew Bailey (1-1) gave up four hits and a walk before Padilla came in to face Upton, who drove a 2-1 pitch over the wall in center for his 24th homer.
Royals 4, White Sox 3
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Rios was thrown out at the plate, Alexei Ramirez was picked off third base and the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox again failed to come up with a clutch hit in a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
Eric Hosmer singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning. The White Sox stayed two games ahead of Detroit, which lost in the afternoon to Oakland, with 13 games remaining.
The Royals beat the Chicago for the ninth time in their last 11 meetings.
Rangers 3, Angels 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Adrian Beltre hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri in the ninth inning, and the Texas Rangers dealt yet another blow to Los Angeles' fading playoff hopes with a 3-1 victory Thursday night.
Yu Darvish (16-9) held the Angels to four hits and struck out nine in a scintillating eight-inning duel with Zack Greinke, who gave up five hits and struck out eight.
Beltre then rewarded Darvish with his 34th homer to left field off Frieri (3-2), who wasted a phenomenal start by Greinke for the second time in six days.
Texas (89-60) improved the AL's best record and stayed four games ahead of Oakland (85-64) in the AL West by taking two of three from the Angels.
Los Angeles (81-69) dropped 4½ games behind the Athletics and Baltimore in the AL wild-card standings. Oakland beat Detroit earlier, and the Orioles were idle.
Cardinals 5, Astros 4
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Pinch hitter Carlos Beltran snapped a sixth-inning tie with a two-run double and Allen Craig hit a three-run home run, powering the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-4 victory that completed a season sweep at home over the Houston Astros.
Beltran's double put St. Louis up 5-3, rewarding Jaime (HY'-mee) Garcia (5-7) for keeping it close and putting the Cardinals 2½ games up for the second NL wild card with 12 games remaining. They took care of business against the lowly Astros, who absorbed their 102nd loss while leading for a single inning in the three-game series.
The Cardinals were 6-0 at home against Houston, their first season series sweep in St. Louis since 1996.
Reds 5, Cubs 3
CHICAGO (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this season, beating the Chicago Cubs 5-3 while manager Dusty Baker remained in a Chicago hospital after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
The NL Central leaders ensured themselves of at least a wild-card spot. Cincinnati cut its magic number to two for winning the division for the second time in three years.
Baker missed his second straight game. The team said that if all goes well, he could return to Cincinnati on Friday.
Johnny Cueto (KWAY'-toh) improved to 18-9. He pitched six shutout innings as the Red completed a three-game sweep.
D-Backs 6, Padres 5
PHOENIX (AP) — Jesus Guzman homered and Clayton Richard was effective enough as the San Diego Padres held on to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 on Thursday.
Richard (14-12) allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings to raise his career record against Arizona to 6-0 — including three wins in three starts at Chase Field over the past 10 weeks.
Anthony Bass, the last of five Padres pitchers in the ninth, struck out Aaron Hill on a checked swing for his first career save.
Adam Eaton hit his first career home run, Hill also homered and Justin Upton was a home run short of the cycle for the Diamondbacks.
Arizona fell 5 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the NL wild-card race.
Diamondbacks starter Tyler Skaggs (1-3) pitched in and out of trouble and allowed four runs on seven hits over five innings.
Giants 9, Rockies 2
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pablo Sandoval hit a three-run homer and a solo shot, and the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants reduced their magic number to clinch the division to four by beating the Colorado Rockies 9-2 on Thursday.
Buster Posey also connected for the Giants to back another strong start by Barry Zito (13-8) as San Francisco completed a four-game sweep.
Zito won his fifth straight decision and has done everything to earn himself a spot in the postseason rotation after being left off all three rounds for the 2010 World Series champions.
The second-place Dodgers were set for a night game at Washington, trailing by 9 1/2 games. San Francisco (87-63) moved a season-best 24 games above .500, its best since finishing the 2003 season 39 games over.
Brewers 9, Pirates 7
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Rickie Weeks hit a tying two-run triple and scored the go-ahead run on Aramis Ramirez's single, helping the surging Milwaukee Brewers rally for a 9-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
The Brewers have won five straight, eight of nine and 15 of 19 to climb into the playoff race. They remained 2½ games back of St. Louis for the second NL wild-card slot.
Milwaukee trailed 7-4 before it rallied for four runs in the eighth inning.
Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura opened the inning with consecutive singles off Chad Qualls. Norichika Aoki doubled in a run with one out and Weeks greeted Chris Resop (1-4) with a triple to the 410-foot mark in left-center.
Ryan Braun was intentionally walked before Ramirez bounced a single into center field to give Milwaukee an 8-7 lead.
Dodgers 4, Nationals 1
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals brought postseason baseball back to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933, clinching a playoff spot Thursday night with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Nationals ensured at least an NL wild-card spot behind Ross Detwiler's six strong innings and Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double.
Washington's magic number to win the NL East was reduced to eight. The Nationals lead idle Atlanta by 5 1/2 games.
The Nationals became the second team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this year. Cincinnati earned a slot earlier in the day.
Phillies 16, Mets 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley sparked an eight-run first inning, Ryan Howard added a late grand slam and the Philadelphia Phillies routed the inept New York Mets 16-1 before a few hundred fans Thursday night at quiet Citi Field.
Rookie right-hander Tyler Cloyd (2-1) pitched eight innings of three-hit ball and the Phillies stayed four games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild card, with two other teams in their path. The Phillies and Cardinals both have 12 games left.
Juan Pierre matched a career high with five hits, Utley added four and Philadelphia set season highs for runs and hits (21) — including 19 singles. Utley had four RBIs, and his double in the sixth was the only extra-base hit until Howard hit his 12th career slam in the ninth.
Boosted by their biggest inning of the year, the resurgent Phillies finished a three-game sweep and won for the 11th time in 14 games.