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Big League Stew

The Juice: Athletics sweep Rangers to jump 6 1/2 games ahead in AL West

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Just two weeks to go in season No. 6 of the Juice! Stop by daily for news from the action, along with great photos, stats, video highlights and more.

The Oakland Athletics are taking all of the drama out of the AL West race. Despite losing their scheduled starting pitcher an hour before the first pitch Sunday, along with slugger Yoenis Cespedes, they completed a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers with a 5-1 victory. The A's lead the Rangers by 6 1/2 games after winning five straight and 13 of 16 overall.

Taking over at the last moment because Jarrod Parker was scratched with an illness, left-hander Tommy Millone allowed a run and struck out five in his five-inning emergency stint. Josh Donaldson, Chris Young and Josh Reddick contributed a home run with Cespedes on the bench because of a sore shoulder. He'll get an MRI on Monday, A's manager Bob Melvin said.

The Rangers have dropped six straight, all at home, for their first winless homestand of that length since they moved to Texas in 1972.

From the Associated Press:

''Just as quickly as it started, it can turn around. It's got to,'' general manager Jon Daniels said. ''We're in a pretty congested wild-card race right now.''

The Rangers and Tampa Bay are tied for the two AL wild-card spots in a rapidly tightening race. Cleveland, Baltimore, the Yankees and Kansas City are all within 3 1/2 games of Texas and the Rays.

The A's return to the East Bay to open a homestand against the Angels, and Texas starts another huge series at Tropicana Field against the Rays.

The A's sweep means five of the six division leaders have leads of at least five games. The exception is the NL Central, where the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are tied with 87-72 records with 13 games to play, with the Cincinnati Reds 3 1/2 back with 12 to play.

Pirates 3, Cubs 2: Pinch-hitter Justin Morneau singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth for the Bucs. Left-hander Francisco Liriano picked up his first no-decision of the season in 24 starts.

Cardinals 12, Mariners 2: Team Fredbird got three hits from Yadier Molina, including a home run, along with five easy innings from Shelby Miller to take the rubber game.

Brewers 6, Reds 5: This one is going to sting. The Reds blew a three-run lead, had a what would have been a three-run homer by Jay Bruce stolen at the fence by Carlos Gomez in the ninth, and lost in the ninth when a rookie hit a home run.

Red Sox 9, Yankees 2: So long, Mariano Rivera at Fenway Park. And so long, Yanks. The Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in the AL East, and increased their first-place against Tampa Bay lead to 9 1/2 games, and their magic number is four. Two wins for them and two losses for the Rays clinches the division.

Twins 6, Rays 4: The Rays lost a chance to overtake the Rangers in the wild card race by allowing a four-spot to the Twins in the eighth. Rookie Josmil Pinto took Joel Peralta deep for a killer three-run homer.

''We've had way too many missteps already this year. That's what's got us in this position,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ''We have played well enough to have a much better record. We haven't closed the deal.''

Tigers 3, Royals 2: Alex Avila hit two home runs at Comerica Park, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the eighth against starter Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed 13 hits. Max Scherzer struck out 12 but did not get win No. 20. The Royals are 3 1/2 out of the wild card.

Orioles 3, Blue Jays 1: O's are 2 1/2 back in the wild card.

Indians 7, White Sox 1: Not even Chris Sale could solve the Indians, who have beaten the White Sox 12 straight times. Nick Swisher homered from both sides of the plate for the 13th time. The Tribe is a half-game out in the wild card and five behind the Tigers in the division.

Mets 1, Marlins 0 (12 inn.): Hey, Vic Black gets the win after Travis d'Arnaud gets the big hit.

Nationals 11, Phillies 2: Nice 4-for-4 day with a homer and five RBIs from Wilson Ramos. Denard Span's hitting streak reaches 26 games. Nats are 4 1/2 out of the wild card.

Padres 4, Braves 0: His parents named him Burch Smith for a very good reason, hopefully. He struck 10 over seven innings. Braves magic number is four.

Giants 4, Dodgers 3: With two homers in the finale, Hunter Pence has gone deep in four straight games. He also has 19 RBIs over the past six games, which is a team record since they became an official stat in 1920. Giants took three of four.

Angels 2, Astros 1: It's almost over.

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 2: Five RBIs for Paul Goldschmidt.

''As a kid growing up, I wanted to be a baseball player and a major leaguer. That's the top of the mountain."

— Brewers rookie Sean Halton, after hitting a game-winning home run

• Nick Swisher has five home runs in 13 September games.

• The Twins had lost 11 straight to the Rays. See, White Sox? It can be done!

• Boston's Clay Buchholz has allowed zero earned runs and five hits in 11 innings since coming off the DL.

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