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The Juice: A’s beat Rangers to move into AL West first-place tie; Pirates all alone atop NL Central again

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

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The Oakland Athletics are back in first place in the AL West, in a tie at least, for the first time since Aug. 9 after pulling off a 4-2 victory on Sunday against the division rival Texas Rangers. Both teams are 79-58, with two more games against each other this week then another three-game set next week.

The A's victory wouldn't have happened with a two-run, fifth-inning homer from Coco Crisp that broke a 2-2 tie. It smacked off the left-field foul pole and the umpiring crew reviewed the play before upholding the home-run call — a welcome instant-replay victory for an Oakland team that's been on the wrong side of reviewed homers a few times this season.

Dan Straily pitched only five innings for the A's, but got the win while giving up three hits and two runs. The Oakland bullpen gave up five hits, but didn't let another Ranger run cross the plate.

The A's picked up the win here after sweeping another playoff hopeful, the Tampa Bay Rays, over the weekend and taking three of four from the Detroit Tigers last week. It's a nice turnaround for a team that faltered in August, going 14-13 for the month, a mark that would have looked much worse had it not won five of six games to finish the month. Just a month ago, on Aug. 3, the A's had a 3 1/2 game lead on the Rangers in the AL West.

PIRATES RETAKE NL CENTRAL LEAD: It's Sept. 3 and the Pittsburgh Pirates are all alone atop the NL Central, just two wins away from clinching their first winning season in 20 years.

On Sunday, the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2. That combined with — spoiler alert — a St. Louis Cardinals loss, broke the first-place tie in the NL Central. Pittsburgh got a huge three-run homer from Neil Walker in the seventh inning, which turned a 2-1 game into a 5-1 game. The Pirates got seven innings of two-run ball from starting pitcher Charlie Morton.


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(Getty Images)

Dodgers 10, Rockies 8: Clayton Kershaw withstands a rough start (including a career-high 11 hits allowed) and the Dodgers win. Yasiel Puig, however, leaves the game with a strained knee and will likely sit out Tuesday's game.

Angels 11, Rays 2: When a team scores 11 runs, its starting pitcher can get away with walking seven in five innings. For Angels starter Garrett Richards, all those walks somehow only led to one run.

Phillies 3, Nats 2: The Phillies get two in the bottom of the eighth — a Jimmy Rollins RBI double and a Carlos Ruiz RBI single being the clutch moments — to top the Nats.

Blue Jays 4, D-backs 1: Esmil Rogers pitches 6 1/3 innings of one-hit ball for Toronto.

Orioles 7, Indians 2: Bud Norris pitches seven innings, giving up just one run and four hits. He's now 4-0 since being traded to Baltimore.

Padres 4, Giants 1: Barry Zito loses his eighth straight and Ian Kennedy wins his first start against an NL West team this season.

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(Getty Images)

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: Mat Latos throws a four-hit complete game for the Reds while Adam Wainwright gives up 10 hits and six runs.

Marlins 4, Cubs 3: Henderson Alvarez not only pitches six innings and gets the win for Miami, but he also hits a three-run homer.

Twins 10, Astros 6: Chris Colabello homers twice for the Twins, including a ninth-inning grand slam.

Royals 3, Mariners 1: Felix Hernandez loses again for the M's, while Will Smith fans eight in a stellar four-inning relief appearance for K.C.

Tigers 3, Red Sox 0: Doug Fister combines with Phil Coke, Bruce Rondon and Jose Veras to shut out the Red Sox.

Braves 13, Mets 5: Freddie Freeman knocks five RBIs as Braves beat up on Dice-K Matsuzaka and the Mets.

Yankees 9, White Sox 1: The Yanks get an eight-run fourth inning, plus two hits from Derek Jeter, to whack the Sox.

''That was really a tough one; it really hurt. It was like a stab in the heart.''

— Nationals manager Davey Johnson on Monday's loss.

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(USA Today)

No, Derek Jeter didn't immediately go on the disabled list after this play.

• Indians ace Justin Masterson left Monday's game in the second inning with tightness in his side. He'll get an MRI on Tuesday.

• This season, Freddie Freeman has hit .349 with five homers and 16 RBIs against the Mets.

• Outfielder Sam Fuld pitched to a batter for the Rays in their loss to the Angels. He got J.B. Shuck to fly out for the Angels' last out of the game.

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