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Big League Stew

The Juice: Wild Card hopefuls Nationals and Indians win to enter weekend against MLB’s worst teams

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox confirmed their postseason reservations Thursday, celebrating joyfully and becoming the envy of a couple dozen other teams who are either already out of contention or clinging to their postseason hopes.

Two of those clingers who had good days against bad teams: The Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians.

NATS TOP MARLINS 3-2: The Nationals have been the hottest team in baseball recently, having now won 11 out of their last 13 games, and that's great for them, but the reality is they still don't have much wiggle room. After winning Thursday, they're still five games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second NL Wild Card spot with nine games left to play. It's no secret: The Nats need wins.

On Thursday, Washington got all its runs in a single swing. Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer in the first inning, then the Nats just had to stave off the lowly Marlins the rest of the way. Gio Gonzalez pitched six innings and gave up two runs to earn the win. The good news for the Nats is they have three more games this weekend against the Marlins.

INDIANS BEAT ASTROS IN EXTRAS: The Indians' postseason hopes aren't as unlikely as the Nats. With their win Thursday, they're a half game behind both the Rays and Rangers for an AL Wild Card spot.

The Indians' win Thursday came with some drama. A 1-1 tie took the Indians and the Houston Astros into the 11th inning. That's when Cleveland loaded the bases and got a clutch, two-out single from Matt Carson to win the game.

With the Rays and Rangers both playing contenders next — the Rays start a series with the Orioles on Friday and the Rangers play the Royals — the Indians oughta be happy to see three more against the Astros, baseball's worst team, coming up.

A's 8, Twins 6: Coco Crisp hits a two-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth. Athletics' magic number is now 4.

Red Sox 3, Orioles 1: John Lackey tosses a two-hit complete game as Red Sox clinch a playoff spot.

Dodgers 7, D-backs 6: Dodgers take NL West crown with the help of A.J. Ellis' go-ahead homer in the eighth and a 4-for-5, two-home-run day from Hanley Ramirez.

Rangers 8, Rays 2: Hey, Yu Darvish, meet run support. You guys should get to know each other better. Rangers now tied in Wild Card standings with Rays.

Tigers 5, Mariners 4: Prince Fielder steals a nacho from a fan, then scores the go-ahead run. Coincidence? Yeah, probably.

Rockies 7, Cardinals 6: Rockies get a ninth-inning homer from Todd Helton to tie the game in the ninth, then Corey Dickerson wins it with a walk-off triple in the 15th.

Pirates 10, Padres 1: On Take Like A Pirate Day, the Bucs must have been saying "Don't get swept, drive in runs, arrrrrrgh!!!" The Pirates are now one game behind the Cards in the NL Central.

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 2: Stumbling Yankees lose their fifth game in their last six chances.

Cubs 5, Brewers 1: Cubs stop their five-game losing streak with homers from Luis Valbuena, Nate Schierholtz and Brian Bogusevic.

Giants 2, Mets 1: Madison Bumgarner strikes out 10 in seven innings for the Giants.

''There's only so many 'Get 'em tomorrows' left.' ''

Yankees infielder Mark Reynolds.

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(Getty Images)

Mark McGwire caught in the act of grinding.

• Denard Span's hitting streak ended at 29 games.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the first team since the 1989 Blue Jays to win a division title after being 12 games under .500.

• The Tigers magic number to clinch the AL Central is four.

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