The Russ Bus: The New York Yankees entered play with only two walk-off wins — the fewest in the American League — but added a third thanks to Russell Martin's tenth inning home run off Oakland's Sean Doolittle. The walk-off roundtripper was Martin's second of the season, the fourth of his career, and it extended New York's winning streak to six with the 2-1 final. It also removed closer Rafael Soriano from the headlines after he allowed a game-tying homer to Brandon Moss in the ninth, which nearly wasted eight shutout innings from CC Sabathia.
O's Keep Pace: It wasn't nearly as dramatic, but the Orioles won their five straight and remained one game behind New York with their 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox. Matt Wieters led the charge for Baltimore by driving in three runs on a pair of hits. Miguel Gonzalez picked up the win on the mound with six and two-thirds innings of two-run ball, while Jim Johnson earned save No. 46, setting a new Orioles record.
Cardinals Collapse: Though they received a very encouraging return outing from Chris Carpenter on Friday afternoon, the Cardinals were absolutely stunned by the Chicago Cubs 5-4 in 11 innings. The Cubs were actually down to their final strike when David DeJesus kept the game alive with a bloop single. Darwin Barney then followed with a two-run blast off Fernando Salas to tie the game at four and send it to extras. That's where DeJesus would strike again, driving home Brett Jackson with a two-out single to complete the comeback. The winner was DeJesus' fourth hit of the game.
Kemp Comes Through: With the Cincinnati crowd standing and anticipating a division championship, Matt Kemp put them back in their seats with a two-out, two-run single in the tenth inning, which pushed the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory. That leaves Cincinnati's magic number at one heading into play on Saturday. On the other side, the Dodgers moved within two games of the Cardinals for the NL's second wild-card position.
Giant Step Closer: The San Francisco Giants lowered their magic number in the NL West to two with a 5-1 win against the Padres. MVP candidate Buster Posey, who received the team's "Willie Mac" award for most inspirational player prior to the game, delivered the tie-breaking hit with an RBI single in the fifth. Pablo Sandoval then broke the game open with his fourth home run in the three games, while Ryan Vogelsong dominated and equaled a career best with his 13th win on the hill.
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Quote of the Day: ''This is probably the best team in baseball and has been all year so you know nothing is going to come easy and whenever you're on the road it's that much more challenging. Certainly we've been finding different ways to win — a lot of guys contributing.''
— Ryan Braun on the Brewers important 4-2 road win against the 91-win Nationals. Should the Brewers work their way into the playoffs — they're 1.5 behind the Cardinals in the wild-card race — they would likely be staring down these same Nationals in the NLDS.
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Photo of the Day: Altuve the Acrobata creative over the head toss in Houston's 7-1 victory over the crumbling Pirates.
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Three Facts for the Water Cooler:
• The Tampa Bay Rays made a little history in their 12-1 win dismantling of the Blue Jays. When James Shields struck out J.P. Arencibia in third inning, that gave their pitching staff 1,267 strikeouts in 2012, which established a brand new single-season record for an American League team.
• The Mets offense "exploded" in their 7-3 triumph over the Marlins, which snapped a nine-game home losing. They also snapped a string of 16 home games where they scored three runs or less.
• Surging Angels starter Ervin Santana tossed seven innings of two-hit ball and set a career-high with with 11 strikeouts in the Angels 6-2 win over the White Sox.
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