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The Grand Slam: Orioles win again, open up 7 game lead in AL East

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

It's nearly September and to the surprise of a lot of people, the Baltimore Orioles have the biggest division lead of any team in baseball. The O's stretched their AL East lead to seven games on Thursday after a 5-4 win against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The surprise isn't so much because nobody thought the Orioles would be good, rather it's not easy to run away with the usually tight AL East. But after taking three of four from the Rays, the Orioles are now sitting pretty as the clock counts down toward the season's final month. It's the New York Yankees who are seven games back, while the Toronto Blue Jays are nine and a half behind.

In Thursday's game, Baltimore got a seventh-inning, go-ahead single from J.J. Hardy to earn the win. The club also got a homer from Steve Pearce, while Adam Jones stole home as part of a double steal. Lots of people contributing there these days.

The Orioles host the fourth-place Minnesota Twins next in what seems like a good chance to stretch their lead even further.

TIGERS WALK OFF YANKEES
The Orioles gained a full game in the AL East standings because the second-place New York Yankees lost in walk-off fashion against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. The Tigers claimed a 3-2 win thanks to Alex Avila's single in the ninth inning.

MIKE MINOR GOES MAJOR AGAINST THE METS
Fresh off almost throwing a no-hitter, Atlanta Braves starter Mike Minor was pitching and hitting well Thursday night against the New York Mets, as the Braves won 6-1.

Minor was formidable on the mound, working seven innings and allowing only four hits and one run. But he also had two hits of his own at the plate, including an RBI single in the first inning to get the Braves on the board.

PETIT GOES IN THE RECORD BOOKS
If you missed it: San Francisco Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit set an MLB record Thursday against the Colorado Rockies by retiring his 46th straight batter. That surpasses Mark Buehrle's 45 in a row in 2009. Petit's perfect streak dated back to July 22 and stretched over eight games. We went into far more details earlier on The Stew.

For the rest of Thursday's action, check out our scoreboard.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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