The Grand Slam: Orioles top Yankees again on Adam Jones' late homer

The Baltimore Orioles are officially running away with the AL East. If the Toronto Blue Jays or New York Yankees don't respond soon, it may not be long before they're hiding, too. The Yankees had a chance to cut them off on Wednesday. With a returning Michael Pineda on the hill, they did a good job early, holding Baltimore to three hits through seven innings. The wheels just fell off in the eighth, and before they knew it the Orioles were celebrating a 5-3 victory.

Jonathan Schoop, who has been a thorn in the Yankees side all season, started the rally with a game-tying home run off shutdown reliever Dellin Betances, who was working into his third inning.  It was Schoop's fourth homer against Yankees pitching this season. He has seven against the rest of the league. Then with two outs in the inning, Adam Jones cracked a go-ahead three-run homer off Shawn Kelley that really got the crowd into a frenzy. 

As he neared and rounded first base, Jones fed off that energy and raised his own in celebration.

''Big spot, big home run,'' Jones said. ''Nothing wrong with showing a little emotion here and there.''

And the celebration likely continued as the night's results rolled in. With the win, the Orioles not only swept the abbreviated two-game series (Tuesday night was rained out), they also extended their division lead to 7 1/2 over the Toronto Blue Jays, who fell 2-0 in Seattle. The Yankees now sit eight games back and 3 1/2 out of the wild card. 

JOE MAUER'S BIG DAY INCLUDES MILESTONE HIT: In his third game off the disabled list, Joe Mauer looked like the All-Star of old leading his Minnesota Twins to a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros. In the first inning, Mauer extended his current hitting streak to 15 games with a sharp single to left field. That hit also doubled as the 1,500th of his career, making him the sixth Twin to reach that mark. In the sixth, Mauer extended Minnesota's lead with a solo home run — his third of the season and first since May 3. 

"I hope it keeps going," said Mauer. "I feel pretty good. It was good to win the series and head back home after an off-day."

Mauer also made a couple nice plays defensively at first base in support of starter Kyle Gibson, who hurled one of his best games of the season. The Minnesota right-hander allowed one run on six hits over 7 2/3 innings. He actually carried a shutout into the eighth inning, but Chris Carter spoiled it with an RBI single.

JAVIER BAEZ HITS FIRST WRIGLEY FIELD HOMER: After a strong start to his career — three home runs in three games at Coors Field — Cubs rookie Javier Baez had yet to muscle up during his first homestand. That changed with one swing on Wednesday, as Baez unloaded on a Kyle Lohse offering and sent it flying to Waveland Avenue for the fourth of the season. 

"It feels great," Baez said. "I hit the ball pretty good. As soon as I hit it, everybody went crazy. I knew it was gone because I hit it really good."

It was a thrilling moment for Baez and perhaps even more so for Cubs fans. But before both sides could finish celebrating, All-Star Anthony Rizzo followed with a home run of his own to keep Chicago's roll going. It's the first time those two have gone back-to-back, but it certainly won't be the last. 

"The second pitch to Javy was a homer, and I fed off the energy of the crowd right there," Rizzo said. "It was probably a ball, but I went down and got it. Luckily, I got it up high enough."

Rizzo also delivered a sacrifice fly in the first inning to go along with Starlin Castro's RBI single. Starter Tsuyoshi Wada — who only allowed solo homers to Rickie Weeks and Martin Maldonado in the seventh — and three relievers made the early support stand up as Chicago topped the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers 4-2


(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

While the Detroit Tigers snapped their four-game losing streak, the Kansas City Royals held strong atop the AL Central thanks to a stellar performance by Jason Vargas. The 31-year-old left-hander tossed a three-hit shutout — the sixth shutout of his career — as Kansas City topped Scott Kazmir and the A's 3-0

The outing was actually better than it probably sounds. After allowing hits to three of the first six batters he faced, Vargas retired the final 23 in a row. No walks and hit batters were mixed in, and though he only struck out four, it was one of the more dominant outings this season. Not that that's anything new for Kansas City. It was the second shutout by Kansas City starters in the past week (James Shields posted the other) and the third complete game over that stretch. 

The Tigers rotation was all of the talk following the trade deadline. But right now it's Kansas City's rotation that's setting the standard. These last six-plus weeks are going to be fun, aren't they? 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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