Sept 12 (The Sports Exchange) - Highlights of Thursday's Major League Baseball games.
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Athletics 8, Twins 2
One day after the Oakland Athletics pounded the Minnesota Twins, they kept the bats going and beat them 8-2 at Target Field on Thursday.
Oakland routed Minnesota 18-3 on Wednesday. The A's had 22 hits in that game and banged out 11 more on Thursday to take the series 2-1.
The A's were aided by a terrific performance from starter A.J. Griffin. He pitched lights out in the early going, retiring the first 10 batters he faced, striking out six of them.
Carrying a one-hitter into the seventh, Griffin finished a terrific line: 97 pitches in seven innings, giving up one run on two hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
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Nationals 7, Mets 2
Ryan Zimmerman continued his power surge when he hit a solo homer in the first inning and delivered an RBI double in the eighth as the Washington Nationals won their sixth consecutive game, beating the New York Mets 7-2.
The Nationals (77-69) swept the four-game series -- and never trailed the Mets, whom they outscored 25-5. Washington, who are 17-5 since Aug. 20, are 5 1/2 games behind the idle Cincinnati Reds (83-64) in the race for the National League's second wild card spot.
Zimmerman's homer was his eighth in his last 10 games. The double was only his 10th hit in that span and his first hit other than a single or a homer.
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Braves 6, Marlins 1
The first-place Atlanta Braves pounded the last-place Florida Marlins 6-1 in the finale of a four-game series at Marlins Park.
The Braves won the series, 3-1, recovering to finish their road trip at 3-4. They have an 11-game lead in the National League East.
Freddy Garcia (1-1) earned Thursday's win, allowing just one run in six innings. Jordan Walden, David Carpenter and Anthony Varvaro combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief.
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Pirates 3, Cubs 1
Jeff Locke finally regained his All Star form, allowing only one run and three hits in seven innings to pitch the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park in the opener of a three-game series.
Locke (10-5) won for the first time since July 21 in helping the Pirates keep pace in a tight National League Central race.
Locke went 8-2 in the first half of the season and was selected to the All Star Game. However, he had gone 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA in his last eight starts prior to Thursday.
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Angels 4, Blue Jays 3
The Los Angeles Angels completed a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, winning the series finale 4-3 at Rogers Centre.
Kole Calhoun went 2-for-3 with a walk and a home run, his seventh of the year, while Mike Trout and Grant Green each drove in a run to help the Angels (70-76) win for the 12th time in their last 14 road games.
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Rays 4, Red Sox 3
The Tampa Bay Rays reversed their recent skid, engineering a late rally to beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays had lost five of their past six games as the Red Sox padded their lead in the American League East. Boston's lead now stands at 8 1/2 games, and Tampa Bay moved within two games of the Texas Rangers for the first AL wild card spot.
After losing what Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon referred to as the "battle of inches" the past two nights, the game swung in the Rays' favor with two outs in the eighth inning and Evan Longoria on second base.
Rookie Wil Myers hit a fly ball that dropped just inside the foul line in right field. A few inches to the right and it would have fallen foul. A little farther to the left and it might have been caught.
Instead, it found fair territory and brought home the tie-breaking run.
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Indians 14, White Sox 3
Nick Swisher, Ryan Raburn and Asdrubal Cabrera homered, and the Cleveland Indians routed the Chicago White Sox 14-3 to keep pace in the American League playoff hunt.
The Indians scored four times in the first inning and seven runs in the fifth to break the game open. They remain 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card spot.
Raburn was 3-for-3 with five RBIs before he was replaced by a pinch-runner in the fifth. Every Cleveland starter except Mike Aviles had at least one hit.
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Yankees 6, Orioles 5
The Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning on a wild pitch by Orioles closer Jim Johnson, and New York earned a 6-5 victory to take three of four games in the crucial series against Baltimore.
The win was especially big for the Yankees because the teams entered the night with their season series even at nine. As a result, if the two are tied for the wild card at the end of the season, the 'play-in' game would be held at Yankee Stadium.
Mark Reynolds, facing his former team, hit his 19th homer of the season and second in the series. It was also the 200th home run of his career. Curtis Granderson hit his sixth homer for New York.
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Brewers 5, Cardinals 3
St. Louis pitcher Joe Kelly was tagged with his first loss in two months as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cardinals 5-3.
Scoring in three of the first four innings, the Brewers dropped the Cardinals into a first-place tie in the National League Central with a 5-3 win at Busch Stadium.
Kelly (8-4) won his previous eight decisions, dating to July 12 at the Chicago Cubs. But he lasted just five innings in this one, allowing seven hits and three earned runs while walking one and fanning four.
Kelly also committed two throwing errors, the first costing him an unearned run in the second.
St Louis and Pittsburgh are now tied atop the NL Central.
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Phillies 10, Padres 5
Carlos Ruiz went 3-for-3 with three RBIs as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Diego Padres 10-5.
Cesar Hernandez also had three hits for the Phillies, who scored six times in the first inning en route to their fifth victory in six games.
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Dodgers 3, Giants 2
The Los Angeles Dodgers gave up a run in the ninth before scoring in the bottom of the 10th to beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2.
The Dodgers are runaway leaders in the National League West. (Editing by Andrew Both)