Chris Bassitt pitched three scoreless innings less than a month after surgery to repair facial fractures, but the Seattle Mariners rallied against Oakland’s bullpen for a 6-5 victory and a four-game sweep that damaged the Athletics’ wild-card hopes.
With its season high fifth straight win and ninth in a row over the A’s, Seattle moved within two games of the idle Yankees for the second AL wild-card spot with nine games remaining. Oakland lost its season-worst sixth straight game and fell four back.
Bassitt was struck by a 100-m.p.h. line drive off the bat of Brian Goodwin of the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 17 and had surgery seven days later on three fractures. The 32-year-old righty took the field to a standing ovation from the crowd of 4,966 and allowed one hit in three scoreless innings, struck out four, and walked one.
Oakland led 3-0 when Abraham Toro hit an RBI double in the fourth. Sean Murphy boosted the lead with a home run in the bottom half, but Cal Raleigh cut the deficit to 4-3 with a two-run homer in the fifth. Mitch Haniger’s 35th homer tied the score in the sixth, and Luis Torrens followed with a go-ahead, two-run homer off Jake Diekman (3-3).
Matt Olson hit his 38th home run, a two-out drive in the ninth off Paul Sewald, to get the A’s within one, but Sewald retired Jed Lowrie on a popout for his 10th save.
White Sox clinch AL Central title
Tony La Russa stood in the visiting dugout in Cleveland, soaking in the scene as the Chicago White Sox celebrated their first AL Central title since 2008 following a 7-2 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Chicago lost the nightcap, 5-3.
“It’s like fantasy island because you never thought you’d have this chance — and here we are, the division champions,” La Russa said. “I’m glad the guys were able to win the first game today and not delay it. They did it the first time they had the chance to.”
A wild-card team last season, the White Sox are going to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time. Tim Anderson hit two home runs in the clincher, and Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez consecutive homers in the second off Northeastern product Aaron Civale (11-5), for Chicago (86-67), which moved into first place for good on May 7.
Blue Jays lose, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. injured
Nick Gordon drove in four runs and Michael Pineda won his third straight start as Minnesota beat visiting Toronto, 7-2, and bumped the Jays a full game behind New York for the second AL wild card.
The loss was especially costly for Toronto (85-68), which trails the Red Sox (88-65) by three games. Left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. exited in the fifth inning after teammate Randal Grichuk accidentally stepped on his right hand in the outfield. On a double by Mitch Garver — who was 3 for 4 with an RBI — to the gap, Grichuk grabbed the ball to make a quick throw to the infield to keep Josh Donaldson from scoring. As Gurriel crouched down to give him space, Grichuk’s cleat landed on Gurriel’s hand during the follow-through.
Blood was dripping from his middle finger as Grichuk knelt next to him, before a team athletic trainer arrived for assessment and heavily wrapped the hand in a towel before Gurriel walked off. The Blue Jays said X-rays revealed no breaks, but he needed two stitches.
Jays starter Steven Matz (13-8) lost for the first time in eight turns, finishing just three innings with seven hits and two walks allowed.
Before the game, reliever Ryan Borucki was suspended for three games by Major League Baseball for intentionally hitting Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch Wednesday, two days after Kiermaier scooped up a Toronto scouting report that had fallen off catcher Alejandro Kirk’s wristband.
Manager Charlie Montoyo was also suspended for one game and handed an undisclosed fine. He served his punishment immediately, while Borucki appealed.
St. Louis streak hits dozen
Paul Goldschmidt homered twice, and the St. Louis Cardinals overcame a five-run deficit to win in Milwaukee, 8-5, and extend their longest winning streak since 1982 to 12 games. On a day Adam Wainwright faltered early (and recorded his 2,000th strikeout), St. Louis trailed 5-0 before rallying with one run in the fifth, four in the seventh, two in the eighth, and one in the ninth. The Cardinals are 4½ games ahead of Philadelphia, for the second National League wild card. Milwaukee has lost five in a row since clinching its fourth consecutive playoff berth on Sept. 18, including four defeats to the Cardinals . . . With a little over a week left in the season, Arizona manager and former Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo was given a one-year contract extension through 2022. The deal includes a 2023 club option for the 56-year-old, according to general manager Mike Hazen. “Through everything the season has presented, Torey did a good job of getting guys through this ... even in a season where we might set a franchise-worst record,” Hazen said. Arizona had lost 14 of 17 entering Thursday and was tied with Baltimore for MLB’s worst record at 48-104, but beat NL East-leading Atlanta, 6-4, when Carson Kelly hit a tying three-run homer in a five-run seventh inning . . . J.T. Realmuto homered and drove in four, Ronald Torreyes hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the sixth inning, and the Phillies erased a six-run deficit for the third time this month to beat Pittsburgh, 12-6, in Philadelphia. The Phillies have won three straight and seven of nine to get within two games of first-place Atlanta with nine games left, including three head-to-head in Georgia . . . National League batting leader Juan Soto homered in consecutive innings, and Washington won in Cincinnati, 3-2, and pushed the Reds 5½ games out of a wild-card spot with just nine to play. Seeking his second straight NL batting title, Soto raised his average to .325 with a three-hit night and is four points ahead of former teammate Trea Turner, now with the Dodgers . . . In Denver, Max Muncy homered to start the 10th inning and the Dodgers rallied past Colorado, 7-5, to pull within a game of NL West-leading San Francisco after the Giants lost, 7-6, in 10 innings at San Diego . . . Major League Baseball is experimenting with pre-tacked baseballs at some Triple-A games during the last stretch of the minor league season, a step toward updating the big league balls after the league cracked down midseason on grip enhancers.