The Tampa Bay Rays clinched their second straight AL East title, with Mike Zunino hitting a go-ahead homer in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Brandon Lowe later adding a pair of RBI doubles to beat Miami, 7-3, on Saturday night.
Reliever Pete Fairbanks retired Lewis Brinson on a foul popup with the bases loaded for the final out, giving the Rays the chance to celebrate on the field. Their magic number fell to one during the game, with the season-high announced crowd of 23,783 at Tropicana Field were told of the Yankees’ victory at Fenway Park over the Red Sox.
Tampa Bay (96-59) won its fourth division title since becoming a major league team for the 1998 season. The club debuted as the Devil Rays then, and wore jerseys with that name during this clinching victory.
Shane McClanahan (10-6) allowed one run and six hits over five innings. The lefty worked out of several jams, holding the Marlins to 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Brett Phillips reached to begin the fifth on a fielding error by second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Zunino then hit his 32nd homer, connecting off Sandy Alcantara (9-14) for a 3-1 lead. After the Marlins twice got within one, Lowe’s RBI double in the seventh gave Tampa Bay a 5-3 lead. Phillips had a sacrifice fly and Lowe, who was nearly hit by Yandy Díaz’s foul while in the on-deck circle, extended the lead to 7-3 with another run-scoring double.
Alcantara gave up five runs — three earned — and nine hits over six-plus innings. He became the third major leaguer to reach 200 innings this season, and the first Marlins pitcher since Mark Buerhle in 2012.
Robbie Ray, Jays hold their position in AL race
Teoscar Hernández, Marcus Semien, and George Springer homered, and Toronto beat host Minnesota, 6-1. Robbie Ray (13-6) scattered three hits in six innings as the Blue Jays ended a three-game slide.
Toronto stayed two games behind the Red Sox and New York in the AL wild-card race with seven games remaining, while pulling a game ahead of Seattle when the Mariners were routed, 14-1, by the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
Semien hit his 43rd home run in the sixth for a 3-1 lead. That ties him with Davey Johnson of Atlanta in 1973 for the most home runs in a season by a second baseman. Springer snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a two-run shot in the seventh. It was his 18th of the season and first since Sept. 11.
Ray, who leads the AL with a 2.68 ERA and tops the majors with 244 strikeouts, gave up one run and fanned six.
A streak to make you Dizzy: Cards’ run hits 15
St. Louis set a franchise record with its 15th straight win, boosted when catcher Yadier Molina and center fielder Harrison Bader helped pull off a wild double play in an 8-5 win over the Cubs in Chicago.
Bader, Tyler O’Neill, and Paul DeJong homered as the Cardinals broke the team record of 14 wins in a row set in 1935, a year after Dizzy Dean and the Gashouse Gang won the World Series.
Bader went 4 for 4 and scored three times as the Cardinals held their comfortable lead for the second NL wild-card spot. They began the day five games ahead of Philadelphia and six in front of Cincinnati. And in a charmed final month, St. Louis preserved a late lead with a crazy play that resulted in a pair of rundowns and two outs.
After Nolan Arenado doubled to spark a three-run rally in the seventh, the Cardinals took a 5-4 lead into the eighth at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs quickly threatened when David Bote led off with a triple and Trayce Thompson walked. One out later, with runners still at the corners, Rafael Ortega hit a grounder to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who threw home to Molina.
After a short rundown, Arenado tagged out Bote. The star third baseman then cut across the diamond to trap Ortega off first. Another rundown ensued, with Molina catching a throw between second and third base before tossing to Bader, who had alertly rushed in join the play and led to Thompson being tagged, too.
The official scoring read like a phone number — 3-2-5-4-2-8-6. It was the fourth double play of the afternoon for the dialed-in Cards, and kept them ahead by a run. DeJong hit a two-run drive in the ninth. Ian Happ homered in the bottom half.
Jon Lester allowed three earned runs in five innings in his first start against his former team since he was traded to St. Louis in July.
Also Saturday, Corbin Burnes pitched seven brilliant innings to win his ninth consecutive decision and Milwaukee moved to the brink of clinching the NL Central title with a 2-1 victory over the Mets. Already assured a fourth straight playoff berth, the Brewers can wrap up the division crown Sunday with a win at home in the series finale against the Mets or a Cardinals loss.
No playoffs for big-spending San Diego
Jorge Soler hit a go-ahead double with one out in the 10th inning for his fourth RBI and Atlanta won in San Diego, 10-8, to both keep its 1½-game lead in the NL East and eliminate the Padres from playoff contention. The Padres were one out from a win in regulation when Eddie Rosario hit a tying single off major league saves leader Mark Melancon, who was trying for his 39th . . . Ketel Marte and Carson Kelly homered early off Clayton Kershaw in Phoenix, Zac Gallen pitched one-run ball for six innings, and Arizona kept the Dodgers from reaching 100 wins by beating them, 7-2. Los Angeles (99-56) fell two games behind San Francisco in the NL West race . . . Eli Morgan allowed one hit in six innings and José Ramirez drove in three runs, powering host Cleveland to a 6-0 victory over the AL Central champion White Sox. Chicago remained four games behind AL West leader Houston in the race for home-field advantage in the Division Series. Both teams have seven games remaining . . . Kelvin Gutierrez homered to cap a three-run seventh inning and host 105-loss Baltimore beat Texas, 3-2. Jose Trevino and Nathaniel Lowe homered for the Rangers, who have lost nine of 11 and fell to 56-99 on the season. Texas is headed toward its first 100-loss season since 1973. The Orioles, meanwhile, are one of three teams in the majors with three players 26 and younger with at least 20 home runs — Cedric Mullins (30), Ryan Mountcastle (31) and Austin Hays (22). The others are the Astros and Braves, both of whom are leading their respective divisions . . . Miguel Cabrera drove in four runs, including a go-ahead, two-run double in the sixth inning, and Detroit downed Kansas City, 5-1. Jeimer Candelario supplied a run-scoring double for the Tigers, who have won five of six . . . Angels star Mike Trout made official that he will not play again this season. The three-time AL MVP suffered a calf strain on May 17 and hasn’t returned to the Los Angeles lineup since. The original prognosis was six to eight weeks of rehabilitation, but the injury was worse than originally thought. Trout was trying to get back this season, but recently made the decision that he was done this year. The 30-year-old outfielder, who hit .333 with eight home runs, 18 RBIs, and a 1.090 OPS in 36 games, said he’s healthy and should have a normal offseason in New Jersey.