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Dodgers blast four home runs, rout Padres to become first team to clinch playoff berth

Justin Turner capped the Dodgers' six-run seventh inning with a grand slam.Denis Poroy/Getty

Justin Turner hit a grand slam and a solo homer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who emphatically became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season with an 11-2 victory on the road Sunday over the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles, with the best record in the majors at 96-43, sealed a playoff berth for the 10th straight season and reduced to two its magic number for winning the NL West for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

Max Muncy hit a go-ahead, two-run, bases-loaded single in the sixth inning and Chris Taylor and Trea Turner also homered for the Dodgers, who won their eighth straight series against the Padres. The Dodgers have beaten the Padres 12 times in 15 games this year and for the 21st time in their last 25 games.

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It was such a blowout that the Padres had first baseman Wil Myers pitch the ninth, and Trea Turner drove his first pitch for his 20th homer.

The Padres’ lead over Milwaukee for the NL’s third wild-card spot was reduced to two.

Padres All-Star righthander Joe Musgrove (9-7) was in control before Justin Turner and Taylor homered in the fifth.

Musgrove, who allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings while striking out five and walking one, loaded the bases with one out in the sixth before Muncy chased him with a single to right that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.

The Dodgers blew it open with a six-run seventh.

Pujols fourth on HR list, blast in ninth rallies Cardinals

Albert Pujols hit his 697th home run, moving past Alex Rodriguez into fourth place on the career list and doing it in dramatic fashion with a ninth-inning drive that rallied the Cardinals over the Pirates, 4-3, in Pittsburgh.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals trailed, 2-1, when Pujols connected for a two-run drive. Pujols had tied Rodriguez with a home run Saturday night.

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Pujols trails Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714) on the all-time homer chart.

“There’s impressive and then there’s unbelievable,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “What we’re witnessing right now is legendary. You have to take a step back from managing the game and take it all in. It’s amazing.”

A jubilant Albert Pujols rounded the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the ninth.Justin Berl/Getty

The 42-year-old Pujols has 21 games left in his 22nd and final season in the big leagues. He’s hit 18 home runs this season.

The Cardinals went to the ninth inning trailing 2-0 but scored four runs off Chase DeJong (4-2), who entered the game with a 19-inning scoreless streak.

Tommy Edman and Corey Dickerson led off with back-to-back doubles to produce the first run. Pujols followed with his homer. One out later, Tyler O’Neil hit a solo shot to cap St. Louis’s big inning.

Yankees start fast, rout Rays

Gleyber Torres homered twice and Giancarlo Stanton and Oswaldo Cabrera once each during a 10-run barrage in the first two innings and the Yankees routed the Rays, 10-4, in New York to reopen a 5 1/2-game lead in the AL East.

The Yankees (85-56) have 21 games remaining: six against Boston, four vs. Texas, three each against Milwaukee, Toronto, and Baltimore, and two against Pittsburgh — only the Blue Jays and Brewers have winning records.

Tampa Bay (78-60) has 24 games left: nine against Toronto, six against AL-best Houston, plus three each against the Rangers, Boston, and Cleveland. Reliever Brooks Raley will miss the Rays’ five-game, four-day series starting Monday at Toronto because players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter Canada.

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New York built a 10-1 lead with a seven-run second inning and took two of three to finish a 5-2 homestand. The Yankees’ division lead, which stood at 15 1/2 games in early July, was down to 3 1/2 games after the second-place Rays won Friday’s series opener. New York romped in the final two games of the series by a combined 20-7.

With the Yankees wearing NYPD and FDNY caps on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ten of New York’s first 14 batters reached, with Torres hitting a three-run homer in the first and a solo drive in the second, both off Luis Patiño (1-2).

Stanton hit an opposite-field, three-run homer to right in the second, going deep for the 26th time this season. Torres connected to cap a 10-pitch at-bat for his 21st homer this year and 12th career multihomer game.

Cabrera, greeted Calvin Faucher with a two-run homer, an opposite-field drive to deep right.

Domingo Germán started on three days’ rest but he was pulled after one inning and 14 pitches. Wandy Peralta (3-4), the third of eight pitchers, allowed one hit over 2 1/3 innings.

Astros power past Angels

Alex Bregman and Trey Mancini hit two of Houston’s five home runs, and the AL West-leading Astros beat the visiting Angels, 12-4, for their 90th win of the season. Houston has the best record in the AL at 90-50.

Trailing 3-0, the Astros rallied for five runs in the third. Mauricio Dubón led off the inning with a solo home run, and after Tucker Davidson (2-6) hit Yordan Alvarez to load the bases, Davidson was replaced by Mike Mayers, who Bregman greeted with his grand slam to right-center.

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Mancini hit his three-run homer to left in the fifth. Alvarez hit a solo home run in the eighth for his 32nd of the season, and Kyle Tucker launched a two-run shot to right two batters later.

Luis Garcia (12-8) allowed three runs on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings.

Shohei Ohtani hit his 34th home run of the season in the first, a two-run shot to right, and Andrew Velazquez hit a solo home run in the second as the Angels built a 3-0 lead.

Tony La Russa has pacemaker, return to managing unclear

White Sox manager Tony La Russa says he is recovering well from having a pacemaker inserted for his heart, and is uncertain when he will be medically cleared to run the club again.

La Russa was back with the White Sox in Oakland to celebrate Dave Stewart having his No. 34 jersey retired by the Athletics. La Russa was there for the ceremony, not to manage his team.

The Hall of Famer, who turns 78 on Oct. 4, shared specifics of the procedure with The Associated Press after discussing his absence before Chicago dropped a 10-3 decision in its series finale against the A’s. He is grateful to have had what he considered a relatively “simple” heart issue.

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La Russa didn’t want to miss the special day for Stewart, his longtime ace with the A’s.

“It was an amazing bunch of years,” La Russa said of his stretch with Oakland from 1986-1995 that included the 1989 earthquake World Series sweep of the Giants.

Mets maintain grip on first in NL East

Brandon Nimmo homered, doubled, and walked twice to help the visiting Mets beat the Marlins, 9-3, and maintain their slim lead atop the NL East. Tómas Nido had three hits and drove in three runs for the Mets, who fell out of the lead for the first time since April 11 following the series opening loss Friday. They retook the top spot by a half-game with their victory Saturday and defending World Series champion Atlanta’s loss at Seattle. Taijuan Walker (11-4) won his fourth decision against the Marlins this season, throwing seven innings of one-run ball. The righthander scattered five hits and struck out 10 … NL wild-card leader Atlanta scored five runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead before Julio Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez each hit his second homer of the game to give the host Mariners a 8-7 win over the Braves … Andrés Giménez and Steven Kwan hit solo homers, Shane Bieber had another strong start, and the Guardians finished off a road sweep of the Twins with a 4-1 win. Bieber (10-8) went 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run while striking out seven as Cleveland increased its AL Central lead to 2 1/2 games over the White Sox … Alec Bohm hit the go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning as the host Phillies maintained their wild-card position with a 7-5 win over the Nationals in a game interrupted 3 hours, 36 minutes by rain … Martin Perez allowed one run in six innings, Adolis Garcia homered, and Rangers beat the Blue Jays, 4-1, at Arlington, Texas. Perez (11-6) gave up six hits, struck out seven, and walked two … In Denver, Zac Gallen retired the first nine batters he faced to extend his scoreless innings streak to 44 1/3 innings, seventh longest in MLB history, and the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies, 12-6. Gallen (12-2) struck out 11 in six innings but allowed an RBI single by C.J. Cron in the fourth to end his streak … Rowdy Tellez homered twice, doubled, and drove in four runs as the host Brewers withstood a ninth-inning comeback attempt to edge the Reds, 7-6.