The Rangers secured a crucial three-game sweep of the Mariners in the tight AL West by hanging on through a rough patch from a bullpen that not long ago threatened to derail a promising season.
Suddenly 2½ games up in the division after a 9-8 victory in their home finale Sunday, the Rangers hit the road for the final seven games looking to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the American League playoffs and home-field advantage in a Division Series.
“I packed like a normal seven-day trip,” Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi said. “We can always buy more clothes on the road. Yes, it’s a lot more clear. But we still have a lot of work that has to be done.”
Marcus Semien homered twice and Corey Seager had an early two-run shot among a season-high six homers for the Rangers as they withstood two Seattle rallies.
Adolis García, Leody Taveras, and rookie Evan Carter also went deep for the Rangers, who had their most homers in a game at Globe Life Field, which opened four seasons ago.
Eovaldi (12-4) won for the first time since July 18, making his fifth start since missing seven weeks with a right forearm strain. He left with the bases loaded and a 7-2 lead in the sixth, but ended up allowing five runs in five-plus innings.
Texas won its fifth straight while Houston, which started the weekend with a half-game lead in the division, was swept at home by 102-loss Kansas City, which got two home runs from Nelson Velázquez in a 6-5 win.
Teoscar Hernández, who homered, drove in two runs for the Mariners along with Jarred Kelenic and Eugenio Suárez. Seattle nearly erased deficits of five and four runs before getting swept for the second time in three series.
Seattle (84-71) is third by a half-game behind Houston in the division and for the final wild card.
The Mariners play their final seven games at home, starting with the Astros on Monday before meeting Texas again in a season-ending four-game series. The Rangers start the week at the Angels.
Springer does it all for Blue Jays
George Springer hit an inside-the-park, three-run homer. made a diving catch, and threw out a runner, helping the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-5, on Sunday at St. Petersburg, Fla., to take two of three in a series between potential playoff opponents.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered twice and Bo Bichette also went deep for Toronto, which leads the second AL wild card by two games over Houston and is 2½ games ahead of Seattle.
Isaac Paredes hit his 30th homer for Tampa Bay, which has clinched at the least the AL’s top wild card and is 2½ games behind AL East-leading Baltimore, which has the tiebreaker.
Whit Merrifield had a tying, two-run single before Springer put the Blue Jays ahead, 5-2, in the second on his homer off Taj Bradley (5-8). Center fielder Manuel Margot failed in his attempt at a leaping catch at the wall. The ball bounced along the warning track. Springer slid into the plate headfirst well before a relay arrived.
Springer grabbed Curtis Mead’s drive off the right-field wall in the third and threw out Mead trying to stretch the hit to a double. Harold Ramirez went to third and Springer then sprinted toward the right-field line to make a sprawling catch on Paredes for the inning’s second out, saving a run.
Brewers can’t clinch things
Jon Berti had his second career multihomer game, and the Marlins beat the Brewers, 6-1, in Miami to prevent Milwaukee from clinching the NL Central for a second straight day.
Josh Bell also went deep, Jorge Soler had three hits, and Jazz Chisholm Jr. doubled twice for the Marlins, who remained one game behind the Cubs for the third NL wild-card spot.
Marlins starter Edward Cabrera (7-7) allowed one run and five hits in five-plus innings with five strikeouts.
Berti homered in the second off Freddy Peralta (12-10), who gave up four runs and nine hits in three innings. Bell’s solo homer and Bryan De La Cruz’s two-run single boosted the lead to 4-0 in the third. Berti completed a 13-pitch at-bat with a two-run homer off Julio Teheran in the fifth.
Braves hit century mark with split
Spencer Strider earned his major league-leading 19th win and the Braves got their 100th victory by defeating the Nationals, 8-5, for a doubleheader split in Washington.
Kevin Pillar and Forrest Wall homered, and Orlando Arcia drove in three runs for Atlanta, which won 100 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2002-03.
Strider (19-5) pitched 5⅔ innings and yielded four runs on seven hits, including García’s solo shot in the sixth. The righthander struck out four to give him 274, two shy of John Smoltz’s 1996 single-season modern franchise record.
In the first game, Jackson Rutledge (1-1) earned his first major league victory, allowing a run over five innings as the Nationals won, 3-2.
Meanwhile, Atlanta put righthander Charlie Morton (right index finger inflammation) on the 15-day injured list, meaning the 14-game winner is ineligible for the NL Division Series
Phillies win, but party on hold
Nick Castellanos hit his 29th homer to move the Phillies within one win of a National League playoff berth after a 5-2 win completed a four-game sweep over the Mets in Philadelphia. The celebration was on hold even after Cristopher Sánchez (3-5) struck out 10 in seven innings, as wins by the Cubs and Marlins meant a wild-card clinch had to wait. The defending NL champions will try to wrap up a second straight playoff berth with a win Tuesday against Pittsburgh … TJ Friedl hit a two-run homer and drove in the tiebreaking run in the seventh as the host Reds beat the Pirates, 4-2. Joey Votto singled in what could be his final home at-bat for the Reds, who stayed 2½ games behind the Cubs for the final NL wild card … Juan Soto hit a 461-foot homer and had four RBIs for the host Padres, who fell five games back in the wild-card race even as they beat the Cardinals, 12-2, in their home finale.