Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt homered, A.J. Griffin struck out seven in seven innings, and the Athletics completed a three-game sweep of fellow playoff contender Tampa Bay with a 5-1 victory Sunday in Oakland, Calif.
The A’s pulled off a pair of one-run wins before Sunday’s result against the Rays, who dropped 2½ games behind wild-card leader Oakland and 5½ games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Tampa Bay still has a three-game lead over Baltimore for the AL’s second wild-card spot.
After Crisp led off the bottom of the first with a home run, James Loney tied it with his own long ball in the top of the second. Griffin (12-9) settled in after that to win his second straight outing following a four-start winless stretch.
The defense behind him made some crucial stops. Wil Myers was thrown out to end the seventh trying for the tying run on a single by Desmond Jennings.
The Rays swept the A’s in April, then Oakland returned the favor to leave the season series even.
Indians 4, Tigers 0 — Mike Aviles hit a grand slam off Joaquin Benoit in the ninth that lifted Cleveland over host Detroit.
The AL Central leaders had won seven straight against second-place Cleveland. The Tigers won the season series, 15-4, a string of success that has helped them build a 7½-game cushion in the division.
Detroit’s Justin Verlander extended his winless streak to five outings, but held a team scoreless for the first time since a seven-inning start July 14 against Texas. Verlander gave up four hits and two walks and struck out six.
Cardinals 7, Pirates 2 — Matt Holliday and David Freese drove in two runs apiece, and visiting St. Louis beat Pittsburgh to move back into a tie for the NL Central lead.
Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, and Shane Robinson added two hits each for St. Louis, which jumped on Pittsburgh rookie Kris Johnson (0-2) early to snap a three-game skid. Joe Kelly (7-3) allowed one run and four hits in six solid innings to win his fourth straight start.
Dodgers 2, Padres 1 — Zack Greinke allowed one run over seven innings, Yasiel Puig homered in the sixth, and host Los Angeles beat San Diego to complete a three-game sweep.
Royals 5, Blue Jays 0 — James Shields (10-8) pitched seven innings of three-hit ball to win his fourth straight decision, Eric Hosmer drove in three runs, and Kansas City avoided a sweep in Toronto.
Marlins 7, Braves 0 — Nathan Eovaldi combined with Steve Cishek on an eight-hit shutout, Jeff Mathis homered, and visiting Miami beat Atlanta to end a six-game losing streak.
Rockies 7, Reds 4 — Todd Helton doubled for his 2,500th career hit, Michael Cuddyer homered among his four hits, and host Colorado overcame the loss of starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood (bruised thumb) to beat Cincinnati.
Nationals 6, Mets 5 — Jayson Werth capped a three-run eighth inning with an RBI double, rallying host Washington past New York.
Astros 2, Mariners 0 — Rookie Brett Oberholtzer (4-1) pitched a four-hitter and Jason Castro hit an RBI double in the eighth, lifting host Houston over Seattle.
Giants 8, Diamondbacks 2 — Yusmeiro Petit struck out a career-high 10, Hector Sanchez drove in three runs, and San Francisco routed Patrick Corbin and host Arizona.
Twins 4, Rangers 2 — Kevin Correia pitched seven innings and Minnesota took its first series victory at Texas in four years.
Angels 5, Brewers 3 — J.B. Shuck hit a three-run double in the seventh to rally Los Angeles past Milwaukee for a three-game sweep of the interleague series and an 8-1 finish to its road trip.
Cubs 7, Phillies 1 — Jake Arrieta allowed three hits and a run while pitching into the seventh inning and Welington Castillo drove in two runs to lead Chicago over Philadelphia, giving the Cubs consecutive home wins for the first time since July 6-9.