WASHINGTON (AP)Christian Vazquez tripled home the tiebreaking run in the ninth inning and the Boston Red Sox moved to the brink of a postseason berth with a 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Boston is tied with the Yankees for the top AL wild card entering the final day of the regular season. The Red Sox will send ace Chris Sale to the mound Sunday needing a victory to punch a playoff ticket. If they win, they’ll host Tuesday’s wild-card game regardless of New York’s outcome because Boston won the season series 10-9.
If the Red Sox lose Sunday, they will still be assured entry into a tiebreaker game Monday. The Red Sox are a game ahead of Toronto and 1 1/2 clear of Seattle, with the Mariners set to play the Angels on Saturday night.
Tanner Houck pitched five perfect innings, striking out eight, but Washington tied the game at 1 in the eighth inning on Juan Soto’s long, bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center off Austin Davis (1-2).
J.D. Martinez led off the ninth with a walk for Boston, and Vazquez drilled a ball to right off closer Tanner Rainey (1-3) that easily scored pinch-runner Jose Iglesias for a 2-1 lead with two outs. Travis Shaw singled to drive in Vazquez, then Kike Hernandez homered into the Boston bullpen against Mason Thompson to push the lead to 5-1.
RAYS 12, YANKEES 2
NEW YORK (AP) – Brandon Lowe hit three home runs and Tampa Bay rolled to a blowout that prevented New York from clinching a playoff spot.
With a chance to pitch his team into the postseason, Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery (6-7) instead was rocked for a career-worst seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up a pair of early three-run homers to Lowe, who also went deep in the seventh against Michael King.
New York is assured at least a tiebreaker game Monday that could put the team in the playoffs for the fifth straight season. But after dropping the first two games of this series, the Yankees no longer control their own destiny to host the wild-card game. They now need a Boston loss to do so.
Luis Patino (5-3) worked two hitless innings for the win.
BLUE JAYS 10, ORIOLES 1
TORONTO (AP) – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 47th home run and Toronto pressed its AL wild-card chase to the final day of the regular season by thumping Baltimore.
The Blue Jays launched five homers while Alek Manoah (9-2) allowed one hit over seven innings to help Toronto close within one game of the wild card-leading New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen all went deep for Toronto. The Blue Jays lead the majors with a franchise-record 258 home runs, topping the 257 they hit in 2010.
With his 450-foot drive off John Means (6-9) in the first, Guerrero closed within one of Kansas City’s Salvador Perez for the major league lead.
MARINERS 6, ANGELS 4
SEATTLE (AP) – Mitch Haniger drove in five runs and his two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning gave Seattle the lead as the Mariners took their playoff hopes to the final day of the regular season.
Haniger had an RBI single in the third inning, clubbed his 39th homer in the fifth and came through with the bases loaded in the eighth after Seattle blew a 3-1 lead.
Seattle won’t be able to claim one of two AL wild-card spots on the final day of the regular season, but it made game No. 162 matter, which hasn’t been said often during Seattle’s 20-year postseason drought.
Steve Cishek (0-2) couldn’t find the plate in the eighth, hitting a batter and walking another to load the bases before Haniger’s go-ahead hit.
Drew Steckenrider pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
Jared Walsh hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning off reliever Paul Sewald (10-3) to give the Angels a 4-3 lead.
DODGERS 8, BREWERS 3
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Julio Urias (20-3) became Los Angeles’ first 20-game winner since Clayton Kershaw in 2014, pitching one-run ball into the seventh inning in a win that extended the NL West race to the final day of the regular season.
The first-place San Francisco Giants (106-55) lost to San Diego earlier Saturday, reducing their lead to one game. The Dodgers (105-56) must beat the Brewers on Sunday and hope the Giants lose again to tie for the title, which LA has won the last eight years. That would send them and Giants to a deciding Game 163 in San Francisco on Monday.
Los Angeles won its 14th consecutive home game, tying a 100-year-old franchise record.
Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes (11-5) made a brief start, pitching just two innings.
GIANTS 3, PADRES 2
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – San Francisco missed a chance to clinch the NL West, falling to San Diego when Jake Cronenworth hit an RBI double in the 10th inning.
A sellout crowd of 40,760 was ready to celebrate San Francisco’s first division crown since 2012, but the Padres spoiled the party, sending the raucous group to the exits in a state of disbelief.
The Giants’ seven-game winning streak ended, and the race was pushed to the final day when the Dodgers beat Milwaukee later in the day.
Mark Melancon retired the Giants in order in the bottom half to earn his major league-leading 39th save of the season. Tim Hill (6-6) got the win.
Kervin Castro (1-1) was charged with the loss for San Francisco
ASTROS 10, ATHLETICS 4
HOUSTON (AP) – Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker hit two of Houston’s four homers to lock up home-field advantage in the AL Division Series.
With the win, the AL West champion Astros will have host the first two games in their best-of-five match-up against the AL Central champion White Sox next week. The Astros own the tiebreaker over the White Sox, winning five out of seven against Chicago this season.
Phil Maton (6-0) loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth but induced a groundout by Seth Brown to earn the win.
Paul Blackburn (1-4) was tagged for a season-high six runs on seven hits in two innings.
WHITE SOX 5, TIGERS 4
CHICAGO (AP) – Lucas Giolito tuned up for the playoffs with a solid start, Yoan Moncada hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning and Chicago beat Detroit for its sixth straight win.
Giolito finished his dominant second half by pitching five innings, allowing one run and two hits. He has not permitted more than three runs in any of his last nine starts. Giolito fanned three and finished the regular season with 201 strikeouts.
Chicago reliever Aaron Bummer (5-5) worked the eighth and Liam Hendricks closed for his 38th save.
Moncada capped a three-RBI performance when he connected with two outs off reliever Kyle Funkouser (7-4).
CUBS 6, CARDINALS 5
ST. LOUIS (AP) – Ian Happ drove a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning to sour what could be Jon Lester’s final career start, lifting Chicago over St. Louis.
Lester, 37, hasn’t declared whether he intends to come back for a 17th season. The left-hander pitched for the Cubs for six seasons, including the 2016 World Series team.
Happ drove a 2-0 pitch from Luis Garcia (1-1) over the center-field wall for his career-high 25th home run of the season.
The blast made a winner out of Jason Adam (1-0), who pitched a perfect eighth. Rowan Wick picked up his fifth save as the Cubs sent the Cardinals to just their second defeat in their last 21 games.
BRAVES 6, METS 5
ATLANTA (AP) – Joc Pederson hit a solo homer off Carlos Carrasco (1-5) in the third inning, William Contreras went deep with a two-run shot off Carrasco in the fourth and Atlanta beat New York.
The NL East champion Braves have won seven of eight. New York, which stranded the bases loaded in a two-run ninth inning, ended a two-game winning streak and will try Sunday to win the season series with Atlanta for the first time since 2017.
Jesse Chavez started in a bullpen game for the Braves and tossed two perfect innings. Drew Smyly (11-4), who lost his spot in the rotation after losing at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, pitched around two walks in the fourth and a single the next inning.
RANGERS 7, INDIANS 2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Jordan Lyles closed his season by allowing only two hits in seven innings and rookie Jonah Heim broke a fourth-inning tie with a three-run home run to help Texas beat Cleveland.
Lyles (10-13) matched his longest start of the year and his most strikeouts with eight. He has 146 strikeouts this season to match his career best, set in 2019 splitting time between Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. He pitched a career-high 180 innings.
Heim pulled the first pitch from Triston McKenzie (5-9) into the first row of right-field seats as the Rangers (60-101) won for the fifth time in their last eight games.
PIRATES 8, REDS 6
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Bryan Reynolds had four hits, raising his batting average above .300, to help Pittsburgh rally from a five-run deficit and beat Cincinnati.
The Pirates went ahead for good 7-6 in the sixth inning when Reynolds tripled in a run. The Reds had tied it in the top of the inning on Tyler Stephenson’s RBI double.
Nick Mears (1-0) got one out for his first major league win and Chris Stratton notched his eighth save with a perfect ninth inning. Tony Santillan (1-3) was the losing pitcher.
TWINS 4, ROYALS 0
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Griffin Jax and a trio of relievers combined on a three-hitter and Minnesota blanked Salvador Perez and Kansas City.
Perez was hitless in four at-bats for the second straight night as he tries to break the team record for home runs. Leading the majors with 48 – one more than Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Perez is tied with Jorge Soler (2019) for the most by a Royals player.
Jax (4-5) allowed just one hit in five innings. The rookie, who came into the game with a 6.78 ERA, struck out three and walked two in the best of his 14 starts in the majors.
Kris Bubic (6-7) gave up two earned runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
MARLINS 3, PHILLIES 1
MIAMI (AP) – Jesus Luzardo struck out a career-high 11 and Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit a three-run homer to help Miami beat Philadelphia.
Luzardo (6-9) gave up one run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander also walked twice and scored the lead run on Chisholm’s shot. Dylan Floro closed with a scoreless ninth around a single for his 14th save.
In his second major league outing, Hans Crouse (0-2) was lifted after four innings. He allowed three runs, two hits, struck out one and walked three.
DIAMONDBACKS 11, ROCKIES 2
PHOENIX (AP) – Pavin Smith reached base five times and Arizona chased Antonio Senzatela (4-10) with a six-run first inning.
Christian Walker had three doubles and Zac Gallen contributed a two-run double in the big first inning for the Diamondbacks (51-110). The win snapped the Diamondbacks’ losing streak at five games, and assured they will not break the franchise record of 111 losses set in 2004. They play Colorado in the season finale for both teams on Sunday.
Gallen (4-10), who won last Saturday against the playoff-bound Los Angeles Dodgers, went six innings and gave up six hits and two runs, both on homers. He struck out six and walked two.
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