Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong hit back-to-back homers off of hard-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth inning, and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals stunned the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 win on Saturday afternoon.
St. Louis (88-67) moved six games ahead of Chicago (82-73) in the National League Central with only seven games to go. The Cubs also fell three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL’s second wild-card spot after the Brewers beat the Pirates later Saturday.
Cardinals right-hander John Gant (11-1) got credit for the win after recording the final out of the eighth. He was one of eight relievers to follow starter Dakota Hudson, who gave up three runs in three innings.
Molina evened the score at 8 on Kimbrel’s first pitch of the game. He clubbed a high fastball over the wall in left-center field for his ninth homer of the season and 155th of his career. On Kimbrel’s second pitch, DeJong put the Cardinals on top 9-8. He hammered another fastball an estimated 440 feet to center for his 28th homer, which added to his career high.
Brewers 10, Pirates 1
Keston Hiura’s two-run home run propelled host Milwaukee past Pittsburgh, which lost its eighth straight game.
Hiura’s 18th home run of the season came with two outs in the bottom of the first, on a 3-2 pitch with Yasmani Grandal on base. The Brewers went ahead 2-1 and scored eight more unanswered runs to cruise to their seventh win in eight games and their 14th win in the past 16 games.
Along with moving to three up on the Chicago Cubs — their closest competition for the second wild-card spot — the Brewers also ended their night still one game out of the top wild card, held by the Washington Nationals.
Reds 3, Mets 2
Pinch hitter Christian Colon delivered a tiebreaking single off Seth Lugo with two outs in the eighth inning as host Cincinnati put a dent in New York’s playoff hopes.
The loss put New York (80-74) 4 1/2 games behind the Brewers in that wild-card race and also dropped the Mets’ elimination number down to four.
Colon batted for reliever Joel Kuhnel with runners at first and second after Justin Wilson (4-2) walked Jose Iglesias and Jose Peraza singled. After Lugo fanned pinch hitter Curt Casali for the second out, Colon grounded a full-count curveball up the middle and Iglesias scored the decisive run.
Nationals 10, Marlins 4 (10 innings)
Brian Dozier pulled a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 10th inning, leading Washington to a win over host Miami after the Nationals blew a four-run lead in the eighth.
After Dozier’s hit off reliever Jose Urena (4-10), the Nationals got RBIs by Adam Eaton (single), Juan Soto (walk) and Kurt Suzuki (three-run double). That rally made a winner of reliever Wander Suero (6-8).
Washington’s Stephen Strasburg pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out six. But Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney blew a 4-0 lead in the eighth, retiring just one of the six batters he faced.
Royals 12, Twins 5
Cheslor Cuthbert hit a two-run, pinch-hit home run to break a 5-5 tie and highlight a seven-run ninth inning as Kansas City beat Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Cuthbert hit the first pinch-hit homer of his career off reliever Taylor Rogers (2-4), a 364-foot line drive down the left field line, to drive in Ryan O’Hearn. The Royals would go on to roll up eight hits and two walks while sending 13 batters to the plate in the inning.
O’Hearn homered, doubled and had three hits and three RBIs, Jorge Soler finished with three hits and an RBI, and Ryan McBroom had two hits and scored twice for Kansas City (57-99), which snapped a four-game losing streak. Randy Rosario (2-0) retired one batter to end the eighth and pick up the win.
Phillies 9, Indians 4
Brad Miller hit two solo homers, and Bryce Harper slammed a three-run shot as visiting Philadelphia beat Cleveland to dent the Indians’ playoff chances.
The loss ended the Indians’ five-game winning streak and dropped them a game back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild card from the American League with seven games left. The Indians did remain four back in the AL Central, however, with the division-leading Twins’ loss to the Royals.
Jason Vargas (7-8) earned his first victory in 10 starts with Philadelphia since he was traded from the New York Mets on July 29. Vargas went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) and five hits, striking out eight and walking two. Oscar Mercado had a two-run homer to help the Indians to an early 4-1 lead.
Rays 5, Red Sox 4 (11 innings)
Nate Lowe hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning as host Tampa Bay continued its playoff push with a win over Boston in St. Petersburg, Fla.
It was the third straight 11-inning victory for the Rays (92-63), who not only moved that one game ahead of Cleveland in the race for the second AL wild-card spot, but kept pace with Oakland to remain two back of the top wild-card spot. Willy Adames also homered for Tampa Bay.
Rays right-hander Diego Castillo (5-8) got the victory for the second straight night despite allowing a go-ahead, solo homer to Boston’s Mitch Moreland in the top of the 11th. Right-hander Josh A. Smith (0-3), the 11th Red Sox pitcher, took the loss.
Athletics 12, Rangers 3
Matt Chapman had two hits and two RBIs in a seven-run first inning that helped left-hander Sean Manaea coast to a third straight win, as Oakland routed visiting Texas and won for the 10th time in its last 11 games.
Manaea (3-0) remained unbeaten in four starts since making his season debut on Sept. 1 after missing 13 months following elbow surgery. He took a three-hit shutout and 11-0 lead into the sixth inning before serving up solo home runs to Elvis Andrus (his 11th) and Danny Santana (his 26th). Manaea left after 5 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out four.
Sunday’s series finale will also be Oakland’s final home game in the regular season, as the A’s finish the season in Southern California against the Angels, then in Seattle against the Mariners.
Angels 8, Astros 4
Luke Bard anchored a strong bullpen performance, and visiting Los Angeles made an early lead stand up in a victory over Houston.
Bard (3-2) worked two perfect innings against the heart of the Astros’ lineup, as five Angels relievers covered the final 18 outs and denied Houston a chance to clinch its third consecutive AL West title.
The Astros will have to wait until the series finale Sunday, after the Angels won for just the second time in their last 13 games at Minute Maid Park.
Yankees 7, Blue Jays 2
Giancarlo Stanton homered and had an RBI double, and James Paxton allowed just an unearned run in six innings as New York beat Toronto at Yankee Stadium.
Stanton doubled to drive in Aaron Judge and then scored on Mike Ford’s RBI single in the fourth for the Yankees’ first two runs. In the sixth, Stanton hammered an 0-1 changeup from Brock Stewart into the bleachers in deep left field for his second homer of the season. Stanton struck out looking in the first, and manager Aaron Boone was ejected by third-base umpire Joe West arguing the call.
Paxton (15-6) won his career-high 10th straight start, allowing three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. His ERA during the streak is 2.25 ERA, lowering his season ERA to 3.73.
Rockies 4, Dodgers 2
Ryan McMahon and Josh Fuentes hit home runs as last-place Colorado prevented host Los Angeles from reaching 100 wins on the season.
It was the Rockies’ first victory in eight tries at Los Angeles this season, and they also ended a 12-game losing streak at Dodger Stadium going back to last season.
Walker Buehler (13-4), a possible No. 1 starter for Los Angeles when the playoffs open, gave up four runs on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts over six-plus innings. He has given up 17 earned runs over his last three starts against the Rockies, but he also had a career-best 16-strikeout game against them earlier this season.
Braves 8, Giants 1
Max Fried may have placed himself back in consideration for a starting spot in the postseason, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings as Atlanta hammered visiting San Francisco.
Fried (17-6) was in danger of being moved to the bullpen for the playoffs after back-to-back shaky outings. But the left-hander bounced back to blank the Giants on five hits. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.
Atlanta (96-60) improved to 50-30 at home and has won three in a row. San Francisco (74-81) has dropped three straight and has lost five of six meetings with the Braves this season.
Diamondbacks 4, Padres 2
Abraham Almonte had three hits and scored three runs, and Domingo Leyba and Eduardo Escobar each drove in two runs as visiting Arizona beat San Diego to ruin the debut of interim Padres manager Rod Barajas.
Barajas, a former major league catcher, was the Padres’ bench coach for Andy Green, who was fired Saturday just eight games shy of completing four seasons as Padres manager. Green had a 274-366 record as the 19th manager in Padres history.
Things didn’t improve Saturday as the Padres fell to 24-41 since the All-Star break and 1-8 over the last nine games. Eight Diamondbacks pitchers held the Padres to two runs on five hits. Over the last six games, the Padres have seven runs on 27 hits.
Mariners 7, Orioles 6 (13 innings)
Mallex Smith scored from second base on pinch hitter Tim Lopes’ infield single in the top of the 13th inning, and Seattle outlasted host Baltimore Orioles.
Smith started the game-winning rally with two outs in the 13th by reaching on pitcher Tanner Scott’s error. Scott (1-1) couldn’t catch a toss from second baseman Hanser Alberto on Smith’s grounder.
Then, Smith stole second with Lopes up. Lopes followed with an infield single to third baseman Rio Ruiz. While Ruiz was throwing late to first, Smith kept on going and beat Trey Mancini’s throw home.
White Sox 5, Tigers 3
Jose Abreu had three hits, drove in two runs and scored another as Chicago topped host Detroit.
Chicago collected 17 hits, including a solo homer by Tim Anderson. Leury Garcia had three hits and scored a run, and Yoan Moncada supplied two hits and two RBIs.
Every player in the White Sox lineup had at least one hit, allowing Ivan Nova (11-12) to get the victory. Nova gave up two runs on eight hits in five innings. Closer Alex Colome gave up an unearned run in the ninth inning run but still nailed down his 29th save.
—Field Level Media