(Reuters) - The top-seeded Los Angeles Angels were pushed to the brink of postseason elimination by the surprising Kansas City Royals on Friday and the St Louis Cardinals launched an eight-run salvo to stun the LA Dodgers in a packed day of playoff action.
In other games, Baltimore piled more late misery on the Detroit Tigers to take a 2-0 lead in their AL Division series while Jake Peavy shut down the Washington Nationals to give the San Francisco Giants an NL-record ninth consecutive playoff win.
In a day highlighted by stunning comebacks, the Cardinals rallied to take down Clayton Kershaw, considered the best pitcher in the league, for a shocking 10-9 road win while Baltimore struck late for a 7-6 victory over the Tigers.
Elsewhere, Eric Hosmer belted a two-run homer in the top of the 11th to ensure the Royals’ fairytale playoff run continued with a 4-1 Game Two win over the Angels.
The Royals, in the post-season for the first time since 1985, prevailed in their third extra innings contest of the post-season and took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
They beat the A’s in the wild card game in 12 innings on Tuesday and the Angels in 11 frames two days later before prevailing in extra innings once again.
While it was a shock result, perhaps the biggest surprise was at Dodgers Stadium where a pitching duel was expected between Kershaw and Adam Wainwright but a run-fest erupted in their National League Division Series opener.
Kershaw, who entered the game with a 21-3 record and a 1.77 earned run average, had held the Cards to two hits — a pair of solo home runs — as the Dodgers carried a 6-2 lead off Wainwright into the seventh.
St Louis began the frame with four singles and capped the big inning with a go-ahead three-run double by Matt Carpenter and a three-run homer by Matt Holliday to flip the rout in the other direction for a 10-6 lead.
A two-run homer by Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth made it a two-run game and the Dodgers scored again in the bottom of the ninth before closer Trevor Rosenthal struck out Yasiel Puig with a man on third to end matters as St Louis held on for the win.
Baltimore’s rally came as the Tigers suffered another eighth-inning collapse.
After scoring eight runs in the same inning to key a 12-3 Game One win on Thursday, the Orioles followed a similar script in a Game Two matinee at Baltimore’s Camden Yards, pushing across four runs in the eighth to once again stun Detroit.
Trailing 6-3, Steve Pearce kickstarted the Orioles’ comeback with an RBI single, before Delmon Young slammed a bases-loaded double, scoring three more runs to leave the capacity crowd on its feet roaring in delight.
Peavy, acquired from Boston in July, continued his recent sizzling form to pick up a first career postseason victory in six playoff starts.
He had a no-hitter going through four innings, gave up only two hits and no runs in 5 2/3 innings and did not allow a Washington batter to reach second base until the sixth.
The Giants held on despite giving up two solo home runs in the seventh to claim the opener of their best-of-five series.
Writing by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien