MLB Sunday: Royals Stay Close
UNDATED (AP) — Nori Aoki has capped one of the best weeks of his career by delivering a hit that put the Kansas City Royals within 1 ½ games of the AL Central lead.
The Royals blew a 2-0 lead before Aoki laced a two-run triple in the fourth inning of a 5-2 triumph over the division-leading Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were threatening to complete a three-game sweep and mar Kansas City's playoff push until Aoki delivered his third hit of the series. The Royals right fielder went 3-for-9 in the series after collecting 11 hits in Kansas City's series win over the Chicago White Sox last week.
Kansas City leads Seattle by 1 ½ games for the second AL wild-card berth, and are a half-game behind Oakland in the battle to host the winner-take-all wild-card playoff game .
The Athletics stayed ahead of the Royals by beating Philadelphia 8-6 on Josh Donaldson's two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th. Donaldson had three hits and scored three times for the A's, who also got three RBIs from Geovany Soto.
Seattle lost ground in the wild-card chase. Jake Marisnick had a three-run homer for the second straight game and Alex Presley drove in two runs as the Astros dealt the Mariners their eighth loss in 12 games, 8-3. Collin McHugh gave up three hits in six innings for his seventh straight win.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh took a major step toward securing its second consecutive NL wild-card berth. Vance Worley scattered four hits in eight innings as the Pirates blanked Milwaukee 1-0, leaving the Bucs tied with San Francisco for the two wild-card berths and 4 ½ games ahead of the Brewers heading into the final week of the season. The game was scoreless until Russell Martin singled home the lone run in the seventh inning to give the Pirates the rubber match of the three-game set.
The Cardinals wrapped up an NL playoff berth with Milwaukee's loss, but their lead in the NL Central dropped to 2 ½ games over Pittsburgh with a 7-2 loss to Cincinnati in St. Louis. Devin Mesoraco hit a three-run homer, and Jay Bruce added a solo shot and three RBIs as the Reds ended the Redbirds' four-game winning streak.
Elsewhere in the majors:
— Matt Kemp went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 8-5 to open a 4 ½-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West. Adrian Gonzalez collected his major league-leading 112th RBI.
— The Giants were 8-2 losers at San Diego as Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run double and had three RBIs. Rene Rivera and Cameron Maybin each had two RBIs to support Ian Kennedy, who pitched into the seventh to help the Padres complete a three-game sweep.
— Corey Kluber struck out a career-high 14 hitters for the second straight start and picked up his 17th win by allowing two runs in eight innings of Cleveland's 7-2 triumph at Minnesota. Michael Brantley had three hits and two RBIs as the Indians stayed 3 ½ games behind the Royals for the final AL wild-card berth.
— Masahiro Tanaka made a triumphant return from an elbow injury that sidelined him for 2 1/2 months and a rejuvenated Derek Jeter got yet another big hit on his final homestand, leading the New York Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2. Jeter went 2 for 4 and finished his next-to-last home series 8 for 15 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.
— Atlanta was eliminated from the NL wild-card race as NL Rookie of the Year candidate Jacob deGrom gave up two runs while striking out 10 over six innings of the New York Mets' 10-2 pounding of the Braves. Anthony Recker had three hits and three RBIs as the Mets completed a three-game sweep and dealt the Braves their 14th loss in 18 games this month.
— Joe Kelly allowed two runs and just three hits in seven innings as Boston topped Baltimore 3-2. Mookie Betts and David Ross homered against the AL East champs, who finished their home schedule 50-31.
— Stephen Strasburg gave up three hits in seven shutout innings as Washington downed the Marlins 2-1 in Miami to complete a three-game sweep. Strasburg is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his last eight starts.
— Texas beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 on Ryan Rua's solo homer in the top of the ninth. Nick Tepesch allowed a run and four hits in seven innings of the Rangers' eighth victory in nine games.
— Avisail Garcia hit two home runs and John Danks took a no-hitter into the sixth inning as the Chicago White Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 10-5. Garcia's second homer of the day ignited a six-run sixth that put the White Sox ahead 10-0.
— Colorado has a six-game winning streak after Michael Cuddyer homered and Rafael Ynoa had three RBIs. Christian Bergman gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings for the victory.