MLB Roundup: Morton, Rays increase lead, hold Yankees to one hit in 4-0 win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay pitching staff made quite an impression on New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

Morton and the Tampa Bay bullpen combined on a one-hitter and the Rays increased their lead in the AL wild-card race, beating the Yankees 4-0 Wednesday night.

“This is what they’re capable of,” Boone said. “This is a big reason why they’re in this position because they can really pitch.”

Tampa Bay has a 1 1/2-game lead over Cleveland for the second wild-card spot and is half-game behind Oakland.

Morton (16-6) threw 64 of 100 pitches for strikes.

“Every time he takes the ball we really need him to step up,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He certainly did tonight and quieted arguably the best lineup in baseball.”

Morton, by the fourth inning, had no illusions of going the distance despite his performance.

“I’d love to throw a no-hitter, but I’m pretty sure Cash is not going to leave me out there for 140 pitches no matter how well I’m throwing,” Morton said.

The Rays swept a two-game series from the 102-win Yankees, holding them to DJ LeMahieu’s soft, clean single to right field with two outs in the sixth inning off Morton.

“He was hitting his spot, good (velocity) as always, and that curveball, it’s a good pitch,” LeMahieu said.

New York started the day 1 1/2 games in back of Houston for the best record in the majors.

Morton struck out nine and walked three in six innings. Four relievers finished it out for the Rays.

Twins 5, Tigers 1

DETROIT —Luis Arraez and Eddie Rosario homered, Randy Dobnak allowed one hit in six innings and Minnesota beat Detroit, then won the AL Central title when Cleveland lost to the White Sox in Chicago.

Minnesota earned its first division title since 2010 and only its second postseason appearance since then. The Twins (98-60) have their highest victory total since the 1970 team also won 98 games.

Dobnak (2-1) allowed no scoring after an unearned run in the first. Arraez hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Drew VerHagen (4-3). Nelson Cruz added an RBI single in the eighth, and Rosario’s two-run shot that inning made it 5-1.

The Tigers (46-111) are assured of baseball’s worst record and the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

Astros 3, Mariners 0

SEATTLE — Zack Greinke came within two outs of pitching the third no-hitter by Houston this year, losing his bid on a single by Seattle rookie Austin Nola in the ninth inning.

Greinke (18-5) was in complete control while trying for his first career no-hitter. He drew cheers from the orange-shirted Astros fans when he took the mound to begin the ninth and retired Tom Murphy on a grounder.

Nola, in an 0-for-16 slump, was up next and dumped a liner into shallow left-center field. Center fielder Jake Marisnick made a diving attempt but came up well short and pounded his fist on his leg.

Greinke gave up another single to Tim Lopes and was replaced after throwing 108 pitches. Will Harris got his third save.

Houston posted its franchise-high 104th win and moved one step closer to home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Greinke struck out nine and walked one.

Athletics 3, Angels 2

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Matt Chapman hit a two-run homer with one out in the ninth inning and Oakland boosted their playoff chances, rallying past Los Angeles.

Oakland remained a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay for the first AL wild-card spot. Cleveland fell two games behind the A’s.

Ramon Laureano also homered and the A’s avoided their first three-game losing streak since July 24-26.

Joakim Soria (2-4) threw one inning of scoreless relief, and Liam Hendriks got his 24th save.

Hansel Robles (5-1) took the loss.

Kaleb Cowart had an RBI double and Taylor Ward hit a solo homer, but the Angels lost seven of their final eight games to the A’s.

White Sox 8, Indians 3

CHICAGO — Shane Bieber got tagged early and Cleveland lost ground in the AL wild-card race, falling to Chicagot. The Indians’ loss clinched the AL Central title for Minnesota.

Cleveland lost for the second time in its last nine tries and dropped 1¢ games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot.

A throwing error by first baseman Carlos Santana put the Indians behind at the start. Bieber (15-8) had won three in a row, but allowed five runs — three earned — on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Jose Ramirez hit a solo home run for Cleveland. On Tuesday night, in his first two plate appearances after missing a month with a broken hand, he hit a grand slam and a three-run homer.

Tim Anderson matched a career high with four hits and scored two runs for Chicago. Ross Detwiler (3-5) was the winner.

Red Sox 10, Rangers 3

ARLINGTON, Texas — Christian Vazquez, Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers homered, and Rick Porcello won what could be his final start for Boston.

Porcello (14-12), who will be a free agent, allowed all three runs on six hits, no walks and two hit batters in six innings. He matched a season high with eight strikeouts and retired his last 11 batters.

Vazquez broke a third-inning tie with a two-run homer. It was Boston’s 239rd homer this season, breaking the franchise record set in 2003. Moreland also hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Devers hit a solo shot in the seventh. Kolby Allard (4-2) was the loser.

Blue Jays 3, Orioles 2

TORONTO — Rowdy Tellez hit two solo home runs, Jacob Waguespack pitched six shutout innings and Toronto beat Baltimore.

Tellez hit a leadoff drive against right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (1-10) in the fourth, then followed up with an opposite-field shot off left-hander Paul Fry to begin the sixth.

Billy McKinney got Toronto started with the first leadoff home run of his career, lining Ynoa’s second pitch of the game over the wall in right. Waguespack (5-5) allowed four hits, all singles.

Ken Giles struck out the side in the ninth for his 22nd save.


Brewers 9, Reds 2

CINCINNATI — The Milwaukee Brewers wrapped up their second straight postseason appearance, with Ryan Braun’s grand slam sparking a victory over the Cincinnati Reds that also tightened the NL Central race.

The Brewers have won six in a row and 17 of 19 despite losing MVP Christian Yelich to a broken kneecap, vaulting from also-ran to at least a wild card. There’s more at their fingertips — the division-leading Cardinals lost again, slicing their lead over the Brewers to 1 1/2 games.

Milwaukee trails Washington by one game for the wild card lead.

Nationals 5, Phillies 3

WASHINGTON — Wilmer Difo drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the seventh inning and Anibal Sanchez pitched seven solid innings to help Washington beat Philadelphia.

Washington faced a 2-1 deficit when Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Yan Gomes doubled with one out in the seventh. Victor Robles followed with a sacrifice fly that tied it. Difo, who was making his first start since May 16, followed with a single to right-center off reliever Mike Morin (1-3) that scored Gomes.

Howie Kendrick and Brian Dozier homered for the Nationals. Sanchez (11-8) allowed two runs and six hits, striking out seven without a walk. Sean Doolittle earned his first save since a stint on the injured list. He pitched a scoreless ninth for his 29th save in 35 attempts and first since Aug. 16.

Brad Miller homered for the Phillies.

Diamondbacks 9, Cardinals 7

PHOENIX — Pinch-hitter Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a game-ending double play with two runners on the base and NL Central-leading St. Louis fell short in a ninth-inning rally against Arizona.

St. Louis and Arizona were back on the field about 11 hours after the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 victory in 19 innings, a game that took nearly seven hours. Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was pulled in the second inning with tightness in his right shoulder.

Errors by rookie third baseman Tommy Edman and catcher Matt Wieters helped Arizona score seven times in the sixth for a 9-5 lead. Wilmer Flores homered during the burst.

The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and Matt Wieters hit a two-run single. Goldschmidt, who homered in the first two games of the series in his return to the desert, hit a grounder off former and teammate Archie Bradley and Arizona turned two to end it.

Pirates 4, Cubs 2

PITTSBURGH — The collapsing Chicago Cubs were eliminated from playoff contention shortly before losing their eighth straight game, falling to Pittsburgh.

Back-to-back wild pitches by David Phelps in the eighth inning enabled Pittsburgh to score the winning run. Just before Phelps’ bout with wildness, Milwaukee clinched the second NL wild card with a victory at Cincinnati. The Cubs will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Chicago’s skid included four one-run defeats at the hands of NL Central-leading St. Louis last weekend.

Phelps entered in relief with the score tied 2-2 and walked Pablo Reyes to put runners on first and second with one out. Jose Osuna drew a walk from Brad Wieck (1-2) before scoring on the wild pitches, and Erik Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly.

Michael Feliz (4-4) pitched the eighth, and Keone Kela worked the ninth for his first save.

Giants 2, Rockies 1

SAN FRANCISCO — Jaylin Davis hit his first career home run to end it with one out in the ninth, sending San Francisco past Colorado.

Will Smith (6-0) struck out the side in the ninth for the win before Davis connected on a 3-2 pitch from DJ Johnson (0-2).

Kevin Pillar hit an RBI single in the third for San Francisco.

Dodgers 6, Padres 4

SAN DIEGO — Joc Pederson homered twice, including his franchise-record ninth leadoff shot, and pinch-hitter Edwin Rios had a tiebreaking shot in the seventh to help Los Angeles beat San Diego.

Chris Taylor also homered for the Dodgers, who have won three straight and four of five.

Dylan Floro (5-3) got the last out of the sixth for the win. Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his 32nd save.

Ross Stripling went three innings, allowing three runs and four hits while striking out seven and walking one.

Dinelson Lamet struck out 10 in five innings while allowing four runs and six hits, with two walks.


Braves 10, Royals 2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Josh Donaldson had a career-high three doubles while driving in four runs, Dansby Swanson had a career-high four hits while driving in two, and NL East champion Atlanta cruised past Kansas City.

With their playoff seed secure and nothing on the line, the Braves sent reliever Josh Tomlin to the mound for his first start of the season. Luke Jackson (9-2) was among six relievers to go the rest of the way, helping the Braves snap a four-game skid to the Royals.

By Paul Wager

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