BALTIMORE – The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh consecutive NL West title in fitting fashion, using two home runs by Corey Seager and a masterful pitching performance by Walker Buehler to beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 on Tuesday night.
After the final out, the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season gathered at the mound for a subdued celebration that included a wardrobe change for a pending champagne celebration in the clubhouse.
Los Angeles, coming off consecutive World Series losses to Houston and Boston and seeking its first title since 1988, will likely begin the postseason at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 3 against the NL wild-card team.
This is the earliest that Los Angeles (94-52) has ever clinched the division, both in terms of date and games. The 1977 team did it in Game 151, and the 2013 club clinched on Sept. 19.
Though an Arizona loss to the New York Mets would have clinched it for the Dodgers, Los Angeles emphatically took care of business on its own. Seager homered with two on to cap a four-run first inning against Ty Blach (1-3) and added a two-run drive in the third for a 6-0 lead.
Gavin Lux hit his first career homer in the fifth to increase the Dodgers’ NL record for long balls in a season to 258.
Buehler (13-3) limited last-place Baltimore to four hits over seven shutout innings. He struck out 11.
Brewers 4, Marlins 3
MIAMI – Christian Yelich broke his right kneecap on a foul ball and will miss the rest of the regular season, an injury that overshadowed Milwaukee’s win over Miami.
The Brewers didn’t say whether the reigning NL MVP might be able to return for the playoffs that begin Oct. 1 if they make it that far. Yelich will return to Milwaukee on Wednesday for further evaluation.
Milwaukee, which won its fifth in a row, began the day two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild-card spot.
Yelich fouled a ball off his leg in the first inning. He was down on the ground for several minutes before limping off the field.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Austin lifted a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. Yasmani Grandal led off with a single against Adam Conley (2-9), Grisham doubled and Austin put the Brewers ahead.
Junior Guerra (9-5) got the win. Drew Pomeranz pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.
Starlin Castro homered for Miami. Hernan Perez hit his 19th of the season for Miami.
Mets 3, Diamondbacks 2
NEW YORK – Zack Wheeler pitched one-run ball over seven innings, Justin Wilson navigated four difficult outs for his first save since April and New York beat Arizona.
New York has taken the first two games in this key four-game set between NL playoff contenders. Arizona had won 11 of 14 and opened the day 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild card.
Todd Frazier drove a pair of run-scoring doubles for the Mets, who began the day four games behind the Cubs.
Diamondbacks rookie Zac Gallen (3-5) pitched three-run ball over six innings.
Eduardo Escobar homered off reliever Brad Brach and drove in two for Arizona. He has 112 RBIs.
Wheeler (11-7) struck out seven and allowed seven hits and two walks.
Phillies 6, Braves 5
PHILADELPHIA – Corey Dickerson homered twice to help Philadelphia’s wild-card push and the Phillies hit five home runs overall in a win over Atlanta.
The Phillies entered three games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card spot in the NL.
J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Dickerson all homered in the first inning, Scott Kingery hit an inside-the-park homer and Dickerson tacked an insurance run with a solo shot late to help the Phillies win for the third time in four games.
Blake Parker (3-2) pitched two scoreless innings of the relief for the win. Hector Neris worked a scoreless ninth for his 25th save.
Max Fried (16-5) took the loss for Atlanta, which got run-scoring hits from Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson and Francisco Cervelli. Johan Camargo added a solo homer.
Tigers 12, Yankees 11
DETROIT – Jordy Mercer capped a comeback from a six-run deficit with a game-ending single off Chance Adams in the ninth inning, and Detroit overcame six home runs by New York.
Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius each homered twice, and Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion also went deep for the Yankees, whose 276 homers tied Minnesota for the major league lead.
New York led 6-0 in the second inning. But the Tigers tied the score with six runs in the third, aided by an error by Torres at second base.
Grayson Greiner doubled with one out in the ninth off Chance Adams (1-1) and Mercer’s single to the gap in right-center scored pinch-runner Willi Castro. Tigers closer Jimenez (3-8) pitched a perfect ninth.
Indians 8, Angels 0
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Rookie Zach Plesac pitched a four-hitter for his first complete game in the majors and Cleveland kept pace in the playoff race, blanking Los Angeles.
Francisco Lindor and Jordan Luplow homered as the Indians stayed a half-game behind Oakland for the second AL wild-card spot. Cleveland trails wild-card leader Tampa Bay by two games.
The Indians have won four of five. The Angels, again playing without star Mike Trout, have dropped three in a row – the loss ensured the Angels will miss the postseason for the fifth straight year.
Plesac (8-6) bounced back after suffering consecutive losses for the first time in his career. The right-hander, who had allowed 10 earned runs in his last two starts, struck out five and walked two while throwing 114 pitches.
Plesac’s previous high in innings was seven on five occasions. It was the sixth time in 19 starts he has thrown over 100 pitches.
Lindor hit his 30th homer, a solo drive off Trevor Cahill in the seventh. He joined Alex Rodriguez as the only shortstops in major league history to have three or more seasons of at least 30 home runs before turning 26.
Rays 5, Rangers 3 (11)
ARLINGTON, Texas – Austin Meadows tied the game with a two-run homer in the eighth, and Tampa Bay scored twice in the 11th after two Texas errors on the same play and stretched their winning streak to six games.
The Rays (87-59) won for the 11th time in 12 games to stay 1 1/2 games ahead of Oakland for the top AL wild-card spot. The A’s won 21-7 at AL West-leading Houston, a night after a 15-0 loss.
Tampa Bay had two on with two outs in the 11th against Emmanuel Clase (2-3) when the rookie reliever bobbled a slow roller by Kean Wong and had his desperate throw bounce away from the first baseman. Second baseman Rougned Odor picked it up and made a high errant throw into left field with a runner diving back into second base, and Nate Lowe scored the tiebreaking run from third. Guillermo Heredia followed with an RBI single.
Joey Wendle led off the Rays eighth with a triple off just-entered reliever Rafael Montero, and Meadows followed with his 29th homer to tie the game at 3-3.
Wendle’s RBI single in the fifth was the only run Tampa Bay got in seven innings off Rangers starter Lance Lynn.
Emilo Pagan (4-2) struck out two in a perfect 10th before Peter Fairbanks worked the 11th for his first career save.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3
TORONTO – Rowdy Tellez hit a two-run home run, Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire added solo shots and Toronto snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win over Boston.
Biggio walked twice and scored twice, and McGuire had two hits.
Mookie Betts homered for the Red Sox, who have lost four straight.
Justin Shafer (2-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings as Toronto won for the first time since Aug. 31. Ken Giles finished in the ninth for his 19th save in 20 opportunities.
Josh Taylor (1-2) took the loss.
Twins 5, Nationals 0
MINNEAPOLIS – Jose Berrios surrendered two singles over seven innings in his best start in six weeks, Mitch Garver hit the tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh, and Minnesota beat Washington.
Berrios (12-8) struck out four and walked one. Anibal Sanchez (8-8) was almost as sharp for the Nationals, finishing with four hits and one walk allowed, along with five strikeouts.
The American League Central-leading Twins took a five-game lead on Cleveland into the night. The Indians, who have six more losses than the Twins, played at the Los Angeles Angels.
The Nationals entered 9 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, but they were in the first wild card spot, 4 1/2 games above the cut, ahead of Milwaukee. The Chicago Cubs have the second spot.
White Sox 7, Royals 3
CHICAGO – Rookie Eloy Jimenez hit his first career grand slam, Yoan Moncada launched a two-run homer and Chicago beat Kansas City.
Adam Engel added a solo shot for as the White Sox won their second straight, but just their fourth in 14 games.
Adalberto Mondesi, Alex Gordon and Ryan O’Hearn went deep for the Royals.
Ivan Nova (10-12) allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings, snapping his three-game losing streak. The right-hander yielded six hits, while walking none and striking out five.
Jakob Junis (9-13) permitted five runs in five-plus innings in losing for the third time in four decisions.
Athletics 21, Astros 7
HOUSTON – Matt Olson and Sean Murphy each homered twice, and Oakland tagged Wade Miley for seven runs in the first inning and scored a season-high 21 runs in a rout of Houston.
After being blanked in a lopsided loss on Monday, Oakland recovered to win its seventh of nine and remained ahead of Cleveland for the second AL wild-card spot.
The Astros were coming off a 21-1 win over Seattle on Sunday and a 15-0 thrashing of Oakland on Monday in which they hit seven homers. It was the first time the Athletics had been shut out since May 9.
But on Tuesday, the A’s had a season-best 25 hits and built a 7-0 lead in the first inning without an extra-base knock. They still ended up tying a season high with six homers after not hitting any in their previous two games.
Houston’s Wade Miley (13-5) allowed seven hits and seven earned runs in a third of an inning.
Tanner Roark (4-1) worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, five earned runs and a walk with three strikeouts.
Giants 5, Pirates 4
SAN FRANCISCO – Cap on backward and with confident head shakes and fist pumps, Johnny Cueto dazzled over five shutout innings in his long-awaited season debut, pitchng San Francisco past Pittsburgh.
The charismatic right-hander, far fitter and stronger than before he got hurt, returned to the mound for the first time in more than 13 months following Tommy John surgery. Cueto allowed one hit, struck out four and walked one. He had been scheduled to throw about 70 pitches and wound up at 69.
Stephen Vogt hit a two-run homer and drove in four runs. His two-run single in the first off rookie Mitch Keller (1-4) staked Cueto to a quick lead and Brandon Crawford added an RBI single as four of the first five batters got hits.
Rockies 2, Cardinals 1
DENVER – Nolan Arenado hit a 482-foot two-homer that bounced out of Coors Field in the first inning, Chi Chi Gonzalez got his first big league win in four years and Colorado slowed St. Louis’ playoff push.
St. Louis had won 23 of 30 coming in to open a four-game lead in the NL Central over the second-place Chicago Cubs.
Gonzalez (1-6) allowed one run and four hits in six innings. Jairo Diaz got six outs and finished a six-hitter for second save.
Michael Wacha (6-7) allowed five hits in four innings and is winless in seven starts and two relief appearances since July 19.
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