Around the Bases: Pirates tied for first in NL Central, Rays maintain lead for second AL Wild Card

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

News and notes from Thursday's MLB action, which included a tie atop the NL Central standings and a lot of action in the AL Wild Card race.

Pirates 3, Cubs 1: Pittsburgh is back in first place in the NL Central after taking the opener of a four-game series against Chicago. The Pirates, who have won four straight, are tied with the Cardinals, who lost to the Brewers on Thursday. Jeff Locke threw seven sparkling innings, allowing just three hits and striking out five batters. This was Locke's first quality start since July 26, and his first win since July 21. Pittsburgh scored two in the 4th on back-to-back run-scoring hits by Marlon Byrd and Pedro Alvarez, and then tacked on one more in the 8th on shortstop Jordy Mercer's second hit of the night. Mercer is 10-for-27 (.370) in his last nine games.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: New York continued its push for the Wild Card with its third straight win over Baltimore on Thursday. The Yankees took an early lead off of starter Wei-Yin Chen, but Danny Valencia tied the game in the 8th with a three-run home run off of set-up man David Robertson. New York manufactured the go-ahead run in the 9th when newcomer Brendan Ryan, making just his second appearance as a Yankee, singled off of Orioles closer Jim Johnson, moved to second on a fielder's choice, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a wild pitch. New York took three out of four games in Baltimore, and now stands one game behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card. The Orioles are 2½ games behind the Rays.

Athletics 8, Twins 2: Oakland padded its lead in the AL West with a victory over Minnesota on Thursday. A.J. Griffin allowed only three baserunners in seven innings of work, and Yoenis Cespedes's two-run triple highlighted a four-run 3rd inning for the A's. Cespedes is now 22-for-58 (.379) over his last 15 games and has driven in runs in each of his last six contests. Josh Reddick also added a home run in his second game back from the DL. Oakland, who has won its last five series, will carry a 3½-game lead into its three-game set with Texas this weekend.

Rays 4, Red Sox 3: Tampa Bay maintained its one-game lead in the race for the second Wild Card with a win against Boston on Thursday. Starters Jeremy Hellickson and Jake Peavy each allowed three runs, but the Rays broke the tie in the eighth against Rubby De La Rosa when Wil Myers' fly ball landed fair by mere inches for an RBI double. The Rays avoided being swept by the Red Sox, but haven't won a series since taking two of three from the Yankees from Aug. 23-25. Boston's magic number to clinch the AL East remains at nine games.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3: Milwaukee embraced its role as spoiler by defeating St. Louis on Thursday. The loss dropped the Cardinals into a tie for first place in the NL Central with the Pirates, ending their four-game run of being in sole possession atop the standings and snapping their five-game winning streak. Brewers rookie Tyler Thornburg tossed his second straight quality start, allowing two runs in six innings, and first baseman Sean Halton chipped in with an RBI single and a two-run homer off of starer Joe Kelly.

Indians 14, White Sox 3: Cleveland scored four in the first and seven in the fifth en route to a rout of Chicago on Thursday. John Danks and Charlie Leesman each surrendered seven runs for the White Sox, while Ryan Raburn led the Indians' attack by driving in five runs. Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera added home runs for the Tribe, who remain two games behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: Rookie Tanner Roark ran his record to 6-0 as Washington kept themselves on the edge of the playoff hunt with a much-needed win over the Mets. The right-handed Roark, who has made just 11 career appearances in the majors, has now won both of his starts after recording four wins in relief this season. The Nationals hit four solo home runs in the game, with three of them coming off of New York starter Aaron Harang. Harang was making his first start for the Mets after being released from the Mariners in August.

Dodgers 3, Giants 2: Gregor Blanco singled in the game-tying run for San Francisco in the 9th off of Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen, but Adrian Gonzalez drove in the winning run in the 10th to lift the Dodgers past the Giants. Former Giants reliever Brian Wilson recorded the win for the Dodgers. Yasiel Puig added an RBI double for L.A.

Braves 6, Marlins 1: Atlanta defeated Miami on Thursday to reduce its magic number in the NL East to six. Freddy Garcia, who made his first start for the Braves after three relief appearances, threw six quality innings for the win. Freddie Freeman homered for Atlanta, and Christian Yelich had two hits for the Marlins.

Phillies 10, Padres 5: San Diego's Tyson Ross lasted only nine batters into the game, allowing six runs on five hits and two walks. Philadelphia's Roy Halladay didn't fare much better, allowing five runs in 4⅓ innings, but the Phillies' bullpen bailed him out by tossing 4⅔ scoreless innings to keep the Padres at bay. Halladay, who had his start pushed back three days because of an illness, now sports an ERA of 7.44 in 11 starts this year. Carlos Ruiz led the Phillies' offense by going 3-for-3 with three RBI and two walks.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Los Angeles finished off a three-game sweep of Toronto behind a solid start from Garrett Richards, a home run by Kole Calhoun, and a go-ahead RBI-double by Mike Trout in the 5th inning. Richards has won his last three starts.

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