Athletics Reduce Magic Number to 2

Saturday, September 23rd 2006, 12:42 pm
By: News On 6

Marco Scutaro's latest game-winning hit gave the Oakland Athletics a chance to wrap up the AL West at home this weekend. With runners on first and third and one out in the bottom of the 12th, Scutaro lined a single to deep left-center over a five-man infield to give Oakland a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night, reducing the Athletics' magic number to two.

The A's can clinch their first division title since 2003 by winning either Saturday or Sunday against the Angels, who celebrated their own AL West titles the past two seasons on Oakland's home field.

The game-winning hit was Scutaro's second of the season and eighth in his three years with the A's. It came with an 0-2 count against Francisco Rodriguez (2-3).

``I was looking for a slider on the first two pitches. He didn't throw me one slider,'' Scutaro said. ``A guy like Rodriguez, you have to look for one pitch. After two strikes, I was looking for the ball, trying to survive.''

Pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty opened the 12th with a double and went to third on a groundout. After Nick Swisher was intentionally walked, Kielty was confident he would score with Scutaro at the plate.

``I knew my chances were really good with him up there,'' Kielty said.

In other AL games, it was: Detroit 7, Kansas City 3; Baltimore 7, Minnesota 3; Seattle 11, Chicago 6; New York 4, Tampa Bay 1; Boston 7, Toronto 1; Texas 12, Cleveland 4.

Brad Halsey (5-4) intentionally walked Vladimir Guerrero in the top of the 12th, then the A's turned an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners.

Maicer Izturis lined a tying double to left in the ninth off Huston Street, who was pitching for a fourth straight day and blew his ninth save.

Oakland's Milton Bradley hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth after Eric Chavez tied the game in the seventh with a solo homer.

The A's lead the Angels by eight games and the teams play six more times in the final nine games, including the last four of the season in Anaheim.

``Our backs have been against the wall for a while,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We've been playing good baseball. We're not going to stop now.''

Tigers 7, Royals 3

Detroit moved 1 1/2 games in front of Minnesota in the AL Central by improving to 12-1 against host Kansas City this season and the Tigers have five games left with the Royals this season.

Sean Casey hit a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. Detroit added three runs in the ninth on reliever Ryan Braun's three-base throwing error, Omar Infante's RBI-triple and Andrew Sisco's wild pitch. Wilfredo Ledezma (3-3) allowed three runs _ one earned _ in 5 2-3 innings.

It was the Royals' first game under bench coach Billy Doran. He took over for manager Buddy Bell, who underwent throat surgery on Friday.

Orioles 7, Twins 3

Minnesota remained 5 1/2 games in front of Chicago in the wild-card race despite losing its second straight.

Daniel Cabrera (8-10) took a four-hitter into the seventh inning and Brian Roberts homered and drove in three runs for host Baltimore, which has won five of six.

Minnesota starter Carlos Silva (10-14) gave up five runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Mariners 11, White Sox 6

Chicago lost for the seventh time in eight games almost sealing the defending World Series champions' fate of missing the postseason.

Richie Sexson hit two long homers _ his 30th and 31st _ and reached 101 RBIs for visiting Seattle, which had a six-run second inning.

Chicago starter Jose Contreras (13-9) had to leave after straining his right hamstring while covering first base in the second inning. Contreras, who is 4-9 in the second half, gave up seven hits and five earned runs in 1 2-3 innings.

Yankees 4, Devil Rays 1

New York welcomed back Gary Sheffield, who missed 103 games after undergoing surgery on his wrist, and Mariano Rivera, who was out since Aug. 31 with a strained right forearm.

Sheffield went 0-for-3 but made an impressive debut at first base, saving a run with the score tied 1-1 by scooping third baseman Miguel Cairo's low throw out of the dirt to end the sixth with a runner on third.

Rivera pitched the ninth for the visiting Yankees and earned his 34th save, striking out the side around a broken-bat single and a hit batter. Robinson Cano and Aaron Guiel homered to back starter Chien-Ming Wang (18-6), who allowed six hits in seven inning.

The last-place Devil Rays tied an AL record by losing for the 57th time after holding a lead.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 1

Julian Tavarez (4-4) pitched his first complete game in six years, allowing seven hits. His other complete game was on Sept. 5, 2000, against the Chicago Cubs. He made 64 starts in between. Mike Lowell homered and Alex Gonzalez doubled twice and had three RBIs for visiting Boston.

Aaron Hill drove in the lone run for the Blue Jays, who have lost three of four.

Rangers 12, Indians 4

Mark Teixeira and Michael Young each drove in four runs and Carlos Lee hit two solo homers for host Texas. Adam Eaton (7-4), who missed the first 3 1/2 months of the season after surgery on the middle finger of his pitching hand, gave up three runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings.

Cleveland starter Paul Byrd (9-9) allowed eight runs _ four earned _ in four innings.