The Detroit Tigers extended their American League Central division lead to three games after a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday. Starting pitcher Justin Verlander struck out 11 and allowed two runs in seven innings for his 17th victory of the season, just one win away from equalling his career high.
It was the 11th straight defeat for Indians, who at least managed to make the game interesting when outfielder Choo Shin-soo hit a two-run homer off closer Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth inning. Rodney struggled with his control, walking one batter and allowing two hits before getting Jhonny Peralta to line out for his 35th save of the season. "He [Rodney] has come through all year for us, Whenever a little doubt creeps in, you say he's done it all year, and once again he did it," said Verlander.
"Our guys made a good run at it. We played better baseball tonight, still short, obviously, but against one of the better pitchers in the league, we made him work," said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. Minnesota, Detroit's nearest divisional rivals, did not play on Thursday. Elsewhere, Felix Hernandez struck out 11 and allowed just four runs in eight innings as the Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4.
"His stuff was unbelievable tonight," Toronto's Vernon Wells said of Hernandez. "He left a lot of guys shaking their heads, just trying to figure out what to do to put a ball in play." The Boston Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 10-3 and Oakland had a 12-3 win over the Texas Rangers The Chicago Cubs kept the National League Central title-race alive with a dramatic win over the San Francisco Giants. A Giants victory would have given the inactive St Louis Cardinals the title and it looked likely as San Francisco led 2-1 going into the ninth inning. But Jeff Baker's home run with two outs in the ninth secured a 3-2 triumph for the Cubs.
The Los Angeles Dodgers edged past Washington 7-6 to move within one game of the play-offs and hand the Nationals their 100th loss of the season. * With agencies