x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Braves have an edge in race for wild-card spot

The Atlanta Braves nosed ahead of the Florida Marlins in the race for a post-season berth on Monday, beating their National League East rivals 5-2.

The Atlanta Braves nosed ahead of the Florida Marlins in the race for a post-season berth on Monday, beating their National League East rivals 5-2. Atlanta trailed by a run until Omar Infante drove in two runs with a triple in the seventh inning, then scored himself on catcher David Ross's single to make it 3-1. Adam LaRoche and Yunel Escobar had RBI singles in the eighth to stretch the Braves' advantage. The Marlins' second baseman, Dan Uggla, went two-for-two, bringing home Jorge Cantu in the second and ninth innings for his team's two runs.

The right-hander Kenshin Kawakami struck out five and gave up just one run in six innings to help Atlanta (69-62) break out of a tie in the standings with the Marlins (68-63). "We can't afford to lose right now," Kawakami said "So I really wanted to win tonight." Kawakami also battled through a 10-pitch at-bat in the sixth inning against Florida's ace Josh Johnson (13-4). Atlanta's Chipper Jones said Kawakami's at-bat looked to have taken a little bit out of Johnson. "Any 10 or 11-pitch at-bat has a tendency to wear on a pitcher, especially when it's that late in the game," he said.

The Braves moved within three games of the National League wild card leaders, San Francisco and Colorado, with the win. The Houston Astros gained ground on the second-placed Chicago Cubs in the Central Division with a 5-3 win thanks to Carlos Lee's two-run single and two-run homer. The Cincinnati Reds were 4-3 and 6-3 victors in a double-header at home to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pitcher Johnny Cueto impressed for the Reds in the second encounter, allowing one run and striking out five.

The San Diego Padres, bottom in the West, won 3-1 at home to the Washington Nationals, bottom of the East. Inthe American League, the Tampa Bay Rays won 11-7 at the Central-leading Detroit Tigers as Carlos Pena hit four RBIs. The Rays will now take on the AL wild card leaders Boston Red Sox in a three-game series at Tropicana Field aiming to cut down the Sox' five-game advantage.

The Minnesota Twins capitalised on Detroit's slip-up to move within three and a half games of them at the top with a 4-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.. The Texas Rangers' wild card hopes were dented by an 18-10 loss at home to the Toronto Blue Jays as Adam Lind had eight RBIs, including a grand slam and a solo home run. The New York Yankees won 5-1 at Baltimore Orioles for their fourth victory in a row to strengthen their grip on first place in the East.

Andy Pettitte pitched a perfect game until the seventh inning while Nick Swisher registered his 22nd home run of the season. The West Division-leading Los Angeles Angels thrashed the Seattle Mariners 10-0 as Vladimir Guerrero hit a pair of two-run homers while the Oakland A's beat the Kansas City Royals 8-5. * With agencies