Astros keep up playoff push with victory over Cubs

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) reacts after being called out at home plate as Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, left, and home plate umpire Mark Carlson, right, watch during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Houston. The Astros lost a replay challenge of the play. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON — Houston rookie Alex Bregman continued his hot streak with a homer that helped the Astros beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Saturday, keeping up their outside run at a playoff spot while putting a minor diversion in the Cubs procession toward the National League Central crown.

The Astros remained 2-1/2 games off the second wildcard spot in the American League, currently held by Baltimore, which broke out of a tie with Detroit by comfortably beating the Tigers.

The Orioles are still in the race for top spot in the AL East, where the top four teams are separated by just three games. Toronto moved with a game of leader Boston by narrowly defeating the Red Sox.

In the key NL game, the Los Angeles Dodgers shut out Miami to maintain a four-game lead in the West while further denting the Marlins fading playoff ambitions.

Houston's Bregman put the Astros ahead with a two-run third inning which proved enough to win the game. Bregman started a miserable 1 for 34 at the plate after his promotion to the majors, but has hit eight home runs since Aug. 16.

Astros starter Collin McHugh pitched five effective innings, allowing one run, to win his third straight decision.

Baltimore's Matt Wieters hit two of his team's four home runs, powering the Orioles past Detroit 11-3.

Adam Jones and Chris Davis homered in the first inning off Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann, who was replaced in just the second inning. Wieters connected in the second and sixth innings.

Baltimore moved a game ahead of Detroit for the second wildcard, stayed within one game of Toronto for the first wildcard, and two games of Boston for top spot in the AL East.

Toronto closed in on Boston with a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox.

Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ got his 18th win of the season, allowing two runs while pitching into the seventh inning.

Melvin Upton Jr. hit a two-run homer in the second inning to reach 20 for the season and help Toronto end a four-game losing skid.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill was removed after seven innings despite being on track for a perfect game, and had to be satisfied with helping the visitors win 5-0 at Miami.

Hill had thrown 89 pitches and struck out nine when first-year manager Dave Roberts replaced him at the start of the eighth inning. The Marlins did get two hits against the bullpen, but not enough to threaten the Dodgers.

Washington's Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, lifting the Nationals over Philadelphia 3-0.

Harper struck out in each of his first three plate appearances before providing the game's only scoring against Phillies reliever Patrick Schuster, who threw a wild pitch, issued a walk and gave up the homer without recording an out.

The Nationals boosted their lead in the NL East to nine games.

Texas' Jonathan Lucroy hit a two-run homer in the eighth to power the Rangers to an 8-5 win against the Los Angeles Angels, maintaining their 8-1/2 game lead in the AL East.

The Angels had taken the lead in the bottom of the seventh before Lucroy's long shot put the Rangers back in front.

Kansas City's Whit Merrifield hit a two-run double in a three-run seventh inning that saw the Royals edge the Chicago White Sox 6-5.

Chicago scored in the bottom of the ninth, and threatened to tie the game when they got a runner on third base with one out, but Royals closer Wade Davis struck out the last two batters to preserve the victory.

St. Louis' Adam Wainwright pitcher eight strong innings to guide the Cardinals past Milwaukee 5-1.

Wainwright struck out seven in his most impressive outing since he shut out San Diego on July 21.

Randal Grichuk made a perfect throw to the plate to cut down Jake Elmore trying to score from second in the eighth. Then he doubled in the bottom half, helping clear the way for a five-run rally. Matt Adam drove in the tying run and Grichuk scored, giving St. Louis a 2-1 lead.

The Cardinals moved back above the New York Mets in the fight for the second NL wildcard.

New York's Gary Sanchez homered and almost hit another to help the Yankees defeat Tampa Bay 5-1, delivering a seventh successive win for the Yankees.

Minnesota's Joe Mauer drove in the winning run, with Brian Dozier dashing home from second base in the 12th inning to give the Twins a 2-1 win against Cleveland.

Seattle ace Felix Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings to improve his career record at Oakland Coliseum to 12-3 as the Mariners routed the Athletics 14-3.

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto pitched seven solid innings to lead the Giants past Arizona 11-3.

Atlanta's Adonis Garcia drove in the winning run in the 10th inning as the Braves beat the New York Mets 4-3, ending the Mets' six-game winning streak.

Cincinnati star Joey Votto celebrated his 33rd birthday with four hits, including a home run, as the Reds edged Pittsburgh 8-7.

San Diego's Christian Friedrich matched his career high with 10 strikeouts in seven brilliant innings, leading the Padres to a 6-3 victory against Colorado.

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