Cardinals notch vital win over struggling Dodgers
By The Associated Press
Associated Press
2012-09-14 03:00 PM
The St. Louis Cardinals notched a vital road victory by beating Los Angeles 2-1 on Thursday, opening a two-game lead in the National League wild-card race over the big-spending but out-of-form Dodgers.

Allen Craig's hit drove in Shane Robinson for the go-ahead run in the seventh inning in a clash of two teams that had both faltered in the run to the playoffs, having both lost six of seven games before Thursday's clash.

In further good news for the Cardinals, another of the wild-card contenders, the Philadelphia Phillies, suffered a disappointing 6-4 loss to the lowly Houston Astros.

The Phillies had won seven straight to revive once-dormant playoff hopes and needed to capitalize in the series against the struggling Astros, but couldn't close the deal after leading 4-0.

In the American League, the fights for all the divisional titles and wild-cards remains intense in the closing stages of the season, with the Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees all advancing their causes with wins on Thursday, while the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers had setbacks.

The Angels shut out the Athletics 6-0 to squeeze the gap between the two AL West teams to 4 1-2 games, and stay within 3 1-2 games of the second wild card. L.A. ace Jered Weaver returned from injury in style (17-4), pitching seven scoreless innings to end Oakland's remarkable run of 12 straight road wins.

In the East division, Baltimore and New York remained locked together atop the division while the Tampa Bay Rays slipped further into the fringes of playoff contention, dropping four games back.

The Orioles beat the Rays 3-2 over 14 innings to stretch their extraordinary record in extra-innings games; they've won 13 in a row. The game lasted 5 hours and 14 minutes, ending when Manny Machado's hit only narrowly avoided a desperate dive by Rays left-fielder Matt Joyce and scored the winning run.

The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 2-0 with Derek Jeter taking the glory. A day after sustaining an ankle injury, Jeter played as designated hitter and got a hit that moved him level with Willie Mays on the career hits list.

Texas missed an opportunity to build its lead over Oakland by slipping to a 5-4 loss at the Cleveland Indians, maintaining the gap at three games. The Rangers led 4-2 in the ninth inning but homers by Ezequiel Carrera and Jason Kipnis turned the game.

The scheduled game between the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers _ separated by just one game _ was rained out.

In the other AL games, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners 8-3 and the Minnesota Twins edged the Kansas City Royals 4-3 in 10 innings.

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