Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the New York Yankees’ 7-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays and tie Trevor Hoffman’s record of 601 saves.
Other Major League Baseball highlights yesterday included the Philadelphia Phillies clinching their fifth straight National League East title with a 9-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on solid pitching from Roy Oswalt and a Raul Ibanez grand slam.
Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo struck out 13 batters and Ryan Braun hit his third home run in two nights to give the Brewers a 10-1 win over Cincinnati, moving them a little closer to their first division championship since 1982.
The Houston Astros recording their first 100-loss season in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field.
Houston couldn’t score with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and was 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
The Astros, who entered the league in 1962 as the Colt .45s, fell to 51-100. The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels are the only remaining franchises that have never lost 100 games in a season.
In other American League games, Oakland beat Detroit 5-3, Tampa Bay defeated Boston 4-3, Cleveland beat Minnesota 10-4, Baltimore defeated the Los Angeles Angels 6-2, Kansas City beat the Chicago White Sox 10-3 and Texas edged Seattle 7-6.
In the National League, Florida defeated Washington 4-1 in 13 innings, San Diego beat Arizona 3-1, San Francisco beat Colorado 6-5 and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1.
The Yankees trailed 6-2 in the sixth inning when Alex Rodriguez, who had missed the previous six games with a sprained left thumb, hit a three-run homer over the left-field wall, scoring Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano.
Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer in the next inning to put the Yankees ahead 7-6, setting up Rivera’s record-tying save.
Rivera said he didn’t want to celebrate until he breaks the career saves record.
“Don’t get me wrong, boys,” Rivera told media after Saturday’s game in Toronto. “601 is a great number. You have to hit 601 before you can hit 602. It’s a great number. But the most important thing is we won the game.”
One, Two, Three
In the ninth inning, Rivera caught Colby Rasmus looking at a third strike. He got his second out when Brett Lawrie grounded out to first base. And he closed out the inning with Eric Thames’s fly out to centerfield.
In Boston, Tampa Bay beat the Red Sox 4-3 to reduce Boston’s lead in the American League wild-card race to three games.
Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer off Jon Lester to give Tampa Bay its seventh win in its last eight games against the Red Sox.
Boston has lost 10 of its past 13 games since Sept. 3, when it led the wild card race by nine games. Tampa Bay has seven of its final 11 games against the first-place Yankees. Boston has seven of its remaining game against the last-place Baltimore Orioles.
In Atlanta, Braves pitcher Tim Hudson struck out 10 batters and Chipper Jones hit a run-scoring single in the eighth inning to lift the Braves over the New York Mets 1-0 to maintain its National League wild-card lead over St. Louis.
The Mets loss came one day after they beat Atlanta 12-2 in a 20-hit outing. This time, Hudson held the Mets to just four hits over eight innings and Craig Kimbrel earned his 45th save in 51 opportunities by striking out the side -- David Wright, Lucas Duda and Jason Bay.
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