MINNEAPOLIS — The Cleveland Indians kept their edge in the AL wild-card race. They might’ve lost their struggling closer.
Reliever Joe Smith struck out pinch-hitter Oswaldo Arcia to stop a ninth-inning rally by Minnesota, and the Indians won their seventh straight game, holding off the Twins 6-5 on Thursday night after Chris Perez gave up four runs in the final frame.
“It didn’t go as planned, but the good news is we won, and that’s what we set out to do,” a rattled manager Terry Francona said. “That got a little closer than we wanted.”
Cleveland leads Texas by one game for the second wild-card spot. Each team has three games left in the regular season. Tampa Bay is on top in the chase, one game ahead of the Indians.
Bryan Shaw (7-3) picked up the victory in relief of Zach McAllister by getting five key outs over the fifth and sixth innings. Yan Gomes hit a towering two-run homer off Twins starter Andrew Albers (2-5), and Michael Brantley added three hits and two RBIs from the leadoff spot. The Indians were cruising again until Perez came in for what looked like mop-up duty in the ninth.
But Alex Presley hit an RBI triple, Brian Dozier drove in another run with a groundout, Josmil Pinto hit a two-run homer and suddenly the Twins were within one. Smith entered and gave up an infield single and a walk before fanning Arcia on three pitches for his third save.
Perez has walked a tightrope on and off the field this season, and most of the time he’s been in the news it’s been negative. The most glaring this year was his arrest for a marijuana delivery to his house. Francona measured his words carefully after the game when asked about Perez’s status as the closer, but he hinted at a change.
RANGERS 6, ANGELS 5
ARLINGTON, Texas — Pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar homered leading off the ninth inning and Texas overcame a four-error inning to beat Los Angeles and stay in the playoff chase.
The Rangers are a game behind Cleveland for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
ROYALS 3, WHITE SOX 2
CHICAGO — Jeremy Guthrie pitched seven strong innings, and David Lough hit a two-run homer to lead Kansas City to victory over Chicago.
ORIOLES 3, BLUE JAYS 2
BALTIMORE — Miguel Gonzalez pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, Matt Wieters homered and drove in two runs, and Baltimore beat Toronto.
GIANTS 3, DODGERS 2
SAN FRANCISCO — Angel Pagan hit a tiebreaking home run leading off the eighth inning to give San Francisco a win in what might have been Tim Lincecum’s final outing with the club.
BRAVES 7, PHILLIES 1
ATLANTA — Jason Heyward had a career-high five hits, including a leadoff home run, and Atlanta rode a five-run first inning to victory
PADRES 3, D-BACKS 2, 11 innings
SAN DIEGO — Alexi Amarista hit an RBI single in the 11th inning for San Diego.
BREWERS 4, METS 2
NEW YORK — Scooter Gennett capped a four-run second inning with a two-run single and Milwaukee overcame some wild pitching that included the beaning of David Wright.