The Detroit Tigers fought off their late-season slump and clinched their first playoff berth since 1987, scoring nine runs in the second inning yesterday and coasting to an 11-4 win over the Royals in Kansas City.
Enjoying a turnaround season under new manager Jim Leyland, Detroit assured itself of no worse than the AL wild-card berth and headed into the final week of the season with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. The Tigers, who regained the best record in the major leagues at 94-62, went ahead early for the second straight day, following up on Saturday's 10-run first.
``Those guys out there in the clubhouse made me pretty smart," Leyland said. ``I don't take the credit. I think I've been a beneficiary of catching them at the right time. They've done it. They are winners now, and forever will be winners."
Craig Monroe hit a three-run homer that gave Justin Verlander (17-9) an 8-0 lead and chased starter Runelvys Hernandez (6-10). Brandon Inge then homered on Todd Wellemeyer's first pitch.
Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 1 -- Nomar Garciaparra hit a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, lifting host Los Angeles to a much-needed victory over Arizona.
Garciaparra hit a 2-and-1 pitch from Luis Vizcaino over the left-center-field fence for his 19th homer of the season. Garciaparra hit a two-run home run in the 10th Monday night in an 11-10 victory over San Diego.
By winning their regular-season home finale, the Dodgers remained 1 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading San Diego Padres and a half-game behind Philadelphia in the wild-card race.
Padres 2, Pirates 1 -- Trevor Hoffman became baseball's career saves leader, earning No. 479 to pass Lee Smith and help San Diego finish a sweep of visiting Pittsburgh for its ninth victory in its last 12 games.
Clay Hensley (11-11), backed by impressive home runs from Russell Branyan and Josh Bard, struck out a career-high nine in winning his third straight start.
Twins 6, Orioles 3 -- In Baltimore, Joe Mauer and Phil Nevin hit two-run homers, and Minnesota cut its magic number to two for clinching a playoff berth.
Phillies 10, Marlins 7 -- Chase Utley homered twice and drove in four runs, and NL wild-card leader Philadelphia overcame a four-run deficit to beat visiting Florida for its fifth straight win.
Angels 7, Athletics 1 -- Ervin Santana (15-8) pitched eight strong innings, Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run home run, and Los Angeles kept host Oakland from winning the AL West, leaving the A's magic number at two.
Astros 7, Cardinals 3 -- Roger Clemens struck out six and got a no-decision in his final home start of the season and Aubrey Huff hit a three-run homer as Houston completed a four-game sweep of St. Louis.
Brewers 5, Giants 3 -- Ben Sheets pitched eight solid innings, Mike Rivera hit a bases-clearing double in the sixth, and host Milwaukee beat San Francisco to complete a four-game sweep and hand the Giants their ninth loss in 11 games.
White Sox 12, Mariners 7 -- Paul Konerko hit two home runs and host Chicago tied a season high with five in its rout of Seattle.
Rockies 9, Braves 8 -- Atlanta's streak of 14 straight postseason appearances ended with a loss to host Colorado, which got a grand slam from Matt Holliday.
Nationals 5, Mets 1 -- Tony Armas won for the first time in seven starts and visiting Washington handed New York its seventh loss in 10 games.
Indians 11, Rangers 6 -- Cleveland leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore hit two home runs, including an inside-the-park homer for his major league-leading 90th extra-base hit, and the Indians spoiled Texas' home finale.
Reds 3, Cubs 2 -- Royce Clayton's pinch-hit single in the ninth drove in Chris Denorfia and lifted host Cincinnati over Chicago.