A pitching duel one night, and a slugfest the next. The race for the AL East title is turning into an entertaining show.
The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays went extra innings for the second straight night last night, with the defending world champions winning, 8-7, to regain the division lead they relinquished with a 1-0 loss in the opener of the important three-game series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Jorge Posada led off the 10th inning with a pinch-hit homer, and the Yankees ended a season-high four-game skid to pull ahead of the Rays by one half-game. The teams play five more times over the next nine days.
“That’s a huge home run for us,’’ New York manager Joe Girardi said. “On a road trip where we’ve had some real disappointing losses, that’s a huge, huge win.’’
Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez also homered for the Yankees, who squandered a six-run lead before tying it at 7 in the sixth on Cano’s RBI double. Posada drove a 2-0 pitch from Dan Wheeler (2-3) over the center field wall.
Phillies 2, Marlins 1 — Cole Hamels had a season-high 13 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, and Philadelphia increased its lead over the Braves in the NL East to two games by beating Florida.
Hamels (11-10) threw a career-high 127 pitches and allowed only one run. The lefthander won his fourth consecutive start and won for the first time in seven career starts in Miami.
Shane Victorino scored both runs for the Phillies, who totaled only five hits and won despite going 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Nationals 6, Braves 0 — Livan Hernandez homered and limited host Atlanta to five hits in eight innings to help Washington to the win, ending a six-game losing streak.
The Braves dropped to two games behind the Phillies in the NL East race.
Diamondbacks 3, Reds 1 — Rookie Daniel Hudson shut down the NL’s top offense for eight innings, and Tony Abreu had a pair of hits and scored a run, leading the Diamondbacks over host Cincinnati.
The Reds took control of the NL Central by putting up the best record in the majors during August, going 19-8 while pulling away from St. Louis. They’re 5-8 in September but hold a seven-game lead over the Cardinals, who have continued to crumble.
Cubs 7, Cardinals 2 — Randy Wells allowed five hits over eight innings and had two hits and two RBIs to help visiting Chicago deny Adam Wainwright’s bid for a 19th win in a victory over slumping St. Louis.
Xavier Nady had three hits and three RBIs and Darwin Barney had three hits and an RBI in a 15-hit attack for the Cubs.
Dodgers 1, Giants 0 — Barry Zito’s winless streak reached a career-worst 12 outings and he lost his seventh straight game because of an error by Juan Uribe, and host San Francisco fell to Los Angeles.
The Giants dropped 1 1/2 games behind first-place San Diego in the NL West.
Padres 7, Rockies 6 — Jon Garland threw seven sharp innings, pinch-hitter Matt Stairs hit a two-run homer in the eighth and visiting San Diego hung on to beat Colorado.
Twins 9, White Sox 3 — J.J. Hardy hit a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning and Denard Span had a bases clearing double in the eighth and visiting Minnesota increased its lead in the NL Central to seven games over Chicago.
The White Sox are 5-11 against the Twins this season.
In other games, the Orioles beat the Blue Jays, 11-3; the Mets routed the Pirates, 9-1; the Indians edged the Angels, 4-3; the Royals toppled the Athletics, 11-3; the Astros held off the Brewers, 3-2; and the Rangers defeated the Tigers, 11-4.