TORONTO (AP) — Drew Rasmussen combined with four relievers on a three-hitter. Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi homered and the Tampa Bay Rays became the first AL team to reach 90 wins by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 Tuesday night.
After losing four of their previous five, the East-leading Rays hit the 90-win mark for the eighth time — all in the past 14 seasons.
Pitching well and playing good defense to defeat a post-season contender put the Rays in an October frame of mind.
"Mike Zunino came in after the game and said 'That's what a playoff game feels like,'" Rasmussen said. "To go out there and see how well our pitching staff did, and also how well our defense played, that really gives our team a lot of confidence. We can match up with the best of them."
Lowe also sensed a playoff energy in the game.
"It definitely felt very postseason-like," Lowe said. "Every at bat was tense, on both sides of the diamond.
Tampa Bay (90-55) stopped a two-game losing streak. The Rays have not lost three in a row since July 25-28.
Blue Jays right-hander José Berríos (11-8) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings before leaving because of soreness in his left abdominal muscle.
"He felt something on his side," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "Of course, he was doing a great job. We'll see how it feels tomorrow. He's getting treatment right now."
Toronto (81-64) began the day in the AL wild card lead, one game ahead of the New York Yankees and Boston. The Blue Jays had scored 52 runs in winning their previous four games.
Rasmussen (3-1) allowed two hits in five innings.
"He had to be as close to perfect as possible," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Berríos was kind of matching him toe-to-toe there."
Toronto threatened in the fourth when George Springer doubled and Marcus Semien walked. Rasumussen got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to line out to center, struck out Bo Bichette and retired Teoscar Hernández on a liner.
"In a game like that, that's probably the most pivotal point of the game for us," Cash said.
Pete Fairbanks pitched around a leadoff single in the sixth, JT Chargois benefitted from right fielder Randy Arozarena's diving catch on Corey Dickerson's liner for the final out of the seventh and David Robertson worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Facing the top of the order, Andrew Kittredge pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.
Choi's leadoff drive in the second, his 10th home run this season, was the only run allowed by Berríos, who lost for the first time in four starts despite scattering four hits over seven innings.
Berríos entered 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in four games against the Rays. He faced them for the first time since May 2019, when he was with Minnesota.
Lowe hit his 34th home run of the season in the eighth on the first pitch he saw from left-hander Tim Mayza.
CATCH(ES) OF THE DAY
Besides Arozarena's grab, Rays shortstop Joey Wendle made a diving catch on Springer's liner in the first, and center fielder Manuel Margot made a sliding catch on Reese McGuire's sinking liner in the third.
The Blue Jays also turned in several fine plays. Shortstop Bo Bichette made a diving stop on Margot's groudner in the second, throwing him out to prevent a run from scoring. In the ninth, Bichette ranged into shallow left to catch Wendle's short flare.
YANKEES 7, ORIOLES 2
BALTIMORE (AP) — Aaron Judge started a five-homer barrage that backed Gerrit Cole, and New York beat Baltimore, winning consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 1 and 3.
Cole (15-7) returned from left hamstring tightness that cut short his Sept. 7 start against Toronto. He stranded the bases loaded in a 29-pitch first inning when he struck out Ramón Uris and allowed one run and four hits in five innings with seven strikeouts and three walks.
Judge hit a two-run homer in the first off a changeup from Alexander Wells (1-3), his 34th homer of the season. Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer in the third and Luke Voit followed for back-to-back homers. Joey Gallo added his 34th homer in the eighth and DJ LeMahieu homered in the ninth.
New York won for the third time in 11 games and tied Toronto for the AL-wild card lead with 17 games left. Boston was a half-game back heading into a late game at Seattle.
Ryan Mountcastle had an RBI double in the fifth for the Orioles, who at a major league-worst 46-98 are headed to 100 losses for the third straight full season.
ROCKIES 5, BRAVES 4
ATLANTA (AP) — Brendan Rodgers hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the fifth inning, Trevor Story went deep in the second and Colorado held on to beat Atlanta.
Jon Gray pitched five innings as the Rockies moved to 22-51 on the road coming off a four-game series win at Philadelphia. Carlos Estévez earned his eighth save in 13 chances.
NL East-leading Atlanta maintained its 4 1/2 game lead over Philadelphia. The Braves had won five of seven.
Adam Duvall, the NL RBI leader with 101, hit his 35th homer in the eighth.
Gray (8-10) allowed two runs and five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Toussaint (3-3) was charged with four runs and five hits with three walks and five strikeouts in four-plus innings.
PIRATES 6, REDS 5
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Wade Miley surrendered six runs on 10 hits and Cincinnati lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Miley (12-6) gave up three runs in the first and three more in the fifth before being pulled with one out. Chris Stratton earned his fifth save.
Pirates starter Dillon Peters (1-2) worked five shutout innings, surrendering five hits with five strikeouts to help Pittsburgh to its fifth win in seven games. Yoshi Tsutsugo and Jacob Stallings drove in two runs apiece.
Tucker Barnhart drove in two runs for the Reds. Nick Castellanos hit his 29th homer of the season in the ninth inning.
The Reds entered the day half a game ahead of the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card in the National League.
RANGERS 8, ASTROS 1
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — All-Star slugger Adolis García tied the Rangers' single-season rookie record with his 30th homer, one of three long balls allowed by Zack Greinke in his return after testing positive for COVID-19.
Rangers starter Jordan Lyles (9-11) struck out seven, walked one and hit one while allowing only three singles over seven scoreless innings.
The Astros' only run came in the ninth inning on an RBI single by Carlos Correa off Josh Sborz.
Greinke (11-6) allowed eight runs on five hits and three walks while pitching into the sixth inning of his first start in 16 days.
Nathaniel Lowe hit a two-run homer that went 440 feet in the first inning. DJ Peters chased Greinke when he lined a three-run shot 421 feet into the Astros bullpen in left-center in the sixth.
García, who added two doubles, matched Pete Incaviglia, who hit 30 homers during his rookie season in 1986. With 18 games remaining, García also has 81 RBIs, seven off the Rangers' rookie record also held by Incaviglia.
INDIANS 3, TWINS 1, 1ST GAME
TWINS 6, INDIANS 3, 2ND GAME
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Cleveland's Triston McKenzie cruised through six innings of the first game of a doubleheader to beat Minnesota when a comebacker off the wrist of Twins rookie Joe Ryan shortened the pitching duel.
Ryan Jeffers had four RBIs in the nightcap as the Twins gained a split.
McKenzie (5-6) had seven strikeouts, including Byron Buxton three times, with just three hits, one run and one walk allowed.
Bradley Zimmer homered in the fifth, and Austin Hedges hit a go-ahead RBI double in a two-run seventh against Danny Coulombe (3-2), before Emmanuel Clase closed it out with a perfect seventh for his 23rd save in 27 chances.
Kyle Barraclough (1-0) picked up the win in the nightcap. Alex Colomé earned his 14th save. Logan Allen (1-7) took the loss.
CUBS 6, PHILLIES 3
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Patrick Wisdom and Alfonso Rivas hit back-to-back homers for Chicago in a win over a Philadelphia team running out of time to make a serious run in the NL playoff race.
The Phillies remained 4½ games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East and 2½ games behind Cincinnati in the wild-card race. San Diego and St. Louis are ahead of the Phillies for the second wild card.
The Phillies fell to .500 at 72-72 and have lost six of seven games.
Odubel Herrera hit a leadoff homer, and Bryce Harper and Didi Gregorius added RBI hits. Kyle Gibson (10-7) struck out seven in allowing five hits and four earned runs in five innings.
Rafael Ortega hit two RBI doubles and Ian Happ drove in another run with a double for Chicago.
Adrian Sampson (1-2) gave up two runs in five innings. Rowan Wick struck out the side in the ninth for his fourth save.
NATIONALS 8, MARLINS 2
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ryan Zimmerman homered, Erick Fedde pitched five solid innings and Washington pounded out 14 hits in winning for the second time in three games.
Fedde (7-9) allowed a run on three hits with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Juan Soto had three hits, an RBI and a walk for Washington, and Keibert Ruiz had three hits.
Lewin Diaz homered twice for the Marlins. Miami starter Jesus Luzardo (5-8) allowed four runs on seven hits and was lifted after 4 1/3 innings.