MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jon Lester notched his 200th career win, Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 Monday night for their ninth consecutive win.
The Cardinals have won nine straight for the first time since 2004 to solidify their grip on the second NL wild card. They remained three games ahead of Cincinnati for the final postseason spot, with San Diego four games back and Philadelphia 4 1/2 games behind.
The longest winning streak in franchise history is 14 games, set in 1935.
Milwaukee's magic number over the Cardinals to clinch the division title remained at three.
Lester (7-6) is the third active pitcher with 200 wins, joining Houston teammates Justin Verlander (226) and Zack Greinke (219). He's the 30th left-hander in major-league history to reach the mark.
"It's a nice round number and it looks better than 199," Lester said. "It's obviously awesome, but I'm kind of lacking words."
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt had plenty to say about Lester, whom the Cardinals acquired from Washington at the trade deadline.
"What a tremendous addition. He's done a great job," Shildt said. "This guy's got such heart. He's like John Wayne. He's got that true grit. Big, strong silent type. That's a heck of a milestone."
St. Louis got on the board in the first on Arenado's homer, his 33rd of the season, off Freddy Peralta (9-5).
"It's extremely important to get out to a lead especially against these arms and these teams that we're facing that are good," Arenado said. "But at the end of the day, we are just playing solid baseball regardless of whether we are scoring early or not."
Milwaukee clawed right back in the second. Avisaíl García , who returned to the starting lineup after missing four games with lower back spasms, led off with a homer off Lester. Luis Urias followed two batters later with a solo shot of his own to tie it.
Lester retired 10 straight until giving up a single to Jackie Bradley Jr. with two outs in the fifth. Lester surrendered three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out two and didn't walk a batter in an efficient, 77-pitch outing.
Lester has worked five innings or more in 19 of 26 starts this year, including nine of 10 since joining St. Louis at the trade deadline.
Cardinals' relievers Kodi Whitley, T.J. McFarland and Luis García held the Brewers scoreless over the final three innings. García got his first save of the season.
"We hit a bunch of lazy fly balls," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We didn't put enough pressure on Lester or the bullpen. It was just a quiet night."
Peralta retired 11 of 12 until allowing the first two batters to reach in the sixth. The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead on Yadier Molina's run-scoring single.
Peralta gave up seven hits and three runs in six innings. He struck out nine and walked one.
St. Louis tacked on a run in the seventh when Matt Carpenter, batting for Lester, hit a leadoff double and scored on Paul Goldschmidt's sacrifice fly. Molina drove in another run in the eighth to extend the lead to 5-2.
RAYS 6, BLUE JAYS 4
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Shane Baz pitched two-hit ball for five innings to win his major league debut and AL East-leading Tampa Bay cut Toronto's lead in the wild-card chase, holding off the Blue Jays.
Tampa Bay holds a seven-game advantage over second-place Boston with 11 games remaining.
The Blue Jays, who scored twice in the ninth inning and left the bases loaded, had their edge over the New York Yankees for the second AL wild-card spot drop to a half-game.
Baz (1-0) gave up a pair of home runs and little else, striking out five and walking none.
Toronto got homers from Teoscar Hernández, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Marcus Semien.
YANKEES 4, RANGERS 3
NEW YORK (AP) — Gary Sánchez hit a go-ahead home run, four pitchers combined for scoreless relief and New gained in the AL wild-card race with a win over Texas.
Sánchez put the Yankees ahead in the second inning against rookie A.J. Alexy (2-1) with his 22nd home run.
New York built a 4-0 lead before the Rangers closed the gap in a three-run fifth against Nestor Cortes.
Chad Green (8-7) retired five straight batters, Clay Holmes and Joely Rodríguez combined for the seventh and eighth, and Aroldis Chapman got three straight outs for his 28th save in 32 chances.
New York moved within a half-game of Toronto for the second AL wild card and with 11 games left is two back of Boston, the league's wild-card leader.
ORIOLES 2, PHILLIES 0
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — John Means struck out six and stymied Philadelphia as Baltimore slowed the Phillies' playoff push.
Losers of two straight, the Phillies entered two games behind Atlanta in the NL East. The Phillies are 4½ games behind St. Louis for the second wild card.
Means (6-7) tossed four-hit ball into the seventh inning and helped himself with a double in the seventh for his first career extra-base hit.
Ranger Suarez (6-5) gave up consecutive RBI singles to Pedro Severino and Ryan McKenna in the first inning. He struck out five and his ERA bumped to 1.60.
TIGERS 4, WHITE SOX 3
DETROIT (AP) — Carlos Rodón was pulled after three rocky innings and Chicago squandered a three-run lead in a loss to Detroit.
Despite the defeat, Chicago's magic number to clinch the AL Central dropped to two when second-place Cleveland was swept by Kansas City in a doubleheader.
Harold Castro's eighth-inning single broke a 3-all tie for Detroit.
Drew Hutchison (2-1) picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief. Tigers rookie Alex Lange pitched the ninth for his first career save, becoming the eighth Detroit reliever to earn a save this season.
Craig Kimbrel (2-2) took the loss.
MARLINS 8, NATIONALS 7, 10 INNINGS
MIAMI (AP) — Jazz Chisholm Jr. homered twice before scoring from third on a wild pitch in the 10th inning and Miami edged Washington.
After Dylan Floro (6-6) pitched a scoreless top of the 10th, Chisholm took his place at second to start the bottom of the inning as Miami's automatic runner.
Washington reliever Sam Clay (0-5) intentionally walked Jesús Sánchez to face Lewis Brinson. Chisholm stole third during the at-bat and raced home after Clay's breaking pitch bounced away from catcher Keibert Ruiz.
Sánchez hit a two-run homer in the third for Miami. Lane Thomas homered for Washington.
ROYALS 7, INDIANS 2, 1ST GAME
ROYALS 4, INDIANS 2, 2ND GAME
CLEVELAND (AP) — Salvador Perez hit his 46th home run, breaking Johnny Bench's record for most by a catcher in a season to highlight the opener, then the Kansas City Royals completed a doubleheader sweep of Cleveland.
Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning of the opener, topping Bench's total from 1970 for the highest total by a player who spent at least 75% of his team's games at catcher. Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Perez leads the majors with 115 RBIs.
Joel Payamps, Domingo Tapia, Jake Brentz. Josh Statamount and Scott Barlow combined on a four-hitter in the second game. Tapia (3-0) struck out four in 1 2/3 innings and Barlow pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
The Royals scored twice off Nick Wittgren (2-8) in the first when Carlos Santana drew a bases-loaded walk and Hunter Dozier added a sacrifice fly.
Dozier and Andrew Benintendi also hit two-run homers for the Royals in the opener.
Brady Singer (5-10), activated from the COVID-19-related injured list before the game, allowed two runs in seven innings.
Triston McKenzie (5-7) gave up all three home runs and allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.