HOUSTON — Carlos Correa hit two home runs, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman also connected and the Houston Astros dropped their magic number to clinch the AL Central to one by beating the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 Friday night.
Houston could lock up a third straight division title by the end of the night if Oakland lost a late game against the Texas Rangers. The Astros have won six straight and already secured a playoff spot.
Altuve sent Jaime Barria's fifth pitch into the left field seats to spark a five-run first inning, which also included Bregman's 38th homer and Correa's first connection after missing nearly a month with a sore back — this was his second game since returning. Aledmys Daz followed Correa with a double and scored on Josh Reddick's single to make it 5-0.
Zack Greinke (17-5) retired his first six batters before Kevan Smith hit his first pitch of the third inning into the bullpen in right-center to cut the lead to 5-1.
Correa's second homer came with one out in the bottom of the inning to put Houston up 6-1.
Andrelton Simmons hit a two-run single in the fourth and Smith scored him to pull Los Angeles within two.
Greinke yielded seven hits and four runs in five innings to win his third straight decision. Greinke has won seven of eight decisions since a trade from Arizona on July 31. He didn't walk anyone for the fourth straight start, which is the longest streak of his career.
Roberto Osuna allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth for his 36th save.
Barria (4-10) allowed eight hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings to drop his seventh straight decision.
Altuve's home run was his 30th this season and gives the Astros four players with at least 30 for the first time. Along with Altuve and Bregman, George Springer (35) and Yuli Gurriel (30) have also reached the mark.
Bregman's 38 homers are the most by an Astro since Lance Berkman hit 45 in 2006.
BRAVES 6, GIANTS 0
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves clinched their second straight NL East title as Ronald Acua Jr. hit his 41st homer in a 6-0 win over San Francisco that eliminated the Giants from postseason contention in Bruce Bochy's last year as San Francisco manager.
Acua scored three runs to back Mike Foltynewicz (8-5), who allowed three hits in eight innings. Atlanta's 19th division title tied the New York Yankees for the most since Major League Baseball split into divisions for the 1969 season.
Atlanta's win ensured it will finish ahead of second-place Washington and will start the NL Division Series at home on Oct. 3, most likely against the NL Central champion.
Braves players ran onto the infield to celebrate as soon as Acua caught Alex Dickerson's game-ending flyout.
Atlanta (95-60) moved into sole possession of first place for good on June 12. Led by Acua, Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson and a offense that produced a franchise-best 241 homers, its lead swelled from 5 to 10 games in six days ending with a 9-4 home win over Washington on Sept. 7.
The Braves, who have not won a postseason series since 2001, secured a playoffs berth last week and needed a few extra days to clinch the division. They lost three in a row for the first time since July 16-18 but have won two straight.
CARDINALS 2, CUBS 1
CHICAGO — Yadier Molina had three of St. Louis' four hits, including a two-run single, and the Cardinals held off the fading Chicago.
Carlos Martinez got the final two outs, and the Cardinals stretched their NL Central lead to 3 1/2 games over Milwaukee and five games over Chicago. The Cubs are 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers for the second NL wild card, with Milwaukee set to play later Friday against Pittsburgh.
Chicago has totaled nine runs while losing its past four games. The Cardinals have won the first two games of this key four-game set, and they'll play the Cubs five more times over their final eight games.
The Cubs scored their run following a St. Louis error in the second inning, and the Cardinals rallied in the sixth.
David Phelps (2-1), the second of eight Cubs relievers, took the loss.
Ryan Helsley pitched a scoreless fifth and was awarded the win.
INDIANS 5, PHILLIES 2
CLEVELAND — Carlos Carrasco got his first save in five years, and Cleveland beat Philadelphia to maintain position for the second AL wild card and damage the Phillies' playoff chances.
Cleveland (91-63) began the night tied with Tampa Bay for the second wild card, two games behind Oakland. The Indians were four games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota.
Philadelphia began the night three games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card and lost for the fourth time in six games.
All-Star MVP Shane Bieber (15-7) allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Rookie Oscar Mercado had RBI singles in the first and seventh. Yasiel Puig, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana also drove in runs, helping Cleveland to its fifth straight win
Drew Smyly (4-7) allowed four runs, five hits and three walks in two-plus innings.
METS 8, REDS 1
CINCINNATI — Pete Alonso hit his major league-leading 50th home run, Jacob deGrom pitched shutout ball for seven innings and New York beat Cincinnati.
Amed Rosario hit a two-run homer and Jeff McNeil added a solo shot for the Mets, who opened the day 3 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card. The Brewers hosted Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Cincinnati rookie Aristides Aquino led off the ninth with a homer. The midseason call-up has 17 home runs in 49 games this season.
DeGrom (10-8) struck out nine and didn't walk anybody to match his win total from last season, when he won the NL Cy Young Award.
Luis Castillo (15-7) struck out seven and walked three in seven innings.
NATIONALS 6, MARLINS 4
MIAMI — Trea Turner hit two solo homers as Washington beat Miami.
Washington had dropped four of six. It began the day with a one-game lead over Milwaukee for the top spot in the NL wild-card standings.
The Marlins became the third team to lose 100 games this season, joining the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers. Miami also had 100-loss seasons in 1998 and 2013.
Before the game, the Marlins announced manager Don Mattingly had agreed to a two-year contract extension. Mattingly was in the final year of a four-year contract.
The Nationals grabbed the lead for good on Asdrbal Cabrera's three-run homer off Robert Dugger (0-3) in the fourth inning.
ORIOLES 5, MARINERS 3
BALTIMORE — Félix Hernndez labored through five innings in what was likely his penultimate start with Seattle, and Baltimore got home runs from Anthony Santander and Hanser Alberto in the win.
After rookie Kyle Lewis hit a two-run homer in the first inning, Hernndez (1-7) gave the lead back in the bottom half after throwing just eight pitches.
The Mariners never recovered.
Aaron Brooks (6-8) threw seven innings of one-hit ball in relief of opener Richard Bleier to help the Orioles end Seattle's five-game winning streak.
Hernndez needed 91 pitches to get 15 outs. His line included five runs, eight hits two walks and two wild pitches.
BLUE JAYS 4, YANKEES 3
NEW YORK — Star second baseman Gleyber Torres prompted an audible gasp from the Yankee Stadium crowd when his right leg buckled while fielding a grounder and made an early exit in New York's loss to Toronto.
Torres said his lower legs felt weakness.
Aaron Judge and Tyler Wade homered for the Yankees a day after they clinched the division.
Justin Smoak hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh to help Toronto match a season high with its fifth straight victory. He connected off Tommy Kahnle (3-2) as the Yankees' bullpen wobbled in the late innings for the third time in a week.
Danny Jansen also homered for the Blue Jays. Jason Adam (2-0) won in relief and Ken Giles closed for his 21st save in 22 chances.
WHITE SOX 10, TIGERS 1
DETROIT — Eloy Jiménez hit a grand slam in the fourth inning, and Yon Moncada also went deep as Chicago breezed past Detroit.
Tim Anderson had two more hits in his pursuit of the American League batting title, and the White Sox chased Jordan Zimmermann (1-12) in the fourth.
Dylan Cease (4-7) allowed a run and five hits in six innings — the first quality start for the White Sox since Sept. 6. Cease struck out eight with two walks.
Zimmerman allowed nine runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Jiménez finished a double shy of the cycle, and Yolmer Sanchez had four hits for Chicago.