CHICAGO -- Teams usually can't wait to get out of the cramped quarters of the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field. Not so the Atlanta Braves, who were delighted to put in some overtime in the less-than-friendly confines Friday night.
The Braves' 9-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs reduced their magic number to one and ensured them of at least a tie in the NL East.
The players decided to watch the game between the second-place Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins in the clubhouse to see if they would win the outright title -- even though Nationals-Marlins wasn't slated to begin until an hour and a half after the Braves game ended.
"Some guys are going to stay here and some guys' families are here, so they're going to go spend some time with their families," closer Craig Kimbrel said. "We're all going to be back here around the end of the game."
The Nationals won 8-0 to keep the Braves from clinching (see full recap).
A-Rod sets slam record in Yanks' win
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez set a major league record with his 24th career grand slam, passing Lou Gehrig with a tiebreaking shot in the seventh inning that sent the New York Yankees to a 5-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
Rodriguez's slam helped CC Sabathia (14-13) beat Tim Lincecum in a matchup of former Cy Young Award winners having subpar seasons.
More importantly for the Yankees, it led them to their second win in seven games as they cling to faint playoff hopes. New York began the day 3 games behind Tampa Bay and Texas for the second AL wild card, with three other teams in between.
Alfonso Soriano also homered and New York opened its final homestand of the season with a much-needed victory, hours after pitcher Andy Pettitte announced his plans to retire -- again -- following this season.
The news about Pettitte hardly came as a surprise, but the 41-year-old lefty put to rest any speculation he might be back next season. Pettitte, who stepped off the mound for a year before returning in 2012, is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday -- the same day the Yankees will honor retiring closer Mariano Rivera in a pregame ceremony (see full recap).
Red Sox clinch AL East
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox clinched the AL East title on Friday night, getting seven strong innings from Jon Lester to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 and eliminate Tampa Bay from the division race.
One night after securing their first playoff appearance since 2009, the Red Sox added their first division title since `07. Boston entered the night with a magic number of one -- meaning the next Red Sox win or Rays loss would clinch the division.
Lester (15-8) allowed one run on five hits and two walks, striking out eight to win for the seventh time in nine decisions. It was his 100th career victory.
Toronto pinch-hitter Adam Lind hit a two-run homer off Junichi Tazawa in the eighth to make it 5-3 before Koji Uehara got five outs for his 20th save. With the crowd standing for most of the final inning, he struck out Brett Lawrie to end the game and the Red Sox poured out of the dugout and bullpen.
Dustin Pedroia had three hits for the Red Sox, who have won 19 of their last 25 (see full recap).