ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Yadier Molina hit a disputed double that drove in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night, sending the St. Louis Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds 4-3.
The Cardinals began the day one game behind San Francisco for the second NL wild-card spot.
 
Cardinals top Reds on Molina’s disputed double in 9th inning
 
 
Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk from Blake Wood (6-5). With two outs, Molina's one-hop hit appeared to bounce off a sign above the left-field wall and carom back into play.
Carpenter kept running and scored from first. Reds manager Bryan Price ran after the umpires, who left the field as soon as Carpenter touched the plate.
Molina and Jedd Gyorko hit solo homers for the Cardinals.
Seung Hwan Oh (6-3) wound up with the win.
 
SEATTLE -- Mike Zunino picked a perfect time to snap out of his slump.
Zunino delivered the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning and Seattle held on for a 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night, keeping the Mariners on the edge of the AL wild-card chase.
"It's nice to be in that spot and it's nice to come through," said Zunino, whose last home run was Sept. 11.
 
Zunino's HR spurs Seattle past A's 3-2
 
"It's nice when you go through struggles and work through it and get that opportunity and they go in your favor."
Seattle is two games behind Baltimore and Toronto with three games to play. The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays 4-0 to pull even atop the wild-card race. Detroit, which was rained out against Cleveland, is a half-game ahead of the Mariners.
"We can only control what we do here," Mariners manager Scott Servaissaid. "We need help. We know that. I think everybody thought the way Toronto was playing, they'd probably win two out of three at home. Didn't happen. The way we look at it, we're still alive. We've got to win tomorrow's game and again, pray for a little help."
Zunino, hitting .139 over his last 25 games, opened the seventh with his 12th home run, sending a 2-2 pitch from Liam Hendriks (0-4) deep over the wall in left.
Seattle added a run in the eighth on a two-out single by Leonys Martin, a walk to Zunino and Ketel Marte's RBI single.
Steve Cishek (4-6) came on to stifle an Oakland threat in the seventh with an inning-ending double play and added a perfect eighth. Rookie Edwin Diaz notched his 18th save, despite allowing a run and three hits in the ninth.
"I need to control emotions, try to make pitches and try to help the team win, to give us a chance to make the playoffs" said Diaz, who had blown two of his three previous save opportunities. "We are so close right now."
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on three consecutive singles before running themselves out of the inning. Kyle Seager reached on an infield single when Kendall Graveman couldn't find the handle on his two-out dribbler along the first-base line. Adam Lind followed with a single to center. Martin singled through the right side, scoring Seager from second. Martin continued for second, but was caught in a rundown. Lind was thrown out at home trying to score on the play.
Chad Pinder brought Oakland even in the sixth with his first career home run, a leadoff shot to left for the only run off starter Ariel Miranda.
Oakland had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh, but failed to score. Danny Valencia singled to open, but was forced at second on Brett Eibner's fielder's choice groundout to short. Yonder Alonso then singled Eibner to third. Cishek relieved and enticed pinch-hitter Max Muncy into an ending double play grounder.
"It came down to situational at-bats," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We had runners at third with less than two outs, then we hit into a double play and two strikeouts . Our situational at-bats hurt us tonight."
GOOD MONTH FOR MIRANDA
Although he did not get the decision, Miranda allowed just one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out six. Miranda, acquired from Baltimore on July 31 in exchange for LHP Wade Miley, is 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA in six September starts. Over his last four starts, Miranda has held opposing batters hitless in eight consecutive at-bats with runners in scoring position.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -AP- The up-and-down Giants are going down to the wire in a bid to keep their even-year magic going.
With three games left, manager Bruce Bochy's ballclub is sandwiched between the Mets and Cardinals in the race for the two NL wild-card spots with two games separating the three teams.
It's not exactly how Bochy envisioned it, not after the Giants went into the All-Star break with the best record in the majors.
 
Cueto wins 18th to keep Giants in thick of wild card race
 
Given the alternative, however, San Francisco's skipper certainly isn't complaining.
"We certainly wish we were in a better position but you don't stop fighting," Bochy said following San Francisco's 7-2 victory over theColorado Rockies on Thursday night. "It is what it is as far as our situation that we created. We know that."
The Giants -- who won the World Series in 2010, '12 and '14 -- are one game behind the idle Mets and one game ahead of St. Louis. The Cardinals beat Cincinnati on Thursday.
San Francisco hosts the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Friday, the Cardinals play Pittsburgh at home and the Mets close out the regular season in Philadelphia.
"I don't know what's going to happen but they'll keep fighting and we'll see what happens," Bochy said.
Johnny Cueto pitched seven uneven innings for his 18th win to help set up the wild race to the finish.
Cueto (18-5) overcame a shaky start in his first appearance since being sidelined more than a week with a groin strain. The All-Star right-hander matched his season high of 11 strikeouts, allowed two runs, nine hits and walked one to beat the Colorado for the third time this season.
"After we took the lead I just got focused on what I needed to do," Cueto said through an interpreter, adding that he's open to pitching in relief against the Dodgers if needed. "I'm ready. The last game is on Sunday and if they give me the ball I'll take (it)."
Conor GillaspieAngel Pagan and Brandon Crawford had two hits apiece to help the Giants bounce back after getting shut out a night earlier.
Nolan Arenado had two hits and an RBI for Colorado, which was eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend and has dropped eight of 10.
"(Cueto) found his groove and he was doing his thing," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Once he gets rolling he's one of those top-of-the-rotation guys that can be tough to get to."
On a night when St. Louis rallied to win on a walkoff hit in the ninth, San Francisco staged its own comeback.
Arenado hit an RBI double in the first and scored on David Dahl's triple to put the Rockies up 2-0.
The Giants tied it with two runs in the fourth, then went ahead in the sixth with help from Colorado's defense. The Rockies committed two errors, including a wild throw by third baseman Arenado on Cueto's one-out bunt single that allowed two runs to score.
Colorado starter Jon Gray (10-10) allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings and left shortly after he appeared to get hit in the right ankle by Crawford's line drive in the sixth.
"It hurt pretty bad but I'll be all right. Nothing serious," Gray said.
TAKING NO CHANCES
Bochy used four relievers to record the final six outs. One-time closer Santiago Casillawas not among them. Instead,Sergio Romo pitched the ninth and retired Charles Blackmon on a fly ball to end it. "You're in a situation where you have to win now," Bochy said.
 
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention despite a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night that completed a three-game sweep of the AL East champions.
New York, which could not overcome a 9-17 start, was in the bottom of the seventh inning when Baltimore's 4-0 victory at Toronto knocked out the Yankees.
 
Yankees eliminated despite Sabathia's 5-1 win over Red Sox
 
A final three-game series against the Orioles won't have much significance for New York, which is four games behind Baltimore and Toronto for the AL's wild cards with three games to play.
CC Sabathia (9-12) allowed one run and four hits over a season-high 7 1/3 innings for his first win in a month. Playing his final game at Yankee Stadium, Boston's David Ortiz was honored in a pregame ceremony, then struck out and walked. He was 0 for 10 with four strikeouts in the series.
 
WASHINGTON -AP- Wilmer Difo hit his first major league homer, andPedro Severino his second, helping the injury-depleted NL East championWashington Nationals move closer to clinching home-field advantage in the Division Series by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 at a near-empty stadium on a dreary Thursday.
 
HRs by Difo, Severino help Nats top D-backs 5-3
 
 
Second baseman Difo and catcher Severino, both rookies, were in the lineup instead of Daniel Murphy (last started 12 days ago) and Wilson Ramos (out for the season), respectively.
Last in the NL West, Arizona has nothing at stake the rest of the way. The Nationals, while already assured of winning their division and of facing the Los Angeles Dodgers to open their postseason, still are trying to lock up a higher seeding for that series.
Washington began Thursday with a two-game lead over NL West champion LA for the right to host more games in the best-of-five NLDS. The Dodgers, though, hold the tiebreaker because of a 5-1 advantage in the teams' season series.
Nationals starter Joe Ross, working his way back from a stay on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, allowed one run in four innings, throwing 90 pitches. Washington wants to stretch him out to be able to start at some point in the playoffs.
Reliever Reynaldo Lopez (5-3) was credited with the win. He pitched 3 2/3 innings, letting up Socrates Brito's two-run homer in the ninth before being lifted.
Mark Melancon got the last two outs for his 45th save.
Robbie Ray (8-15) allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings, including solo shots by Severino in the third and Difo in the fifth, along with Michael A. Taylor's two-run single in the fourth.
 
TORONTO (AP) -- Ubaldo Jimenez and two relievers combined on a three-hitter and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Blue Jays 4-0 on Thursday night, moving into a tie with Toronto in the AL wild card race with three games remaining.
When he started at Toronto on June 12, Jimenez allowed five runs and six hits in 1/3 of an inning, the shortest start of his career.
 
Jimenez delivers strong start, Orioles blank Blue Jays 4-0
 
The right-hander returned Thursday and carved up the Blue Jays. The only hit he allowed was Ezequiel Carrera's single to begin the first. Josh Donaldson followed with a walk but Jimenez retired the next six batters in order.
Devon Travis walked to open the third and advanced on Carrera's sacrifice, but that was the first of 11 consecutive outs for Jimenez, a streak that ended with Edwin Encarnacion's two-out walk in the sixth. Jose Bautista flied out to end the inning.
Jimenez (8-12) allowed one hit in 6 2/3 innings, improving to 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in five September starts. He walked three and struck out five.
Donnie Hart got one out in the seventh and Brad Brach finished.
The Orioles visit New York for the final weekend of the season, while the Blue Jays head to Boston to face the AL East champion Red Sox.
Detroit, which was rained out Thursday, is 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles and Blue Jays.
Manny Machado opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the third, Michael Bourn's fielder's choice grounder made it 2-0 in the fourth and Bourn scored on Kim's two-out single in the seventh.
Mark Trumbo doubled to begin the eighth and Matt Wieters chased Marcus Stroman with an RBI single.
Stroman (9-10) gave up nine hits and four runs in seven-plus innings, reaching the 200-inning plateau for the first time. Stroman is winless in eight starts.