Cubs first to clinch division title

CHICAGO (AP) " The Chicago Cubs won the National League Central on Thursday, becoming the first major league team this season to clinch a division title when St. Louis lost 6-2 at San Francisco.

The Cubs lost their home game 5-4 to the Milwaukee Brewers, but captured their first NL Central crown since 2008 a few hours later when the Giants sealed their victory over the Cardinals.

Wrigley Field was empty when Matt Adams made the final out on the West Coast, yet a loud cheer went up in the neighborhood around the iconic ballpark and several people honked their car horns.

Led by a stellar pitching staff and MVP contenders Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Chicago got off to a sizzling 25-6 start to the season. After stumbling into the All-Star break, the Cubs pulled away with a 22-6 August that turned the NL Central race into a mere formality.

Chicago (93-53) wasted its opportunity to clinch on its own when pinch-hitter Scooter Gennett delivered a tiebreaking, two-run double in the seventh inning for Milwaukee. Keon Broxton homered and Orlando Arcia drove in two runs for the Brewers.

San Francisco gained ground in the playoff race as fist-pumping Johnny Cueto (16-5) pitched a five-hitter and retired his final 17 batters, and Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer.

The Giants gained a game on the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, who are ahead by four after losing 7-3 at Arizona. San Francisco also moved a game in front of the idle New York Mets and two up on the Cardinals in the chase for the two NL wild cards.

In Boston, Hanley Ramirez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to finish off a five-run rally as Boston came back to beat New York 7-5 and open a two-game lead in the AL East.

New York took a four-run lead after three innings and still led 5-1 before David Ortiz hit a solo shot in the eighth. It was the 537th home run of his career, passing Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for 17th on baseball's all-time list.

Boston also profited from Baltimore's 7-6 home loss to the spoiling, last-place Tampa Bay Rays. This dropped the Orioles two wins behind Boston in a tie atop the AL's wild card race with Toronto, which scored a confidence-restoring 7-2 win at the Los Angeles Angels.

Evan Longoria homered and drove in five runs for the Rays, who have won three straight against wild card contenders, including the last two of a three-game series in Toronto.

Toronto's Josh Donaldson went 3 for 3 with two doubles and scored two runs in his return to the lineup, while Russell Martin hit a three-run homer. J.A. Happ (19-4) took a shutout into the seventh inning and earned his 13th win in his last 17 starts.

Detroit's chances in the crowded AL wild-card race were hurt when a 5-1 home loss to lowly Minnesota left them splitting their four-game series. Brian Dozier's two-run single led a four-run second inning.

In other games, Oakland rocked Kansas City's diminishing playoff chances with a 14-5 away win, Pittsburgh crushed the Phillies 15-2, and the Chicago White Sox won 2-1 at home to Cleveland.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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