Oakland A's beat Rangers for AL West crown
The Oakland Athletics capped a Cinderella season by completing a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers with a 12-5 home victory on Wednesday that gave them Major League Baseball's American League (AL) West title.
The A's, who trailed two-time defending AL champion Texas by 13 games in June before battling back into the race, answered a five-run scoring burst by the Rangers in the third inning with six runs in the fourth and never relinquished the lead.
Texas slugger Josh Hamilton dropped a fly ball in center field for a two-run error that put the A's ahead 7-5 in the fourth inning after run-scoring hits by Josh Reddick, Steve Smith and Coco Crisp.
Reliever Eric Scribner (2-0) took the win with three scoreless innings in relief of starter A.J. Griffin while Derek Holland (12-7) took the loss after coming on to replace starter Ryan Dempster.
The victory improved the Athletics to 94-68, and sent the low-budget team to the postseason for the first time in five years. The loss dropped the Rangers, who led Oakland by five games with nine days to go, to 93-69.
Texas, who were already assured of a spot in the postseason, will enter the playoffs as a wildcard team and face either the New York Yankees or Baltimore Orioles in a one-game showdown on Friday to advance to the best-of-five divisional series.
The Yankees were hosting the Boston Red Sox, while the Orioles were playing the Rays in Tampa Bay to determine the AL East Division champions.
The Detroit Tigers had already clinched AL Central title.
Earlier, the Washington Nationals finished their Cinderella campaign in style by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 to secure home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Ryan Zimmerman, Tyler Morre and Michael Morse all hit home runs to lift the Nationals, who will be playing in the post-season for the first time.
Washington ended the season with a 98-64 record, enough to ensure they go into the playoffs as the number one seed in the National League regardless of whether the Cincinnati Reds win their final game later on Wednesday.
The Nationals will play the winner of Friday's wildcard game between the Atlanta Braves and St Louis Cardinals when their division series opens on Sunday.
Cincinnati will start away to the San Francisco Giants in their division series, starting Saturday. (Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue)