Detroit earns split with 5-4 road win

JANIE McCAULEY AP Baseball Writer Published:

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Two of the American League's top teams have struggling closers who are accustomed to being among the best in baseball.

Joe Nathan held on through another rocky ninth inning for his 13th save a day after blowing one, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Thursday for a split of the four-game series between division leaders.

"If Joe's on you're going to have quick outs. He's been one of the best closers, he had an unbelievable year last year," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "If he's on, he'll get quick outs. It just wasn't today."

On the other side, Oakland's Jim Johnson -- the 2013 AL saves leader -- walked off the mound to boos from the home crowd after allowing two runs in the seventh. He is pitching in lower-pressure situations for now.

"What am I supposed to do?" he said of the crowd treatment. "I don't know what to tell you. Balls are finding holes. I'm throwing pretty good pitches, I just feel like I'm in a little bit of bad luck. I don't think it's as bad as it really seems. I think everybody else thinks that way."

Miguel Cabrera hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth to back Rick Porcello's eighth victory.

Porcello (8-2) overcame a career-high six walks, three shy of his season total coming into Thursday's start. Nathan allowed Josh Donaldson's leadoff double, an RBI infield single by Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick's run-scoring double before pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie grounded out to end the game.

It was Nathan's first outing since he surrendered Donaldson's game-ending three-run homer in Wednesday's 3-1 loss for his fourth blown save opportunity.

Victor Martinez doubled home two runs in the seventh and Cabrera also had an RBI groundout for the Tigers, who head to Seattle for the weekend before returning home.

Nick Punto hit a two-run homer in the fourth for Oakland, which wasted chances all game to lose for only the seventh time in 20 games.

Porcello moved into second place in the American League for wins behind Toronto's Mark Buehrle.

Porcello improved to 5-1 on the road. He allowed five hits and two runs with four strikeouts in 52/3 innings.

Oakland starter Jesse Chavez (4-3) lost consecutive starts for the first time this season following a two-game winning streak.

ROYALS 8, BLUE JAYS 6 (10)

TORONTO -- Omar Infante hit a two-run single in the 10th inning and the Royals overcame two home runs by Edwin Encarnacion to beat the Blue Jays, snapping Toronto's winning streak at nine games.

Wade Davis (4-1) worked two innings for the win and Greg Holland closed it out for his 15th save in 16 chances.

RANGERS 5, TWINS 4

MINNEAPOLIS -- Leonys Martin doubled twice and scored three times, including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and Texas won its second straight four-game series on the road.

Alexi Ogando (2-2) got four outs for the victory, and Joakim Soria retired the last two batters for his 10th save. Soria saved the last two games of the series after he had his first blown chance of the season in Tuesday's 4-3 loss.

ANGELS 7, MARINERS 5

SEATTLE -- Erick Aybar hit a three-run homer, Matt Shoemaker pitched effectively into the sixth inning and the Angels beat the Mariners.

Recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday, Shoemaker (3-1) set down the side in order four times in 51/3 innings. He allowed three runs on four hits, equaled a career-high six strikeouts and did not walk a batter for the first time in five career starts.

HOUSTON 3, BALTIMORE 1

HOUSTON -- George Springer hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning, and the Astros extended their winning streak to six with a victory over the Orioles.

Josh Fields (1-3) threw two scoreless innings for the win, and Chad Qualls pitched the ninth for his fourth save.

INTERLEAGUE

RED SOX 4, BRAVES 3

BOSTON (AP) -- Tommy La Stella's failure to catch a force attempt at second base allowed Jackie Bradley Jr. to score from second with none out in the ninth inning, giving the Red Sox their fourth straight win after a 10-game skid.

The Red Sox took advantage of two more Atlanta errors to score twice in the eighth to tie it 3-all and set up closer Koji Uehara (1-1) for the win.

GIANTS 6, CARDINALS 5

ST. LOUIS -- Michael Morse homered and drove in three runs, Pablo Sandoval homered and scored twice, lifting the San Francisco Giants to a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.

Javier Lopez (1-0) got two groundouts in relief of Ryan Vogelsong for his first win since Sept. 22, 2013.

METS 4, PHILLIES 1

PHILADELPHIA -- Chris Young hit a two-run homer and Zack Wheeler struck out nine in 61/3 innings to lead the Mets over the Phillies in the opener of a rare five-game series.

The Mets, who opened an 11-game road trip, matched a season best with their third straight victory while beating the Phillies for the sixth straight time Wheeler (2-5) retired eight of the first 10 batters via strikeout.

PIRATES 6, DODGERS 3

LOS ANGELES -- Josh Harrison's second RBI single triggered a three-run seventh inning, Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez homered and the Pirates won for only the third time in their last 20 games at Dodger Stadium.

Former UCLA star Gerrit Cole (5-3) allowed three runs and six hits over 61/3 innings in his first career appearance at Chavez Ravine. The right-hander helped set up two runs with sacrifice bunts.

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