Phillies
USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Masahiro Tanaka strikes out 15 in Yankees' shutout

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka struck out 15 over seven innings, his highest total since coming to the major leagues, and the playoff-bound New York Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Friday to remain on the edge of contention in the AL East.

Already assured no worse than hosting a wild-card game against Minnesota, New York began the day three games behind AL East-leading Boston with three games left, The Yankees could take the division only by beating the Blue Jays both Saturday and Sunday, having Boston lose three in a row to Houston and then defeating the Red Sox in a tiebreaker game Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka (13-12) retired his first 14 batters before Ezequiel Carerra reached on an infield single up the middle just past Tanaka's glove. Second baseman Starlin Castro made a backhand stop with a dive and threw off-balance from his knees, but Carerra easily beat a one-hop throw.

Pitching on six days' rest, Tanaka had a sharp slider and splitter, dominating a team that battered him for eight runs and three homers at Toronto on Sept. 22. He allowed three hits and walked none (see full recap).

Astros prevent Red Sox from clinching again
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox once again failed to clinch the AL East title as Alex Bregman homered and drove in three runs, giving the Houston Astros a 3-2 victory Friday night.

The Red Sox magic number remained at one to close out the New York Yankees. Boston leads the Yankees by two games -- both teams have two games left and already are assured playoff spots.

If Boston and New York wind up even, they will play a one-game tiebreaker Monday at Yankee Stadium for the division crown, with the loser getting a wild-card spot.

The Red Sox dropped their second in a row and fell to 1-4 on their homestand. The AL West champion Astros won their fifth straight game and posted their 100th victory of the season.

Hanley Ramirez doubled with two outs in the Boston ninth. But with the Fenway Park crowd rooting for a rally, Rafael Devers grounded out to end it (see full recap).

Happ 3-run blast helps Cubs stay red hot
CHICAGO -- Ian Happ hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs won for the 14th time in 17 games, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Friday.

With a second straight NL Central title in hand and their sights set on another World Series championship, the Cubs held sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant out of the lineup. They also watched as Jose Quintana got knocked out in a four-run fifth. But they still found a way to pull it out.

Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, Tommy La Stella started the rally with a one-out single against Amir Garrett. Taylor Davis then singled to third off Michael Lorenzen (8-4). After Kyle Schwarber struck out, Happ drove his 24th homer to left.

Brian Duensing (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth. Justin Grimm worked the ninth for his first save in three chances.

Cincinnati's Joey Votto had two hits and an RBI, giving him 100 this season. He also reached base in his 30th straight game (see full recap).