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Best of MLB: Tigers sweep DH to move into AL wild-card spot

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Best of MLB: Tigers sweep DH to move into AL wild-card spot

MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Verlander tied a season-high with 11 strikeouts and the Detroit Tigers moved into the second AL wild-card spot by beating the Minnesota Twins 4-2 Thursday to sweep a day-night doubleheader.

Erick Aybar drove in two runs for Detroit, which moved a half-game ahead of Baltimore for the second wild card and trails Toronto by one game. The Tigers went 9-0 at Minnesota this year.

Victor Martinez had a pinch-hit, three-run homer during a six-run ninth inning as Detroit won the opener 9-2. Justin Upton added his 26th home run.

Verlander (15-8) allowed four hits in six innings, including home runs by Juan Centeno and Byron Buxton. He has won 12 of his last 13 starts against the Twins.

Francisco Rodriguez got three outs for his 44th save in 48 chances (see full recap).

Price, Red Sox finish off sweep of Orioles
BALTIMORE -- David Price won his eighth straight decision, Hanley Ramirez homered and the Boston Red Sox completed a four-game sweep of the sinking Baltimore Orioles with a 5-3 victory on Thursday night.

Boston has won eight straight to open a 5-game lead over idle Toronto in the AL East. With 13 victories in their last 16 games, the Red Sox have moved within one game of Texas for best record in the AL.

Baltimore fell seven games out and dropped 1 games behind the Blue Jays for the top AL wild card. It was the first time since 2002 that the Orioles were swept at home by Boston in a four-game series.

Price (17-8) gave up three runs and six hits in seven inning, walking two and striking out five. The Red Sox have won each of the left-hander's last nine starts since Aug. 7.

Koji Uehara worked the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel got three straight outs for his 29th save in 31 chances (see full recap).

Kemp's two homers power Braves to win over Marlins
MIAMI -- Matt Kemp hit two home runs to power the Atlanta Braves to a 6-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.

Freddie Freeman singled in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 26 games and drove in two runs for the Braves, who have won six straight for the third time this season.

Atlanta's Josh Collmenter (3-0) pitched seven innings and allowed two runs.

Mauricio Cabrera pitched the ninth for his fifth save in six chances.

Ender Inciarte, Wednesday's hero with the game-saving catch at the New York Mets, went 2 for 4 with a triple and scored twice.

Marlins starter Jose Urena (4-8) allowed five runs and four hits in three innings (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

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Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

WASHINGTON -- Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 -- also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended (see full story).

Turner, Taylor repay Dodgers' patience by sharing NLCS MVP
CHICAGO -- Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner's case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor's case, it was Los Angeles' willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner's head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

"He's a dynamic player and a table setter," said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. "When he goes, we usually go as a team."

"I talk to him as much as I can. He's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did," said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster (see full story).

Rare Jackie Robinson rookie jersey up for auction
NEW YORK -- A rare jersey from Jackie Robinson's historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago could be available for someone with a few spare millions.

The jersey, part of a Heroes of Sports offering by Heritage Auctions, has been certified by Mears, one of the top memorabilia authentication companies. It is accompanied by a letter from Robinson's widow, Rachel, saying it is the one brought home by the Hall of Famer at the end of the 1947 season, when he became the first black player in the majors and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

"This is the only one known from the `47 season, the only one that survived," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It stayed in his closet for five decades plus until it was eventually sold to a private collector in the early 2000s."

The online auction opened Friday and closes at 11 p.m. on Nov. 19. The entire collection is from one owner and can be viewed on Heritage's website. Other items available for bidding include Babe Ruth's pants from the Hall of Fame induction in 1939, Keith Hernandez's 1978 Gold Glove award, a Wilt Chamberlain jersey from 1966, Bill Vukovich's Indianapolis 500 trophy from 1953 and Muhammad Ali's shoes from his fight against Ken Norton in 1973.

Ivy said the Robinson jersey has been valued at more than $3 million. He wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed that.

"It's tough to estimate a piece like this -- it's a one of a kind," he said. "As far as collectibles a rookie (jersey) is always sought after, something that's significant."