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Hicks hits 2 HRs, Montgomery pitches Yankees past O's 8-2

Hicks hits 2 HRs, Montgomery pitches Yankees past O's 8-2

NEW YORK -- Aaron Hicks homered twice and rookie Jordan Montgomery pitched seven stellar innings to lead the New York Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles 8-2 on Friday night.

Starlin Castro also connected for the AL East leaders in the opener of a three-game series between division foes. New York has won three straight, outscoring rivals Boston and Baltimore 25-3 over the last three nights.

Jonathan Schoop hit an early two-run homer for third-place Baltimore, which dropped 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Dylan Bundy (6-5) tossed six solid innings but lost for the fourth time in his past five starts.

Bundy beat Montgomery 3-2 on May 29 in Baltimore, where the Orioles took two of three from New York. It was a different story in the latest matchup between two promising 24-year-old arms.

Montgomery (4-4) set a career high with eight strikeouts in the longest outing of his 11 major league starts. He was coming off six innings of three-hit ball in a 7-0 win at Toronto.

The left-hander struck out three batters in the first inning and pitched out of trouble in the second following Schoop's 454-foot homer into the elevated bleachers beyond Baltimore's bullpen in left-center. He retired 17 of his final 18 hitters, helped by Trey Mancini's fifth-inning lineout to drawn-in shortstop Didi Gregorius, pinning a runner at third.

Castro homered leading off the second. Gary Sanchez doubled and scored on Chase Headley's deep sacrifice fly to tie it.

Subbing for injured center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Hicks opened the sixth with a go-ahead homer into The Judge's Chambers section at the back of the lower level of right-field bleachers, where fans dressed in black robes rejoiced.

New York scored three unearned runs in the seventh following a throwing error by reliever Edwin Jackson. Hicks hit a two-run shot into the second deck in right for his 10th home run, giving him 34 RBIs. It was his third career multihomer game and second this year.

Hicks batted .217 with eight homers and 31 RBIs last season, his first in New York.

Aaron Judge then walked and scored from first on Matt Holliday's double off the left-center fence. Austin Romine added a two-run single in the eighth.

Bundy was charged with three runs and five hits. He struck out six and walked two.

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Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

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USA Today Sports

Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered Friday night and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched third place in the AL East with a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria led off the fifth with his 20th homer off Baltimore starter Wade Miley, marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career.

RELATED: WILD CARD RACES WITH THREE DAYS REMAINING

Morrison hit his 38th homer off reliever Chris Tillman in the seventh.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee.

Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win as the first of four Tampa Bay relievers.

Miley (8-15) lost his fifth straight start, giving up four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked five, raising his major league-leading total to 93. The Baltimore bullpen gave up five more walks.

Trey Mancini had one of Baltimore's four hits. It was Mancini's 158th hit, tying Cal Ripken (1982) for second-place all-time among Oriole rookies.

The Orioles, shut out for the 11th time, lost for the 17th time in 21 games and dropped three games behind Tampa Bay with two games left in the season.

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

With the MLB postseason only five days away and three more days in the regular season the playoff field is almost set.

After Thursday night’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Their 2-1 loss to the Cubs put them too far out of reach of the Rockies.

In the American League the AL East race is all but done after the Yankees lost on Thursday.

RELATED: NEW MLB BRACKET PROJECTION WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Not too many changes in the American League race after yesterday.

The New York Yankees (89-70) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 at home after entering the day only three games back in the division. While the Boston Red Sox (92-67) lost too, three games to surpass is too much for even the Bronx Bombers to overcome.

It will be interesting though to watch both teams sweat. Boston hosts the Houston Astros who are trying to overtake the Indians for the top seed in the AL. New York hosts division rivals Toronto.

The Minnesota Twins (83-76) lost to the Indians after allowing 10 hits in the contest. Win or lose it does not matter how they end the season because they will be the No. 5 seed and the visitors in the American League Wild Card Game. Presumably it will be against the Yankees.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

New York Yankees:     +6.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado was off on Thursday night in preparation for their final series of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers (84-75) did manage to gain a half game with their nail biting 4-3 win over the Reds. Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the final three frames remained scoreless for both squads.

They now move to two games back of the Colorado Rockies (86-73) with three games to go.

Colorado will host their final series against the Dodgers. Milwaukee is traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals (82-77) for their final three games. St. Louis is now out of contention, four games out of the final Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs.com now has Colorado at a 93.3 percent chance of taking the final postseason spot.  Milwaukee moved up slightly to 6.7 percent.

MORE NATS: WALK-OFF FOR THE NATS, COURTESY OF DE AZA

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -2.0