Indians clinch, Ramirez homers
CLEVELAND (AP) — With one sweet swing, Jose Ramirez pushed the Cleveland Indians in the playoffs and strengthened his case for the AL MVP award.
Ramirez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning, giving Cleveland a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox that clinched a postseason berth Tuesday night.
Ramirez’s drive to right off Jose Ruiz scored Cesar Hernandez and Francisco Lindor, setting off a wild celebration at home plate as the Indians reached the postseason for the fourth time in five years.
Lindor had pulled Cleveland within one on a two-out double that plated Roberto Perez, who began the inning on second base. After Matt Foster (5-1) walked Hernandez, Ruiz entered and gave up the game-ending drive.
AL Central-leading Chicago lost for the fourth time in five games, creating a log jam at the top of the division. Minnesota is in second and Cleveland is just three games back.
Aces Lucas Giolito of the White Sox and Shane Bieber of the Indians face off Wednesday night.
Chicago grabbed a 3-1 lead with two runs in the top of the 10th against Phil Maton (3-3). Adam Engel tripled home James McCann, then scored on Nick Madrigal’s single.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria and shortstop Tim Anderson were ejected by umpire Angel Hernandez after Luis Robert looked at a called third strike in the 10th.
Ramirez, making a late push for the MVP award, has 12 home runs and 26 RBIs in his last 24 games.
Hernandez hit a solo shot in the first and Chicago tied it in the sixth when Jose Abreu connected against Adam Plutko, sending a drive to right-center for his 19th homer.
Abreu leads the AL with 56 RBIs and 74 hits. He is second in homers and third with a .332 batting average.
White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez worked five innings, allowing three hits and striking out three. The right-hander has one victory in his last 10 nighttime outings.
Right-hander Cal Quantrill gave up one hit in four scoreless innings for the Indians, becoming the ninth Canadian-born pitcher to start for the franchise. The most recent was Denis Boucher in 1992.
Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Madrigal hit a comebacker to Plutko, who turned it into an inning-ending double play. It was Plutko’s first appearance since Sept. 10.
The game featured three MVP candidates in Abreu, Anderson and Ramirez. Anderson went 1 for 4, dropping his average to .353.
Indians manager Terry Francona missed his 41st game as he recovers from gastrointestinal surgery and blood-clotting issues.
Pirates slow Cubs
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jacob Stallings hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates stalled the Chicago Cubs’ bid to win the NL Central with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.
The Cubs began the day with a 4 ¢-game lead over St. Louis and Cincinnati in the division standings and a magic number of four to clinch the title.
Stallings connected with one out off Andrew Chafin (1-2) to help the Pirates ended their five-game losing streak and win for the just second time in 15 games. It was Stallings’ third home run of the season and the third game-ending hit of his career.
Chafin got the final out of the eighth and first of the ninth before Stallings sent a 2-2 pitch down the left field line.
Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer in the eighth inning had pulled the Cubs into a tie at 2-all.
Richard Rodriguez (3-2) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
Chicago’s Jose Quintana was activated from the injured list and made his first start of the season. The left-hander went two innings and gave up one run and one hit with one strikeout.
Quintana had made just two relief appearances this year. He underwent surgery before the season to repair never damage in his left thumb and then was sidelined by a strained lat.
Down 2-0 with two outs and none on in the eighth, the Cubs’ Willson Contreras singled off Chris Stratton. Left-hander Sam Howard relieved and Rizzo sent a 2-0 pitch into the right-field stands for his 10th homer of the season and first off a lefty.
Both teams had just five hits.
Pittsburgh starter Steven Brault pitched seven shutout innings. He threw a two-hitter to beat the Cardinals in his previous start last Thursday.
The Cubs were without a hit until Cameron Maybin singled with one out in the fifth, ending Brault’s hitless inning streak at 10 games. Making his last start of the season, the left-hander finished the year with a 13-inning scoreless streak.
Brault struck out six, walked three and only got into one serious jam. He hit Contreras and Rizzo with consecutive pitches to begin the fourth inning but got Javier Baez to ground into a double play and struck out Kyle Schwarber.
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead on RBI doubles by Erik Gonzalez in the second inning and Adam Frazier in the fifth.
Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant (right lower oblique tightness) sat out after leaving Monday’s game. Manager David Ross is optimistic Bryant can avoid going on the IL. … To make room for Quintana on the roster, LHP Rex Brothers was optioned to the alternate site in South Bend, Indiana.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-4, 2.93) will start Wednesday night in the third game of the four-game series. He has allowed just seven walks in 73 2/3 innings this season.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (1-8, 6.70) has lost five straight decisions since getting his lone win Aug. 13 at Cincinnati.
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