Orioles, Cardinals Win Wild Card Games [VIDEO]
Baseball's first-ever, one-game wild-card series were truly for the Birds. Both the Orioles and Cardinals came away with victories on Friday to advance to the major league division series.
Baltimore has ended the Rangers' two-year reign as American League champions while reaching the division series for the first time in 15 years. Joe Saunders combined with three relievers on an nine-hitter as the O's earned a 5-1 win at Texas. Saunders allowed a first-inning run and just six hits over 5 2/3s.
Nate McLouth drove in two runs to lead Baltimore's offense. He singled home a run in the seventh and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to cap the scoring.
Roberto Andino delivered a pinch-hit double and scored twice for the Orioles, who will host the New York Yankees in the first and second games of their ALDS.
Orioles closer Jim Johnson loaded the bases with two out in the ninth before getting David Murphy to fly out to left.
The loss completes a late-season collapse for the Rangers, who held a five-game lead in the AL West with nine games to play before they were relegated to the wild-card game. Losing pitcher Yu Darvish pitched well enough to win on most nights, allowing two earned runs and five hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. But the offense was held silent as Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre both went 0-for-4 while batting in the third and fourth spots in the Rangers' lineup.
St. Louis continues to be a team that just won't go away easily.
The Cardinals now have won five straight postseason elimination games after taking advantage of three infield errors to win their wild-card playoff game against the Braves in Atlanta. The Redbirds scored four unearned runs while taking a 6-2 lead in a 6-3 victory that puts them in the division series against Washington.
The Cardinals rallied after David Ross launched a two-run homer to put Atlanta ahead 2-0 in the second inning. Chipper Jones threw away a potential double-play grounder to set up the Cardinals' three-run fourth. Fielding miscues by second baseman Dan Uggla and shortstop Andrelton Simmons led to a two-run seventh put the Cards ahead 6-2.
Another pivotal play occurred with the Cardinals leading 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth. The Braves had runners on first and second with one out when Simmons hit a popup to left field. The ball fell between left fielder Matt Holiday and shortstop Pete Kozma, but left field umpire Sam Holbrook called for the infield fly rule as the ball was making its descent. Simmons was called out, and the Braves eventually loaded the bases before Michael Bourn struck out to end the threat.
Fans threw bottles and other debris on the field following Holbrook's call, which cost the Braves a baserunner and an out. The game was delayed 19 minutes while workers cleared the garbage along the fences and the foul lines. The Braves protested the game to no avail.
Holliday hit a solo homer and winning pitcher Kyle Lohse allowed two runs and six hits while striking out six in 5 2/3 innings. Jason Motte worked out of the bases-loaded jam in the eighth before stranding two runners in the ninth to get the save.
Kris Medlen suffered the loss despite allowing just two earned runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings. It marked the first time in 24 games since 2010 that Atlanta has lost a game started by Medlen.
It was a tough day for Jones, who went 1-for-5 and contributed to a pair of unearned runs in his final major league game. Jones was 0-for-4 until he beat out an infield grounder with two out in the ninth.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)