ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Blake Snell is locked in on the Tampa Bay Rays’ longshot postseason hopes, not thinking about winning the AL Cy Young Award.
Snell took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and got his major league-leading 19th win, leading the Rays over the Cleveland Indians 3-1 on Wednesday.
“I know that we’re winning and that’s the most important thing,” Snell said. “That’s what I’m focused on, that’s what we’re focused on. All the individual stuff I’ll look at later.”
Snell (19-5) lost his bid when Jose Ramirez led off the seventh with his 38th homer. Snell won his team-record seventh straight start, striking out nine and walking two in seven innings. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 16 consecutive home starts.
Chaz Roe and Jose Alvarado each got three outs, completing a one-hitter. Alvarado got his eighth save in 11 chances.
Tampa Bay closed within eight games of Oakland for the second AL wild card with 17 games left. The Athletics were scheduled to play at Baltimore on Wednesday night, then open a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Friday night.
Snell’s ERA dropped to 2.03, second in the AL behind Boston’s Chris Sale at 1.96. Snell’s 1.24 ERA at home is best in the majors.
“He’s got the whole package,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s got velocity, breaking ball, changeup, and seeing how much he’s improved from one year to the next, that’s pretty special stuff.”
Cleveland’s magic number to clinch a third consecutive AL Central title remained at three.
Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run homer in the first off Carlos Carrasco (16-9), then took a well-inside pitch from Carrasco in the sixth and briefly stared at the mound. Choi hit a winning homer off Brad Hand in the ninth inning on Monday night.
“Every at-bat I can hit a home run you feel great, especially today helping to contribute to a win for Snell,” Choi said through a translator.
Cleveland’s Edwin Encarnacion stared and shook his head after a high and inside pitch from Snell in the fourth.
“It was nothing,” Encarnacion said. “No hard feelings. He tried to go inside. No problem.”
Carrasco (16-9) gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings.
Josh Donaldson, acquired by Cleveland from Toronto on Aug. 31, hit into a double play as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. He went 0 for 4 Tuesday in his Cleveland debut, his first big league game since May 28.
Cleveland center fielder Jason Kipnis, left fielder Michael Brantley, catcher Yan Gomes and first baseman Yonder Alonso were also rested.
Tommy Pham extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a two-out infield single in the first and scored on Choi’s drive to center field.
Dodgers 8, Reds 1
CINCINNATI (AP) — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t breathe a sigh of relief. He could have.
Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner drove in three runs each, and Los Angeles beat Cincinnati 8-1 Wednesday to avoid a season sweep by the last-place Reds.
Joc Pederson homered for the Dodgers, and Grandal had three hits.
“We can beat them,” Roberts said.
“When we played them in L.A., they were on a hot streak,” said Grandal, Cincinnati’s 2010 top amateur draft pick. “It didn’t really matter how we played. We were trying to figure out what to do with our guys. We had a lot of guys hurt. It seems like they played us hard all year.”
Los Angeles began the day 1½ games behind NL West-leading Colorado and pulled within two games of St. Louis for the second NL wild card after the Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh 4-3. The Dodgers open a four-game series in St. Louis on Thursday.
“That’s a big series for us,” said Grandal, who finished with three hits. “There’s a chance to make some moves in this series.”
The Dodgers had been 0-6 against the Reds and were on the verge of being swept by Cincinnati in a season for the first time.
“It’s more important that we got a win,” Roberts said. “Those guys have been making noise all year. Managing to get a win considering where we were at is a good thing.”
Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett went 1 for 4, keeping his league-leading batting average at .321.
“We didn’t really worry about sweeping the Dodgers,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We just wanted to win the game at hand.”
Left-hander Caleb Ferguson (6-2), the third of seven Dodgers pitchers, struck out three in the fifth.
Anthony DeSclafani (7-5) retired the first nine Los Angeles batters before allowing six runs - five earned - five hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. He failed to last five innings for the third straight start.
“I was rolling,” the right-hander said. “I felt good. It seemed like whenever somebody gets on, I can’t put a stop to it. It’s frustrating. I just have to figure out how to execute pitches. I don’t care how many times you go through the batting order, if you execute your pitches, you’ll get your outs.”
Jose Peraza homered in the first, but Pederson tied it 1-1 with a leadoff drive in the fourth, his second two games and 21st this season.
“Joc’s homer gave us kind of an exhale,” Roberts said. “I’ve been talking about J.T.’s at bats every night. Yasmani had some good at bats.”
Grandal hit a go-ahead double later in the inning, a ball caught by a young fan with a glove reaching over the wall with the ball still in play. Max Muncy scored from first and Reds manager Jim Riggleman argued unsuccessfully he should have been stopped at third, but the umpires’ decision was upheld in a video review.
Turner hit a two-run single in a four-run fifth.
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