Athletics clinch last AL playoff spot

Tue Oct 2, 2012 2:30am EDT

1 of 4. Oakland Athletics players celebrate after defeating the Texas Rangers to earn a wild card berth during their MLB American League baseball game in Oakland, California October 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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(Reuters) - The Oakland Athletics secured the American League's final playoff spot with a 4-3 win over Texas on Monday and are threatening to dislodge the Rangers at the top of the AL West.

The Athletics pulled to within one game of the reeling Rangers (93-67), who have led the division for practically the entire season but are in danger of being caught with two games remaining in the season-ending three-game series.

At the very least, Oakland (92-68) are guaranteed one of the two AL wild card berths, eliminating Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels from contention, and head to their first postseason since 2006.

The Athletics scored two runs in the fifth inning to go up 4-2 then held the Rangers to one more run before sealing the win and celebrating in front of their home fans.

In Kansas City, the Detroit Tigers enjoyed a 6-3 victory over the Royals to clinch the AL Central.

Miguel Cabrera took a big step towards capturing baseball's triple crown by blasting his Major League-leading 44th home run of the season, breaking a tie with Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, and finished 4-for-5 to enhance his AL-leading batting average (.329) and RBI (runs batted in) totals.

After battling Chicago for the AL Central title all season, the red-hot Tigers (87-73) eliminated the White Sox from the playoffs and earned a second consecutive trip to the postseason for the first time since 1934-35.

"We believed we could do it, there were a lot of expectations," Cabrera told reporters. "Winning is an unbelievable feeling. We're ready for the playoffs, hopefully we can go all the way."

Along with the team's success, Cabrera remains on course to become the first player to claim an AL triple crown since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, leading the way in home runs, batting average and RBIs (137).

CARDS MOVE CLOSER

In New York, the Yankees battered Boston 10-2 to gain a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East.

Curtis Granderson hit his 41st home run of the season, one of four slugged by New York, while CC Sabathia tossed eight innings to get the win and improve to 15-6.

Baltimore (92-68), who have already clinched a playoff spot along with the Yankees (93-67), lost to Tampa Bay 5-3 to fall behind in the division race with two games remaining.

In the National League, the St Louis Cardinals moved to the brink of clinching the final NL playoff berth by beating Cincinnati 4-2 at home.

Pitcher Jaime Garcia homered to help his own cause during a three-run third inning and the Cardinals spoiled the return of Reds manager Dusty Baker.

Baker was back in the dugout after missing 11 games while recovering from a stroke.

The Cardinals (87-73) kept their two-game advantage over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race for the second and final wild card spot.

The Dodgers beat San Francisco 3-2 to stay alive but one more loss or a St. Louis win will eliminate them from the postseason .

"We have two more games to take care of it ourselves," said Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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