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Sale reaches 300-strikeout milestone in Major League Baseball

Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox pitches to Ryan Flaherty of the Baltimore Orioles (not pictured) in the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday in Baltimore, Maryland. (AFP)
BALTIMORE, Maryland: Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth hours after beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.
Boston (88-64) was assured at least a wild card and its second consecutive trip to the postseason when the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Cleveland Indians. Of course, the Red Sox are looking for much more than that. They lead the AL East by three games over the rival New York Yankees with 10 to play as Boston pursues its third division title in five years.
Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.
Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox.
After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games.
Betts and Marrero hit two-run homers in the fourth against Wade Miley (8-14), and Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the fifth.
Sale allowed four hits and walked none in matching his career high for wins.
Boston joined AL Central champion Cleveland and AL West champion Houston in the American League playoffs, which begin next month. Two spots are still up for grabs.
Indians 6 Angels 5: In Annaheim, California, Francisco Lindor snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run homer and the remarkable Cleveland Indians held off Los Angeles for their 26th victory in 27 games.
It was Lindor’s 31st home run of the season, most by a switch-hitting shortstop in major league history.
Albert Pujols hit his 614th home run for the Angels, who remained 1½ games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card.
The AL Central champion Indians have beaten the Angels 10 consecutive times.
Tyler Olson (1-0) won in relief of Josh Tomlin, who allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Bryan Shaw worked two hitless innings for his third save.
The game was tied 2-all when Lindor connected off reliever Yusmeiro Petit (5-1). Edwin Encarnacion had an RBI single in the seventh and Jose Ramirez added one of his own in the eighth.
The Indians are 95-57, only one game back of the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Cleveland trailed the Dodgers by 20 games on Aug. 25.
Yankees 11 Twins 3: In New York, Aaron Judge hit his AL-leading 45th home run and topped 100 RBIs, Didi Gregorius surpassed Derek Jeter for the most home runs by a Yankees shortstop and New York beat Minnesota for a three-game sweep.
The game was briefly halted in the fifth inning when a foul ball down the third-base line off the bat of Todd Frazier struck a young girl, who was carried out of the stands, given first aid and taken to a hospital.
Frazier knelt down and covered his head, and many other Yankees and Twins watched in stunned silence as the fan was helped.
The Yankees, who have won 10 of 12, opened a seven-game advantage over the Twins for the top AL wild card with 10 games remaining.
The Twins have lost five of six and were outscored 18-6 in the three-game series. They lead the Angels by 1½ games for the second wild card.
Judge’s two-run homer down the right-field line came on an 0-2 pitch from Bartolo Colon (4-6 in the AL and 6-14 overall).
Chasen Shreve (4-1) pitched three hitless innings in relief of Luis Severino.
Rays 8 Cubs 1: In St. Petersburg, Florida, Blake Snell gave up two hits in seven shutout innings, and Tampa Bay ended Chicago’s season-best seven-game winning streak.
The Cubs, who had not lost since being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series in Chicago on Sept. 8-10, are scheduled to open a four-game series in Milwaukee on Thursday night. They lead the Brewers by 3½ games in the NL Central.
Steven Souza Jr. hit his 30th home run in the first inning and the Rays added three more runs in the second off Jon Lester.
Wilson Ramos, who had three of Tampa Bay’s 10 hits, made it 7-0 with a two-run single in the fifth that knocked Lester (11-8) out of the game.
Lester, who had won three starts since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 2, gave up seven runs and eight hits with three walks in 4 1/3 innings. He had no strikeouts.
Snell (4-6) gave up singles to John Jay in the third and Addison Russell in the fifth. He walked three and struck out five in seven innings. Snell is 4-0 in 10 starts since July 24.
Phillies 7 Dodgers 5: In Philadelphia, Aaron Altherr hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the eighth after launching a tying, two-run homer an inning earlier, and Philadelphia beat slumping Los Angeles.
The Dodgers have lost four straight and 20 of 25 and will have to wait until at least Friday to wrap up the NL West.
The Phillies have won eight of 10 and are 32-33 since the All-Star break, climbing out of last place in the majors.
Luis Avilan (2-3) walked Cesar Hernandez to start the bottom of the eighth. Freddy Galvis bunted and catcher Austin Barnes made a wild throw to second base for an error that allowed the runners to reach second and third. Odubel Herrera struck out and Rhys Hoskins was intentionally walked. Brandon Morrow entered and Altherr ripped a hit off the right-field fence.
Earlier in the series, Altherr became the first major leaguer to hit a grand slam off Clayton Kershaw.
Luis Garcia (2-4) got the win despite allowing a run in the eighth. Hector Neris finished for his 23rd save in 26 chances.

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