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Russell's 9th-inning homer lifts Cubs past Orioles 9-8

Russell's 9th-inning homer lifts Cubs past Orioles 9-8

BALTIMORE --

Addison Russell hit a go-ahead solo home run in the ninth inning and the Chicago Cubs beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-8 after squandering an eight-run lead on Friday night.

Mark Trumbo tied the game 8-8 with a two-run homer off Koji Uehara (3-4) in the eighth. Russell responded when he hit a first-pitch, 96 mph fastball off Brad Brach (2-2) over the left field fence.

Wade Davis picked up his 17th save for Chicago.

Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber hit back-to-back homers in a four-run first inning for Chicago. Ben Zobrist also homered onto the flag court behind the right field scoreboard and Jason Heyward reached Eutaw Street with another towering shot.

Chicago improved to 3-6 in interleague play after going 15-5 against the AL last season.

Welington Castillo's ninth home run was a solo shot in the third for Baltimore, which left 10 runners on base.

Contreras provided a 3-0 lead with a homer into the Cubs' bullpen. Schwarber hammered Kevin Gausman's next pitch to almost the exact spot.

Zobrist and Heyward hit two-run homers in the second and third, respectively, to boost the margin to 8-0. Gausman tied a career-high by allowing eight runs and seven hits over three innings. He also gave up four home runs -- the most of his career.

Mark Trumbo, Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard had RBI singles in the fifth off reliever Justin Grimm to cut the lead to 8-6.

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Ynoa pitches 8 solid innings to lead Orioles past Rays 3-1

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Ynoa pitches 8 solid innings to lead Orioles past Rays 3-1

BALTIMORE  -- Gabriel Ynoa pitched eight innings of five-hit ball, Manny Machado homered and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Thursday night in a matchup between fading AL East teams.

Machado's two-run homer in the first inning off Matt Andriese (5-4) propelled the Orioles to their third win in 15 games. Baltimore has only a mathematical chance of reaching the postseason and must go 7-1 the rest of the way to avoid its first losing season since 2011.

Tampa Bay has lost nine of 13 since reaching the .500 mark on Sept. 5. The Rays began the day trailing Minnesota by four games for the second wild-card spot.

Ynoa (2-2) struck out three and walked two in earning his first win as a starter in six career tries. He failed to go past five innings in any of his previous starts.

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MLB Postseason 2017: Updated Wild Card Standings

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MLB Postseason 2017: Updated Wild Card Standings

The 2017 MLB Wild Card race is at full throttle and at this point it will be a matter of who gets hot at the right time.

Both races will not be settled this week. Likely we will have to wait until the final weekend to see who will be in the postseason.

With so many teams still in the hunt, the American League race is absolutely bonkers. While the National League looks more condensed, the schedule has this playing out up until the final game of the season.

RELATED: FULL MLB POSTSEASON UPDATE

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Specifically looking at the American League, the race for the second Wild Card spot is wide open. Ten teams are still mathematically alive but realistically it is six teams battling for one position.

The New York Yankees (85-67) completed an impressive three game series sweep over the Twins, winning the series by a combined score of 18-6. New York’s postseason magic number is three but they have their sights on the Boston Red Sox for the AL East Division.

Well ahead of everyone else in the race, the Yankees will still be a factor in the battle for the second Wild Card. They play three teams (Toronto – six games, Tampa Bay – three games, Kansas City – one game) that are still alive.

Losing five of their last six, the Minnesota Twins (78-74) are not sitting in a comfortable position. This weekend against the Tigers is crucial in solidifying their position because they travel to Cleveland next week for a three game series. That is a series they do not want to enter with a one-to-two game lead on the Los Angeles Angels

Being the first team out does not put the Angels (76-75) in a good position because they are currently in a series with the Indians and then travel to the Houston Astros over the weekend.

The Texas Rangers (75-76) are in a prime position to make-up ground playing Seattle and Oakland in eight of their final 11 games.

Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles face off this weekend for a four-game series. Anything but a sweep or a 3-1 series win would basically eliminate each team from contention.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 21):

New York Yankees:     +7.0
Minnesota Twins:           ---
Los Angeles Angels:     -1.5
Texas Rangers:             -2.5
Kansas City Royals:      -3.5
Seattle Mariners:           -4.0
Tampa Bay Rays:          -4.0
Baltimore Orioles:          -5.5
Toronto Blue Jays:        -7.0
Oakland Athletics:         -9.0

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Less crazy but perhaps more interesting is the race in the National League. It’s a four-team race for two positions, with two teams each from the West and the Central.

Sitting 6.5 games to the good, the Arizona Diamondbacks (88-65) are in a pretty good spot. They do not play a single team over .500 the rest of the way and can essentially be on cruise control the rest of the way until October.

The Colorado Rockies (82-70) are positioned the best out of the remaining teams. Plenty of opportunities for the team lie ahead to gain on their lead with the Padres on the road and the Marlins at home in their next two series.

If the Rockies were to slip, the Milwaukee Brewers (81-71) and St. Louis Cardinals (79-72) are right behind them. Both are preoccupied with their NL Central race with the Chicago Cubs that is still in each team’s control.

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 21):

Arizona Diamondbacks:  +5.5
Colorado Rockies:             ---
Milwaukee Brewers:         -1.0
St. Louis Cardinals:          -2.5
Miami Marlins:                -10.0

RELATED: MIKE RIZZO PROVIDES UPDATE ON BRYCE HARPER