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Astros win West as Springer hits 3 HRs

(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

HOUSTON (AP) George Springer, Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros put a check mark in the September box.

And amid the celebration of clinching their third straight AL West title, they already were thinking ahead to what they might achieve in October.

"You can't ever take the first goal for granted," Verlander said. "I know everybody says we're going to win the World Series, but you can't do that without this first. So, step one complete. Now we have the divisional round coming up and we'll ... prepare for that and try to win 11 games."

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Cards in playoffs after sweep at Wrigley

CHICAGO (AP) Paul Goldschmidt and the St. Louis Cardinals celebrated the franchise's first postseason berth in four years with a champagne toast in the visitor's clubhouse.

It was another sweet finish.

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Brewers move into tie for top wild card

MILWAUKEE (AP) Eric Thames and Orlando Arcia had been hushed at the plate during the Milwaukee Brewers' crucial homestand. They made some noise Sunday.

Thames hit two home runs, Arcia also connected and the Brewers took a combined perfect game into the seventh inning while beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 to match Washington atop the NL wild-card standings.

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Indians roll, now tied for 2nd wild card

CLEVELAND (AP) The Cleveland Indians have overcome injuries and setbacks throughout season and remained in the playoff race. The outcome will be decided in the final week.

Cleveland moved into a tie for the second AL wild card with a 10-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night. The Indians matched the Tampa Bay Rays with six games to play. Both teams are 92-64 and two games behind Oakland, which leads the wild-card race.

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Indians 3B Ramirez expected back Tuesday

CLEVELAND (AP) The Cleveland Indians expect third baseman Jose Ramirez to return to their lineup Tuesday night after missing a month with a broken right hand.

Ramirez hasn't played since Aug. 24 when he was injured taking a swing. The two-time All-Star had surgery two days for a broken hamate bone. The Indians expected him to miss five to seven weeks.

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Cruz's 400th HR, Sano's 2 HRs lift Twins

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) When Nelson Cruz signed with the Minnesota Twins this past offseason, he made a few predictions. He was confident he would get to 400 career home runs this year, and he also believed the Twins would make the playoffs.

One down, one to go.

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Rangers hit 5 HRs to halt A's surge

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Athletics didn't seem too concerned after a lopsided defeat to the Texas Rangers prevented them from adding to their lead in the AL wild-card race.

Tampa Bay's loss to Boston earlier in the day gave the A's a little more margin for error and made it a lot easier for manager Bob Melvin's ballclub to move on.

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Red Sox beat playoff-contending Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) A former teammate created a speed bump for the playoff-contending Tampa Bay Rays.

Nathan Eovaldi pitched six gritty innings, Christian Vazquez hit a three-run homer and the Boston Red Sox beat the Rays 7-4 Sunday.

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Braves 1B Freeman to miss series in KC

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves closed their final home regular-season game with new injury concerns about Freddie Freeman and his status for the playoffs.

A recurrence of pain caused by a bone spur in his right elbow forced Freeman to leave the Braves' 4-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

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