The Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs continued their respective winning streaks in MLB on Thursday.
Kyle Schwarber smashed two home runs as the Chicago Cubs secured their seventh straight MLB win with a 9-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jon Lester struck out 10 in six innings and the Cubs' five homers helped them to victory, with Schwarber going three-for-four with four RBIs and two runs scored.
The Cubs are four-and-a-half games clear in a wildcard spot in the National League (NL).
The two teams above them in the NL Central met on Thursday, with the Pittsburgh Pirates beating the St Louis Cardinals 10-5.
American League (AL) East leaders the Toronto Blue Jays made it 11 consecutive victories as Mark Buehrle's seven strong innings helped them past the Oakland Athletics 4-2.
Ahead of their three-game series against the Blue Jays, the New York Yankees stayed just half-a-game behind after an 8-6 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Elsewhere, the San Francisco Giants (3-1 over the Washington Nationals), Los Angeles Angels (7-6 over the Kansas City Royals), Texas Rangers (6-5 over the Minnesota Twins), New York Mets (12-3 over the Colorado Rockies) and Cincinnati Reds (10-3 over the Los Angeles Dodgers) also had wins.
Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers: Moreland was a perfect four-for-four at the plate against the Twins, finishing with a two-run home run and four RBIs.
Kelly Johnson, New York Mets: The trade deadline addition went three-for-four with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds: The speedster showed rare power against the Dodgers, belting a solo homer in the eighth for his fourth hit of the night. He also stole his 53rd bag of the season and scored four times.
Angels starter C.J. Wilson will undergo surgery this week on his pitching elbow to clean up loose bone spurs. He is expected to be fully recovered by the start of spring training.
On the disabled list since July 30, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda (forearm) will begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday with Double-A Trenton.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton will undergo an MRI on Friday on his ailing left knee.
The Twins placed right-handed pitcher Phil Hughes on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury.
"I'm going to reward our fan base because I'm going to tell you, the noise and enthusiasm ... it's really hard not to have some energy when you take the field right now," Mets manager Terry Collins said via MLB.com of his team, who improved to 13-5 when drawing at least 36,000 fans to Citi Field. "We're playing well at home, and guys are excited about it."
FACTS OF THE DAY
Schwarber is the youngest Cubs player with multiple four-RBI games in a season since Ron Santo in 1961.
Yankees backstop Brian McCann became just the fifth catcher ever to have at least nine seasons of 20 or more homers. He joined Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and Gary Carter.
The Pirates' seven first-inning runs are the most first-inning runs they have scored in St. Louis since June 13, 1943.
Good: Despite a blowout-loss to the Cubs, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun went three-for-four with two stolen bases and an RBI.
Bad: Entering with a 2.15 ERA at home this season, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn recorded just two outs against the Pirates at Busch Stadium, allowing seven runs (three earned) on six hits.
The Yankees are at David Price's Blue Jays as the AL East's top two do battle, the Rangers host the Rays and Max Scherzer's Nationals meet the Giants.