Braves beat Giants to clinch National League East title

The Atlanta Braves clinched their second straight National League East title with a 6-0 trouncing of the San Francisco Giants in Major League Baseball on Friday.

Ronald Acuna Jr hit his 41st home run of the season, scoring three runs for the match to support pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, who allowed just three hits in eight innings.

The win ensured the Braves will finish ahead of the second-placed Washington Nationals, and will start the NL Division Series at home on October 3, most likely against the NL Central champions.

The St Louis Cardinals took another step towards securing that title by grinding out a 2-1 win at the Chicago Cubs, further worsening the Wrigley Field side’s post-season hopes.

Having beaten the Cubs 5-4 in 10 innings on Thursday, the Cardinals overcame them on Friday when Yadier Molina’s two-run single in the sixth gave them the lead after the Cubs’ lone run on a fielder error in the second.

Chicago, who were closing on the divisional lead only last week, are now in third place with eight regular season games to play. They sit five games behind St Louis and two games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, who thrashed the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 10-1.

The Cubs are also two games behind Milwaukee in the race for the NL’s second wild-card ticket to the play-offs, with Milwaukee a game behind Washington in the battle for the first wild-card.

The Nationals were too good for the struggling Miami Marlins on Friday, leading 4-1 in the fourth inning before winning 6-4.

The New York Mets kept their slim wild-card hopes alive, an 8-1 win at the Cincinnati Reds keeping them three-and-a-half games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card.

There was no change in the American League wild-card race. The Oakland Athletics crushed the visiting Texas Rangers 8-0 to maintain a two-game break in the contest for the first wild-card over the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians.

The Rays edged the Boston Red Sox 5-4 in 11 innings, while Cleveland downed the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 5-2.

The Indians remain four games behind the Minnesota Twins at the top of the AL Central, after the Twins beat the visiting Kansas City Royals 4-3.

In other games, the play-off-bound Houston Astros won 6-4 at home to the Los Angeles Angels, the Chicago White Sox won 10-1 at the hapless Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays won 4-3 at AL East champions New York Yankees.

Elsewhere, the Baltimore Orioles won 5-3 at home to the Seattle Mariners, the Arizona Diamondbacks won 9-0 at the San Diego Padres, and the runaway NL West champions the Los Angeles Dodgers won 12-5 at home to the Colorado Rockies.

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