The American League East is tied again with Baltimore and the Yankees sporting identical 79-62 records. J.J. Hardy homered twice, doubled and drove in five runs, and the Baltimore Orioles defeated Tampa Bay 9-2. The Rays are two games back and two behind in the chase for the final AL wild-card spot. Meanwhile, the Yankees were dropping a 4-3 decision to Boston in Fenway Park. Jacoby Ellsbury had four hits and drove in a pair. Ellsbury capped a strong performance on his 29th birthday with a solid single to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
In the NL the Mets fell to the Nationals again as Washington rookie Bryce Harper had his first four-hit game in the majors in the 5-3 win. Harper doubled and singled twice off Dickey after the teen star entered 0 for 10 with six strikeouts against the knuckleballer. Leadoff batter Jayson Werth reached base all five times for the NL East leaders, who have won seven straight and 11 of 12 at Citi Field. Looking for a win over baseball's top team to boost his Cy Young Award resume, Dickey (18-5) mostly pitched out of trouble for seven solid innings. But he gave up a two-run shot to Moore that made it 3-2 in the seventh and was unable to tie Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez for the major league lead in wins
Philadelphia is inserting itself in the wild card picture. Jimmy Rollins homered and drove in three in the Phillies' 9-7 win over Miami for their sixth straight win. The Phils have won 14 of their last 18 and moved within four games of St. Louis in the NL wild-card race.
Yankees and Red Sox at it again tonight, and the Mets finish up with Washington this evening.
There's a glimmer of hope in the stalled talks aimed at preventing hockey's fourth work stoppage since 1992. The NHL and the players' association will resume negotiations today in an effort to avoid a lockout this weekend. The two sides have not met face to face since last Friday. An agreement must be reached by September 15th.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press