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Posted at 07:05 AM ET, 05/23/2011

Leading off: Everyone’s a contender in middling American League West

Game of the day: Oakland at Los Angeles Angels, 10:05 p.m. The American League West continues to tighten, and all four teams’ mediocrity is creating what could turn out to be a compelling division race. Oakland (22-25) has lost five games in a row, but the A’s still find themselves only two games out of first place and 1.5 games behind Los Angeles (24-24) heading into this four-game series. Left-hander Josh Outman will start for Oakland in what will be his first major league appearance since he had Tommy John surgery in July 2009. Right-hander Jered Weaver (6-4) will start for Los Angeles, looking for his first win since April 25. Weaver has lost four straight starts after opening the year 6-0.

Other game to watch:

Boston at Cleveland, 7:05 p.m. The Red Sox (25-21) have won eight of their last nine games while the Indians (29-15) have the best record in the major leagues. Right-hander Clay Buchholz (4-3) will start for Boston, coming off seven scoreless innings in his last start Wednesday against Detroit. Buchholz took the no-decision in that game, but he won his previous three starts before that. Former Red Sox right-hander Justin Masterson (5-2) will start for Cleveland, looking for his first win since April 26 after he started the season 5-0. Masterson allowed just one run in eight innings during his last start Wednesday against the White Sox, but he took the loss in Chicago’s 1-0 win.

Games you should have seen:

San Francisco 5, Oakland 4, 11 innings. Emmanuel Burriss hit a walk-off single to right field in the bottom of the 11th inning to help the Giants complete a three-game sweep of the A’s. Darren Ford just beat right fielder Ryan Sweeney’s throw to the plate to score the winning run. Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game at 4-4 and force extra innings. The Giants have now won five games in a row while Oakland has lost five straight.

St. Louis 9, Kansas City 8, 10 innings. The Cardinals drew 13 walks, including two that forced in runs in the top of the tenth inning, to beat their cross-state rivals in Kansas City. Colby Rasmus walked five times against five different pitchers, and his walk in the top of the tenth brought in Tyler Greene with the winning run. The Royals overcame an early 7-1 deficit, tying the game on a Wilson Betemit single in the seventh inning after earlier home runs by Jeff Francoeur, Betemit and Alex Gordon. Kansas City had the tying run at second base with one out in the bottom of the tenth, but could not come back again.

Stat you should know: 21-21. Record of American League teams against National League teams through the first weekend of interleague play. Interleague games will return June 17.

Star of the night: Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera went 5 for 5 with two home runs and five RBI in Cleveland’s 12-4 win over Cincinnati. Cabrera’s batting average jumped 20 points to .302.

Chatter: “We’re going to hit, we’re going to hit better. We’re going to bottom out one of these days. Hopefully, it was today.” – Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel after the Phillies’ 2-0 loss Sunday against Texas. Philadelphia — which expects to activate second baseman Chase Utley from the disabled list Monday — has scored three runs or fewer in nine straight games.

By Greg Schimmel  |  07:05 AM ET, 05/23/2011

 
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