Doom and brooms: 6 sweeps shake races

Doom and brooms: 6 sweeps shake races

With division and Wild Card races heating up across the big leagues, a number of teams made a statement Wednesday by wrapping August with a series sweep.

Six clubs -- the Rangers, Astros, Tigers, Indians, Nationals and Cubs -- each began the week with three straight victories and the aftereffects rippled throughout the postseason standings.

MLB standings

The Astros did so in dramatic fashion, pulling off an improbable comeback. Houston rallied from a three-run deficit in the eighth to sweep the A's with a 4-3 victory at Minute Maid Park. The Astros, just one game out of the second American League Wild Card spot, have now won 10 of their last 12 games as they enter a crucial stretch of 13 consecutive matchups against first-place teams.

Houston's victory was sparked by two triples from George Springer and Jose Altuve with two outs in the eighth. Evan Gattis drove in the go-ahead run with an line-drive single.

Statcast: Altuve's clutch triple

"It was enough to get the win," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Just proud of our guys being able to be resilient and keep coming back to win some games."

Chicago won, 6-5, withstanding a similar late rally by the Pirates, who plated three runs in the final two innings. Aroldis Chapman secured the victory by earning his 32nd save of the year. He punctuated his outing by striking out Jordy Mercer with the tying run in scoring position lighting up the radar gun with eight of his 11 pitches in the at-bat reaching triple digits.

Cubs shortstop Addison Russell made a save of his own with a tremendous sliding catch on a popup by Gregory Polanco to end the top of the seventh after the Pirates loaded the bases, threatening to cut into a 5-2 lead. Statcast™ tracked the ball's hang time at 5.4 seconds, and Russell ran 106 feet to make the catch.

Statcast: Russell's clutch grab

With the win, the Cubs extended their division lead -- the largest in baseball -- to 15 games ahead of the Cardinals in the National League Central. Pittsburgh remained 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for a Wild Card spot.

In a marquee pitching duel between Chris Sale and Justin Verlander, the Tigers emerged as the victor, completing the three-game sweep with a 3-2 win at Comerica Park. JaCoby Jones was the hero in this one, doubling twice and scoring the winning run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly.

Statcast: Jones' walk-off sprint

With the Orioles losing to Toronto, the win pulled Detroit even with Baltimore for the American League's second Wild Card spot. It's the first time the Tigers have had possession of a playoff berth since Aug. 8.

The Rangers, meanwhile, enter September with an 8 1/2-game lead in the AL West after sweeping the Mariners at Globe Life Park thanks to a 14-1 victory. Carlos Gomez led the way for Texas, hitting his third career grand slam. He entered the game just 3-for-22 since joining the Rangers.

Gomez crushes a grand slam

Texas has won five straight games, knocking the Mariners 11 1/2 games back in the division standings. Seattle trails by four games in the Wild Card race.

Backed my 11 strikeouts and eight innings by Corey Kluber, the Indians bested division foe Minnesota, 8-4, at Progressive Field. Cleveland hasn't always fared well against the last-place Twins this season, with this sweep evening the season series at 8-8.

It was a much-needed victory for the Indians, who went 2-5 on a recent road trip as the Tigers and Royals climbed in the division standings. They hold a 4 1/2-game lead on Detroit.

Kluber's 11 K's in 11 seconds

The Nationals preserved their nine-game cushion in the NL East with a 2-1 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It's the second-largest division lead in the Majors, trailing only the Cubs'. Washington concludes a portion of its schedule that saw them play 20 games in 20 days by going 11-9.

"I'm proud of these guys, 'cause that's a tough stretch," Nats manager Dusty Baker said.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.