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October 6, 2009

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Tigers, Twins force a playoff

THE Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins sealed victories on Sunday to end the regular season deadlocked for first place in the American League Central.

They will meet in a one-game tiebreaker today in Minneapolis to decide the division's playoff representative.

"We had our backs totally up against the wall, and we won," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters after Detroit beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 behind Justin Verlander (19-9).

"We still have a heck of a chance, obviously, to win this division," Leyland said.

Minnesota pounded the Kansas City Royals 13-4 in Minneapolis for its fourth consecutive win. Jason Kubel hit two three-run homers for the Twins while Delmon Young added two solo home runs.

The results left the Tigers and the Twins with identical 86-76 records, forcing an extra game to decide the only berth remaining in Major League Baseball's post-season.

The Tigers' Verlander pitched seven-plus innings and gave up six hits and struck out five.

Ryan Raburn homered twice, the second a solo shot in the sixth giving Detroit a 5-0 lead before the White Sox scored three runs in the eighth off Verlander.

At Minneapolis, Kubel hit three-run homers in the first and third inning for a 7-0 Minnesota lead. The Royals came within 8-4 in the sixth, but the Twins scored the game's final five runs.

Today's winner will meet the AL East champions New York Yankees in the best-of-five divisional series starting on either Wednesday or Thursday in New York.

AL West champions the Los Angeles Angels will host the wildcard Boston Red Sox in the league's other playoff series with the opening date to be determined.

In the National League, the West champion Los Angeles Dodgers will host Central winner St Louis and wildcard Colorado will play at the East champion Philadelphia Phillies.

In Philadelphia, Paul Hoover hit a game-ending RBI single in the 10th inning as the defending World Series champion Phillies prepared for their title defense with a 7-6 victory over the Florida Marlins in the National League.

Hanley Ramirez got the day off and finished with a .342 average to become the first Marlins player to win a batting title. He also is the first NL shortstop to win the batting crown since Dick Groat in 1960.

Chris Coghlan had three hits for Florida (87-75), bolstering his bid for NL Rookie of the Year.

Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were among the resting Phillies starters.

Also, it was: Dodgers 5, Rockies 3; Nationals 2, Braves 1, 15 innings; Giants 4, Padres 3, 10 innings; Brewers 9, Cardinals 7, 10 innings; Mets 4, Astros 0; Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 2; and Reds 6, Pirates 0.

In the American League, Yankees 10, Rays 2; Reds Sox 12, Indians 7; Angels 5, Athletics 3; Mariners 4, Rangers 3; and Orioles 5, Blue Jays 4, 11 innings.


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