The Los Angeles Angels bolstered their pitching roster by acquiring the two-time All-Star left-hander Scott Kazmir in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. The American League West-leading Angels sent two minor league prospects along with a player to be named later in exchange for the 25-year-old Kazmir, who helped lead the 11-year-old Rays to their first World Series appearance last season.
Kazmir is 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA this year and his presence will lift the Angels, who despite holding a five-game lead in the American League West Division have struggled with their pitching and needed to improve their rotation for a post-season run. "We are excited to have a pitcher of Scott's calibre," the Angels general manager Tony Reagins said when the trade was announced on Friday. "He has excelled at Major League level since he came into the league. The move provides us with some depth in our rotation."
Kazmir, who has a career record of 55-44, leaves Tampa Bay as the team's all-time leader in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. Friday was a good day in more ways than one for the Angels. Trailing 6-1 after four innings against the Oakland A's, they staged a comeback with seven runs in the seventh to win 11-7. The Detroit Tigers extended their lead at the top of the AL Central to four and a half games with a 6-2 victory over Tampa Bay.
A five-run fourth inning proved the difference, with Gerald Laird, Adam Everett and Curtis Granderson all doubling. The New York Yankees won the opener of their series against the Chicago White Sox 5-2 in the first extra inning thanks to Robinson Cano's three-run homer. Stifled by CC Sabathia for six innings, the White Sox broke through in the seventh to tie the game but it was not enough as the American League East table- toppers recorded their 11th walk-off win of the year.
Second-placed Boston Red Sox edged past the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 in their series opener, while the Baltimore Orioles thrashed the Cleveland Indians 13-4 with rookie catcher Matt Wieters driving in a career-high four runs. The Minnesota Twins moved past the White Sox and into second place as they beat the Texas Rangers 3-2, while the Seattle Mariners saw off the Kansas City Royals 6-3
In National League action, Albert Pujols blasted a walk-off homer to left field in the ninth inning to give the Central Division-leading St Louis Cardinals a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. The Nationals had looked on course for a rare win but veteran John Smoltz, in his first home start for the Cardinals, allowed only one run on four hits over six innings and Khalil Greene hit a game-tying homer in the eighth before Pujols' late heroics.
Pablo Sandoval returned to the starting line-up after a three-game absence with a strained calf and flu - and pounded his 20th homer of the year as the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 2-0 to pull to within two games of the Rockies in the wild card race. The Philadelphia Phillies extended their NL East advantage to eight games with a 4-2 win over their nearest challengers, the Atlanta Braves.
The Cincinnati Reds posted their fifth win in a row, toppling the NL West pacesetters the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2. Alfonso Soriano's three-run homer in the eighth helped the Chicago Cubs to a 5-2 win over the New York Mets, while a six-run second inning put the San Diego Padres on the way to a 9-5 victory over the Florida Marlins. In other games, John Hester became the 101st player to homer in his first career at-bat as the Arizona Diamondbacks saw off the Houston Astros 14-7 and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-6.
* With agencies