O's tighten AL East, White Sox pad AL Central edge

Associated Press
Baltimore Orioles' Nate McLouth homers against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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Here's how the pennant races look with barely two weeks left:

— ORANGE SQUEEZE: The Orioles tightened the AL East race, romping 10-4 at Seattle and closing within a half-game of the first-place Yankees. Nate McLouth gave Baltimore a quick start, hitting a leadoff home run.

— DENTED DETROIT: The White Sox opened a three-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central, topping the Tigers 5-4. They don't meet again and the way the standings are shaping up, only one of them will reach the playoffs. Alex Rios made the play of the game in Chicago, barreling into second baseman Omar Infante and forcing a bad throw.

— PHILLING BETTER: The Phillies moved within 3½ games of St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot, beating the Mets 3-1 behind Cliff Lee's 10 strikeouts. It's a scramble for that final spot — the Dodgers are one game back, Milwaukee trails by 2½.

— DIMMING RAY OF HOPE: Tampa Bay's chances took another hit with a 5-2 loss to Boston. Pitcher Alex Cobb and catcher Jose Molina argued in the dugout after the Red Sox took the lead. The Rays are five games behind Baltimore for the last AL wild-card slot.

— WEATHER OR NOT: What's a little rain when the playoffs are at stake? The contending Pirates waited more than 3½ hours before starting Monday night against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

— NEXT UP: The Yankees hope to get a big boost when Andy Pettitte rejoins the rotation for the first time since a line drive broke his left leg in late June. The 40-year-old ace starts against Toronto in the Bronx.

— CHASE CHATTER: "I honestly don't really know what the argument was about, still. We'll work things out. We'll talk about it tomorrow, or whatever, and leave it behind us." — Rays pitcher Alex Cobb.

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