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September 27, 2017

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Orioles defeat Rangers to book series with Yankees

ARLINGTON, Texas--Baltimore pitcher Joe Saunders allowed only one run in 5 2/3 innings and the Orioles ripped Texas 5-1 Friday to book a Major League Baseball divisional playoff series against the New York Yankees.

Saunders, a loser in all six prior career starts at Texas, struck out four Rangers batters while walking only one and scattered six hits to ensure the Orioles a berth in the best-of-five American League series against the Yankees.

"No one really gave me a chance. I wanted to prove people wrong," Saunders said after his first career playoff triumph.

Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, a 16-game winner in his first North American season after leaving the Nippon Ham Fighters, struck out seven batters but surrendered two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings to take the loss.

The Rangers, who came within a strike of winning last year's World Series before falling to St. Louis, had won the American League crown the past two seasons but lost five of their final six games this year.

The Orioles, in the playoffs for the first time since 1997, will host game one against the Yankees on Sunday. The perennial powerhouse Yankees and upstart Orioles were 9-9 against each other this year.

"It says a lot about this team. We have a lot of heart. It's a special spirit," Saunders said. "This team has had confidence all year. I'm just thankful to be a part of this."

Oakland and Detroit meet in the other divisional series, with the winner to face either the Orioles or Yankees to decide a berth in the World Series.

J.J. Hardy singled in Nate McLouth in the first inning to put the Orioles on top but the Rangers equalized in the same inning when Ian Kinsler scored as Josh Hamilton grounded into a double play.

Baltimore took the lead for good in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones that plated Hardy.

McLouth singled in a run in the seventh inning to stretch the Orioles' lead and Baltimore added two insurance runs in the ninth on a single by Manny Machado and a sacrifice fly by McLouth.

The Rangers loaded the bases with two out in the ninth inning but David Murphy flew out to left field to end the game.

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