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Royals surge past A's to stay top of Central

KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- Kansas City's Nori Aoki and Billy Butler each drove in two runs during a five-run seventh inning that rallied the surging Royals to a 7-3 win over Oakland on Thursday, keeping them top of the American League Central division.

The Royals, who have not made the playoffs for 29 years, stayed half a game ahead of Detroit, which beat Pittsburgh thanks to a superb performance by pitcher Max Scherzer.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Dodgers boosted their lead in the National League West to near impregnable proportions by beating an Atlanta team that is struggling to stay in playoff contention and fell further behind Washington, which beat the Mets in New York yet again.

Kansas City has won 18 of its 22 games to move 12 games above a .500 record for the first time since 2003.

Aoki's two-run triple put the Royals ahead 5-3. Butler's single scored Aoki and Alcides Escobar.

Oakland's Jeff Samardzija (3-2) took the loss despite leaving after 6-2/3 innings with a 3-2 lead. Reliever Ryan Cook faced three batters and all of them scored, ending his streak of 21 consecutive shutout innings.

Los Angeles' Drew Butera hit his first homer since May, clunking a two-run shot in the second inning that helped the Dodgers beat Atlanta 6-4.

Adrian Gonzalez drove in three runs with three hits, and Dee Gordon scored four runs for the National League pacesetters.

Roberto Hernandez (7-8) pitched six strong innings, allowing just one run, to notch his first win for the Dodgers after being traded by Philadelphia last week.

The Braves have lost 12 of 14 and dropped three games off the second and last NL wild-card berth.

Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer struck out 14 batters in eight scoreless innings to lead the Tigers to a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh.

Scherzer (14-4) has a 6-1 record over his past 10 starts with a 1.78 ERA and 85 strikeouts.

Scherzer's performance and a homer from J.D. Martinez gave the Tigers a split of the four-game series that started in Pittsburgh.

Pirates' starter Francisco Liriano (3-9) took the loss despite allowing only three hits in six innings and striking out nine.

Washington won 4-1 at the Mets to notch a franchise record of 11-straight wins in away games against the one team.

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Oakland Athletics' Brandon Moss slides into home to score past Kansas City Royals catcher Erik Kratz in the fourth inning during a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 14 (AP)

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