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Orioles defeat White Sox to extend lead

CHICAGO -- Baltimore stretched its lead in the American League East to a seemingly impregnable 7-1/2 games by beating the Chicago White Sox 8-2 on Monday, with Nick Markakis hitting a two-run homer and preventing one with a leaping catch in right field.

The destiny of that division title seems clear cut, but the AL West is still up for grabs, with the Los Angeles Angels taking over the lead — half a game ahead of Oakland — by beating Boston.

In the National League, Atlanta scored six runs in the first inning to quickly get on top of Pittsburgh in a clash of the two teams currently just outside the wild-card berths, while St. Louis — which provisionally holds the first wild-card — edging Cincinnati in ten innings.

Baltimore's Nelson Cruz and J.J. Hardy each added solo homers to the shot by Markakis, who went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs.

Cruz hit his 32nd homer, passing White Sox rookie Jose Abreu for the AL lead and tying Miami's Mike Stanton for most in the majors.

Los Angeles' Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit consecutive RBI doubles to lead the Angels to a 4-2 win over Boston.

They took over the division lead with their fifth win in six games.

Angels' starter C.J. Wilson (10-8) labored through 5 1-3 innings, giving up one run with five strikeouts.

Atlanta's Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons homered to begin a six-run first inning which effectively decided the game against Pittsburgh, with the Braves winning 7-3.

The early outburst was enough to secure the win for starter Ervin Santana, despite allowing nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. Santana (13-6) improved to 8-1 over his past 10 starts.

Pittsburgh has lost six in a row and is now two games off the wild-card places.

St. Louis' Jhonny Peralta got a 10th-inning single — his third hit of the game — to drive in the winning run and give the Cardinals a 6-5 victory over Cincinnati.

Peralta's RBI single in the first was just his second in 32 at-bats against the Reds this season. He also doubled and scored the tying run on A.J. Pierzynski's hit in the eighth.

Jay Bruce ended up on the losing side despite a homer a double and four RBIs for the Reds, giving him nine RBIs in four games.

Kansas City's Erik Kratz homered twice after replacing an ailing Salvador Perez, helping the Royals beat Minnesota 6-4.

Washington's Adam LaRoche hit a game-winning solo home run with two outs in the 11th inning to help the Nationals beat Arizona 5-4 for their seventh-straight win.

Philadelphia's Jerome Williams held Seattle scoreless over the first seven innings to guide the Phillies to a 4-1 win.

Chicago's Kyle Hendricks and two relievers held the New York Mets to four or fewer hits for the fifth straight game and set up a 4-1 win over the Cubs.

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Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez #9 fields the throw as New York Mets' Matt den Dekker slides into second in the fourth-inning of a baseball game at Citi Field in New York, Monday, Aug. 18. (AP)

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