Nats and Rangers close in, Yanks and Sox lose

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Here’s how the pennant races look with six days to go:

_ CLOSING IN: Washington and Texas can wrap up division titles this weekend. Both teams have a magic number of three. Gio Gonzalez pitched the NL East-leading Nationals past Philadelphia 7-3 Thursday night, becoming the first 21-game winner in the majors. Hours earlier, Ian Kinsler hit his seventh leadoff homer this season and the Rangers beat Oakland 9-7 to earn a four-game split that maintained their four-game AL West lead over the Athletics.

_ DOUBLE DECK: The wild-card races are coming down to the wire. St. Louis has a three-game lead over the Dodgers for the final NL playoff spot. Baltimore sits atop the AL wild-card standings, a game ahead of Oakland. Two games behind the A’s are the Angels and surging Rays. Tampa Bay has won eight in a row.

_ FADING FAST: Rookie manager Robin Ventura and the Chicago White Sox have hit the skids at the wrong time. They’ve dropped eight of nine, falling two games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central. Brett Myers gave up a tiebreaking homer to Evan Longoria in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

_ NEXT UP: Texas can become the first American League team to clinch a playoff spot with a win Friday night over the Angels. It won’t be easy, though. Los Angeles ace Jered Weaver (19-4) pitches against midseason acquisition Ryan Dempster.

_ CHASE CHATTER: “We know what’s at stake right now and we’ve just got to go out there and keep picking up wins. We’ve got a little six-game playoff race.” _ Nick Swisher after the New York Yankees lost 6-0 in Toronto, trimming their AL East lead to one game over Baltimore.

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