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The Grand Slam: Angels win, claim sole possession of first place in AL West

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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For the first time since April 23, the Oakland Athletics are not in first place in the AL West.

The Los Angeles Angels, with a 4-2 win Monday night over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, took over sole possession of first in the division. It's only a half-game lead and could very well be gone after Tuesday's games, but for the Angels — a team that was a severe disappointment a year ago — getting past the A's is something to celebrate.

The teams had been tied the past two days, with a couple winning-percentage points giving the Angels the slightest of edges. But now, with the A's idle on Monday, the Angels are alone in first place for the first time since May of 2011.

The Angels are 16-13 since the All-Star break, taking advantage of the A's going 14-15 in that time.  After the game, starting pitcher C.J. Wilson told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:

"We're in every game," Wilson said. "We had a streak where we got really hot and won 15 in a row at home or something like that. We can do that again. We still have [39 games] left, and we have to learn how to fire on all cylinders again. I think the All-Star break kind of got us out of a groove, for whatever reason."

The Angels continue a four-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday, while the A's start a three-game set against the New York Mets. That all leads up to a big showdown between the A's and Angels starting Friday in Oakland. 

The Cincinnati Reds came back until they couldn't come back anymore. After rebounding from a 3-0 deficit earlier in the game, then a 5-4 deficit in the ninth, the Reds had no chance to answer the St. Louis Cardinals in the tenth inning. 

Jhonny Peralta hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th that plated Matt Holliday and gave the Cards a 6-5 win. For the Reds, it's their third loss in a row and it puts them three games below .500 at 61-64. The Reds are now nine games back in the NL Central and five games back for the second NL Wild Card, though they'd have to leap past three other teams to make the postseason. Times are getting dire in Cincy.

Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale is one of those pitchers who seems like he can possibly throw a no-hitter every time he gets the ball. His stuff is that good. But the Baltimore Orioles weren't as overmatched as many teams look against Sale.

They mustered eight hits and three runs, enough to chase Sale from the game and eventually win 8-2. The score was 3-2 in the seventh, when Nick Markakis came up huge for Baltimore. He robbed a two-run homer to preserve the O's lead, then came to the plate in the eighth and hit a two-run homer of his own, part of a five-run inning.

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost again Monday, falling 7-3 to the Atlanta Braves. It's Pittsburgh's sixth straight loss. That means the Pirates will be thrilled if reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen returns to the lineup as expected Tuesday. He's been sidelined with a fractured rib and might be the boost the reeling Pirates need to make a push toward the NL wild card again.

For the rest of Monday's results, check out our scoreboard.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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