Framber Valdez threw seven shutout innings as the Houston Astros moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees in the race for top seed in the American League (AL) with a 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers.
Martin Maldonado and Alex Bregman both homered for the Astros as manager Dusty Baker returned to the dugout after missing five games due to COVID-19.
Valdez had eight strikeouts across seven innings, allowing only four singles and a walk, earning his third win.
The result improved the Astros to 72-41, sitting ahead of the slumping Yankees who did not play on Thursday and possess a 71-41 record.
"It was outstanding to be back, especially when you come back with the win and come back with Framber throwing the game that he threw," Baker said.
"He pitched an outstanding game. He's very serious about his work and was very composed."
Surging Orioles slip in Wild Card race
The in-form Baltimore Orioles missed a chance to surge into the AL Wild Card spots after going down 4-3 to the Boston Red Sox.
The O's were off to a 7-1 start in August and looked to preserve that with a three-run sixth-inning to square up the game, before Eric Hosmer's decisive go-ahead RBI double.
With the win, the Red Sox snap a four-game losing streak, while it leaves the O's at 58-53, behind the Tampa Bay Rays (58-52) for the third AL Wild Card spot.
Goldschmidt and Arenado fire but Cards beaten
The Rockies piled on six runs in the seventh inning, headlined by back-to-back home runs from Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon, while Paul Goldschmidt had three hits including his 27th home run of the season.