The Chicago White Sox hit three solo home runs Tuesday and all they had to show for it was the loss of sole possession of first place.
The Cleveland Indians edged the White Sox, 4-3, and hours later the Detroit Tigers climbed into a tie with Chicago atop the American League Central with a 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynksi, who hit one of the White Sox home runs.
Detroit, which shares an 82-72 record with Chicago with eight games left in the regular season, is "not going to go away," he said.
As the White Sox suffered their sixth loss in seven games, the Tigers rode a three-hit shutout from Anibal Sanchez, who retired the first 11 Royals he faced.
In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals tightened their grip on the second wild-card berth with a 4-0 win over the Houston Astros, the Cardinals' eighth win in nine games. St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia tossed seven scoreless innings.
The Dodgers lost, 2-1, to the Padres in San Diego to fall 41/2 games behind St. Louis.
And the Milwaukee Brewers lost to the Cincinnati Reds, 4-2, to also drop 4½ games behind the Cardinals.
"It's certainly looking a lot tougher" to win the wild-card, Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're going to have to get some big-time help."
Atlanta clinched at least the other NL wild-card spot on Freddie Freeman's two-run, walk-off home run that lifted the Braves to a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins.
It was sweet redemption for the Braves, who slumped badly at the end of last season to miss the postseason.
"There was never any doubt" about making the playoffs this year, said Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who doubled in the ninth inning and scored on Freeman's homer. "We knew that last year was somewhat of a fluke."
The Oakland Athletics defeated the Texas Rangers, 3-2 in 10 innings. The Angels beat the Seattle Mariners, 5-4, to remain two games behind Oakland for the second AL wild card.
The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-0, so the Orioles remained 1½ games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees, who lost to the Minnesota Twins, 5-4.
Times wire services contributed to this report.