(Reuters) - Miguel Cabrera took a big step towards capturing baseball's triple crown in helping the Detroit Tigers secure a playoff berth with a 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday.
Cabrera blasted his Major League-leading 44th home run of the season, breaking a tie with Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, and finished 4-for-5 to enhance his American League-leading batting average (.329) and RBI (runs batted in) totals.
After battling Chicago for the AL Central division title all season, the red-hot Tigers (87-73) eliminated the White Sox from the playoffs and earned a second consecutive trip to the post-season for the first time since 1934-35.
Along with the team's success, Cabrera remains on course to become the first player to claim an American League triple crown since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski achieved the feat in 1967, leading the way in home runs, batting average and RBIs (137).
In New York, the Yankees battered Boston 10-2 to gain a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East.
Curtis Granderson hit his 41st home run of the season, one of four slugged by New York, while CC Sabathia tossed eight strong innings to improve to 15-6.
Baltimore (92-68), who has already clinched a playoff spot along with the Yankees (93-67), lost to Tampa Bay 5-3 to fall behind in the division race with two games remaining.
In the National League, the St Louis Cardinals moved to the brink of clinching the final NL playoff berth by beating Cincinnati 4-2 at home.
Pitcher Jaime Garcia homered to help his own cause during a three-run third inning and the Cardinals spoiled the return of Reds manager Dusty Baker.
Baker was back in the dugout after missing 11 games while recovering from a stroke.
The Cardinals (87-73) opened a 2 1/2-game advantage in the race for the second and final wild card spot and will clinch if the Los Angeles Dodgers lose to San Francisco in a late game.
(Writing by Jahmal corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)
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