ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Evan Longoria hit three home runs and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Baltimore 4-1 Wednesday night, ending the Orioles' bid to force a one-game tiebreaker for the AL East title.
The loss on the final day of the regular season left the Orioles as a wild-card team. They'll play Friday night at Texas, with the winner advancing to the best-of-five division series against the New York Yankees.
Baltimore began the day one game behind the Yankees in the division. The surprising Orioles needed a win, plus a loss by the Yankees to Boston, to pull even.
New York cruised to a 12-2 rout of the Red Sox and finished two games ahead of the Orioles, earning its 13th division crown in 17 years. The Yankees had a 10-game lead on July 18, but Baltimore caught up Sept. 4 and the teams were tied 10 times in September.
Longoria finished the season with a bang for the second straight year, hitting solo shots off Chris Tillman in the first and fourth innings and adding another solo shot off Jake Arrieta in the sixth.
With a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, Longoria grounded out against Pedro Strop in the eighth.
Longoria's second career three-homer game came a year after the three-time All-Star hit two of them of the final night of last season, including a 12th-inning, game-ending shot that clinched a postseason berth.
Ryan Roberts also homered for the Rays in the fourth against Tillman (9-3).
Jeremy Hellickson (10-11) allowed one hit - Adam Jones' fourth-inning single - in 5 1-3 innings. Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney teamed to hold the Orioles to two hits - J.J. Hardy's double and Matt Wieters' single, both in the ninth inning - the rest of the way.
Jones ruined Tampa Bay's shot at a 16th shutout with a sacrifice fly off Peralta. After Wieters singled, Rodney was summoned to get the final out for his 48th save in 50 opportunities.
Chris Davis, who tied an Orioles record when he homered for the sixth straight game on Tuesday night, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
Longoria is 6-for-12 with three homers lifetime against Tillman, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs and four hits in his first loss since Kansas City beat him on Aug. 11. The right-hander who had gone 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA over his previous five starts also allowed three homers in that game, matching his career high.
The Rays won 12 of 14 down the stretch, remaining in contention for the second AL wild card until the 160th game and finished with at least 90 wins for the third season.
Hellickson allowed three baserunners, two of them in the fourth inning when Jones singled to right-center after Davis struck out on a wild pitch that allowed the Orioles outfielder to reach first. The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year walked Manny Machado leading off the sixth and replaced by McGee after getting the next batter, Nate McLouth, to pop out.
Notes: Jones played in all of the Orioles' 162 regular-season games this season. "It's a pretty cool thing," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. Jones is the first Baltimore player to accomplish the feat since Miguel Tejada in 2006. ... Orioles RHP Steve Johnson (sore left knee) said he felt great after throwing off a bullpen mound.
Yankees 14, Red Sox 2
NEW YORK (AP) - Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson each hit a pair of homers, powering New York past Boston on a raucous night in the Bronx for their 13th AL East title in 17 years.
In front of fans poised to party from the first pitch on the final night of the regular season, the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the last-place Red Sox to win their second consecutive division crown.
Players hugged and slapped fives on the field and put on their AL East champion shirts and hats as fans feted them with a standing ovation with "New York, New York," blaring over the loudspeakers. The team walked off the field to chants of "Let's go Yankees!"
"Now the real season starts," Derek Jeter said.
Cano tied a career high with six RBIs as New York (95-67) finished two games ahead of Baltimore and secured home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The Yankees will open on the road Sunday against the winner of Friday's wild-card game between Baltimore and Texas.
New York led the division by 10 games on July 18 but the pesky Orioles caught up on Sept. 4 and were tied with the Yankees after 10 different days in September.
New York rode the long ball all season and the four homers in the finale set a franchise record at 245.
Hiroki Koroda (16-11) shut Boston down with an encouraging performance after struggling through much of September. He allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings.
Nationals 5, Phillies 1
WASHINGTON (AP) - Wasn't all that long ago - in 2008 and 2009, actually - that the Washington Nationals were losing 100 games a season and finishing with the worst record in the majors.
Look at them now.
Already the NL East champions, the Nationals closed the regular season by securing home-field advantage throughout the postseason, beating Philadelphia for their majors-high 98th victory.
"It's quite an accomplishment," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Obviously winning the division was a goal and now we've done that and we have a chance to go do some stuff in the playoffs. This is a great season, a great team, a good group of guys, and we accomplished a lot that we should be proud of."
He continued: "But we have a lot more to accomplish, hopefully."
Fitted for hats with postseason patches before the game, the Nationals will open the playoffs on the road Sunday at the winner of Friday's wild-card game between Atlanta and St. Louis. Game 2 will also be at the wild-card winner's stadium, before the best-of-five series shifts to Washington. A team from the nation's capital hasn't participated in Major League Baseball action beyond the regular season since the Senators lost the 1933 World Series.
It was a festive day for the announced crowd of 37,075 and the Nationals (98-64), a club that only once had finished as high as third place since moving from Montreal in 2005. This is the first time the Expos/Nationals franchise has won its division in a complete season.