Perez allowed solo homers to Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza, blowing the lead and the save, putting the White Sox up 4-3, the Indians coming to bat with one more chance to tie or win the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Though seldom used, the 42-year-old slugger with 437 career home runs came through with a booming blast to right field which plated the tying and winning runs, sending the home crowd into delerium with the walk-off, 5-4 victory.
The win kept the Indians a game ahead of the Rangers, who themselves were 3-2 winners over Houston, with five games left to play. In New York, the Rays eliminated the Orioles by topping the Yankees, 7-0, Baltimore falling to Toronto, 3-2 in 10 innings. Kansas City lost to Seattle, 4-0, putting them four games behind Cleveland; the Yankees, five out and all but finished for the year.
AL Wild Card Standings (through 9/24)
Wacha got down to the final out against the visiting Nationals, but Ryan Zimmerman provided the spoiler, lashing a ground ball up the middle for a single, the only hit against Wacha on the night. With just a two-run lead, Wacha was pulled in favor of Trevor Rosenthal, who got the final out of the game by inducing a ground ball to first by Jason Werth, preserving the win for Wacha and a 2-0 St. Louis victory, reducing the Cardinals' magic number to three for the NL Central title.
Wacha walked two and fanned nine over his 8 2/3 innings on the mound, throwing 112 pitches, 77 for strikes. He is 3-1 since being called up August 10, getting his first major league win in June before being sent back to AAA Memphis in the Pacific Coast League.
The Cardinals have one more game remaining with the Nats, at 1:45 pm EDT in St. Louis before closing out the regular season with three games at home with the Cubs.
Pittsburgh remained two games back of the Cardinals with an 8-2 win at Chicago; the Reds fell to the Mets, 4-2, and are three games out.
Today's Trivia: Who led the NL in strikeouts more times, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax or Steve Carlton? (answer tomorrow)
Yesterday's Answer: Cardinal hurler, Dizzy Dean, led the NL in Ks from 1932-1935.