Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) – Rocco Baldelli scored the game-deciding run on a fielding error by Wilson Betemit, giving AL East champion Tampa Bay a 3-2 victory over Kansas City in the season-finale for both clubs from Kauffman Stadium.
Even if Tampa Bay (96-66) had lost the contest and tied New York — which lost at Boston earlier Sunday — it was assured the division crown and home-field advantage until the World Series. The victory put to rest any need for a tiebreaker, as the Rays finished one game ahead of the Yankees.
Tampa Bay, which also clinched home-field advantage, will begin the postseason on Wednesday by hosting AL West champion Texas.
Jeff Niemann (12-8) got the win with a scoreless 11th inning in relief. Rafael Soriano posted his 45th save of the season, ending the game by fanning Mike Aviles swinging with runners on second and third.
Alex Gordon hit a two-run homer for the Royals (67-95), who finished with a losing record for the seventh straight year.
Dusty Hughes (1-3) was charged with the deciding unearned run over 1 2/3 relief frames.