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Red Sox, Braves lead by only one game with three to play

Boston Red Sox runner Dustin Pedroia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Never in the long history of Major League Baseball has any team held a lead in September of eight games or more for a postseason berth and failed to clinch.

Got that? Never happened. Not even once.

And yet it could happen twice in 2011, because the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves are teetering on the verge of collapsing in the season’s final month the way no club has before.

Heading into Monday, each team’s once-cushy lead in its respective league’s wild-card standings was down to one game with three to play: Boston barely ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL; Atlanta hanging on ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL.

“You don’t want to be against the wall,” Red Sox DH David Ortiz said, “because there’s no way to escape.”

According to STATS LLC, the 1995 California Angels blew the largest September lead to miss out on the playoffs — 7½ games. Five teams wasted seven-game September leads and didn’t reach the postseason, as long ago as the 1934 New York Giants, and as recently as the 2009 Detroit Tigers, STATS said.

Turn this year’s calendar to the morning of Sept. 6, and the Braves enjoyed a margin of 8½ games in the NL.



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