The Associated Press
Sep. 24, 2013
CHICAGO (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates are headed to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, clinching at least a National League wild card Monday night when they beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 and the Washington Nationals lost to St. Louis.
It will be Pittsburgh's first trip to the postseason since Barry Bonds, Jim Leyland and Co. won three straight NL East titles from 1990-92. Bonds then left for San Francisco as a free agent, and the small-budget Pirates piled up 20 consecutive losing seasons — the longest streak in major professional sports.
Starling Marte hit a tiebreaking homer off Kevin Gregg (2-6) in the ninth inning at Wrigley Field, and the Pirates threw out a runner at the plate for the final out. Back in the visitors' clubhouse, they doused each other in champagne once St. Louis' 4-3 win over the Nationals went final.
Cincinnati also clinched at least a wild-card berth when it beat the Mets. The Pirates and Reds both trail first-place St. Louis by two games in the NL Central with five to go.
Chicago tied it in the eighth against Mark Melancon (3-2). Jason Grili escaped with his 32nd save in 34 chances.
REDS 3, METS 2, 10 INNINGS
CINCINNATI (AP) — Shin-Soo Choo drove in the winning run with a single off the wall in the 10th inning, and Cincinnati secured a playoff spot after beating New York.
The second-place Reds clinched at least an NL wild card when Washington lost to St. Louis. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said there would be no celebration yet, not with a second straight NL Central title still in play.
Greg Burke (0-3) gave up a one-out single by Devin Mesoraco in the 10th, and Derrick Robinson singled him to third. Choo followed with his third hit of the game off left-hander Sean Henn.
Manny Parra (2-3) allowed one hit in the 10th.
CARDINALS 4, NATIONALS 3
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Carlos Beltran homered, Adam Wainwright earned his 18th win and St. Louis eliminated Washington from playoff contention.
Looking for their first NL Central title since 2009, the Cardinals maintained a two-game lead over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with five to play.
All three teams are headed to the postseason. St. Louis secured no worse than a wild card on Sunday.
The Nationals won the NL East last season with 98 wins but were eliminated by St. Louis in the division series. One year later, they were knocked out by the Cardinals again.
Beltran's two-run homer in the fifth off rookie Tanner Roark (7-1) broke a 2-all tie. It was Beltran's team-leading 24th of the season and first since Aug. 24.
Wainwright (18-9) gave up three runs and seven hits over seven-plus innings. He struck out five, giving him a career-high 214 on the season.
Trevor Rosenthal got two outs for his first career save.
Jayson Werth hit an early two-run homer for Washington.
BREWERS 5, BRAVES 0
ATLANTA (AP) — Marco Estrada pitched two-hit ball for seven innings and Milwaukee belted three homers against Atlanta.
The NL East champion Braves are a half-game ahead of St. Louis for the best record in the National League.
Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez went deep for the Brewers. Estrada (7-4) threw a career-high 115 pitches.
Mike Minor (13-8) allowed eight hits and three runs in seven innings. The left-hander is winless in his last five starts.
MARLINS 4, PHILLIES 0
MIAMI (AP) — Nathan Eovaldi pitched into the eighth inning to help Miami blank Philadelphia.
Justin Ruggiano drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning and the Marlins scored three runs in the eighth on RBI singles by Donovan Solando and Ed Lucas and a sacrifice fly by Christian Yelich.
Eovaldi (4-6) allowed three hits over 7 2-3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Roy Halladay (4-5) left with right arm fatigue after walking two of his first three batters. He threw five strikes in 16 pitches before manager Ryne Sandberg visited the mound and eventually removed Halladay after a long discussion.
PADRES 4, DIAMONDBACKS 1
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eric Stults allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings and Nick Hundley hit a three-run homer to lead San Diego over Arizona.
It was the second straight victory for Stults (10-13) after ending a 10-game winless streak. He dropped his first six second-half decisions before winning his previous outing against Pittsburgh.
Huston Street worked the ninth for his 33rd save in 34 chances.
Hundley connected off Brandon McCarthy (5-10). The Padres were shut out the previous two games by the Los Angeles Dodgers.