The Philadelphia Phillies clinched their fifth straight National League East division title by beating the St Louis Cardinals 9-2 on Saturday.
In a season where nothing less than a World Series championship would be considered a success, there wasn’t much of a party on the field. The Phillies had a been-there, done-that attitude toward winning the division.
Players ran onto the diamond a bit faster than usual, but they simply exchanged handshakes, hugs and high-fives as if this was an ordinary game. They did at least put on shirts and caps proclaiming themselves division champs.
However, once they reached the clubhouse, the Phillies popped open the bubbly and celebrated their achievement.
With the Four Aces pitching rotation leading the way, the Phillies are seeking their third NL pennant in four years and second World Series title.
Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt (8-9) allowed no runs in seven innings, striking out seven, while Raul Ibanez hit a Grand Slam homer to contribute four of the nine runs.
St Louis fell 4.5 games behind Atlanta in the wild-card race. They had won eight of nine to narrow the gap.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (12-9) allowed five hits in 3-1/3 innings.
MARLINS 4, NATIONALS 1, 13 INNS
In Washington, Donnie Murphy’s two-run homer in the 13th lifted Florida over Washington.
Murphy entered the game at shortstop in the 10th. John Buck led off the 13th with a single and Murphy homered off Colin Balester (1-4).
Florida’s Clay Hensley (5-6) struck out the side in the 12th and Leo Nunez pitched the 13th for the save.
In other NL play, it was:
‧ Brewers 10, Reds 1
‧ Braves 1, Mets 0
‧ Giants 6, Rockies 5
‧ Padres 3, Diamondbacks 1
‧ Dodgers 6, Pirates 1
‧ Cubs 2, Astros 1
Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer to lead the Rays to a 4-3 win over Boston on Saturday, trimming the Red Sox lead in the American League wild-card race to three games.
Jeff Niemann (11-7) pitched five solid innings for Tampa Bay, which has won seven of its past eight against Boston. The Red Sox had led the wild-card race by nine games just two weeks ago.
Rays closer Joel Peralta pitched the ninth for the save.
Boston starter Jon Lester (15-8) went just four innings against Tampa Bay on Sept. 11. He did better this time, allowing four runs in seven innings.
YANKEES 7, BLUE JAYS 6
In Toronto, Mariano Rivera tied the major league saves record, earning the 601st of his career by preserving New York’s win over Toronto.
The 41-year-old Rivera was perfect in pitching the ninth inning for his 42nd save of the season, getting a strikeout, ground out and fly out to match Trevor Hoffmann’s mark.
Curtis Granderson hit his 40th homer, a go-ahead shot in the seventh to cap a 12-pitch at-bat. He fouled off seven straight pitches before homering.
Alex Rodriguez also homered for the Yankees, who had trailed 6-1 in the sixth.
Aaron Laffey (3-2) got the win. Carlos Villanueva (6-4) took the loss.
ATHLETICS 5, TIGERS 3
In Oakland, California, the hosts turned three double plays in the first five innings to set up a win over Detroit.
Gio Gonzalez (14-12) pitched seven innings to get his first career win against the Tigers, at the fifth attempt.
Detroit starter Rick Porcello (14-9) allowed three runs over seven innings.
Rangers 7, Mariners 6
In Seattle, Washington, Josh Hamilton had four hits, including a homer, and drove in three runs to help Texas outslug Seattle, extending its AL West division lead to 4.5 games over Los Angeles.