Jay Bruce’s 34th homer put the Reds ahead to stay, and they made good on their second chance to win the NL Central title by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-0 on Saturday without Dusty Baker.
The 63-year-old manager spent another day in a Chicago hospital getting treated for an irregular heartbeat. The Reds brought him his fifth division title as a manager, including two during the past three years with Cincinnati.
Bruce’s first-pitch, leadoff homer in the ninth off Houston’s Tim Byrdak clinched the title for Cincinnati in 2010. On Saturday, he led off the fourth inning with a first-pitch homer off rookie Stephen Fife (0-2), and Cincinnati’s main offseason pitching acquisition made it stand up.
Mat Latos (13-4) allowed six hits and did not walk a batter in eight innings. Left-hander Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance since Sept. 10 — a tired shoulder sidelined him — and finished it off by getting Hanley Ramirez to hit into a double play.
GIANTS 8, PADRES 4
In San Francisco, California, Madison Bumgarner pitched San Francisco to their second NL West title in three years and newcomer Marco Scutaro had three hits and three RBIs.
The Giants captured their eighth divisional crown — wrapping it up once again with a victory over the Padres in front of their home fans, just as they did on the season’s final day in 2010 on the way to an improbable World Series championship.
Brandon Belt homered leading off the eighth to give the sellout crowd of 42,418 one more thing to stand and cheer about in a season full of such moments.
The real party began after Sergio Romo retired Matt Kotsay on a fly ball to center to end it. Fireworks shot off behind the main center-field scoreboard as the players rushed to the mound and began bouncing up and down.
The Giants won their season-high sixth straight game and moved 26 games above .500 (89-63), the club’s best record since finishing the 2003 season 39 games over. Bumgarner (16-10) struck out six in 5-2/3 innings.
Scutaro’s two-run single in the fourth chased rookie Andrew Werner (2-2).
BRAVES 8, PHILLIES 2
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Freddie Freeman hit a three-run homer to back Mike Minor and the Braves roughed up Roy Halladay to move closer to clinching a postseason berth.
The win coupled with Milwaukee’s 10-4 loss to Washington reduced Atlanta’s magic number for securing a playoff spot to three. The Braves were up 8.5 games through Sept. 5 last year, but went 9-18 down the stretch and were overtaken by St Louis on the final day of the season.
The Phillies fell four games behind the Cardinals for the NL’s second wild-card spot with only 10 games remaining. The five-time defending NL East champions had won four in a row and 12 of 15.
Ryan Howard became the second-fastest player to reach 300 homers, but Halladay (10-8) lasted just 1-2/3 innings, allowing seven runs and five hits.
Minor (10-10) gave up two runs and two hits in six innings to win his fourth straight decision.
CARDINALS 5, CUBS 4, 10 INNS
In Chicago, Illinois, Jon Jay’s RBI double in the 10th inning lifted St Louis to the victory, bolstering the Cardinals’ bid for another playoff appearance.
Carlos Beltran hit a tying solo homer in the ninth for the Cardinals, who improved their lead for the second NL wild-card spot to 2.5 games over Milwaukee.