The Pittsburgh Pirates are headed to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, clinching at least a National League wild card on Monday 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 post-season since Barry Bonds and Jim Leyland led the team to three straight National League East division titles from 1990 to 1992. 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 US 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.
Jason Grili escaped with his 32nd save in 34 chances.
REDS 3, METS 2, 10 INNINGS
In Cincinnati, Ohio, Choo Shin-soo drove in the winning run with a single off the wall in the 10th inning as Cincinnati secured a playoff spot after beating New York.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said there would be no celebration yet, not with a second straight National League 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
In St Louis, Missouri, Carlos Beltran homered and Adam Wainwright earned his 18th win as St Louis eliminated Washington from playoff contention.
Looking for their first National League 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 post-season. St Louis secured no worse than a wild card on Sunday.
The Nationals won the National League 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 2-2 tie.
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.
BREWERS 5, BRAVES 0
In Atlanta, Georgia, Marco Estrada pitched two-hit ball for seven innings as Milwaukee belted three homers against Atlanta.
National League East champions the Braves are half a 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 past five starts.
MARLINS 4, PHILLIES 0
In Miami, Nathan Eovaldi pitched into the eighth inning to help Miami beat Philadelphia.
Justin Ruggiano drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning, while the Marlins scored three runs in the eighth on RBI singles by Donovan Solando and Ed Lucas, as well as 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 fatigue in his right arm after walking two of his first three batters. He threw five strikes in 16 pitches before leaving the game.