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.
PADRES 4, DIAMONDBACKS 1
In San Diego, California, 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.
AP, ARLINGTON, TEXAS
Alex Rios hit for the cycle and Derek Holland struck out nine in his second shutout of the season as the Texas Rangers started their final push for a playoff spot with a 12-0 victory over the Houston Astros.
The Rangers pulled within a game of idle Cleveland for the second American League wild-card berth with six games remaining.
Rios finished off the cycle with a triple to right-center field in the sixth inning and later scored to put Texas up 11-0. He doubled in the first inning, had an infield single in the third and hit his 18th homer in the fourth.
Holland (10-9) got his 10th win in his ninth try since his last victory on Aug. 4. The left-hander won at home for the first time since May 31.
Houston starter Jordan Lyles (7-9) gave up seven hits and seven runs with three walks in three innings.
The first cycle of Rios’ career was the seventh in Rangers’ history. Adrian Beltre was the last to do it on Aug. 24 last year against Seattle.
TWINS 4, TIGERS 3, 11 INNINGS
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Josmil Pinto hit an RBI single in the 11th inning as Minnesota overcame 12 strikeouts by Justin Verlander.
The Tigers led 3-0 in the eighth, but Jose Veras gave up RBI doubles to Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Doumit. Brian Dozier led off the ninth with a tying homer against previously perfect closer Joaquin Benoit.
Dozier opened the 11th with a single off Luke Putkonen (1-2) and advanced on a wild pitch. Pinto then punched a single to right field to give manager Ron Gardenhire his 998th career victory.
Verlander gave up six hits and walked three in six shutout innings for the Tigers, whose magic number remained two for clinching the American League Central title.
WHITE SOX 3, BLUE JAYS 2
In Chicago, Jose Quintana pitched into the eighth inning and rookie Marcus Semien hit his first major league homer to lead the White Sox over the Blue Jays.
Quintana (9-6), who entered the game with the most no-decisions in the American League at 17, allowed two runs and five hits in 7-1/3 innings. Addison Reed pitched the ninth inning to record his 39th save.
Toronto starter J.A. Happ (4-7) threw 110 pitches in his five innings, allowing three runs and eight hits.
In the second inning, Semien hit an 0-2 pitch from Happ down the line and well over the fence for a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Jays cut the lead in half when catcher J.P. Arencibia led off the fifth inning with his 21st homer, but the White Sox got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Avisail Garcia led off with a homer to make it 3-1.
The Blue Jays closed the gap to 3-2 on a run-scoring single by Ryan Goins in the eighth.
ATHLETICS 10, ANGELS 5
In Anaheim, California, Jed Lowrie hit a three-run homer and Brandon Moss added a two-run shot as Oakland won their fifth straight.
Tommy Milone pitched into the sixth inning and Seth Smith had an early RBI double for the American League West champions, who have won 11 of 13.
Seven A’s drove in a run as Oakland (94-63) moved to a season-high 31 games over .500 with the major leagues’ second-best record, just behind Boston (95-62).
Howie Kendrick homered and hit a three-run double for the Angels, who have lost two straight after winning 21 of 28.
Milone (12-9) struck out eight while giving up five hits and two earned runs in his second start since Aug. 27.
Garrett Richards (7-7) gave up eight hits and seven runs while failing to get out of the fifth inning in his worst start since joining the Angels’ rotation full-time in late July.
ROYALS 6, MARINERS 5, 12 INNINGS
In Seattle, Alex Gordon threw out a runner at the plate in extra innings and scored on Salvador Perez’s two-out double in the 12th to lift the Royals over the Mariners.
Kansas City moved within three games of idle Cleveland for the second American League wild-card berth with six games remaining. Texas are a game behind the Indians.
Gordon saved the Royals in the 10th inning, when his one-hop throw to Perez from left field cut down Kyle Seager for an inning-ending double play.
Greg Holland walked the first two batters in the 12th, then retired three straight to end it.
Gordon drew a leadoff walk from Lucas Luetge (1-3) in the top of the 12th and Emilio Bonifacio sacrificed. Eric Hosmer popped out, before Johnny Giavotella walked.