Pirates headed to playoffs for first time since Bonds' era

Sep. 24, 2013 @ 01:52 AM

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.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Wil Myers tied it with a two-run single on a jarring play in the seventh inning then pinch-hitter James Loney stunned the Orioles with a leadoff homer in the ninth, and the Tampa Bay Rays completed a four-game sweep that put a serious damper in Baltimore's wild-card hopes with a 5-4 victory Monday.

The Orioles lost All-Star third baseman Manny Machado to a leg injury in the top of the seventh.

The win pushed the Rays a full game ahead of idle Cleveland for the top AL wild card. Baltimore fell five games behind the Indians with six games to go for both teams.

With the bases loaded, two outs and trailing 4-2 in the seventh, Myers sent a flare behind second base. Second baseman Alexi Casilla, who entered the game in the eighth, made a fully extended diving catch but he collided with Nick Markakis, racing in toward the ball from right field. The ball came loose and two runs scored.

Hitting for Sean Rodriguez, Loney lined an 0-1 pitch from Tommy Hunter (6-5) down the right field line.

Joel Peralta (3-8) pitched a perfect ninth for the Rays, who have won nine of 12.

Chris Davis hit his major league-best 52nd homer for Baltimore.

RANGERS 12, ASTROS 0

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Alex Rios hit for the cycle and Derek Holland struck out nine in his second shutout of the season as Texas started its final push for a playoff spot.

The Rangers pulled within a game of idle Cleveland for the second AL 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, last Aug. 24 against Seattle.

It was the third cycle in the majors this year — Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels on May 21 and the Astros' Brandon Barnes on July 19, both against Seattle.

TWINS 4, TIGERS 3, 11 innings

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Josmil Pinto hit an RBI single in the 11th inning and 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 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 AL Central.

WHITE SOX 3, BLUE JAYS 2

CHICAGO (AP) — Jose Quintana pitched into the eighth inning and rookie Marcus Semien hit his first major league homer to lead Chicago.

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. Semien was called up on Sept. 4.

The Blue Jays cut the lead in half as 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.