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Pirates clinch 1st playoff berth in 21 years

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POSTED September 24, 2013 1:04 a.m.

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.

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.



Cardinals 4, Nationals 3

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Carlos Beltran homered, Adam Wainwright earned his 18th win and St. Louis eliminated Washington from playoff contention.

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.



Brewers 5, Braves 0

ATLANTA (AP) — Marco Estrada pitched two-hit ball for seven innings and Milwaukee belted three homers against Atlanta.

Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez went deep for the Brewers. Estrada (7-4) threw a career-high 115 pitches.



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.



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.



AMERICAN LEAGUE

Rays 5, Orioles 4

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.

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. Chris Davis hit his major league-best 52nd homer for Baltimore, which fell five games behind the Indians with six games to go for both teams.



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.



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.



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.



Royals 6, Mariners 5, 12 innings

SEATTLE (AP) — 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 AL wild card with six remaining. Texas is a game behind the Indians.

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