Wednesday's National League Capsules
Originally published September 15, 2011 at midnight, updated September 15, 2011 at 3:50 a.m.
HOUSTON (AP) — Roy Halladay pitched his 20th career shutout and the Philadelphia Phillies became the first team to reach the playoffs this season with a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.
The NL East leaders clinched at least a wild-card berth and will appear in the postseason for the fifth straight year. Philadelphia won the World Series in 2008 and took the NL pennant in 2009.
Once the club signed ace pitcher Cliff Lee last winter to round out a dominant rotation, another playoff berth for Philadelphia seemed a foregone conclusion.
The Phillies said this week there would be no champagne celebration for wrapping up the wild card, and when Halladay finished off Houston he and his teammates barely cracked a smile.
Phillies players and manager Charlie Manuel simply lined up for handshakes following their 95th win, just as if it were any other. The goal this season is a World Series championship, and anything short of that would hardly satisfy.
Philadelphia's magic number is four for clinching its fifth division title in a row.
Cardinals 3, Pirates 2
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pirates clinched their 19th consecutive losing season, a record for a major league franchise in North America, losing to the Cardinals as Yadier Molina hit a tiebreaking, two-run double.
A year after going a big league-worst 57-105, the Pirates were 51-44 and led the NL Central by a half-game before play on July 20. But they have gone 16-38 since, and at 67-82 are ensured of another sub.-500 record.
St. Louis, which has 13 games left, has won seven of eight and remained 4 1-2 games behind Atlanta in the NL wild-card race. The Cardinals began the day 6 1-2 games back of Milwaukee in the NL Central.
Edwin Jackson (5-2) allowed two runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings and improved to 4-0 in his career against Pittsburgh. Three relievers combined to hold Pittsburgh scoreless over the final 2 1-3 innings. Jason Motte pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in 10 chances.
Morton (9-10) lost his fourth straight start, giving up three runs, six hits and three walks in seven innings.
Giants 3, Padres 1
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Carlos Beltran hit two homers to give him 300 for his career and Tim Lincecum ended a three-start winless stretch as the Giants beat the Padres to complete a rare sweep in this rivalry.
Beltran homered in the first inning and again in the sixth with a splash hit into McCovey Cove to put the Giants ahead. It marked the slugger's 30th career multihomer game, third this year and first since joining San Francisco in a trade from the Mets on July 28.
Lincecum (13-12) outdueled Mat Latos (7-14) for his first win since beating the Padres on Aug. 24.
The defending World Series champion Giants began the day trailing the first-place Diamondbacks by 8½ games in the NL West. Arizona had a night game at Los Angeles.
Braves 4, Marlins 1
ATLANTA (AP) — Alex Gonzalez hit a three-run homer and Martin Prado bunted in a run during a four-run rally in seventh inning, and the revived Braves beat the Marlins to maintain their lead in the NL wild-card race.
Atlanta has won two straight following a season-high four-game losing streak. The Braves began the day with a 4½-game wild-card lead over St. Louis, which played later Wednesday.
Cristhian Martinez, Eric O'Flaherty (2-4), Jonny Venters and rookie Craig Kimbrel each pitched a perfect inning, with Kimbrel striking out the side for his major league-leading 44th save in 49 chances.
Greg Dobbs homered in the second off Randall Delgado, and Ricky Nolasco (10-11) held the lead until the seventh.
Nationals 2, Mets 0
NEW YORK (AP) — Brad Peacock pitched five impressive innings, blanking the Mets on a mere two singles and earning his first major league win as the Nationals held off New York.
Center fielder Rick Ankiel made a diving catch in left-center on Jose Reyes' liner with runners at the corners for the final out.
The Nationals won their fourth in a row and improved to 70-77, topping last year's victory total. They also pulled into a virtual tie with the Mets for third place in the NL East — the franchise has not finished third or higher since 2002, when it played in Montreal.
Michael Morse and Jayson Werth hit RBI singles with two outs in the third after yet another error by third baseman David Wright, sending the Mets to their fifth straight loss.
Reds 7, Cubs 2
CINCINNATI (AP) — Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer in the second inning and Cincinnati overcame the loss of pitcher Johnny Cueto to beat the Cubs.
Cueto, the major league leader with a 2.31 ERA, left after 3 2-3 innings because of a strained muscle in the upper right side of his back.
Cueto, who allowed three hits, will be re-examined Thursday. He didn't make his first start of the season until May 8 because of irritation in his right upper arm.
Inheriting a 5-0 lead, Sam LeCure (1-1) pitched 2 1-3 innings for the win. He allowed a pair of sixth-inning runs when Carlos Pena hit an RBI double and scored on Alfonso Soriano's groundout.
Casey Coleman (2-8) gave up six runs, six hits and three walks in 3 2-3 innings.
Rockies 6, Brewers 2
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Carlos Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs to lift the Rockies over the punchless Brewers and snap a six-game skid in Milwaukee.
Kevin Millwood (3-2) scattered two runs over six innings for the Rockies, who kept the Brewers from moving closer to their first division title in 29 years by roughing up starter Shaun Marcum (12-7).
Trailing 1-0, Colorado scored three in third capped by Gonzalez's homer, another in the fourth on a solo homer by Wilin Rosario and two more in the fifth, aided by a Brewers error.
Milwaukee's lead in the NL Central dropped to 5½ games over St. Louis, which beat Pittsburgh 3-2. The Brewers have Thursday off before a six-game road trip against division rivals Cincinnati and Chicago.
Milwaukee has cooled off since building a 10½-game lead in the division, losing six of the last eight games while St. Louis has won seven of the last eight.
Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw got his 19th victory, allowing one hit over five-plus innings before he was ejected along with manager Don Mattingly, and the Dodgers beat the NL West-leading Diamondbacks.
Gerardo Parra got the only hit off Kershaw (19-5), a double in the third, before he retired the next seven batters in a row and then got ejected for hitting Parra on the right elbow.
The incident was a carryover from Tuesday night’s game in which Parra momentarily stood at the plate to admire his solo homer off reliever Hong-Chih Kuo that tied the game in the seventh.
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth to earn his fourth save in five chances, giving up a RBI single to Miguel Montero.
Arizona’s Daniel Hudson (16-10) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked three.
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