Cards climb with in 1 game of Braves: NL roundup
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals pulled within one game of the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race as Rafael Furcal hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning Sunday in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
St. Louis trailed Atlanta by 10 1-2 games on Aug. 26, but the Cardinals have won 15 of their last 20.
The Cardinals close with a three-game series at Houston, which has the worst record in the major leagues, while Atlanta hosts Philadelphia, which has the best mark.
NL wild-card race
Trailing 2-1, St. Louis tied the score in the seventh on Yadier Molina's career-best 14th homer. The following inning, Furcal homered off Randy Wells (7-6).
WASHINGTON — The top four hitters in the Braves' lineup, including Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla, went a combined 0 for 16 with five strikeouts Sunday, their pitchers allowed two homers, and Atlanta's road to a playoff berth took another detour with a 3-0 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Atlanta has dropped 10 of its past 15 games and began the day with a two-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL wild-card standings. The Braves close the regular season with a three-game home series starting Monday against NL East champion Philadelphia.
Wilson Ramos homered off Braves starter Mike Minor (5-3) in the fourth, and Michael Morse hit the 29th of his breakout season — a two-run shot — off reliever Cristhian Martinez in the seventh.
Ross Detwiler (4-5) went six innings for Washington.
PITTSBURGH — Dontrelle Willis scattered three hits over six innings and had a two-run double to pick up his first win of the season as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 on Sunday.
Willis (1-6) gave up three runs, walked two and struck out six to finally break through in his 13th and final start of the season.
Francisco Cordero survived an eventful ninth to pick up his 35th save.
Chase d'Arnaud had two hits for the Pirates, including a two-run triple but Pittsburgh couldn't complete a three-game sweep in its home finale at PNC Park.
Daniel Moskos (1-1) took the loss, allowing three consecutive hits in the sixth, the last one a double to right-field by Willis, one of the best-hitting pitchers in the game.
HOUSTON — Colorado set a team record with 25 hits, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chris Iannetta each drove in five runs and the Rockies routed the Houston Astros 19-3 Sunday.
Jordan Pacheco, Ty Wigginton and Tommy Field had four hits each for the Rockies, who broke the previous team mark of 24, accomplished most recently in a 16-4 win at Pittsburgh on Aug. 2, 2003.
The 16-run margin of defeat tied the Houston record, accomplished five times previously, according to STATS LLC. The only other time at home was a 17-1 loss to the Mets on Aug. 30, 1999.
The 19 runs allowed matched the second-most in franchise history, trailing only a 22-7 loss at the Chicago Cubs on June 3, 1987. It also was the second-most hits allowed behind 26 in an 18-2 defeat at Cincinnati on Aug. 3, 1989.
MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun homered and raised his NL-best batting average to .333, lifting the Milwaukee Brewers to a team-record 55th victory at home, 9-5 over the Florida Marlins on Sunday.
Every position player had a hit for the NL Central champions before the first out of the third as Milwaukee swept the season series from the Marlins (7-0) for the first time since 1998.
Milwaukee scored three in the second and four in the third before Braun's opposite-field solo shot in the fourth. The sellout crowd again serenaded him with chants of "M-V-P" as it did throughout a memorable weekend.
Braun finished 2-for-3 before leaving after the fifth and leads Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (.331) for the batting title. No Brewers player has ever won the crown.
NEW YORK — Roy Halladay, Hunter Pence and the fully loaded Philadelphia Phillies snapped their eight-game losing streak, looking playoff-ready in every way Sunday by routing the New York Mets 9-4.
Playing their regular lineup for the first time since clinching the NL East, the Phillies posted their major league-leading 99th victory. Pence homered during a three-run first inning, each starter had a hit by the third and Carlos Ruiz's single made it 9-0 in the fourth.
That was plenty for Halladay (19-6). He tuned up for his expected start in Game 1 of the NL playoffs Saturday by throwing six scoreless innings of four-hit ball. Last year's unanimous Cy Young Award winner finished this regular season with a career-best 2.35 earned-run average.
SAN DIEGO — Clayton Kershaw got his 21st win, taking a two-hitter into the eighth inning to make his final case for the NL Cy Young award and leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Kershaw (21-5) moved into a tie with Arizona's Ian Kennedy for NL lead for wins and increased his league-leading strikeout total to 248.
Teammate Matt Kemp's pursuit of the NL Triple Crown suffered a major setback as he fell eight points behind Ryan Braun of Milwaukee in the batting race. Kemp, who started the day six points back, went 1 for 5 as his average stayed at .325. Braun went 2-for-3 and raised his average to .333.
Corey Luebke (6-10) allowed four runs — three earned — on five hits over six innings.
PHOENIX — Miguel Montero hit a two-run double and had three RBIs to support Josh Collmenter's strong seven innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Sunday for a three-game sweep.
Aaron Hill and Colin Cowgill also had run-scoring hits for the Diamondbacks, who have won six of seven heading into a season-ending series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Collmenter (10-10) allowed five hits and two runs for his second win against the Giants this season. Collmenter struck out four and walked one.
J.J. Putz pitched the ninth for his 45th save.
Diamondbacks right-fielder Justin Upton was hit on the front of the helmet by Giants starter Tim Lincecum (13-14) in the first. He initially remained in the game and scored Arizona's second run, but left after the inning for precautionary reasons.
Arizona remained a game behind Milwaukee in an attempt to gain home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.