Atlanta, Oakland end long droughts with wild-card series victories
Tatis Jr. powers Padres past Cardinals; Marlins-Cubs postponed
Ian Anderson dazzled in another shutout performance for Atlanta as they won a playoff series for the first time in almost two decades by sweeping the light-hitting Cincinnati Reds with a 5-0 victory Thursday.
Ronald Acuna Jr. had three hits for the NL East champions, including a run-scoring double in the fifth. After winning Wednesday's series opener 1-0 in 13 innings, Atlanta broke open Game 2 on two-run homers by Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall off Raisel Iglesias in the eighth.
Anderson struck out nine in six innings as Atlanta snapped its record-tying string of losses in 10 consecutive post-season rounds since their last playoff series win in 2001. Atlanta will face Miami or the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series in Houston.
Just like in 2001, when Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz helped lead the way, Atlanta's pitching staff delivered.
The 22-year-old Anderson allowed two hits and walked two in his playoff debut after six regular-season starts. Will Smith, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon each threw one perfect inning.
Cincinnati wasted a solid performance by Luis Castillo, who struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings in his first post-season start. Trevor Bauer struck out 12 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Reds' Game 1 loss.
Athletics take out White Sox
The Oakland Athletics ended 14 years of post-season futility, riding Chad Pinder's go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning and repeated costly walks by Chicago's relievers to rally past the White Sox 6-4 on Thursday and win the decisive third game of their AL wild-card round series.
Sean Murphy hit a two-run homer in the fourth against Codi Heuer as wives and families cheered from suites high above the diamond.
Oakland stopped a nine-game losing streak in winner-take-all post-season games, a major league record that dated to the 1973 World Series. The A's had lost six straight playoff series since sweeping Minnesota in the 2006 Division Series only to get swept by Detroit in the Championship Series.
And what a relief for manager Bob Melvin's slugging, happy-go-lucky A's bunch that won 97 games each of the past two seasons only to lose the division to Houston and then the AL wild card game both years.
This one was never comfortable — even after Chicago lost designated hitter Eloy Jimenez and reliever Garrett Crochet to early injuries.
Tatis Jr. powers Padres to Game 3 against Cards
Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers each hit two home runs and Manny Machado also connected for the San Diego Padres, who rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-9 Thursday night to force a deciding Game 3 in their NL wild-card series.
Tatis and Myers are the second teammates in post-season history with multiple homers in the same game, joining Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series — including Ruth's famed "called shot."
The Padres are the first team in post-season history with five home runs from the sixth inning onward in a game.
Tatis, a 21-year-old budding superstar and NL MVP contender along with Machado, had a breakout game after struggling for much of the final two weeks of the regular season and with runners on base in this series.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/tatis_jr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@tatis_jr</a> has arrived. 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/WlHpFHTG5i">pic.twitter.com/WlHpFHTG5i</a>—@MLB
After striking out with the bases loaded in the fourth, Tatis homered in consecutive innings and drove in five runs. Tatis' father played for the Cardinals for three seasons during his 11-season big league career.
Myers hit a go-ahead leadoff shot in the seventh off losing pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon and a two-run homer in the eighth.
It was the Padres' first post-season win at Petco Park, which opened in 2004. The first four losses were to St. Louis, which eliminated the Padres in the division series in 2005 and 2006 — the last time the Padres made the post-season — as well as in 1996, when the Padres played at Jack Murphy Stadium.
Marlins-Cubs Game 2 rained out
Game 2 of the National League wild-card series between the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins was postponed because of a forecast for rain on Thursday.
Miami leads 1-0 after winning the opener 5-1, and the teams will meet Friday.
If a Game 3 is needed, it would be played Saturday.
Yu Darvish was scheduled to start Game 2 for Chicago, and rookie Sixto Sanchez for the Marlins.
Kershaw, Dodgers cruise past Brewers into NLDS
— Beat up in the post-season over the years, Clayton Kershaw orchestrated one of his best performances against the weakened Milwaukee Brewers.
Kershaw struck out 13 while delivering eight innings of three-hit ball, Mookie Betts hit a two-out, two-run double in the fifth, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won 3-0 to sweep their NL wild-card series on Thursday night.
"This was a fun night for me," said Kershaw, who displayed a rare smile on the mound. "Get the post-season off to a good start. It's a good first step for sure."
The eight-time West champion Dodgers advanced to the NL Division Series in Arlington, Texas, and will play either the St. Louis Cardinals or San Diego Padres, who meet in a deciding Game 3 on Friday.