Closer Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate at the end of a game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 9-7. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
The National League Wild Card race is heating up, with both the Phillies and Brewers now just four games out.
The National League Wild Card race is heating up with just three weeks left in the season. Teams that seemed out of it at Labor Day, like the Phillies and Brewers, are making one final push down the stretch to make things interesting. Here's what happened in the NL on Tuesday night.
Nationals 5, Mets 3: Tyler Moore came through with a pinch-hit two-run homer off R.A. Dickey to put the Nationals ahead for good on Tuesday night. Bryce Harper finished with the first four-hit game of his career, driving in a key insurance run in the top of the ninth. Dickey cruised through the first six innings and appeared well on his way to matching Gio Gonzalez for a league-leading 19th win, but the homer to Moore ended that bid. It was the Nats 13th win in 17 games against the Mets, clinching the final series of the season against New York. They added to their lead in the NL East and their magic number was reduced to 13 games because...
Brewers 5, Braves 0: Marco Estrada pitched 6⅔ scoreless innings for the Brewers and the bullpen picked up from there for the shutout win over Atlanta. It was their eighth straight win at home, pulling them to .500 for the first time since April 25. Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez bookended the night with solo homers for Milwaukee. Ramirez went 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI as the Brew Crew turned it on late against Tim Hudson. The Braves starter gave up only the solo shot to Weeks before getting chased in the seventh. The win put the Brewers just four games back of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card
Reds 5, Pirates 3: The Pirates' fade continued on Tuesday with their fifth straight loss and ninth in the past 11 games. Cincinnati jumped on Bucs' starter Kevin Correia early, with Brandon Phillips doing damage with a solo homer in the first and an RBI double in the second. Mike Leake pitched seven solid innings for the Reds, dancing around nine hits and giving up just three runs. A Gaby Sanchez two-run homer pulled the Bucs within one in the seventh, but that was it for Pittsburgh. With Aroldis Chapman shut down for five to seven days, Jonathan Broxton came on in the ninth for his first save with the Reds, whose magic number is now 10 games. The Bucs are tumbling down the Wild Card standings, with both the Brewers and Phillies quickly approaching from behind.
Padres 6, Cardinals 4: St. Louis dropped their second straight in San Diego. A five-run Padres rally in the fifth inning off Adam Wainwright would be enough for the series-clinching win. The rally started with a costly error by Pete Kozma, who threw high to first and forced David Freese off the bag. The Padres took advantage, reeling off five straight hits and drawing a bases-loaded walk to put five up on the board. An Alexi Amarista triple that rattled around in the right-field corner scored two and capped the rally. The Cardinals have now lost 10 of their last 14 games, bringing the Phillies and Brewers into the Wild Card discussion.
Giants 9, Rockies 8: The Giants evened their series at Coors Field with a one-run win over Colorado. Pitcher Madison Bumgarner helped himself by launching a three-run homer during a San Francisco offensive onslaught. Bumgarner put the Giants in an early four-run hole, but the offense responded in a big way. Colorado made things interesting late, cutting the lead from four to one and forcing Bruce Bochy to call on Javier Lopez, the eighth pitcher used, to convert the save. The win extended the Giants' lead in the NL West to six games.
Diamondbacks 1, Dodgers 0: Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw gave up one unearned run and lost the game. The Dodgers lineup could not break through against Ian Kennedy, who pitched 7⅓ shutout innings. With Shane Victorino on second, Adrian Gonzalez had a chance to tie things in the Dodgers final at-bat but he struck out looking to end the game. LA has now lost 10 of 16 games since they pulled off that blockbuster deal with the Red Sox. The Dodgers fell six games back of the rival Giants, but they remain one game out of the second Wild Card.
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Phillies 9, Marlins 7: The Phillies reeled off their sixth straight win and are making plenty of noise in what was once expected to be a September spent playing out the string. Roy Halladay did not have his best stuff, getting chased in the seventh after a Bryan Petersen double that started a four-run Miami rally. But the Phils' offense was there to pick him up, scoring runs in five of the first seven innings. Jimmy Rollins finished the night two for three with a walk, three RBIs, and three runs. His two-run homer in the sixth would prove to be the difference. Jonathan Papelbon closed things out in the ninth for his 33rd save, pulling the Phillies within four games of the second Wild Card. They're at .500 for the first time since June 4.
Up next: All seven series continue on Wednesday, with the Phillies and Cliff Lee starting things in the afternoon. They'll be going for their seventh straight win.