Jon Jay of the St. Louis Cardinals and David Freese celebrate their win against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-4 in ten innings. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Two of the National League's division crowns were wrapped up Saturday, and wild-card leaders increased their advantages.
We now have the first two division titles in the major leagues in 2012 clinched; other contenders slipped in Saturday's action.
Nationals 10, Brewers 4: Gio Gonzalez became the major leagues' first 20-game winner of 2012; Gonzalez threw seven innings and gave up just two unearned runs to run his won-lost record to 20-8, and lower his ERA to 2.84. He was supported by home runs from Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche, who paced a 13-hit attack by the host Nats. The Brewers fell a game further behind the Cardinals for the NL's second wild card.
Braves 8, Phillies 2: With Roy Halladay on the mound, the Phillies hoped to continue their climb toward the second wild card. But the Atlanta offense pounded Halladay for seven runs; the Phillies' ace didn't make it out of the second inning. Freddie Freeman smacked a three-run shot off Halladay in the first inning; Jason Heyward drove in four runs. Atlanta's magic number for clinching the first wild card spot in the National League was reduced to three.
Reds 6, Dodgers 0: Cincinnati's shutout win over Los Angeles clinched the NL Central title for the Reds, who got to celebrate their second division title in three years on their home field. Mat Latos threw eight shutout innings; Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips homered in support of Latos and Aroldis Chapman, who made his first appearance in 12 days after the Reds shut him down temporarily to rest his arm. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker missed the celebration; he remained in a Chicago hospital being treated for an irregular heartbeat.
Cardinals 5, Cubs 4, 10 innings: Carlos Beltran homered off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol in the ninth inning to tie the game for St. Louis, and the Cardinals got a pair of two-out walks and an RBI double from Jon Jay in the 10th to win the game, the second consecutive extra-inning affair between the two clubs at Wrigley Field. St. Louis increased its second wild-card lead to 2½ games over the Brewers.
Giants 8, Padres 4: With the Dodgers' afternoon loss to the Reds, the homestanding Giants knew they could clinch the NL West in front of their fans with a win Saturday night. They did not disappoint; Marco Scutaro drove in three runs and Brandon Belt homered and scored three times. Madison Bumgarner and five Giants relievers held off the Padres and San Francisco won the West for the second time in the last three seasons.
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Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 7: Arizona won for the fifth time in their last six games to keep their slim wild-card hopes alive. Aaron Hill tripled and drove in four runs for the visiting Diamondbacks, who used a five-run sixth inning to take the lead, then had to hold off the Rockies for just their 15th one-run win in 41 such games this season. The D'backs trail three other clubs also chasing the Cardinals, but have eight of their final 11 games against the woeful Rockies and Cubs, giving them a chance to make up ground.
Up Next: All the above series conclude Sunday (except Diamondbacks/Rockies and Brewers/Nations, which will continue Monday). The Reds, likely basking in their division title with a makeshift lineup, will be featured on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball against the Dodgers.