Phillies down Astros for 1st playoff berth since 2011
HOUSTON — Aaron Nola took a perfect game into the seventh inning and Kyle Schwarber homered twice as the Philadelphia Phillies clinched their first playoff berth in 11 years with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.
After Brandon Marsh caught Mauricio Dubon’s fly ball in center for for the game’s final out, players jumped and cheered in jubilation before meeting at the mound where they hugged and bounced around some more.
The video board at Minute Maid Park displayed the team’s logo and the words: “Congratulations Philadelphia” as the Phillies celebrated.
A small but vocal group of Philadelphia fans congregated near the team’s dugout and chanted: “Let’s go Phillies,” in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Phillies clinched at the same ballpark where they secured their last postseason trip on Sept. 14, 2011. That game was a 1-0 victory over the Astros highlighted by a complete game shutout by Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.
Philadelphia’s postseason drought was the longest active one in the majors after the Seattle Mariners clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years Friday night.
The Phillies entered the opener of the final regular season series of the year needing a win or a loss by the Brewers to get a National League Wild Card spot. The Brewers rallied to beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 10 innings a few minutes before Philadelphia wrapped up the victory.
Nola (11-13) struck out nine and didn’t allow a baserunner until Yordan Alvarez singled with two outs in the seventh. David Hensley followed with a single and Nola was replaced by Jose Alvarado, who struck out Kyle Tucker to end the inning.
Zach Eflin pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout and get his first save in 11 years of pro ball.
Schwarber got things going for the Phillies in their first visit to Houston since Sept. 16, 2012, with a leadoff homer off Lance McCullers (4-2)
Philadelphia added some insurance when Bryson Stott and Schwarber hit back-to-back solo shots off Jose Urquidy to start the eighth inning.
It is the eighth multi-home run game this season for Schwarber, who leads the NL with a career-high 46 home runs, and gives him 199 homers in his career.
The Phillies have three players who will appear in the postseason for the first time after playing more than 600 career games. Jean Segura leads the group with 1,327, J.T. Realmuto has 1,004 and Rhys Hoskins is at 666.
McCullers allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts in six innings.
Manager Dusty Baker replaced Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena with Aledmys Díaz, Dubon and Hensley for the seventh inning.
He said before the game that he planned to get some of his starters out early to rest since Houston has already clinched the best record in the American League.
Pirates 3, Cardinals 2
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Albert Pujols hit his 703rd home run Monday night, breaking a tie with Babe Ruth for second place in career RBIs, but the St. Louis Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh 3-2 when the Pirates drew four consecutive walks in the ninth inning to force home the winning run.
The 42-year-old slugger connected off right-hander Mitch Keller, pulling a two-run shot into the left-field stands to snap a scoreless tie in the sixth inning. It was Pujols’ 35th career home run at PNC Park, his most at any visiting ballpark. The drive gave Pujols 2,216 RBIs, passing Ruth on the all-time list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,297.
With the score tied 2-all in the ninth inning, the Pirates loaded the bases when Ke’Bryan Hayes, Miguel Andujar and Rodolfo Castro drew consecutive walks from Giovanny Gallegos (3-6). JoJo Romero relieved and walked rookie Oneil Cruz to end the game.
Yohan Ramirez (4-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
Yankees 3, Rangers 1
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Aaron Judge remained at 61 home runs with three games remaining, and Luis Severino pitched seven no-hit innings before Texas broke through against New York’s bullpen.
Judge went 1 for 4 with a checked-swing infield single, a groundout, a strikeout and a liner into a double play. He is 2 for 12 with five walks and a hit by pitch since his 61st homer Wednesday in Toronto that tied Roger Maris’ American League record. That is his only homer in 12 games.
Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 130 RBIs trails Minnesota’s Luis Arraez .315 to 311 in the batting race.
Severino (7-3) struck out seven and walked one in his third start since missing two months with a right lat strain. Scott Effross worked the ninth for his his third save with the Yankees.
Marwin Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton homered in the eighth for New York.
Martín Pérez (12-8) allowed only one run over six innings while give up five hits and walking five.
Marlins 4, Braves 0
MIAMI (AP) — Jesús Luzardo struck out 12 in six innings, Bryan De La Cruz hit a two-run homer and Miami prevented Atlanta from clinching its fifth straight NL East title.
After sweeping the rival Mets at home over the weekend, Atlanta arrived in Miami needing one win or a New York loss to wrap up the division crown and a first-round playoff bye.
But the Braves were unable to solve Luzardo or slow De La Cruz — and the Mets were rained out at home against Washington. New York is 1 1/2 games behind Atlanta heading into Tuesday’s doubleheader versus the last-place Nationals, while the Braves will play the second of three games at fourth-place Miami.
Dansby Swanson had two of Atlanta’s four hits, all off Luzardo (4-7). Braves sluggers Austin Riley and Matt Olson struck out three times each against the left-hander, who walked one in his first win since Aug. 7.
De La Cruz also doubled and singled for the Marlins. Jesús Sánchez doubled twice and singled as Miami snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Braves.
White Sox 3, Twins 2
CHICAGO (AP) — The White Sox watched manager Tony La Russa announce he was leaving his position, and then beat Minnesota behind Johnny Cueto’s seven effective innings.
La Russa stepped down because of a pair of health issues, punctuating a disappointing season for the Hall of Famer in the same spot where he got his first job as a big league skipper. The White Sox are 80-80 after beginning the year with championship aspirations.
La Russa met with his team before announcing the move, and the players joined their former manager for his press conference about the decision.
Josh Harrison hit a two-run homer in Chicago’s fourth win in five games. Cueto (8-10) stopped a personal four-game slide, and Liam Hendriks got three outs for his 37th save.
Gio Urshela hit a two-run homer for Minnesota. The game was tied at 2 before Carlos Pérez drove in AJ Pollock with a two-out RBI single against Griffin Jax (7-4) in the seventh.
Red Sox 4, Rays 3
BOSTON (AP) — Tyler Glasnow gave playoff-bound Tampa Bay a short but strong start in his second outing since Tommy John surgery last year, but the Boston Red Sox rallied against the bullpen to hand the Rays their fourth straight loss.
Boston pushed Tampa Bay closer to the No. 6 playoff seed in the AL. The Rays entered the night trailing Seattle by 1 1/2 games for the fifth seed. Tampa Bay will either face AL East rival Toronto, which occupies the top wild-card spot, or AL Central champion Cleveland in the opening round.
Glasnow struck out seven and held the Red Sox to two hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Christian Arroyo hit a two-run double and Kiké Hernández added a tying RBI double during a three-run sixth inning for last-place Boston, which ended a three-game skid. Rafael Devers drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Kevin Herget (0-1) relieved Glasnow and pitched the rest of the game, allowing four runs and seven hits.
John Screiber (4-4) worked a scoreless seventh.
Brewers 6, Diamondbacks 5, 10 innings
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Hunter Renfroe homered in a ninth-inning comeback and singled home the winning run in the 10th but Milwaukee was eliminated from postseason contention despite a victory.
The Brewers knew at the start of the night they could earn the NL’s final wild-card spot only if they won their last three games while Philadelphia lost three straight. Milwaukee’s chances ended nine minutes after their walk-off when the Phillies (87-73) beat Houston to clinch the National League’s third and final wild card.
Milwaukee (85-75) trailed 4-1 before tying the game in the ninth with help from an Arizona fielding miscue. Renfroe led off the ninth with a homer off Joe Mantiply and Victor Caratini hit a hard grounder that got past first baseman Christian Walker, scoring Christian Yelich and Kolten Wong on the error.
Sergio Alcántara had a homer and three RBIs for Arizona, and Cooper Hummel also homered. Yelich went deep for the Brewers.
Daulton Varsho’s one-out single off Brad Boxberger (4-3) brought home automatic runner Cooper Hummel to help Arizona regain the lead in the top of the 10th.
Milwaukee responded in the bottom half of the inning. After Omar Narváez drew a leadoff walk from Moronta (2-2), Willy Adames lined a single to right that scored Peterson from second and advanced Narváez to third. Renfroe then lined a single to left to end the game.
Reds 3, Cubs 1
CINCINNATI (AP) — Hunter Greene pitched six scoreless innings and Cincinnati remained at 99 losses.
The Reds (61-99) snapped a six-game skid and can avoid losing at least 100 games for the second time in franchise history if they sweep the three-game series. Cincinnati finished 61-101 in 1982.
Greene (5-13) and relievers Derek Law, Buck Farmer and Alexis Diaz combined on a two-hitter to stop the Cubs’ winning streak at seven games. Chicago only got one runner past second base before scoring under odd circumstances in the ninth against Diaz, who picked up his 10th save.
The Cubs scored in the ninth on a game-ending double play that wasn’t completed until Esteban Quiroz wandered off second base and was tagged.
Cubs rookie right-hander Hayden Wesneski (3-2) worked six innings, allowing four hits and two runs — one earned — with one walk and six strikeouts. He hit Jonathan India twice with pitches.
Blue Jays 5, Orioles 1
BALTIMORE (AP) — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 32nd homer and Toronto edged closer to the top seed for an American League wild card series with a rain-shortened victory over Baltimore.
Play was halted by rain with Toronto batting with two outs in the eighth and called after a wait of 55 minutes.
Toronto would host a best-of-three playoff series starting Friday if it wins one more game or Seattle loses at least one of its final four games.
Whit Merrifield went 3 for 3 with an RBI for the Blue Jays, who have won for straight.
José Berríos (12-7) allowed one run and three hits with five strikeouts and three walks over six innings. Tim Mayza earned his second save.
Dean Kremer (8-7) allowed four runs and six hits with four strikeouts and one walk over six innings.
Royals 5, Guardians 2, 10 innings
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie Drew Waters belted a three-run homer off Kirk McCarty in the 10th inning, sending Kansas City past Cleveland.
Waters’ third home run in four games landed on the porch in left field, scoring automatic runner Nicky Lopez and Michael A. Taylor. The 23-year-old outfielder went 2 for 4 with four RBIs as Kansas City won for the second time in seven games.
Cleveland has won 11 of 14 and is an MLB-best 22-6 since Sept. 5. The Guardians will host either Tampa Bay or Seattle in a best-of-three wild-card series beginning Friday.
Closer Scott Barlow (7-4) pitched a scoreless ninth and Taylor Clarke worked the 10th, earning his third save. McCarty (4-3) allowed three runs, two earned, in two innings.
Bobby Witt Jr. singled and stole his AL rookie-best 30th base for Kansas City, but also committed a fielding error in the sixth that permitted Cleveland to tie the score.