Brewers keep up with Mets
Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008 5:08 pm
By: By The Associated Press
Carlos Beltran walked to the plate in the ninth inning at Shea Stadium thinking, “I have to come through.” The same thought was probably running through Ryan Braun’s mind in Milwaukee.
Beltran singled home the winning run with two outs on a rainy night, and New York beat the Chicago Cubs 7-6 on Thursday to climb within a game of Philadelphia in the NL East.
It also gave the Mets an oh-so-brief lead in the wildcard race, until Braun hit a grand slam in the 10th inning that lifted the Brewers to a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates and back into a tie with New York.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West when Arizona completed its late-season fade, but there is still much to be decided in the rest of the National League. The Mets host Florida in their final regular-season games this weekend, with the NL East-leading Phillies home against Washington and the Cubs visiting Milwaukee.
The Dodgers lost 7-5 to San Diego, but had already wrapped up their division when St. Louis beat Arizona 12-3 in the afternoon. Houston beat Cincinnati 8-6 to keep alive a glimmer of a playoff hope, while Colorado beat San Francisco 3-1.
The Marlins’ game against the Nationals was rained out and won’t be made up.
Rich Harden pitched six solid innings in his final playoff tuneup for the NL Central-champion Cubs, and lightly used rookie Micah Hoffpauir went 5-for-5 with five RBI against Mets pitching, including his first two major league homers.
“He put on a show tonight. It was fun to watch,” teammate Derrek Lee said. “I think the Brewers and the Phillies, they couldn’t be disappointed in our effort.”
Joe Smith (6-3) escaped a jam in the ninth for New York, which rebounded from a discouraging 10-inning loss Wednesday night and is trying to avoid another late-September collapse.
Pitching what could be his final game for the Mets, Pedro Martinez struck out a season-high nine and left to a warm ovation with the score tied 3-all in the seventh. He pointed to the crowd and raised his fist high.
After he was gone, New York tied it in the eighth on big hits by a pair of unlikely players: spare part Ramon Martinez and third-string catcher Robinson Cancel.
Jose Reyes singled off Kevin Hart (2-2) to start the ninth and swiped second for his third steal of the game as David Wright fanned for the second out. Carlos Delgado was intentionally walked and Beltran lined a 2-0 pitch off the glove of a diving Hoffpauir at first base.
“I was going to the plate thinking I have to come through,” Beltran said. “We have three games left and it’s going to be hard.”
Especially if the Brewers keep getting clutch hits of their own.
Braun had been 0-for-4 before clobbering a 2-2 pitch from reliever Jesse Chavez (0-1) deep to left field. The young slugger held up his bat and hollered at the Brewers’ dugout as he began to circle the bases, celebrating the first grand slam of his career and the Brewers’ first grand slam this year.
“There’s no better feeling in the world than a walk-off home run,” Braun said, “especially based on the situation that we’re in.”
Mitch Stetter (3-1) earned the victory after pitching out of a jam in the 10th.
Making his first start since tearing a knee ligament May 1, Yovani Gallardo pitched only four innings but made them count. The Brewers’ promising 22-year-old right-hander struck out seven while giving up a run and three hits.
“I spent four months watching this team go at it every day,” he said. “It hasn’t changed. They still go out there, play hard every day, and they’re going to find a way to get it done.”
Gallardo’s return trumped a strong outing by Pirates starter Zach Duke, who held the Brewers to a run and seven hits in seven innings.
“He threw the ball really well,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “It’s a big reason I sent him back out for the extra inning. It was a 1-1 game, and I really was trying to get him a win there.”
Cardinals 12, D’backs 3
Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer to back Joel Pineiro, and the host Cardinals eliminated the Diamondbacks by handing them their third loss in the four-game series.
Arizona (79-80) led the division by 4 1/2 games before play on Aug. 29 but fell apart in September, giving the NL West to the Dodgers. Arizona’s Mark Reynolds set a major league record when he struck out twice, raising his season total to 201.
Padres 7, Dodgers 5
Brian Giles and Adrian Gonzalez homered to back Jake Peavey, and the visiting Padres won a meaningless game hours after the Dodgers wrapped up the NL West.
Entering the day with a magic number of one, the Dodgers got what they needed when second-place Arizona lost at St. Louis. That assured the Dodgers of their first division title in four years and manager Joe Torre another trip to the posteason.
Astros 8, Reds 6
At Houston, Roy Oswalt allowed two hits and struck out three in six innings to keep Houston barely alive for the wild card — albeit 3 1/2 games behind New York and Milwaukee.
One more Houston loss or victory by either the Mets or Brewers will eliminate the Astros.
Michael Bourn matched a career high with four RBI, and Oswalt (17-10) improved to 11-2 in his last 13 decisions. He has won 23 of 24 decisions against Cincinnati.
Rockies 3, Giants 1
Clint Barmes homered for the second straight game, pitcher Jorge De La Rosa hit an RBI single and the visiting Rockies completed a three-game sweep.
De La Rosa (10-8) struck out seven in seven scoreless innings to win his second straight.