Phillies claim NL East but wildcard spot up for grabs
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Phillies won their second successive National League East title on Saturday but the race for the wildcard spot will go to the wire.
The New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers enter Sunday's final day of the regular season level in the wildcard chase. Only one of the two teams will advance to the playoffs which begin on Wednesday.
New York's Johan Santana shut out the Florida Marlins 2-0 on a three-hitter to keep the Mets' playoff hopes alive. The Brewers lost 7-3 to the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs.
"That's the greatest performance I've ever seen on a baseball field," Mets left fielder Daniel Murphy told reporters after Santana (16-7) struck out nine and walked three on three day's rest. "This was a game that we had to have, and he dominated from start to finish. That's something that I'll remember forever."
Carlos Delgado's first-inning sacrifice fly and Ramon Martinez's RBI double in the fourth gave the Mets all the runs they needed.
The Brewers could not overcome a 4-0 Chicago lead after three innings. They pulled within 4-3 in the eighth, then gave up three runs in the ninth.
The Mets are home to the Marlins and the Brewers host the Cubs in games on Sunday.
If they remain deadlocked, a one-game playoff would be held on Monday in New York.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia are already through thanks to their division-winning seasons.
Philadelphia wrapped up its title by holding off the Washington Nationals 4-3. A game-ending double play with the bases loaded in the ninth helped the Phillies escape.
"It's surreal and like it's happening in slow motion, so you take it all in," Phillies reliever Chad Durbin, who pitched the seventh inning, told reporters.
The victory went to the oldest player in baseball, 45-year-old Jamie Moyer (16-7), who held the Nationals to one run and six hits over six innings.
Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox both lost in the tight American League Central Division race.
Kansas City's 4-2 victory over Minnesota and Cleveland's 12-6 pounding of the White Sox left the Twins a half-game ahead of the White Sox heading into Sunday's regular-season finales.
Both contenders are at home, Cleveland playing at Chicago and Kansas City at Minnesota.
The Twins can clinch the division title with a victory and a White Sox loss on Sunday. If that does not happen, the White Sox would be forced to make up on Monday a game rained out earlier in the season against Detroit.
Should Monday's game result in the Twins and White Sox being tied, they would play in Chicago on Tuesday to break the tie.
The other American League playoff teams are set.
The Los Angeles Angels cruised to the AL West title, Tampa Bay surprisingly claimed the East Division championship and Boston, the 2007 World Series winners, wrapped up the AL's wildcard berth.
(Writing by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ed Osmond)
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