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Pirates clinch top wild card spot while AL wild card scene race tightens

The postseason will start at PNC Park.

Neil Walker hit two of Pittsburgh’s six homers – its biggest power surge in six years – and the Pirates clinched home-field advantage for the NL’s wild card playoff game by beating the Cincinnati Reds, 8-3, yesterday.

Pittsburgh will host the Reds on Tuesday night in the Pirates’ first playoff appearance in 21 years. They went 50-31 at PNC Park, the third-best home record in the NL.

Pittsburgh hit five homers off Bronson Arroyo (14-12), who had never given up that many in a game in his career. Walker homered twice off the right-hander, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez also hit solo homers, and Marlon Byrd had a two-run shot that ended Arroyo’s outing in the fifth and made it 6-3.

Prospect Andrew Lambo hit his first homer off Logan Ondrusek, the first time the Pirates had six in a game since Aug. 22, 2007 at Colorado.

Pirates starter Charlie Morton also struggled, leaving with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth. Vin Mazzaro (8-2) fanned Zack Cozart and retired Ryan Hanigan on a fly ball as the slumping Reds left the bases loaded for the second time in the game.

CARDINALS 6, CUBS 2

Adam Wainwright earned his 19th victory in a tuneup for the NL division series opener and St. Louis showed no letup after clinching the NL Central, beating Chicago for its fifth straight win.

Matt Holliday homered for the second day in a row and Yadier Molina drove in two runs for St. Louis (96-65).

Wainwright (19-9) allowed two hits in shutout 5 1-3 innings and tied for the league lead in victories with Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann, who lost his last scheduled start Wednesday in St. Louis.

Seth Maness earned his first career save by getting Darwin Barney on a double-play ball.

Edwin Jackson (8-18) allowed six runs and eight hits in 22∕3 innings before leaving with mild side discomfort. He leads the majors in losses.

BREWERS 4, METS 2, 10 INN.

Carlos Gomez homered and had four hits, including a tiebreaking single in the 10th inning that sent Milwaukee over New York.

Yuniesky Betancourt drove in two runs to help the Brewers (74-87) win their fourth straight as they put together a strong finish to a disappointing season.

Pinch-hitter Caleb Gindl drew a four-pitch walk from Scott Atchison (3-3) to start the 10th and went to third on Jonathan Lucroy’s broken-bat single. Gomez followed with a flare to right-center to put Milwaukee ahead. Betancourt added an RBI single that made it 4-2.

Donovan Hand (1-5) initially tried for a six-out save and instead wound up with his first major league win. With the Brewers resting closer Jim Henderson, Alfredo Figaro got three straight outs for his first career save.

PADRES 9, GIANTS 3

Jesus Guzman, Chris Denorfia and Jedd Gyorko each homered and drove in two runs and San Diego beat San Francisco.

Hunter Pence, who reached a tentative agreement on a $90 million, five-year contract before the game, hit a two-run homer for the Giants.

Eric Stults (11-13) pitched seven effective innings to win his third straight start after going 0-6 in his previous 10 starts. He also helped himself with an RBI single during a four-run fourth.

Stults allowed three runs and seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.

Yusmeiro Petit (4-1) lasted a season-low 32∕3 innings, giving up five runs and seven hits.

Luke Gregerson pitched the eighth and Huston Street worked the ninth.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Indians 5, Twins 1

The Cleveland Indians moved into the AL wild-card lead on the next-to-last scheduled day of the regular season, beating the Minnesota Twins behind Scott Kazmir’s strong start to extend their winning streak to nine.

Seeking their first postseason appearance since 2007, the Indians (91-70) took a one-game lead over Tampa Bay and Texas (both 90-71).

Cleveland is assured of at least a tie for the AL wild card. With three teams seeking the two wild cards, Sunday’s results could decide the matter or lead to one or two tiebreaker games at the start of next week.

Blue Jays 7, Rays 2

The Tampa Bay Rays dropped into a tie with Texas for the second AL wild-card berth, losing to Toronto as Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar hit two-run home runs for the Blue Jays and J.A. Happ won for the first time in four starts.

The Rays (90-71) lost their second straight following a seven-game winning streak and dropped a half-game behind Cleveland (90-70), which was playing at Minnesota. The regular season is slated to end today.

Adam Lind had two hits and three RBIs and Brett Lawrie reached base four times as the Blue Jays continued to make life tough for the Rays, who start left-hander Matt Moore (16-4) in today’s series finale against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Todd Redmond (4-2).

Rangers 7, Angels 4

Craig Gentry doubled, scored and bunted in a run, helping the Texas Rangers beat the sloppy Los Angeles Angels and reach the final day of the regular season with a chance to make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Texas (90-71) won its sixth straight – and second in less than 24 hours. Cleveland and Tampa Bay started the day tied for the two AL wild-card spots at 90-70, a game ahead of the Rangers.

The Rangers were down three batters in, but the Angels made five errors for a game for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, also at Texas.

Mariners 7, Athletics 5

Brad Miller hit a pair of home runs, including his first grand slam, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics in a game that decided division-series matchups in the American League.

Boston clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason with Oakland’s loss. The AL West champion A’s will play their playoff opener at home next Friday against AL Central champion Detroit, and AL East winner Boston will start at Fenway Park against the team emerging from the wild-card playoff: Cleveland Tampa Bay or Texas.

Brandon Maurer (5-8) gave up two runs and six hits in 5-plus innings. He had been 0-1 in three starts and three relief appearances since beating the A’s on Aug. 20.

Yankees 2, Astros 1

Andy Pettitte completed his career in fitting fashion.

The 41-year-old left-hander pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game in seven years to lead the New York Yankees over his hometown Houston Astros.

Two days after Mariano Rivera made his finale in front of an emotional crowd at Yankee Stadium, Pettitte followed his teammate into retirement and left only Derek Jeter left from the Core Four who earned five World Series rings with the Yankees since 1996.

White Sox 6, Royals 5

Adam Dunn and Conor Gillaspie each hit two-run homers and the Chicago White Sox earned a victory over the Kansas City Royals yesterday.

After the game, the Chicago White Sox announced they had fired hitting coach Jeff Manto.

Marcus Semien and Jordan Danks added solo homers for the White Sox, while Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler and Salvador Perez went deep for the Royals.

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