CHICAGO — The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.
After two consecutive decades of losing, the Pirates (90-67) clinched at least a National League wild card Monday night when they beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 and the Washington Nationals lost to St. Louis 4-3.
It will be Pittsburgh’s first trip to the postseason since Barry Bonds, Jim Leyland and Co. won three consecutive NL East titles from 1990-92. Bonds then left for San Francisco as a free agent, and the small-budget Pirates piled up 20 consecutive losing records – the longest streak in the four major professional sports.
Starling Marte hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth inning Monday night at Wrigley Field, and the Pirates threw out a runner at the plate for the final out.
REDS 3, METS (10 INN.)
In Cincinnati, Shin-Soo Choo drove in the winning run with a single off the wall in the 10th inning, and the Reds clinched a playoff berth with the Nationals’ loss.
Manager Dusty Baker said there would be no celebration of a wild-card clinching, not with a second straight NL Central title still in play.
RAYS 5, ORIOLES 4
In St. Petersburg, Fla., Wil Myers tied it with a two-run single on a jarring play in the seventh inning then pinch-hitter James Loney stunned the Orioles with a leadoff homer in the ninth, and Tampa Bay completed a four-game sweep that put a serious damper in Baltimore’s wild-card hopes.
The Orioles also lost All-Star third baseman Manny Machado to a leg injury in the top of the seventh. Machado’s left leg buckled when he stepped on first base running out an infield single. He was taken off on a stretcher.
The win pushed the Rays a full game ahead of idle Cleveland for the top AL wild card. Baltimore fell five games back of the Indians with six games to go for both teams.
CARDINALS 4, NATIONALS 3
In St. Louis, Carlos Beltran homered, Adam Wainwright earned his 18th win and the Cardinals eliminated Washington from playoff contention.
Looking for their first NL Central title since 2009, the Cardinals maintained a two-game lead over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and reduced their magic number to four.
RANGERS 12, ASTROS 0
In Arlington, Texas, Alex Rios hit for the cycle, Derek Holland struck out nine in his second shutout of the season and Texas began its final playoff push with a rout of Houston.
The Rangers pulled within a game of idle Cleveland for the second AL wild-card berth with six games remaining.