Mets pull even with Brewers

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NEW YORK --- Any chance Johan Santana can pitch on no days' rest?

Desperate to stay in the playoff race, the New York Mets brought back their ace early, and he delivered with a three-hitter that led them over the Florida Marlins 2-0 on a rainy Saturday.

Nearly 2 hours later, the Mets pulled into a tie with Milwaukee for the NL wild card when the Brewers lost 7-3 to the Cubs.

"I just went out there and tried to finish it. I didn't do anything crazy," Santana said. "I knew the situation we were in."

With the crowd chanting his name, Santana (16-7) assured the Mets will play at least one more meaningful game at Shea Stadium. The win was just the third in eight games for New York and put aside -- for a day, anyway -- thoughts of another huge collapse.

Now, it's up to Oliver Perez to try to help save the Mets' season today. No chance of seeing Santana in that one.

"How many did he pitch? How many did he throw?" manager Jerry Manuel said with a grin. "Wow, wow, wow, wow. I think if I had to describe that one, I would say that was gangsta. That was real gangsta."

If the Mets and Brewers remain even after today, they would play a one-game tiebreaker Monday in New York. Milwaukee is scheduled to send ace CC Sabathia to the mound today against the Cubs.

"We're still in the race. It's not over yet," Santana said.

Hand-written on the Mets' bulletin board on Saturday was the following message: "If Phillies lose, come packed for one day."

No such luck for New York.

In Philadelphia, Jimmy Rollins made a sliding stop with the bases loaded to start a game-ending double play, and the Phillies clinched their second consecutive NL East title by holding off the Washington Nationals, 4-3.

Rollins went to his knees to snare Ryan Zimmerman's sharp grounder toward the middle. He made an accurate flip to second base with his glove and rejoiced when Chase Utley's relay throw completed the double play.

A sellout crowd of 45,177 rocked Citizens Bank Park, waved rally towels, and watched the Phillies earn back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since 1980-81.

Philadelphia is heading to the postseason for the 11th time in franchise history. The Phillies haven't won a playoff game since losing the 1993 World Series to Toronto.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Ben Sheets was unsuccessful in his attempt to return from injury, giving up four runs in only 2w innings in the loss to Chicago.

Sheets (13-9) was trying to put aside nagging elbow soreness in his first start since Sept. 17.

Milwaukee's lineup couldn't manage much of anything against Ted Lilly (17-9), who held the Brewers hitless until Ryan Braun led off the seventh with a double.

Trailing 4-1 going into the eighth, Milwaukee rallied for two runs but left the bases loaded.

Milwaukee entered the day with a one-game lead on the Mets and a chance to clinch its first playoff berth since 1982 with a win and a Mets loss. Now, the race will go down to the final day.

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