N.L. Playoffs Chase: Thursday-Morning Update

Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes (12) greets left fielder Alex Presley (7) at home plate after Presley scored a run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The National League playoff races are chugging along, as the Pirates were the only team to gain ground on the teams they were chasing.

N.L. East W L
Nationals 84 52 -
Braves 77 60

There was some no-hitter excitement Wednesday night, with both games involving National League contenders. But things settled down some, leading to just another evening of hot pennant-race action ...

Nationals 9, Cubs 1: The Nationals wrapped up first place back in July, but this game was notable for Gio Gonzalez's no-hit bid -- broken up in the sixth by Darwin Barney's leadoff single -- and Bryce Harper's two home runs.

N.L. Central W L
Reds 83 55 -
Cardinals 74 63

Braves 1, Rockies 0: Mike Minor pitched seven shutout innings, and Craig Kimbrel struck out four of the five batters he faced to earn his 33rd save. The Braves got their lone run when Rockies shortstop Josh Rutledge threw wildly to first base while trying to turn a double play in the fourth inning.

Phillies 6, Reds 2: The Phils scored four runs in the second inning and two in the third, all of them off Cincinnati starter Mike Leake. That was all they would need, as Roy Halladay looked like the Roy Halladay of old, with the defending Cy Young winner pitching into the eighth inning and allowing just one run.

N.L. West W L
Giants
77 60 -
Dodgers
73 65

Pirates 6, Astros 3: After losing the first game of the series and sending Bucs fans into panic mode, the Pirates concluded the series win. Pirates starter Kevin Correia pitched six innings, allowing just a run, and rookie shortstop Brock Holt continued his hot hitting, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a sac fly. Astros starter Fernando Abad had abad outing.

Mets 6, Cardinals 2: In a battle of aces, Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey easily out-pitched Adam Wainwright, who gave up five runs in five innings. Meanwhile, Dickey pitched into the seventh inning, gave up two runs, and became the first pitcher in the majors with 18 victories. Ike Davis came up with the big hit, a three-run home run in the fifth inning off Wainwright. It was Davis's 26th circuit clout this season.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 2: This one was decided in the seventh inning, when the D'backs scored four runs, drove Madison Bumgarner from the mound, and pushed their lead to 6-0. Meanwhile, Arizona starter Trevor Cahill carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh, when Marco Scutaro led off with a single. In the eighth, both teams' benches cleared, and there was a minor fracas after1 John McDonald barreled into third base without sliding, to which Pablo Sandoval took exception. Despite the rhubarb, nobody was ejected and suspensions seem unlikely.

N.L. Wild Card W L
Braves
77 60 3
Cardinals 74 63 -
Pirates 72 64
Dodgers 73 65

Padres 4, Dodgers 3: The Dodgers knocked out Padres starter Clayton Richard in the fifth inning, but a succession of relief pitchers kept Los Angeles off the board the rest of the way. But not without a lot of help from Cameron Maybin. In the bottom of the seventh, with one Dodger aboard, Matt Kemp drove a pitch to deep center field, where Maybin made a spectacular grab to save two runs and, as it turned out, the game.

Next up: Very light slate Thursday, with only three National League games. And only two of those have postseason implications, as the Braves finish up their series against the Rockies, and the Nationals their series against the Cubs.

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