Around the Bases: Cardinals lower magic number to 3

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The position of the three teams fighting for supremacy in the NL Central is looking less murky by the day.

Cardinals 2, Nationals 0: The Cardinals won in style Tuesday when rookie Michael Wacha came just an out away from a no-hitter. Ryan Zimmerman broke it up with an infield hit in the ninth, but that wasn't nearly enough for the Nationals, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention Monday. The win lowered the Cardinals' magic number to three to clinch the NL Central.

Wacha was excited by the win:

Mets 4, Reds 2: The Mets scored all four of their runs in the second. First blood came on a Wilfredo Tovar single, but the big blow was a three-run Daniel Murphy homer. That drove Reds' starter Mike Leake from the game before he could finish two innings. Cincinnati's two runs each came on groundouts. Due to the Cardinals win, the Reds chances for a division title are dropping rapidly. With just four games remaining for each team, the Reds have fallen to three games back of first place.

Pirates 8, Cubs 2: Unlike the Reds, the playoff-bound Pirates were able to keep pace with the Cardinals. Gerrit Cole had a nice start for Pittsburgh while the offense put a crooked number on the board in three separate innings. Pedro Alvarez led the way offensively with two doubles and three RBI. Pittsburgh is holding steady two games behind St. Louis, and one game up on Cincinnati for home field in the NL Wild Card game.

Braves 3, Brewers 2: With the Cardinals now making it a fight for the best record in the National League, the Braves pulled out a walk-off victory against Milwaukee. The two squads traded off runs in the middle innings as rookie Tyler Thornburg and veteran Freddy Garcia matched each other nearly pitch-for-pitch. Defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons was the offensive hero of the night for Atlanta. With a 2-2 tie and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Braves had runners on first and second and Simmons at the plate. Simmons roped a single into center field, allowing Atlanta to keep a half-game lead for the best record in the NL.

Rays 7, Yankees 0: The Rays put the Yankees on their last legs with an emphatic victory. New York is now a loss or an Indians win from being knocked out of playoff contention entirely.

Mariners 4, Royals 0: The Royals are also dangerously close to elimination with a shutout loss. James Paxton threw seven innings of four-hit ball for Seattle, striking out ten Kansas City hitters.

Indians 5, White Sox 4: The Indians managed to stay a game ahead of the Rangers for the second AL Wild Card spot by eking out a win against Chicago. Cleveland took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning, but home runs from Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza put the White Sox ahead. Fortunately, one of Cleveland's veteran sluggers still had some power left in the tank, as well. With two outs and a runner on first, Jason Giambi hit his ninth home run of the year to give the Indians a dramatic late-season victory.

Tigers 4, Twins 2: Unfortunately for the Tigers, Giambi's heroics delayed the team from clinching their third consecutive AL Central Division Title. Their win over the Twins did clinch a playoff spot for Detroit, however, and their magic number has now dropped to just one for the division.

Rangers 3, Astros 2: Though Houston took a one-run lead early, Texas had three straight one-run innings in the middle of the game to take the win. The coup de grace came on an Adrian Beltre solo home run in the sixth that broke a 2-2 tie and proved to be the winning run. The Rangers remain just a game behind Cleveland in the Wild Card hunt.

Angels 3, Athletics 0: The Angels may have had a disappointing season, but at least they beat the AL West champs on Tuesday. The two teams managed just nine hits and two walks between them, but it was Los Angeles made their baserunners count.

Rockies 8, Red Sox 3: The Red Sox may have the best record in baseball, but the Rockies just proved that you can't predict baseball. Three home runs and a four-run seventh inning helped support Colorado as their offense broke out for 11 hits and four walks.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Solo home runs by Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp backed seven strong frames from Hyun-Jin Ryu for the third straight win by Los Angeles.

Blue Jays 3, Orioles 2 (10 innings): Baltimore was officially eliminated from postseason contention with a defeat at the hands of a division rival. It at least took extra innings to knock off a tough Orioles team. Mark DeRosa singled in Jose Reyes for the winning run.

Phillies 2, Marlins 1: After a Jimmy Rollins one-out double in the first inning, the Phillies took three straight walks -- the last of them bringing in a run and then an RBI groundout brought in a second run. The Marlins scored a quick run in the second inning, but then the scoring stopped and the Phillies picked up the victory.

Diamondbacks 2, Padres 1 (12): Didi Gregorius tripled home Chris Owings with the game-winner for the Diamondbacks in the 12th inning in San Diego. When the game reached the 11th inning, Arizona set a new major league record:

The Diamondbacks ended the night with 78 extra innings on the season, and 24 extra-inning games. Arizona is 17-7 in extra frames in 2013.

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