TIGHTENING RACE: Four of the six teams vying for the two AL wild-card berths squared off against a fellow contender Tuesday night. Texas topped Tampa Bay 7-1 to move into a tie with the Rays atop the wild-card chase. Cleveland moved a half-game out while Baltimore is now within two games. Kansas City and New York both lost, but are still in the hunt 3½ games back.
STAYING HOT: The Washington Nationals swept Atlanta in a day-night doubleheader to postpone the Braves' first NL East title since 2005. Washington has won 10 of its last 11 games to close within five games of Cincinnati for the NL's second wild-card berth. The first game was a makeup following shootings at the nearby Washington Navy Yard on Monday. Rookie Tanner Roark (7-0) remained unbeaten by allowing just two hits in seven shutout innings in the nightcap. Manager Davey Johnson even seemed to make up a word — "posure," apparently a cross between poise and composure — to describe his young star.
WELCOME BACK MATT: Matt Kemp went 4 for 4 with three RBIs in his first start since coming off the disabled list Monday to lead Los Angeles to an easy 9-3 rout of Arizona. With the victory, the Dodgers reduced their magic number to clinch the division to two. They can clinch the NL West with a win Wednesday.
LOST PERFECTION: Boston closer Koji Uehara saw his run of 37 consecutive batters retired come to an end as the Orioles rallied against the Red Sox's star closer. Danny Valencia ended that streak with a triple to lead off the ninth and Matt Wieters hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly to give Baltimore the 3-2 win. Uehara fell four outs short of Bobby Jenks' major league record for a reliever of 41 consecutive retired batters set in 2007 and Mark Buehrle's mark for all pitchers of 45 in 2009. The run was the first off Uehara in 30 2-3 innings and ended a streak of 27 scoreless outings since July 9.
SLUMPING PIRATES: Pittsburgh can't wait for San Diego to get out of town. The Padres beat the Pirates for the second straight night, improving to 30-10 in Pittsburgh since the new ballpark opened in 2001. Pittsburgh fell a game behind St. Louis, which routed Colorado 11-4 to take the NL Central lead.
DENVER (AP) -- Matt Holliday had four hits, including a two-run homer, to help the St. Louis Cardinals take over sole possession of the NL Central with an 11-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals entered the night tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost 5-2 at home to San Diego. St. Louis reduced its magic number for clinching a playoff spot to five with 11 games remaining.
Joe Kelly (9-4) baffled the Rockies as he allowed three hits over five sharp innings before turning a 10-0 lead over to the bullpen. The hard-throwing right-hander has been one of the team's most consistent pitchers since becoming a permanent member of the rotation in July.
Juan Nicasio (8-8) struggled with his command, lasting just 2 2-3 innings and allowing eight runs, which tied a career high.
Holliday led an 18-hit night by the Cardinals, who had seven players with at least two hits. Holliday finished 4 for 4 with a walk, double and two-run homer against his former team. He drove in three runs and scored twice.
The Cardinals ran away with the game in the third when they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six times. Daniel Descalso had a two-run triple in the decisive inning, while Holliday added a double and an RBI single.
Colorado's Michael Cuddyer finished 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI to raise his average to.331, which is tops in the NL.
Kelly hardly seemed intimidated in his first start at Coors Field. He didn't allow a base runner to reach as far as third base until the fourth inning. He wiggled out of that jam when first baseman Matt Adams corralled Josh Rutledge's liner.
Once Kelly was out of the game, the Rockies went to work as they scored four runs off reliever Carlos Martinez in the seventh. But the bullpen shut down the Rockies from there, with Kevin Siegrist striking out pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco to end the game.
Leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter was frequently on base for the Cardinals, with two singles and a hit by pitch. He leads the league hits (187), doubles (51) and multi-hit games (60).
Yadier Molina gave the Cardinals a lead in the first inning with a two-out single to center. Molina is one of the top hitters in the league with runners in scoring position.
Todd Helton nearly tied the game in the bottom half of the first, but Holliday made a leaping catch against the fence in left field.
The 40-year-old Helton announced last weekend his decision to retire after his 17th season with the Rockies. He leaves as the franchise's leader in virtually every offensive category.
NOTES: Kelly is 9-2 with a 2.14 ERA in 14 starts this season. ... The only Cardinals starter without one was OF Carlos Beltran. ... St. Louis will send RHP Adam Wainwright (16-9) to the mound on Wednesday, while the Rockies counter with RHP Tyler Chatwood (7-4). ... Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado missed the game after aggravating his right thumb on Monday. "He may be down for a few days," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Tuesday. "His thumb is real tender." ... Rockies C Yorvit Torrealba replaced Wilin Rosario (right calf soreness) in the third inning.
DENVER (AP) -- Todd Helton started his final homestand with a key single in the eighth inning that helped the Colorado Rockies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 on Monday night.
Charlie Blackmon had three hits and drove in three runs for the Rockies, who prevented the Cardinals from taking over sole possession of first place in the NL Central. They remained tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost 2-0 to San Diego.
Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams had two hits each for the Cardinals.
Helton was playing in front of Colorado fans for the first time since he announced his plans to retire at the end of the season, his 17th. He received a standing ovation when he came to the plate in the first, and Cardinals starter Lance Lynn stood behind the mound and waited as the crowd saluted Helton.
The first baseman was given a loud ovation in each of his four plate appearances. His night started slow, but he had a big hit during the decisive rally.
Troy Tulowitzki led off with a walk against reliever Trevor Rosenthal (2-4), and one out later Helton singled to center to put runners at the corners. Wilin Rosario singled to give Colorado a 3-2 lead.
Helton was caught in a rundown between third and home for the second out, but Blackmon doubled to right to score Josh Rutledge from first to make it 4-2.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Wheeler's two-run single off John Axford gave the Rockies a 6-2 cushion.
Collin McHugh started for Colorado in place of lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who has a sore thumb on his pitching hand that forced him to miss his turn in the rotation. McHugh allowed one run on four hits, with the only damage coming on David Freese's RBI single in the fifth.
He left after throwing 75 pitches in five innings.
Lynn stuck around longer and got stronger as the game progressed. He scattered four hits through six innings and didn't let a runner past first after Tulowitzki's double before running into trouble in the seventh.
After Lynn retired Helton in a nine-pitch at-bat, Rosario singled and moved to third on Rutledge's bloop single to right.
Left-hander Kevin Siegrist relieved Lynn, and Blackmon lined an RBI single over the pulled-in infield to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead.
The Cardinals tied it in the eighth on Carpenter's RBI double off Chad Bettis (1-3) that scored pinch-runner Pete Kozma from second.
The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first on Tulowitzki's RBI double.
NOTES: Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez will see a hand specialist in Cleveland this week to see if he needs surgery on his injured right middle finger. "It looks like I'm going to," Gonzalez said. "I think that's what is best for my finger right now. I'm thinking about the future. I don't want to continue to deal with the same pain over and over. If that's what I have to do, I'm going to do it." ... The Rockies made a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund as the area recovers from devastating flooding. ... Cardinals OF Matt Holliday entered Monday hitting .358 against his former team.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Yadier Molina broke out of a slump with a home run and three singles as Shelby Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals remained tied for first place in the NL Central with a 12-2 win Sunday over the Seattle Mariners.
Matt Adams also homered as St. Louis won for the seventh time in nine games and kept pace with Pittsburgh. Both teams are 87-62 with 13 games remaining.
Miller (14-9) gave up one earned run and three hits in five innings. He became the first St. Louis rookie to reach 14 wins in a season since Dick Hughes won 16 in 1967.
Molina's second-inning homer off Erasmo Ramirez (5-2) snapped an 0-for-15 skid. Molina scored three times and raised his batting average to .317.
St. Louis got 19 hits after totaling just three runs on seven hits over the first two games of the series.
The Cardinals batted around in the fourth and fifth, scoring four runs in each inning to hand Seattle its sixth loss in seven games.
Matt Carpenter keyed the fourth-inning burst with a two-run, bases-loaded single. Daniel Descalso and Matt Holliday also had RBI hits in the inning.
Holliday and Carpenter finished with three hits and two RBIs two apiece.
Adams pushed the lead to 7-2 with his 14th homer to highlight the fifth.
NOTES: The Cardinals open a seven-game road trip on Monday at Colorado. Lance Lynn (13-10, 4.23) will face Jorge De La Rosa (16-6, 3.49) in the first of a four-game set. ... Seattle continues its 10-game road trip with four games in Detroit. Joe Saunders (11-14, 5.18) takes on Rick Porcello (12-8, 4.56) in the opener. ... St. Louis INF Brock Peterson grounded out in the fifth inning to extend his skid to 0 for 14. ... St. Louis C Audry Perez made his debut in the eighth inning.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Rookie James Paxton gave up two hits in six shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners ended a five-game losing streak, beating St. Louis 4-1 Saturday night and dropping the Cardinals into a first-place tie in the NL Central.
St. Louis and Pittsburgh share the division lead once again. The Pirates topped the Cubs 2-1.
The Cardinals mustered only three hits, including Matt Carpenter's league-leading 50th double in the eighth. He later scored on a wild pitch by Charlie Furbush.
Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run double in the fifth inning that ended St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha's scoreless streak at 23 2-3 innings. Kendrys Morales hit his 22nd homer in eighth off Tyler Lyons to make it 3-0.
The St. Louis hitters have been struggling all week, and they never got going at all against the 24-year-old Paxton (2-0), who limited them to a pair of singles.
The first was by Wacha (3-1) in the third when Paxton came off the bag to field a tapper and then slipped and fell, losing his grip.
The Cardinals managed three hits in seven scoreless innings to start the weekend series against the Mariners before winning 2-1 in 10 innings. They broke up no-hit bids in the sixth against Wily Peralta and Marco Estrada, winning both games while taking two of three from the Brewers.
Paxton struck out five and walked two. He won his major league debut a week ago against Tampa Bay, allowing an earned run in six innings.
Danny Farquhar finished for his 14th save in 16 chances.
Wacha struck out five in his seventh career start but also walked four in five innings.
Mariners pitchers were 0 for 20 with 13 strikeouts at the plate this year before Wacha walked Paxton on four pitches in the fifth to put runners on first and second with none out, setting up Gutierrez's double.
Seattle leadoff man Brad Miller was removed with a mild left hamstring strain after running out a sacrifice bunt in the fifth. Replacement Carlos Triunfel had a sacrifice fly in the ninth off Fernando Salas.
NOTES: Yadier Molina, who threw out two runners attempting to steal in the same inning Friday, was the first Cardinals C to do that since manager Mike Matheny on May 1, 2001, at Florida. Matheny said he didn't remember the occasion, but added, "You don't normally get that many opportunities unless you're stinking, or else your pitcher's just giving you no chance."