CINCINNATI (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers wrapped up their second straight postseason appearance Wednesday night, with Ryan Braun’s grand slam sparking a 9-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that also tightened the NL Central race.
The Brewers have won six in a row and 17 of 19 despite losing MVP Christian Yelich to a broken kneecap, vaulting from also-ran to at least a wild card. There’s more at their fingertips — the division-leading Cardinals lost again, slicing their lead over the Brewers to 1 1/2 games.
Milwaukee trails Washington by one game for the wild card lead.
The Brewers jogged onto the field and formed a scrum by second base after when Junior Guerra got Christian Colon on a grounder for the final out.
Braun had a solo shot in a 4-2 win in the series opener, and got the celebration started early Wednesday with his eighth career grand slam in the first inning. Teammates were on their feet, leaning against the dugout railing in anticipation of a big night, when he connected off Tyler Mahle (2-12). When Eric Thames followed with another homer, Brewers players jubilantly smacked the green padding atop the dugout railing. Keston Hiura also connected off Mahle.
Starter Jordan Lyles (12-8) contributed an infield single and scored a run during the Brewers’ surge to an 8-1 lead after three innings.
Lyles gave up Eugenio Suárez’s 49th homer, which moved him ahead of Mike Schmidt and Adrián Beltré for the modern NL record by a third baseman. George Foster holds the club record of 52 in 1977.
WHITE SOX 8, INDIANS 3
CHICAGO (AP) — Shane Bieber got tagged early and Cleveland lost ground in the AL wild-card race, falling to Chicagot. The Indians’ loss clinched the AL Central title for Minnesota.
Cleveland lost for the second time in its last nine tries and dropped 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot.
A throwing error by first baseman Carlos Santana put the Indians behind at the start. Bieber (15-8) had won three in a row, but allowed five runs — three earned — on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Jose Ramírez hit a solo home run for Cleveland. On Tuesday night, in his first two plate appearances after missing a month with a broken hand, he hit a grand slam and a three-run homer.
Tim Anderson matched a career high with four hits and scored two runs for Chicago. Ross Detwiler (3-5) was the winner.
TWINS 5, TIGERS 1
DETROIT (AP) —Luis Arraez and Eddie Rosario homered, Randy Dobnak allowed one hit in six innings and Minnesota beat Detroit, then won the AL Central title when Cleveland lost to the White Sox in Chicago.
Minnesota earned its first division title since 2010 and only its second postseason appearance since then. The Twins (98-60) have their highest victory total since the 1970 team also won 98 games.
Dobnak (2-1) allowed no scoring after an unearned run in the first. Arraez hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Drew VerHagen (4-3). Nelson Cruz added an RBI single in the eighth, and Rosario’s two-run shot that inning made it 5-1.
The Tigers (46-111) are assured of baseball’s worst record and the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.
NATIONALS 5, PHILLIES 3
WASHINGTON (AP) — Wilmer Difo drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the seventh inning and Anibal Sanchez pitched seven solid innings to help Washington beat Philadelphia.
The Nationals maintained a one-game lead over Milwaukee in the race for the top NL wild card.
Washington faced a 2-1 deficit when Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Yan Gomes doubled with one out in the seventh. Victor Robles followed with a sacrifice fly that tied it. Difo, who was making his first start since May 16, followed with a single to right-center off reliever Mike Morin (1-3) that scored Gomes.
Howie Kendrick and Brian Dozier homered for the Nationals. Sanchez (11-8) allowed two runs and six hits, striking out seven without a walk. Sean Doolittle earned his first save since a stint on the injured list. He pitched a scoreless ninth for his 29th save in 35 attempts and first since Aug. 16.
Brad Miller homered for the Phillies.
DIAMONDBACKS 9, CARDINALS 7
PHOENIX (AP) — Pinch-hitter Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a game-ending double play with two runners on the base and NL Central-leading St. Louis fell short in a ninth-inning rally against Arizona.
St. Louis and Arizona were back on the field about 11 hours after the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 victory in 19 innings, a game that took nearly seven hours. Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was pulled in the second inning with tightness in his right shoulder.
Errors by rookie third baseman Tommy Edman and catcher Matt Wieters helped Arizona score seven times in the sixth for a 9-5 lead. Wilmer Flores homered during the burst.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and Matt Wieters hit a two-run single. Goldschmidt, who homered in the first two games of the series in his return to the desert, hit a grounder off former and teammate Archie Bradley and Arizona turned two to end it.
Merrill Kelly (13-14) exited trailing 5-2 after six innings and wound up with the win. Bradley got his 17th save. Reliever Junior Fernandez (0-1) took the loss. Cardinals rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena hit his first major league home run, stole home and threw out a runner at third base.
PIRATES 4, CUBS 2
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The collapsing Chicago Cubs were eliminated from playoff contention shortly before losing their eighth straight game, falling to Pittsburgh.
Back-to-back wild pitches by David Phelps in the eighth inning enabled Pittsburgh to score the winning run. Just before Phelps’ bout with wildness, Milwaukee clinched the second NL wild card with a victory at Cincinnati. The Cubs will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
Chicago’s skid included four one-run defeats at the hands of NL Central-leading St. Louis last weekend.
Phelps entered in relief with the score tied 2-2 and walked Pablo Reyes to put runners on first and second with one out. José Osuna drew a walk from Brad Wieck (1-2) before scoring on the wild pitches, and Erik González added a sacrifice fly.
Michael Feliz (4-4) pitched the eighth, and Keone Kela worked the ninth for his first save.
METS 10, MARLINS 3
NEW YORK (AP) — Pete Alonso hit his major league-high 51st home run, one short of the rookie record, and Jacob deGrom made his last overpowering pitch for a repeat Cy Young Award as New York routed Miami in an easy win that wasn’t enough to keep the Mets in the playoff hunt.
New York was eliminated from the NL wild-card race when Milwaukee secured the league’s final postseason berth by completing a 9-2 victory in Cincinnati as the Mets batted in the eighth.
Alonso hit a three-run shot off rookie Robert Dugger (0-4) to make it 7-0 in the second. In his final scheduled start of the season, deGrom (11-8) got some rare extensive run support and allowed only two hits in seven shutout innings. He walked one and struck out seven to increase his NL-leading total to 255.
RAYS 4, YANKEES 0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay bullpen combined on a one-hitter and the Rays held their lead in the AL wild-card race, beating New York.
Tampa Bay began the night in the second wild-card spot, a half-game ahead of Cleveland and a half-game behind Oakland. The Rays swept a two-game series from the 102-win Yankees, holding them to DJ LeMahieu’s soft, clean single to right field with two outs in the sixth inning off Morton (16-6).
Morton struck out nine and walked three in six innings. Four relievers finished it out for the Rays.
Joey Wendle homered on the third pitch from opener Jonathan Loaisiga (2-2).
BRAVES 10, ROYALS 2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Josh Donaldson had a career-high three doubles while driving in four runs, Dansby Swanson had a career-high four hits while driving in two, and NL East champion Atlanta cruised past Kansas City.
With their playoff seed secure and nothing on the line, the Braves sent reliever Josh Tomlin to the mound for his first start of the season. Luke Jackson (9-2) was among six relievers to go the rest of the way, helping the Braves snap a four-game skid to the Royals.
Jacob Barnes (1-4) took the loss.
RED SOX 10, RANGERS 3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Christian Vázquez, Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers homered, and Rick Porcello won what could be his final start for Boston.
Porcello (14-12), who will be a free agent, allowed all three runs on six hits, no walks and two hit batters in six innings. He matched a season high with eight strikeouts and retired his last 11 batters.
Vázquez broke a third-inning tie with a two-run homer. It was Boston’s 239rd homer this season, breaking the franchise record set in 2003. Moreland also hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Devers hit a solo shot in the seventh. Kolby Allard (4-2) was the loser.
BLUE JAYS 3, ORIOLES 2
TORONTO (AP) — Rowdy Tellez hit two solo home runs, Jacob Waguespack pitched six shutout innings and Toronto beat Baltimore.
Tellez hit a leadoff drive against right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (1-10) in the fourth, then followed up with an opposite-field shot off left-hander Paul Fry to begin the sixth.
Billy McKinney got Toronto started with the first leadoff home run of his career, lining Ynoa’s second pitch of the game over the wall in right. Waguespack (5-5) allowed four hits, all singles.
Ken Giles struck out the side in the ninth for his 22nd save.