Craig Biggio drove in three runs and Andy Pettitte pitched the surging Houston Astros to their seventh straight victory, 7-4, over the Pirates last night in Pittsburgh.
The win moved the Astros to 79-78, the first time the team has been over .500 since June 22 -- the day Roger Clemens made his initial start of the season in a loss to Minnesota.
Mike Lamb scored three times for second-place Houston, which moved within 1 1/2 games behind fading St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cardinals lost their seventh in a row, to San Diego, last night.
Jason Bay and Jose Bautista homered for the Pirates, who have lost five in a row but had won eight of nine at home. Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez went 4 for 5 to improve his NL-leading batting average to .346.
Pettitte (14-13) scattered 10 hits and a walk while striking out two. He improved to 7-1 lifetime against Pittsburgh and won his third consecutive decision overall.
Reds 5, Marlins 3 -- In Miami, David Ross hit two home runs into the upper deck and Cincinnati stayed within striking distance in the NL Central.
Third-place Cincinnati moved to 2 1/2 games behind division-leading St. Louis. The loss eliminated Florida, which has lost four straight, from a wild-card berth.
Athletics 12, Mariners 3 -- Nick Swisher and Milton Bradley each homered in a four-run second to back Rich Harden's five shutout innings, helping the A's clinch the AL West title in Seattle.
The win, combined with the Angels' loss against Texas, gave Oakland its first division title since 2003 and the 14th in franchise history.
Rangers 5, Angels 2 -- Robinson Tejeda pitched 6 2/3 strong innings, Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer as visiting Texas helped knock Los Angeles out of the playoff contention. Oakland's win over Seattle sealed the Angels' fate as the A's clinched the AL West title.
Dodgers 11, Rockies 4 -- Los Angeles took over the NL wild-card lead with a rout of Colorado, fueled by the power of Nomar Garciaparra and Marlon Anderson and the timely hitting of Russell Martin.
Garciaparra homered and drove in three runs. Martin drove in four runs with a bases-loaded triple and a 15-foot run-scoring single and Greg Maddux won his 332d career game.
Anderson singled, doubled, and homered for the Dodgers, who moved a game ahead of Philadelphia in the wild-card race. They're two games behind San Diego in the West race.
Nationals 4, Phillies 3 -- Ryan Zimmerman went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs, leading host Washington over Philadelphia, which is trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 1993. The Phillies fell one game behind the Dodgers in the wild-card standings.
Tigers 4, Blue Jays 3-- Placido Polanco drove in three runs, Jeremy Bonderman pitched six solid innings, and host Detroit held off Toronto, keeping its one-game lead in the AL Central.
Twins 3, Royals 2 -- Johan Santana pitched eight strong innings in his final start before the playoffs, earning his 19th win and leading the Twins in Minneapolis.
Indians 6, White Sox 0 -- C.C. Sabathia tied a career high with 11 strikeouts and Ryan Garko homered and drove in a career-high five runs to lead host Cleveland.
Yankees 5, Orioles 4 -- Cory Lidle pitched neatly into the seventh inning, Bobby Abreu and Robinson Cano homered, and New York held off visiting Baltimore.
Braves 12, Mets 0 -- John Smoltz pitched eight sharp innings for his 15th win, and Andruw Jones became the first Atlanta hitter with consecutive 40-homer seasons as Atlanta beat visiting New York.
Cubs 14, Brewers 6 -- Henry Blanco had four hits and four RBIs to help Sean Marshall get his first win since July 5, as Chicago won at home.
Giants 4, Diamondbacks 2 -- Moises Alou hit two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, and host San Francisco ended a five-game losing streak.