Roy Halladay broke out a bottle of champagne to celebrate his latest achievement. He knows the bubbly will taste even sweeter when he gets to the postseason for the first time.
Halladay became Philadelphia’s first 20-game winner in 28 years, Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer, and the Phillies increased their lead in the NL East to five games with their ninth straight win, 5-3, over the Atlanta Braves last night before another sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park.
Halladay (20-10) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings to reach 20 wins for the third time in his career. Hall of Famer Steve Carlton was the last to do it for the Phillies when he won 23 in 1982. Robin Roberts, another Hall of Famer, was the last righthander to win 20 for Philadelphia, in 1955.
“It’s definitely special but the best part about it is it’s been secondary for me,’’ Halladay said. “Being able to get to the playoffs is the priority.’’
The Phillies reduced their magic number for clinching their fourth consecutive division title to six games. Halladay never reached the playoffs in 12 seasons in Toronto.
The two-time defending NL champions are 43-15 since July 21, when they trailed the Braves by seven games. They are 17-3 in September.
“The past two games were a total team effort on both sides of the ball in clutch situations,’’ Werth said. “It’s the kind of ball we’re accustomed to.’’
Rookie Mike Minor (3-2) lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his eighth career start, giving up three runs and seven hits.
Twins 6, Indians 4 — Host Minnesota clinched the AL Central title with a come-from-behind victory over Cleveland and a loss by the White Sox in Oakland. The Twins scored four runs in the eighth inning to rally from a 4-2 deficit.
It’s the first time in three years the AL Central hasn’t come down to a one-game playoff.
Athletics 7, White Sox 2 — Trevor Cahill pitched eight solid innings for his team-leading 17th win and host Oakland sent Chicago to its eighth straight loss.
Giants 1, Cubs 0 — Matt Cain and three relievers combined on a two-hitter, Buster Posey homered, and NL West-leading San Francisco beat Carlos Zambrano at Wrigley Field.
Padres 6, Dodgers 0 — Clayton Richard pitched his first shutout and complete game, Ryan Ludwick drove in four runs, and visiting San Diego remained a half-game behind the Giants. Los Angeles has lost six of eight and was eliminated from playoff contention.
Diamondbacks 3, Rockies 1 — Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer to back Joe Saunders’s eight-inning gem as host Arizona beat Colorado and dropped the Rockies 2 1/2 games behind San Francisco.
Angels 2, Rangers 0 — Ervin Santana gave up five hits while earning his career-best 17th victory, and Los Angeles again slowed visiting Texas’s march to the AL West title.
Reds 4, Brewers 3 — Edinson Volquez continued to make his case that he should be a big part of Cincinnati’s postseason rotation by giving up one run over eight innings to lead the visiting Reds. In other games — Vernon Wells and Travis Snider hit two-run homers and Edwin Encarnacion added a solo shot as host Toronto beat Seattle, 5-3 . . . Gaby Sanchez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning to give Florida a 5-2 victory over the Mets in Miami . . . Paul Maholm shut down fast-fading St. Louis, pitching effectively over seven innings as host Pittsburgh won its season-high fourth in a row, 5-2 . . . Mike Aviles drove in three runs as Kansas City beat host Detroit, 9-6 . . . Ivan Rodriguez hit a tying homer off the left-field pole to spark a seven-run rally with two outs in the eighth inning to lift host Washington over Houston, 8-4.