ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season, winning the NL Central on Wednesday night when Jim Edmonds' grand slam sent them to an 11-6 win over the Houston Astros.
A sellout crowd at Busch Stadium saw the Cardinals win the division title for the first time since 1996, manager Tony La Russa's first year with the team.
Edmonds' slam came in the third inning and Ray Lankford homered on the next pitch from Chris Holt (7-15), giving the Cardinals an early cushion. Lankford and Craig Paquette each homered twice as St. Louis won for the eighth time in nine games.
Mets 6, Braves 3
ATLANTA -- Al Leiter (16-7) outpitched Tom Glavine (19-9) and New York finally broke through with three homers at Turner Field.
Edgardo Alfonzo, Todd Zeile and Mike Piazza hit solo homers as the Mets avoided a three-game sweep and won for just the third time in their last 23 games at Atlanta.
Perhaps motivated by a tongue-lashing from manager Bobby Valentine following a 12-4 loss Tuesday night, New York moved within four games of nemesis Atlanta in the NL East.
The Braves magic number for clinching their ninth straight division title remained at seven. The two teams meet next week in another three-game series.
The Mets, despite losing two of three, entered the game with a five-game lead over Arizona in the wild card race.
Expos 4, Marlins 2
MONTREAL -- Vladimir Guerrero tied his club record with his 42nd homer and Javier Vazquez had 11 strikeouts as Montreal beat Florida.
Vazquez (11-7) allowed two runs and nine hits in 8 2-3 innings as he won his third straight start. He also had two hits and tied his career high for strikeouts.
Guerrero's sixth-inning homer was his fifth in his last four games, and the Expos' third of the game off Reid Cornelius (3-10) to tie the team record of 172 homers set in 1997.
Pirates 7, Phillies 6, 10 inn.
PHILADELPHIA -- Emil Brown and Adam Hyzdu homered in the 10th inning to lift Pittsburgh to a three-game sweep.
Brown hit his third homer of the season on Chris Brock's first pitch. Pat Meares followed with a single off Brock (7-8) before Hyzdu hit his first career home run.
Rich Loiselle (2-3) pitched two shutout innings to get the win.
Brewers 3, Cubs 2, 10 inn.
MILWAUKEE -- First baseman Mark Grace misplayed Geoff Jenkins' grounder for an error in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving Milwaukee the win.
Cubs starter Jon Lieber took a shutout into the ninth, but Jenkins led off with a home run and Jeromy Burnitz homered with one out to tie it at 2.
Curtis Leskanic (7-3) pitched two hitless innings for the win. Kyle Farnsworth (1-9) took the loss.
Padres 15, Rockies 11
DENVER -- Dave Magadan and Mike Darr each had four RBIs as San Diego scored a season-high 15 runs.
John Mabry, a career .494 hitter (40-for-81) at Coors Field, went 3-for-4 with a homer and single. Magadan, 20-for-34 in September, had a three-run homer for the Padres.
Adam Eaton (6-3), worked the first six innings, allowing five runs and six hits in winning for the first time in four starts. Trevor Hoffman got his 41st save.
Brian Rose (4-3) lasted two innings, allowing six runs and five hits.
Giants 4, Reds 2
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' 493rd career homer splashed into McCovey Cove, and Russ Ortiz threw six hitless innings as the San Francisco Giants moved to the doorstep of the NL West title by beating the Cincinnati Reds.
The Giants, helped by Arizona's loss to Los Angeles, clinched at least a tie for the division title.
Bonds' towering solo homer into the mist and water beyond Pacific Bell Park's right-field wall was the high point of a celebratory night for the Giants, who can win the West with a victory over Arizona on Thursday night.
The homer tied Bonds with Lou Gehrig for 17th on the majors' career list and brought a raucous ovation from the Giants' fans.
J.T. Snow drove in three runs to back Ortiz (13-11), who allowed two hits over 6 2-3 innings.
Robb Nen pitched the ninth for his 38th save. He has thrown 25 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings over 27 appearances.
Steve Parris (12-15), who like Ortiz had won seven games since Aug. 1, allowed four runs in five innings.
Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0
LOS ANGELES -- Eric Karros hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Los Angeles Dodgers their second straight 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks and a sweep of the three-game series.
Karros hit a 2-0 pitch from Byung-Hyun Kim (6-6) into the left-field bullpen for his 31st homer. Los Angeles extended its winning streak to six games, equaling a season high.
The Dodgers moved ahead of Arizona into second place in the NL West, and remained 5 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the NL wild card race. The Diamondbacks, who have lost five in a row, are six games behind the Mets.
Matt Herges (11-3), who blanked the Diamondbacks in the top of the ninth despite allowing two hits, was the winner. Herges has an 11-0 record as a reliever and is 0-3 as a starter.
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