DENVER Aaron Cook took a shutout into the ninth inning, Todd Helton hit a two-run homer and the Colorado beat San Diego 4-2 Thursday, dropping the NL West-leading Padres back to .500.
The Padres (76-76) lost for the second time in three days to the last-place Rockies. Colorado routed the Padres 20-1 Tuesday night.
San Diego still leads the division by five games over San Francisco. The Giants lost at Washington 2-0.
With the win, the Rockies guaranteed they would finish the season with fewer than 100 loses a much better record than many predicted for the inexperienced squad.
Cook (6-1) has been impressive since he returned on July 30 after leaving a game on Aug. 7, 2004, because of dizziness and shortness of breath. Doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs then and performed two surgeries.
Brian Fuentes got three outs for his 30th save.
Adam Eaton (10-5) was pulled after allowing four runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings.
Nationals 2, Giants 0
WASHINGTON With little to play for other than finishing above .500, the Washington Nationals used a lineup of rookies and reserves and still managed to beat the San Francisco Giants, who rested Barry Bonds and missed a chance to gain ground in the NL West.
Top draft pick Ryan Zimmerman hit two singles and scored, career minor leaguer Rick Short delivered two doubles and an RBI, and fill-in starter Hector Carrasco threw 5 2-3 shutout innings to help Washington (78-75) end a four-game losing streak.
The Giants’ five-game winning streak ended, and they remained five games behind division-leading San Diego. The Padres lost 4-2 at Colorado.
Bonds, who homered in four straight games, was out of the lineup because it was an afternoon start and he felt sore, manager Felipe Alou said.
Jon Rauch (2-4) won in relief and Chad Cordero earned his majors-leading 47th save with a perfect ninth. Brett Tomko (7-15) lost his fifth straight decision.
Astros 2, Pirates 1
PITTSBURGH Brandon Backe made his second successive strong start and the Houston Astros held their lead in the NL wild-card race, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates for their eighth win in nine games.
The Astros lead Philadelphia by two games in the race for the NL’s fourth playoff spot.
Backe (10-8) limited the Pirates to one run and two hits over seven innings and Brad Lidge preserved the lead, getting his 38th save. Lance Berkman drove in two early runs against Zach Duke (6-2), and the Astros made them stand up.
Backe struck out six and walked none despite having matters on his mind despite baseball. A native of Galveston, Texas, he spent considerable time on the phone this week making sure his parents and other family members left their homes well ahead of Hurricane Rita.
Phillies 4, Braves 0
ATLANTA Jon Lieber pitched eight scoreless innings and the Philadelphia Phillies scored four runs off Tim Hudson in the ninth to take another series from Atlanta.
Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to a post-1900 franchise-record 27, and the Phillies wound up winning two of three at Turner Field. They closed within four games of the NL East-leading Braves with nine left.
Philadelphia remained two games behind Houston in the wild-card race.
Hudson (13-9) got two outs in the ninth, only to get tagged by two straight pinch-hitters. Michael Tucker singled in the game’s first run and Shane Victorino followed with his first career homer, a three-run shot that knocked out Hudson.
Lieber (16-12) gave up five hits, struck out seven and didn’t walk anyone.
Marlins 2, Mets 1
NEW YORK Dontrelle Willis won his major league-leading 22nd game and kept Florida’s flickering NL wild-card hopes alive, allowing five hits over eight innings.
Florida, which lost the first two games of this series, remained four games behind Houston and two behind Philadelphia in the wild-card race. All three teams have nine games to play.
Willis (22-9) ran his record to 8-1 since Aug. 1. He walked two and struck out seven. Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 38th save.
Willis, hitting .250 this season (22-for-88) batted seventh in a Marlins lineup that was missing three regulars and singled in the fourth inning. He hit eighth in his previous start.
Mets starter Pedro Martinez (15-8) allowed two runs in five innings as he was held to 75 pitches.
Ramon Castro homered for the Mets.
Cubs 3, Brewers 0
MILWAUKEE Greg Maddux kept up his bid for another season with 15 wins, pitching the Chicago Cubs past the Milwaukee Brewers.
Maddux (13-13) has posted at least 15 victories in a record 17 seasons. The Cubs have nine games left this year, and manager Dusty Baker had said he would give Maddux every opportunity to keep the string going.
Maddux earned his 318th career win, tying him with Phil Niekro for 15th on the all-time list.
Throwing only 78 pitches, Maddux held the Brewers to four hits in eight innings while striking out four and walking none. Ryan Dempster pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 31 opportunities.
Rick Helling (2-1) took the loss.
Reds 6, Cardinals 2
CINCINNATI Edwin Encarnacion’s bases-loaded double completed a five-run rally in the eighth inning for Cincinnati.
The NL Central champion Cardinals clinched home-field advantage throughout the league playoffs when Atlanta lost earlier Thursday.
Felipe Lopez’s single off Ray King (4-4) tied it at 2 in the eighth, and the Reds loaded the bases with one out. The Cardinals failed to turn a double play on Austin Kearns’ grounder, letting the go-ahead run score and Encarnacion hit his three-run double off Julian Tavares.
Todd Coffey (4-0) pitched one inning for the Reds, who are 10-22 against St. Louis over the last two seasons.
Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 4, 12 innings
PHOENIX Alex Cintron hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 12th to give Arizona its first series sweep since taking three from Los Angeles in April.
Cintron lined an 0-1 pitch from Duaner Sanchez (4-8) into the right-field seats with pinch-runner Luis Terrero and Shawn Green aboard on a walk and a single.
Jason Bulger (1-0), the seventh Arizona reliever, pitched the 12th and earned his first major league victory.
Jeff Kent had a three-run homer for the Dodgers, who lost their sixth in a row.
The Dodgers tied the game at 4 in the eighth when Ricky Ledee was hit with a pitch by Oscar Villarreal with the bases loaded and one out.
Tony Clark hit his 30th homer, a two-run shot off that tied the game at 3 in the third inning.
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