ST. LOUIS – Mat Latos won his fourth straight decision to finish the regular season and Scott Rolen homered off Chris Carpenter, helping the Cincinnati Reds keep the St. Louis Cardinals’ postseason plans on hold with a 3-1 victory Tuesday night.
The Cardinals’ magic number for clinching the second NL wild card remained at one with a game to go, and they were left in the uncomfortable position of watching the Dodgers on television and rooting for a loss for the second straight night.
Los Angeles, which began the day two games back with two remaining, played at home against the Giants later Tuesday.
Cincinnati, the NL Central champion, remained tied with Washington for the league’s best record. The Reds need a win tonight and a Nationals loss to earn home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Injured most of this season, Carpenter (0-2) made only his third start of the year gave up a pair of runs in the sixth to snap a 1-all tie. Jay Bruce and Dioner Navarro had RBI.
If the Cardinals and Dodgers end up tied, a one-game playoff would be Thursday in Los Angeles, with the winner advancing to the wild-card game Friday in Atlanta.
Latos (14-4) had an abbreviated appearance while freshening up for the postseason and, like teammate Bronson Arroyo a day earlier, worked five innings and threw fewer than 75 pitches.
Latos, 24, allowed a run on four hits with four strikeouts, all in a span of four at-bats against the bottom of the St. Louis lineup.
Latos was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA over his past seven starts and set career highs in starts (34) and innings (209 1/3 ).
NATIONALS 4, PHILLIES 2: In Washington, a smile crept across Adam LaRoche’s face while he rounded the bases after hitting his career-high 33rd homer to become the third Nationals player with 100 RBI in a season, another celebratory moment for NL East champ Washington.
PIRATES 5, BRAVES 1: In Pittsburgh, Kevin Correia pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Garrett Jones homered and Pittsburgh won consecutive games for the first time in four weeks. The Pirates (79-82) tied for their most wins in a season since their North American major professional sports record streak of 20 losing seasons began in 1993. The 1999 Pirates went 79-83.
ASTROS 3, CUBS 0: In Chicago, Bud Norris pitched six shutout innings, Jason Castro homered in a matchup of 100-loss teams.
The season-ending series between NL Central clubs marks the first meeting of 100-loss team in the majors since 1962, when the Cubs played the New York Mets.
Houston fell to 55-106, and the Cubs fell to 60-101.
BREWERS 4, PADRES 3: In Milwaukee, rookie Martin Maldonado hit a grand slam off former TinCap Anthony Bass and Milwaukee used 10 newcomers in beating San Diego.