CHICAGO - Kyle Lohse and the short-handed St. Louis Cardinals won for the sixth time in seven games, holding their lead in the NL wild-card race with a 6-3 win Sunday over the Chicago Cubs.
Minus All-Stars Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran from the starting lineup, the Cardinals stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot.
Lohse (16-3) made his team-leading 32nd start, giving up three runs and five hits in six innings.
Jason Motte earned his sixth save in the Cardinals' last seven games, and now has 40 saves this season.
Molina did not play for the defending World Series champions because of lower back spasms, having hurt himself while getting out of the way of a pitch Saturday. The catcher was feeling better, manager Mike Matheny said, still had some discomfort.
Cubs starter Justin Germano (2-9) worked 5 2-3 innings, giving up four earned runs and 10 hits.
BREWERS 6, NATIONALS 2
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jonathan Lucroy had a pair of RBI singles and Milwaukee beat Washington to keep the Brewers in the playoff chase.
Rickie Weeks had three hits while Aramis Ramirez had two doubles for Milwaukee, which twice benefitted from Washington outfielders losing fly balls in the sun. The Brewers are 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild-card berth.
Washington (92-60) leads the NL East by 4 1/2 games over Atlanta, a 2-1 winner over Philadelphia Sunday. The Nationals magic number to clinch the division remains at six.
Reliever Brandon Kintzler (3-0) pitched a scoreless sixth inning for the win. John Axford recorded the final out with two runners on for his 33rd save.
Losing pitcher Ryan Mattheus (5-3) allowed three earned runs on four hits.
BRAVES 2, PHILLIES 1
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tim Hudson tossed two-hit ball over 7 1-3 innings to help the Braves move to the brink of a playoff spot with a win over the Phillies.
Hudson (16-6) struck out four and allowed one unearned run to send the Braves back to Atlanta with a shot at winning an NL wild-card berth.
A year after a historic September collapse, the Braves are again close to a post-season spot. They can clinch during a six-game homestand that opens Tuesday.
The Braves were up 8 1/2 games through Sept. 5 last year, but went 9-18 down the stretch and were overtaken by St. Louis on the final day of the season.
This season, the Braves can almost work the final week on setting their playoff rotation.
David Ross hit a solo homer for the Braves.
PIRATES 8, ASTROS 1
HOUSTON (AP) — A.J. Burnett allowed one run in eight innings for his 16th win, and Josh Harrison tied a career high with four hits to jumpstart Pittsburgh's offence in a win over Houston.
The win snapped a five-game skid for the Pirates, who at 75-77 are in danger of posting their 20th straight losing season, which would extend their major North American professional sports record.
They have won just three times in the past 16 games to make their chances of securing the second NL wild-card slim.
Burnett (16-8), who allowed four hits and struck out a season-high 11, won for the first time since Aug. 16 to become the first Pittsburgh pitcher to win more than 15 games since 1991. He had started six games with four losses between victories.
METS 3, MARLINS 2
NEW YORK (AP) — Ruben Tejada singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Mets a victory over Miami.
Scott Hairston led off the inning with a single, took second on a passed ball by Rob Brantly, and was safe at third when pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin beat the throw on what would have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, pinch-hitter Fred Lewis was intentionally walked after Valdespin was allowed to take second.
Tejada lined a pitch from right-hander Ryan Webb (4-3) into shallow left field and sprinted toward first with his finger in the air as the rest of the Mets poured out of the dugout.
David Wright hit a two-run homer in the first and Bobby Parnell (5-4) pitched the top of the ninth for the win.
DIAMONDBACKS 10, ROCKIES 7
DENVER (AP) — Aaron Hill hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat Colorado, the Rockies' season-high ninth straight loss.
Arizona remained 4 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot.
Wil Nieves had four hits and Hill had three for the Diamondbacks, who have won three straight and six of seven.
Wilin Rosario had three hits for the fourth game in a row and DJ LeMahieu also had three hits for the Rockies.
PADRES 6, GIANTS 4
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yonder Alonso's two-run single in the seventh inning snapped a tie and helped the Padres beat the Giants.
Mark Kotsay hit a home run and Yasmani Grandal also drove in a run for the Padres, who had lost four of their previous five games. Everth Cabrera had four hits, walked and stole three bases in five plate appearances.
Xavier Nady, who had two hits, Eli Whiteside, Emmanuel Burriss and Buster Posey each drove in runs for the Giants, who rested their regulars a day after clinching the NL West Division title.
Eric Stults (7-3) worked six-plus innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, to win his sixth in seven decisions. He struck out four and walked one.
Clay Hensley (4-4) took the loss after giving up Alonso's hit.
DODGERS 5, REDS 3
CINCINNATI (AP) — Adrian Gonzalez hit a pair of solo homers off Homer Bailey on Sunday night, powering the Dodgers to a victory over the Reds that let them keep pace in the wild card race.
The Dodgers remained three games behind St. Louis and a half-game behind Milwaukee for the final NL playoff spot. All three won on Sunday.
The Dodgers have dropped 11 of their last 17 games. They're off Monday before starting a three-game series in San Diego. The Dodgers finish the season with six games at home — three against Colorado, three against NL West-champion San Francisco.
Bailey (12-10) allowed five hits in 6 2-3 innings, including the two homers by Gonzalez, who has five in his career off the right-hander.
Shawn Tolleson (3-1) got the victory with one perfect inning in relief. Brandon League pitched the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances with LA.