New York The National League wild-card race got a little tighter Tuesday night, thanks to the determination of the New York Mets and fill-in catcher Ramon Castro.
Disgusted by his first two at-bats against Philadelphia, Castro turned his night around with a pair of extra-base hits, fueling a furious Mets comeback that resulted in a 6-4 victory and cost the Phillies the outright lead in the NL wild-card chase.
Castro doubled and scored in the seventh inning and then hit a three-run homer to put the Mets in front in the eighth. Braden Looper's 28th save sealed the victory and dropped the Phillies (70-62) into a wild-card tie with the Florida Marlins, who beat St. Louis.
The Mets and Houston Astros (both 69-62) are a half-game back.
"Playing from behind, winning games, that's good for us," said Castro, who hit his sixth home run. "We always feel confident. Playing from behind, that's a big part of the game."
Castro struck out and popped out in his first two swings against starter Robinson Tejeda.
"I was a little down after those two at-bats," he said. "But I thought, 'I've got three more chances."'
He only needed two.
With the Mets trailing 4-2, Castro opened the seventh with a double and scored on a wild pitch by reliever Ryan Madson. That made it 4-3 and put the Mets in striking distance when David Wright opened the eighth with a walk against Ugueth Urbina (3-1).
Wright hustled down the line, as if he knew something good was about to happen for the Mets.
"We have tremendous confidence in each other," he said.
Padres 5, Diamondbacks 3
San Diego - Joe Randa hit a go-ahead home run leading off the sixth, and Brian Giles had a three-run shot in the first for San Diego, which beat Arizona to take a 51â2-game lead in the NL West.
The Padres pulled to one game under .500 (65-66), making this the latest in a season a team has led a division with a losing record. The Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers are tied for second.
Astros 5, Reds 2
Houston - Morgan Ensberg hit a three-run homer in a five-run fifth that rallied Houston and closed the Astros within a half-game of the NL wild-card lead.
Wandy Rodriguez (9-6) won for the fifth time in his last seven decisions, allowing one run and four hits in five innings and dropping his earned-run average from a team-high 6.16 to 5.94. The Astros have backed him with an average of 7.78 runs a game, more than double the team-low 3.61 given Roger Clemens.
Giants 4, Rockies 3
San Francisco - Ray Durham hit a tying RBI double in the eighth, then scored the go-ahead run on Edgardo Alfonzo's infield single, leading San Francisco.
After Pedro Feliz drew a two-out walk from Mike DeJean (5-3), Durham doubled to right to score Feliz. Alfonzo followed with his second hit of the game.
Pirates 6, Brewers 0
Milwaukee - Paul Maholm pitched eight shutout innings in his major-league debut, and Pittsburgh had a five-run first inning against Milwaukee to snap a five-game losing streak.
Nationals 3, Braves 2
Atlanta - Rookie Jason Bergman earned his first major-league win, leading a Washington bullpen that pitched 61â3 shutout innings in the Nationals' victory over Atlanta. Jose Guillen homered to help the Nationals move back above .500 in one-run games.
Cubs 6, Dodgers 3
Chicago - Nomar Garciaparra hit a solo home run and drove in two runs to back Mark Prior and help Chicago beat Los Angeles. Henry Blanco hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the sixth inning and had three RBIs for the Cubs, who won for just the third time in 10 games. Prior (10-5) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings.
Marlins 7, Cardinals 6
Miami - Carlos Delgado hit a two-run triple in the eighth inning, and Florida recovered after blowing an early lead. Florida opened an early four-run lead after Miguel Cabrera's three-run homer in the third, but fell behind for the first time when Mark Grudzielanek's run-scoring groundout gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead in the eighth.