A loss, a rain-delay clinching and a losing second-half record couldn't take the froth off the Cincinnati Reds' first championship celebration in 11 years.
The Reds backed into their first division title since 1979 Saturday afternoon, clinching the National League West championship during a rain delay of a 3-1 loss to San Diego.The Reds were handed the title when second-place Los Angeles eliminated itself with a 4-3 loss in San Francisco, ending the race in an appropriate fashion - the Reds have stumbled to a 56-57 record since June 4 after building a huge lead.
All that was forgotten as the Reds buried a decade of scandal and second-bests with the first wire-to-wire lead by a National League team in a 162-game season.
The seventh-inning stretch had just concluded when a downpour arrived, sending the players to the clubhouse to watch for a Dodger score.
When it came across a television set, the players exchanged victory hugs in the clubhouse, marched onto the field wearing championship T-shirts and caps, and even took a couple of victory slides across the infield tarp as a steady rain fell.
The game never resumed and was called, giving San Diego a 3-1 victory. Still, the Reds' spirits were bright.
"I've never seen anything like that in my life, but we'll take it anyway," said Jose Rijo, who will start the Reds' first playoff game.
"You do it anyway you can," said outfielder Paul O'Neill, who joined Rijo in a belly-slam across the soaked tarp.
Giants 4, Dodgers 3
At San Francisco, the Dodgers lost to San Francisco as Will Clark drove in three runs.
The Dodgers lost their third straight game. The Giants won their sixth in a row.
San Francisco did not have a hit off Jim Neidlinger (5-3) until it broke through with three hits and two runs in the fourth inning. Brett Butler and Mike Kingery opened with singles, Clark hit an RBI double and Terry Kennedy had a sacrifice fly.
Clark added a two-run single in the fifth, giving him 91 RBIs. He has driven home 90 runs in four consecutive seasons.
Kelly Downs (3-2) gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings. He didn't allow a hit until Juan Samuel doubled in the fifth, setting up an RBI grounder by Mike Sharperson.
The Dodgers made it 4-2 in the sixth on a single by Lenny Harris, Downs' wild pitch and Stan Javier's single.
Pinch hitter Chris Gwynn led off the Los Angeles eighth with a triple and scored on Harris' groundout. Steve Bedrosian pitched 11/3 innings for his 17th save.
Astros 9, Braves 0
At Houston, Glenn Davis doubled twice, drove in three runs, scored three times and got in the middle of a bench-clearing incident as the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves on Bill Gullickson's shutout.
Gullickson (10-14) gave up six hits, walked four and struck out one in his second complete game of the season and first shutout. Charlie Leibrandt (9-11) gave up three runs on seven hits in four innings.
Expos 5, Phillies 1
At Montreal, Brian Barnes pitched a three-hitter for his first major-league victory and Marquis Grissom and Andres Galarraga drove in two runs each as the Montreal Expos snapped a eight-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday night.
Making his fourth career start, Barnes (1-1) struck out two and didn't walk a batter to record his first complete game.
Pirates 8, Cardinals 0
At St. Louis, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched a tie for their first National League East title since 1979, winning their sixth straight game Saturday as Bob Walk pitched a four-hitter to beat St. Louis.
The Pirates' victory came less than an hour after second-place New York lost to Chicago 3-2. One more Pittsburgh victory or Mets' loss will assure the Pirates their first division championship since they won the World Series in 1979.
Cubs 3, Mets 2
At New York, the New York Mets moved closer to elimination as the Chicago Cubs beat Frank Viola for the third time this season.
A victory by Pittsburgh in St. Louis would give the Pirates at least a tie for the National League East title. New York starts a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday night, but it may only be a playoff warmup for the Pirates.
Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 5
At Boston, Roger Clemens returned with six shutout innings and Tom Brunansky welcomed him back with three home runs as the Boston Red Sox opened a two-game lead over Toronto in the American League East, holding off the Blue Jays.
A day after the Red Sox rallied in the ninth inning to sting Toronto in the opener of the three-game series, Boston brightened even more when Clemens seemed strong. Still, it wasn't easy as Toronto scored five runs with two outs in the ninth against Dennis Lamp, capped by Kelly Gruber's grand slam.
Clemens (21-6), whose comeback was postponed several times since he was sidelined Sept. 4 because of severe tendinitis, blanked the Blue Jays on five hits. He struck out five, walked two and lowered his earned run average to 1.93, best in baseball.
Brewers 8, Yankees 1
At Milwaukee, Bill Spiers' bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run second inning and Jaime Navarro pitched an eight-hitter as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the New York Yankees.
Navarro (8-7) walked one and struck out four as he pitched his third complete game. Two of the three have come against the Yankees.
Twins 2, Tigers 0
At Detroit, rookie Scott Erickson gave up just two hits in 71/3 innings and won his fifth straight decision as the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers.
Cecil Fielder's attempt to become the first American Leaguer in 29 years to hit 50 homers remained stalled at 49. He hit four fly balls, including two with the bases loaded that ended innings.
At Cleveland, the Cleveland Indians' game against the Baltimore Orioles was postponed by rain and will be made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday.
Greg Swindell (12-8) and Charles Nagy (1-4) will pitch for Cleveland against Bob Milacki (4-8) and Dan Boone (0-0). Nagy and Milacki had been scheduled for Saturday's game.
White Sox 5, Mariners 2
At Chicago, Frank Thomas keyed a seventh-inning comeback with a two-run single and Eric King won his fourth straight decision as the Chicago White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2 Saturday night.
Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, Chicago scored three times, the final two on Thomas' two-out, bases-loaded single.
It was the last night game in Comiskey Park. Sunday afternoon's series finale will be the last game played in the 80-year-old stadium, which will be demolished after the season.
Athletics 7, Rangers 3
At Arlington, Texas, Todd Burns won his first game in 31/2 months and his first as a starter since 1989 as the Oakland Athletics beat Texas 7-3 on Saturday night.
Burns (3-3) allowed seven hits and two runs in 5 2-3 innings to win for the first time since he beat the Rangers in relief on June 13. It was Burns' first victory in three starts since he beat New York on May 26, 1989.
Royals 9, Angels 6
At Anaheim, Calif., Jeff Conine went 3-for-4, including a two-run single in the first inning for his first major league RBIs, and Sean Berry knocked in three runs as the Kansas City Royals defeated California.
Conine, a 58th-round draft choice in 1987, doubled in the sixth inning to set up a two-run triple by Berry that snapped a 3-3 tie.