The Atlanta Braves are breezing in the East, the San Diego Padres are cruising in the West and the Houston Astros are holding on in the Central. Still, there's a great race shaping up in the National League.
The chase for the wild-card spot changed Sunday with the Chicago Cubs taking over the lead from the San Francisco Giants for the fourth playoff slot.San Francisco, the New York Mets and Philadelphia are all within three games of Chicago. Los Angeles dropped 41/2 games behind the Cubs, losing 5-4 at St. Louis as Mark McGwire used his legs, rather than his bat, to win a game for the Cardinals.
McGwire scored from second base on John Mabry's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, barely beating catcher Charles Johnson's diving tag.
"It's a shame in a game like this that the first thing you want to talk about is McGwire's running," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, "when the real news is John Mabry's game-winning hit."
The Giants ended a dreadful 1-8 road trip with a 4-3 loss in 12 innings at Houston.
Derek Bell singled home the winning run with one out in the bottom of the 12th against Giants closer Robb Nen at the Astrodome.
Houston completed a three-game sweep and held its five-game lead over the Cubs in the Central. The Astros admitted they were a bit flat after seeing relief ace Billy Wagner get hit in the head by a line drive a few days ago at Arizona.
CARDINALS 5, DODGERS 4: McGwire, leading the majors with 42 home runs, drew a one-out walk in the ninth from Scott Radinsky and Ron Gant was hit by a pitch with two outs.
Mabry followed by slicing a single to left field, and McGwire was running all the way.
CUBS 7, MARLINS 6 : Chicago edged ahead of San Francisco in the wild-card race, taking advantage of Florida pitcher Rob Stanifer's throwing error in the 12th inning.
Stanifer threw away a bunt, allowing two runs to score, and a sacrifice fly by Henry Rodriguez made it 7-4.
PHILLIES 7, METS 6 : Mark Leiter managed to get the victory on Family Day at Shea Stadium, a day after his brother, Al, pitched New York past Philadelphia.
The Phillies took a 6-5 lead into the ninth, but Leiter walked four batters to force home the tying run. He also struck out three in the inning.
PADRES 7, REDS 6: Greg Vaughn hit his fourth home run of the three-game series for San Diego, and Tony Gwynn had a tie-breaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning at Cincinnati.
BRAVES 11, BREWERS 6: Tony Graffanino and Curtis Pride homered as Atlanta opened a 141/2-game lead in the East.
The Braves scored in each of the first six innings.
PIRATES 6, EXPOS 1: Tony Womack got three hits and stole his league-leading 36th base as Pittsburgh won at Montreal.
The Pirates stole a season-high five bases, with Jason Kendall stealing home on the back end of a double steal.
DIAMONDBACKS 6, ROCKIES 4: Rookie Travis Lee hit a triple and an RBI single and Arizona matched its longest winning streak of the season at four games.
Lee went 7-for-12 as the Diamondbacks completed a three-game sweep at Phoenix.