NEW YORK Third baseman David Wright missed an easy force play, Oliver Perez hit a pair of batters with the bases loaded and the New York Mets stumbled out of the NL East lead with a 7-4 loss to the last-place Florida Marlins.
New York has lost five straight and 11 of 15 to fall one game back of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets' eighth straight home loss dropped them out of first place for the first time since May 15.
The Mets had a seven-game lead on Sept. 12 with 17 games left. No major league team has blown such a big lead in such a short time to end a season.
Jeremy Hermida hit a two-run homer, Hanley Ramirez had three hits and Dan Uggla scored three runs for the Marlins, who took a 4-1 lead in the third as Perez (15-10) tied a major league record by hitting three batters in one inning.
Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer and Luis Castillo went 3-for-5 for the Mets.
Byung-Hyun Kim (10-8) allowed eight hits and four runs in five innings. He threw two pitches in the sixth before departing with a blister on his right hand.
Taylor Tankersley, Matt Lindstrom, Lee Gardner and Kevin Gregg followed with a scoreless inning apiece, with Gregg earning his 32nd save. Florida's bullpen has not allowed a run in the last four games.
CUBS 6, REDS 0: At Cincinnati, Alfonso Soriano hit another leadoff homer, Carlos Zambrano kept his cool and Chicago clinched the NL Central with a victory over Cincinnati.
Thousands of Chicago fans made the five-hour road trip and cheered every move by the Cubs, who earned their first playoff spot since 2003 when Milwaukee later lost to San Diego 6-3.
Since returning from a strained thigh that sidelined him for most of August, Soriano has gone on a tear. He has 13 homers in September, matching Ernie Banks' record of 50 years ago.
Soriano hit the third pitch from Bronson Arroyo (9-15) into the seats in center field for his 32nd homer. His six leadoff homers in September are the most by any major leaguer in any month and that's wasn't the end of it. The left fielder also threw Joey Votto out at the plate in the fourth inning, matching Hank Sauer's team record of 19 assists for the season.
Keeping his emotions in check, Zambrano (18-13) allowed six hits in seven innings and strengthened his case to start the first game of the playoffs.
PHILLIES 6, NATIONALS 0: At Philadelphia, Cole Hamels struck out 13 in eight dominant innings, Ryan Howard hit his 45th homer and the Phillies took a one-game lead in the NL East with two games left.
Desperate to end a 14-year playoff drought, Hamels (15-5) shut down the Nationals with a combination of an overpowering fastball and his trademark changeup. He allowed six hits and walked one in his third start since missing a month because of a strained elbow.
CARDINALS 6, PIRATES 1: At Pittsburgh, Jim Edmonds broke open a tight game with a three-run single in the eighth inning, helping the Cardinals win their third straight. So Taguchi drove in two runs and David Eckstein scored three times for the defending World Series champions, who have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
DIAMONDBACKS 4, ROCKIES 2: At Denver, Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks clinched their playoff spot, stopping the Rockies' 11-game winning streak and putting a crimp in their postseason plans. Arizona's win combined with the New York Mets' loss to Florida put Arizona into the postseason for the first time since 2002.
PADRES 6, BREWERS 3: At Milwaukee, Khalil Greene hit a go-ahead double and drove in three runs as the wild card-leading Padres eliminated the Brewers from postseason contention. Greg Maddux (14-11) gave up three runs and six hits in five innings for his 347th win.
BRAVES 7, ASTROS 2: At Houston, Jeff Francoeur hit the go-ahead two-run homer as the Braves beat the Astros. Rookie left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes (2-2) gave up two runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings one night after the Braves were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Philadelphia.
DODGERS 8, GIANTS 3: At Los Angeles, David Wells capped his splintered season with a victory and singled home a run and James Loney continued his torrid month with another homer as Los Angeles downed San Francisco.
RED SOX 5, TWINS 2: At Boston, Daisuke Matsuzaka won for only the second time since early August and David Ortiz homered for the fourth time in seven games as Boston beat Minnesota.
Already assured of at least the wild card, Boston cut its magic number to one for its first division title in 12 years. The Red Sox, who likely will open the postseason against the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels, began the night with a two-game lead over the New York Yankees.
ORIOLES 10, YANKEES 9: At Baltimore, Alex Rodriguez hit his 54th homer, drove in four runs and scored twice, but a rare blown save by Mariano Rivera allowed Melvin Mora to bunt home the winning run and end the Yankees' string of nine straight division titles.
BLUE JAYS 5, DEVIL RAYS 4: At Toronto, Adam Lind hit a two-run homer, Matt Stairs added a solo shot and the Blue Jays won for the fourth time in five games. Carlos Pena hit his 45th home run, giving him a team-record 12 in September, and Jorge Velandia had a two-run homer as Tampa Bay lost for the eighth time in 10 games.
INDIANS 5, ROYALS 3: At Kansas City, Mo., C.C. Sabathia picked up his 100th career victory and the Indians wrapped up home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The Indians claimed their 95th victory, tying them with the Boston Red Sox for the most wins in the American League. But Boston holds the tiebreaker by winning the season series.
WHITE SOX 5, TIGERS 2: At Chicago, Paul Konerko hit a three-run home run and Jim Thome hit his 506th career homer to lead the White Sox past the Tigers. Javier Vazquez (15-8) pitched 7 2/3 solid innings for the White Sox, who have won eight of their last 12 games.
ANGELS 2, ATHLETICS 0: At Oakland, Calif., John Lackey took over the American League lead in earned-run average and Vladimir Guerrero homered and drove in two runs as the Angels beat Oakland.
MARINERS 6 RANGERS 4: At Seattle, rookie Jeff Clement hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning, lifting Seattle Mariners Texas.