They’ve almost run out of magic numbers, but the Philadelphia Phillies still haven’t run out of magic.
The Phillies won in their least-favorite ballpark Monday night to clinch a tie for their first National League East title in 10 years with a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Pittsburgh.
The Phillies could win it as early as today if they beat the Pirates again or if the Montreal Expos lose, but the Phillies don’t want to back into their first title since 1983.
“We want to clinch it the way you should clinch it--by winning,” said Dave Hollins, who had a career-high four hits. “You always want to win the game and celebrate rather than watching the scoreboard.”
Just as they have all season, the Phillies refused to do it the easy way. they jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning, then held on as the always-dramatic Mitch Williams pitched out of a two-out jam in the ninth for his 42nd save.
The victory--only the Phillies’ fifth in their last 25 games in Pittsburgh--coupled with the Expos’ 3-1 defeat at Florida, assured Philadelphia of at least a tie for their sixth East championship since division play began in 1969.
Ben Rivera (13-9) gave up three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Roger Mason and Larry Andersen set up Williams, who gave up two-out singles to Jeff King and Lloyd McClendon before getting Don Slaught to fly out.
Steve Cooke (10-10) shut out the Phillies for three innings, but didn’t retire any of the five hitters he faced in the fourth.
Kevin Young had an RBI triple in the fifth and a solo homer in the eighth. The Pirates chased Rivera on Andy Van Slyke’s two-run single in the seventh.
San Francisco 8, San Diego 4--John Burkett pitched six shutout innings and became the National League’s first 21-game winner as the Giants cut Atlanta’s West lead to one game at San Diego.
After giving up a hit to lead off the game, Burkett (21-7) retired 19 in a row. He lost the shutout on Phil Plantier’s two-run homer in the seventh.
Brad Ausmus hit a two-run homer with one out in the eighth to cut the Giants’ lead to 6-4 and chase Burkett.
Mike Jackson relieved and got one out, and Rod Beck got the last four for his 44th save.
The Giants staked Burkett to a 2-0 lead in the first. With two out, Will Clark reached on an infield hit and Matt Williams worked Andy Benes (15-15) to a full count before driving his 38th homer over the left-field wall.
In the fifth, the Giants loaded the bases with nobody out but could only manage one run on Barry Bonds’ sacrifice fly.
Bonds’ 115th RBI lifted him into a tie with Atlanta’s David Justice for the NL lead.
Florida 3, Montreal 1--Rookie Pat Rapp allowed only four hits in eight innings at Miami to push the Expos to the brink of elimination in the East.
Montreal lost consecutive games for the first time since they lost four consecutive from Aug. 8-12.
Rapp (4-5) lost his shutout after Darrin Fletcher tripled leading off the eighth inning. Pinch-runner Tim Spehr scored on a groundout by pinch-hitter John Vander Wal.
Rich Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his third save.
St. Louis 4, New York 3--Gerald Perry’s one-out pinch single in the ninth inning scored Ray Lankford from second as the Cardinals rallied for the victory at New York.
Lankford opened the ninth with a walk and stole second as Erik Pappas struck out. Perry then delivered his game-winning single off Mauro Gozzo (0-1), who relieved starter Sid Fernandez.