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Mets will host wild-card game in NL; Cardinals keep pace with Giants for final spot

Mets will host wild-card game in NL; Cardinals keep pace with Giants for final spot
Mets players celebrate after defeating the Phillies on Saturday to earn home-field advantage in the NL wild-card game. (Rich Schultz / Getty Images)

The New York Mets clinched a playoff spot Saturday, beating the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, to secure the top National League wild card, while the St. Louis Cardinals remained alive for the final spot in the NL with another win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The defending NL champions will host San Francisco or St. Louis on Wednesday night at Citi Field, with the winner advancing to face the Chicago Cubs.

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James Loney hit a two-run homer to back 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (15-8), and Jeurys Familia closed for his major league-high 51st save. T.J. Rivera, Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera each had an RBI single.

The only other time the Mets made the postseason in consecutive years was 1999-2000. New York won the NL East last season and went all the way to the World Series before losing to Kansas City.

Jedd Gyorko hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning and Matt Holliday provided another big boost for Cardinals in a 4-3 victory.

The Cardinals remain one game behind San Francisco after the Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-0.

Adam Wainwright is set to start Game No. 162 for St. Louis on Sunday. Either the Cardinals or Giants will play at the New York Mets on Wednesday night in the wild-card game.

Gyorko's solo shot came on a 100-mph fastball from Felipe Rivero (1-6). Gyorko became the first Cardinals player to hit 30 homers in a season since Carlos Beltran in 2012.

The Cardinals tied it with a three-run sixth, highlighted by Holliday's RBI pinch-hit single. Holliday homered on Friday night after the Cardinals said they wouldn't pick up his $17 million option.

Francona reunites with Red Sox

Terry Francona once brought a lot of joy to Boston, guiding the Red Sox to a pair of World Series championships. Starting soon, he hopes it doesn't go so well for them.

Now managing the Cleveland Indians, Francona will face his former team in the best-of-five AL division series. The matchup begins Thursday, with both teams still trying to earn home-field advantage.

This is Francona's fourth season with the AL Central champion Indians, and he said he doesn't want this to be about him versus the AL East champ Red Sox.

"Well, the one thing I think I need to be cognizant of is the players have worked so hard, both sides, to get to this," Francona said before Saturday's game against Kansas City. "I can't let my personal feelings ever get in the way of or take away from what they've done. So, whatever my feelings are need to remain my feelings."

Francona is a close friend of Red Sox Manager John Farrell.

"It's tough when you're going to compete against one of your best friends," Francona said. "That's actually kind of hard, but I'm so proud of him and happy for him and what he's accomplished. I kind of consider it an honor, actually to compete against him."

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Etc.

The Atlanta Braves have interviewed interim manager Brian Snitker and three coaches for the full-time job heading into 2017.  Snitker met with president of baseball operations John Hart and General Manager John Coppolella earlier this week. Hart and Coppolella also spoke with bench coach Terry Pendleton, first base coach Eddie Perez and third base coach Bo Porter about the job. When the season ends Sunday, Hart and Coppolella are expected to begin the process of interviewing candidates outside the organization.

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