NL Wild Card Sunday roundup: Cubs-Reds split series, Giants lose to Padres
Sep 3, 2023, 4:24 PM
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks entered Sunday tied for the third National League Wild Card spot with the San Francisco Giants. The Cincinnati Reds were mere winning percentage points behind, with the Miami Marlins one game back.
Sunday was a mixed bag for the group of playoff hopefuls, with the D-backs losing to the Baltimore Orioles 8-5.
Here’s how Arizona’s wild card foes fared:
Cubs 15, Reds 7
Ian Happ had four RBIs while Mike Tauchman and Cody Bellinger each drove in three to help the Cubs cruise to a 15-7 rout of the Reds on Sunday and earn a split of a critical four-game series between the contending divisional rivals.
Chicago moved three games ahead of Cincinnati in the National League Central and currently holds the second NL wildcard.
Nick Madrigal and Tauchman each drove in two with bases-loaded singles off Reds All-Star closer Alexis Diaz in the seven-run Cubs eighth. Bellinger drove in another with a sacrifice fly, and a double by Dansby Swanson pushed two more across before the Reds could get out of it.
The Chicago victory came after ninth-inning walk-off wins by the Reds in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday and again Saturday.
Tyler Stephenson had three RBIs for the Reds, including a two-run homer in the second inning. TJ Friedl and Spencer Steer hit back-to-back homers in the first inning off Cubs starter Jameson Taillon.
“We won two and so that’s a positive thing,” Stephenson said. “We’re past this game, and we have so big games coming up. Things didn’t go our way today.”
Cubs left-hander Justin Steele will be on the mound to open a series Monday against San Francisco at Wrigley Field. Right-hander Logan Webb is set to go for the Giants.
Meanwhile, Brian Woo is the scheduled starter for the Seattle Mariners on Monday against a Reds pitcher still to be determined in the first of a three-game series in Cincinnati.
Marlins 6, Nationals 4
Luis Arráez led off the game with his sixth homer and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the ninth inning as the Marlins completed their first four-game sweep of the Nationals with a 6-4 win on Sunday.
Sandy Alcantara worked eight strong innings as the Marlins moved three games over .500 in September for the first time in a full season since their 73-69 start in 2010.
“You hope to come in here and win a series,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “Four out of four was kind of icing on the cake. The way we pitched today and this series was why we won all four of those games, and our offense came alive.”
Arráez went 2 for 4 and scored twice. He raised his major league-leading batting average to .356, 15 points higher than the Texas Rangers’ Corey Seager (.341).
“I feel a little tired because we are human, but I am glad I am healthy,” Arráez said. “I just do the same what I do to starting the year. I had struggling months, but it’s past. I’m a human. I’m not perfect. I just go there and try to do my job.”
Alcantara gave up a homer to Lane Thomas in the bottom of the first, but prevented the Nationals from any long rallies. He scattered nine hits, allowed four runs, two earned, struck out three and walked two. He threw 94 pitches, 63 for strikes.
“I feel good about it,” Alcantara said. “First inning, I tried to come out and compete pitch by pitch. I get into trouble in the fifth inning, but that didn’t stop me to keep fighting. I throw eight innings and we win the game.”
The Marlins have won each of Alcantara’s last eight starts against the Nationals, dating to September 2021.
The Marlins open a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday with LHP Jesus Luzardo scheduled to start. Luzardo is coming off two scoreless outings in a row.
Padres 4, Giants 0
Juan Soto homered for the third straight game and Manny Machado also connected for the San Diego Padres, who beat San Francisco 4-0 on Sunday to win the final three games of a four-game series against the wild card-contending Giants.
The Padres hit eight homers in the three wins against the Giants. Seth Lugo held the Giants to just three hits in six innings and allowed only one baserunner into scoring position. Three relievers finished the combined four-hitter, including Josh Hader striking out the side in the ninth in a non-save situation.
San Diego came into Sunday 6.5 back in the wild card race with four teams ahead of it. The wildly inconsistent Padres have failed to live up to the lofty expectations following their stirring run to the NL Championship Series last year, as well as their $250 million payroll, third-highest in baseball.
The Padres will try to win four straight games for the first time this season on Monday when they welcome Philadelphia, which beat them in six games in the NLCS. The Phillies took three of four from the Padres in Philadelphia right after the All-Star break.