ATLANTA — Pinch-runner Jeff Baker scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning when reliever Ryan Mattheus hit Andrelton Simmons’ uniform with a bases-loaded pitch that helped the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 Saturday.
Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman homered for the Braves, who have won the first two games in the series and nine of 13.
Atlanta moved within 6½ games of first-place Washington in the NL East. The Braves began the game with a seven-game lead over third-place Los Angeles in the NL wild-card race.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel earned his 36th save in 39 ties after striking out the side.
Eric O’Flaherty (3-0) faced the minimum in the eighth for Atlanta, extending his scoreless innings streak to 19 1-3 innings, a span of 22 games.
Mattheus (5-2) allowed one hit, one walk, two walks and no strikeouts.
Pirates 7, Cubs 6: Andrew McCutchen homered and reached base four times, and the Pirates held off a late rally to snap a seven-game losing streak with a win over the Cubs.
Wandy Rodriguez (11-13) held Chicago to three runs — one earned — in helping the Pirates stop their free-fall in the NL playoff race. Pittsburgh had lost 17 of 22, yet was just three games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild-card slot entering the day.
Rodriguez is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last four starts after struggling initially upon being acquired midseason from Houston.
McCutchen launched Jason Berkin’s pitch off the rear fence behind the left-field bleachers leading off the third, his 28th round-tripper of the season. He also singled and walked twice, improving to .394 in 27 career games at Wrigley Field.
Marlins 6, Reds 4: Carlos Lee homered and drove in three runs to help the Marlins beat the Reds.
Mark Buehrle (13-12) allowed four runs on seven hits over 7 2-3 innings to improve to 4-1 in his last six starts. Jose Reyes had three hits and also drove in a run for Miami.
Johnny Cueto (17-9) suffered his third straight loss and failed to last five innings for the second straight start. Cueto gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings, and hasn’t won since August 28 at Arizona. Ryan Ludwick homered for the Reds in the eighth to make it 6-4.
Giants 3, Diamondbacks 2: Buster Posey had a two-run home run in the fifth to help the Giants beat the Diamondbacks. Barry Zito scattered six hits and one run over 6 2-3 innings for the Giants, who have won four straight and 22 of their past 32. Zito (12-8) walked one and struck out four. Sergio Romo pitched the final 1 1-3 for his 11th save. Justin Upton hit his 14th home run for the Diamondbacks, who have scored four runs or fewer in 12 straight home games to match a franchise record.
Posey broke a 1-all tie in the fifth with a two-out home run two rows deep into the right-field stands. The All-Star catcher is hitting .390 in 55 games since the All-Star break with 12 homers and 49 RBIs.
Astros 5, Phillies 0: Dallas Keuchel pitched five-hit ball into the sixth inning and the Astros beat the Phillies and avoided their 100th loss of the season.
Brewers 9, Mets 6: Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer during a five-run fourth inning to lift the Brewers to a win over the Mets.
Padres 4, Rockies 3: Rookie Casey Kelly carried a shutout into the seventh inning and Jesus Guzman hit a three-run homer, leading the Padres to a win over the Rockies.
Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3: Luis Cruz came up with his second clutch hit in two nights, a tying two-out RBI double in the ninth inning, and pinch-hitter Juan Rivera followed with a run-scoring single to lift the Dodgers to a victory over the Cardinals. — Agencies