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NL Capsules

- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 13, 2011

HOUSTON (AP) - Clint Barmes hit a three-run homer and J.A. Happ pitched six solid innings against his former team as the Houston Astros beat Philadelphia 5-2 on Tuesday night, preventing the Phillies from wrapping up a playoff spot.

The Phillies needed a win over Houston or a loss by St. Louis to clinch at least a wild-card berth. But the NL East leaders will have to wait to secure their place in the postseason after the Cardinals beat the Pirates 6-4 on Tuesday night.

Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels (14-8) fell to 0-3 in his last five starts against the Astros after going 3-0 in his first four career starts against them.

Happ (6-15), acquired from the Phillies last year as part of the Roy Oswalt trade, allowed four hits and one run with four strikeouts. Fernando Rodriguez threw two scoreless innings before David Carpenter took over for the ninth.

The Astros won their second straight game to avoid setting a franchise record for losses in a season. Their 97 defeats are tied for the club mark, which has been reached three other times, most recently in 1991.

Braves 7, Marlins 1.

ATLANTA (AP) _ Brian McCann and Dan Uggla each hit a three-run homer and the Atlanta Braves ended their longest losing streak of the season at four games.

The Braves, whose lead over St. Louis in the NL wild-card standings is down to 4 1/2 games, held a private meeting before the game in hopes of shaking things up.

It finally worked in the sixth. Uggla drew a one-out walk from Brad Hand (1-7), Matt Diaz singled to right and McCann came through with a towering shot over the center-field wall for his 24th homer. Uggla put it out of reach in the seventh with his career-best 34th homer, also a three-run shot.

Peter Moylan (2-1) claimed the win by getting the final out in the sixth.

Cardinals 6, Pirates 4

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Nick Punto hit a go-ahead double in the ninth inning and the surging St. Louis Cardinals overcame three errors by first baseman Albert Pujols.

Trying to stay in the wild card and NL Central races, the Cardinals won for the sixth time in seven games.

The loss dropped the Pirates to 67-81. In a season that once had so much hope, they are stuck with a non-winning season for the 19th straight year.

Working on the day he signed a $21 million, two-year contract, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter hit an early two-run single. He took a 4-2 lead into the seventh, but Andrew McCutchen tied it with a two-out homer.

Nationals 3, Mets 2

NEW YORK (AP) _ Craig Stammen got his first win and hit in more than a year, scoring the go-ahead run on Ryan Zimmerman's seventh-inning single.

Stammen (1-1) entered in the sixth with two on, then got three straight outs to escape the trouble. Stammen then singled off Dale Thayer (0-2) leading off seventh _ a .217 hitter coming in, Stammen had not gotten a hit since July 30 last year.

Ian Desmond singled him to second with one out, Rick Ankiel advanced Stammen by grounding into a forceout against Tim Bydak, and Zimmerman lined a single to left off Bobby Parnell.

Stammen pitched 1 1-3 hitless innings to win for the first time since Aug. 4 last year. Drew Storen, Washington's seventh pitcher, finished for his 36th save in 41 chances. The Mets put runners at the corners on two-out singles by Jose Reyes and Ruben Tejada before Lucas Duda struck out on three pitches.

Reds 2, Cubs 1

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Brandon Phillips homered again, hitting a leadoff shot that helped Mike Leake and Cincinnati end a three-game losing streak.

Phillips homered for the third time in two games. He has 15 home runs this year.

Leake (12-9) allowed six hits and two walks over eight innings in what is expected to be his final start of the season. The Reds plan to shut him down in an effort to prevent arm problems.

Leake pitched a career-high nine innings in his previous start, giving up three hits against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He took a one-hit shutout into the ninth in that game before giving up Starlin Castro's two-out infield single and pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair's tying home run.

Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.

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