- Associated Press - Monday, September 23, 2013

CHICAGO — The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.

After two consecutive decades of losing, the Pirates (90-67) clinched at least a National League wild card Monday night when they beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 and the Washington Nationals lost to St. Louis 4-3.

It will be Pittsburgh’s first trip to the postseason since Barry Bonds, Jim Leyland and Co. won three straight NL East titles from 1990-92. Bonds then left for San Francisco as a free agent, and the small-budget Pirates piled up 20 consecutive losing records — the longest streak in the four major professional sports.

Starling Marte hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth inning Monday night at Wrigley Field, and the Pirates threw out a runner at the plate for the final out.

The Pirates doused each other in champagne in the visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field once St. Louis’  win over the Nationals became final.

In Cincinnati, Shin-Soo Choo drove in the winning run with a single off the wall in the 10th inning, and the Reds secured a playoff spot moments after beating the New York Mets 3-2.

Second-place Cincinnati clinched at least an NL wild card when Washington lost to first-place St. Louis 4-3 just a few minutes after the Reds’ game ended. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said there would be no celebration of a wild-card clinching, not with a second straight NL Central title still in play.

David Aardsma pitched out of a bases-loaded threat in the ninth, retiring Todd Frazier on a flyout. Greg Burke (0-3) gave up a one-out single by Devin Mesoraco in the 10th, and Derrick Robinson singled him to third.

The Pirates and Reds, both 90-67, trail St. Louis by two games in the NL Central with five to go.


SEE ALSO: Nationals eliminated from playoff contention