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Baseball roundup

Braves, Cardinals all even

Associated Press / September 28, 2011

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Dan Uggla drop-kicked his bat after striking out on three pitches. Chipper Jones slammed his bat into the dirt after popping up. Derek Lowe just trudged off the mound to another round of boos from the home crowd, wondering how it all went wrong.

The Braves are mad and frustrated heading to the 162d game.

Their season is on the brink after a potentially historic collapse.

“It’s like living out a bad dream,’’ Jones said.

Lowe (9-17) had another miserable outing, surrendering five runs in four-plus innings, and the Braves took another step toward giving away a playoff berth that seemed certain just a few weeks ago with an ugly 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies last night in Atlanta.

St. Louis pulled even with the Braves, rallying from an early 5-0 deficit to beat the Houston Astros, 13-6.

Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, and Jimmy Rollins homered to back a three-hit outing by Roy Oswalt (9-10), who tuned up for the playoffs with a strong performance in a largely disappointing season.

Talk about disappointing. Look what has happened to the Braves.

They lost their fourth in a row and eighth in 11 games, sending them to the final day of the regular season tied with the Cardinals. Atlanta had an 8 1/2-game lead just three weeks ago.

“We’ve got one game to play in the month of September, then October comes around and it’s a new month,’’ Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “There’s not a person in that locker room who I wouldn’t want to be on my team to play that game.’’

Sixteen-game winner Tim Hudson will try to wrap up the wild card or at least force a one-game playoff against Cardinals, which would be tomorrow night in St. Louis.

“It is what it is,’’ Gonzalez said. “We’ve played 161 games and it comes down to one. We’ve done it to ourselves. No excuses there. We’ve got to go get it tomorrow.’’

Cardinals 13, Astros 6 - Visiting St. Louis got a tiebreaking two-run triple from Ryan Theriot in the seventh inning to beat Houston and pull even with Atlanta in the NL wild-card race. The Cardinals trailed, 5-0, early and appeared to be headed for a second straight loss to the Astros. But St. Louis scored five times in the fourth and erased a 6-5 deficit with a four-run seventh.

In other games - Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz hit consecutive homers in the fifth inning, and the surging Rangers stayed on track for homefield advantage in the AL division series with a 10-3 victory over the host Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers (95-66) have won five straight and nine of 10 while holding off Detroit (94-67) for the AL’s second-best record. If Texas wins today’s season finale or if the Tigers lose to the Indians, the Rangers will host the AL’s wild-card winner Friday . . . Prince Fielder homered three times in a game for the first time in his career, including a two-run shot in the seventh inning that lifted host Milwaukee to a 6-4 victory over Pittsburgh . . . Wilson Betemit hit a 423-foot home run in his first game back from left knee soreness, and host Detroit beat Cleveland, 9-6 . . . Bryan Petersen homered with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and Javier Vazquez (13-11) pitched a five-hitter as the host Marlins beat the Nationals, 3-2 . . . Rene Tosoni hit a grand slam, the first by a Twins player at Target Field in the two-year history of the park, to lift host Minnesota to a 7-4 victory over Kansas City . . . Mark Buehrle (13-9) pitched seven shutout innings to lead the host White Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays . . . Jose Reyes hit two solo home runs, putting pop into his bid for the NL batting title, but visiting Cincinnati the Mets, 5-4, on Drew Stubbs’s squeeze bunt in the 13th inning. Reyes went 3 for 6 and raised his average to .336, finishing the evening one point ahead of Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, who went 1 for 2 against Pittsburgh . . . Trevor Cahill and two relievers held Seattle to just four hits to lift visiting Oakland to a 7-0 win over the Mariners.

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