PITTSBURGH – Vance Worley is used to his body breaking down at this point in the season.
An unexpected break allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander to regroup. He responded with his sharpest outing in two months to push the fading Milwaukee Brewers closer to an extended vacation of their own.
Bumped from the starting rotation in favor of a seemingly healed Charlie Morton last week, Worley returned with eight sparkling innings in Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Brewers as the surging Pirates closed in on a second consecutive playoff berth.
Russell Martin singled home Andrew McCutchen in the seventh inning and the Pirates trapped speedy Carlos Gomez in a rundown in the ninth for the win.
Pittsburgh moved 4½ games in front of Milwaukee for an NL wild-card spot with a week to go. Worley (8-4) scattered four hits and the Pirates used some smart fielding in the ninth to help All-Star setup man Tony Watson pick up his first save of the year.
“I got the start off, got some time to get my feet back under me,” Worley said. “This is the deepest I’ve gone into the season the last couple years with injury, so this was good for me.”
Reds 7, Cardinals 2
In St. Louis, the Cardinals clinched a playoff spot, and then lost to the Reds.
St. Louis secured its fourth consecutive postseason appearance when Milwaukee lost to Pittsburgh earlier in the day. But the Cardinals’ lead in the NL Central was sliced to 2½ games over the Pirates.
Bruce hit two of Cincinnati’s four homers as the Reds snapped a six-game losing streak. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco also went deep.
Dodgers 8, Cubs 5
In Chicago, Matt Kemp homered and drove in four runs, Yasiel Puig scored a career-high four times and the NL West-leading Dodgers beat the Cubs.
Kemp had four hits for the Dodgers, who clinched a playoff berth on Friday and lead San Francisco by 4½ games. The Giants start a three-game series at Dodger Stadium on Monday.
Jamey Wright made his first start since Sept. 1, 2013, going two innings as the Dodgers used their bullpen to pitch the whole game.
Chris Perez got the win and Kenley Jansen earned his 43rd save.
Padres 8, Giants 2
In San Diego, the reeling Giants managed just six hits off Ian Kennedy and three relievers.
Kennedy (12-13) struck out five, giving him a career-high 201.
Nationals 2, Marlins 1
In Miami, Stephen Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings and NL-leading Washington swept a four-game series from the Marlins.
The East champion Nationals have won eight of nine.
Mets 10, Braves 2
In Atlanta, the Braves were knocked out of the playoff race after a late-season collapse, losing to Jacob deGrom and the Mets.
A half-game out of first place in the NL East on July 29, the Braves have gone 18-30 since then to fall 15 behind Washington.
Rockies 8, Diamondbacks 3
In Denver, Michael Cuddyer homered, Rafael Ynoa drove in three runs and the Rockies beat Arizona for a four-game sweep.