CHICAGO (AP) -Alfonso Soriano hit two of Chicago's four homers and had five RBIs as the Cubs continued their late-season power display, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-5 Saturday to solidify their lead in the NL Central.
The Cubs began the day with a 1 1/2-game lead over Milwaukee, which played later at Atlanta.
Soriano hit a solo shot to tie the game in the second and a two-run blast in the fifth for his team-leading 31st homer. The Cubs' star has four home runs in three games and 13 in the 25 games since he came off the disabled list Aug. 28. He added a two-run double in the seventh.
Aramis Ramirez, who had two homers Friday, added another and Derrek Lee also went deep as the Cubs hit four homers for the second straight game. The Pirates lost their eighth straight, their longest losing streak of the season.
Pirates starter Zach Duke (3-8), making his second appearance and first start since June 28 after spending more than two months on the disabled list because of a sore left elbow, lasted just four innings, giving up nine hits and five runs - four of them earned.
Rich Hill (10-8) got the win with five innings of work, yielding five hits and three runs.
Mets 7, Marlins 2
MIAMI (AP) - Oliver Perez pitched eight innings, Moises Alou extended his hitting streak to a team record-tying 26 games and New York strengthened its hold on the NL East by beating Florida.
Following a brief September swoon, the Mets won their second straight and increased their division lead to two games over Philadelphia, which played later at Washington. New York's magic number to clinch division was seven with eight games to play.
Perez (15-9) gave up six hits, one walk and one earned run while striking out eight. Aaron Heilman completed the seven-hitter.
Six of the Mets' runs came with two out, and they made the most of their three hits off Byung-Hyun Kim (9-8). He allowed five runs in five innings.
Phillies 4, Nationals 1, 10 innings
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ryan Howard drove in the go-ahead run, helping Philadelphia keep pace in the NL East.
Chase Utley homered for the Phillies, who won for the ninth time in 10 games and remained 1 1/2 games back of the New York Mets in the division. Philadelphia trails San Diego by a game in the wild-card race, with the Padres playing late against the Colorado Rockies.
Howard tied his career high for a game by striking out in his previous four at-bats, but after a single by Utley and a walk by Pat Burrell, came back to line a 1-2 pitch off Chris Schroder (2-3) and drive in the go-ahead run.
Tom Gordon retired Washington in order in the eighth and Brett Myers (5-7), the fifth Philadelphia pitcher, picked up the win by setting down the Nationals in order in the ninth.
Braves 4, Brewers 3, 11 innings
ATLANTA (AP) - Second baseman Rickie Weeks made an error on a routine grounder in the 11th inning and Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single, giving Atlanta a win that left Milwaukee with a 2 1/2-game deficit in the NL Central.
Needing to win, the Brewers were one out away in the 10th when closer Francisco Cordero gave up a tying home run to pinch-hitter Scott Thorman.
Edgar Renteria drew a leadoff walk from Seth McClung (0-1) in the Braves 11th and Willie Harris pinch-ran. Brian Shouse relieved, and Chipper Jones hit an easy grounder that Weeks misplayed.
Teixeira singled past first baseman Price Fielder to win it.
Joey Devine (1-0) recorded two outs in the 11th.
Cardinals 7, Astros 4
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rick Ankiel homered for the first time in 17 games and Albert Pujols delivered a key pinch hit, leading St. Louis over Houston.
Ankiel got three hits, including his 10th home run. He had been in a 7-for-55 slump since a Sept. 7 report linking him to human growth hormone in 2004 - that came the morning after his two-homer, seven-RBI salvo against Pittsburgh.
Fill-in starter Brad Thompson (7-6) threw six sharp innings and Jason Isringhausen got his 30th save.
The Cardinals broke it open with five runs in the seventh, two on Pujols' single on two on Ankiel's homer off Woody Williams.
David Eckstein and Ludwick had RBI doubles in the fifth off Matt Albers (4-10) as last year's World Series champions won for only the third time in 17 games.

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