WASHINGTON (AP) -The Philadelphia Phillies finally gave their best relievers a rest Sunday, and it resulted in a rare late-season loss.
Antonio Alfonseca and Geoff Geary came out of the bullpen and gave up the lead, and the Phillies failed to finish off a sweep of the Washington Nationals, losing 5-3 in the last major league game at RFK Stadium.
Philadelphia came into the day having won nine of 10 games to pull a half-game behind the San Diego Padres in the wild-card standings, and 1 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.
Cole Hamels made only his second start since being on the disabled list with a strained pitching elbow, and he was removed after 74 pitches, with Philadelphia ahead 2-1.
Alfonseca (5-2) replaced Hamels and gave up two runs and two hits, getting only one out. Geary relieved him and hit the first batter he faced, Jesus Flores, to force in a run and put Washington ahead 3-2. Flores left the game with a bruised left elbow and was listed as day to day.
Luis Ayala (2-2) earned the win, despite giving up a run in the sixth. Chad Cordero worked the ninth for his 36th save.
Cubs 8, Pirates 0
CHICAGO (AP) - Carlos Zambrano got his career-best 17th win by pitching six sharp innings before leaving with cramps, and surging Chicago expanded its NL Central lead to 3 1/2 games.
The Cubs, who have won 10 of 12, are off Monday before hitting the road for their final six games, at Florida and Cincinnati, as they try to wrap up their first playoff berth since 2003. Second-place Milwaukee, which lost 7-4 at Atlanta, has seven games left - all at home - against the Cardinals and Padres.
Derrek Lee and Ronny Cedeno homered as the Cubs sent the Pirates to their ninth straight loss.
Zambrano (17-13) allowed three hits with three walks and six strikeouts, fanning the first four batters he faced.
Tom Gorzelanny (14-9) failed for a third straight start to get his 15th victory. He gave up 12 hits and six runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Braves 7, Brewers 4
ATLANTA (AP) - Manager Ned Yost was ejected during Atlanta's four-run rally in the seventh inning and the Braves sent wobbling Milwaukee to its fourth loss in five games.
Atlanta won for the seventh time in eight games in a late playoff push. The Braves started the day 4 1/2 games behind San Diego in the wild-card race and 5 1/2 games in back of New York in the NL East.
The Brewers took a 4-1 lead into the seventh. Edgar Renteria doubled and scored on a two-out wild pitch by Claudio Vargas (11-5).
Rookie Manny Acosta (1-1) pitched a scoreless seventh for his first win in the majors. Rafael Soriano, the sixth pitcher used by Atlanta, worked the ninth to earn his ninth save in 12 chances.
Mets 7, Marlins 6, 11 innings
MIAMI (AP) - David Wright singled home the decisive run in the 11th inning, two shaky relievers finally protected the lead, and New York took a big step toward the playoffs by beating Florida.
Jose Reyes started the winning rally with a walk and the NL East leaders moved 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia, which lost 5-3 at Washington.
The Mets now return home for their last seven games of the regular season, with a magic number of five for clinching their second consecutive division title.
Carlos Delgado's three-run homer highlighted a four-run eighth that gave New York a 6-3 lead, but Florida rallied against Aaron Heilman and closer Billy Wagner to force extra innings.
Joe Smith (3-1) pitched a scoreless tenth and got the win.
Harvey Garcia (0-1) took the loss.

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