The Brewers bullpen has been blowing leads on a regular basis, a major reason they've fallen out of first in the NL Central. With the game on the line, Francisco Cordero put a stop to that and helped Milwaukee pick up a game in a tight pennant race.
With the tying run on first, Cordero retired Houston sluggers Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee to set a franchise record with his 40th save, and the Brewers beat the Astros 5-3 on Tuesday night.
``It's nice, but really I'm not here for a record,'' Cordero said after the home win. ``What we're trying to do is win the division and go to the playoffs.''
The victory, coupled with the Chicago Cubs' 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, helped the Brewers move within a half-game of first in the Central.
At Chicago, Matt Kemp had four hits, and the Dodgers turned five double plays to spoil Steve Trachsel's return to the Cubs.
``There is going to be a lot of excitement every single day and at this point in my career you can't ask for much more, so it's going to be a fun September,'' Trachsel said.
At St. Louis, the Cardinals got a strong outing from Joel Pineiro and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2, to pull within a game of Chicago.
In other NL games, it was: New York 11, Cincinnati 7; Arizona 9, San Diego 1; Philadelphia 5, Atlanta 2; Colorado 6, San Francisco 5; and Washington 4, Florida 3.
The Astros put runners on first and second in the ninth, but Cordero struck out Berkman and got Lee to ground out as Milwaukee managed to hold on after leading 4-1, one day after blowing a three-run lead in a 9-7 loss to Houston. It was the major league-leading 15th time the Brewers squandered a lead of at least three runs.
``The quicker you can put it behind you the better off you will be,'' said rookie Ryan Braun, who hit his 27th home run. ``It's not going to do any good to dwell on it or be upset about it.''
Carlos Villanueva (7-3) pitched six solid innings in his first start as a member of the Brewers' rotation. His outing ruined the comeback of Houston's Brandon Backe (0-1), making his first start in more than a year after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery. Backe pitched 5 2-3 innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on eight hits and three walks.
Brad Penny (15-4) got his first win since Aug. 15 for the Dodgers. He allowed seven hits and two runs - one earned - in seven innings.
``When innings haven't gone exactly right, he's done a good job minimizing the damage. That's been the key for him all year,'' Dodgers manager Grady Little said.
Los Angeles won its third straight to pull within three games of San Diego and Arizona in the NL West and wild-card race.
``It's the good time to get hot. We're starting to do things the right way,'' Little said.
Trachsel (0-1), acquired in a trade from Baltimore last Friday for the final month stretch run, made his first outing with the Cubs since 1999. He allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Pineiro (4-2) allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings for the Cardinals.
``He's got good stuff,'' pitching coach Dave Duncan said. ``As soon as he believes in it as much as I do he'll be a better pitcher.''
Pineiro has a 3.63 ERA in seven starts since joining the Cardinals. As a reliever with the Red Sox, Pineiro had a 5.03 ERA in 31 games.
``I've put my name back on track and I'm reviving myself as a starter,'' Pineiro said. ``That's all I want to do. You keep the damage to a minimum.''
Diamondbacks 9, Padres 1
At Phoenix, Arizona hammered Chris Young (9-6) again and narrowed the gap in the NL West.
Tony Clark and Eric Byrnes homered as the Diamondbacks pulled within .001 of the division-leading Padres. Three of Young's losses have come against the Diamondbacks.
Doug Davis (13-11) allowed one run in seven innings.
Mets 11, Reds 7
At Cincinnati, Paul Lo Duca hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in a career-high seven runs, powering the Mets to their fifth straight victory.
The NL East leaders have regained control of the division with their longest winning streak of the season. A balanced offense has led the way, piling up 46 runs in six games and reaching double-digits three times.
Oliver Perez (13-9) get the victory on an off-night. Perez lasted only five innings, walked five and gave up five runs.
Phillies 5, Braves 2
At Atlanta, Ryan Howard hit his 37th homer, and Kyle Lohse (8-12) quieted the Braves' offense to help the Phillies end a three-game losing streak.
The Phillies moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Braves in the wild-card race and remained five games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.
Rockies 6, Giants 5
At Denver, Brad Hawpe singled in the winning run with one out in the ninth inning to lift Colorado over the Giants for the Rockies' third straight win.
With their fifth victory in six games, the Rockies improved to a season-high six games over .500. Colorado moved within four games of San Diego and Arizona in the NL West and wild-card race.
Nationals 4, Marlins 3
At Washington, Jesus Flores' two-run, ninth-inning double off Kevin Gregg (0-5) gave the Nationals a win over the Marlins.
A fifth-inning single gave Florida's Miguel Cabrera his 500th career RBI and the Marlins a 3-2 lead. Cabrera became the third-youngest player in major-league history to reach 500 RBIs.

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