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Baseball: Mets Clinch Playoff Berth


The New York Mets have become baseball's first major-league team to clinch a berth in this year's post-season playoffs.

The Mets' 4-0 win over the Florida Marlins Monday night guaranteed the New Yorkers the championship of their National League East division, even though most teams still have more than 10 games left to play.

The Mets have the best record in the majors - 91 wins against 58 losses - and their first division title since 1988. Jose Valentine homered twice and four pitchers led by starter Steve Trachsel combined for the four-hit shutout.

In other games, the Astros, Cubs, Brewers and Rockies won in the National League. The Yankees, Orioles, Tigers, Rangers and Indians triumphed in the American League.

On the West Coast, the National League's West division race is still very much alive. The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres, 11-10, in 10 innings to snatch first place back from the Padres by the narrowest of margins.

The Dodgers won on Nomar Garciaparra's two-run, walk-off homer in the 10th, after getting four straight homers to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. Three of those home runs came on consecutive pitches. Other teams have hit four homers in a row, but none since the Minnesota Twins in 1964.

The Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals, 6-1, the Chicago Cubs pounded the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-6, and the Houston Astros stopped Cincinnati, 5-3. The Milwaukee Brewers beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3, and the Colorado Rockies crushed the San Francisco Giants, 20-8.

In the American League, Chicago White Sox pulled off a rare triple play in the first inning but lost to the Central division leaders, the Detroit Tigers, 8-2. It was Chicago's second triple play of the year. The Tigers are now one and one-half games ahead of the Minnesota Twins in their division.

The New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-6, the Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 4-1, the Texas Rangers stopped the Seattle Mariners, 8-1, and the Cleveland Indians took care of the Oakland Athletics. 7-2.

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