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The Wrap: NL

NL Quote of the Night:

"You want to compete the best you can. You don't want to turn anything off. You can't turn it off and turn it on. Nobody is that good."

-- Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa on his team's victory Tuesday, the latest step in the team's push toward their eventual divisional playoff series next week.

Nationals 4, Mets 3
Elijah Dukes is getting closer to earning his keep. Or at least making a case to stick around in the Nats' outfield rotation for another year. The latest development in Dukes' case came on Tuesday night, when the right fielder made an athletic catch in the ninth to help preserve a narrow edge on the Mets, eventually paving the way to a second-straight win. That made a victor out of J.D. Martin, who lasted seven innings while allowing just three runs, then gave way and watched the suddenly staunch Nats bullpen shut the door for the final three frames, including an 18th save from Mike MacDougal.

Phillies 7, Astros 4
Finally, the Phillies are back on track. After a long stretch of scuffling, Philadelphia got back on track behind young starter J.A. Happ, who made a compelling case to be the Phillies' third starter in the playoffs by allowing just three earned runs (four total) in 5 2/3 innings en route to a huge win for the Phillies, who moved within one win -- or a Braves loss -- of a third straight NL East title. That still wouldn't have been enough for a Phillies win, if it weren't for third baseman Pedro Feliz, whose grand slam in the fourth accounted for more than half of Philadelphia's offense.

Marlins 5, Braves 4
For practical purposes, the Marlins' season is already through. The Braves are still fighting for a postseason berth. Yet that's not the way Tuesday night's Florida victory felt. Instead, it was the Marlins who rallied back after allowing the Braves to tie the game, eventually escaping with a key one-run victory that dealt a serious blow to Atlanta's playoff chances. Sure, the Braves have still won 15 of their past 18 games, but the loss dropped the Braves three games behind the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race, thanks to Colorado's extra inning escape, and all but ended any delayed race in the NL East. No, the Atlanta push isn't over yet, but it did take a serious hit on Tuesday, with the Braves unable to make up for the four runs allowed by Tim Hudson in the game's first five innings.

See All of Tuesday's Results

By Cameron Smith  |  September 30, 2009; 8:02 AM ET
Categories:  The Wrap: NL  | Tags: The Wrap: NL  
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