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31

Pirates nip Cubs, playoff berth clinched

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Starling Marte homered in the top of the ninth inning, and Pittsburgh used timely defense in the bottom half to claim a 2-1 victory over Chicago in the first edition of a three-game series from Wrigley Field.

Marte's blast reached the bleachers in left with two down, and the Bucs survived an interesting home portion to pick up the win.

Anthony Rizzo grounded out against Tony Watson, then Jason Grilli came on but walked Dioner Navarro, whose pinch runner Logan Watkins was erased on a fielder's choice grounder from Nate Schierholtz. Ryan Sweeney then rolled a hit through the right side, and when Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen couldn't pick up the ball, Schierholtz -- who was in line to reach third easily -- decided to try and score.

The relay throw was cut off at the mound by first baseman Justin Morneau, who threw to Russell Martin in time for the game-ending tag at the plate.

The Pirates gathered on the infield in celebration, knowing a playoff berth was near. It was clinched minutes later, when the Cardinals topped Washington, 4-3.

Mark Melancon (3-2) gave up the tying run on a Donnie Murphy base hit in the eighth but was credited with the win. Grilli earned his 32nd save.

Kevin Gregg (2-6) struck out three in the final frame but served up the deciding homer in defeat.

09/23 23:18:08 ET