Cubs, Rays Clinch Playoff Berths | NBC New York

Cubs, Rays Clinch Playoff Berths

Two league darlings extend their seasons



    Chicago Cubs' Carlos Zambrano celebrates with teammates after the Cubs clinched the NL Central title.

    The Chicago Cubs, one of MLB's oldest franchises, and the Tampa Bay Rays, the league's youngest, both clinched playoff spots yesterday.

    Tampa Bay secured its first berth in the Major League Baseball playoffs with a 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

    Carlos Pena hit a two-run double and Scott Kazmir rebounded from the worst start of his career to pitch six scoreless innings to help the American League East leaders wrap up at least a wild-card spot.

    Cliff Floyd and Fernando Perez capped the biggest win in the club's 11 seasons with solo home runs. The Rays also extended their lead in the division to 2½ games over Boston.

    The crowd of 36,048 that packed Tropicana Field stood for the entire ninth inning, chanting "Let's Go Rays" and clanging cowbells. The Twins delayed the celebration by scoring twice, but the party was on once third baseman Evan Longoria chased down Joe Mauer's foul pop for the final out.

    Chicago clinched its second straight National League Central title by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 behind Ted Lilly's seven innings at rocking Wrigley Field on Saturday.

    The 41,597 fans jammed into the old neighborhood ballpark were ready to party as they watched the Cubs earn consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 1908, when they also last won the World Series.

    Lilly was sailing along with a 5-0 lead when the Cardinals scored four runs with two out in the sixth, including a three-run homer by Troy Glaus.

    Lilly, who earned his career-best 16th win, regrouped in the seventh and relievers Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood held off the Cardinals to set off celebrations on the mound.