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updated: 9/23/2013 11:49 PM

This time, it's Pirates turn to clinch at Wrigley

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  • Starling Marte, right, celebrates with second baseman Neil Walker after the Pirates defeated the Cubs on Monday night to clinch a playoff berth.

      Starling Marte, right, celebrates with second baseman Neil Walker after the Pirates defeated the Cubs on Monday night to clinch a playoff berth.
    Associated Press

 
 

For the second time in two days, it was all champagne bubbles and cigar smoke at Wrigley Field.

Unfortunately for the main inhabitants of the place, all of that partying went on in the visitors clubhouse.

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On Sunday, it was the Atlanta Braves clinching the National League East title at Wrigley. Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cubs 2-1 in dramatic fashion. Coupled with the Washington Nationals' loss at St. Louis, the Pirates secured their first playoff berth since 1992.

The game ended with the Cubs' Nate Schierholtz being thrown out at the plate as he slid into catcher Russell Martin, who held on to the ball for the final out and then heaved it toward the left-field wall.

Schierholtz was trying to score on Ryan Sweeney's single to right-center after the ball got away. But center fielder Andrew McCutchen retrieved it and threw to first baseman Justin Morneau, who relayed it home.

The Cubs rallied from a 1-0 deficit with a run in the eighth, but Pittsburgh's Starling Marte homered off Kevin Gregg with two outs in the ninth.

"When the Braves clinched, I was talking to Schierholtz after the game; he was soaking in the tub," said Jeff Samardzija, the Cubs' starting pitcher Monday night. "We kind of just mentioned to each other, 'That's what it's all about.'

"That's why you work in the off-season. That's why you work hard in spring training, and that's why you want to get off to a fast start in April and May, so you can have those moments.

"That's what you want. If you're just here playing just to play for next year, that's not what it's all about. You've got to let it all hang out and play for right now.

"I think that's what we need to do. We're getting there, but we need to get some things ironed out and get this team mentally in a spot that that's what we're shooting for. We're not shooting to survive. We're shooting to win and thrive all day."

Schierholtz has a pair of World Series rings. He played for the Giants when they beat the Rangers in the 2010 Series. He got a ring from the Giants last year even though they traded him to the Phillies in July.

He didn't seem to take a whole lot of joy out of watching two teams clinch October spots against his current team.

"When you're on the losing side, probably not," he said. "We're just trying to win games, and a loss is a loss."

Schierholtz did take something out of his talk with Samardzija, though.

"We were talking about it yesterday, after watching the Braves," he said. "Brought back some memories. That's why we play this game. It's pretty exciting being in the postseason, and obviously we want to get back there one day."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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