MIAMI - Once the Phillies broke up Dontrelle Willis' shutout in the ninth inning, there was no stopping them.
Thanks in part to the Florida Marlins' inept bullpen and defense, the first 10 batters in the ninth reached base, and Philadelphia scored 10 times to win 10-2 Saturday afternoon.
"It was strange," Philadelphia's Pat Burrell said. "Willis pitched a heck of a game. The way things were going, it didn't look good."
Willis was on the verge of becoming baseball's first 22-game winner when he took a three-hitter and a 2-0 lead into the ninth. Instead, his streak of victories in six consecutive starts ended.
"When you get a well-pitched game, it's tough to just give it away and play like the Bad News Bears in that one inning," manager Jack McKeon said.
The Phillies won for the sixth time in seven games and moved into a virtual tie for the NL wild-card lead with Houston, which played Saturday night against Milwaukee. The stunned Marlins fell two games back with their fourth consecutive loss - and the latest was the kind that can have a lingering effect.
Florida allowed four unearned runs in a nightmarish ninth, committing four errors and at least two other fielding lapses.
"I haven't seen anything like it. I can't even explain it," center fielder Juan Pierre said. "It looked like we had everything in hand. To see the wheels fall off, it's a tough one to swallow, especially at this time of year."
Todd Jones blew a save for the first time in his past 28 chances. He faced five batters, gave up five runs and committed a throwing error that allowed Philadelphia to score the go-ahead run.
"If you want to play in the playoffs, you can't do what we did today," Jones said. "When you don't pitch and don't play defense, you're not going to win. I did a little bit of not doing both."
CARDINALS 5, CUBS 1: Two days after clinching the Central, visiting St. Louis could acknowledge it with their 95th win.
Mark Mulder allowed eight hits and a run in seven innings and helped himself with a squeeze bunt and single off Greg Maddux to get his first win since Aug. 22.
With two starts left - and a very outside chance of a third on short rest - Maddux has all but lost his streak of 15-win seasons. He'd won at least 15 games for a major league-record 17 straight seasons dating back to 1988 in the third year of his first stint with the Cubs. The 39-year-old right-hander hasn't had a losing record since going 6-14 in 1987.
ASTROS 7, BREWERS 0: Craig Biggio hit his league-record 43rd leadoff homer and Brandon Backe had his best outing since returning from the disabled list for host Houston.
The Astros won their fourth straight to stay a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the wild-card race.
Backe made his third start since returning Sept. 7 and got his first victory since July 18 at Pittsburgh. He pitched 62/3 innings, allowing six hits, walking one and striking out five.
BRAVES 7, METS 4: Adam LaRoche homered and had four hits, and Marcus Giles also connected to lead Tim Hudson and visiting Atlanta.
Hudson threw six innings and earned his fifth win in six tries despite giving up three homers for the first time since May 2002.
Ryan Langerhans added three RBIs and reached safely four times for the East-leading Braves.
D'BACKS 6, ROCKIES 5: Tony Clark hit home runs from both sides of the plate, including a go-ahead shot in the seventh and Chad Tracy went 4-for-4 with a homer to rally host Arizona.
GIANTS 2, DODGERS 1: Omar Vizquel lined a tiebreaking single to right with two outs in the eighth and Randy Winn hit his career-high 16th home run and host San Francisco spoiled Jeff Weaver's bid for his career-high 15th win.
PIRATES 4, REDS 0: Jason Bay had three hits, including his 30th home run, to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Paul Maholm allowed four hits in eight innings for host Pittsburgh.
PADRES 8, NATIONALS 5 (12): Ramon Hernandez hit a three run homer to win the game after Washington blew a five run lead in the ninth when Khalil Greene hit a grand slam on a 3-2 count with two outs.