The first two teams to clinch playoff berths...

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The first two teams to clinch playoff berths...

From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- Dusty Baker was missing when the Cincinnati Reds became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot. The main man in the dugout was sidelined Thursday for a second straight game after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat."Obviously we won the last two games for him. We have him in our thoughts, but we got good news on his update," reliever Sean Marshall said after a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs."Hopefully he'll be back with us tomorrow and when it really matters, when we clinch (the division). Hopefully we get to celebrate this weekend with him," he said.Ace Johnny Cueto and the NL Central leaders ensured themselves of at least a wild-card spot. Cincinnati cut its magic number to two for winning the division for the second time in three years.The Reds said Baker would remain in a Chicago hospital for an additional day so doctors could monitor his progress. The manager left Wrigley Field before Wednesday night's game and underwent another test Thursday.Baker is expected to return to Cincinnati on Friday. Bench coach Chris Speier ran the team for a second straight game."He looked good. Very good. He'll be there tomorrow," said general manager Walt Jocketty, who visited Baker on Thursday morning. Jocketty said he didn't know if Baker would be able to manage when the Reds open a series at home against the Dodgers.""Chris Speier did an excellent job, but I think he's (Dusty) missed and we're looking forward to having him back, and more importantly, we're hoping for the best with his health," star first baseman Joey Votto said."I know he's excited and happy, just wish that he was here to partake in it, but he'll be back soon," Speier said.Cueto (18-9) pitched six shutout innings as the Red completed a three-game sweep.The Reds broke a scoreless tie by getting five straight singles off reliever Manuel Corpas (0-2) in the seventh during a five-run rally capped by Henry Rodriguez's two-run double.Chicago starter Jason Berken allowed just two hits in six innings against a lineup missing most of the Reds' regulars."I was able to get a couple of jams, great defense behind me, stayed on the same page the whole game," Berken said.Cueto gave up five hits with four walks and broke a three-game losing streak."I don't think that was the best stuff he's ever had. You can tell he might be getting a little tired at the end of the year or whatever, but I've seen him with a lot better stuff," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said.The Cubs scored in the seventh on Anthony Rizzo's RBI single and in the eighth on Welington Castillo's fifth homer again. Rizzo had an RBI grounder in the ninth against Alfredo Simon, who pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for his first save in as many chances.The Reds secured their second playoff appearance in three years despite having the back of their bullpen wiped out by injuries during spring training and losing their best hitter -- 2010 National League MVP Votto -- for nearly two months.Baker did some of his best managing to pull them through.His first challenge was cobbling together a bullpen after closer Ryan Madson tore an elbow ligament in spring training, ending his season. Setup men Nick Masset and Bill Bray also got hurt before the season opened.Baker eased Aroldis Chapman into the closer's role, and the hard-throwing left-hander set a franchise record with 27 consecutive saves.Baker also had to juggle his batting order and lineup after Votto tore knee cartilage and was sidelined on July 16. The Reds went on their best tear of the season without their top hitter, going 32-16 and taking control of the NL Central.There was some good fortune, too. All five starters have made it through the season without injury, a franchise record. The Reds had to use a sixth starter only because of a doubleheader.By the time September started, the Reds were firmly in control and counting down the days until they'd clinch."This is the first step," Jocketty said.""We've played very successful baseball this year, and we've competed with the best teams at a very high level," Votto added."We've done a lot of winning this year, but I think anything but setting the World Series as our standard, I think anything less would be selling ourselves short. ... That's our goal."NOTES:Cueto's two strikeouts gave him a career-best 159. ... Reds 2B Rodriguez and CF Denis Phipps made their first career starts and SS Didi Gregorius started for just the fourth time. ... The Cubs stay home to play the wild card-contending Cardinals with Chris Carpenter (0-0) set to make his season debut against Chris Volstad (3-10). ... The Reds will start Bronson Arroyo (12-8) at home against the Dodgers' Joe Blanton (9-13) on Friday night. ... Berken, picked up on waivers from Baltimore earlier this month, struck out four batters in one inning -- the fifth Cubs pitcher to ever do that -- when Ryan Hanigan reached on a third strike wild pitch in the second.Nationals 4, Dodgers 1WASHINGTON (AP) -- As Davey Johnson walked into the interview room to talk about Washington's return to postseason baseball for the first time since 1933, fans gathered in an adjoining restaurant began to applaud."What's the big deal?" Johnson joked.The Nationals used Ross Detwiler's six strong innings and Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double to lock up a playoff spot Thursday night with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers."Nats Clinch" flashed on the scoreboard as Washington ensured at least an NL wild-card spot, delighting the crowd of 30,359."That was fun, but it's not what I had my eye on," Johnson said. "I don't want this."The fans stood and cheered in the ninth inning, then got even louder when Drew Storen struck out Hanley Ramirez to end it. Johnson saluted the crowd as he left the field and the team wore caps and T-shirts acknowledging the playoff berth."I noticed like in the fifth or sixth, some signs, some different things that kind of keyed me into that this wasn't going to be an ordinary evening," Jayson Werth said."That was not an ordinary win."Nineteen-year-old center fielder Bryce Harper claimed ignorance of the team's situation."Everyone's going crazy. I looked at the fireworks and I go: I guess we just did something.' Then somebody handed me the playoff shirt and playoff hat and I said, Well, I guess we're going to the playoffs,'" Harper said.Washington's magic number to win the NL East was reduced to eight. The Nationals lead idle Atlanta by 5 games."We've been through a lot and a lot of us in here have been through a lot of not-good times and these are the beginning of hope for a lot of good times," Zimmerman said.Zimmerman is the only Nationals player to appear in each of the team's eight seasons."It's a first step, and it's a long ways to go," he said.The Nationals became the second team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this year. Cincinnati sealed its slot earlier in the day.They celebrated with a private champagne toast. No spraying and no protective plastic over their lockers."I think there was some talk about not celebrating at all, but I kind of talked them out of that," Werth said."The next one would not be as subdued, I would imagine," Zimmerman said.Washington was last in the postseason 79 years ago, when player-manager Joe Cronin and the Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games in the World Series."I can't remember that year," Johnson said with a laugh.Until this year, the Nationals had never had a winning season -- nor finished above third place -- since moving from Montreal for the 2005 season. It will be just the franchise's second postseason berth and its first since the Expos came within a game of the World Series in 1981.The Nationals lost more than 100 games in both 2008 and 2009, allowing them to draft pitcher Stephen Strasburg and Harper.The loss dropped the Dodgers three games behind St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card spot. Milwaukee moved ahead of Los Angeles with its win over Pittsburgh.Manager Don Mattingly agreed the team's playoff chances dimmed after the Dodgers' 10th loss in 14 games."You know, honestly, it does. It feels like it is a little bit, and I don't think there's any way for us to look at it other than that," he said. "I mean, it's, yeah, we're going the wrong direction."For us at this point, we're going to have to put a run together that's going to be more than just win a series."Detwiler (10-6) allowed just Mark Ellis' fourth-inning home run and two singles. Storen pitched the ninth for his third save.Zimmerman's third-inning double scored Harper with Washington's first run. Zimmerman then took third on an infield out and scored on a wild pitch by Chris Capuano (11-11).The Nationals added two runs in the fourth on a walk to Ian Desmond, an RBI double by Danny Espinosa and a sacrifice fly by Kurt Suzuki.Werth, who signed a 126 million, seven-year deal with the Nationals before the 2011 season, is most eager for the postseason to begin."I've got a lot to prove. I've got a lot of people to prove wrong, and I can't wait," Werth said.NOTES:Mattingly said that LHP Clayton Kershaw was continuing with his throwing program. Kershaw will have to demonstrate he's free from pain in his right hip before he'll be able to pitch again, the manager said. ... Johnson said RHP Chien-Ming Wang will start on Sunday. Wang hasn't started since June 19. He missed nearly two months with a right hip injury.

Notes: Marquette King has a bad day, mocked by Kelce

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Notes: Marquette King has a bad day, mocked by Kelce

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Marquette King had a bad day at work. The Raiders punter rarely does, and celebrates his exploits with dances catered to each opponent. He has become a social media maven in recent weeks, by far the NFL’s most interesting punter.

On Thursday night, the opposition fought back. King mishit a punt that gave lightning quick Tyreek Hill an opportunity to return a punt 78 yards for a touchdown.

He also couldn’t get a slightly-off-target snap down in time for Sebastian Janikowski to kick a makable field goal.

All told, King punted eight times, and didn’t land a single one inside the 20-yard line. His 31.1-yard net average was 10 yards below his season average.

King’s no good, very bad day took a strange turn on the punt return touchdown, when Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce approached King and did a bronco riding dance King debuted in Week 9 against Denver. Kelce did his dance and then barked at the Raiders young punter, which was followed by a terse exchange.

"He told me I didn't have any rhythm," Kelce said on NFL Network. "I told him, 'Trust me, wait until I get until the end zone.'"

King also found Hill in the end zone and said unkind things that ultimately got him flagged for taunting.

That was the end of a bad sequence where King didn’t hit the punt right. His coverage was angled left, and he hit it straight.

“We kicked it right to a dangerous guy,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We didn’t want to kick it in the middle of the field. We wanted to get it to the sideline or out of bounds, but we just missed. He’s too dangerous a guy to give that type of opportunity to.”

Osemele taken to hospital: Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele was taken to a Kansas City hospital on Thursday morning with an undisclosed illness.

He wasn’t ready to play on Thursday night, and was a late scratch. Vadal Alexander and Jon Feliciano played left guard in Osemele’s stead, but the Raiders missed their emotional leader along the line.

Del Rio said Osemele should be fine with a few days rest, and should be ready to practice when the Raiders resume football activity early next week.

“It was significant enough that we wanted to make sure he got the proper care,” Del Rio said.

Osemele was able to travel home on the team charter.

Another strong day for Murray: The Raiders passing game couldn’t get much going against Kansas City. The same can’t be said for the run game. The Silver and Black totaled 135 yards on 31 carries, an effort led by Latavius Murray’s fine day. He had 103 yards on 22 carries, the second straight game he has exceeded 100 yards total offense.

Murray kept the offense afloat while the air attack struggled, including several key runs on a late comeback push that was ultimately unsuccessful. Murray also scored his 12th rushing touchdown of the season, matching the highest total since Marcus Allen had a dozen touchdowns in 1990.

This ‘n that: Raiders receiver Amari Cooper exceeded 1,000 receiving yards for the second straight year, becoming the first Raiders to reach four digits in the first two years of his career. He is the third player in NFL history with at least 70 catches and 1,000 yards in his first two pro seasons. …Khalil Mack had a strip sack for the third straight game, which extends a marvelous run of defensive play. Mack has a sack in eight straight games, and has eight sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in the last six games. …The Chiefs have won four straight games against the Raiders, and sit atop the AFC West with three games to play.

Carr takes responsibility for poor Raiders passing game, 'We played awful'

Carr takes responsibility for poor Raiders passing game, 'We played awful'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Derek Carr has made 44 starts as Raiders quarterback. They all haven’t been pretty. Most of them have, but the 25-year has hit a few bumps during what is generally considered a sterling start to his career.

He threw some costly interceptions in 2015, and was learning on the job as a rookie. He’s been nothing short of awesome this season. Until Thursday night, certainly one of his worst as a professional.

Ponder this stat line: 17-for-41, 117 passing yards, no touchdowns, no picks. His 49.1 passer rating was career low.

That’s un-Carr-like, to say the least.

While his receivers dropped four passes, there were many others not in the tally that should’ve been caught. Special teams made some costly mistakes and the defense had some first-half lapses.

Carr wasn’t afraid to say quarterback play had a huge impact on a 21-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a nationally televised game that dropped the Raiders to 10-3 and into second-place in the AFC West.

“It was definitely a bad night, no way of getting around that,” Carr said. “I hate to have a bad night coming on this one, out of all the games we’ve had. Obviously, we didn’t do enough. 

“I feel very responsible for that because of being the leader of the offense and the team. I feel sick to my stomach when we put something like that out there on film. It hurts, I can promise you that. I put too much time into this to go do something like that.”

Carr didn’t want to make excuses after this loss. He didn’t blame his right pinky, which he dislocated in two places against Carolina, which still causes discomfort.

“It definitely wasn’t the finger’s fault,” Carr said.

He didn’t blame frigid temperatures, or whether that had an effect on his grip or his ailing digit. It certainly might have, but the Raiders quarterback never plays the blame game.

Despite the passing game’s struggles, Latavius Murray ran well and the defense clamped down in the second half. That kept the Raiders down one score most of the second half, but they couldn’t cross the goal line.

The Raiders had more than eight minutes to put a game-trying drive together, but stalled at the Kansas City 19-yard line and turned it over on downs.

Carr put one touchdown drive together, late in the first half that made it 21-10. The defense forced two turnovers in the red zone early in the third quarter, but the Raiders only got three points from those opportunities.

That, much like everything else that happened in the passing game, was uncharacteristic of an explosive unit.

“Everything about tonight was unusual, to be honest,” Carr said. “To have our defense step up for us and make plays, and for us to go out there and not execute, do things we don’t do… That’s why it’s frustrating. That why I promise you I’m not worried.

“We played awful. It wasn’t good enough, but I’m not worried because I know the guys in the locker room. I’m not worried one bit, but it just sucks. We have to take it. We have to take the punch, but I’m not worried. I think we’re going to bounce back.”