PHOENIX — After all his extra-base hits, Albert Pujols won the closest batting race in NL history thanks to an infield single.
The St. Louis slugger went 2-for-5 and barely held off Todd Helton as the Cardinals beat Arizona 9-5 in their season finale.
Pujols finished at .3587 while Helton hit .3585 for Colorado — a difference of .00022.
"I mean, how close can it get?" St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
If Pujols had not been able to beat pitcher Brandon Webb's throw on that dribbler down the third-base line in the third inning, Pujols would have lost the title to Helton.
Pujols was 0-for-9 in the series going into that at-bat.
Helton went 2-for-4 in the Rockies' 10-8 win at San Diego.
"Obviously I wasn't too pleased with that last at-bat," Helton said. "I'm disappointed at the way it ended. Overall, it was a good year."
BRAVES 5, PHILLIES 2: At Philadelphia, the road to the World Series in the National League will go through Turner Field. The NL East champion Atlanta clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 5-2 victory Sunday over Philadelphia. Greg Maddux (16-11) earned his 289th career victory and Robert Fick drove in two runs for the Braves, who open the playoffs against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
GIANTS 12, DODGERS 3L: At San Francisco, Barry Bonds had two hits and drove in a run while preparing for the playoffs as San Francisco ended the regular season with its 100th victory. Bonds struck out in the fourth and didn't hit a home run, leaving him at 558 and two shy of tying his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the career list. He was replaced by Todd Linden in left field in the fifth. The slugger's quest to pass Mays will have to wait until 2004, as playoff stats don't count toward season stats.
PIRATES 3, CUBS 2: At Chicago, Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou got the day off, and most of the Cubs' regulars played only briefly as the NL Central champions closed the regular season with a loss to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, wrapping up its 11th straight losing season, broke a 2-2 tie on Jack Wilson's solo homer in the seventh.
ASTROS 8, BREWERS 5: At Houston, Jeff Bagwell homered twice and drove in four runs as Houston beat Milwaukee. The Astros' victory came a day after they were eliminated in the NL Central race. Bagwell hit a solo homer in the first inning off Luis Martinez (0-3), and a three-run homer in the third inning that put Houston ahead 4-1.
MARLINS 4, METS 0: At Miami, Mike Lowell went 1-for-4 with a double in his return from a broken hand after a four-week absence as playoff-bound Florida beat New York in its final regular-season game. Dontrelle Willis (14-6) allowed three hits over five innings as he tuned up for Game 4 of the playoffs against San Francisco.
EXPOS 2, REDS 1: At Cincinnati, Brian Schneider hit a two-run double and six Montreal pitchers made it stand up as Montreal beat Cincinnati. The Expos (83-79) matched their win total from last season while finishing fourth in the NL East.
ROCKIES 10, PADRES 8: At San Diego, Colorado beat San Diego in the final baseball game at Qualcomm Stadium, and Todd Helton was denied a last shot at the batting title when he was intentionally walked by Rod Beck in the eighth inning. Helton went 2-for-4. After getting two singles in his first four at-bats, Helton came to bat with two outs and a runner on second in the eighth.