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.
Here are the five plays or moments worth revisiting from the Wizards' 110-105 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night at the Verizon Center...
1. Before the game, Chris Miller asked Wizards head coach Scott Brooks to name his favorite Star Wars movie, as Saturday night was Star Wars Night at the Verizon Center. Brooks, it turns out, has never seen any of the movies. As amazing as that may be, he had a pretty good zing at Miller to explain why he hasn't seen any of them:
Also, as an honorable mention here to honor Star Wars Night, check out these pictures of G-Wiz getting attacked by two kids with light sabers. G-Wiz begged for mercy and mercy he did not receive:
Just saw G-Wiz get killed by a light saber. Star Wars Night just got real: pic.twitter.com/t7hzWwJgtE— Chase Hughes (@chasehughesCSN) December 10, 2016
2. Okay, now to the game itself. Kelly Oubre, Jr. was all over the place on Saturday night, including this play where he was right there to clean up a John Wall miss and convert for two points:
3. This play right here was a little interesting. After missing a free throw, Bradley Beal kicked the ball into the stands like his name was Dustin Hopkins:
4. Beal was frustrated on that play, but on this one he found Marcin Gortat for a two-handed slam. This is about as smooth as an offense can run in basketball:
5. And lastly, here's Wall making a really tough shot off the glass, one that brought the biggest reaction of the night from the crowd at the Verizon Center:
What's that? You want another one? Fine, here you go. Here's Oubre stealing the ball and taking it all the way to the other end for a big-time slam. This is the second straight game Oubre has turned a steal into two points all by himself:
Few positives can be taken from a defensive perspective when a player scores 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds and seven assists, a line that Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo compiled on Saturday night at the Verizon Center. But the Wizards - who won the game 110-105 - can take pride in one particular stat that did not reflect well on Antetokounmpo.
That would be the turnover category where Antetokounmpo tied a career-high with seven of them. The Greek Freak commits his fair share of turnovers normally, ranking sixth in the NBA with 3.5 per game. But only once before has he had seven and not since January 24 of 2015.
"We tried to make it crowded for him and he did turn the ball over a few times, probably too many than he would like," head coach Scott Brooks said. "But that was our plan, just to crowd the paint and make it tough on him. But he is really a great player and we had our hands full tonight.”
Brooks relied heavily on his newly discovered small-ball lineup, one that includes both Otto Porter, Jr. and Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the floor at the same time. Both are primarily small forwards, but provide length and versatility which allow the Wizards to make smooth switches on defense. Oubre played the entire fourth quarter and Porter logged 9:24 of the frame.
Their long arms make it tough for defenders to go around them and that helped against Antetokounmpo, who had four turnovers in the second half. A 6-foot-11 point guard, Antetokounmpo likes to attack off the dribble and usually has no problem getting around his defenders.
"That was my prerogative tonight to take that matchup with Giannis pretty seriously," Oubre said. "Just try to speed him up. Don't give him what he's use to having. He's a driver, he's a slasher. Just stay in from of him. That's definitely what we tried to do and I feel like we did a great job of that tonight."
Giannis wasn't the only Bucks player the Wizards had success against defensively. Former second overall pick Jabari Parker was limited to a season-low eight points. Parker entered the game averaging 19.6 points on the year.
"The biggest thing was making sure they saw bodies," guard Bradley Beal said. "Their strongest point is driving to the basket. They love to get points in the paint."
This was a nice follow-up for the Wizards after they beat the Nuggets on Thursday night and held them to just 85 points, including 33 in the second half. To put together two consecutive defensive outings like this seems like a step in the right direction for a 9-13 Wizards team that is off to a disappointing start overall in large part because of their defense late in games.
Beal called their recent play on defense "grimy" and he meant it in a good way. Guard John Wall, who has complained about his team's defensive effort at times this season, also saw progress.
“I think we’re getting to the point where if we’re not making shots we’re still competing and keeping our edge on the defensive end and competing – making people feel us and I think that’s helping us," he said.
Now comes a chance to do it for three straight games. On Monday the Wizards will play the Miami Heat and attempt to do something they haven't done all year, win three games in a row.