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Reds hungry for more after clinching postseason berth

Cincinnati doesn't celebrate after win over Mets, remains focused on NL Central title

CINCINNATI -- Inside the Reds' clubhouse Monday night following a 3-2 win in 10 innings over the Mets, a television showed the Pirates celebrating and spraying champagne in their clubhouse after a win over the Cubs. The Bucs had just clinched their first playoff berth since 1992.

A Cardinals win over the Nationals meant the Reds and Pirates clinched postseason berths as Washington was eliminated from National League Wild Card contention.

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That actually proved to be as much bad news as good news to the Reds.

"I was pulling for the Nationals to win so we could get one step closer to the Cardinals," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We wanted the Pirates to lose, but we're tied with them. We wanted the Cardinals to lose. We've still got five big games to go."

While the Pirates' jubilation continued in a cramped visitors' clubhouse in Chicago, it was business as usual for Cincinnati. Not one bottle of champagne was visible, nor were any playoff hats and shirts. Players simply got dressed and left for the night, like always.

"We're looking for division champions," said Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who hit the game-winning RBI single in the 10th inning. "We're not looking for the Wild Card. We have five games left. We'll play the best we can."

The difference between Cincinnati's and Pittsburgh's reactions was understandable. The Pirates have gone without the playoffs, much less a winning season, for 21 years.

For the Reds, it's their third playoff berth in four seasons. They won the NL Central in 2010 and '12. Both years, they were eliminated in the Division Series.

"I want to wait until the nitty gritty where I know where we're going to be at," Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "I don't want to [celebrate] until we know we're going to the real postseason."

With five games left in the regular season, the Reds and Pirates are both two games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central. If the season ended today, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh would meet in the Wild Card game on Oct. 1.

But first, the two teams will settle on the field who will get to host that game. They wrap up the regular season with a three-game series at Great American Ball Park, beginning on Friday. After the Reds took two of three at PNC Park, the season series is currently an 8-8 draw.

"The guys know what's at stake," Baker said. "They're looking to win the division. The Wild Card is consolation."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.

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