News from around the Central:
- Deposed Cardinal closer Ryan Franklin got his first work in a while in yesterday's blowout loss to the Cubs (more on that below), but the results probably did nothing to convince the Cardinals that he deserves another shot in the ninth inning: Franklin surrendered seven hits and four runs over three innings as his ERA ballooned to 9.49 on the season.
- Reds shortstop Paul Janish returned from a sprained ankle in yesterday's game vs. the Astros, but, because he's not completely healthy, Dusty Baker started Janish at third base to ease the strain on his bum wheel.
- Pittsburgh reliever Mike Crotta has been scuffling lately, and, perhaps not coincidentally, he's now landed on the 15-day disabled list because of discomfort in his right elbow. Crotta said his elbow has been bothering him for a couple of weeks, but he didn't tell anyone about the pain until Tuesday.
- A couple of Cubs notes: as expected, catcher Geovany Soto's strained groin landed him on the DL, and Chicago recalled Welington Castillo from AAA Iowa. In other news: former Brewer Doug Davis' stellar showing in the minors earned the left-hander a start for the Cubs on Saturday.
- Injured Astro Jeff Keppinger, who hasn't played this year after surgery on his foot in January, will start a rehab assignment at AA Corpus Christi this week.
- Heavy rains and lightning put the Cardinals - Cubs game on hold for an hour last night, but the skies cleared and the game was able to resume. St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook probably wishes they'd just called the game, though: Chicago put up six runs when the game resumed in the bottom of the third inning and the Cubs blasted the Cards, 11-4. Starlin Castro busted out of a slump with a four-for-four performance and three runs driven.
- Houston gave away a 3-0 lead against Cincinnati in the finale of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park, but, in the end, the Reds couldn't overcome the nine walks their pitchers handed out, as Hunter Pence doubled home J.R. Towles -- who drew a one-out walk off Mike Leake -- in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 Astro win.
- Los Angeles used a dynamite outing from Hiroki Kuroda -- seven innings, three hits, three walks, eight punchouts -- to blank Pittsburgh, 2-0. Paul Maholm flirted with disaster in his six-inning stint, giving up five hits and walking five, but the Dodgers only managed two runs off the Pirates lefty. Still, that was enough on this day, as the Pirates scratched out just four hits against Kuroda and two Dodger relievers.
On tap for tonight:
- The Cardinals and Cubs finish their three-game set at 1:20 p.m. CDT this afternoon. The Redbirds start Jaime Garcia (4-0, 1.99), while Chicago sends Casey Coleman (1-2, 6.29) to the bump.
- Pittsburgh and Los Angeles wrap up their four-game series at 6:05 p.m. CDT tonight. Scheduled to start for L.A.: right-hander Jon Garland (1-2, 3.66); for the Pirates: righty Charlie Morton (4-1, 3.13).
- Cincinnati, Houston, and Milwaukee have the day off.