Here's what happened at the trading deadline in the Central:
- As expected, the Cardinals bolstered their middle-infield ranks by acquiring shortstop Rafael Furcal from the Dodgers. St. Louis gave up slugging AA outfielder Alex Castellanos, who had 19 homers at Springfield, to complete the deal.
- A day after adding veteran Derrek Lee, the Pirates acquired another long-tenured player by swinging a trade for San Diego outfielder Ryan Ludwick, and they didn't have to give up much to do it: the Padres will receive a player to be named later or cash considerations from Pittsburgh.
- The Reds opted not to add any pieces at the deadline, even though GM Walt Jocketty said he had irons in the fire on all the major players who were moved in the last few days. In the end, Jocketty decided to stand pat when his inquiries were met with demands he termed "ridiculous, a lot more than we were willing to pay."
- The Cubs, for some inexplicable reason, held on to Aramis Ramirez. And Marlon Byrd. And Kerry Wood. And Carlos Pena. And Reed Johnson. I dunno; maybe somebody will get moved in August, but it seems awfully odd to hang on to all these players who probably won't be with the club next season.
- The Astros continued to empty their cupboards by trading centerfielder Michael Bourn to the Braves on Sunday morning. Houston got Atlanta outfielder Jordan Schafer and minor league pitchers Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, and Juan Abreu in exchange.
Milwaukee secured its second consecutive sweep with a closer-than-it-needed-to-be (Kotsay AND Counsell in the starting lineup? You're sure that's not a typo?), 5-4 victory over Houston. Enjoy Noah's recap with your Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
- Chicago snapped its five-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over St. Louis on Sunday night. Ryan Dempster and Jake Westbrook traded zeroes for the first five innings of this contest, but Westbrook melted down in a big way in the top of the sixth: the right-hander gave up three walks, a single, an RBI double to Starlin Castro and a 2-RBI single to Marlon Byrd as the Cubs exploded for four runs in the frame. Dempster nearly gave it all back in the bottom of the inning, though, as Lance Berkman clubbed a three-run homer -- his 28th of the year -- to pull the Cards within one. But the Cubs got big double plays in the seventh and eighth innings to hold St. Louis at bay, and Alfonso Soriano accounted for the final margin with a two-run blast in the ninth.
Pittsburgh was four outs away from salvaging a game in its three-game set with intra-state rival Philadelphia, having rallied from a couple of early deficits to claim a 5-3 lead on Lyle Overbay's two-run homer in the sixth and Garrett Jones' run scoring double in the seventh. But Raul Ibanez knotted the game at 5 in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run blast that scored new Phillie Hunter Pence, and Ibanez then provided the game-winning hit in the bottom of the tenth with an RBI double that again plated Pence, who'd doubled off Tony Watson with one out. Ibanez's RBI made a winner out of Antonio Bastardo, who's mentioned here solely because I wanted to write his name. BASTARDO!
Cincinnati rebounded from its embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Mets with a three-game pasting of the Giants, curbstomping the defending World Series champs 9-0 on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ballpark to complete the sweep. Johnny Cueto hurled a complete game shut-out for the Reds, blanking San Francisco on three hits and a walk while fanning six. The Reds notched three first-inning runs against Barry Zito thanks to RBI singles by Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and a sac fly by Brandon Phillips, and then blew things open with three more runs in the seventh on Votto's three-run tater. For the day, Votto finished 2-for-4 with 4 RBI, and Drew Stubbs was 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored.
Your updated standings for August 1:
On tap for tonight:
- The Crew and Cardinals battle for NL Central supremacy beginning at 7:10 p.m. tonight at Miller Park. In game one, Zack Greinke (8-4, 4.50) faces Chris Carpenter (6-7, 3.68).
- The Pirates get a three-game bye as they welcome the gawd-awful Cubs to town. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. with Paul Maholm (6-10, 3.16) taking on Carlos Zambrano (7-6, 4.59).
- The Reds look to build on the momentum of their sweep of the Giants, and they've got the right team on the schedule to do it: Cincinnati visits Houston at 7:05 p.m. CDT, when Bronson Arroyo (7-9, 5.58) matches up against Bud Norris (5-7, 3.39).