News and notes from around the Central:
- The Cardinals were seemingly dead two days ago, when a loss to the Cubs and a win by the Braves left the Redbirds down three games with five to play. But a pair of wins over Chicago and a couple of losses by Atlanta have St. Louis right back in the mix, down one game in the race for the last Wild Card spot.
- Armed with a new three-year contract extension of his own, Reds GM Walt Jocketty will look to spread the love -- and the cash -- when he meets with Brandon Phillips' agents in New York this week for preliminary talks on a new contract for the second baseman.
- Despite the end-of-season slide that sent the team plummeting out of contention in the NL Central, Pittsburgh still enjoyed a big year (relatively) at the gate: the Bucs drew over 1.9 million fans to PNC Park this season, the fourth-best total in franchise history.
- Cubs closer Carlos Marmol had a rough night on Saturday, walking in the tying run and then uncorking a wild pitch to allow in the winning run to score in a loss to St. Louis, and manager Cryin' Mike Quade says Marmol wouldn't have been used to close out the game if the Cubs had a late lead on Sunday.
- It's been a season of historic lows for the Astros this year, but at least Houston avoided adding another low note on Sunday: the 'Stros plated two ninth-inning runs in a 19-3 loss to Colorado, preventing the most lopsided loss in the 50-year history of the franchise.
- The good times kept rollin' in Milwaukee, as the Brewers used a couple of big innings to run away from the Marlins, 9-5, at Miller Park. Our recap is here.
- St. Louis staged another late rally to snag another critical come-from-behind victory over Chicago, scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth to swipe a 3-2 win from the Baby Bears. The Cubs got their only run in the fourth inning on Geovany Soto's sac fly, but Edwin Jackson tied it for the Cards with a sac fly of his own in the fifth. Starlin Castro gave the Cubs a one-run lead with a single in the seventh, but Yadier Molina erased that edge with a solo homer in the bottom of the frame. That set the stage for Rafael Furcal, who homered to lead off the bottom of the eighth, and Jason Motte, who notched his ninth save, striking out two Cubs in a clean ninth inning.
- Cincinnati couldn't avoid a losing season, but the Reds did manage to avoid a sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon, clipping the Bucs 5-4 at PNC Park. The Reds got three quick runs (one in the first, two in the second), but the Pirates answered with three of their own in the bottom of the second: Chase d'Arnaud tripled in two, and Michael McKenry drove in d'Arnaud with a sac fly. Reds starter Dontrelle Willis then helped his own cause by doubling in the game-winning runs in the top of the sixth, which gave him his first win on the year. For the day, Willis worked six innings, giving up three hits and three runs while fanning six.
Houston held Colorado scoreless in the first inning of yesterday's game at Minute Maid Park. That's the nicest thing I can find to say about the Astros, as the Rockies scored in each of the game's next seven innings and dumptrucked the 'Stros, 19-3. After putting up the bagel in the first, the Rox scored three in the second; two in the third; three in the fourth; one in the fifth; two in the sixth; three in the seventh; and five more in the eighth. (That's 0-3-2-3-1-2-3-5-0 in the box score, if it helps.) As you'd expect, there were hitting stars aplenty for the Rockies: Kevin Kouzmanoff was 3-for-6 with two homers and 5 RsBI; Ty Wigginton was 4-for-6 with a double and triple and scored four runs; and Chris Ianetta was 2-for-5 with a three-run homer and 5 RBI as well.
Your updated NL Central standings for September 26:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Elimination #
On tap for today:
- The Crew welcomes the Pirates to town for the final three-game series of the regular season. Game one starts at 7:10 p.m. CDT and features Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.31) and Charlie Morton (10-10, 3.67).
- The Cardinals head to Houston to finish their regular season, starting at 7:05 p.m. CDT. In the opener, Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.45) battles Wandy Rodriguez (11-11, 3.51).
- The Reds visit the Big Apple for the end of their season, beginning a three-game series with the Mets at 6:10 p.m. CDT. Homer Bailey (9-7, 4.32) takes on Chris Schwinden (0-2, 5.06) in game one.
- The Cubs conclude their year in sunny San Diego with a three-game set that begins at 9:05 p.m. CDT. Casey Coleman (3-8, 6.64) takes on Mat Latos (8-14, 3.60) in the opener.