News and notes from around the Central:
- The Cardinals gacked away plenty of opportunities in their loss to the Astros last night -- they were 3 for 13 with RISP and made outs at second base, home, and two at third base -- but manager Tony LaRussa wasn't down on his team after the contest, instead crediting the Astros for escaping the jams.
- Reds closer Francisco Cordero says the team has already reached out to him about returning to Cincinnati next year, and Cordero says that he's optimistic that he'll be back in a Reds uniform in 2012.
- The Pirates have decided to start Jeff Locke in the last game of the regular season on Wednesday, giving the left-hander one more chance to pick up his first victory.
- Cubs manager Cryin' Mike Quade did Casey Coleman no favors in Coleman's bid for his fourth win yesterday, running out a lineup that featured one veteran major-leaguer -- Carlos Pena -- and a whole bunch of youngsters. Quade said he wanted to see how the "kids" would perform against the Padres' varsity squad. The results weren't pretty.
- Astros closer Mark Melancon had an eventful night yesterday: after pitching two scoreless innings in the Astros' extra-inning win over the Cardinals, Melancon rushed to a local hospital to join his wife, who was scheduled to be induced into labor at 10:30 p.m. CDT.
- All Pittsburgh needed to snap its losing streak at Miller Park was a terrible (and unlucky) start from Shaun Marcum. And a poor showing from Frankie de la Cruz. And a blown call on a steal attempt that gifted the Pirates a run. And a laser beam off the bat of Ryan Braun that missed being a homer by about a foot. And an ill-timed contact play that cut down the would-by tying run in the ninth inning. That's all. If you need more, our recap of Pirates 9, Milwaukee 8 is here.
- This is why the Cardinals can't have nice things: handed a golden opportunity to tie up the Wild Card race with two game to play, St. Louis faceplanted in Houston, falling in extra innings, 5-4, to the lowly 'Stros. Jaime Garcia put the Cards in an early hole, giving up two runs in the third (squeeze bunt by Wandy Rodriguez and RBI double by Jason Bourgeois) and a two-run homer to Matt Downs in the fourth, but St. Louis rallied to tie the game on Lance Berkman's two-run double in the eighth. But the Cards squandered a chance to take the lead in the 10th, making two outs at third base (a fielder's choice at third that cut down Yadier Molina, and a caught stealing of Ryan Theriot with two down), and the Astros took advantage in the bottom of the 10th: Brian Bogusevic hit a pinch-hit double to open the inning, and Octavio Dotel muffed Bourgeois' sac bunt attempt to put runners at the corners. Angel Sanchez then executed a perfect safety squeeze, pushing a bunt up the first base line that scored Bogusevic easily.
- Cincinnati rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Mets at Citi Field, plating three seventh-inning runs to swipe a 6-5 victory in New York. Homer Bailey couldn't protect an early 2-0 lead, giving up nine hits and four runs in just five innings, but Chris Heisey erased a 4-3 Mets lead with one swing of the bat in the seventh inning, roping a three-run homer to left field to give the Reds a 6-4 lead. After the Mets got one run back in the eighth (Jose Reyes doubled in a run but was cut down trying to advance to third), CoCo Cordero worked around a lead-off double and a hit-by-pitch to earn his 36th save.
- Chicago started its offseason early, putting up just two hits while getting blanked by the Padres, 2-0, in San Diego. Mat Latos dominated the Baby Bears for seven innings, ceding two hits and a walk while striking out nine, and the Cubs fared no better against Chad Qualls and Heath Bell, both of whom pitched perfect innings to close out the victory. The Padres scored both their runs in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to Will Venable's solo homer and Cam Maybin's run-scoring double.
Your updated NL Central standings for September 27:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Elimination #
On tap for today:
- The Crew and Pirates are back in action at 7:10 p.m. CDT, when Randy Wolf (13-10, 3.61) takes on Ross Ohlendorf (1-3, 8.29).
- The Cardinals and Astros resume their series at 7:05 p.m. CDT at Minute Maid Park. Jake Westbrook (12-9, 4.48) battles Henry Sosa (3-5, 4.68) in game two.
- The Reds look to make it two in a row against the Mets at 6:10 p.m. CDT. Bronson Arroyo (9-12, 5.09) faces Chris Capuano (11-12, 4.55) in this one.
- The Cubs and Paders are back on the field at 9:05 p.m. CDT for game two of their three-game series. Matt Garza (9-10, 3.35) takes the ball for the Baby Bears, while Anthony Bass (2-0, 1.66) starts for the Fathers.