News from around the Central:
- St. Louis finally decided to cut the cord with former closer Ryan Franklin, as the Redbirds released the 38-year-old reliever after his latest implosion on Tuesday night. I speculated yesterday that Franklin might have told the Cards he'd accept a minor-league assignment after he cleared waivers, but that doesn't seem to be the case; from the sounds of it, Franklin's going to take some time off from baseball.
- It was also the end of the road for Chicago left-hander Doug Davis, who got himself cut after surrendering 10 earned runs and 12 hits in just four innings in Tuesday's 13-7 loss to the Giants.
- After six straight games in AL parks, the Reds return home needing to make some difficult decisions: Jonny Gomes has DH'd for the last week with excellent results -- .350 with four homers in his last 22 plate appearances -- while Chris Heisey and Fred Lewis have shared left-field (and leadoff) duties. But there's only one spot for the three of 'em back in the NL.
- Injured Pirate third baseman Pedro Alvarez is finally starting a minor league rehab assignment after a frustrating series of fits and starts at extended spring training. Alvarez got an at-bat in a Gulf Coast League game on Monday, and now he's been send to single-A Bradenton to continue his rehab.
- Houston claimed outfielder Luis Durango off waivers from San Diego and cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for him by placing Alberto Arias on the 60-day DL. Durango has been assigned to AAA Oklahoma City.
- Milwaukee was overmatched in New York once again, as Shaun Marcum wiggled out of trouble for three innings before blowing the game in a four-run Yankee fourth inning. Our recap is here.
St. Louis pulled to within a game of the Crew with a 5-1 rout of the Orioles in Baltimore. Chris Carpenter looked like the Chris Carpenter of old last night, throwing a complete game seven-hitter for his third victory of the year. Colby Rasmus hit a two-run homer in the second inning to kick start the Cards' offense and Skip Schumaker was 2-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Pittsburgh couldn't get over the hump in Toronto, as the Jays scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to swipe a 2-1 victory at the Rogers Centre. Paul Maholm walked the tightrope one too many times last night: he worked seven innings but gave up nine hits and two walks, and surrendered a game-tying homer to Eric Thames in the sixth and a run-scoring double to Yunel Escobar in the seventh.
Cincinnati snagged an early 3-0 advantage over the Rays and then hung on for dear life, eventually squeaking out a 4-3 win and a series triumph over Tampa. Ryan Hanigan fueled the Reds offense with his three-run bomb in the fourth and Fred Lewis drove in what proved to be the winning run with an RBI single in the seventh. Edinson Volquez wasn't great -- 6.1 innings, three earned, four hits, three walks, seven strikeouts -- but he did enough to pick up his fifth win of the year. Francisco Cordero bagged his 16th save of the year with a scoreless ninth.
Chicago was poised to shut out the Giants after Ryan Dempster turned in a magnificent outing: 8.0 innings, three hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. But after Pat Burrell led off the Giant ninth with a double, Cryin' Mike Quade turned to Carlos Marmol, who promptly blew the lead by surrendering an RBI single to Emmanuel Burriss. But Marmol escaped further damage by inducing a double-play grounder from Cody Ross, and the Cubs walked off winners when Aramis Ramirez delivered a pinch-hit single to score Tony Campana in the bottom of the ninth.
Houston dropped its fifth in a row in a 3-2 loss to the Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Brett Myers gave up two first-inning runs on a leadoff homer by Ian Kinsler (who homered twice on the day) and an RBI single by Adrian Beltre. The 'Stros rallied for two runs in the seventh on the strength of a Carlos Lee solo homer and an RBI single by Clint Barmes, but Ranger relievers Mark Lowe and Pedro Feliz put an end to the fun by shutting down Houston over the final 1.1 innings of the game.
Your updated standings for June 30:
On tap for tonight:
- The Crew and Yankees conclude their series with a 12:05 p.m. CDT matinee that features lefties Randy Wolf (6-4, 3.20) and CC Sabathia (10-4, 3.25).
- St. Louis and Baltimore are back in action at 6:05 p.m. CDT at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Scheduled to start: for the Cards, Jake Westbrook (6-4, 3.52); for the O's, Brian Matusz (1-3, 6.85).
- The Pirates finish their three-game set with the Blue Jays at 6:07 p.m. CDT at Rogers Centre. The surprising Jeff Karstens (5-4, 2.66) faces Brett Cecil (1-2, 6.86) in the finale.
- The Cubs and Giants wrap up their series at 1:20 p.m. CDT this afternoon. The Giants send Matt Cain (7-4, 3.22) to the hill to face the volcanic Carlos Zambrano (6-4, 4.38).
- Houston and Texas conclude their interleague series at 7:05 p.m. CDT tonight, when Matt Harrison (6-6, 3.00) takes on Wandy Rodriguez (5-4, 3.21)
- Cincinnati has the day off.