In addition, the Cubs also signed our old friend Dave Bush on a minor league deal.
The Cubs beat the Marlines 2-1. Ryan Dempster had perhaps his best start of the season, allowing just four hits in eight shut out innings and striking out nine Marlins hitters. Carlos Marmol gave up the only Florida run. Both of the Cubs runs came in the fourth inning as a Carlos Pena single was followed by a Marlon Byrd double, putting the two on third and second base. An error by Omar Infante allowed both players to score. Bird and Kosuke Fukudome were the only Cubs to reach base twice--Byrd via two hits and Fukudome via a hit and a walk.
The Reds beat the Cardinals 6-5. The action picked up late in this one as Cincinnati took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, only to give up three runs to St. Louis in that frame. The Reds would take the lead back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but the Cardinals would go right back in front with a two run Albert Pujols homerun in the eighth. Finally, in the ninth, the Cardinals bullpen did what it does best by blowing a save--Brandon Phillips hit a two run shot of his own to give the Reds the walk off victory. Chris Heisey hit two home runs and scored three runs for the Reds, and Zack Cozart (3-5), Joey Votto (2-5), and Scott Rolen (2-3) all had good days. Johnny Cueto pitched well, allowing two runs in seven innings. Jake Westbrook gave up two runs in five innings for St. Louis as Albert Pujols was 2-5 with two runs and two RBI and Matt Holliday reached base three times. The Cardinals were helped by two Reds errors.
The Pirates beat the Astros 4-0. Jeff Karstens was fantastic, pitching a complete game five-hitter. Brett Myers had a fine game himself, going six innings and giving up three runs for the quality start. He also struck out 11 Pittsburgh hitters. Five different Astros had a hit as the Pirates' Chase D'Arnaud (2-5, run) and Andrew McCutchen (triple, walk, and two RBI) were the only players in this game to reach base more than once. The win moved the Pirates into a tie for first place and I have to keep muttering to myself that they won't keep it up to try to believe it.
The Cubs send out Carlos Zambrano (6-4, 4.34) to face Javier Vasquez (5-8, 5.23) and the Marlins.
Paul Maholm (6-9, 2.96) tries to keep the Pirates winning streak going as they face the Astros and Bud Norris (5-6, 3.46).
The Cardinals and Chris Carpenter (4-7, 3.85) face Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 5.58) and the Reds.
Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.45) tries to get something going post-all star break as the Brewers take on the Rockies and Jhoulys Chacin (8-7, 3.16).