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Around the NL Central: July 5 Edition

News and notes from around the Central:

Yesterday's action:

  • St. Louis claimed sole possession of first place by eeking out a 1-0 victory over Cincinnati at Busch Stadium. Chris Carpenter (8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K) and Johnny Cueto (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K) traded zeroes for seven innings, but Cueto blinked first when he surrendered a single run in the eighth: Colby Rasmus singled to lead off the inning, got sacrificed to second, and came around to score on a two-out single by Mark Hamilton. Fernando Salas then notched his 15th save with a three-up, three-down ninth, fanning two of the Reds he faced.
  • Remember when Milwaukee gagged away a 6-1 on Sunday? Oops: they did it again last night. Here's the recap, if you're so inclined.
  • Pittsburgh stayed on Milwaukee's heels with a 5-3 victory over Houston. Alex Presley was 3-for-4 with a triple and a run driven in, Lyle Overbay was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, and Paul Maholm pitched OK (6 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 3 R, 1 ER). But here's what I want to talk about: the Astros were down 3-2 in the sixth inning. Matt Downs led off the sixth with a single and moved up to second when Clint Barmes walked. Brad Mills then had catcher Carlos Corporan sacrifice to move the runners up ... and to bring up Brett Myers, who's hitting a robust .118 on the year. If that wasn't bad enough, Mills then put on the contact play with Myers at the dish, and Downs was -- predictably -- cut down at home when Myers tapped to short. I hate managers.
  • Chicago couldn't protect a late 4-3 lead in Washington thanks to some ill-timed bouts of wildness from setup man Kerry Wood and closer Carlos Marmol. Wood was inserted in the bottom of the seventh with two down and a man on second, and he promptly walked Ryan Zimmerman, hit Danny Espinosa with a pitch, and then walked Laynce Nix on four pytches to force in the tying run. Then, with Jayson Werth on second base with one out in the tenth, Cryin' Mike Quade summoned Marmol. Marmol didn't even bother to look at Werth before delivering his first pitch, and Werth responded by swiping third base. Marmol then spiked a slider on a 2-2 pitch, allowing Werth to score the winning run.

Your updated standings for July 5:

W L GB Last 10 Streak
Cardinals 46 40 -- 5-5 W1
Brewers 45 41 1.0 4-6 L2
Pirates 44 41 1.5 6-4 W2
Reds 43 43 3.0 4-6 L1
Cubs 35 51 11.0 4-6 L1
Astros 29 57 17.0 1-9 L4

On tap for tonight:

  • St. Louis and Cincinnati resume their series at Busch Stadium at 6:09 p.m. CDT tonight, when Jaime Garcia (7-3, 3.33) faces Edinson Volquez (5-3, 5.65).
  • The Crew and the Snakes take the field at 7:10 p.m. CDT. In game two, Zach Duke (1-3, 5.92) matches up with Randy Wolf (6-5, 3.33).
  • The Pirates and Astros are back at it at 6:05 p.m. CDT at PNC Park. The Bucs look to claim second place behind Jeff Karstens (6-4, 2.65), while the Astros counter with Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 2.97).
  • The Cubs continue their series in D.C. at 6:05 p.m. CDT tonight. The Cubs give a spot start to 38-year-old Ramon Ortiz (0-0, ---), while the Nats have Ross Detwiler (0-0, ---), who's also making his season debut, on the mound.