News and notes from around the Central:
- He has returned.
- Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno landed on the seven-day concussion disabled list over the weekend and he's eligible to be activated on Saturday, but the Bucs announced he won't return to the team until after the All-Star Break.
- The Reds come to Milwaukee a little frayed around the edges: an 8-0 laugher in St. Louis turned into a 9-8, 13-inning victory last night, and the Reds were forced to use every position player and every pitcher in the bullpen to secure the victory.
- Ailing Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who found himself in a Chicago hospital over the weekend because of illness and a back injury, wants to try to make a start on Saturday, but he's barely picked up a ball this week and might wind up on the DL.
- From the Shuffling the Deck Chairs on the Titanic files comes news that Astros skipper Brad Mills called a 70-minute, closed-door meeting before Houston's game in Pittsburgh last night. What, exactly, you address when your team is 30 games under .500 before the All-Star Break I'm not sure, but you gotta earn your paycheck however you can.
- Cincinnati gagged away all of an 8-0 lead against St. Louis, as the Redbirds put together a five-run outburst in the seventh to pull within one and then knotted the game at 8 when Jon Jay homered off CoCo Cordero to lead off the ninth. But the Reds scratched across a run in the 13th when Ramon Hernandez hit a pinch-hit, two-out double to score Jay Bruce, and Aroldis Chapman picked up his first save of the year, fanning two Cards in the bottom of 13. Chris Heisey, Jay Bruce, Fred Lewis, and Scott Rolen each hit a homer for Cincinnati, while the Cardinals got big flies from Jay and Matt Holliday.
- Casey McGehee punched the monkey that's taken up residence on his back with a pinch-hit, three-run bomb in the seventh inning to power Milwaukee to a 3-1 win over the D'backs at Miller Park. Our recap is here.
- Pittsburgh most recent stay in second place came to an end after one day, as Houston took advantage of some shoddy Pirate defense en route to an 8-2 win at PNC Park. The Bucs were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning when the 'Stros put together a five-run rally, with assists from Chase d'Arnaud (throwing error allowing Michael Bourn to reach) and Andrew McCutchen, who misplayed a couple of fly balls in center. Bud Norris worked 7 innings for the victory, scattering seven hits and two walks and holding the Pirates to two earned runs.
- The Cubs lost their third game in a row in our Nation's capital, this time by a count of 5-4. Chicago starter Randy Wells got battered around in four innings of work, giving up ten hits (including homers by Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman) and a walk and four earned runs. Aramis Ramirez tried to rally the Cubs with a two-run homer in the sixth that tied the game at 4, but the Nats small-balled their way to victory thanks to a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh: Wilson Ramos got the bunt down off Kerry Wood, allowing Michael Morse to score and giving the Nats a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Your updated standings for July 7:
On tap for tonight:
- St. Louis welcomes the Diamondbacks to town for a four-game series that begins at 7:15 p.m. CDT tonight. Kyle McClellan (6-5, 4.27) faces Joe Saunders (5-7, 4.04) in this one.
- The Crew gets another shot to solve the puzzle that is the Reds when Cincy comes to Miller Park at 7:10 p.m. CDT tonight. Game one features Homer Bailey (3-3, 3.64) and Chris Narveson (5-5, 4.86).
- The Cubs wrap up their series in D.C. with a 6:05 p.m. CDT contest against the Nationals. Matt Garza (4-7, 3.77) takes on Livan Hernandez (5-8, 3.73) in the finale.
- Houston continues its road trip with a four-game set in Miami against the Marlins. Game one starts at 6:10 p.m. CDT, with J.A. Happ (3-10, 5.63) taking on Brad Hand (0-3, 3.79).
- Pittsburgh has the day off.