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Around the NL Central: August 18 Edition

News and notes from around the Central:

Yesterday's action:

  • When the script is working this well, there's no reason to change it: Milwaukee got another dynamite pitching performance -- save for one improbable and almost unforgivable boo-boo -- and got just enough offense as the Crew took its third straight from the Dodgers, 3-1. Our recap is here.
  • Pittsburgh couldn't finish off the sweep of the Cards, as St. Louis jumped on Paul Maholm for three first-inning runs on an Allen Craig two-run homer and a Yadier Molina sac fly en route to a 7-2 win over the Pirates. Craig added another homer in the seventh inning and ended the day 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Kyle Lohse made the early lead stand up, working seven innings and striking out seven while giving up five hits and two runs. Jose Tabata celebrated his return to the Pirates' lineup with a solo homer, but it wasn't nearly enough on this night.
  • Cincinnati got another early lead against the Nationals, as Joey Votto staked the Reds to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on his 20th homer of the year. That was almost enough for Johnny Cueto, who made the margin hold up for seven innings until the Reds tacked on another run on Ramon Hernandez's RBI groundout in the eighth. Cueto was lifted from the game after allowing a leadoff homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth (Cueto's final line: 8.0 IP, six hits, one run, five strikeouts) and CoCo Cordero worked around a walk, a single, and an error by Paul Janish to pick up his 24th save: with the bases loaded and one down, CoCo got Wilson Ramos to ground into a 4-6-3 double play for the final outs.
  • Houston became the last team in the majors to win its 40th game of the season at the expense of the woeful Cubs, using a two-run double from Brian Bogusevic and a two-run single from Matt Downs to swipe a 4-3 victory and a series win from Chicago. The Cubs got all their offense via the long ball: Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the third and Geovany Soto tacked on a solo shot in the fourth, but the Cubs couldn't get anything going in the game's last four innings, even after putting men at first and third with nobody out in the ninth inning. Mark Melancon got Carlos Pena to pop up, Darwin Barney was cut down at the plate on Soto's grounder to short, and Marlon Byrd grounded out to second to end it.

Your updated standings for August 18:

W L GB Last 10 Streak Elimination #
73 51 -- 9-1 W6 --
Cardinals 66 58 7.0 5-5 W1
Reds 60 63 12.5
6-4 W1 27
Pirates 58
64 14.0 4-6 L1
Cubs 54 70 19.0 5-5 L2 20
Astros 40 84 33.0 3-7 W2 6


The Wild Card race looks like this right now:

W L GB Last 10 Streak
73 51 -- 9-1 W6
72 52 1.0 7-3 L1
Giants 67 57 6.0 5-5 W1
Cardinals 66 58 7.0
5-5 W1
Reds 60
63 12.5 6-4 W1


On tap for tonight:

  • The Crew and Dodgers wrap up their series at 1:10 p.m. CDT, when Marco Estrada (3-7, 4.46) takes on Clayton Kershaw (14-5, 2.72).
  • Cincinnati and Washington finish their three-game series at 6:05 p.m. CDT. Bronson Arroyo (7-9, 5.31) tries to get back on track in the finale, and he'll face Jordan Zimmermann (7-10, 3.23).
  • The Cardinals, Cubs, Astros, and Pirates all have the day off.