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Around the NL Central: August 31 Edition

News and notes from around the Central:

Yesterday's action:

  • Depending on your point of view, Milwaukee shot itself in the foot in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis with: (1) bad defense; (2) bad hitting; or (3) bad managing. Maybe it's a combination of the three, but regardless, here's the recap.
  • Cincinnati got manhandled by Philadelphia, 9-0, as the Phillies rocked Reds starter Bronson Arroyo for six runs (five earned) in just 5.1 innings of work. Ryan Howard clubbed a two-run homer to kick off the scoring, Hunter Pence obliterated a solo shot in the sixth, but the big damage came at the hands of Roy Halladay, who cleared the bases and chased Arroyo from the game with a three-run double in the sixth inning. Halladay was also great on the mound: he worked 7.0 innings, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out 9.
  • The end can't come soon enough for the Pirates, as Pittsburgh got bludgeoned by Houston, 8-2, at Minute Maid Park. Things were going swimmingly for the Bucs until the sixth, when the 'Stros exploded for six runs: Jimmy Paredes singled and Carlos Corporan walked before Matt Downs drove in Paredes with a single, and Jordan Schafer welcomed Chris Leroux to the game with a single to load the bases.  Three straight singles plated four more Houston runs and that spelled the end for the Pirates, who mustered a single run against rookie Henry Sosa (6.0 IP, two hits, one walk, one run, seven Ks).
  • Chicago continued San Francisco's death spiral with a 5-2 win over the Giants at AT&T Park. The Cubs got one run in the second on Alfonso Soriano's 24th homer, and then tacked on two more in the third thanks to Darwin Barney's sac fly and Soriano's run-scoring single. Jeff Keppinger drove in both of the Giants' runs (RBI double in the fifth, RBI single in the seventh), but that was all the offense San Fran could muster against Matt Garza, who worked 6.2 innings, scattering nine hits while striking out six.

Your updated standings for August 31:

W L GB Last 10 Streak Elimination #
81 55 -- 7-3 L1 --
Cardinals 71 64 9.5 5-5 W2
Reds 67 68 13.5
6-4 L2 14
Pirates 62
73 18.5 3-7 L3
Cubs 59 77 22.0 3-7 W2 5
Astros 46 90 35.0 4-6 W3 Done

The Wild Card race looks like this right now:

W L GB Last 10 Streak
81 55 -- 7-3 L1
79 55 1.0 7-3 L2
Cardinals 71 64 9.5 5-5 W2
Giants 71 65 10.0
4-6 L3
Reds 67
68 13.5 6-4 L2

And here are the playoff participants, if the season ended today:

W L GB Last 10 Streak
Phillies (East) 85 46 -- 6-4 W2
Brewers (Central)
81 55 6.5 7-3 L1
D-backs (West)
77 59 10.5 8-2 W8
Braves (Wild Card)
79 55 7.5
7-3 L2


On tap for tonight:

  • The Crew and Cardinals continue their series at 7:10 p.m. CDT tonight, when Randy Wolf (11-8, 3.37) takes on Jake Westbrook (10-7, 4.75).
  • The Reds look to get off the mat against the Phillies at 6:10 p.m. CDT, but the task doesn't get any easier: tonight, Cincinnati sends Dontrelle Willis (0-3, 4.10) to the hill to face Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.71).
  • The Pirates and Astros are back at it at 7:05 p.m. CDT. James McDonald (8-6, 4.22) takes on J.A. Happ (4-15, 6.03) in this one.
  • The Cubs go for the sweep against the Giants at 2:45 p.m. CDT. Rodrigo Lopez (4-5, 4.80) battles Madison Bumgarner (8-12, 3.59) in the finale.