News and notes from around the Central:
- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina got a five-game timeout as punishment for his infantile temper tantrum on Tuesday night; Molina says he accepts "full responsibility" for his behavior and began serving the suspension immediately.
- But that's not the only Yadi-related note we've got today: there are rumblings that Molina and Cardinals backup catcher Gerald Laird got into a fight Wednesday night and had to be separated by teammates before things got out of hand.
- Don't look now, but the Cubs swept the Pirates last night and have now won a season-high five games in a row, leading to a whole lot of "where the hell has this been all year?" griping from Chicagoans. (OK, you can look away again.)
- Speaking of the Pirates: at SBN Pittsburgh, Charlie Wilmoth pins the Pirates' latest defeat on Bucs skipper Clint Hurdle, who turned to his shakiest bullpen arm -- Jason Grilli -- after the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth inning.
- The Reds have fallen 7.5 games off the pace in the Central after dropping two of three to the Astros earlier this week. With the team sitting three games under .500, Paul Daugherty of cincinnati.com is looking ahead to 2012.
- The Astros optioned Luis Durango to AAA Oklahoma City following their win over the Reds on Wednesday night, and they're expected to make a roster move to fill Durango's spot on the roster before tonight's game against the Brewers.
St. Louis and Florida traded three-run first innings in yesterday's contest in Miami, but the Cards delivered the knockout blow with a three-run third inning en route to a 7-4 victory over the Fish. Matt Holliday gave the Cardinals a short-lived lead in the first inning with a three-run homer to left field (his 17th on the year), but the Marlins answered right back on RBI doubles from Omar Infante and Logan Morrison. But the Redbirds seized control of the game in the third when David Freese was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded -- Freese was hit in the head and was diagnosed with a mild concussion, but he's expected to be OK -- and Skip Schumaker drove in two with a double. Al Pujols added another run with his 25th homer of the year in the fourth inning, and Kyle McClellan (who replaced Kyle Lohse and Lohse departed after 3.0 innings, having allowed three runs, seven hits, and three walks) and five Cardinal relievers held the Fish in check from there.
- The end seems near for the Pirates, as Chicago completed a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh with a 7-6 win at PNC Park last night. The Cubs looked like they had this one sewn up early, as the Baby Bears plated a run in the third on Geovany Soto's solo homer and added three more runs in the fourth on homers by Carlos Pena and Blake DeWitt. But the Bucs roared back with six runs of their own in the fourth inning, and pitcher James McDonald helped his own cause with a three-run, bases-clearing double to give the Pirates the lead. But the Pirates couldn't protect the two-run advantage, as the Cubs got three runs in the top of the eighth on Aramis Ramirez's RBI single, Pena's bases-loaded walk, and Marlon Byrd's sac fly. Carlos Marmol set the Pirates down in order in the ninth for his 23rd save.
- Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Houston had the day off.
Your updated standings for August 5:
On tap for tonight:
- The Crew begins a three-game series with the Astros in Houston at 7:05 p.m. CDT. Yovani Gallardo (12-7, 3.69) faces J.A. Happ (4-13, 6.01) in the opener.
- The Cardinals continue their series with the Marlins at 6:10 p.m. CDT, when Jake Westbrook (9-5, 4.92) takes on Anibal Sanchez (6-4, 3.74).
- The Pirates try to get off the mat against the Padres in a 6:05 p.m. CDT game at PNC Park. Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.49) tries to snap the Bucs out of their funk, while Aaron Harang (9-3, 3.76) looks for his tenth win for San Diego.
- The Cubs and Reds start a three-game series with a 1:20 p.m. CDT matinee contest at Wrigley Field. Ryan Dempster (8-8, 4.96) is on the bump for the Cubs, while Mike Leake (9-6, 3.89) starts for Cincinnati.