News and notes from around the Central:
- Cardinals third baseman David Freese has been cleared to return to action on Tuesday after being struck in the head by a pitch on Thursday night. Freese suffered a mild concussion on the play, but he's passed a battery of neurological tests and is fit to resume baseball activity.
- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips injured his ankle after colliding with Drew Stubbs in Saturday's loss to the Cubs, and Phillips was held out of yesterday's game as a result. Dusty Baker says Phillips is day to day and isn't expected to land on the DL.
- A lot of people expected the Pirates to come back to earth in the second half, and they have -- but, somewhat surprisingly, the Bucs held their own against the Braves and Reds and crashed while facing the dregs of the league (Chicago and San Diego). How bad have things gotten for the Pirates, losers of ten in a row and 15 of their last 18 games? According to Elias, Pittsburgh's just-completed homestand, where the Bucs dropped all seven games, was the worst in team history.
- It wouldn't be the Cubs if there wasn't something to whine about: after Marlon Byrd slipped and fell while trying to chase down a Joey Votto fly ball in yesterday's contest vs. the Reds (more on that below), Byrd said the grass in the Wrigley Field outfield, which was battered by a Paul McCartney concert and drenched by rain in the last week, is in terrible condition.
- Houston reliever Enerio Del Rosario felt discomfort in his right shoulder while warming up for Friday's game against the Brewers, but, for some reason, he didn't inform the coaching staff. The pain got worse in his 28-pitch outing, and Del Rosario ended up on the disabled list on Saturday.
- The Brewers are so hot right now. That's all I've got for you. Fortunately, Noah has a lot more in his recap of Milwaukee 7, Houston 3.
St. Louis stayed on the Crew's heels, completing the four-game sweep of the Marlins with an 8-4 victory over the Fish in Miami. This game see-sawed back and forth for six innings, with the Fish grabbing the lead in the third on an Alfredo Amezaga RBI single, St. Louis answering back in the fourth on Al Pujols' 27th homer, Florida regaining the lead in the fifth on Gaby Sanchez's RBI groundout, the Cards taking a two-run lead on run-scoring singles by Matt Holliday and Jon Jay, and the Marlins knotting the score at 4 on Bryan Petersen's two-run homer in the sixth. But the Redbirds took the lead for good in the seventh, when Ryan Theriot drove in Corey Patterson with a single and Matt Holliday followed with a two-RBI single of his own.
- On the other side of the coin are the cratering Pirates, who lost their tenth game in a row by falling to San Diego at PNC Park, 7-3. Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia was cruising through five innings, limiting the Padres to a second-inning run, but he found big trouble in the sixth: after retiring the first two Padre hitters, Correia gave a single to Jesus Guzman before walking Orlando Hudson and Kyle Blanks. Logan Forsythe followed with a two-RBI single, ending Correia's day, and Daniel McCutchen uncorked a wild pitch to score Blanks. Will Venable doubled in two more San Diego runs in the eighth, and a three-run Pittsburgh rally in the bottom of the eighth (fueled by Brandon Wood's three-run homer) wasn't nearly enough to end the Pirates' skid. And so, two weeks after the Pirates were in a tie for first place in the Central, Pittsburgh now finds itself a full 10 games off the pace.
Cincinnati ended Chicago's seven game winning streak with an 8-7 victory over the Baby Bears on Sunday afternoon. The Reds seemed in control of this one, as they held a 6-2 lead after five innings. But the Cubs notched a couple of runs in the sixth on a Blake DeWitt two-run homer, then claimed the lead with a three-run outburst in the seventh: Tony Campana drove in Reed Johnson with a single, Marlon Byrd plated Castro with a ground-rule double, and Aramis Ramirez came around to score on a Nick Masset wild pitch. But the Reds weren't done: Joey Votto led off the eighth inning with a Byrd-aided double (Byrd slipped and fell trying to chase down Votto's blooper to center), Todd Frazier scored Votto with a double of his own, and Ryan Hanigan drove in the winning run with a single.
Your updated standings for August 8:
On tap for tonight:
- The Reds return to Cincinnati to begin a four-game series with the Rockies. Game one begins at 6:10 p.m. CDT, when Homer Bailey (6-5, 4.30) faces Jason Hammel (6-11, 4.88).
- The Cubs welcome the Nationals to Wrigley Field at 7:05 p.m. CDT, as Matt Garza (5-8, 3.78) matches up against Chien-Ming Wang (0-2, 6.00).
- The Pirates continue their search for answers, but the task just got taller: Pittsburgh begins a series with the Giants in San Francisco at 9:15 p.m. CDT, when Charlie Morton (8-6, 3.80) takes on Ryan Vogelsong (9-1, 2.19).
- The Astros are on the road to face the D-backs in Phoenix at 8:40 p.m. CDT. Wandy Rodriguez (7-8, 3.69) faces Daniel Hudson (11-7, 3.67) in the opener.
- The Brewers and Cardinals have the day off.