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The Wrap: NL

NL Quote of the Night:

"You don't want to go through the whole month of April and not win a game."

Arizona starting pitcher Dan Haren, who finally won his first game last night, improving his record to 1-3 despite his miniscule 1.38 ERA.

Braves 1, Nationals 0
At a certain point, the Nationals will run out of ways to break your heart, right? Am I right here? Because maybe I'm not, in which case there are going to be some seriously unique losses this year. Last night's was right up there, with three walks doing in the Nationals, thanks to a recurrent bout of "man our bullpen is unreliable." That ruined what was a great outing from John Lannan, which is a wasted win for the Nats, who really shouldn't be shut out by the Braves most days. Sure, Jair Jurrgens is a strong pitcher, but the Nats have got to find a way to score runs against pitchers like him. Especially if Jesus Flores finally is out of his slump.

Pirates 7, Marlins 4
Just when you thought the early season was making sense, the unstoppable Marlins get swept by the Pirates. Yes, Pittsburgh's pitching is firing on all cylinders all at once, but three straight terrific starts against one of baseball's more balanced lineups, with only one established starter among the starting pitching contributors to the sweep? That's a sign that a young team might be on the verge of turning the corner. Who thought we would be saying that about Pittsburgh rather than Florida heading into that series?

Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 0
It took four magnificent starts, but eventually Arizona's Dan Haren got a win. After failing to get any run support whatsoever in his last two outings, Haren decided to take matters into his own hands, pitching a shutout to lead Arizona past the Diamondbacks. He also lowered his ERA in the process, making it an astouding 1.38. Yes, that's right, the Diamondbacks have a 1-3 pitcher with a 1.38 ERA. And no, we don't have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. It's already taken.

Giants 1, Padres 0

Barry Zito. Giants. Shutout. They're words that haven't been seen in the same sentence very often since the curveballer took up residence on the other side of the bay from his Oakland Cy Young digs. Well, on Wednesday he had all the Uncle Charlie action working, and that kept the Padres off balance all night, holding a stalemate just long enough for Bengie Molina to come through with a game-winning hit in the 10th inning. As for Zito, he didn't get to earn the win because the win was a walk-off, but seven scoreless innings did push ERA closer to respectability, at 5.63. Hey, at least that's a start, right?

Brewers 3, Phillies 1

Philadelphia is scuffling. The Phillies need to get on a hot streak, but they can't seem to find the starting pitching to launch one. Then, when they finally do get such an outing from an unexpected source -- No. 4 starter Joe Blanton -- they can't deliver the offense they're so known for and they fall by the wayside. Though most of the attention will probably focus on the Phitins, Braden Looper deserves a lot of credit, too. If someone said he'd be propping up the Milwaukee staff at 2-0 after two weeks, most people definitely would have called the soothsayer a mad man.

Reds 3, Cubs 0
Now this is the Johnny Cueto analysts were so excited about in the preseason. Relying mostly on an improved fastball to attack the zone, Cueto mixed in his devastating curveball in tossing seven scoreless innings, setting the stage for Jay Bruce's homer and a Cincinnati win. More outings like that and the Reds really may have something to get excited about.

Astros 6, Dodgers 5

Say what you will about the Astros, but they're winning in interesting ways. Last night it was a single after a wild pitch on an intentional walk. The day before it was a bombing homer from a guy who goes by the name "The Goat." Who knows, maybe tomorrow the Astros will power pitch to a win, a strategy that harkens to their World Series glory days of 2005 but seems so far away from a team that still hasn't gotten a Roy Oswalt win and seems to be patching together pitching one start at a time. That being said, if Houston can keep gutting out wins while Oswalt gets his sea legs under him, the Astros could actually be a surprising contender if things come together late in the season.

Cardinals 5, Mets 2

Could the meltdown come at the start of the season instead of the end for the Mets this year? The Queens faithful have to be worried after the Mets dropped their third straight, all while getting outscored 15-8, the last two of which have come at the hands of the Cardinals. And things couldn't be more different in St. Louis, where Joel Pineiro is 3-0, the Cardinals are 10-4 and will go for a three-game sweep of the Mets on Thursday. How desperate are the Mets to get something started? Desperate enough that manager Jerry Manuel is moving Carlos Beltran from fifth in the order to No. 3 -- long David Wright's spot -- to try and add some pop to the top of the lineup. We'll see if it works, though the longer it doesn't, the quicker Manuel is going to come under pressure in New York.

By Cameron Smith  |  April 23, 2009; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  The Wrap: NL  
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