The Wrap: NL
NL Quote of the Night:
"I'm glad nothing came down and hit me. It was almost abnormal, being out there in the sixth inning."
-- Phillies starter Cole Hamels on actually making it into the sixth inning for the first time this year.
Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 4
Of course the Nationals would sign a career journeyman, tying the Major League record for most teams one man has played for, and he would get the win in his first appearance. That pitcher, Ron Villone, did just that on Friday, getting the win in his first Washington game while helping the Nats win another Shairon Martis start and spoil the Major League managerial debut of A.J. Hinch.
Phillies 10, Braves 6
Earlier in April, the Phillies were rapidly falling off the NL East pace while Atlanta was fighting for divisional supremacy with Florida's upstarts. Things have changed drastically. With the Braves scuffling and struggling to find consistent pitching, Philadelphia is hitting the ball the way it did in a run to the 2008 World Series title. Now, they might have their ace back, too, after Cole Hamels finally pitching into the sixth inning for the first time this season, getting over season-long health struggles to allow only two runs through six frames before leaving for precautionary (i.e., building up his stamina) reasons.
Reds 6, Cardinals 4
What's got into Cincinnati? Good young pitching, that's what. The Reds got it done again, this time behind Johnny Cueto, who tossed six scoreless innings -- extending his career-long stretch to 15 straight without a run -- before allowing one in the seventh of Cincinnati's win over the similarly surprising Cardinals. Joel Pineiro took the loss for St. Louis, which got another welcome sign before the game: Ace Chris Carpenter throwing long toss in the outfield.
Mets 7, Pirates 3
Now New York is rolling. After sweeping through two straight divisional rivals, the Mets kept their hot bats producing in an easy win over Pittsburgh, despite another shaky ninth inning from J.J. Putz, who continues to pop up with occasional struggles after moving to the East coast. Rookie Jonathan Niese had another impressive start for New York, which could bode well for the organization and bad for Oliver Perez, who is still sitting in the bullpen waiting to get work.
Brewers 3, Cubs 2
Milwaukee pulled off another late win with another huge Ryan Braun homer, but the bigger story from this Midwestern tussle was about Chicago third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who may miss an extended stretch with a dislocated left shoulder. If there was any question of the severity of Ramirez's injury, his own quote about the moment it happened can't be comforting. "I felt a pop. I've done it before," he said. "It's been nine years since I've been playing, it's just one of those things."
Astros 2, Padres 0
San Diego can't win them all in low-run squeakers. This time, they couldn't get to a pitcher who once seemed eminently hittable by all, Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, with another young emerging Astros contributor, Hunter Pence, providing all the offense in a pitcher's duel with a fifth-inning, two-run single. That made a hard-luck loser out of Chad Gaudin, who fell to 0-2 with San Diego despite giving up only the two runs and five hits in seven innings of work.
Marlins 8, Rockies 3
Eventually, another Florida starter was bound to win. If you had Ricky Nolasco in the office pool, go ahead and pat yourself on the bat. Of course, if you had the reason for that win being another monstrous game from shortstop Hanley Ramirez -- and who didn't -- then you were twice as clever. Ramirez's first 4 for 4 night of the year was an even bigger reason than Nolasco's strong outing for finally getting Florida back on the right track, complete with his third homer in two games. Now that's a hot streak.
Giants 3, Dodgers 1
With Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers can't lose. Without him, they can't win. At least that's the story after two games, with L.A. managing just a single run off Giants starter Barry Zito, who had another impressive outing in a shocking revival of his pitching form, going six innings while allowing only one run and eight hits. And one more thing: Emmanuel Burriss went 2 for 4, pushing his average to .253, above the .250 mark for the first time this season.
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