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The Wrap: NL

NL Quote of the Night:

"I did what I had to do to save the bullpen. I'm used to throwing a lot."

-- New Pittsburgh reliever Jeff Karstens on his game-winning performance in a win he was scheduled to start in, before he was displaced by Wednesday's starter, who arrived in a trade last week.

Reds 4, Nationals 2
What's worse as a fan: Losing in the 12th inning after a spirited rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, or leaving before the bottom of the ninth rally because of an extended rain delay. Guess what? Now Nats fans get to choose! Or at least the 100 fans who stuck out the rain delay in the stands do. Consider it an homage to the team's final days in Montreal, when attendances were routinely in the hundreds, not thousands. If only the loss hadn't obscured another impressive start for Shairon Martis, it might be more comical and less painful.

Pirates 3, Braves 2
Finally, Pittsburgh won a tight game, and they did it behind a deposed starter, who bailed out the man who has been pegged to replace him. Jeff Karstens came on in relief of Charlie Morton -- picked up in the Nate McLouth trade -- and allowed only a single run to lift Pittsburgh to a win after a series of dishearteningly close losses. As for McLouth, he had a 1 for 4 night against his former team, not groundbreaking, but a sign that his transition into Atlanta's leadoff spot is still moving along.

Phillies 5, Mets 4
Just when the Mets had a chance to enter tomorrow within a game of the NL East lead, they drop a game in extra innings that is almost sure to push Philadelphia along and re-build confidence. Chase Utley hit the homer that lifted the Phillies to a win in the 12th inning, highlighting the importance of an incredible outfield save by Jayson Werth in the bottom of the 11th. That puts a lot more pressure on John Maine tomorrow, with the Phillies in line to take a four-game lead in the division if they win.

Cardinals 13, Marlins 4
So much for that St. Louis slump, huh? The Cardinals broke out of their Colorado-induced slumped with a bang, racking up 13 runs on 18 hits off Chris Volstad and the three relievers who followed him. St. Louis scored three in the first and never looked back, showing signs of the team that appeared to be a surprising contender through the first third of the season. Will they keep it up? Who knows. But they have to be happy that the Rockies are gone, don't they?

Rockies 4, Brewers 2
Maybe it was the lack of Troy Tulowitzki? Or Jim Tracy? Ok, a simple managerial change seems a bit far fetched for a justification of such a dramatic Colorado turnaround, but whatever it is, Colorado is winning, and they're doing so impressively. On Wednesday they did it with Tulowitzki and Brad Hawpe, both of whom connected for homers off Dave Bush, leaving Milwaukee -- and the rest of us -- wondering exactly what's gotten into the Rockies.

Astros 2, Cubs 1

Maybe the Astros just like being dramatic. Whatever their motivation, Houston waited until the bottom of the ninth to rumble past Chicago, using a Geoff Blum hit off Angel Guzman to notch an Astros win. The fact that the hit came off Guzman is significant because his name isn't Carlos Zambrano. That, in turn, is important because Big Z was positively astounding, giving up only three hits across eight innings, all for naught because he was matched by emerging Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Sampson, who earned the win with two innings of scoreless relief.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 4
Even when he wins these days, Barry Zito walks an incredible tightrope. The lefty curveballer gave up four runs when handed a 5-0 lead, then tap danced around multiple Arizona base runners multiple times in the middle innings of San Francisco's win on Wednesday night. Those escapes, combined with a three-run shot from catcher Bengie Molina, was enough to get the surprising Giants another win on the road. The setback sent Arizona pitcher Doug Davis's record hurtling down to 3-7, a bit deceptive for his perfectly respectable (if not strong) 3.42 ERA. Sheesh, between he and Haren, how much internal damage has Arizona's lack of hitting been doing, huh?

Padres 3, Dodgers 1
Hey, you can't win them all, even if you are the hottest team in baseball. That L.A. finally lost another game isn't too surprising, but the fact that they lost to San Diego, which was throwing pitcher Kevin Correia on just three days rest? Yeah, that's a bit surprising. Correia allowed only a first inning run in his six impressive frames of work, overshadowing another quality start from Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who fell to 3-5 with the loss. And after a brief bridging period, Heath Bell earned his 18th save of the season (he has only one blown save) with a straight forward ninth inning. If you had Bell as one of your All-Star Game closers before the season, I sincerely hope you put money on that in Las Vegas somewhere, because you might be a genius.

By Cameron Smith  |  June 11, 2009; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  The Wrap: NL  | Tags: The Wrap: NL  
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I'm not a Phils' fan but Utley is impressive. I love what Hudson's done in LA, but Utley is the best second baseman in the NL if not all of baseball. It was a tough night at the office for Kershaw. 80 plus pitches in less than three innings isn't a recipe for success. The Zambrano-Rodriguez duel would have been a good one to see, but watching Martis last night wasn't bad. He pitched well enough to win, but our bats have gone silent.

Posted by: VaNat | June 11, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

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