The Wrap: NL
NL Quote of the Night:
"My team always comes back. That's what's good about them."
-- Philadelphia Manager Charlie Manuel about his World Champion Phillies, who mounted another comeback to win in the 10th inning at the rival Mets Thursday night.
Nationals 3, Reds 2
Hey, the sun even shines on a dog's you-know-what some days. Evidently Thursday was Washington's day, with the Nationals finally being the beneficiary of a late, gratuitous error by Cincinnati, lifting the Nats to a 3-2 win. That made a winner out of Julian Tavarez, who pitched two innings in relief of John Lannan's strong start, and a closer of Joe Beimel, who earned his first save of the season. Of course, one game doesn't salvage a season, and the Nats are still on pace for a historically bad season, as pointed out by Boz right here. Then again, if the MASN events of the ninth inning of Wednesday night's loss continue, people may not be forced to sit through the losses, anyway.
Cardinals 6, Marlins 5
The Marlins history is so checkered with successful and disastrous seasons, it's hard to get a read on which type a year is going to provide sometimes. It's looking more and more like this year's Florida squad will be closer to the latter, with St. Louis foiling the fish for a second-straight night on Thursday, using a Florida error in the eighth inning to vault past the Marlins. The late rally made a winner out of reliever Trever Miller, and set the stage for Ryan Franklin's 14th save, both impressive marks for the team's bullpen.
Pirates 3, Braves 1
Just when you start to count out the Pirates, they show signs of being the scrappy team they looked like across the first third of the season. Pittsburgh topped the Braves for the second-straight night on Thursday, using a late Andy LaRoche hit -- he stroked a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth -- to lift the Buccos into a 2-2 series tie in Atlanta. That stole another potential win for Atlanta pitcher Javier Vazquez, who moved into the NL lead for strike outs with 105 after racking up 12 K's in the Thursday no-decision.
Rockies 5, Brewers 4
From hopeless to unstoppable, the Rockies have been on one heck of a run across the last week. Colorado kept the hot streak going on Thursday, edging the Brewers on the road yet again, using two insurance runs in the eighth inning to pad a lead for closer Houston Street, who earned a fourth-straight save despite giving up a two-run bomb to Ryan Braun. The late dramatics overshadowed an impressive start by Colorado's traditional ace, Aaron Cook, who went six innings without allowing a run before letting one in without earning an out in the seventh.
Astros 2, Cubs 1
How can Chicago's offense go from being one of the Major League's most dominant to one of it's most anemic in a single season? It's a legitimate question, because for the second straight night, the Astros stonewalled the Cubs in Houston, a ballpark that is pretty well tailor made for Chicago to knock out deep balls. The Cubs tied the game in the top of the ninth using one of those blasts, a shot by Derek Lee, but they had little offense to offer outside of that in the team's latest loss. For the second-straight night Geoff Blum was the late inning hero for Houston, making him a bit of a surprising spark plug for a team that really may be better than its record suggests ... at least if Wandy Rodriguez keeps progressing at his current pace and Roy Oswalt reaches his traditional season totals of wins and dominant performances.
Diamondbacks 2, Giants 1
Well, now we can officially identify Arizona's formula for winning: Get great starting pitching, try to score a couple runs over the course of the game and then hold on for dear life. They pulled it off on Thursday, with youngster Max Sherzerer putting forward the dominant start and Justin Upton providing the requisite offense, driving in both Diamondback runs. Both Arizona runs came off scuffling Jonathan Sanchez, who still maintains a relatively respectable 4.84 ERA despite his woeful 2-6 record. It wasn't a good night for local product Emmanuel Burriss, either, with his 0 for 2 performance dropping his season average to .251.
Phillies 6, Mets 3
If you had to pick an NL MVP through Thursday night, you could do a lot worse than Philadelphia addition Raul Ibanez. The signature free agent addition of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro's first class is knocking the cover off the ball, and he's been providing a disproportionate amount of Philly's pressure hits, too. He came through again in the 10th inning at Citi Field on Thursday, drilling out a three-run homer in the top of the frame to lift Philadelphia to a 6-3 win, a 2 of 3 series at the rival Mets' home park and a four-game lead in the NL East. How are the Phillies doing it? By dominating on the road, racking up an MLB-best 23-9 on the road. Something tells me the defending champions are not going to go away, even if their starting pitching has performed like a decided step down from its 2008 heights.
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