The Wrap: NL
NL Quote of the Night:
"Even a blind man could see it coming. But it was nice, they kept us notified real well. And they were right on with their times. They knew when it was coming, they knew when it was going to be gone. They got that field prepared pretty well. It took a lot of rain."
-- Arizona starter Jon Garland, on a 2 1/2 hour rain delay before the start of the Diamondbacks' win over the Mets in New York
Nationals 5, Pirates 3
Did the Nats hold on to Josh Willingham for too long? That all depends on your view of Washington's development. If you're just looking for chips for the future, yeah, they probably did. But if you're looking for an emerging leader that can help the Nationals become relevant again now, probably not. The Nats ended a four-game win streak and avoided being single-handedly doused with cold water by Pirates rookie Andrew McCutcheon with a 5-3 win, thanks in large part to Willingham's 17th home run of the season, a trend that will have to continue if Washington is to make up for the bat of departed Nick Johnson. And another thing that will have to continue for success under Jim Riggleman: Mark MacDougal has to keep earning saves. His seventh of the year was another reason for optimism in Pennsylvania.
Astros 2, Cardinals 0
Don't look now, but the NL Central race may become a rivalry barn-burner after all. The blazing hot Cardinals were finally slowed on Sunday, with Houston's Bud Norris (yes, that's his real name) tossing seven shutout innings in his first major league start to lead the Astros. The rookie's no-hitter through six innings only complicated the divisional race, with the Cubs also falling (to the Marlins), to remain a half-a-game behind St. Louis in the Central. Houston? It's lurking just 4.5 games back, which is far too close to be written off at this point.
Dodgers 9, Braves 1
The Dodgers haven't had the best East Coast trip for a divisional leader, but that didn't keep them from at least one convincing blowout. On Sunday, it came at the hands of Atlanta, thwarting the surging Braves for a night, on the back of yet another dominant start from young L.A. pitcher Chad Billingsley. The youngster threw five shutout innings to thoroughly outshine fellow budding star Jair Jurrjens, who fell to 9-8 after being roughed up for 10 hits and four runs in just five innings.
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