The Wrap: NL
NL Quote of the Night:
"I think that was too much Santana."
-- Padres Manager Bud Black on his team's 5-1 loss to the Mets ... who got sterling starting pitching from starter Johan Santana.
Nationals 9, Diamondbacks 2
Anyone else starting to wonder whether the Nationals could have been NL Wild Card contenders if they were playing in the NL West? OK, that's a stretch, but the team's recent surge has been impressive at the very least, with eight straight wins marking the longest string a Nats team has rattled off since 2005. And when a guy like rookie J.D. Martin suddenly provides a quality outing, not to mention when your offense breaks through in the first inning against a guy who hadn't given up a run in 14, a whole lot of things are going right. Does Jim Riggleman deserve the credit for that? Maybe. Or maybe a lot of the credit belongs with searing power hitter Adam Dunn (another homer) and Ryan Zimmerman, who found a nice time to go on a second hitting streak, his most recent reaching 13 games yesterday afternoon.
Rockies 11, Cubs 5
It's starting to look more and more like the NL Wild Card will come out of the West. With the Giants pitching maintaining a near constant drone of quality starts in San Francisco and the Rockies charging hard on the outside rail, it's hard to see many positive prognostications for an NL Central team like the Cubs ... unless they can win their own division. With the Cardinals seemingly back on track, that prospect will be a dogfight, and Chicago will need every win it can get, particularly in games like the one the Cubs dropped Sunday in an 11-5 slugfest loss to the Rockies. Todd Helton did the big damage for Colorado, notching three hits to extending his ongoing hitting streak to 14 games in backing Jason Hammel, who was far from perfect but still good enough to get a win, thanks to a rough patch from rookie Randy Wells (7 runs, 5 earned in 5 1/3 innings).
Astros 2, Brewers 0
Somewhere in the past season, Wandy Rodriguez became a really good pitcher. It may be hard to pinpoint exactly where that happened, but it happened, and he's suddenly on track to win 16-18 games. The Astros lefty dropped his ERA all the way down to 2.51 by blanking the Brewers for eight innings, an impressive return from an eight day break without any baseball while he was recovering from a strained right hamstring. In the process he improved to 11-6, dropping divisional rival Yovani Gallardo, once considered a Cy Young candidate, to 10-9. With Geoff Blum swinging a hot stick -- he connected on his fifth home run since the All-Star break (he has only seven in the season), who knows if the Astros can keep reeling off wins against NL Central foes. If they do, they could really shake up the divisional and Wild Card races.
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