The Wrap: NL
NL Quote of the Night:
"You never know how many runs you'll need."
-- Brewers Manager Ken Macha, after his team nearly surrendered a nine-run lead in a 12-9 win over the Padres on Thursday afternoon.
Reds 7, Nationals 0
Well, now we know what the deal with the Nats is: It's all feast or famine with this team. After rattling off eight straight wins, Washington has now dropped three in a row, and they've thrown up three pitifully anemic offensive outputs in the process. On Thursday it was Cincinnati's once and former ace, Bronson Arroyo, who stifled and shut out the Nats' bats, shutting out Washington on a complete game two hitter to set the stage for a dominant Cincinnati win. How good was Arroyo? The Nats never even mounted a charge, and had fewer hits than Johnny Gomes had home runs by himself (and he had three, for the record). With Colin Balester the latest Nats starter unable to get beyond five innings, it makes you wonder if Washington will roll off another string of wins ... or whether they'll plummet back to record depths. It'll be one or the other, that's the only thing that seems certain.
Phillies 6, Cubs 1
Philadelphia and Chicago are headed in opposite directions. For the Phillies, that has to comfort some fans who may have been perturbed by the team's prior skid. For the Cubs, that's reason for crisis counseling, with a home sweep at the hands of the defending champions and Cliff Lee, who pitched eight sharp innings on Thursday afternoon, the latest proof that the Cubs have problems. The reigning AL Cy Young winner tossed eight innings of one-run ball, winning his third straight since switching leagues while dropping his ERA to a miniscule 1.13 in the NL. That's a lot more than you can say about Ryan Dempster, the Chicago youngster who fell to 6-6 by allowing six runs in seven innings, dropping his season record to .500. That's not what the Cubs were bargaining for when they locked Dempster up on a big money deal in the offseason, and it's not what fans have been praying for as they pine for another playoff run. It's starting to look more and more like Wrigleyville will be holding it's breath for season 102 instead of 101, unless things change fast.
Rockies 10, Pirates 1
Someone might want to ask Lou Piniella and the Cubs if they miss Jason Marquis. They should. A Colorado All-Star, a year removed from toiling on the North side of Chicago, Marquis allowed only a run across seven innings to collect his 13th win of the season ... more than any pitcher on the Cubs' staff. On Thursday he got more than enough offensive help from his middle infield, with short stop Troy Tulowitzki and second baseman Clint Barmes both going deep for the Rockies. Tulowitzki's homer was his 23rd of the season (despite missing a stretch of time due to injury) and Barmes hit his 17th, making the duo a compelling challenger for "best power hitting middle infield in the majors". And yes, we include Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley on that list. You want to know what's even scarier? These guys are a lot younger. If you're not already on the Rockies' Wild Card/serious playoff threat bandwagon, now might be a good time to hop on. It's getting crowded up here.
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