The Wrap: NL
NL Quote of the Night:
"Things are so strange this year."
-- Mets Manager Jerry Manuel on the eight-hit, complete game shutout pitched by New York's fill-in starter Pat Misch, though it easily could have applied to the Mets' entire season.
Braves 6, Nationals 3
Just when you thought the Nats' last ounce of fight might actually earn them a win against an important, playoff-chasing foe, they go and fall in a crusher. Not that such a decline is unprecedented, of course. Rather, anyone who has spent the season watching the Nats has to expect these close games -- especially the extra innings affairs -- to end in even greater disappointment than the team's run of the mill debacles. During a game in which Atlanta starter Derek Lowe looked surprisingly hittable, the Nats hit him just enough to stay in the game, then earn a tie, but failed to capitalize on chances to actually earn a win. Instead, they left that business to the Braves in the 10th, with Atlanta racking up a great escape after managing only three runs against Livan Hernandez in his 6 1/3 innings. Yes, that makes for another quality start wasted, a stat Nats fans saw all too much of during the season's first half, only to be replaced by new woes in the second half. Time to start talking about next year, if you can bear it.
Rockies 4, Cardinals 3
Colorado desperately, desperately needed to win on Sunday. For the Cardinals, they needed to get through another game before the postseason without an injury. Both teams got what they wanted, though you could hardly say that St. Louis put their competitive fire on the backburner. Instead, it took an incredible, diving catch from Clint Barmes in the ninth to clinch a huge win for the Rockies, helping them stay 2 1/2 games in front of the Braves in the NL Wild Card race while also wrapping up a tough series against the now-officially playoff bound Cardinals, who wrapped up the NL Central with a win over Colorado Saturday. The Rockies scored all four of their runs in the game's first five innings off of Kyle Lohse, then held off a final St. Louis push in the ninth, something they may see a lot more of in a little more than a week if they do make it to the playoffs as the NL Wild Card for the second time in three seasons.
Giants 5, Cubs 1
The Giants aren't officially eliminated from the NL Wild Card chase yet, but they almost are. And the only reason why they still have a horse in the race whatsoever is because of Matt Cain. The San Francisco starter earned his 14th win of the season with eight scoreless innings, piloting the Giants past a lackluster Cubs team that can only rest on an accomplishment that they would have considered wholly unimpressive in the preseason: a record above .500. And one of the team's best stories of the season -- lifelong minor league starting pitcher turning surprising contributor Randy Wells -- was victimized for Chicago's latest disappointment, allowing all five on the Giants' runs in his 5 1/3 innings.
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