Tagged: Aramis Ramirez

Pirates, Cubs Move Up In Wild Card

Charlie Morton led the Pirates to a shutout of the Giants.

Charlie Morton led the Pirates to a shutout of the Giants.

The Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the outside-looking-in San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs were dominant winners over the Atlanta Braves, giving both teams a bit more room in the National League Wild Card race.

Starting with Pittsburgh, Charlie Morton went 6.2 innings in a 4-0 win over the Giants, improving to 8-4 on the season.

Neil Walker hit his 13th homer of the season and had a pair of hits. Also joining in with multi-hit games were Starling Marte and Jung-Ho Kang.

It was the Bucs’ 7th win in their last 8 games as they moved within 4.5 games of the idle St. Louis Cardinals. That’s the closest Pittsburgh has been since July 29th.

It also gave them a full 8-game lead over the Giants in the Wild Card race. They remain 4 ahead of the Cubs.

Tonight will be tough for the Pirates as they have Jeff Locke going up against Madison Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98) who, besides being a good hitter, is also a decent pitcher.

Both 3B Josh Harrison (thumb) and SS Jordy Mercer (knee) are expected to return from the DL this weekend, with the team having survived thrived while missing the left side of their infield over the last five weeks.

Kang has excelled and 3B Aramis Ramirez looks rejuvenated since coming back to where his career started, so manager Clint Hurdle will have some tough decisions to make.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Jake Arrieta won his 15th game of the year with 6 shutout innings, striking out 7 as the Cubs pounded the Braves, 7-1.

Anthony Rizzo hit his 24th homer and Addison Russell his 8th as the Cubs scored 4 in the 3rd and came out to a 7-0 lead after 5 innings of play. That tends to hold up when Arrieta is on the bump.

In breaking their 3-game skid, Chicago moved 4 ahead of the Giants for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

The Cubs get a tough draw later this afternoon against Shelby Miller (5-9, 2.43) and the Braves.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Cincinnati Reds lost their 6th straight and are now just a half game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers at the bottom of the division.

Or a half game away from tying them up for a higher draft pick, if you’re a “glass half full” kind of person.

* * * * * * * * *

Fangraphs has a Q&A with Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson. Check it out.

* * * * * * * * *

If you want to know why the NL Central is the most entertaining division in baseball, Anthony Witrado at Bleacher Report has an article explaining that. Go enjoy it.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 77 43 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 72 47 4.5 W3
Chicago Cubs 68 51 8.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 51 68 25.5 L6
Milwaukee Brewers 52 70 26.0 W1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 72 47 +4.0
Chicago Cubs 68 51
San Francisco Giants 65 56 4.0
Washington Nationals 60 60 8.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

53-68 Braves Miller (5-9, 2.43)
68-51 CUBS Hendricks (6-5, 3.97)
3:05 PM CT
52-70 BREWERS Nelson (9-9, 3.61)
60-60 Nationals Gonzalez (9-5, 3.86)
6:05 PM CT
65-56 Giants Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98)
72-47 PIRATES Locke (6-7, 4.31)
6:05 PM CT
59-61 Diamondbacks De La Rosa (10-5, 4.40)
51-68 REDS Holmberg (1-2, 5.95)
6:10 PM CT
77-43 CARDINALS Lackey (10-7, 2.87)
59-62 Padres Cashner (4-12, 4.20)
9:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 5.7
Joey Votto (CIN) 5.2
Jason Heyward (STL) 4.0
Starling Marte (PIT) 3.9
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 3.8
WAR (pitchers)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 4.9
John Lackey (STL) 3.3
Michael Wacha (STL) 3.3
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 3.2
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 3.1

2015 Trade Deadline

Carlos Gomez finally got out of Milwaukee.

Carlos Gomez finally got out of Milwaukee.

Yesterday we saw the Milwaukee Brewers get a deal done for Carlos Gomez, finally shipping one of their few assets for future prospects, hauling in a couple of nice pieces from the Houston Astros.

We’re heading towards the trade deadline later this afternoon – one of the more exciting times of the year for fans of Major League Baseball.

Let’s play a little catch up on what’s happened in the last week!

St. Louis Cardinals
Traded for RF/1B Brandon Moss with the Cleveland Indians.
Traded for RP Steve Cishek with the Miami Marlins, sending #88 prospect LHP Rob Kaminsky.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Traded for 3B Aramis Ramirez with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Purchased P Joe Blanton from the Kansas City Royals.
Traded for RP Joakim Soria with the Detroit Tigers.

Chicago Cubs
No moves

Cincinnati Reds
Traded SP Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals for LHP Brandon Finnegan.
Traded SP Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants.

Milwaukee Brewers
Traded CF Carlos Gomez and SP Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros for #39 prospect OF Brett Phillips and #88 prospect OF Domingo Santana.

Other players were involved in some of these deals, but I’ve only noted them if they are either current/former Major Leaguers or among MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects.

The Brewers, for example, received four prospects from the ‘stros, but those two mentioned were the big haul.

The Reds’ Leake was dealt for the #1 prospect in the Giants’ system, but he wasn’t currently considered a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball, so I skipped mention of him as well.

And, of course, it’s interesting that (so far) the Cubs have chosen to stand pat, although there have been plenty of rumors involving them over the last couple of days.

Let’s see what happens these last few hours.  Should be interesting.

Pirates Deal For A Familiar Face

Aramis Ramirez is coming home.

Aramis Ramirez is coming home.

The St. Louis Cardinals held off the Kansas City Royals, 4-3, in a tight victory at home.

The Cards put Trevor Rosenthal on the mound with a 4-2 lead in the 9th. He gave up a leadoff single to Alex Rios and RBI triple to Omar Infante, making it a one-run game with a man on 3rd and nobody out.

Jarrod Dyson walked, then moved up to second on defensive indifference. So that put the tying run at 3rd and go-ahead run at second. Still nobody out.

Rosenthal then struck out pinch-hitter Dusty Coleman for the first out.

The next one was the big play, as Alcides Escobar grounded to Matt Carpenter at the hot corner. Infante was off on contact and Carpenter easily gunned him down at the plate by a good 10 feet.

Mike Moustakas grounded out to second – game over.

Game Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Andrew McCutchen connected for his 13th homer as the Pittsburgh Pirates cruised to a 7-3 win at home over the Washington Nationals.

Francisco Liriano improved to 6-6, going 6 innings and allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks, striking out 11 Nats.

The Bucs’ big story of the day came off the field, as they traded for a little help on that battered left side of the infield, bringing third baseman Aramis Ramirez back where his career started.

No, Aramis isn’t the terror at the plate that he was in his younger days, but he’s still a step up from what the Pirates have been throwing out there.

At age 37, Ramirez has announced this will be his final season. He has a slash line of .247/.295/.430 across 302 plate appearances this season.

Jung Ho Kang can now act as the full-time shortstop until Jordy Mercer returns in early September.

Game Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Milwaukee Brewers lost 8-3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Game Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 60 34 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 54 40 6.0 L2
Chicago Cubs 51 43 9.0 W1
Cincinnati Reds 42 51 17.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 42 53 18.5 L1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 54 40 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 51 43
San Francisco Giants 51 44 0.5
New York Mets 49 46 2.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

51-42 Nationals Firster (3-5, 4.30)
54-40 PIRATES Liriano (5-6, 2.98)
6:05 PM CT
57-36 Royals Young (8-5, 3.03)
60-34 CARDINALS Lackey (8-5, 2.90)
6:15 PM CT
42-53 BREWERS Fiers (5-7, 3.79)
43-50 Diamondbacks Godley (NR)
8:40 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Todd Frazier (CIN) 3.9
Joey Votto (CIN) 3.6
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 3.5
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 3.5
Kris Bryant (CHC) 3.3
WAR (pitchers)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 3.7
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 3.0
Lance Lynn (STL) 2.9
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.6
3-way tie 2.5

Cubs Sweep Twin-Bill Against Cards

Jake Arrieta pitched strong in the opening game of a double-header sweep for the Chicago Cubs.

Jake Arrieta pitched strong in the opening game of a double-header sweep for the Chicago Cubs.

You disappear for a few days of vacation, come back, and everything looks a little different.

Not hugely different, maybe. Just different.

For example, before heading away for a little rest and relaxation, I fully expected to start focusing more on the National League Wild Card and less on the National League Central.

But things have taken a bit of a turn and the race seems back on. For the moment, anyhow.

We’ll put off bringing the Wild Card into the discussion for just a little bit longer, although your #2 and 3 teams in the division here have pretty decent leads in that race, particularly with the San Francisco Giants having recently lost a whole mess of games.

Let’s dive back in as we usually do here, getting into yesterday’s recaps.

* * * * * * * * *

Coming into yesterday’s day-night double-header, the Chicago Cubs had lost 5 straight to the St. Louis Cardinals and were just 2-8 against them this season.

So it was a bit surprising to see them sweep the Cards, winning 7-4 behind Jake Arrieta‘s 9th win in the afternoon and then 5-3 with a little bit of luck in the night game.

The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-3 with his 16th homer and a pair of walks in the opening game.

The Cards’ Tim Cooney went 5.1 innings, allowing one run on 3 hits and a walk in the second game, leaving with a 2-1 lead. But the Cubs rattled off 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th, en route to the win.

Game two was a wild one, with Dallas Beeler getting called up and starting for Chicago, going 5-plus strong innings. Beeler, a 41st round draft pick, was only ranked the Cubs’ #24 prospect by Baseball America following the 2013 season.

The big play came with Chicago down 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th with 2 men on and 1 out. Addison Russell faced Seth Maness, hitting a grounder down the 1st base line for a game-tying single. Pretty much everybody on the Cards thought the ball went foul. But the umps ruled it fair. Maness was tossed from the game and Mike Matheny came out to argue for a while.

It was a strange play, as Russell’s grounder hit foul just in front of the plate, then appeared to cross just fair (maybe?) as it came over the first base bag, then veered back foul afterwards. Whole lot of English on that ball…

On the next play, Dexter Fowler hit a grounder back to new pitcher Kevin Siegrist, who turned to try to start an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play, instead throwing it into center field for an error that allowed Chicago to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Jason Motte started the 9th with a 3-run lead, putting the first two Cardinals batters on base, eventually allowing a run and putting the tying run on base before retiring Matt Carpenter on a foul pop out to third and Jhonny Peralta on a 6-4 fielder’s choice.

The Cubs have won 7 of their last 9 games.

Game Highlights (MLB.com) – Game 1

Game Highlights (MLB.com) – Game 2

In other Cardinals’ news, left fielder Matt Holliday is hoping to be brought back from the DL for this weekend’s series against the Pirates. Meanwhile, Kolten Wong left the opening game after taking a tumble chasing after a wind-blown pop up, forcing him from the game with signs of a concussion.

* * * * * * * * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the San Diego Padres, 3-2, led by Gregory Polanco‘s tie-breaking RBI triple in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless 9th for his 28th save. That’s now 26 straight appearances going back to May 15th without a run allowed. 25.2 innings of work, 16 hits, 4 walks, 20 strikeouts, 1 win, 20 saves.

Francisco Liriano went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 6.

The Bucs have won 7 of their last 8 and 9 of their last 11. On June 28th, they were 9 games back. Now? Half that.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

Johnny Cueto continues to look like potential game-changing bait for the upcoming trade deadline, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-0 win over the Washington Nationals while out-dueling Max Scherzer.

Cueto went the distance, striking out 11 while allowing just 2 hits and a walk in a 122-pitch shutout. He’s 6-5 with a 2.61 ERA this season.

His Game Score of 93 tied a career best and the elbow looked just fine, hitting 95 mph routinely with his fastball. Cueto has allowed 1 run in 17 innings of work across his last two starts.

Joey Votto went 3-for-5 with his 15th homer and a double, driving in 3 runs.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

The Milwaukee Brewers lost 4-3 at home to the Atlanta Braves.

Khris Davis was brought back from the 15-day DL after having surgery to remove cartilage from his right knee. Davis, who was hitting .250 with 5 HR and 16 RBI in 46 games, took over in left field for Gerardo Parra, who is hitting .309 with 8 HR. Parra also had a stretch of six straight games with multiple hits. Make of that what you will.

Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, also grounding into a double play as his batting average fell to .237 in his farewell season.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 54 30 L2
Pittsburgh Pirates 49 34 4.5 W4
Chicago Cubs 46 37 7.5 W2
Cincinnati Reds 38 44 15.0 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 36 50 19.0 L2

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

42-42 Braves Teheran (6-4, 4.60)
36-50 BREWERS Fiers (4-7, 3.83)
1:10 PM CT
38-44 REDS Lorenzen (3-3, 3.58)
46-38 Nationals Gonzalez (6-4, 4.16)
6:05 PM CT
39-47 Padres Cashner (3-9, 4.06)
49-34 PIRATES Morton (6-2, 4.30)
6:05 PM CT
54-30 CARDINALS Wacha (10-3, 2.66)
46-37 CUBS Hammel (5-4, 2.89)
7:05 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 25
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 16
Ryan Braun (MIL) 15
Adam Lind (MIL) 15
Joey Votto (CIN) 15
Strikeouts
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 119
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 114
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 113
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 111
Carlos Martinez (STL) 105

Cellar Dwellers Come Up Winners

Billy Hamilton had four stolen bases last night.

Billy Hamilton had four stolen bases last night.

The only action around the division last night involved the bottom two teams who, for the most part, appear to be out of the running as we head into the final day of June.

Let’s get this over with.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds went up 9-1 after 3 innings, thanks to a 5-run 3rd. Of course, they coughed up 6 in the top of the 4th. Still, they held on for an 11-7 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Billy Hamilton stole four bases, scoring a run in each of the first three frames.

Catcher Tucker Barnhart had four hits with a pair of RBI while shortstop Eugenio Suarez had three hits and drove in three. Both players doubled.

Every player in the Cincy lineup had at least one hit.

The win snapped Cincy’s 3-game losing streak.

Mike Leake‘s value at the trade deadline took a hit (ahem) as he allowed nine safeties in 4 innings of work, watching his ERA climb to 4.38. It’s the 4th time this year that Leake has lasted 5 innings or fewer while allowing 5 runs or more.

Joey Votto went 1-for-3, but is still hitting just 3-for-24 in his last 6 games. He fell out of the division leader boards below.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers have been winning a few games as of late, taking 5 of their last 7. Last night they overcame a 4-1 deficit, scoring 6 unanswered runs to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-4.

Jonathan Lucroy went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI for the Brew Crew. Ryan Braun was 3-for-5 with a double.

Aramis Ramirez‘s pinch-hit 2-RBI double to the wall in right-center put Milwaukee ahead 5-4 in the 6th inning.

All told, five Milwaukee batters had multi-hit games as the team pounded out 16 in total.

Gerardo Parra, by the way, crept into the division leader board below. He’s hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. In that stretch, his batting average has climbed 18 points, batting 16-for-43 for a .372 batting average.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 51 24 W6
Pittsburgh Pirates 42 33 9.0 L1
Chicago Cubs 39 35 11.5 L5
Cincinnati Reds 35 40 16.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 30 48 22.5 W2

* * *

Schedule

30-48 BREWERS Jungmann (2-1, 2.74)
27-51 Phillies Hamels (5-6, 3.26)
6:05 PM CT
42-33 PIRATES Cole (11-3, 2.16)
39-36 Tigers Verlander (0-1, 6.17)
6:08 PM CT
39-35 CUBS Hendricks (2-4, 4.46)
40-37 Mets Niese (3-7, 4.12)
6:10 PM CT
40-36 Twins Hughes (6-6, 4.20)
35-40 REDS DeSclafani (5-5, 3.35)
6:10 PM CT
32-42 White Sox Sale (6-4, 3.02)
51-24 CARDINALS Lynn (5-4, 2.84)
7:15 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .304
Jhonny Peralta (STL) .303
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .294
Gerardo Parra (MIL) .294
Yadier Molina (STL) .293
ERA
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.01
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.16
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.77
Carlos Martinez (STL) 2.80
Lance Lynn (STL) 2.84

Cards Flip Script on Brewers

Trevor Rosenthal has a 0.71 ERA after last night's scoreless inning.

Trevor Rosenthal has a 0.71 ERA after last night’s scoreless inning.

A day after losing 1-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals returned the favor and won by the same score.

Trevor Rosenthal allowed a pair of hits in the 9th, picking up his 16th save. The game ended when Aramis Ramirez, at bat with the tying run at 3rd base and one out, grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. It’s hard to not watch that clip and think “Just about anybody else at bat there and it’s a fielder’s choice with the game being tied up”, but Rammy’s can’t move like he used to. (And he never moved to begin with.) A nice pivot by 2B Kolten Wong on the throw over from Matt Carpenter.

Lance Lynn went 7.2 innings in the shutout, allowing 5 hits and a walk while striking out 5. Lynn lowered his ERA to 3.03 this season and improved to 4-4.

25 year old starting pitcher Tyler Cravy made his MLB debut for the Brew Crew, going 7 innings and allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a pair of walks. He struck out 6.

Matt Holliday saw his run of consecutive games reaching base to start a season ended last night with the 5th best mark in MLB history. 45 games, if you lost count. The streak ended when “Country” Joe West gave Holliday the hook in the 7th inning after arguing a called third strike. The pitch looks pretty good to me. You decide for yourself, but Holliday told West “You’re strike zone’s been huge the whole night” and then kept going. And going. And going. West finally had enough and tossed him. No final chance to extend the streak.

Holliday’s post-game interview in the locker room seemed to indicate that he feels veteran players have a God-given right to continually question an umpire and show them up. West is, y’know, not anybody’s favorite. But Holliday really could’ve let up a little sooner there. One comment would have been enough and then you could have walked off. But his little tirade went on for some time.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates game against the San Francisco Giants had a similar feel to their meeting on Monday. The Giants jumped ahead early, the two teams went back and forth, then the Bucs jumped ahead for good in the middle innings. This time they came out 7-4 winners.

Andrew McCutchen continues to put that miserable April behind him. Last night he went 4-for-5 with a triple and a double, driving in a pair of runs. After the games of May 6th, his slash line was .189/.279/.292 with a .571 OPS and his team had just lost their 5th straight game. Since then, he has put up a line of .404/.481/.719 for an unworldly 1.201 OPS across 25 games in which the Pirates went 16-9.

Also removing himself from early-season awfulness is Josh Harrison, who had another multi-hit game last night and is now hitting .263 for the season. Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Jordy Mercer also had two hits a piece last night.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

Marcell Ozuna‘s base-clearing double in the bottom of the 5th inning led the Miami Marlins to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Kris Bryant – playing left field – went 0-for-4, grounding into a double play and striking out.

Starlin Castro, 25 year old and often maligned for his errors, made a few nice plays in the field and picked up his 900th career hit. Check out those plays here and here and his hit here.

The Cubs recalled Matt Szczur for another go-round at the MLB level. On a related note, RF Jorge Soler (twisted ankle) is expected to head to the DL. An official announcement should be coming sometime today.

Javier Baez (.325-7-26 at AAA) hit a pair of homers, going 4-for-5 last night for Iowa. He’s going 11-for-22 with 4 HR in his last 5 games.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

Despite Johnny Cueto‘s comeback, the Cincinnati Reds‘ three-game winning streak came to an end as they fell 5-4 at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The big right-hander went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits and no walks.

Todd Frazier had a rough night, going 0-for-5 at the plate and committing a pair of errors in the field, one of which led to an unearned run charged against Cueto.

Marlon Byrd, among the division’s top home run hitters (see below), was hit by a pitch in the 6th inning and is out with a fractured wrist. He had nearly homered earlier in the game, but settled for a double off the top of the wall.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The wonderful Dave Cameron at Fangraphs.com took time to dissect one of baseball’s most exciting pitchers, Pirates starter and former #1 draft pick, Gerrit Cole. Cameron’s article is on Cole’s ascendancy to true “ace” status, focusing on his improved numbers against lefties this year, and more particularly on his increased use of the slider – a pitch that is a beautiful thing to watch.

Read the full article over here.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 16
Ryan Braun (MIL) 12
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 10
Starling Marte (PIT) 10
3-way tie 9
Strikeouts
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 79
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 75
Lance Lynn (STL) 72
Mike Fiers (MIL) 69
Jason Hammel (CHC) 69

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 34 18 W1
Chicago Cubs 27 23 6.0 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 28 24 6.0 W2
Cincinnati Reds 22 28 11.0 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 18 35 16.5 L1

* * *

Schedule

18-35 BREWERS Nelson (2-5, 3.90)
34-18 CARDINALS Lackey (3-3, 2.83)
12:45 PM CT
28-24 PIRATES Liriano, F (2-4, 3.47)
30-24 Giants Hudson, T (3-4, 4.62)
2:45 PM CT
22-28 REDS Leake (2-4, 4.66)
20-33 Phillies Hamels (5-4, 2.91)
6:05 PM CT
27-23 CUBS Lester (4-3, 3.30)
21-32 Marlins Haren (5-2, 3.03)
6:10 PM CT

Reds Snap 9-Game Skid

The Cincinnati Reds turned a few double plays and snapped their 9-game losing streak.

The Cincinnati Reds turned a few double plays and snapped their 9-game losing streak.

The 9-game losing streak ended for the Cincinnati Reds last night when Skip Schumaker‘s looper over third base landed just inside the foul line, rolling into the corner for a walk-off double.

Marlon Byrd started the 9th by drawing a walk, moving to 2nd on a sacrifice laid down by Kristopher Negron, then scored on Schumaker’s hit.

Michael Lorenzen went 7 strong innings for Cincy, giving up 1 run on just 2 hits and 3 walks. The rookie is sporting a 3.12 ERA this year.

In other developments, an MRI of Johnny Cueto‘s stiff elbow revealed nothing more than the “standard” inflammation you see in a pitcher. With days off on the schedule both Thursday and Monday, there’s a good chance they’ll just push Cueto’s next start back a week. He’s 3-4 with a 3.03 ERA (3.33 FIP) this season, striking out 8.3 per 9.

Dave Fleming at Bill James Online has a lengthy article on Billy Hamilton, focusing on the Reds’ decline that started when he was dropped from the leadoff spot. Read it over here.

* * *

On the other side of streaks, the Pittsburgh Pirates won their 5th in a row, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1.

Josh Harrison has certainly found his stride and he kept it again last night, with two more hits including a double. After May 10th, he was hitting .173 but has now hit .431 with 7 extra-base hits in the last 12 games.

Also hitting is Jung Ho Kang, who has an 8-game hitting streak (.406) going after picking up a pair of singles.

Jeff Locke (W 3-2) went 5.2 shutout innings for the win, striking out 6.

* * *

Another 1-run win and another walk-off win for the Chicago Cubs, who came back to beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 last night.

The Cubs lead the league in 1-run wins, doing it last night by tying it in the 8th inning on this ridiculous homer by Kris Bryant, Hector Rondon picking off Yunel Escobar on this pretty bad base-running play (by the way, he almost ran himself into an out earlier when he started to go from 2nd to 3rd after a stolen base even though Addison Russell was standing 5 feet away from him with the ball in his hand) and then finally ending it when Russell hit a ball over Denard Span in the bottom of the 9th.

It was a good capper for the 21-year old Russell, who had a 3-hit night to snap an 0-for-10 stretch.

Kyle Hendricks came off strong from the shutout in his prior start, going 7 innings and allowing 1 run.

That snapped a mini losing streak for the Cubs, who go back against the Nats for the rubber game tonight. And it’s a fun one – Jon Lester versus Max Scherzer.

* * *

Jaime Garcia got his first win of 2015 as the St. Louis Cardinals survived a rough start and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4.

Matt Adams, limping into 2nd base on a double in the 5th inning, left with a quad injury. A trip to the DL is expected with Mark Reynolds taking over as the regular first baseman.

Matt Belisle and Seth Maness combined for 3 shutout innings of relief work, the latter recording his 3rd save when he entered the game with 2 out and men on 2nd & 3rd. Regular closer Trevor Rosenthal had the night off, barring emergency, after tossing 2 innings Monday night.

Matt Holliday tied a franchise record by reaching base for the 42nd straight time to start the season. That equaled a mark set by Albert Pujols in 2008. Holliday is hitting .322 after picking up a pair of hits Tuesday.

To the friend who I suggested keep an eye on Marco Gonzales as a fantasy baseball sleeper, I truly apologize. The southpaw will be out most of June with a “shoulder impingement” injury. Gonzales was in talks to replace Adam Wainwright in the rotation, but couldn’t take the job because of a pectoral injury at AAA. Garcia, also injured, got better quicker and made a decent showing in the minors, earning his spot. Gonzales had struck out 7 across 6 innings of work in his most recent start.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers were 6-3 losers at home against the San Francisco Giants.

Aramis Ramirez had a pair of hits and collected his 6th homer of the season.

Matt Garza (L 2-7) continued his nightmare season, escalating his ERA to 6.00 after allowing 5 runs in as many innings of work, surrendering 8 hits and walking 3 to go with 7 punch outs.

Jonathan Lucroy begins a 4-day minor league rehab assignment today and could be on the active roster when the Brew Crew starts a series against the Cards on Monday.

Also returning from the DL is shortstop Jean Segura (broken finger), who should return to action on Friday.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 13
Ryan Braun (MIL) 12
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 10
3-way tie 9
Strikeouts
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 64
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 63
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 62
Lance Lynn (STL) 62
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 60

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 30 16 W3
Chicago Cubs 25 20 4.5 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 23 22 6.5 W5
Cincinnati Reds 19 26 10.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 16 31 14.5 L4

* * *

Schedule

18-26 Rockies Kendrick, K (1-6, 6.58)
19-26 REDS Leake (2-3, 4.14)
11:35 AM CT
18-29 Marlins Hand (0-1, 5.48)
23-22 PIRATES Cole, G (6-2, 2.05)
11:35 AM CT
27-20 Giants Vogelsong (3-2, 4.60)
16-31 BREWERS Fiera (1-4, 4.63)
12:40 PM CT
27-19 Nationals Scherzer (5-3, 1.67)
25-20 CUBS Lester (4-2, 3.56)
7:05 PM CT
21-24 Diamondbacks Collmenter (3-5, 5.19)
30-16 CARDINALS Lynn (3-4, 3.46)
7:15 PM CT