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Today In The NL Wildcard: 7.30.12

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (1st WC): The Pirates took two of three from the woeful Houston Astros over the weekend. After taking the loss in Sunday’s finale, ace James McDonald has lost his last two starts while allowing 10 earned runs on 11 hits and 10 walks in only 11 innings over that span.

2. Atlanta Braves (2nd WC): Atlanta swept the Philadelphia Phillies for the second time in less than two months, finishing the sweep with a 6-2 win on Sunday behind 5 2/3 strong innings from Tim Hudson and homers by Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones. The Braves have won five in a row.

T3. San Francisco Giants (2 GB): The Giants were swept by the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers, with the series culminating in consecutive shutouts. San Francisco, who has now lost four in a row, never got a runner past second base in the finale against Clayton Kershaw.  The Giants acquired Marco Scutaro from the Rockies on Saturday and placed Pablo Sandoval, who has been suffering from a left hamstring strain, on the 15-day DL.

T3. Los Angeles Dodgers (2 GB): With their sweep in San Francisco, the Dodgers are now tied for 1st in the NL West. New acquisition Hanley Ramirez  is hitting .333 with seven RBIs and five runs scored in his five games with Los Angeles. Chad Billingsley preceded Kershaw’s complete game shutout on Sunday with 7 1/3 scoreless innings of his own on Saturday.

5. St. Louis Cardinals (3.5 GB): The Cardinals lost two out of three to the fifth-place Chicago Cubs over the weekend. Trevor Rosenthal surrendered a walkoff two-run homer to Anthony Rizzo in Sunday’s rubber game. The Cards only mustered four combined runs in the last two games of the series (both losses), wasting solid pitching from Joe Kelly and Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals will send Kyle Lohse (10-2, 2.71) to the mound on Tuesday in Colorado.

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