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Today In The NL Wildcard: 8.2.12

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (1st WC): Garrett Jones hit a pinch-hit go-ahead two-RBI single in the 8th and the Pirates defeated the Cubs, 8-4. Jeff Karstens was solid, allowing one run on three hits and a walk in five innings. In his Pirates debut, Gaby Sanchez started at first base and went 0-for-2 with a walk before Jones pinch-hit for him. Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-3 and has now reached base in 40 straight games against the Cubs.

2. Atlanta Braves (2nd WC): Atlanta’s seven-game winning streak was snapped last night in a 4-2 loss to the Marlins. The Braves managed nine hits but went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Ben Sheets lost his first game since returning to the majors. Sheets allowed four runs (three earned) on 11 hits and a walk while striking out eight in 6 2/3 innings; Sheets’ ERA is still just 1.46. New acquisition Reed Johnson started in right and collected two hits.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (3 GB): The Cardinals are definitely enjoying Coors Field, as the offense exploded for the second straight night to the tune of nine runs on 12 hits in the Cards’ 9-6 win over the Rockies. Matt Holliday hit two bombs and drove in five, Yadier Molina had three hits, and Carlos Beltran added two hits and his 10th stolen base of the season. In his last seven games, Holliday has hit .400 with five homers, 12 RBIs, and eight runs scored, and raised his average against Colorado this season to .542. Jake Westbrook allowed five runs in six innings and Edward Mujica pitched a scoreless 7th inning in his Cardinals debut.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (4 GB): The Dodgers only managed two hits and were shutout in their 4-0 loss to Arizona, completing a sweep for the Diamondbacks in which they held Los Angeles to only four runs in the three games combined. Shane Victorino made his Dodgers debut and went 0-for-4 while batting leadoff and starting in left. New Dodgers Brandon League and Randy Choate combined to allow two runs in the 7th. After a productive start to his Dodgers career, Hanley Ramirez is hitting just .194 in his last seven games. Los Angeles designated Bobby Abreu for assignment before last night’s game.

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