1. Pittsburgh Pirates (1st WC): The Pirates were off on Thursday, but head to Cincinnati for a three-game series against the surging Reds. The Pirates are 3.5 games back of the division-leading Reds in the NL Central race. New acquisition Wandy Rodriguez will make his first start for Pittsburgh tonight.
2. Atlanta Braves (2nd WC): Atlanta’s bullpen stole the show, Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman each had two-RBI doubles, and the Braves defeated the Marlins 6-1. Atlanta relievers hurled 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball after a rain delay forced starter Mike Minor out of the game. The Braves jumped all over Miami early, scoring all six of their runs in the first two innings. Jason Heyward recorded three hits including an RBI single, and newcomer Reed Johnson scored two runs for Atlanta.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (4 GB): After feasting on Rockies pitching for the first two games of their series at Coors Field, the Cardinals lineup could only manage two runs on five hits, as they fell to Colorado 8-2. With starters Lance Lynn and Alex White each allowing two runs in 6 and 5 1/3 innings pitched respectively, the game came down to a battle of the bullpens. Colorado relievers no-hit the Cards in 3 2/3 innings, while the Cardinals’ pen imploded. Fernando Salas took the loss after surrendering three runs on three hits in only 1/3 innings, while Barret Browning and Brian Fuentes allowed the final three runs in their combined 1 2/3 innings of work. Matt Holliday and David Freese, both on fire of late for the Cardinals, were held hitless. Rafael Furcal sat out again with a bad back.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (4.5 GB): The Dodgers did not play last night, but welcome the Cubs to Dodger Stadium for a three-game series. Los Angeles has been consistently inconsistent of late — since July 20th L.A. swept the Mets, lost three-of-four to the Cards, swept the Giants, then got swept by Arizona. Chad Billingsley is on the hill tonight for the Dodgers.