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Today In The NL Wildcard: 8.4.12

1. Atlanta Braves (1st WC): Tim Hudson improved to 11-4 on the season after pitching 7 1/3 strong innings, as the Braves defeated the Astros, 4-1. Hudson allowed one unearned run on four hits while walking two and striking out three. Craig Kimbrel notched his 31st save of the season after striking out the side in the 9th. Chipper Jones drove in two runs for Atlanta. Trade deadline acquisition Paul Maholm makes his Braves debut tonight.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (2nd WC): Wandy Rodriguez was good, but Mat Latos was better and the Pirates fell to the Reds, 3-0. In his Pirates debut, Rodriguez surrendered three runs on seven hits while striking out four in seven innings. However, Latos was the story of the game, allowing just four hits and three walks over 7 1/3 scoreless innings, and also hitting a two-run homer off Rodriguez in the 5th inning. Newcomer Chad Qualls pitched a scoreless 8th inning for Pittsburgh.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (3.5 GB): David Freese and Daniel Descalso each drove in two, the bullpen rebounded, and the Cardinals crushed the Brewers, 9-3. A day after imploding in Colorado, the Cards ‘pen tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings to back up winner Joe Kelly (2-4, 3.14). New acquisition Edward Mujica pitched a spotless 7th. Setup man Mitchell Boggs tossed a flawless 8th to lower his ERA to 1.54. Matt Holliday and Kelly drove in the other Cardinal runs, and Yadier Molina stole two bases to reach double digits in thefts on the season. The Cardinals were a strong 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position, an area that has given the lineup problems all year.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (4 GB): Chad Billingsley allowed just one run in seven innings, A.J. Ellis mashed two homers, and the Dodgers beat the Cubs, 6-1. Ellis finished 3-for-3 on the day with three RBIs and two runs scored. Hanley Ramirez recorded a multi-hit game and drove in two of his own for Los Angeles. Shane Victorino stole his 25th base of the season and got his first hit as a Dodger. L.A. acquired starter Joe Blanton from the Phillies yesterday in exchange for a player to be named later. Blanton will take the spot in the rotation vacated by Nathan Eovaldi after he was shipped to Miami in the Ramirez trade.