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Today In The NL Wildcard: 8.8.12

1. Atlanta Braves (1st WC): Cole Hamels pitched a five-hit complete game shutout, and the Braves lost to the Phillies, 3-0. Hamels’ masterpiece wasted a solid outing from Mike Minor, who allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five in seven innings of work. Tim Hudson (11-4, 3.45) is on the hill for tonight’s rubber game series finale. Atlanta remains a half-game better than Pittsburgh for the first wildcard spot.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (2nd WC): In a rare sight during a season in which it has been the strength of the team, the Pirates bullpen imploded, leading to a 10-4 loss to Arizona. Jeff Karstens tossed six innings of three-run ball and Tony Watson pitched a scoreless 7th before setup man Jason Grilli allowed four runs on four hits without recording a single out in the 8th. Grilli had allowed just one run since June 28th in eleven appearances, and his ERA jumped nearly a full run after Tuesday night’s debacle from 1.77 to 2.66. In a losing effort, Starling Marte homered and Andrew McCutchen drove in two, while Pedro Alvarez committed his 17th error of the season.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (2.5 GB): After averaging nearly seven runs scored per game since July 31st, the Cardinals managed only two runs off of Barry Zito and three relievers, and fell to the Giants, 4-2. What made the Cards’ lack of runs even more surprising was that Zito had lost his last three decisions, including his last start when he allowed seven runs in only 4 1/3 innings. Allen Craig accounted for all the Cardinals offense, hitting two solo blasts and increasing his homerun total to 17 for the season. Lance Lynn suffered the loss, allowing four runs in six innings.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (4 GB): The Dodgers bats continued to struggle, as L.A. was baffled by Colorado pitching for the second straight day en-route to a 3-1 loss. The Dodgers only mustered four hits off of Alex White and four Rockies relievers, wasting Aaron Harang’s six-inning effort in which he allowed three runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four. The Dodgers have scored one run on a combined nine hits in this series’ first two games against a Rockies pitching staff that ranks dead last in the majors in ERA, WHIP, batting average against, and quality starts. Colorado pitchers had allowed an average of over eight runs per game in their last three series before coming to Los Angeles on Monday.

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