Cardinals take opener of series versus Dodgers

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In a lineup with Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina, it’s Allen Craig who has been chosen to hit cleanup of late. He showed why yet again Thursday, singling home the go-ahead run in the seventh as the Cardinals took the opener of a four-game series against the Dodgers 2-1.

Both the Cardinals and Dodgers had lost three straight entering the night, leaving St. Louis with the one-game edge as they battle for what will likely be one wild card spot. The Cardinals jumped further ahead in the competition thanks in part to a strong effort from All-Star Lance Lynn, who was filling in for the injured Jake Westbrook and making his first start since being bounced from the rotation last month.

Lynn allowed one run in six innings and struck out seven on the night. He and Josh Beckett pitched to a draw after Beckett allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.

Beckett’s night will be better remembered for the single that wasn’t, as he was thrown out at first by Carlos Beltran on his hard shot into right field in the third inning.

The Dodgers got their only run on an Adrian Gonzalez single in the first. The Cards came right back and tied it in the top of the second on a Skip Schumaker single.

The Cardinals, who racked up 10 hits and five walks (two intentional), wasted several opportunities after that. They had 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position, yet only twice converted (though they had four hits; two of them didn’t score runs). Before Craig’s single in the seventh, the Cards got leadoff hitter Shane Robinson on via a walk from Paco Rodriguez in his third major league appearance. Instead of remaining patient, Jon Jay decided to sacrifice him along, only to pop up the bunt. Fortunately, Matt Carpenter singled afterwards and Craig delivered his hit with two outs.

For Craig, it was his 77th RBI in 102 games this season. He’s driven 37 runs in 47 games as a cleanup hitter. Obviously, that’s less than one-third of a season worth of action. However, it’s a better rate of driving in runs than Albert Pujols maintained in either of his last two seasons with St. Louis.

Nolan Reimold retires

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Former Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold has retired, Michael Pfaff — president of the Long Island Ducks — announced on Twitter on Sunday.

Reimold, 33, was hitting .238/.359/.397 in 78 plate appearances with the Ducks. He was coming off of a disappointing 2016 campaign as a reserve outfielder with the O’s, finishing with a .664 OPS.

Over parts of eight seasons in the majors, Reimold hit .246/.323/.422 with 56 home runs and 174 RBI.

Mike Trout sprains thumb, to undergo MRI on Monday

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout sprained his left thumb and had to leave Sunday’s game against the Marlins. He underwent an X-ray, which revealed no fracture, but he is set to have an MRI on Monday for further evaluation, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.

Trout went 0-for-2 with a walk before exiting. The reigning AL MVP is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Needless to say, losing him for any amount of time would be a devastating loss for the Angels, who are 26-27 and tied for second place in the AL West.