Cardinals outlast Dodgers to reclaim wild card lead

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This weekend’s series in Los Angeles settled nothing, as the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in 12 innings Sunday to split a four-game series.

Shelby Miller, long the Cardinals’ No. 1 pitching prospect, earned his first major league victory and John Ely, the Dodgers’ ninth pitcher of the day, took the loss in a 5-2 game Sunday.

The win gave the Cardinals the same one-game lead over the Dodgers for the second wild card they held when the series started Thursday.

The Cards jumped right out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first today, but the Dodgers tied it back up in the third on an Andre Ethier homer. That was the end of the scoring until the 12th, when Jon Jay doubled in Matt Carpenter to make it a 3-2 game. The Cards added insurance runs on an Allen Craig single and a Yadier Molina bases-l0aded walk.

The Dodgers got a strong spot start from Stephen Fife in place of injured ace Clayton Kershaw. He struck out nine in his five innings of work. After that, seven relievers combined on six scoreless innings. Only Ely, who gave up all three runs in the 12th, struggled. Josh Wall was brought in to finish the frame, making him the Dodgers’ franchise record 10th pitcher of the game.

The Cards used just five pitchers. Adam Wainwright pitched six innings of two-run ball, and then Trevor Rosenthal and Fernando Salas pitched two innings apiece. Miller probably would have gone two or three innings himself had the game remain tied, but after the Cards took the lead, Jason Motte came in to work the bottom of the 12th for his 35th save.

The Cardinals and Dodgers both have 15 games left, and the Cards would seem to have a big advantage when it comes to the schedule. Their next nine games are versus the Astros and Cubs. The Dodgers are set to go on a nine-game road trip that includes the Nationals, Reds and Padres. Other teams are in the mix as well, with the Brewers and Pirates sitting two games back of the Cards in the loss column.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.