Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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The National League playoff picture got a step closer to taking shape last night, as the Cardinals walloped the Nationals 12-2 at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals are three games up on the Dodgers and five ahead of the Brewers for the second Wild Card spot with just five games to play.

Edwin Jackson was hit really hard by his former team, giving up nine runs (eight earned) on six hits and four walks over just 1 1/3 innings. It was his shortest outing of the season.

Allen Craig went 4-for-4 in the victory while Yadier Molina added to his case for National League MVP by hitting his 22nd home run. Adam Wainwright bounced back from some recent shaky efforts to toss six innings of one-run ball. Despite the loss, Bryce Harper went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. His OPS is now over .800 (.804) for the first time since July 18.

Because the Braves lost to the Mets last night, the Nationals’ magic number to clinch the National League East is down to two. They could clinch it tonight with a victory and another Braves loss. As for the Cardinals, their magic number to clinch the second Wild Card is at three.

Your Saturday box scores:

Reds 1, Pirates 0

Red Sox 1, Orioles 9

Phillies 1, Marlins 2

Royals 5, Indians 8

Mets 3, Braves 1

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 4

Astros 7, Brewers 6

Angels 7, Rangers 4

Rays 1, White Sox 3

Cubs 3, Diamondbacks 8

Tigers 2, Twins 4

Giants 3, Padres 1

Mariners 2, Athletics 8

Rockies 0, Dodgers 8

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

Kent Horner/Getty Images
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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.