The Cardinals have moved ahead of the Brewers for first place in the National League Central

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Strap in, folks. September figures to be pretty interesting in the National League Central.

The Brewers lost 4-2 to the Cubs this afternoon at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Cardinals defeated the Pirates 5-4 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis for their third straight victory. As a result, the Cardinals (74-63) are all alone in first place in the National League Central for the first time this season while the Brewers (73-64) have fallen out of first place for the first time since April 4.

The Cardinals were actually trailing 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning this afternoon, but Kolten Wong hit a game-tying two-run homer off Gerrit Cole before Jon Jay tripled and Matt Holliday drove him in with a single to put St. Louis in front. Carlos Martinez pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Trevor Rosenthal worked around a two-out error in the ninth to lock down his 41st save of the season.

While the Cardinals have a one-game advantage over the Brewers and now sit three games up on the Pirates, there’s still a long way to go here. The Cardinals and Brewers have seven games remaining against each other, including a four-game series later this week in Milwaukee and a three-game set from September 16-18 in St. Louis. In addition to two more games against the Cardinals, the Pirates will play a three-game series against the Brewers at home from September 19-21.

Yoenis Cespedes: “I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland”

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Yoenis Cespedes told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he wants to finish his career with the Athletics, according to an exclusive interview released on Friday. The Mets’ 31-year-old outfielder praised Oakland manager Bob Melvin, telling Slusser, “I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin” and adding that while he didn’t know if a return to Oakland would be possible, his love for the city had not faded.

Melvin, for his part, said he wasn’t surprised that the slugger wants another go-round with his first major league club, even if only as a final hurrah. Cespedes hit well over two and a half seasons with the A’s, compiling a cumulative .262/.318/.470 batting line from 2012 to 2014 and enjoying two postseason runs with the club before he was traded for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes in 2014.

There’s been relatively little for Cespedes to complain about since his departure from Oakland, of course: he turned in a career-best performance in 2015, slashing .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 6.7 fWAR in back-to-back gigs with the Tigers and Mets, and netted a whopping three-year, $75 million contract prior to the 2016 season. Still, there’s something special about the A’s, as the slugger relayed to teammate Jerry Blevins:

I told Blevins, ‘I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland.’ I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal.

Whether or not Cespedes gets his wish, it’s unlikely he’ll pursue any kind of deal with the A’s for the time being. He’s still owed $23.75 million in 2017 and 2018 and isn’t scheduled to hit free agency until 2019.

Brewers sell Michael Choice’s contract to the Nexen Heroes

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The Brewers offloaded outfielder Michael Choice’s contract to the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a team announcement on Friday. Choice signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in early May, but did not earn a major league stint in 11 weeks with the team.

It’s been two full years since the 27-year-old outfielder snagged a big league opportunity of any kind. He last appeared with the Rangers in 2015 and played in just one game, striking out in his only at-bat. His production rate sagged through three consecutive minor league assignments with the Indians, Orioles and Brewers and peaked in 2016 after slashing .246/.304/.456 with 14 home runs for the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus. He was off to a decent start this season for the Brewers’ Double-A Biloxi, working a .272/.349/.503 batting line with nine home runs and an .852 OPS through his first 195 PA.

Choice is poised to join several other ex-major leaguers on the Heroes’ roster, including left-hander Andy Van Hekken, right-hander Jake Brigham and infielder/outfielder Danny Dorn.

6:43 PM: Danny Dorn no longer plays for the Nexen Heroes, as he was released to clear roster space for Choice.