The Cardinals send the Brewers to their ninth straight loss

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The Cardinals sent the Brewers to their ninth straight loss with a 3-2 victory this evening at Miller Park. They have now won six in a row and own a four-game lead over Milwaukee in the National League Central.

The Cardinals got on the board first with a two-run single from Yadier Molina against Wily Peralta in the first inning. Kolten Wong added an RBI single in the third, which stood up as the difference in the ballgame. Making his first start since June 17, Michael Wacha allowed one run over three innings before giving way to the bullpen. Marco Gonzales allowed a solo homer to Rickie Weeks in his 2 1/3 innings of work before Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek, and Trevor Rosenthal finished off the victory.

The Brewers left 11 men on base in this one, so they had their share of chances, but the Cardinals held firm thanks to some excellent outfield defense. Jon Jay made a pair of excellent catches to rob Khris Davis of run-scoring hits. Peter Bourjos later added an impressive running catch on a long fly ball off the bat of Jordan Schafer in the eighth inning. It’s worth noting that the fly ball from Schafer came after a failed bunt attempt from Martin Maldonado with two on and nobody out, which would have moved a runner over to third base. It was that kind of night for the Brewers.

As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, the Brewers led the National League Central by 1 1/2 games before the start of their losing streak. They now find themselves tied with the Braves for the second Wild Card spot.

The Brewers and Cardinals will play three more games this weekend. Mike Fiers will try to stop the slide for Milwaukee tomorrow night while St. Louis will counter with John Lackey.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.