R.A. Dickey defeats Cardinals, is first to 18 wins

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If R.A. Dickey had fallen back a bit in the NL Cy Young race with his little rough patch after the All-Star break, he’s pretty clearly the favorite again now.

Dickey allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday to become the first major leaguer to reach 18 wins this season. He’s allowed a total of three runs while winning his last three starts.

At 2.64, Dickey is still a bit behind Johnny Cueto (17-7, 2.58) for the NL ERA lead. However, most of the other more visible statistics favor him. He has just four losses on the year. He has five complete games to Cueto’s two and three shutouts to Cueto’s none. He also has 195 strikeouts, compared to 149 for Cueto.

What Cueto has is the disadvantage of pitching in a ballpark that’s much more favorable to hitters. Neutralizing for ballpark, baseball-reference gives Cueto a 165 ERA+, while Dickey is at 146. That’s a big difference, but it’s probably not something that is going to get much attention from voters.

Chad Kuhl underwent elbow surgery

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Per Todd Tomczyk, the Pirates’ director of sports medicine, starter Chad Kuhl underwent right elbow surgery on Wednesday, MLB.com’s Adam Berry reports. The Pirates should provide more details about the nature of the surgery and Kuhl’s timetable soon.

Kuhl, 26, has been out of action since late June with a strained right forearm. He had been on a throwing program but experienced a setback earlier this month.

This season, Kuhl made 16 starts, putting up a 4.55 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 33 walks across 85 innings.