Reds beat Cubs to become first team to clinch playoff berth

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Trotting out a lineup that included just one regular, the Reds beat the Cubs 5-3 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field and become the first team this year to clinch a playoff berth.

The Reds got Johnny Cueto his 18th victory despite fielding a lineup that included Miguel Cairo at first base and second baseman Henry Rodriguez hitting third in his first career start. Todd Frazier and Chris Heisey were in there as well, but catcher Ryan Hanigan was today’s only starter who can be safely penciled into the lineup for Game 1 of the NLDS.

The team was also missing its manager, as Dusty Baker remained hospitalized after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.

Cincinnati’s ‘B’ lineup was shutout by Jason Berken for six innings, but it busted out for five runs off Manny Corpas in the top of the seventh. That earned Cueto the win, even though he had been removed for a pinch-hitter. Coming off three straight losses, Cueto was better today, though not dominant. He allowed five hits, walked four and struck out just two.

With two starts left, Cueto still has a chance at 20 wins for the season. He’ll have an even better chance if Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are in the lineup next time he pitches.

MLB fines and suspends Yasiel Puig two games for Tuesday’s incident with Giants

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Major League Baseball has announced that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been fined and suspended two games for his role in Tuesday night’s benches-clearing incident with the Giants.

Puig was upset with himself after fouling off a hittable pitch, tossing his bat up and grabbing it angrily. Catcher Nick Hundley didn’t like Puig’s expression of emotion and had a few words for him. Puig didn’t like what Hundley said and the two got into a shoving match before the benches emptied. Puig was able to get past his teammates attempting to restrain him to smack Hundley across the catcher’s mask. MLB’s press release characterizes Puig’s role as having “incited a bench-clearing incident.”

The Dodgers are off Thursday, Puig would be slated to miss Friday and Saturday’s games. However, Puig is appealing his punishment, which means he can continue to play until the matter is settled.

Hundley was fined but did not receive a suspension. If MLB’s press release were accurate, it would have characterized Hundley, not Puig, of inciting Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident. Puig was upset at no one but himself until Hundley inserted himself into the picture. Of course, this is by no means excusing Puig’s behavior as he should have been fined and suspended. But Hundley should have been suspended as well.