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.

A.J. Hinch: “If it was any other time of the year, [José Altuve] wouldn’t be in the lineup.”

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It has been evident throughout the playoffs that Astros second baseman José Altuve’s right knee is bothering him. Altuve battled a right knee issue in July, then banged it up again in Game 2 of the ALDS and it’s been a problem ever since.

Manager A.J. Hinch said that if it were the regular season, he wouldn’t put Altuve in the lineup. Per MLB.com’s Richard Justice, the full quote:

He’s hurt. And if it was any other time of the year, he wouldn’t be in the lineup or wouldn’t be playing. He’d probably be on the DL. … But he’s showing up every day in good spirits, ready to go, giving 100 percent of what he’s got. He should be commended.

Hinch also said of Altuve, “His teammates revere him. The production that he’s doing on one leg is pretty incredible. And he’s trying not to talk about it. And therefore I am.”

During the ALCS, Altuve has hit .250/.368/.313 in 16 at-bats. He has just one extra-base hit but he has racked up three singles and drawn three walks while scoring four runs. Hinch has had Marwin González start at second base Games 3 and 4 and is doing so again on Thursday night in Game 5.