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Nationals clinch Wild Card berth with pair of wins, Cubs loss

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The Nationals dashed the Phillies’ playoff hopes in the first game of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader, winning 3-1. With a win in the nightcap plus a Cubs loss to the Pirates, the Nationals could clinch a Wild Card berth. That’s exactly what happened. The Nats beat the Phillies again 6-5 while the Cubs fell 9-2 to the Pirates. For the third time in four years, the Nationals are in the playoffs.

Max Scherzer pitched the night game but wasn’t his usual dominant self, yielding four runs on five hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts across six innings. Brad Miller accounted for all four runs against Scherzer with a three-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the fourth.

The Nationals, however, staged a comeback effort when Trea Turner hit a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning off of Jared Hughes, who had just entered the game with the bases loaded in relief of Aaron Nola.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Hunter Strickland entered the game in the seventh inning and served up a solo home run to Bryce Harper. Harper, wearing a Phillies uniform this time, cut the deficit to 6-5. But the Nats’ bullpen held it from there. Javy Guerra pitched a perfect eighth while Daniel Hudson did the same in the ninth.

As the players celebrated their victory at Nationals Park, they waited to celebrate clinching a Wild Card berth as the end of the Cubs-Pirates game was displayed on the jumbotron. Kyle Schwarber grounded out to end the game in Pittsburgh, making it official for the Nationals. The Cubs’ losing streak, by the way, is now at seven games while the Pirates halt their nine-game skid.

The Brewers beat the Reds 4-2 on Tuesday, remaining one game behind the Nationals and in charge of the second NL Wild Card. The Cubs’ elimination number is down to one. The Mets are currently tied 4-4 with the Marlins in extra innings. If the Mets lose, they are mathematically eliminated. [Update: The Mets walked off 5-4 winners in the 11th thanks to a bases loaded walk. They and the Cubs have elimination numbers of one.]

Cards’ Yadier Molina says he tested positive for COVID-19

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19.

The nine-time All-Star revealed his results Tuesday in a Spanish-language Instagram post. Soon afterward, the Cardinals issued a release naming six of the players who have tested positive.

The others are infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo along with pitchers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.

“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” Molina said in a release issued by the team. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that seven players and six staff members had tested positive. At the time, Mozeliak said the people to test positive hadn’t been identified publicly because they had declined to have their names released.

The Cardinals said Tuesday that six players had decided to grant permission to have their names revealed.

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life – with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time,” DeJong said in a statement released by the team.

The outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Cardinals’ scheduled three-game weekend series at Milwaukee as well as a four-game series with Detroit that was supposed to run Monday through Thursday. The Cardinals have played just five games this season and are hoping to return to action Friday hosting the Chicago Cubs.

As of now, the Cardinals who have tested positive have returned home while the rest of the team remains isolated in Milwaukee hotel rooms. Their last game was July 29 at Minnesota.

Mozeliak said Monday that five of the 13 overall members of the Cardinals’ traveling party to test positive were asymptomatic. The other eight had minor symptoms including headaches, coughs, sniffles and low-grade fevers. Mozeliak said none of the eight had required hospitalization.

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