This Week in the National League: ‘08 Week 22

September is nearing. Do you know where your team is? Hopefully still in the hunt. Players and teams are starting to feel their groove. As October approaches, each game, inning, at-bat, and pitch anxiously increases in importance. Mistakes are magnified, and heroes are born. You gotta love it!

Here's the latest and greatest from around the National League.

East Division

Philadelphia Phillies (73-59) - In a key two-game series with the Mets, the Phils took round one Tuesday night rallying from a 7-0 deficit to win in 11 innings 8-7. It was their fifth straight win after sweeping four from the Dodgers over the weekend. Starting pitcher Brett Myers has won four of his last five decisions, including a complete game shutout against the Nationals on Wednesday and a seven-inning shutout performance against the Dodgers on Monday.

New York Mets (73-60) - John Maine landed on the 15-day disabled list with a bone spur in his shoulder, which wasn't exactly comforting news for Mets fans considering the club is operating under the assumption that he's shut down for the year. Blowing that seven-run lead Tuesday night against the Phils was even more disastrous. Luis Ayala, who blew the save opportunity, might not be the bullpen answer the Mets had hoped for.

Florida Marlins (67-65) - After picking up two saves against the Diamondbacks over the weekend, Kevin Gregg had a letdown against the Braves Tuesday night in his bid for save number 30. Gregg gave up four runs for his eighth blown save and seventh loss on the year. Mike Jacobs did have a pair of RBI in the game, moving him into the team lead with 73.

Atlanta Braves (58-74) - It looks like Braves fans will have one thing to cheer for this September. It won't be a push for the playoffs, but they do have Chipper Jones battling with Albert Pujols and a few others for the NL batting title. Jones currently has a narrow lead with a .357 average, though that is light years away from the .400 many thought he could flirt with back in early July.

Washington Nationals (47-85) - Collin Balester (3-6) tossed five strong innings giving up just one run Tuesday, and he and got support from his bullpen holding the Dodgers at bay en route to a 2-1 victory for Washington. Add in a 13-5 win in Chicago on Friday thanks to a grand slam and two-run homer from Willie Harris, and it wasn't a bad week for the Nationals.

Central Division

Chicago Cubs (82-50) - With games this past week against Washington and Pittsburgh, the Cubs continue to roll through August.  Aramis Ramirez is in one of those zones. In his past four games, he has three home runs and 11 RBI. Mark DeRosa is feeling it too. He homered in four straight games this past week and has 10 RBI in his last 11 games. Geovanny Soto also got in on the action Tuesday night with seven RBI courtesy of two bases-loaded doubles and a solo home run.

Milwaukee Brewers (77-55) - Milwaukee continues their own roll, trying to keep within striking distance of the Cubs and getting separation from the wild card field. In a key series with the Cardinals, they took game one Tuesday night convincingly 12-0. Ryan Braun is leading the charge. He has three home runs and eight RBI in his last six games giving him 32 and 90, respectively, on the season.

St. Louis Cardinals (73-60) - When you think of production, though, the NL still belongs to Albert Pujols. He had four multi-hit games in a row this past week, cranking two long balls and driving in 10 runs. Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright made his long-awaited return Friday with a start against the Braves. He pitched 6.0 strong innings and gave up just one run on five hits.

Houston Astros (66-66) - The Astros are still hanging around, but .500 isn't going to cut it this season. Miguel Tejada, who had a really hot start to the year and was hitting in the .340s through most of May, has seen his batting average fall to .285. Plus he's only hit two home runs since June 20th.

Cincinnati Reds (58-74) - When you're this far out of the race, it's hard to find much to be positive about. But Bronson Arroyo has given fans some excitement. He's thrown back-to-back gems, including a complete game Tuesday against the Astros and a seven-inning, one-run performance against the Cubs over the weekend.

Pittsburgh Pirates (57-75) - The Pirates have lost six straight and are quickly becoming one of those teams clubs want to play down the stretch.

West Division

Arizona Diamondbacks (68-64) - Despite losing five of their last six games, Arizona still managed to maintain a three-game lead in the division. Brandon Webb's bid for win number 20 was ugly Tuesday night. After winning six straight starts and eight straight decisions, Webb got roughed up for six runs and nine hits. He didn't make it out of the fifth inning and will have to wait for his next start for another chance.

Los Angeles Dodgers (65-67) - The Dodgers have lost five straight and have scored just six runs during that time. Manny Ramirez, who burst onto the scene a couple weeks ago, has accounted for just one run since August 17th.
Colorado Rockies (63-71) - They're eight games under .500, but the Rockies are still only 6.5 games off the Diamondbacks pace thanks to five consecutive wins at the same time Arizona and LA laid an egg. Could they be positioning themselves for another run at the postseason? On Monday Jeff Francis, the staff ace, won his first game since June 18th improving to just 4-8, but it was a noticeably improved, seven-inning, two-run performance.

San Francisco Giants (58-74) - With two more saves this past week, Brian Wilson improved his total to 35 on the year. He also picked up back-to-back wins against Florida last week; albeit one was following a blown save.

San Diego Padres (50-82) - 19 games back in this division is tough to do.  The Padres, unfortunately, might be eyeing a race with Washington towards 100 losses.

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