This Week in the National League: ‘08 Week 25

A hurricane, some double-headers, a not-so neutral site, a no-hitter, a firing... what a week!

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

East Division

Philadelphia Phillies (84-67) - Winners of five straight, the Phils have moved a half-game into first place in the NL East. They're surging in September once again while the Mets are sliding. They took four against Milwaukee over the weekend, including a double-header on Sunday, and then rallied against the Braves on Tuesday night. Jamie Moyer didn't get the win Tuesday night, but he's 3-0 in his last four starts and the Phils are undefeated in those games. Ryan Howard, who had four hits Tuesday, has six home runs and 17 RBI in his last nine games.

New York Mets (83-67) - Losers of four of five games, the Mets find themselves no longer leading the division, but in front in the wild card race. Mike Pelfrey pitched 7.0 strong innings Tuesday night, giving up just one run, but the Mets still lost to Washington 1-0. Their push for October hit a bit more resistance when Fernando Tatis was lost for the season with a separated shoulder.

Florida Marlins (78-72) - The Marlins had 12,232 fans at their game Tuesday night against Houston. With a 5-1 win over Roy Oswalt, the Marlins are just five games out of the wild card. It might seem like a long shot, but it sure seems reasonable considering the losing ways of the teams ahead of them with 12 games to go. Dan Uggla, who had just eight RBI in August, has already driven in 11 runs in September.

Atlanta Braves (67-84) - The Braves are what seems like an unheard-of 17 games under .500. Still Chipper Jones is still eyeing that batting title. With three walks and a hit on Tuesday, he sits with an NL-best .365 batting average.

Washington Nationals (58-93) - Cristian Guzman is batting .314 with 52 RBI and has been a solid performer in Washington all season long.

Central Division

Chicago Cubs (91-58) - The Cubs have had a crazy week. After losing eight of nine games and putting the fear of the goat in their fans minds, the club eked out back-to-back one-run wins in St. Louis. They took two days off thanks to Hurricane Ike, and then played two in Milwaukee against what was a hot Houston team. In Sunday's game before more than 23,000 traveling Cubs fans at "Wrigley North", Carlos Zambrano pitched a no-hitter. Ted Lilly followed up Big Z on Monday taking a no-hitter of his own into the seventh inning. The Cubs staff combined to just allow one hit and won 6-1. Finally, they hosted Milwaukee Tuesday night and beat C.C. Sabathia with Ryan Dempster on the mound. Just like that, the magic number is four.

Milwaukee Brewers (83-68) - Falling apart in September, the Brewers were swept in a four-game series in Philly. Frustrated with a late season slide for the second consecutive year, the front office fired manager Ned Yost, mind you, with the team still tied for the wild card lead. They've won just three games this month and interim manager Dale Sveum is 0-1 after the Brewers' 5-4 loss in Chicago Tuesday night.

Houston Astros (80-70) - Hurricane Ike slammed Houston Friday night, postponing both Friday and Saturday's games with the Cubs. With most of the city still recovering and without power, MLB moved the games to not-so neutral Milwaukee. The Astros managed just one hit in 18 innings against the Cubs, and then went on to drop their third straight, this time in Florida against the Marlins before a crowd much smaller than what they even saw in Milwaukee. The team is in a hurricane funk, which is unfortunate given the streak they were on. Still, if there is need to play the final Cubs game, it will be played in Houston on Monday, September 29th.

St. Louis Cardinals (78-72) - After dropping two games they felt they could have won against Chicago, the Cardinals appear to have packed it in for the season. They traveled to Pittsburgh and got swept three games over the weekend. Then the Cards followed it up in Cincinnati with their sixth straight loss. Even a split over their last four games would have had them just three off the wild card pace. Alas, it would appear injuries and luck might just not be on their side. Still nothing is over until it's over, including the MVP and batting race with Albert Pujols competing for both.

Cincinnati Reds (69-81) - Dusty Baker is one of those managers that like to end a rough season on a high note and build momentum for the following year. So, this time of the year, he's more than happy being a spoiler. Bronson Arroyo isn't laying down for anyone either. He's 5-0 in his last six starts. During that span, Arroyo has given up just seven earned runs over 43.1 innings. His 15 wins are second on the club behind Edinson Volquez's 16.

Pittsburgh Pirates (63-88) - With three wins over the weekend, the Pirates guaranteed they will not have 100 losses this season. Nate McLouth hit two more home runs this week, doubling his total from last year with 26 on the season.

West Division

Los Angeles Dodgers (79-72) - The Dodgers continue to play red-hot baseball and have a comfortable five-game lead in the West Division. Joe Torre has his eyes set on the postseason, while the New York Yankees organization will be watching him on TV. James Loney leads the club with 86 RBI thanks to 10 in his last nine games, while Andre Ethier continues to thrive. Ethier has 13 RBI in his last 10 games. Combined with Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers are showing some offensive power.

Arizona Diamondbacks (74-76) - Having fallen five games under .500, the D'Backs bounced back with two straight wins over the Giants. And after three failed attempts, Brandon Webb finally got win number 20 with an 8.0-inning shutout performance against Cincinnati on Friday.

Colorado Rockies (68-83) - No magical run for the Rockies this September. The club has had just one season this decade where they failed to produce a single 100-RBI man. It was 2005, when Garrett Atkins led the club with just 89 RBI. There's still a week and a half to go, but Atkins again leads the club with 89 RBI.

San Francisco Giants (69-83) - It's the Tim Lincecum show in San Francisco, at least every fifth day. The young phenom made another Cy Young-esque start on Sunday, tossing a complete game shutout against San Diego. He struck out 12 bringing his season total to 237. He's 17-3 with a 2.43 ERA and better than a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Filthy!

San Diego Padres (58-94) - Jake Peavy is 1-5 in his last eight starts. Still he's got a 2.77 ERA to go with his 9-11 record. That's just the way things have gone in San Diego this season.

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