This Week in the National League - Week 4

April is coming to a close. Some teams will be happy to put this first month behind them while others will be looking to build on the momentum. Here's the latest and greatest from around the league.

East Division

Florida Marlins (12-8) - The Phillies reminded the Marlins who the defending champs are by sweeping the Fish this weekend. Florida did manage to pull a win Tuesday evening to snap a seven-game skid where they scored just 13 runs. Jorge Cantu led the charge out of the funk, though, homering twice Tuesday and driving in five runs. He has three home runs and nine RBI in his last four games. Hanley Ramirez was hit by a John Maine pitch Monday and left the game. X-rays were negative, but he was out of the lineup Tuesday.

Philadelphia Phillies (11-8) - The Phils won their fifth straight Tuesday night. Cole Hamels, their staff ace, had to leave the game early with a sprained ankle. It's unsure what the impact might be for his next start. Still the Phils have been rallying since their skipper called them out for their championship hangover. Chase Utley is picking up his game after a slow first couple weeks. Utley homered twice Tuesday and had three RBI. In his last 11 games, he's cranked six home runs, driven home 15, and boosted his average to .357.

Atlanta Braves (10-10) - In his last three starts Jair Jurrjens has gone 0-2 despite lowering his ERA from 2.45 to 1.72. Matt Diaz has contributed to the Braves poor run production, struggling at the plate this season with a .229 average, but he did come through with a clutch 2-run, game-winning single Tuesday against the Cardinals.

New York Mets (9-11) - Carlos Beltran is a career .282 hitter, but he's been on fire this season at the plate. With three three-hit games this past week, he's got his average up to .395 and has floated above .400 a bit. The Mets starting pitching continues to be a disaster, though. Toss out Johan Santana's 0.70 ERA, and they don't have a starter with an ERA under 5.40.

Washington Nationals (4-15) - A .248 career batting average, Adam Dunn might be finding new life in the nation's capital city. Not only did he blast his sixth home run Tuesday, he boasts a .328 average for the start of the season. Rookie Jordan Zimmerman is 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts to begin his MLB career.

Central Division

St. Louis Cardinals (14-7) - "Red Hot Redbirds" is about all you can say. The Cardinals are doing just about everything right to win games and boast the best record in the NL. Albert Pujols is obviously a big part of what's going right. In his past eight games, he's driven in 11 runs, hit three homers, stolen three bases, and scored another seven. Pujols leads the NL with 25 RBI this April. Joel Pineiro, who went 7-7 with a 5.15 ERA last season, is 4-0 with a 3.76 ERA to start the 2009 campaign.

Pittsburgh Pirates (11-9) - Prior to running into the Brewers Monday, the Pirates were 11-6. Five games above .500 at any point in the season is something to brag about for the Pirates of the past decade. But they dropped the first two against Milwaukee. Their starting pitcher has been stellar. Paul Maholm is 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA, and Zach Duke has started off 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA on his way to dramatically improving from his 5-14 record in 2008.

Chicago Cubs (10-9) - In a tough series with the Cardinals this past weekend in St. Louis, the Cubs got awfully banged up. Aramis Ramirez left Friday's game with a calf strain but could be back in the Cubs lineup later this week. Derrek Lee left the game Sunday with neck spasms, which turned out to be from a bulging disk. He's going to need some rest, and unfortunately, this could be a nagging injury. Amidst the Cubs slide the past week, they did get some good news as Milton Bradley returned to the lineup Tuesday, and Carlos Zambrano pitched his way to his first victory in four starts.

Cincinnati Reds (10-10) - First baseman Joey Votto is batting .364 and leads the club in hitting. Brandon Phillips, however, has not followed suit. The Reds second baseman is hitting just .191 and that's with a two-hit performance on Tuesday. Edinson Volquez, who had an All-Star 2008 campaign, is struggling a bit with a 6.20 ERA. Walks are killing him. Through four starts he already has handed out 20 free passes.

Milwaukee Brewers (10-10) - In his past eight games Ryan Braun has boosted his batting average from .222 to .351. He also has eight home runs and 11 RBI during that span to help boost the Brewers offense. Another good sign for the Brew Crew is that Trevor Hoffman made his debut this week. In his second appearance Tuesday night he earned his first save in a Milwaukee uniform.

Houston Astros (9-12) - Closer Jose Valverde landed on the Disabled List Tuesday with a calf strain. LaTroy Hawkins is expected to continue to fill in for him as he recovers. Meanwhile, Miguel Tejada's slugging percentage is way down at just .375, but he's batting for average (.318). Tejada has yet to connect for a home run this year.

West Division

Los Angeles Dodgers (14-7) - Chad Billingsley didn't get his fifth win Tuesday night, but he turned out another stellar performance holding the Giants to just three runs through 7.1 innings. The Dodgers continue to be an offensive powerhouse. Manny Ramirez is doing what he does best. In his past 10 games, Manny has eight multi-hit games, four home runs, and 10 RBI.

San Diego Padres (11-9) - Since coming out guns-a-blazin' in his first two starts, Chris Young is 0-1 in his last three, including two games where he didn't make it out of the fourth inning. Closer Heath Bell has been phenomenal in the post-Hoffman era. Bell hasn't given up a run in 7.2 innings and is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities this season.

San Francisco Giants (9-10) - The Giants are dead last in baseball having only score 68 runs. Benjie Molina is the lone player with a double-digit RBI total (14). Tim Lincecum did earn his first win this past week tossing his second consecutive eight-inning, five-hit performance. In his two past starts Lincecum has given up just one run and struck out 25. Welcome back!

Arizona Diamondbacks (8-12) - After starting the season 0-3 despite his 1.89 ERA, Dan Haren has picked up a pair of wins and maintains a 1.54 ERA. He beat both Colorado and Chicago this week striking out 19 along the way. Conor Jackson, however, hasn't gotten out of his early season funk. Jackson is still hitting just .200 and has a miniscule slugging percentage of .258.

Colorado Rockies (7-12) - Troy Tulowitzki is batting just .179 and was benched on Monday in the midst of an 0-for-19 slump. He finally connected for a hit Tuesday night after coming in off the bench. Jason Marquis has been a nice April surprise for Colorado, though. Marquis is 3-1 to start the season with a decent 4.10 ERA. He's gone 7.0+ innings in each of his three wins.

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