This Week in the National League - Week 8

Interleague play kicked off this past weekend. We got our first taste of NL managers trying to figure out lineups that included a designated hitter, while AL managers tried to play that thing called "small ball".

With all the action from the past week, there was no shortage of impressive and not-so impressive performances. Some familiar stars woke up after an early season slumber, while others continued to snooze. That being said, here's the latest and greatest from around the National League. East Division

Philadelphia Phillies (25-19) – Ryan Howard. Chase Utley. Jimmy Rollins. The Phils have had some amazing individual seasons in recent years. And now, Raul Ibanez. The Phillies keep finding hitters that can torch the baseball. Ibanez cranked four more home runs this week giving him a total of 17, and his RBI count is already at 44. Brad Lidge, however, continues to struggle. He blew two saves this weekend against the Yankees, giving him four for the season. And his 8.85 ERA isn't exactly dominating. What a difference a year can make for a closer.

New York Mets (25-20) – The Mets went to Fenway over the weekend and took two of three from the BoSox. Francisco Rodriguez continues to be a noticeable difference this season for New York. Having struggled to close out games in 2008, K-Rod has been the man in 2009. Battling through some back spasms this weekend, he picked up two more saves for a total of 13 already this season. And his 0.83 ERA is just nails. Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran continues to light up opposing pitching. He leads the Mets in average (.367), home runs (6), RBI (31), and runs scored (31).

Atlanta Braves (23-22) – The Braves swept Toronto over the weekend, but then dropped the first two against San Francisco to start this week. Kenshin Kawakami jump-started the Blue Jays series by outdeuling Toronto ace, and eight-game winner, Roy Halladay. Kawakami tossed 8.0 shutout innings of three-hit ball en route to a 1-0 win, improving his record to 3-5. Chipper Jones, who saw his nine-game hit streak end Monday has picked his average back up to .317 from a May low of .284 prior to the streak.

Florida Marlins (21-26) – Despite his 30 RBI, Dan Uggla is still struggling to keep his average above .200, currently at the .203 mark. The Marlins definitely need him to hit for average if they are going to contend this year. Starting pitcher Josh Johnson could also use the bat support. He continues to pitch well, as his 2.67 ERA would indicate, but through 10 starts, he has just a 3-1 record.

Washington Nationals (13-32) – Adam Dunn has definitely brought some excitement to the nation's capital. The guy can still launch the ball, and fans like to see the home run fly. Dunn cracked two home runs and had six RBI in the Nationals win Sunday in nearby Baltimore. And he hit another on Tuesday against the Mets. For the season Dunn has 15 homers and 40 RBI.

Central Division

Milwaukee Brewers (27-19) – Prince Fielder continues to lead the charge for the first-place Brewers. The big first baseman has 11 RBI in his last 10 games, giving him 43 for the year. Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo has taken over as the go-to man for the Brew Crew on the mound. He got roughed up in Houston for six runs and his second loss of the season on Wednesday last week, but bounced back for an 8.0-inning, shutout gem in a no-decision against the Cardinals Monday.

St. Louis Cardinals (27-19) – The Cards swept the Cubs at Busch Stadium last week for the first time since their championship season. Chris Carpenter made his return. He earned his second win of the year, tossing 5.0 shutout innings Wednesday and then tossed another 8.0 shutout innings dueling with Gallardo on Monday. Carp hasn't given up an earned run this season through 23.0 innings. And while the Cardinal bats have been a bit anemic, the pitching has been outstanding. In the past week, the Cards have given up just seven runs in seven games. Adam Wainwright has led the charge. He picked up two wins this week, including pulling the Cards back even with Milwaukee on Tuesday, and in his last three starts has tossed 23.2 innings and only given up 12 hits and three runs.

Cincinnati Reds (25-20) – Bronson Arroyo picked up his sixth win of the season, and Aaron Harang played some catch-up tossing back-to-back wins to bring his record to 5-4. All last season Harang managed just six wins in 30 starts thanks in part to a whopping 35 home runs. He's surrendered just seven so far this season. Brandon Phillips, who was really struggling early this year, has turned into an RBI machine driving in 14 runs in the past 10 games.

Chicago Cubs (22-22) – Beleaguered with injuries and a lifeless offense, the Cubs dropped eight straight before finally pulling out a soggy win against Pittsburgh Tuesday night moving them back to .500. It was their longest losing streak since their 66-96 2006 campaign. During a dreadful six-game span this week that included back-to-back sweeps, they scored just five runs. Derrek Lee is hitting just .248; Milton Bradley just .196. And youngsters Mike Fontenot and Geovanny Soto are at .219 and .214, respectively. It's clearly not just having Aramis Ramirez out of the lineup that is hurting the Cubs.

Pittsburgh Pirates (21-25) – Despite being a late add to the lineup Tuesday night in Chicago, Freddy Sanchez racked up a perfect 6-for-6 night against the Cubs leading the charge to a 10-8 victory. He was an elusive triple away from hitting for the cycle and moved his batting average 23 points from .297 to.320 in a single game. Closer Matt Capps, who took a line drive off his elbow Monday night, might still land on the disabled list despite his X-rays coming back negative.

Houston Astros (18-26) – Despite having three of the top six run producers from this decade in their lineup (Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and Miguel Tejada), the Astros are still dead last in the NL Central thanks to a six-game losing streak. Hunter Pence is quietly having a nice season, though. He leads the team with a .352 batting average and has five multi-hit games in his past eight.

West Division

Los Angeles Dodgers (32-15) – Continuing their dominance, the Dodgers moved above the .667 win percentage mark this week. And even without Manny Ramirez, they still managed to put up a 16-spot in Monday's win in Colorado. Orlando Hudson has hit safely in every game in May except for one and has an active 16-game hit streak. And as if they didn't have enough going for them, the Dodgers gave Eric Milton a chance for new life. In his second start of the year, he threw 5.0 innings, giving up just one run on seven hits. His reward? His first win since 2006.

San Diego Padres (23-23) – Not enough can be said about Adrian Gonzalez. The guy has to fight the West coast factor, which leaves too many fans in the Midwest and on the East coast oblivious to the exciting talent out there. And he plays in San Diego, which doesn't exactly have a hitter's ballpark. Still Gonzalez keeps getting better year over year. He's got 17 home runs and 31 RBI through 46 games. Teammate Jake Peavy decided to stay put in San Diego after turning down a trade that could send him to the Chicago White Sox. He then went on to spoil Carlos Zambrano's return from the DL with 6.0-inning, shutout performance against the Cubs on Friday.

San Francisco Giants (22-23) – Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum have combined for 19 starts this year and have a combined record of 9-1. Their combined ERA is just 2.73, and the duo has racked up 125 strikeouts over 125.1 innings, with Lincecum leading the way with 84 in just 65.1 innings. More impressively, Lincecum has given up just one home run all year. If the Giants somehow find a way to the postseason come October, good luck to the team that gets this duo in a short series.

Arizona Diamondbacks (20-26) – Mark Reynolds has finally picked up his game. The free-swinger has been connecting with the baseball the past couple weeks. In his last 10 games, Reynolds has five home runs and 12 RBI. Still he's managed to strike out 16 times, giving him 61 Ks on the year, setting a pace to shatter his 204-mark from last season. And despite having a 2.57 ERA through nine starts, Dan Haren has just three wins under his belt. Reliever Tony Pena actually has more wins (4) thanks to his 2.01 ERA and some good timing.

Colorado Rockies (18-27) – A .286 career hitter, Brad Hawpe has stepped up his game in the absence of Matt Holliday. Hawpe is hitting a monstrous .336 this season and leads the Rockies with 36 RBI. Finally showing his good stuff this season, Aaron Cook tossed a complete game shutout in Atlanta last Thursday improving to 3-1 on the year. Unfortunately, he followed it up Tuesday night with a 6.0-inning, five-run performance against the Dodgers, thereby earning the loss and lowering his record to 3-2.

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