After dropping the first game of their series at Miller Park left the St. Louis Cardinals a dangerous 3.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers the Cardinals pulled out an extra-innings shocker Tuesday--thanks in part to a three-run home run from starter Jaime Garcia. The win resets them to 2.5 games back and gives them the chance, with the rubber game Wednesday, to keep within two games of the NL Central leaders heading into another road series with the Florida Marlins.
An August swoon put the Cardinals out of contention in 2010, and with the amount of resources they expended in rebuilding the squad at the trade deadline this year another swoon would be devastating. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates, losers of their last five games, will need a scorching start to August to keep in contention after acquiring familiar bats Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick to bolster their storybook start to the season. At 54-54 they're five-and-a-half games back of the Brewers and just a game ahead of the slumping Reds.
For a full look at the NL Central standings, and even more carping about them, check out Viva El Birdos.