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MLB Standings Update: St. Louis Cardinals Maintain Lead Vs. Surprising Pittsburgh Pirates

The St. Louis Cardinals remain in the lead in the NL Central despite some stiff competition, and it's thanks in part to their recent win against the Cincinnati Reds. This much any MLB standings would-be prophet could have told you prior to the 2011 season. What they couldn't have guessed was that the Pittsburgh Pirates would be the team on their collective tail. The Cardinals are a game-and-a-half up on the Pirates more than halfway through the National League championship season, but you'll forgive them, I think, for remaining a little more worried about the Milwaukee Brewers and even the struggling Reds.

The Pirates are on their way to the franchise's most exciting season since Bryce Harper was born, but they're still a team with significant problems, one reliant on some incredibly fortuitous (Andrew McCutchen) and probably unsustainable (Jeff Karstens) performances on either side of the baseball. The future looks brighter at PNC Park than it ever has before, but it's tough to see that future beginning now.

Consult Viva El Birdos's sidebar for a full look at the NL Central Standings.