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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 08/09/2011

Leading off: Brewers lead Cardinals by three games entering series in St. Louis

Game of the Day: Milwaukee at St. Louis, 8:15 p.m. The National League Central has devolved into a two-team race, and the Brewers enter this three-game series three games ahead of the Cardinals. Milwaukee and St. Louis still have nine head-to-head games left on their schedules, so while this particular set is not do or die for St. Louis, it can certainly bring them closer. Right-hander Shaun Marcum (10-3) will pitch the opener Tuesday for Milwaukee, coming off a subpar start against the Cardinals last week his last time out. Marcum allowed six runs in six innings as the Brewers suffered their only loss in their last 12 games. Newly-acquired right-hander Edwin Jackson (1-1) is scheduled to start for St. Louis. Milwaukee tattooed Jackson for 10 runs (eight earned) and 14 hits in his last start on Wednesday.

Other game to watch: Detroit at Cleveland, 7:05 p.m . The Tigers are starting to pull away from the pack in the American League Central, and they lead second-place Cleveland by four games heading into this three-game set. 12 head-to-head games remain between these Central division contenders, so Cleveland – like St. Louis – still has plenty of chances to make up ground. The Indians are just 7-14 in their past 21 games, but they send ace Justin Masterson (9-7) to the mound on Tuesday. Masterson has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his last 11 starts, and has won four of his last five decisions. Recent acquisition Doug Fister (4-12) will pitch for Detroit, coming off a solid win over Texas on Wednesday in his Tigers debut. Fister had lost his last seven decisions in Seattle before he was traded at the trade deadline.

Games you should have seen:

Tampa Bay 2, Kansas City 1 . Casey Kotchman led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off home run to lead the Rays past the Royals. Kotchman drove the first pitch he saw from Blake Wood over the center-field fence, capping a 3 for 4 night that also included an RBI single in the seventh. After Eric Hosmer gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the top of the first, Royals starter Luke Hochevar held the Rays scoreless until Kotchman’s first RBI hit. Jeremy Hellickson allowed just one run over 7 1/3 innings pitched for Tampa Bay.

New York Mets 9, San Diego 8 . Down 8-4 with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Mets scored two runs in the eighth and three in the ninth to stun the Padres. Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter started the comeback with an RBI double in his first at-bat of the season to cut San Diego’s lead to 8-5. Ronny Paulino then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-6. David Wright’s RBI single in the ninth made it 8-7 before Lucas Duda drove in the final two runs with a walk-off single to center.

Stat you should know: 25. Consecutive scoreless appearances for Braves closer Craig Kimbrel after he struck out both batters he faced Monday in Atlanta’s 8-5 win over the Marlins. Kimbrel last allowed a run on June 11, and has given up just seven hits in 24 2/3 innings while converting all 17 of his save opportunities since then.

Star of the night: Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz went 4 for 5 with a home run, three runs scored, three RBI and the game-winning single in the top of the ninth inning of Boston’s 8-6 win over Minnesota. Ortiz, apparently seeking a contract extension, is 6-for-9 in his last two games.

Chatter: “I thought it was well done.” — Giants manager Bruce Bochy, responding to Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino getting a three-game suspension for his role in the benches-clearing brawl between the teams during their game Friday night. No Giants were suspended.

By Greg Schimmel  |  08:00 AM ET, 08/09/2011

 
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