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If the Cincinnati Reds played in the NL West, they'd be in first place — and not by a tiny margin, but five games. Instead, they're in one of baseball's most competitive divisions, the NL Central, and the Reds find themselves in third place behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Still, the Reds (59-44) have been beating up on the NL West this week. They took three of four from the San Francisco Giants and then rolled into Dodger Stadium on Thursday night where they snapped the first-place Dodgers' six-game winning streak with a 5-2 win.
While the Dodgers (53-48) and their last-place-to-first-place leap are one of the biggest stories in baseball this month, the Reds reminded us Thursday night that they're playing pretty well lately too. Cincinnati is 6-2 since the All-Star break, including taking two of the three from the Pirates last weekend.
On this day, the Reds spoiled an ice cream celebration for the Dodgers as Mat Latos cooled off the hot L.A. bats, pitching 7 2/3 innings and allowing only one earned run. Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer for the Reds and Xavier Paul added a solo dinger.
Afterward, Latos was pretty confident about his team. He told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon:
"We've got a really good team," Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos said. "The pitching is coming together. The hitting is coming together. The defense is playing. When you have a lineup like we have and the pitching staff and we're swinging the bat good, we're going to win a lot of ballgames."
Angels 8, A's 3: That sporadic Angels offense shows up Thursday, as Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo each drive in two runs to top Oakland.
D-backs 3, Cubs 1: D-backs get a strong start from Wade Miley and two RBIs from Aaron Hill.
Cardinals 3, Phillies 1: Cardinals score three runs in the third as Lance Lynn cruises on the mound.
Boston and Tampa Bay (Ppd.): The Rays had a chance to overtake the Red Sox for first place in the AL East, but rain postponed this one.
Marlins 5, Rockies 3: A 1-0 game after eight innings got wild in the ninth: The Marlins scored four runs and the Rockies put up three.
Padres 10, Brewers 8: Carlos Quentin homers as the Padres take three of four from the Brewers.
''It was very humbling. It was emotional for me. If it was the last time I pitch here at U.S. Cellular Field, with this uniform on, it was a nice way to go out. It meant the absolute world to me. I hope everyone knows that.''
— Jake Peavy on his win Thursday and possible trade
Mariano Rivera's collection of farewell gifts grows thanks to the Texas Rangers.
• Chris Davis, the MLB leader in homers, hasn't hit one since the All-Star break. He was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Thursday.
• Carlos Gonzalez aggravated his sprained middle finger in the Rockies game. The team says he's day to day.
• The Rockies and Marlins scored 21 runs in their four-game series that ended Thursday in Colorado. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that's the fewest ever in such a series at Coors Field.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Alfonso Soriano traded back to Yankees
• Ryan Braun merchandise sales on the rise since suspension
• Rangers in no hurry to call upon Manny Ramirez
• Jeff Passan: Voiding PED contracts not the right solution
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