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National League team-by-team notebook -- Tuesday, October 2, 2012

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NL NOTES FOR USA TODAY

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For editions of Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Arizona: LHP Wade Miley, who finished 16-11 after getting a no-decision in his 18th quality start of the season Monday, is the first NL rookie to win 16 games since Colorado RHP Jason Jennings was 16-8 in 2002. Jennings was the Rookie of the Year that season. ... With his 25th home run Monday, 2B Aaron Hill set a career season record with 74 extra-base hits. He also had 43 doubles and six triples through Monday.

Atlanta: RHP Ben Sheets will start today's game instead of RHP Tim Hudson, who was originally scheduled, and said he then will retire. It will be the 250th start of Sheets' career. Hudson is in line to start the first game of the Division Series should the Braves win the wild card game. ... 3B Chipper Jones was out of the lineup after making seven straight starts, and 2B Dan Uggla (swollen right hand) did not start for the second straight game.

Chicago: Manager Dale Sveum said he'd like to see CF Brett Jackson make some major adjustments this offseason. Jackson entered Tuesday with 56 strikeouts in 115 at-bats. "I'd like to see him completely revamp his swing and lower half and a lot of things," Sveum said. ... If he starts today's game, as expected, SS Starlin Castro will become the first player in franchise history to appear in all 162 games at shortstop.

Cincinnati: RHP Johnny Cueto will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series, manager Dusty Baker said, followed by RHPs Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos in Games 2 and 3. Baker said the decision on whether to use Homer Bailey for Game 4 -- should there be one -- is up in the air. ...

2B Brandon Phillips was back in the lineup Monday after leaving Sunday's game because of tightness in his groin. He was taken out after seven innings for precautionary reasons.

Colorado: OF Charlie Blackmon, who tied his career high with four hits Monday, hit .140 in his first 43 at-bats following his Aug. 18 promotion from Class AAA. Through Monday, he was hitting .403 in 62 at-bats since. ... OF-1B Matt McBride's walk in the 13th inning Monday was his first career walk ... in his 80th plate appearance. In his first 30 big-league games, McBride hit .208 with two doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and 16 strikeouts.

Houston: RHP Lucas Harrell threw six scoreless innings Monday to finish his season strong with a 3.76 ERA in a breakout year. "It was one of those things you know you've got to prove every day that you can pitch here, especially on a young team like this," Harrell said. "I want to try to be one of the leaders by example on the field and by my play, and hopefully I displayed that." ... RH closer Wilton Lopez was unavailable Monday because of an illness. RH relievers Jose Valdez and Fernando Rodriguez and LH reliever Wesley Wright combined to retire all nine Cubs they faced.

Los Angeles: RF Andre Ethier's home run Monday was his 20th of the season and gave him the fourth 20-homer season of his career. Ethier in his career is hitting .456 (26-for-57) against RHP Matt Cain, but that was his first home run against him. ... C A.J. Ellis' two walks Monday gave him a team-leading 64 for the season but were his first walks since Sept. 9, a span of 58 plate appearances and 16 games.

Miami: RH reliever Heath Bell's scoreless inning Monday dropped his ERA to 4.95, the lowest it has been this season since he made his Marlins debut April 7 with a scoreless appearance in Cincinnati. ... RF Giancarlo Stanton hit his 93rd career home run Monday, tying him with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for the fifth-highest home run total by a player before the age of 23.

Milwaukee: 1B Corey Hart tweaked his lingering left foot injury Monday and was not in the lineup Tuesday. 3B Aramis Ramirez (back), CF Carlos Gomez (leg, foot) and 2B Rickie Weeks also were rested. ... Weeks' home run Monday was the Brewers' 200th of the season. It marks the fifth time they have compiled 200 homers in a season, the last coming in 2007.

New York: 3B David Wright and 2B Daniel Murphy entered Tuesday's play with 41 and 40 doubles, respectively, making them the third pair of teammates in the majors this season with 40 or more apiece. The others: Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Hill of Arizona and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler of Texas. ... With another pinch-hit double Monday, OF Mike Baxter increased his season average as a pinch-hitter to .458 (11-for-24), highest among anyone in the majors with at least 20 pinch-hit at-bats. It is also the third-highest pinch-hit average in franchise history.

Philadelphia: LF Darin Ruf hit safely in each of his first seven big-league starts through Monday, when his two-run triple in the second inning fueled the Phillies' offense. Ruf was hitting .360 with a home run, a triple, two doubles and six RBI in seven games. ... LH reliever Antonio Bastardo had allowed just one earned run in his last 17 games through Monday. Since the All-Star break, Bastardo had a 2.82 ERA and had compiled 42 strikeouts while walking just seven in 22 1/3 innings.

Pittsburgh: C Rod Barajas told manager Clint Hurdle that he would be willing to return to the Pirates in a reduced role next season, likely catching RHP A.J. Burnett and LHP Wandy Rodriguez while starting about 60-70 games. The Pirates hold a $3.5 million club option on Barajas for 2013 with no buyout, and the 37-year-old has said he would be willing to return for less money. ... IF Jordy Mercer declined the Pirates' request that he play winter ball in Latin America. Mercer's wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a son, in mid-August and he wants to spend time with them at their home in Edmonds, Okla., in the offseason.

St. Louis: LHP Jaime Garcia is 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last four starts. Garcia allowed just two runs over 6 2/3 innings on Monday, and manager Mike Matheny said, "He looked good right from the beginning. When you see Yadi (catcher Yadier Molina) have trouble catching him, you know the ball is moving all over the place." ... 1B Allen Craig took a .406 batting average with men in scoring position into Tuesday's game. He had run-scoring double Monday.

San Diego: RHP Casey Kelly was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday because of a sore arm. "He wanted to start, but I took the ball from him," manager Bud Black said. ... SS Everth Cabrera stole six bases in two games Sunday and Monday, giving him 43 on the season and the NL lead. His 93.5 percent success rate on steal attempts this season (43 in 46 attempts) was the best in franchise history, and his total is the highest by a Padre since current first base coach Dave Roberts stole 49 in 2006.

San Francisco: C Buster Posey, who left Monday's game because of back spasms after he stepped on first base awkwardly on a close play, was in the lineup, at first base. ... Manager Bruce Bochy said RHP Matt Cain will start Game 1 of the Division Series and added that SS Brandon Crawford might be the everyday shortstop. IF Joaquin Arias has been playing shortstop most of the time against lefties.

Washington: Manager Davey Johnson confirmed that LHP Gio Gonzalez will be his Game 1 starter and RHP Jordan Zimmermann his Game 2 starter in the Division Series. Johnson said he will wait to see the matchups before deciding between RHP Edwin Jackson or LHP Ross Detwiler for Game 3 and, if needed, Game 4. ... LHP Tom Gorzelanny made his first start of the season. He made 15 starts for the Nationals last season.
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