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The Grand Slam: Cardinals take over first place in NL Central from Brewers

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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For the first time this season, the St. Louis Cardinals are alone in first place in the NL Central.

That might seem untrue, since we've grown so accustomed to these modern Cardinals as the class of the division, but this year hasn't been a gimme by any means. The Milwaukee Brewers have been the surprise team of the 2014 season, and the Cardinals have been chasing them in the NL Central for months.

The Cardinals had been tied for first place in the division on seven different days this season, the most recent being after Sunday's game. But by the end of the business Monday — when the Cards beat the Pirates 5-4, while the Brewers lost to the Cubs — the Cardinals were No. 1.

It happened in somewhat dramatic fashion too. The Cardinals were facing a 4-2 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning. Pinch-hitter Kolten Wong hit a two-run homer to tie the game, then Matt Holliday put St. Louis ahead with an RBI single four batters later.

Pitcher Lance Lynn, who started for the Cardinals but got a no decision, is happy to be in first, but he'd rather be there at the end of September than the beginning of it. He told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch

"Whenever you're in first place, it means a lot, especially at this time of year," starter Lance Lynn said. "When it's all said and done, we want to be in first place at the end of the month."

The Cardinals have won three in a row. Meanwhile the Brewers have lost six straight and eight of their last 10 games.

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HELLO SEPTEMBER, MIGUEL CABRERA IS HERE
After an August in which the Detroit Tigers fell out of first place, they announced on September's first day that they're ready for the final month of the season. Miguel Cabrera punished baseballs, David Price fanned eight hitters and the Tigers smashed the Cleveland Indians 12-1.

Miggy was 4-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs after not homering since Aug. 2. In one day, he doubled his homer output for all of August. A good chunk of this Tigers offense came against Indians ace Corey Kluber too. Detroit collected seven hits and five runs off Kluber, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings.

The Tigers remain a half-game behind the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central, because ...

ROYALS BEAT RANGERS, SNAP LOSING STREAK
The Tigers could have tied the division, but the Royals weren't ready to let that happen after enjoying the top of the division for 20 days. The Royals earned a 4-3 win against the Texas Rangers to maintain their half-game lead over the Tigers.

Yordano Ventura struck out seven hitters in 6 1/3 innings, and Salvador Perez was 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Royals.

NATS TOP DODGERS
After becoming one of the top teams in baseball in August, the Washington Nationals started off September on a good note, beating the Dodgers 6-4 in Los Angeles. Denard Span hit two homers for the Nats and Gio Gonzalez picked up the win, giving up three runs in six innings.

By beating the Dodgers (77-61), the Nats (78-58) have most wins in the NL. They also have a seven-game advantage in the NL East over the Atlanta Braves, who were no-hit Monday.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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