Arizona: LHP Joe Saunders (2-1, 1.24 ERA) is one of four NL pitchers with a quality start in all five of his starts this season. Saunders has not given up more than two earned runs in any of his appearances, and the bullpen has failed to hold two leads after he left the game. ... RH closer J.J. Putz, who gave up only four home runs while saving a career-high 45 games in 58 innings in 2011, gave up three homers in his first 8 1/3 innings this season. Two of those were two-run, ninth-inning walk-offs, by Colorado 1B Todd Helton on April 14 and Washington SS Ian Desmond on Wednesday.
Atlanta: C Brian McCann was given the day off, partially to rest but also because the outer white portion of his right eye was scratched by teammate Michael Bourn on Wednesday night. Bourn accidentally poked him in the eye while high-fiving him after McCann's fifth-inning grand slam. ... RF Jason Heyward was back in the starting lineup after missing two starts because of a strained muscle in his right side. He did pinch-hit in Wednesday's game in the bottom of the sixth inning and stayed in on defense. "Adrenaline did the job," he said after Thursday's game.
Chicago: RHP Ryan Dempster and RH reliever Kerry Wood were activated from the disabled list, and LH reliever Scott Maine and RHP Randy Wells were sent to Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa. Dempster gave up three hits and no runs Thursday but didn't get the victory even though his ERA fell from 1.33 to 0.95. ... RH closer Carlos Marmol has an ERA of 6.23 and a WHIP of 2.31 after his ninth-inning meltdown. Earlier in the year, Marmol said he was having trouble gripping his slider. Now, his confidence might be shot. "Throwing 3-0 sliders when you have a 3-0 lead, that's just not acceptable," manager Dale Sveum said.
Cincinnati: RHP Johnny Cueto will remain on normal rest and start tonight's game, and RHP Mike Leake will start Saturday. That's the best way to minimally tinker with the rotation after Tuesday's rainout. ... SS Billy Hamilton, one of the Reds' top prospects, was hitting .381 with 30 steals in 25 games for high-A Bakersfield (Calif.) through Wednesday. "I'm glad for him," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Keep progressing. Keep progressing your total game -- not the highlights. He's a great kid. He's playing great. We want him to stay healthy."
Colorado: LHP Jorge De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery) was hit with a line drive on the right wrist in the third inning Wednesday of his first rehab start at high-A Modesto (Calif.), which cut short the outing by about 20 pitches. De La Rosa had been scheduled to throw five innings or 65 pitches. He threw 44 pitches, 28 strikes, and topped out at 94 mph. De La Rosa stayed in after getting hit and finished the inning. ... RHP Guillermo Moscoso, who replaced RHP Jeremy Guthrie (shoulder), remains in the rotation for the time being. He is scheduled to start tonight and will have to do better than he did in his initial outing (nine hits and six runs in five innings) to merit another start if Guthrie can't pitch Tuesday.
Houston: RHP Kyle Weiland will be encouraged to take his time recovering from arthroscopic surgery to clean up what the Astros believe is an infection in his right shoulder. "We don't want to put a timetable on it," manager Brad Mills said. Mills stressed that the condition seems so unusual that the Astros are concerned about more than just Weiland's ability to pitch. ... SS Jed Lowrie has been one of the hottest hitters in the National League, with six multi-hit games in his last nine, raising his average to .329 for the season. "I'm seeing the ball well right now and getting good pitches to hit," Lowrie said.
Los Angeles: RH reliever Mike MacDougal was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for RH reliever Ronald Belisario, who was activated from the restricted list after serving a 25-game suspension for a failed drug test. Belisario hasn't pitched in the majors since 2010. ... OF/1B Juan Rivera started at first base Wednesday, his first game played in the field after being relegated to pinch-hitting duty for six games because of a strained left hamstring. ... RF Andre Ethier had six home runs and 27 RBI through 25 games this season. In 2011, Ethier drove in his 27th run of the season in his 58th game and had five home runs at the time.
Miami: Manager Ozzie Guillen said he is not ready to give up yet on keeping RH Heath Bell in the closer's role. Guillen did say Bell's next appearance might be in a non-save situation, to help him regain his confidence. Bell is 0-3 with a 11.74 ERA and three blown saves in six chances. ... Guillen is glad RF Giancarlo Stanton hit another home run Wednesday, but Guillen was more impressed by a line-drive double Stanton hit off the left-field wall earlier in the game. "That's a laser. That kid will kill one pitcher before the season is over. Or a third baseman. I hope not, but wow," Guillen said.
Milwaukee: LF Ryan Braun, who left the game Wednesday because of tightness in his left Achilles tendon, said he will have to wait to see if he'll be able to play tonight. The Brewers were off Thursday, giving Braun a needed day of rest. ... IF Brooks Conrad will come up from Class AAA Nashville before the weekend series to replace injured 1B Mat Gamel (torn ACL, out for season). The last player cut in spring training, Conrad was hitting .400 with five home runs and 13 RBI at Nashville.
New York: RF Lucas Duda expects to return tonight after being out of the lineup the previous three games because of a bout of the flu. Duda pinch-hit in Tuesday's game but was a late scratch Wednesday after manager Terry Collins didn't like what he saw during batting practice. Said Duda: "I'll be ready to go Friday, no doubt about it." ... RH reliever Manny Acosta has given up 11 runs over his last three outings, a span of 3 2/3 innings. He has allowed 18 runs on the season after giving up 18 earned runs all of last year. "He's really trying too hard," Collins said. "He's overthrowing. Balls are in the middle of the plate."
Philadelphia: RHP Roy Halladay left the team after Wednesday's game, in which he uncharacteristically gave up eight runs on 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings, to tend to a family matter. He was expected to rejoin the team today. It was his worst start in three seasons with the Phillies. ... LHP Cliff Lee threw a bullpen session Wednesday, the first time he had thrown off a mound since landing on the disabled list April 21 with a strained muscle in his left side. Lee will throw another bullpen session this weekend and hopes to rejoin the rotation next week.
Pittsburgh: 3B Pedro Alvarez was batting .067 on April 20 with strikeouts in nearly half his at-bats, but he's 16 for his last 40 with seven homers and 14 RBI since hitting coach Gregg Ritchie convinced him to try to hit to the opposite field and envision right-center as his new foul line. "It forces Pedro to stay back on the ball," Ritchie said. ... CF Andrew McCutchen exited the game in the third inning because of a stomach flu coupled with the 84-degree heat in St. Louis.
St. Louis: 1B Lance Berkman is eligible to come the disabled list today as the Cardinals arrive in Houston, his hometown. But he probably won't come off the DL just yet. "I haven't seen him run," manager Mike Matheny said. "I imagine that's a major hurdle." ... OF Erik Komatsu, who has been designated for assignment, will find out on today if he has cleared waivers and can be sent to the minors or, as a Rule 5 draftee, has been claimed on waivers or taken back by Washington.
San Diego: Not re-signing Mark Kotsay last winter wound up hurting the Brewers against the Padres. Kotsay had the decisive hit in both Padres victories. Kotsay has a .353 career average against Milwaukee (49-for-139) and has hit safely in 19 of his last 21 games against the Brewers (.471, 33-for-70). ... Padres hitters are batting only .197 with runners in scoring position this season. Their notably low RISP marks: CF Cameron Maybin (.095, 2-for-21), 1B Yonder Alonso (.167), SS Jason Bartlett (.200, 3-for-15) and Andy Parrino (.100, 1-for-10). The Padres are hitting only .238 (5-for-21) in bases-loaded situations.
San Francisco: 3B Pablo Sandoval is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hamate bone in his left hand. Sandoval believes he hurt the wrist Sunday, manager Bruce Bochy told reporters. An X-ray Tuesday didn't reveal the break, but an MRI exam and CT scan did. He's scheduled to have surgery today at Stanford. 3B Conor Gillaspie was called up from Class AAA Fresno to replace Sandoval, and Bochy said he will get the bulk of the playing time at third base while Sandoval is out. ... CF Angel Pagan extended his hitting streak to 17 games, three shy of the 20-game streak 3B Pablo Sandoval had to open the season. Pagan owns the longest active streak in the majors and is hitting .303 (23-for-76) in the 17 games. ... LHP Barry Zito issued seven walks Wednesday and got pulled after 3 2/3 innings. In his four April starts, he gave up a combined six walks. "Bad rhythm. I think I probably rushed a little bit. My delivery was too quick," he said.
Washington: LF Bryce Harper hit third in the order for the first time in his career because he was 5-for-13 (.385) with three doubles and two RBI in his first four games. Manager Davey Johnson said Harper has "swung the bat awfully good for me." ... 1B Adam LaRoche was scratched from the lineup because of a sore muscle in his right side. Chad Tracy replaced him at first base. ... Even with Diamondbacks RF Justin Upton's solo homer Wednesday, the Nationals were touched for just seven home runs in their first 24 games, fewest in baseball. RH reliever Henry Rodriguez had not allowed a home run since July 26, 2011 against the Marlins, a span of 39 appearances.