The Nationals took Thursday off. But, they kept hold of their wild-card lead during the break.
Chicago lost to St. Louis in 10 innings. The Cubs are on a three-game losing streak, which became enough Thursday for them to slip out of a wild-card spot. Milwaukee beat lowly San Diego.
So, the Nationals open a three-game series in Miami on Friday with a one-game lead on the Brewers for the right to host the Wild-Card Game on Oct. 1. The Cubs are two games behind Washington and a game behind Milwaukee. They also have a distinct challenge going forward: Six of their remaining nine games are against St. Louis. Splitting those and sweeping Pittsburgh -- the series in between dates with St. Louis -- only gets the Cubs to 88 wins.
The idle Mets moved to 3 ½ games behind Milwaukee. Philadelphia lost to start the day, which put it four games out of a wild-card spot with 11 to go on its schedule.
Coming up Friday:
St. Louis at Chicago, 2:20 p.m., Wacha (6-7, 4.76 ERA) vs. Mills (1-0, 3.42)
Washington at Miami, 7:10 p.m. Sánchez (9-8, 3.86) vs. Dugger (0-2, 3.95)
New York at Cincinnati, 7:10 p.m., deGrom (9-8, 2.61) vs. Castillo (155-6, 3.22)
Philadelphia at Cleveland, 7:10 p.m., Smyly (4-6, 6.22) vs. Bieber (14-7, 3.26)
Pittsburgh at Milwaukee, 8:10 p.m., Brault (4-5, 4.96) vs. Anderson (6-4, 4.50)
MORE NATIONALS NEWS:
Scherz or Stras?: Wild-card options lined up
Looking Back: DeRosa on 2012 Nats
Wild-card tracker: Cubs drop out of wild-card spot -- for now originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington