Updated: July 25, 2008, 12:26 PM ET

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Ryan Braun's 26th home run may have repercussions beyond Thursday's game.

Braun's homer puts Cards on their heels

With one swing Thursday night, Ryan Braun may have altered the fortunes of two teams in the NL Central.

The Cardinals led the Brewers 3-2 heading into the top of the ninth. Ryan Franklin came on to close things out. Ray Durham struck out, J.J. Hardy singled to center and Braun hit a huge blast to center to give Milwaukee a 4-3 lead, which Salomon Torres preserved by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth for his 19th save.

For Milwaukee, this was immense. It gave them an undefeated seven-game road trip, the longest such trip in franchise history. It gave them eight consecutive wins overall, the organization's longest such streak since 2003. It gave them baseball's first perfect road trip of seven or more games since 2002, and the NL's first since 1999. It helped the team keep pace with the Cubs and distance itself further from the Cards. With CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets at the top of that rotation, this year is it for the Brew Crew. There's an air of momentum that the organization knows won't last beyond this season -- when both of those pitchers will find free-agent pastures green indeed -- so don't be surprised if Milwaukee isn't done yet. They could still deal for another bullpen guy.

For St. Louis, though, the loss might've been even bigger. How can this club give Franklin any more save chances? He lost two of the four games against Milwaukee and has now allowed two runs or more in four of his past eight appearances; he has given up nine runs and four homers in that same span. Granted, he was asked to pitch 1 2/3 innings Thursday night, but his ERA has climbed nearly a full run in July, and his WHIP this month is now 1.97. But can the club go back to Jason Isringhausen and his 6.17 ERA and 1.63 WHIP? Clearly, the team hoped Chris Perez could supply a spark, but that didn't happen, and he's back down in Triple-A. If there's a team that needs to overpay for a guy like Brian Fuentes or George Sherrill, it's officially the Cardinals. They've contended seemingly out of nowhere this year, with a starting rotation patched together with bailing wire and Dave Duncan's sweat. I'm not saying ship off Colby Rasmus. But there are symbolic wins and losses as the dog days of summer progress, and Thursday night was one of those. If St. Louis doesn't right the bullpen soon, a golden opportunity may slip away.

What does this mean fantasywise? Well, don't drop Franklin this morning. But be prepared for the possibility that he could wind up in middle relief again eventually. And if you own Sherrill or Fuentes and he winds up in St. Louis, rejoice, because it probably means that guy will stay a closer, where it had been presumed either lefty would wind up a setup man on a contender.

Past editions: 7/24: Mussina is for real | 7/23: Hanrahan to close | 7/22: Yanks injuries

Box Score Bits
Oliver Perez hadn't allowed a run in 18 1/3 innings pitched against the Phillies before Thursday afternoon's game; he allowed one in 7 2/3 and fanned an impressive 12. Jamie Moyer was nearly as good, which prevented Perez from earning his seventh win, but in his last five starts he's got a 1.34 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and has fanned 39 in 33 2/3 innings. … On a day when Kerry Wood finally went on the DL because of his finger blister, Carlos Marmol racked up a save, but it was a hair-raiser. Up three in the ninth, he walked the bases loaded, but got out of the jam to get his fourth save of the year. … Roy Halladay won his 12th game Thursday, and continued his dominance of Brian Roberts. Over the past five seasons, Roberts leads the majors in doubles, but now in 53 career at-bats against Halladay, Roberts has zero extra-base hits. … Matt Cain continues not to get much run support, but Monday, one run was all he needed. Cain out-dueled Tim Redding, as each starter went the distance. Cain fanned four, allowed four hits and no walks, and needed 113 pitches to go nine against the Nationals; Redding fanned five, walked no one and allowed seven hits, including Dave Roberts' RBI single in the eighth, in eight innings. Roberts was making his first start since coming off the DL. … Alex Rios stole his 27th base Thursday, and his 11th in the month of July. He tied Brian Roberts for fourth in the AL, and eighth in all of baseball … Ryan Howard went 0-for-3 against lefty Oliver Perez and is now hitting .180 against southpaws on the season. By way of contrast, he hit .279 against lefties in his MVP season of '06, and hit .225 against them last year. … Dan Uggla, who was 1-for-22 since the All-Star Break, got Thursday's game off, though he did pinch hit in the ninth and draw a walk. … Nate McLouth hit his 21st homer of the season Thursday night. He had 25 in his three-year career before this year. … Matt Garza (zero strikeouts in five innings) is now 0-4 against the Kansas City Royals. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that only one other starting pitcher has lost his first four career decisions against the Royals in the last 10 years: Gary Knotts. … Carlos Delgado drove in two more runs for the Mets Thursday, giving him 61 on the season and 11 in his last eight games. … A.J. Burnett had to wait a day, but he finally picked up his 11th win as the Blue Jays held off the Orioles in a game that was suspended by rain on Wednesday night. … Ray Durham made his first start as a Brewer Thursday, and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. … Yoslan Herrera started for the Pirates in place of Phil Dumatrait, and went six shutout innings against the Padres, allowing six hits and one walk, and striking out four. Herrera had allowed 19 hits and 13 runs in just six innings coming into this game.


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Standing Out

Carlos Delgado, Mets
After a terrible first three months of the season, Carlos Delgado has been on fire in July. He drove in two in the ninth to give the Mets the lead, his 17th and 18th RBIs of the month. He's hitting .397 for the month, which has raised his average from .228 on June 30 to .261 today.

Daniel Cabrera, Orioles
The Blue Jays touched up Cabrera for seven earned runs on 11 hits and two walks in five innings. Cabrera has now surrendered 14 runs -- 13 earned -- in his past 10 innings and has surrendered six or more earned runs in four of his past 10 outings. April and May's promise seem long gone by now.
News and Notes
Jimmy Rollins didn't start for the Phillies Thursday because he arrived late at Shea Stadium, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Hit pinch hit in the ninth and made the last out of yesterday's game. … The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the Mariners have no plans to see Erik Bedard back on a major-league mound before the trade deadline, which pretty much assures he won't be traded, and will stay in Seattle for the rest of '08. … The Rocky Mountain News reports that Jeff Baker is the Rockies' full-time second baseman for the time being. He's 14-for-27 in his most recent seven games. … The Nationals activated Lastings Milledge from the DL, and he's expected in Washington's lineup tonight. To make room on their roster, the Nationals released Johnny Estrada, who's recovering from surgery on his elbow. … Chris Young of the Padres, who's recovering from a skull fracture, is scheduled to throw a side session tomorrow, and if all goes well, make his return from the DL Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, according to the Associated Press. … The Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are considering dealing for deposed White Sox second baseman Juan Uribe, who'd presumably serve as veteran insurance for Jed Lowrie at shortstop if Julio Lugo's leg injury doesn't allow him to return at full strength this year. Uribe is hitting .229 with a .285 on-base percentage this year, so one assumes Boston isn't interested because of the man's bat. … The Mets are expected to promote Triple-A pitcher Brandon Knight to spot-start in place of Pedro Martinez Saturday. Knight currently features a 1.60 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP, though only five of his 11 appearances have been starts. Knight made the U.S. Olympic team, so will make just this one start and head to China. … The Cubs recalled Jeff Samardzija from Triple-A Iowa, and he's expected to be in uniform today against the Marlins, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Samardzija, a former star football player at Notre Dame, could even be given a start this weekend, if the Cubs decide to give Rich Harden an extra day's rest. … The Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have shut down Chris Ray for the season.
They Wrote It

"[The Braves are] 19-26 since the end of May. They haven't even won more than three in a row since Memorial Day. So they look more and more like a team that's about to shake up Deadline Week by dealing away the best player on the market -- Mark Teixeira."

-- Jayson Stark Full Story

• The Red Sox sent Brandon Moss to Triple-A Pawtucket, a move that heralds the Friday return of David Ortiz.

• The Royals placed Joey Gathright on the DL and brought Mitch Maier up from Triple-A Omaha to replace him. Maier, an '03 first-rounder, will mostly be a reserve outfielder.

• The Rays activated Jason Bartlett (right knee soreness) Thursday night, and he started at shortstop and went 3-for-3. To make room for Bartlett, the team had sent Ben Zobrist to the minors on Wednesday.

• The Padres activated Josh Bard from the DL. Bard badly hurt his ankle when that noted Padre-killer Albert Pujols slid into him at home plate two months ago. Bard didn't play yesterday.

On The Farm
Ian Kennedy was perfect for 6 2/3 innings Thursday night pitching for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. His bid for perfection was broken up thereafter, but overall he went seven innings, allowed one hit and one unearned run, and fanned seven.

Juan Pierre played in the second game of his rehab with Triple-A Las Vegas last night, and went 1-for-4.

Rich Hill's struggles in the minors continue: last night pitching for Single-A Daytona, he walked five in five innings, though he did allow just one hit.