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    ST. LOUIS — There will be playoff implications all around when the Los Angeles Dodgers travel to St. Louis for a four-game series starting Thursday Larry Andersen Jersey , including thoughts of a potential preview for a one-game National League wild-card matchup.Where that playoff game could potentially be played could be decided starting with Thursday’s series opener, which will pit the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 2.42 ERA) against the Cardinals‘ Austin Gomber (5-0, 2.93) in a battle of lefties.The Cardinals won all three games between the teams in Los Angeles three weeks ago. One victory in this series would give the Cardinals a home game if they were tied with the Dodgers at the end of the season in the wild-card standings.Article continues below ...The Dodgers are two games behind the Cardinals, who currently hold the second wild-card position in the National League.The Dodgers, though, remain intent on winning their sixth consecutive National League West title. By finally defeating the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday for the first time this season, the Dodgers temporarily moved one game behind the division-leading Colorado Rockies.The Dodgers had some offensive flow in that game, scoring eight runs, but otherwise it has been a stop-start year for the bats. The Dodgers have scored eight or more runs 11 times since the All-Star break. But they scored have three runs or fewer 25 times in the same span.“Our players have got to accept it because this is the way it’s gotta be with our roster,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, according to the Orange County Register. “I know it’s going to turn. We haven’t had (offensive) consistency all year. September http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/au...roberts-jersey , we obviously have a deeper roster but we’ve had these same inconsistencies all year. So it’s not about just September and this sample of September.”The Cardinals have found far more consistency in the second half as they went from near sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline to definite contenders barely over a month later.When the Cardinals swept the Dodgers toward the tail end of August, they were playing at their best. They lost Wednesday to the Pittsburgh Pirates and have endured a three-game losing streak since their sweep of the Dodgers, but St. Louis has still won 23 of its last 33 games.Not far away from being an afterthought in the NL Central, the Cardinals are still in striking distance of a division title, but still would have to leapfrog the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers to claim that prize.Gomber has been a key contributor in the turnaround. He has solidified his spot in the rotation by going 4-0 with a 2.77 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of August. He faced the Dodgers last month, giving up two runs over five innings in a no-decision while seeing his 15-inning scoreless streak come to an end.Gomber is new to the league so this is his first charge toward the playoffs. But it is also new to the Cardinals’ Marcell Ozuna, who was previously with the Miami Marlins.“I’ve never been in that spot before,” Ozuna said, according to mlb.com. “Every at-bat, I go trying to push my team on top.”Kershaw is far more familiar with the rigors of a second-half playoff drive. He will enter Thursday’s start having not given up more than two earned runs in nine consecutive outings. Kershaw is 6-5 in 16 career starts against the Cardinals with a 2.99 ERA, but he has not faced St. Louis this season. ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Blake Snell had his best fastball and that was more than enough against baseball’s best team.The All-Star lefty pitched two-hit ball over six innings and the Tampa Bay Rays won their eighth straight game Sunday Tug McGraw Jersey , beating Boston 9-1 to hand the major league-leading Red Sox their first sweep of the season.“There was a lot of energy today,” Boston manager Alex Cora said, “but the guy on the mound sucked it up.”Snell (16-5) allowed one run and struck out eight. He has given up no more than one earned run in 14 consecutive starts at home, and he has a 1.08 ERA in four outings against the Red Sox this year.“I almost have to tell myself to wake up over there. He’s so good I feel like I don’t even have to do much,” Rays third baseman Matt Duffy said. “I’m just kind of chillin’ over there. I’ve got a really good seat for the game. When he pitches I go, ‘OK, wake up, the ball might come your way — if they make contact with it.'”Boston (90-42) has lost six of eight and was outscored 24-5 in the three-game set.Duffy had three hits and drove in two runs for the surprising Rays, who completed their first undefeated homestand of more than one series. They won all seven games against the Royals and Red Sox, and are nine games above .500 (70-61) for the first time since June 2015.“For us to do it against Kansas City and then Boston, the best team in the league right now, to be able to do that to them says a lot about our team Drew Hutchison Jersey ,” Snell said. “I’m excited to be in this clubhouse with these guys.”Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, acquired from the Rays in a July 25 trade, gave up hits to the first three batters he faced and fell behind 2-0.Kevin Kiermaier’s two-run triple was the fourth hit off Eovaldi in a three-run third that left Tampa Bay with a 5-0 lead.“They’re a very streaky team,” Eovaldi said. “They’ve had their ups and downs. Right now they’re swinging the bats as well as anybody. The pitching has been pretty good all year.”Eovaldi (5-6) dropped to 2-2 with Boston. He gave up six runs — five earned — and eight hits in four innings while striking out five. In his last four starts, the right-hander has allowed 35 hits in 17 innings.TWO-DAY BREAKCora said he never reconsidered his plan to give slugger J.D. Martinez the day off before Monday’s scheduled open date. “We haven’t done two days off with him the whole season,” Cora said. “With him it’s about the mechanics — he’s always afraid that he’s going lose it. But I think at this stage, two days will benefit him.”TRAINER’S ROOMRed Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right ankle sprain) will attempt to pitch six innings in a rehab start Monday. … RHP Steven Wright (left knee inflammation) will throw to catcher Christian Vazquez (broken finger) at Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday.Rays: Manager Kevin Cash said OF Mallex Smith (viral infection) is “doing considerably better” and was expected to be released from the hospital Sunday. Cash has no timetable but didn’t rule out Smith, who was hospitalized Friday, from playing again early next month.UP NEXTRed Sox: RHP Brian Johnson will pitch Tuesday night in the first of two home games against the Miami Marlins.Rays: After their first day off in two weeks, the Rays open a two-game series in Atlanta on Tuesday night. Ryne Stanek will start.
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