LEADING OFF: Bucs vs Cards, Giants vs Dodgers for divisions
A look at what's happening around the major leagues today:
FOR THE CROWN
The Pirates enter a three-game set against the NL Central-leading Cardinals trailing by three games. Pittsburgh was one-hit in a 4-0 loss to the Cubs Sunday night, while St. Louis' Trevor Rosenthal blew a save against the Brewers. The banged-up Cardinals have lost two of three, and star catcher Yadier Molina (thumb) was scheduled to be re-examined with hopes of returning for the postseason.
The Giants trail the Dodgers by six games in the NL West with seven left to play, but can chip into that lead as they open a four-game set at home against Los Angeles. San Francisco leads the season series 9-6 - including 6-0 at AT&T Park - but face Zack Greinke on Monday before Clayton Kershaw opposes Madison Bumgarner Tuesday. Greinke has won both his starts against San Francisco this season. Jake Peavy pitches for the Giants.
Fresh off taking two of three from the first-place Rangers, the Astros continue their pursuit of an AL West title as they play at Seattle. Rookie Lance McCullers hasn't won since July 29 but has made a quality start in five of his past six outings, including a nine-strikeout performance against the Angels his last time out. Houston is 2 1/2 games behind Texas.
The Nationals hope the only fireworks will be of the postgame variety as they play their final home game of the season, a makeup of a July 8 rainout against the Reds. Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon fought in the dugout during Washington's 12-5 loss to the Phillies on Sunday, something for which Papelbon apologized for postgame. ''I'm in the wrong there,'' Papelbon said. ''For me, I can't allow that to happen in the middle of a game.''
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
The Twins and Indians open a series as both teams try to gain ground in the crowded AL wild-card race. Minnesota is 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the final spot, while Cleveland is four games back of the Astros. Corey Kluber is tied for the AL lead with 15 losses after winning the AL Cy Young award last year.
INSIDE LOOKING OUT
The Royals and Cubs make up a May 30 rainout at Wrigley Field with both teams already assured of postseason berths. Kansas City has locked up the AL Central, but is limping to the finish with a 9-15 record this September. The Cubs are most likely headed for the NL wild-card game and are hoping to edge out Pittsburgh - or possibly St. Louis - for hosting rights in the contest.