MLB scores: Phillies, Indians hurt playoff chances; Contreras and Zobrist keep hitting for Cubs

Thursday provides a bit of an odd schedule for baseball fans, with lots of day action and only one game starting in the 8 p.m. ET hour. None came later. There were definitely some big series, with the Cubs and Brewers squaring off while the Chicago-Wisconsin rivalry gets the big stage over in the NFL. The Twins at Red Sox feels pretty important and if the Nationals hope to pull off the huge comeback and erase a seven-game Braves' lead, it has to start right now with the NL East contenders starting a four-game series (they actually play each other seven times by the end of next week. 

We'll hit on those and much more here in our daily roundup.

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Baseball schedule/scores for Thursday, Sept. 5

Indians in a rut

After trailing by 11 1/2 games, the Indians made a remarkable comeback to take a half-game lead in the AL Central with a victory on Aug. 12. They must have been exhausted after making up all that ground, because it's been all downhill since then. They've gone 9-13 since with seven of those wins coming against the White Sox, Royals and Tigers. 

The loss on Thursday means a four-game split at home against the White Sox, who are now 62-78. 

The offense was held to just one hit by Reynaldo Lopez, who struck out 11 in his complete game and lowered his ERA to a still-robust 5.17. Meantime, the White Sox beat up Indians starter Zach Plesac for six earned runs in five innings. 

Now, the Tribe -- also a half-game out in the wild-card chase after the loss -- has an opportunity because six of their next nine games come against the Twins. They entered play Thursday trailing by 5 1/2 games, though, so anything short of perfection won't be good enough and even then it still might not make up the ground. They've really dug a hole for themselves for the second time this season. 

Hudson does it all for surging Cardinals

In early August, the Cardinals lost all five games on a West coast trip and fell to 58-55. Since then, they've been world beaters. With their blowout win Thursday against the Giants, the Cardinals have gone 7-0-1 in series since then, posting an MLB-best 21-6 record during that stretch. They've taken control of the NL Central have a good shot to win it for the first time since 2015. 

Thursday, Dakota Hudson was the star. The righty worked six scoreless innings and allowed just one hit (a single) to run his record to 15-6 with a 3.40 ERA. He also essentially put the game away with a two-RBI single to make it 7-0 in the third. 

As noted, no team is hotter right now and everything seems to be going their way. 

Returnees pace Cubs

Kyle Schwarber cranked a grand slam against the Brewers on Thursday and thus did the heavy lifting as the Cubs kept pace with the Cardinals in the NL Central. Also doing work was catcher Willson Contreras, who had two doubles and this opposite-field shot: 

Easy power right there. Then there's Ben Zobrist. He went 3 for 3 with two walks and three runs scored against the Brewers. Contreras and Zobrist of course recently returned to the active roster. Contreras missed a month with a hamstring injury, while Zobrist hadn't played since early May because of a family situation. This was each player's second game back. In their first game against the Mariners on Tuesday, Zobrist reached base twice and scored two runs, and Contreras homered, singled, and walked. 

Prior to his injury, Contreras has been one of the most productive catchers in baseball, and he's resumed being just that. While Zobrist appears to have lost some power, he remains a reliable on-base threat with defensive flexibility. With those two back in the fold, Joe Maddon's lineups should flow much better. Things are very interesting in the NL Central. 

Phillies comeback attempt falls short in extras

The Phillies got a game-tying homer from J.T. Realmuto in the eighth: 

But then Phillip Ervin would walk things off for the Reds in the 11th. 

That's a tough one to swallow for the Phillies, who came into the day trailing the Cubs by three games for the second NL wild card. They split the series to the inferior Reds and have a grueling upcoming schedule: 

  • Three at Mets
  • Four vs. Braves
  • Two vs. Red Sox
  • Three at Braves
  • Three at Indians
  • Five at Nationals

All that's left after that gauntlet is closing with three games at home against the Marlins. If they are still in the race, that'll be nice, but the smart money is on those three games not meaning anything. 

Highlight of the day: Trout goes (really) deep

Here's Angels demigod Mike Trout being very rude and unaccommodating toward a Brett Anderson sinker: 

Larduhmighty. That one left the bat at 111.1 mph and covered 455 feet of territory. That's Trout's 45th home run of the season, which ties him with Pete Alonso of the Mets for the MLB lead. Speaking of tying Alonso, Trout, Alonso, and Josh Bell are now tied for the MLB lead with six home runs of at least 450 feet. The one you saw above is somehow just the fourth-longest one Trout has hit this season. 

Marlins pitcher faces brother in MLB debut

While no playoff implications were to be found in Thursday's Marlins-Pirates tilt, it did occasion a pretty cool moment in the first inning. 

Marlins lefty Brian Moran made his major-league debut in relief of Miami starter Elieser Hernandez. The second batter he faced? That would be his brother, Pittsburgh infielder Colin Moran. Here's the run-up: 

And here's the backwards-K to end it: 

Colin Moran ceded the platoon advantage to his bro, but he hung in there for a seven pitch at-bat. Brian Moran hit Josh Bell but retired Melky Cabrera on a deep fly-out to record a scoreless frame in his debut. By the way, this kind of thing hasn't happened in more than a century: 

Brian Moran, you have noticed above, is the older brother, despite his debutant status. He's 30, while younger brother Colin is 26. After being drafted in the seventh round out of North Carolina, Brian spent parts of 10 seasons in the minors before making it to 'The Show'. His 60 strong relief innings for Triple-A New Orleans earned him the September promotion. Regardless of how things unfold from here, the Moran family won't soon forget the baseball events of Thursday night. 

Quick hits

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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