Wednesday brings us a nearly full 14-game slate of big league action -- the Diamondbacks and Rangers are enjoying an off-day -- as the postseason races really begin to heat up. Aside from the AL East and AL Central, every division race is separated by no more than two games. Intrigue! Here is everything you need to know about Wednesday's MLB action.

Wednesday's scores

Cardinals win eighth in a row

The Cardinals kept the good times rolling with a win over the Nationals. Austin Gomber twirled six shutout innings for the hosts, and Harrison Bader tallied three hits, including a double. As is so often the case, Bader also made an impact with his glove ... 

Bader's put up good numbers at the plate, but it's his defense and to a lesser extent his baserunning that have made him one of the top rookies of 2018. As for Bader's Cardinals, they're now 11 games above .500 and just one game back of the Brewers and Phillies in the NL wild-card chase. They're also now 19-9 since manager Mike Shildt took over for Mike Matheny. 

On the other side, the Nationals, losers of four straight, have slipped below the .500 mark since July 29. Their current straits are less than enviable ... 

These two teams will wrap up their four-game set on Thursday night.

Dodgers overcome continued bullpen struggles to snap losing streak

Hyun-jin Ryu came off the DL (groin) to make his first start since May 2, and he thrived: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 6 SO, 0 BB. However, the bullpen struggles that have plagued the Dodgers ever since Kenley Jansen was sidelined with a rapid heartbeat continued ... 

This time it was an Andrew McCutchen three-run homer that turned a 3-0 Dodgers lead in the eighth into a 3-3 tie ... 

However, that same maligned bullpen fended off further damage, and in the 12th a Brian Dozier sac fly plated Yasmani Grandal with the winning run. With that, the Dodgers' five-game losing streak was over. Those bullpen concerns, however, probably aren't going anywhere, at least until Jansen and a few others get healthy. 

Astros snap losing streak in big way

The Astros bombed the Rockies and in doing so ended their five-game skid overall and their nine-game losing streak at home. That in tandem with the A's loss in extras on Wednesday (see below) means Houston's lead in the AL West is back to two games.

In this one, starter Gerrit Cole was dominant across six innings. Over that span, he allowed one run and struck out 12. Speaking his prodigious strikeout total ... 

Those 219 strikeouts tie him with Chris Sale for the AL lead.

On offense, Evan Gattis stands out. He racked up three hits, two of which were homers. That gives him 23 home runs on the season to go with a .491 SLG. (Never mind, for the moment, the sub-.300 OBP.) Elsewhere, Carlos Correa, who recently returned from a lengthy stay on the DL, recorded his first extra-base hit since June 22.

Mariners avoid sweep in Oakland

It's probably too early to call this one a must-win for Seattle, but had they lost they would've been swept by the A's to put them 4 1/2 games out of the second AL wild-card spot. Instead, they're 2 1/2 games back and still have seven head-to-head games against Oakland. 

Wednesday's contest was a pitcher's duel, and then some. Starters Mike Leake and Brett Anderson combined for 15 2/3 scoreless innings, and Leake permitted just two hits in his eight frames of work (he now boasts a sub-4.00 ERA for the season).

The score remained 0-0 until the top of the 12th, when an unlikely Seattle power source came through with the decisive homer ... 

Yep, that's light-hitting Dee Gordon, and that's just his second home run of the season. That's also just his 12th over-the-fence home run in his career -- a career that spans 3,270 at-bats. On that note ... 

On base ahead of Gordon? That would be Mike Zunino, who drew his 15th walk of the season. Elsewhere, linchpin Jean Segura had four hits, and Robinson Cano went 2 for 5 in his second game back from suspension. 

Coming into this one, the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) gave the Mariners just a 20.8 percent chance of making the season. This big win, though, will nudge that needle a little more in the right direction. 

Marlins drill red-hot Acuna with first pitch

The Marlins and Braves played the final game of their four-game set in Atlanta on Wednesday night, and Braves phenom Ronald Acuna came in on a historically rare hot streak. The 20-year-old has homered in five straight games, and he's led off the last three games with a homer. More to point, he homered twice against the Marlins on Tuesday night. 

All of that from a rookie begat this from Miami starter Jose Urena ... 

Read more about the drilling as well as what happened next right here.

Smith paces Rays in win over Yankees

Ryan Yarbrough worked four shutout relief innings for the Rays in their win over the Yankees, and Mallex Smith continued his big season. The Tampa center fielder came into this with a 120 OPS+ and 25 stolen bases, and then he went 3 for 5 against the Yanks with a double and a homer out of the leadoff spot. Coincidentally, the Rays acquired Smith and Yarbrough in the same trade, aJanuary 2017 swap that sent Drew Smyly to the Mariners. 

Even with the loss, the Yankees remain on pace for 101 wins. 

Nimmo remains bright spot for Mets

The Mets are bad, but the Orioles are worse. That explains the Mets' win over the Orioles on Wednesday night. This also explains it: 

Yep, Nimmo went 5 for 5 with two doubles and a triple. He's now batting .263/.387/.503 in this, his age-25 campaign.

Archer makes third start with Pirates

Three starts into his Pirates career, Chris Archer sports a 5.65 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. He's been a bit uneven since the trade deadline. The Twins tagged him for four runs in five innings Wednesday afternoon.

Chris Archer
SP •
August 15 vs. Twins
IP5
H6
R4
ER4
BB0
K7

The Pirates paid a hefty price to acquire Archer -- 2017 first rounder Shane Baz was sent to the Rays as the player to be named later earlier this week -- and he is under control through the 2021 season, so of course it would be silly to judge the trade after three starts.

That said, Archer does have a 4.14 ERA in his last 512 2/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2016, and that is as close to league average as it gets. The Pirates are hoping he can again become the ace-caliber starter he was from 2013-15, or at least something close to it, and soon.

Cubs continue head-to-head success vs. Brewers

The Cubs' 8-4 win over the Brewers in Wrigley on Wednesday means they've split the two-game mini-series and thus have maintained the three-game lead they had in the division coming in.

The win -- powered by Jason Heyward's three hits and some strong bullpen work -- means the Cubs are now 9-4 against the Brewers this season. Framed another way, the Cubs are 60-46 when not playing the Brewers, while the Brewers are 64-46 when not playing the Cubs. Those head-to-head encounters -- of which there are six more left on the schedule -- have made all the difference thus far in the NL Central.

If the Brewers want to win the division, then they need to flip that script in those remaining six games against the Cubs.

Ramos thrives in Phillies debut

Prior to the trade deadline the Phillies swung a last minute trade with the Rays to acquire catcher Wilson Ramos. Ramos was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury at the time -- he'd been out since before the All-Star break -- and, on Wednesday, he finally joined his new team.

Activated off the DL and in the lineup against the mighty Red Sox, Ramos came up big ... 

Wilson Ramos
DET • C • 40
vs. BOS, 8/15
PA4
H3
2B2
3B1
RBI3
R3
View Profile

Now that's a nifty debut and then some ... 

On the season, Ramos is now batting .303/.351/.505, which, obviously, is outstanding production for a catcher. As for Ramos' new team, it's Aug. 15 and already they've equaled their 2017 win total. 

Quick hits

  • In a cash trade with the Royals, the Cubs acquired speedster OF Terrance Gore. Kansas City has used Gore as their postseason pinch-runner extraordinaire the last few years. Chicago figures to do the same.
  • The Mariners placed LHP James Paxton on the 10-day DL with a forearm contusion, the team announced. He was hit by a line drive Tuesday. RHP Felix Hernandez is expected to rejoin the rotation and take Paxton's spot.
  • Brewers GM David Stearns said RHP Jimmy Nelson is "running out of time" to return this season, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Nelson has been sidelined since having shoulder surgery last September.
  • Braves RHP Brandon McCarthy will retire after the season, he told MLB.com's Mark Bowman. "I'm done after this," he said. McCarthy is currently out with a knee injury and, once healthy, he will try to pitch out of the bullpen the rest of the year. 
  • Speaking of retirements, Tigers DH Victor Martinez says he's "pretty sure" he'll retire at season's end. Read more here.
  • The Yankees still aren't sure when OF Aaron Judge will be able to return from his fractured right wrist. Get the details here.
  • Astros pitching prospect RHP Francis Martes will undergo Tommy John surgery, the team announced. He has a 6.41 ERA in 19 2/3 Triple-A innings this year. Montas was one of the best pitching prospects in baseball going into last season.

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