Hang on, Cubs fans. A mosquito just might have helped out Chicago in the NL Central race.
The Brewers gave up six runs in the first inning of their 11-4 loss to Cincinnati on Friday night, missing a chance to take over the division lead.
``It all started with a mosquito bite,'' Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.
Yost had been bitten earlier. In the first inning, Milwaukee third-base coach Nick Leyva saw Yost's scratching and thought the manager wanted Gabe Gross to steal third. Gross, who had doubled, was thrown out trying to steal third as Ryan Braun struck out.
``It set the tone for the night. I looked up and saw Gabe coming and thought, 'What the heck is going on?'''
In other NL games Friday, it was Atlanta 7, Washington 1; Florida 6, Philadelphia 3; New York 11, Houston 3; Arizona 4, St. Louis 2; Colorado 10, San Diego 4 and San Francisco 5, Los Angeles 4.
From there, it only got worse for Milwaukee.
Brewers starter Dave Bush (11-10) got shelled in the first inning, Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 30th home run in the second and Yost got ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the third.
Meanwhile, the Cubs lost 6-1 to the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates, a team Milwaukee probably can't expect much more help from as it tries for its first trip to the postseason since 1982.
``It was not a good time for a bad start,'' Bush said. ``We got in a pretty big hole early on. There were a couple of mistakes in there, but not eight runs worth.''
Bush allowed eight runs on nine hits in his single inning of work. Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo (8-14) gave up three runs on five hits and struck out eight.
The Cubs, meanwhile, lost because of another pest - Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny (14-7).
The left-hander had an 0.82 ERA against the Cubs in three career starts. He gave up one run in seven innings on Friday night, sending the Cubs to their fourth loss in five games.
Chicago began a closing stretch in which it plays 16 of the final 23 away from Wrigley Field on the wrong foot. But at least if they lose the division by a game, they won't have a mosquito bite making them think 'What if' the way so many other bizarre twists have.
``Right now, every game counts. We've got 22 games left,'' the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano said. ``We are tied for first place, so hopefully we'll play better tomorrow.''
Braves 7, Nationals 1
In Atlanta, John Smoltz didn't allow a hit through seven innings, but Washington's Ronnie Belliard led off the eighth with a clean single to right, denying him his first no-hitter.
The only pitcher in baseball history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves, Smoltz (13-7) left immediately after the hit, having struck out 10 and walked two. He wound up being charged with a run as well when pinch-hitter Ryan Church doubled to the gap in left-center off Peter Moylan to bring home Belliard with the Nationals' only other hit.
The Nationals put on a ghastly display of defense, committing five throwing errors. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had three. Joel Hanrahan (4-3) took the loss, giving up four hits and four earned runs in 3 1-3 innings.
Marlins 6, Phillies 3
In Philadelphia, Miguel Olivo homered, Byung-Hyun Kim (9-6) struck out seven over six innings and Florida handed Philadelphia its fifth loss in seven games.
Pat Burrell's three-run homer was the only offense for the Phillies, who trail New York by six games in the East. J.D. Durbin (6-5) allowed five runs - two earned - and five hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Mets 11, Astros 3
In New York, Lastings Milledge made a diving catch to help thwart a potential rally, then hit a three-run homer that punctuated New York's rout.
Carlos Beltran homered and drove in two runs, David Wright delivered another big hit and the NL East leaders backed Mike Pelfrey (2-7) with a relentless offensive outburst as they returned home from a 5-5 road trip with a rousing victory. Wandy Rodriguez dropped to 8-13.
Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 2
In Phoenix, Brandon Webb earned his 15th victory and Arizona kept St. Louis from moving into a first-place tie in the NL Central. Adam Wainwright (13-10) took the loss.
Webb (15-10), who had lost his past two after winning six in a row, gave up two runs, including Jim Edmonds' solo homer, on four hits in six innings. Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his major league-best 43rd save in 50 chances.
Rockies 10, Padres 4
In Denver, Kaz Matsui hit a two-run homer and Colorado used several relievers after starter Elmer Dessens left with an injury.
Troy Tulowitzki had two doubles, scored once and drove in two runs. He's hitting .364 since Aug. 7, raising his season average to .293.
The Rockies closed within three games of the wild card-leading Padres, and remained five games back of Arizona in the NL West. Colorado hasn't been this close to the lead at the start of September since 1997.
Dessens left the game with one out in the third inning after straining his left hamstring. The Rockies then used nine relievers - the 10 total pitchers set a franchise record for a nine-inning game. Matt Herges (4-0) won. Justin Germano (7-9) took the loss.
Giants 5, Dodgers 4
Dan Ortmeier hit a game-winning solo home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning off Jonathan Broxton (4-3), and San Francisco ended an 11-game home losing streak to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers blew a chance to gain a game on the Padres in the NL West and wild-card standings, staying 2 1/2 games back of San Diego in both races after the Padres lost 10-4 at Colorado.
James Loney hit his second solo homer of the game to tie it in the top of the ninth off Brad Hennessey (3-4), who picked up the win after blowing his fourth save.
Ortmeier answered with his fifth homer of the year. Pinch-hitter Randy Winn lined a go-ahead single to left in the seventh inning, when the Giants scored three unearned runs to get back into the game.

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