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Cubs Do Nothing, Gain Ground On Pirates And Giants

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The Cubs certainly enjoyed their day off when they heard about the results of their wild-card competition's games.

David Banks/Getty Images

For those of you who were on the ledge after the Cubs lost two of three to the Reds, I think you can come back in now, because the Pirates got swept by the Brewers in Milwaukee.

The sweep moved the Cubs to within four games of the Pirates for the top wild-card spot, and dropped Pittsburgh to 33-32 on the road. That's one more reason it would be great to pass them and take that top wild-card spot and have the wild-card game at Wrigley.

In case you were wondering, if the Cubs and Pirates wind up tied for the two wild-card spots, the tiebreaker for home field is head-to-head play during the season. The Cubs are 7-5 against the Pirates so far this year with seven games remaining. The Cubs need to win just three of the seven games to clinch the season series. (Of course, we hope they win many more than that.)

The Giants also lost Thursday (and gave up 11 runs and 19 hits) to a pretty mediocre Rockies club. The Giants are now 31-38 on the road and still have three more games left to play in Denver. The Cubs now lead the Giants by seven games going into Friday's action and their magic number to clinch a wild-card spot is 23.

Here are the remaining games for the three top wild-card contenders, as well as the Cardinals, who lead the N.L. Central.

Cubs (30: 13 home, 17 road)

Diamondbacks (3), at Cardinals (3), at Phillies (4), at Pirates (4), Cardinals (3), Brewers (3), Pirates (3), Royals (1), at Reds (3), at Brewers (3)

Pirates (30: 14 home, 16 road)

at Cardinals (3), at Reds (3), Brewers (4), Cubs (4), at Dodgers (3), at Rockies (4), at Cubs (3), Cardinals (3), Reds (3)

Giants (28: 16 home, 12 road)

at Rockies (3), at Diamondbacks (3), Padres (3), Reds (3), Diamondbacks (3), at Padres (3), at Athletics (3), Dodgers (4), Rockies (3)

Cardinals (29: 13 home, 16 road)

Pirates (3), Cubs (3), at Reds (4), at Brewers (3), at Cubs (3), Reds (3), Brewers (4), at Pirates (3), at Braves (3)

The Giants would seem to have a fairly easy road here, at least once they finish their road trip to Denver and Phoenix. They'll play most of their remaining games at home, where they play much better (38-27) than away from San Francisco. On the other hand, they still have three left in Colorado, where they are 3-4. They are 6-7 this year against the D'backs, in a weird split. The Giants have won five of six in Arizona, but are 1-6 against the D'backs at home. So go figure.

This weekend, since the Cubs are now trailing the Cardinals by 10½ games and have only a remote chance of winning the division title, it would be good for the Cubs if the Cardinals swept the Pirates. Note that I didn't say you have to root for the Cardinals to win. Perhaps rooting for the Pirates to lose would work for you.

A little more than four weeks to go. Remember what playoff-race baseball feels like? We'll have a lot of it in the upcoming days and weeks.