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It's a big week for Cubs

The Cubs could be getting hot at the right time. Starting tonight, they'll play their next seven games against teams they're battling with in the NL wild-card race.

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20hSteve Wulf

How MLB deflated potential equipment scandal

Remember The Great Glove Grapple of 1990? Probably not, because unlike the NFL with Deflategate, MLB took the air out of rampant mitt growth without creating controversy, Steve Wulf writes.

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Waiver trade deadline candidates (2:31)
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Bryant: 'It was just a hard play' (0:40)
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Tensions high in Cincinnati (0:20)
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Web Gems (1:03)

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Conforto's 1st career homer puts Mets up

LF Michael Conforto hit a 3-run homer to right to open the scoring in Miami. That's good news for New York starter Bartolo Colon, who is 0-6 with a 6.16 ERA in his last 7 starts. Follow live

Belt, Crawford hit back-to-back homers

Both long balls were opposite-field, and both were solo shots with two outs to give the Giants a 2-0 lead against the Braves in the second. Brandon Belt now has 13 homers this season, and Brandon Crawford upped his total to 17. Follow live

Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN

Wonder why Andrew McCutchen didn't get a bigger lead against Lester. Thrown out stealing. 0-0, Cubs-Pirates, on ESPN.

Not this time, Cutch

Entering the game, 30 of 36 baserunners have stolen successfully off Jon Lester. But Cubs C David Ross threw out Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen at second to end the first and keep it scoreless heading into the second inning. Live on ESPN/WatchESPN

Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs

Jon Lester starts Aug. like he ended July. He had 50 k's last month, most in majors and most for a Cub in July since F. Jenkins in 1970

Mets playing in unfamiliar territory

New York takes the field tonight vs. the Marlins with at least a share of first place for the first time this late in a season since Sept. 19, 2008. Tonight's pitching matchup: Bartolo Colon (Mets) vs. Tom Koehler (Marlins). Follow live

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

First place at stake for sliding Nationals

After getting swept by the Mets, Washington is at risk of falling out of the top NL East spot for the first time since June 19. SP Doug Fister can make ensure that that doesn't happen with a win vs. the Diamondbacks tonight. Follow live

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Watch: Cubs at Pirates, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

Get a glimpse of two teams battling for postseason positioning as Pittsburgh (leads first wild card) hosts Chicago (tied for second wild card) tonight. Live on ESPN/WatchESPN

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Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs

Now a heavy sun shower. And the tarp comes quickly back on. Still kind of sunny on one side of the field. Good chance at short delay now

Jason Kipnis headed to disabled list

The Indians 2B has been placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation, and Cleveland recalled IF Jose Ramirez from Triple-A Columbus.

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In pursuit of the wild card

With Chicago tied with San Francisco for the second NL wild card, the next seven games are huge for the Cubs; they play three in Pittsburgh starting at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, then they go back home for a four-game series vs. the Giants.

Burnett hoping to pitch again this season

After an MRI on his pitching elbow showed a strain flexor tendon rather than a torn ligament, Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett said: "I'm going to do everything I can to make it back." He was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday and reiterated he's retiring at the end of the season.

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Aaron Boone @aboone17

Tarp removal here in Pittsburgh. Should be good to go for our 7:00et game on #ESPN. #Cubs/#Buccos. Join us

Pete Rose hopeful for HOF eligibility

"I'm the one who made the mistake. If I'm ever given a second chance, I'll be the happiest guy in the world," Rose told a crowd during a radio appearance with the Carmen & Jurko Show on ESPN 1000 this afternoon.

AP Photo/J. Walter Green

Bryant in lineup, lesson learned

Kris Bryant left Sunday's game early with dizzyness after bumping his head into an opponent on a headfirst slide. Bryant is batting 3rd tonight vs. the Pirates (7 p.m. ET on ESPN), and said he won't be sliding headfirst in the future.

AP

Price impresses in Blue Jays debut

An 8-inning, 11-strikeout gem is a good way to introduce yourself to a new fan base. That's what David Price did today in Toronto's 5-1 win.

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Jerry Crasnick @jcrasnick

The top 3 National League rookies in OPS: 1) Randal Grichuk (.902); 2) Ben Paulsen (.847); 3) Maikel Franco (.823).

Jerry Crasnick @jcrasnick

The Joc Pederson vs. Kris Bryant NL ROY narrative has taken a hit with both players going through extended slumps.

White Sox call up a Thompson

Trayce Thompson, brother of Warriors guard Klay Thompson, joins Chicago today from Triple-A Charlotte. Thompson, an outfielder, earned his promotion by hitting .260 with 23 doubles, 13 HRs and 39 RBIs at Triple-A.

Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images