3:01 AM ET

The Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals played a fascinating game Monday in St. Louis, complete with plot twists, a 31-minute rain delay in the seventh inning, some ugly mistakes and a surprise ending.

The Brewers won 6-4 and combined with the Pittsburgh Pirateswin over the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee ise once again 1½ games back in the NL Central. Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ lead over the Rockies for the second wild card shrunk to a half-game. The NL playoff picture just got a lot more cozy.

Anyway, notes from this game:

— The Brewers started reliever Dan Jennings, but Craig Counsell didn’t even deploy him in the way these “openers” typically have been used. Jennings just faced Matt Carpenter for a lefty-on-lefty matchup and got him to ground out. Freddy Peralta then came on and would pitch the next 3⅔ innings, allowing one run on Carpenter’s RBI double.

The American League might be riding high, but the National League teams that must win or go home will command center stage.

With seven days left to play, only one National League team has clinched a playoff spot. From the races to be decided to

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