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Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

Just one of those days, says Joe Maddon, who thought other than the poorly pitched eighth inning, his club played another solid game.

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Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cubs' torrid second-half start came to a grinding halt on Friday. In the eighth inning, to be exact. Three relievers combined to put the first 11 Cardinal hitters on in that inning as St. Louis rolled to an 11-4 win. The loss snaps Chicago's six-game winning streak and negates the possibility of the defending champs moving into a virtual tie with Milwaukee atop the NL Central. That would have been the case with a Cubs win and a Brewers loss in Philadelphia tonight.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

Mercifully, the top of the eighth has come to an end. The first 11 Cardinal hitters reached base as St. Louis plated nine runs and now lead 11-3. Carl Edwards Jr. (three runs), Hector Rondon (four) and Justin Grimm (two) all contributed to the carnage. Six hits and six walks in the inning for the St. Louis. That was ugly.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cubs' winning streak may have just blown up in the eighth inning. After Carl Edwards faces three hitters without recording an out, Hector Rondon does him one better -- four hitters faced, zero outs. The Cardinals have four runs, three hits and four walks in the inning. Justin Grimm is on to face Carson Kelly, who will be the third St. Louis batter of the inning to step to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out. It's 6-3 St. Louis.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

Over his last seven outings, Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jur. had pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts. Today he faces three batters -- a Matt Carpenter double, and walks to Tommy Pham and Dexter Fowler -- and leaves the bases loaded with nobody out. Hector Rondon is on to face Jedd Gyorko. Cubs are clinging to a 3-2 lead.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cubs' string of strong starts was continued today by Jake Arrieta. In six innings, he allowed two runs and five hits with six strikeouts and zero walks. This marks just the third start without a walk for Arrieta going back to the beginning of last season.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

Jason Heyward is batting leadoff for the Cubs for the first time all season. That last time he started off in the top spot was June 25 of last season. Before the game, Chicago manager Joe Maddon said that Kris Bryant's absence played into his decision to bat Heyward first.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cubs break on top of the Cardinals early thanks to Willson Contrera's two-run shot into the left-field bleachers off of Carlos Martinez in the first. Martinez is slumping. His 16 homers allowed this year are a career high and he's allowed 14 earned runs in 18 innings so far in July, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

Carson Kelly is in the Cardinals' lineup today after all. Catcher Yadier Molina was a late scratch because of right ankle discomfort. Molina is available to come off the bench if needed.

Ian Begley ESPN Staff Writer 

Marlins second-round draft pick Joe Dunand has had plenty of coaching and instruction during his path to pro baseball. That comes with the territory when you are Alex Rodriguez's nephew. In addition to soaking in advice from A-Rod, Dunand has learned from great coaches at some of the top amateur programs in the country (Gulliver Prep in Miami in high school and N.C. State in college). But there's also a hitting instructor in the Bronx who helped Dunand along the way. Jose Martinez, a youth coach in New York City, helped Dunand with his swing as a young teen and has helped countless other young players perfect their swing. Martinez, a former scout who runs The Art of Hitting program, is proud to see Dunand reach his goal of playing professionally. "I'm so happy for him," said Martinez, who has also worked with MLBer Pedro Alvarez.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cardinals recalled catching prospect Carson Kelly on Friday morning, though he is not in the starting lineup for this afternoon's game against the Cubs. Kelly went 2 for 13 in his first shot at the majors last season. The converted third baseman was hitting .283/.375/.459 at Triple-A Memphis. He slotted as the No. 27 overall prospect in the game in Keith Law's midseason rankings.

Christina Kahrl MLB Staff Writer 

Seeing the Cardinals trade Marco Gonzales ( ranked No. 12 in Keith Law's preseason Cards prospect rankings) for the Mariners' Tyler O'Neill (just missed the top 100, M's No. 2 prospect preseason) is a pretty interesting prospect challenge trade. Gonzales could help the Mariners' rotation right now.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

Did the breather that comes with the All-Star break help the surging Cubs hit the reset button? Maybe, maybe not. But Joe Maddon loves the way his team has played over the last week.

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