In 1969 a black cat ran onto the field during a game between the Cubs and Mets and was seen as an omen for Chicago's collapse against the soon-to-be Amazin Mets. 38 years later Marlon Anderson might have played the feline role when he slid into Tadahito Iguchi a little too hard on the last play of the Phillies 3-2 win on Wednesday night. Shawn Green was safe at first on the relay, scoring Endy Chavez with the tying run, but the umps called interference and the Phillies held on for their third straight win against the Mets. It was a questionable call, Anderson's foot appeared to have touched the bag, but there was no doubt that he shoved Iguchi on the transition. Making it worse was that it was probably not going to be a double play even if the second baseman got a clean throw off. The Phillies are but three games out of first before today's game closes out the series and have the look of a team that's going to be hard to shake. That's unexpected given the brutal start in Philadelphia, the myriad injuries they've had to overcome and the nearly unanimous belief that the Mets couldn't be stopped in the NL East. If the Mets do blow it, their slide will be personified by Marlon Anderson's.
- The Cubs overtook the Brewers this month despite little production from Carlos Zambrano. If they hope to hold them off they'll need something more from their ace. He finished August 0-4 with a no-decision after giving up nine hits and all six runs in Milwaukee's 6-1 win on Wednesday. The winner was Ben Sheets, fresh from the DL, and the Brewers have to hope that the return of their ace will help them regain the division lead they owned for so much of the season.
- The other Central division is looking less like a race than a drive to coronation for the Cleveland Indians. C.C. Sabathia beat Johan Santana, the third time Minnesota's ace has fallen to the Tribe this year, and the Wigwammers hold a four and a half game lead over the Tigers. The Twins, meanwhile, look finished at eight and a half back after the 4-3 loss. The win was Sabathia's first since August 3 and completed a three-game sweep that has the Sons of Geronimo firmly in control of their own destiny.
- The Angels are showing a similar grasp of things out West. They pounded Felix Hernandez to put an emphatic exclamation point on their sweep of the Mariners in Seattle and the 8-2 win leaves them with a five game lead. The loss halted a six-start unbeaten string for the King and dropped him to 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA against the Angels on the season.
- There's no such clarity in the NL West. The Padres are back on top after Greg Maddux allowed one run over seven innings to stop the Diamondbacks 3-1. That leaves the Friars a percentage point above the Snakes for the division lead and they try for a four-game sweep today.
(AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)