The Pirates have gone 23-12 since July 26, and all it has gained them against the Cardinals is one-half game in the standings. Perhaps the recent trend -- losing four in a row, including being swept in Milwaukee -- is somewhat understandable, as it must be draining to play so well and get so little out of it.
As for as the NL Central goes, the Cubs can certainly relate. They've gone 23-10 since July 29, and while it has established them as favorites for the second Wild Card spot, all it has gotten them in the division race is one game. They have gone from 11 1/2 back to 10 1/2 back.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.