Las Vegas----With the retooled simulation lurching in fits and starts, the Luchadores scored four times in the first against Jon Garland (7-7, 3.86) and the host Anomalies, and won their first game since the All-Star Break on the road in Black Mesa, a one-sided affair that saw a route-going performance by Derek Lowe. Lowe (8-8, 3.62) would give up a late run, but it was unearned, owing to a dropped fly by Matt Holliday. Otherwise, the sinkerballer was in fine form, snapping a three-game losing streak and leading his teammates to their eighth straight win.

Eight straight! The longest streak for any BARB team this season, but no surprise for a team that is hitting .262, while the rest of the moribund Central is averaging .247. Las Vegas has questions about how to best get the ball to Mariano Rivera, and some injuries, but their depth on offense and the versatility of some of their younger players has them positioned for a playoff berth barring any unlikely collapse. At 48-49 (.495), Las Vegas’s nearest competition, Oakeyland, seems to have shot its bolt in the first half and insiders confess not only puzzlement, but dismay at recent trades, notably the one in which the Ballers dealt their first-half closer, Francisco Cordero.

Still, with only a four-and-a-half game lead, the Luchadores are not popping any champagne corks-----yet.

In other BARB action:

WP: Chien-Ming-Wang (5-4, 3.67)
LP: Kelvim Escobar (10-4, 3.75)
SV: Rodriguez (18)

On the trading block, Chien-Ming-Wang combined with Francisco Rodriguez on a four-hitter, and his teammates bunched together four singles, capped by an RBI knock from Bobby Abreu, to score the go-ahead run in the sixth, breaking a 2-2 tie, and the Moabs (52-42) moved within three games of East-leading Worcester.
Incredibly, despite posting the loop’s fourth-best record, Moabs GM Eric Caskey has been shopping his veterans and hinting that any extended losing streak could trigger a youth movement. That’s difficult to credit!

WP: Roy Halladay (9-5, 3.57)
LP: Jose Valverde (4-6, 5.73)

Roy Halladay got all the offense he needed in the first two innings, as the bottom of the Yuma lineup batted around against the Boom Sticks, with Wells, Markakis and Ibanez all homering. SS Dave Eckstein, in his Yuma debut, went 0-for-3 and handled every chance in the field. Halladay, meanwhile, gave his bullpen mates a rest with the big lead, pouring cheese in on the hands and would finish the game, largely scattering eight hits. Yuma has an eight-and-a-half game at the break: start printing those playoff tix!

WP: Brad Penny (6-8, 3.58)
LP: Jeremy Sowers (9-8, 5.74)

Albert Pujols homered twice to extend his BARB-leading total to 33, and Brad Penny worked six solid frames to win his first game back in a Squirrels ‘uni’ and GM Andrew Haynes picked up a game on East-leading Worcester, their eighth in their last ten games since before the break. Sowers, a highly-projected lefty with control, gave up seven runs and has now gone 4-8 with a 6.71 ERA since beginning the year 5-0.

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