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The bubble appeared ready to burst on the Reds' resurgence just three weeks ago when they were swept at home by the Cardinals in a three-game showdown for the National League Central lead.

That dropped the Reds two games behind and the Cardinals, the defending division champions, seemed poised to pull away. However, the Reds have not only hung in since the sweep but have taken control of the division as they now have a five-game lead.

The Reds have a chance to break the race open this weekend when they visit the Cardinals for a three-game at St. Louis that begins Friday night and will mark the final meeting of the regular season between the teams.

The Reds have improved their hopes of reaching the postseason more than other team in the major leagues over the last two weeks according to Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report. The Reds now have an 89.9 percent chance of getting to the postseason, an increase of 41.0 percentage points over their 58.9 chance on Aug. 16. They're in fantastic position to reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years.

Right fielder Jay Bruce and first baseman Joey Votto led the surge in the past two weeks as the Reds went 8-4. Bruce hit .385/.457/.897 with six home runs and Votto batted .356/.420/.667 with four homers. Bronson Arroyo went 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts.

Here are top five gainers:

 

Team

Odds on 8/30

Odds on 8/16

Net Gain

Reds

89.9

58.9

41.0

Rays

92.0

75.2

16.8

Twins

91.0

78.7

12.3

Padres

94.3

84.1

10.2

Braves

90.1

83.6

6.5

James Shields won all three starts with a 2.75 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings as the Rays went 9-4 and improved their chances by 16.8 percentage points. Matt Garza was 2-0 with 0.83 ERA in three starts, closer Rafael Soriano had six saves and third baseman Evan Longoria hit .373/.415/.765 with four home runs.

The Twins continued to rise, improving their hopes by 12.3 percentage points while going 7-6. Scott Baker won both of his starts with a 2.95 ERA.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez went deep five times as the Padres upped their aspirations by 10.2 percentage points with a 7-6 record. Left-hander Clayton Richard (1.33 ERA) and Jon Garland (2.41) both went 2-1 in three starts.

Right fielder Jason Heyward continued his Rookie of the Year push by hitting .367/.459/.612 as the Braves went 7-6 and improved their chances by 6.5 percentage points. Left-hander Mike Minor won his first two major-league starts with a 3.75 ERA and utility infielder Omar Infante hit .345/.400./673 with four homers.

With the Reds surging, it comes as no surprise that the Cardinals suffered the biggest blow to their post-season chances in the last two weeks, losing 32.7 percentage points as they dropped to 40.9 from 73.6 while going 4-8. Adam Wainwright stayed stuck on 17 wins as he lost all three starts and had a 5.21 ERA and Jake Westbrook lost both his starts with a 5.25 ERA.

The five biggest losers in the last two weeks:

 

Team

Odds on 8/16

Odds on 8/30

Net Loss

Cardinals

73.6

40.9

32.7

Giants

43.2

21.8

21.4

White Sox

24.8

9.6

15.2

Red Sox

30.3

17.9

12.4

Angels

2.4

0.3

2.1

Poor pitching also caused the Giants to take a 21.4 percentage point hit as lefty Barry Zito went 0-4 with an 11.47 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance, and reigning two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum lost both his starts with a 6.33 ERA.

The White Sox lost 15.2 percentage points while going 5-7 and hope that the acquisition of Manny Ramirez from the Dodgers on a waiver claim can provide a much-needed spark in their DH spot.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.