With two games remaining in the regular season, three teams are battling for the top seed in the Eastern Baltimore County Over-40 Baseball League.
The Cubs (9-2), after opening the season with an 8-0 record, lost for the second time in three games to reduce its lead to a half-game over the Astros (8-2).
The Rays (7-4) edged the Cubs 9-8 on Sunday at Dundalk High School.
The Cardinals (8-3) defeated the Diamondbacks 11-8 on Sunday at Patapsco High School to remain in third place, a game behind the Cubs.
The Cubs finish the season with a game against the Padres (1-9) on Sunday at Patapsco and another game against the Padres on July 28 at Dundalk High.
Should the Padres pull off an upset or two, the Astros will try to take advantage while playing the Diamondbacks (2-9) on Sunday at Martindale Park and the Dodgers (6-4) on July 28 at Martindale Park.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, play the Royals (6-4) on Sunday at the Post 38 American Legion Field and have a bye the last week of the regular season.
Then again, all three teams could be battling for an empty prize. Ask the defending league champion Royals, who won the title last season after entering the playoffs as the sixth seed with a 7-6 record.
The Royals may also be peaking at the right time this season. After starting the season 0-3, the Royals have won six of eight games and finish the season against the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks.
This, despite "struggling from week to week to get nine players together," Royals manager Jeff Patti said after his team whipped the Padres 14-2 on Sunday at Martindale Park.
The Royals took a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning with an error, walk, a hit batter and an RBI single by Patti.
The score remaining 2-0 until the fourth inning, when the Royals added three runs on a walk, single, and RBI hits by Nick Cheseldine, Steve Jackson and Ryan Moran.
The Royals put the game out of reach by scoring four runs in the sixth inning and three runs in the seventh.
All four runs in the sixth inning scored after there were two outs.
Patti got things started with an RBI single up the middle. Another run scored on a passed ball, then there was an RBI single by Paul Cerebelli and a triple by Scott Felton.
The seventh inning featured another two-out rally. Two runs scored on bases-loaded walks, and the third on a single by Moran.
The Padres had a chance to get back in the game when their first two batters reached base in the top of the fourth inning with the score still 2-0.
Royals pitcher Patti retired the next three batters on a fly ball and two grounders to shortstop.
The Padres averted a shutout with an RBI single by Tony Johnston in the sixth inning and a Royals error in the seventh.