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Big League Stew

The Juice: Boston tries on spoiler role with late win over Yankees, Oakland wins fifth straight

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

The Juice is going strong in its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

Boston stranglers: The Red Sox may have long since booked their early October tee times, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy the 19th hole while looking at a couple of mounts on their wall. Yes, Boston is in a unique position to play spoiler these last three weeks with six games apiece scheduled against the Yankees, Orioles and Rays. Their party pooping tour even started off pretty well on Tuesday night with Jacoby Ellsbury's ninth-inning single giving the Red Sox a happy 4-3 victory at Fenway Park.

''With the Yankees in town, they're battling for a (playoff) spot and at this point we can just go out and try to play spoiler,'' left fielder Cody Ross told reporters. ''We don't care who we play. We just want to win.''

OK, so spending the last month dragging rival teams down to your level isn't what Red Sox fans signed up for. But at least it's something to watch over these last dying days and here's guessing Red Sox fans didn't mind seeing the Yankees slip back into a tie for first place after the Baltimore Orioles started their series against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 9-2 win. An even better thought: Fans of all three of those teams are going to be put in the awkward position of rooting for the Red Sox when they're not playing them. Is that "Sweet Caroline" we hear being hummed near the Inner Harbor this morning? 

Traffic jam ahead: Those of us rooting for mass chaos in the race for the NL's second wild card had everything go our way on Tuesday night when the Phillies beat the Marlins, Brewers beat the Braves and Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers, a squad that remains in front of all three. Meanwhile, the Pirates fell to the Reds and the Cardinals lost to the Padres, causing both of those teams to lose ground in the race. All six teams are now within five games of each other with the Phillies and Brewers just four out. The wins by both of those teams allowed each to reach .500 for the first time in a long while — Philadelphia hadn't been at even steven since June 4 while Milwaukee hadn't been there since April 24.

Narrow escape: Give a gold star to Oakland reliever Jerry Blevins, who induced a double play from Howie Kendrick to end a late threat and give the A's a 6-5 win over the Angels in Anaheim.

''So far, it's the best moment of my career, and the most exciting,'' Blevins told reporters. ''It even trumps my debut.''

The win guaranteed Oakland at least a split of this four-game series against the Angels and increased their wild-card lead over the Halos to a big four-game margin. The A's, winners of five straight, also hold a two-game lead over the two teams (Baltimore and New York) that are leading the AL East and are still just three games behind the Rangers in the AL West. They'll play Texas seven more times before the season is done.

Fisted! The Detroit Tigers evened their series with the Chicago White Sox at a game apiece after Doug Fister threw seven dominating innings in a 5-3 win at U.S. Cellular Field. Despite giving up a pair of early solo shots to Dewayne Wise and Gordon Beckham, Fister retired his last 14 batters to continue being the type of No. 2 starter the Tigers need him to be. He's 7-2 in 11 starts since the All-Star break. Chicago's lead in the AL Central is now two.

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Quote of the day

''A hundred wins would be nice. A hundred wins would be a beautiful thing. I think it would be a great accomplishment.''

— Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips after the Reds' 5-3 win over the Pirates. With the team currently standing at 86 wins, they'd need to go 14-5 over their final 19 games.

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Photo of the day: Hot doggin'

View photo

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(AP)

The hot dog is the only Milwaukee racing sausage missing from the photo above so I'm forced to conclude that serving as a honorary wiener is part of the Brewers' going-away gift to Chipper Jones this week. The Brewers won their second game in as many days over the Braves, taking a 5-0 win behind homers from Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez.

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Three facts for the water cooler

• Bryce Harper went 4 for 5 in Washington's 5-3 victory over the New York Mets and became the first teenager to collect four hits in a game since Andruw Jones did it in 1996.

Seattle's 4-3 victory over Toronto was their 68th of the season, one more win than they posted in 2011.

• The San Francisco Giants are 20-7 on the road since the All-Star break. Their 9-8 win at Coors Field increased their NL West lead to six games over the Dodgers.

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