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Big League Stew

The Juice: Braves smother Philly’s last shred of optimism, Kershaw seals sweep of Giants

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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A strange word combo: Halladay hangs head(AP)

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Phils get reality checked: If Fightins' fans were harboring any hopes of making a charge back into postseason contention, that optimism was roundly squashed and stomped by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field over the weekend. The second-place Braves swept the Phillies for the second time this month with a 6-2 victory on Sunday. Last-place Philadelphia now trails first-place Washington by a season-high 16.5 games in the NL East standings. They're 12.5 games out of a wild-card spot.

With the Phillies' lost season pretty much official, it would stand to reason their roster will be among the most perused as rival GMs try to stock up before Tuesday's trading deadline. ("I think where we're at speaks for itself," manager Charlie Manuel told reporters.) Hunter Pence already got himself a nice ride of the rumor treadmill early Monday morning with a report that the Giants had a deal in place for the outfielder. Though that whisper was soon denied by team officials, the main message seems clear: Ruben Amaro Jr.'s phone lines are now wide open — if they weren't already before.

Dodgers catch Giants: San Francisco, of course, has needed another bat in that lineup for quite awhile now. But they were desperately reminded why at AT&T Park on Sunday as Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers sealed a sweep with a 4-0 shutout. The Giants failed to score in either of the final two games of the series, allowing Los Angeles to turn Friday's three-game deficit into a tie for the NL West lead by Sunday evening. Kershaw allowed only five hits and walked only one in his second shutout of the season.

Reds red hot: Cincinnati pushed its winning streak to 10 with a 7-2 win over a memory-challenged Rockies squad. The victory earned the vainglorious Marty Brennaman a Friday date with the sheep shears.

Walkoff at Wrigley: The Cubs will still be sellers the next two days, but rookie Anthony Rizzo made sure the week started off with an actual baseball highlight.

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Quote of the Day

"We'll take bloops. We need them."

— Boston manager Bobby Valentine, moments after Pedro Ciriaco's RBI single fell in for a 3-2 win on Sunday night. The victory earned Boston a series win and moved the team's record to 51-51.

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Photo of the Day: All the king's men

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(AP)

If only the Mariners bullpen could've been as supportive of Felix Hernandez on Sunday. The Seattle ace pitched well for his hive of fans at Safeco Field, giving up only two runs to the Kansas City Royals over seven innings of work. And yet he lost out on the win when the bullpen allowed four runs over the next two innings. Still, the Mariners were able to scratch out a 7-6 victory that gave the team its first four-game sweep at home since 2001.

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Three facts for the water cooler

• Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen struck out 12 Oakland batters in a 6-1 victory at Camden Yards, setting a single-game MLB record for a Taiwanese-born pitcher. The previous record was held by Chien-Ming Wang (10).

• Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman has won five straight decisions after throwing eight scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the White Sox. He started the year with an 0-6 record.

• That's nine losses in the last 10 games for the Brewers. John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez each allowed three runs as Milwaukee lost to Washington 11-10 in 11 innings. Tweeted Axford: "This is absolutely inexplicable and bordering on insane."

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