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The Juice: Cards nudge Dodgers further from wild card, Indians wreck Rangers victory plans

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Oh, what a feeling! Toy-ota! (AP)

The Juice is back for 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.

Not too wild: The NL wild-card race seems to be one giant regression marathon. First one to back in wins! Somebody between the Cardinals and Dodgers has to get well, and it was St. Louis taking the first of four at Chavez Ravine by the robust score of 2-1 on Thursday. Mountain man Lance Lynn hadn't beaten anybody since July 27, but he pitched like his first-half self, allowing a run and five hits over six innings. Josh Beckett was OK for the Dodgers, but nobody else was OK for the Dodgers, who lost their fourth straight to slip two games behind the Cards in the playoff race. 

No one expects the Cleveland interruption!: The Indians have been awful in the second half, and Rangers closer Joe Nathan has been lights out for five months. So, naturally, the Tribe roughed him up for three runs in a stunning 5-4 victory at le Ballpark du Arlington. Ezekiel Carrera led off the ninth with a home run to bring the Indians within a run, and Jason Kipnis lined a two-run homer for the lead. Nathan had converted 31 straight saves; his only other blown save came April 11. Cleveland, which snapped a five-game losing streak, improved to 16-43 since the All-Star break. 

Late revenge for the 1980 NLCS: The Philadelphia Phillies will not win the rest of their games and run away with a playoff spot in the NL tournament. Well, they could, but it would have to be starting Friday. Regardless, their seven-game winning streak was snapped by the Houston ... wait, the Houston Astros? Pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie contributed a two-run double in the deciding three-run eighth inning of a 6-4 victory. It wasn't played at the Astrodome, sadly, but whenever these teams engage, I always think of Jose Cruz sitting in the dugout at the Astrodome after the Phillies beat Houston in a legendary Game 5 of the NLCS.

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Quote of the Day:

"I'm fine. Everything's good," — Derek Jeter, after being asked for the billionth time about his aching left ankle. He contributed an RBI single in New York's 2-0 victory at Boston. It was his 3,283rd hit, tying Willie Mays. Wow! Willie Mays.

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Photo of the Day: Somebody better go and raise Cain.

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(AP)

I'm not sure what the Royals are doing here, but it doesn't look right. Actually, outfielder Lorenzo Cain injured his right hamstring making a diving attempt on the ball in the 10th inning. Jeff Francoeur backed him up nicely, but Alexi Casilla made it to second base for a leadoff double. Denard Span later brought him in with the winning run in a 5-4 Twins victory. Oh, I liked this photo better when I knew less about its context.

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler

• The Orioles assured themselves of a .500 record for the first time in 14 years with a 3-2 victory in 14 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was Baltimore's 13th straight win in extra innings, which is ridiculous. The O's, who completed a three-game sweep, stayed in a first-place tie with the Yankees.

• The White Sox did not lose to the Tigers. Nor did they beat them. Their game was rained out. They'll make it up Monday. But Chris Sale won't pitch against Justin Verlander. Sad face.

• The Oakland Athletics had their 12-game road winning streak snapped, 6-0 at the hands (wings?) of the Los Angelheim Angels. Right-hander Jered Weaver, who allowed two hits over seven innings, was just what Dr. Arte Moreno ordered.

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