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Big League Stew

The Juice: Carlos Marmol meltdown leads to Mets victory; Torii Hunter hits 300th career home run

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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After winning three games in a row heading into Sunday‘s action at Citi Field, the Chicago Cubs paid the price for their success as regular closer Kevin Gregg needed a day off. That meant manager Dale Sveum had to find a different reliever to protect a 3-0 ninth inning lead and a victory for starter Matt Garza, so he turned to former closer Carlos Marmol.

That proved to be a very bad idea.

The first batter Marmol saw was former teammate Marlon Byrd. He promptly homered to spoil the shutout and make things interesting. Marmol then walked Lucas Duda and allowed a single to John Buck to put the tying runs on base. See where this is headed? Chicago Tribune Cubs reporter Paul Sullivan sure seemed to.

Next, Mets skipper Terry Collins actually attempted to do Marmol a favor by having Omar Quintanilla sacrifice the runners into scoring position, but the erratic right-hander would have none of it. On his 1-1 pitch to the recently recalled Kirk Nieuwenhuis, he gave it all away on a walk-off three-run homer.

It was a no doubter, by the way, off the facing of the upper deck. Mets win 4-3.

Predictable? Perhaps. But certainly no less brutal.

Hunter reaches milestone in Minnesota: If you think about it, it's only appropriate that Torii Hunter would hit his 300th career home run while playing in the Minnesota Twins home ballpark. Of course it probably doesn't feel that way to Twins fans, because Hunter's first inning two-run blast helped Detroit secure a 5-2 victory. Still, the Minnesota faithful showed their respect to one of their franchise's most popular players.

Stephen Strasburg returns to mixed results: In his first start since suffering a strained lat on May 31, Stephen Strasburg was good, but not exactly sharp in holding the Cleveland Indians to one run over five innings. The good was that he didn't allow much solid contact. In fact, the Indians only collected one hit against, a Carlos Santana RBI single in the fourth. Strasburg did create some traffic for himself by walking four, but the Nationals will definitely take it since he looked healthy. Their offense, on the other hand, didn't look so well. They were shutout 2-0 by the combination of Corey Kluber and Vinnie Pestano.

Near disaster for Yankees: Things have been so rough for the New York Yankees on the west coast, even a 6-0 lead in the ninth inning isn't comfortable. That's the position they were in on Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Angels, and it ended up taking a Mariano Rivera strikeout of Albert Pujols with the bases loaded to secure a 6-5 victory. At least they snapped their five-game losing streak in the process.

MORE SCORES

Royals 5, Rays 3: Tampa Bay drops three of four to Kansas City, but reinforcements are on the way as they recalled top prospect Wil Myers following the game.

Reds 5, Brewers 1: Stephen Strasburg wasn't the only ace returning from injury on Sunday. Johnny Cueto took the hill for Cincinnati for the first time since May 31 and tossed six innings of one-run ball for his fourth victory.

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The Marlins are getting a little better at postgame high-fives. (USA Today)

Marlins 7, Cardinals 2: St. Louis drops its first series since April 26-28 (against Pittsburgh) to the worst team in the baseball. Naturally.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 3: This feels like a daily occurrence: Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 23rd home run.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 3: Two starts for Gerrit Cole. Two victories. It can't be that easy, can it?

Astros 5, White Sox 4: Houston completes the weekend sweep and puts Hawk Harrelson on silent for another 24 hours.

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 2: The Rangers have lost six in a row overall and six of seven to the Blue Jays this month. Quite a rough patch they're going through.

A's 10, Mariners 2: Bartolo Colon an all-star? It's possible. He won his sixth decision in a row and improved to 9-2 with seven strong innings against Seattle.

Rockies 5, Phillies 2: Jhoulys Chacin came one out shy of his second career complete game shutout. He ended up recording 26 on only 86 pitches.

Padres 4, Diamondbacks 1: The National League West gets even tighter as four teams are now separated by two games. The odd team out? The Dodgers at 7.5 back.

Braves 3, Giants 0: A nearly spotless game for Atlanta across the board. Starter Julio Teheran was terrific is throwing six scoreless innings, the bullpen followed with three perfect frames, and there was Freddie Freeman again leading the offense with three singles and an RBI.

''We didn't see it. The team we saw is hitting the ball and making good pitches. They have the kind of offense that can make you pay if you make mistakes, and that's what we saw. Regardless of what their record shows, they've got some talent, and they're going about things the right way right now.''

— The manager of the best team in baseball, Mike Matheny, commenting on the worst team in baseball, the Miami Marlins.

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(Roch Kubatko/MASN)

The Baltimore Orioles opened up the outfield so fathers and sons could play a little catch on Father's Day.

threefactsBLS

• Yasiel Puig is tied for second all-time for most hits through the first 13 games of a career. His 23 matches greats such as Joe DiMaggio and Kirby Puckett. Thanks to Elias Sports.

• The Blue Jays have scored 38 runs in seven games against the Rangers this month. The Rangers have scored 39 runs in 15 overall games this month.

• Torri Hunter's first career home run came at Tiger Stadium as a member of the Twins.

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