Big League Stew

The Juice: Hanley’s late blast lifts Dodgers over Giants, Cardinals homer in five straight innings

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

The Juice is back for its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday (and now on Saturdays) for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

Hanley delivers: The recent acquisition of Hanley Ramirez paid big dividends for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. With their critical division battle against the San Francisco Giants tied at 3 in the 10th, Ramirez muscled up and drove a Sergio Romo offering over the left-field wall for a go-ahead two-run homer. It was his only hit in five trips but obviously could not have come at a more important time for Los Angeles.

''It's why I'm here,'' Ramirez said. ''Manny Mota spoke to me and told me, 'Don't try to do too much. Just do what you know how to do.' Every day he comes and talks to me. I have a lot to learn from him.''

The Giants would mount a moderate threat against closer Kenley Jansen in the bottom half thanks to back-to-back singles from All-Stars Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey to open the frame. But Jansen was able to collect himself quickly and retired the next three in order to preserve the important 5-3 win. That pulls Los Angeles within two games of the Giants in the NL West with two games left in their weekend series.

Wind blowing in?: It sure didn't look like it early on at Wrigley Field, leaving one to wonder just how much worse it could have been for Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood had the wind actually been blowing out in their 9-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. But believe me, it was bad enough as is. In fact, Elias tells us it was historically bad, because Wood became the first pitcher to ever allow a home run in each of the first five innings of a start.

[ Jeff Passan: Angels serve notice by getting Zack Greinke]

It started with Matt Holliday's solo shot in the first. Yadier Molina, Lance Berkman and Matt Carpenter went deep in innings two through four. And then Allen Craig finished the barrage with a solo blast in the fifth. This made the Cardinals the first team to hit a home run in the first five innings since the Houston Astros did it back 0n Oct. 2, 2004 in Colorado.

And we reemphasize, the wind was blowing in at Wrigley Field.

Red Sox find Wally, Ichiro finds new home: The Boston Red Sox apparently were not inspired by the 45-minute disappearance and subsequent safe return of their beloved mascot, Wally the Green Monster, as they dropped a 10-3 decision to their rivals from New York. But hey, on the bright side for Boston, at least it was relatively quick. In fact, at 2 hours, 41 minutes, this was the shortest Yankees-Red Sox game since Sept. 11, 2005.

Making his home debut, Ichiro Suzuki received a warm welcome from the Yankee faithful and then contributed a single and two runs scored. The second run coming on Curtis Granderson's eighth-inning grand slam. Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez each added a two-run homer in the easy victory.

[Tim Brown: Dealing for Matt Garza a real risk after MRI results]

Diamond in the rough: This season has offered few bright spots for the Minnesota Twins, but the one that has shined pretty consistently is rookie left-hander Scott Diamond. The 25-year-old was at his absolute best Friday night at Target Field, notching his first career complete-game shutout and holding the Cleveland Indians to three hits in the Twins 11-0 win.

The incredible outing lowered Diamond's ERA to 2.88 and improved his record 9-4. Solid numbers any way you slice them. On the other side of the coin, this is the fifth time the Indians have been shutout this season, with all five of them coming after June 9. Perhaps they could use a bat?

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Quote of the Day: "Yeah, I noticed but it's all about what have you done for me lately, no matter who you are. That's what it is. There are more fans that are still cheering and encouraging me than the ones that are booing."

"I pray for the ones that are [booing] and I appreciate the support of the other ones."

- Josh Hamilton responds to being booed in his home ballpark during the Rangers' 9-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Hamilton went 0 for 4 in the game with a pair of strikeouts, dropping his July average to .145.

* * *

Photo of the Day: Air Jonny

View photo

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(Presswire)

Jonny Gomes slides home with the first run of the game on Josh Reddick's first-inning triple. Twenty-two runs later (including a six-run ninth inning rally against Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson) Gomes' Oakland A's were 14-9 winners.

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler:

• In his first start since signing a six-year, $144 million contract extension with the Phillies, Cole Hamels issued a career-high six walks and threw his shortest outing of the season in a 6-1 loss to Ben Sheets and the Atlanta Braves. Sheets, by the way, is now 3-0 in three starts with only one earned run allowed.

• With their 7-2 win at Marlins Park, the San Diego Padres extended their road winning streak against Miami to nine. According to Elias, the Padres also currently have a nine-game road winning streak against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yes, those San Diego Padres. This is not a typo.

• After their 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced that newly acquired right-hander Zack Greinke will make his debut on Sunday afternoon.

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