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Big League Stew

The Juice: Josh Willingham gives Twins fans reason to cheer, Marlins take 20th win in May

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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.

Willingham wins it: With their team mired in a pace that's setting a course for 106 losses, Minnesota Twins fans will have to appreciate the little things this season. One of them came on Tuesday night as Josh Willingham hit a three-run walk-off bomb (above) off Oakland reliever Brian Fuentes for a 3-2 win over the A's at Target Field. What's even better is that Willingham's blast was of the most dramatic variety with the Twins' best offseason pickup coming to the plate with two on, two out and the Twins down by two. It doesn't get much better than that.

Well, perhaps the homer could have been better if it came during a pennant race and lifted the Twins into first. As it was, Willingham's winner only guaranteed that the team would stay tied with the Cubs and Padres with fewest wins in the majors at 17.

But again, this is about the little things!

"You want to be in that situation whether you get a hit or not," Willingham said.''Fortunately I was able to get a hit tonight (but) I've been on the other end several times as well."

Fiery Fish: The streaking Marlins captured a franchise-best 20th win in May with a 3-1 victory over Washington, moving within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Nationals.  Starter Anibal Sanchez remained unbeaten in 19 starts against Washington; he's a lifetime 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA against the Nationals.

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(AP)

Eight was enough: Dan Uggla hit a three-run homer and Michael Bourn added a solo shot as the Braves managed a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals. The win ended an eight-game losing streak that knocked Atlanta from the top of the NL East standings. "It definitely snaps the feeling of, 'Aww, man, are we ever going to win again?'" Uggla said.

Nine would be fine: The Angels won their eighth straight game — a 5-1 triumph over the Yankees — behind Albert Pujols' eighth home run of the season and a strong starting effort from Dan Haren. At 26-25, Los Angeles is over .500 for the first time since opening day and sit just 5 1/2 games behind first-place Texas, which lost to Seattle 10-3 on Tuesday.

Hi, Mom!:  Royals rookie Will Smith ran into some early trouble against the Indians, leading some of us to believe he might again put his mother through the emotional roller coaster she experienced during his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium last week. But no worries, ma! Smith settled down to earn his first career win, allowing only two runs over six solid innings in an 8-2 victory at Progressive Field.

Back to the basics: Cleveland's loss, coupled with Philip Humber's first win since throwing a perfect game, has thrust the White Sox into first place atop the AL Central. Humber had gone 0-2 with an 8.22 in the six starts since his magical game against Seattle, but he's back in the win column after seven strong innings in a 7-2 win over Tampa Bay.

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Quote of the Day:

"You don't want to pitch bad and go outside and see your bobblehead smashed all over the place. I wanted to just keep the game close and hopefully people will go put them in their room instead of the trash.''

— Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija after striking out eight batters in seven innings during a 5-3 win over the Padres. It was Samardzija's bobblehead day at Wrigley Field.

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Photo of the Day: Hello, hello (Hola!). I'm at a place called vertigo!

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Anyone else get queasy after staring at this? (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler

There's still one game in the series left, but the Orioles' 8-6 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre ensured that they'll lose three straight series for the first time all season. Baltimore has dropped seven of nine but still shares first place in the AL East with Tampa Bay.

Nationals starter Edwin Jackson is o-3 over his last eight starts despite posting a 3.17 ERA in that time frame.

The Giants' Melky Cabrera got his 50th hit in the month of May in a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks at AT&T Park. That's the most ever hit in the month of May by someone in a San Francisco uniform. If he collects two more hits in the team's one remaining May game, he'll pass Randy Winn for the most hits by a Giant in any month.

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