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Big League Stew

The Juice: Kemp stings Cardinals with winning 2-run homer in 9th

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Nine innings, nine items to get you going. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.

1. Holy reverse Jack Clark/Tom Niedenfuer in 1985 NLCS! OK, that's not really fair. Back in 1985 (as Uncle Rico would tell you), legend has it that Tommy Lasorda should have pitched around St. Louis slugger Jack Clark at the fateful moment in the NLCS when things swung the Cardinals way. Instead, Clark hit a memorable home run, turning out the lights on L.A.'s season. (No more "Baseball Boogie" for them.)

This time, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa hesitated to bring in closer Ryan Franklin to protect a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning. But Franklin came in, after the tying run was aboard with no outs. Franklin threw a sinker that didn't sink enough to Matt Kemp, who golfed it over the fence for a winning two-run homer. A wonderful start by Chris Carpenter was ruined, and the Dodgers' five-game losing streak was over, thanks to a 2-1 victory.

2. Have any change, buddy? The Cardinals have been playing well, notably except for Franklin, who has four blown saves, has allowed three home runs in 4 2/3 innings, and has an 11.57 ERA. The only thing he has going for him is a fashionable red goatee. Some in the St. Louis MSM are calling for a change. There's even a poll. La Russa scoffs at this talk. {YSP:MORE}

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"What about the offense?" he said. "We only got two runners to second base against their starter. It's not all about the closer."

3. Kemp laying out some hemp: Meanwhile, Matt Kemp continues to resurrect his stardom. He's batting .474./.545/.719. He has hit safely in 14 of 16 games.

Dodgers announcer Vin Scully said: "They pitched to the only guy who could beat them, and he does!" So the whole thing reminded him of Jack Clark, too.

4. Grady's Ladies get to cheer again: Grady Sizemore homered in his first game back in 11 months on a surgically repaired left knee. He also hit a double and the Cleveland Indians beat the Orioles 4-2.

"I just wanted to go up there, have good at-bats, help the team and get a win," Sizemore said. "I was definitely nervous."

5. Welcome, Danny Espinosa: He hit a three-run homer and added a bases loaded triple in the Washington Nationals' doubleheader sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers. Two wins for the Nats (5-1, 8-4) in one day? I don't suppose they let Teddy win the Presidents' Race too? Yeah, too much to ask.

6. Chavez y Chavez y victory: Eric Chavez still has something left in the tank. Filling in for Alex Rodriguez (isn't that nice for the Yankees?) he singled home the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning, leading to a 6-5 victory against the Texas Rangers. So, Alexi Ogando isn't impregnable. He can be pregnated.

7. Fowler? More like Fairer: Dexter Fowler hit a two-run double to key a four-run, go-ahead eighth inning for the Colorado Rockies, who beat the Chicago Cubs by a 9-5 count. Fowler's maturation is a big reason the Rockies are off to a 12-3 start.

8. Angels 4, White Sox 2: Hottest team in baseball: Los Anaheim Angels, winners of five straight. Hottest pitcher: Dan Haren, who has a 27-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

9. Gee willikers: In his season debut for the New York Mets, right-hander Dillon Gee outpitched Tommy Hanson and the Atlanta Braves in a 3-2 victory. Gee wore borrowed spikes (from Josh Thole) and played with a borrowed glove (Bobby Parnell's) because his luggage was late in coming from the minors.

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