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The Juice: Phillies back in first place for first time in, like, forever

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Gather 'round, because it's time to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in Philadelphia, where all of the angst about the Phillies not being in first place/being perpetually banged up/underperforming/Why isn't Dom Brown playing?/etc can be eased for at least a few hours.

Games of the Day: Phillies 8, Marlins 7;
Pirates 5, Braves 0

Who did what: Placido Polanco's(notes) RBI single broke a tie in the eighth for the Phillies, countering a three-run rally by the Fishies. With Brad Lidge(notes) resting his tender elbow, Ryan Madson(notes) got four outs for the save. ... James McDonald(notes) pitched seven innings and Ronnie Cedeño hit a key triple for the Bucs.

Remember, remember, the 7th of September: Do you recall the previous morning the Phillies were in first place? Only Memorial Day. The NL East had been all-ATL all summer — much to the beguiling of Phillies fans, many of whom treat each game on the 162-game baseball schedule like a win-or-else Sunday in the NFL.

"It's always good to be in first," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's the only way to live."

The ol' switcheroo: The Braves had a seven-game lead on the Phillies on July 21, but have gone 24-22 since. The Phillies, who only recently put their preferred lineup back on the field, have gone 32-15.

"Did we expect to be in first place until the end of the season? I mean, it would have been nice," Braves starter Tim Hudson(notes) said. "But we understand that Philly is a pretty good team. There’s a lot of games left (six) with Philly."

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They Also Played...

Mets 4, Nationals 1: Thank goodness the quirky named Dillon Gee(notes) made his major league debut for the Mets, or else reporting the result of this game would give no joy whatsoever.

Tigers 9, White Sox 1: Really, it's what should happen when Justin Verlander(notes) and Freddy Garcia(notes) match up.

Orioles 6, Yankees 2: The CC Sabathia(notes) Cy Young Bandwagon was seen careening off the FDR.

Blue Jays 8, Rangers 5: The Rangers have a cushion and they're apparently intent on using all of it.

Astros 7, Cubs 3: Nobody wants to play the Astros right now; They've won 12 of 16. The Cubs? It's OK to play the Cubs whenever.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 2: Trevor Hoffman(notes) has no idea how close umpire Bob Davidson came to throwing him out before he could notch career save No. 600.

Rays 14, Red Sox 5: The Red Sox have issued six bases-loaded walks in the past three games. It's the path of least resistance they're walking.

Twins 10, Royals 3: All Jimmers does is mash taters. Translation: Another home run for James Howard Thome.

Rockies 4, Reds 3: Unofficially, Carlos Gonzalez(notes) has locked up the MVP and Triple Crown of Coors Field; There, he's batting .395 with 24 homers, 63 RBIs and a .794 slugging percentage.

Indians 6, Angels 1: Lou Marson(notes) is turning into one heck of a backup catcher of the future for the Indians.

Giants 6, D-backs 3: Giantember rolls on. Tim Lincecum(notes): 11 K's in 6 2/3 innings. He also was described as "ultra lanky." Righteous!

Mariners 7, Athletics 5: Doug Fister(notes) probably had a heart attack when he saw five runs go up on the board in the second inning (and it wasn't for the other team).

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Mat Latos(notes) set a major league record for most consecutive starts — 15 — of five or more innings while allowing two or fewer runs scored. I'm going to name this award the Mat Latos Baseball-Reference Play Index Award. We'll always remember Sept. 7 for it.

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