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The Juice: Phillies move closer in wild-card hunt, A’s down Angels again

Big League Stew

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(AP)

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.

Phreaky streak: A few weeks ago, the Phillies were dead. Has-beens. Part of history. But after a hot streak of enjoyable baseball, including a 3-1 victory against the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon for their seventh straight win, they're on the verge of making the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Being a wild card would be new, but it's better than where they were headed. Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer, his 19th, and Cliff Lee struck out six and didn't allow an earned run over seven innings. Just like they paid for all year, Fiscal Cliff!

Dial A for A.J. Griffin: Oakland's Griffin threw eight scoreless innings to help the A's beat the Angels 4-1, putting them on the verge of a four-game sweep at the Big A. Oakland has won 12 straight road games, the longest such streak in the majors since the Mariners in 2003. Griffin, one of four rookies in the A's rotation, struck out six and walked none. The lone Angels run came on a solo homer by Albert Pujols, No. 475 in his career, tying Stan Musial (hey, "The Man"!) and Willie Stargell for 28th all time.

Then there was this amazing catch by Coco Crisp. Mercy! But he hurt his cap.

Home Brew: If the Brewers could just finish out the regular season playing at Miller Park, they might be on easy street for the playoffs. Aided by a three-run homer from Rickie Weeks, they beat the Braves 8-2 for their ninth straight victory at home. They also climbed above .500 (72-71) for the first time since they were 4-3 on April 12. They're also tied with the Phillies, three back in the ludicrous wild-card race, with 19 games to play.

Earning their stripes: Another strong effort by right-hander Max Scherzer and a big fly by Prince Fielder positioned the Tigers well for an 8-6 victory at Chicago, bringing them within a game of the AL Central leaders. Scherzer struck out seven and allowed one run over six innings. Fielder appeared to put the Sox away with a three-run homer in the seventh to give Detroit a 6-1 lead, but those scrappy White Sox clawed their way back and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. Oh, what-ever. Justin Verlander goes for the division tie Thursday.

What did the Dodgers and Giants do?: The Giants beat the Rockies 8-3, with Tim Lincecum pitching out of several jams, and the Dodgers fell 3-2 to the D-backs, with Trevor Cahill retiring 20 of his 22 final batters. LA. has slipped seven games out of first in the NL West. Oopy doopy!

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Quote of the Day:

"If I can't use your arm, I'll use your bat. He's pretty bad now but he's going to get worse because he's going to be chomping,"Nationals manager Davey Johnson, on what to do with pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who has been shut down for the rest of the season.

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Photo of the Day: These guys.

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(AP)

This is what happens when the Cubs play the Astros at Minute Maid Park in mid-September.

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler

• The San Diego Padres are 17-5 since Aug. 19, the best record in the NL in that span. Their most recent victory came at the expense of the Cardinals, who fell 3-2 for their 11th loss in 15 games.

Via the A.P.: In a 5-4 Yankees victory at Boston, Derek Jeter scored his 1,860th run, surpassing Hall of Famer Mel Ott for 12th all time.

• The Reds improved to 30 games over .500 for the first time since the 1999 season by beating the Pirates 2-1, also completing a three-game sweep in the process.

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