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Big League Stew

The Juice: Reds clinch playoffs without Dusty, Royals irritate White Sox again,

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.

Reds rule: The Cincinnati Reds won their past two games without manager Dusty Baker, who has been getting an irregular heartbeat checked out. He's going to be OK, as are the Reds, who beat the Cubs 5-3 to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Alfredo Simon retired Starlin Castro for the final out, reducing the team's magic number to two for winning the NL Central. Doesn't it seem like opposing teams clinch at Wrigley Field more often than other places? Is that to be cruel?

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(AP)

Royal fluster: The White Sox had a chance to push their lead in the AL Central back to three games, but those dastardly Kansas City Royals got in the way yet again. K.C. climbed back from an early three-run hole and beat the White Sox 4-3 on a single (on an 0-2 count) by Eric Hosmer. On defense, Royals catcher Salvador Perez threw out a runner at the plate and picked off another at third base. The White Sox went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and are batting .190 in those situations over their past 19 games. The Royals have been stuck in the White Sox's collective craw all season, beating them 12 times in 18 games.

Rays rally late: And it might be too late for their season, but the Tampa Bay Rays rallied for six runs in the ninth to beat the Boston Red Sox 7-4. B.J. Upton, of the Virginia Uptons, lined a three-run home run against Mr. Sweaty, Vicente Padilla, to cap a huge comeback. Tampa Bay is 5 1/2 back of Baltimore in the AL wild-card tournament.

Brew Crew do: Milwaukee continued to knock on postseason's door, beating the Pirates 9-7 to complete a sweep and win for the fifth straight time overall. They remained 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for a playoff spot, but they're playing like a team that deserves to be there. At least for a play-in game. Rickie Weeks tied the score with a triple and came home on a single by Aramis Ramirez, which helped send the Pirates to another loss, their 11th in 13 games. They're under .500, collapsing for the second straight season after a hopeful beginning. Yeeeargh.

Rangers go with gut feelings: Adrian Beltre and the Texas Rangers dealt the Los Angeles Angels another blow to their playoff hopes, with Beltre's tie-breaking home run in the ninth propelling his team to a 3-1 victory. Beltre went 0 for 3 against Zack Greinke but solved Ernesto Frieri after Michael Young led off the ninth with a single. Beltre reportedly was nearly doubled-over with abdominal pain before the game, but demanded to be in Ron Washington's lineup because he's tougher than actual Texas Ranger Chuck Norris. The Angels are not as tough as Chuck Norris and fell 4 1/2 games behind Baltimore for a playoff spot.

[MLB Full Count: Watch live look-ins and highlights for free all season long]

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Quote of the Day:

''Our vibe's four games better. That's about it" — Cardinals manager Mike Matheny after Tea, Fredbird won its fourth straight, 5-4 against the Astros.

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Photo of the Day: Zim, Zim, hooray!

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Nationals fans get happy as Ryan Zimmerman and friends clinch a playoff spot. (AP)

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler

• The Oakland Athletics lost ace-like left-hander Brett Anderson for the rest of the regular season because of a strained right oblique muscle. It's a killer blow to a team that also lost Brandon McCarthy for an indefinite period. Oakland is still in good shape for the playoffs after beating the Tigers 12-4.

• The Phillies had their biggest first inning on the road in 100 years, scoring eight runs on their way to a 16-1 thrashing of the Mets. Not since 1912, the Elias Sports Bureau reports, had they been so proficient out of the gate on the road.

• The Giants reduced their magic number to three to clinch the NL West after beating the Rockies 9-2

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