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The Juice: Reds complete unlikely comeback win over Pirates on Joey Votto’s homer

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

Less than two weeks to go in season No. 6 of the Juice! Stop by daily for news from the action, along with great photos, stats, video highlights and more.

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Don't look now but the Cincinnati Reds have pulled even with the Pittsburgh Pirates atop the NL Wild Card standings after defeating the Buccos 6-5 in 10 innings on Friday night. They did it in dramatic fashion, too, rallying from a three run deficit with two outs in the ninth inning to force extras. In the tenth, Joey Votto put Cincinnati ahead for good with a line drive home run that just made it over the short wall down the left field line.

The Pirates left the door cracked open when shortstop Jordy Mercer committed a throwing error that allowed Todd Frazier to reach and Ryan Ludwick to score the inning's first run. After Zack Cozart singled and pinch-runner Billy Hamilton swiped his 10th base in 10 tries, Devin Mesoraco stepped in and gave Pirates closer Mark Melancon a battle, fouling off four two-strike pitches before ripping a grounder that third baseman Pedro Alvarez couldn't knock down. The ball ended up bounding into short left field allowing Hamilton to score the game-tying run from second.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"I really went up there and thought about battling my (butt) off," Mesoraco said. "That was about it. That was my only goal: Go up and battle, battle. Hopefully, he'd leave one over the plate and put a half decent swing on it."

"I thought it was going to get through," he said. "He made a good diving attempt and knocked it down. With Billy's speed if it kicked away a little bit, he was going to get in there. You've got to give him credit. He's come up and been a shot in the arm for us."

It's a big win for Cincinnati, but it could prove to be a monumental loss for Pittsburgh. Dating back to 2009, the Pirates had won 163 consecutive games when leading by three or more runs in the ninth inning. That's a painful pill to swallow, and the result is a costly two-game swing in the wild card standings. It didn't help in the division race, either.

Cardinals survive Brewers comeback: It wasn't easy or pretty, but the St. Louis Cardinals escaped Miller Park on Friday night with a 7-6 victory in 10 innings and a healthy two-game lead in the NL Central.

After Matt Adams delivered a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to give St. Louis a 6-4 lead, manager Mike Matheny was forced to call on former Brewers closer John Axford after Edward Mujica faltered. The results were mixed as Axford allowed Aramis Ramirez to tie the game with an RBI single, but recovered to induce an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play from All-Star Carlos Gomez.

In the tenth, veteran Carlos Beltran put St. Louis right back ahead with a sacrifice fly plating Kolten Wong. The bottom half was much less dramatic this time around as Carlos Martinez set Milwaukee down in order to earn his first save of the season. It also made a winner of Axford. He's 7-7 with seven blown saves to match.

Braves 9, Cubs 5: Atlanta broke through with four runs in the ninth on consecutive two out hits from Brian McCann, Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons. Their magic number in the NL East is down to one.

Nationals 8, Marlins 0: Pitching to keep Washington alive in the NL Wild Card race, Jordan Zimmermann tossed a complete two-hitter en route to his 19th victory. Denard Span, who's 29-game hitting streak was snapped on Thursday, started a new hitting streak with a two-run triple that capped Washington's seven-run sixth.

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3: Boston clinches their first AL East crown since 2007.

Rays 6, Orioles 5 (18 inn.): A record 21 pitchers were used before David DeJesus ended it with a walk-off single.

Royals 2, Rangers 1: The deciding run scored when Neftali Feliz walked Alcides Escobar with the bases loaded in the eighth. The loss dropped Texas to 1/2 game behind the Cleveland Indians in the wild card standings.

Indians 2, Astros 1 (7 inn.): Mother Nature helped Cleveland get over the hump with a rain-shortened victory.

Yankees 5, Giants 1: Alex Rodriguez hit his 24th career grand slam, passing Lou Gehrig on the all-time list.

Tigers 12, White Sox 5: After five attempts, Max Scherzer finally gets his 20th win.

Mets 6, Phillies 4: David Wright hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat since suffering a hamstring injury on Aug. 2.

Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 4: Colorado homered four times, including the first of starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin's career.

Padres 2, Dodgers 0: The Dodgers were there physically, but their minds were on a swimming pool in Arizona. And maybe champagne.

A's 11, Twins 0: Oakland could clinch the AL West on Saturday with a win and a Rangers loss.

Angels 3, Mariners 2 (11 inn.): Chris Iannetta drove in Kole Calhoun with a two-out single to win it.

''There's 18 TVs in here, there's games all over the place. There's games you might not even want to be watching that are on. Right now, it's watch time. We've got ourselves in a great spot and just to be able to be here, a complete turnaround from last year, it's exciting. It's nice. It feels like people are jumping on board right now and it's the perfect time to do it.''

— The always quotable Nick Swisher

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(USA Today)

It's his bleepin' city.

• According to Elias, the Yankees are 10-6 this season when opposed by a starter who formerly won the Cy Young Award. They beat Tim Lincecum on Friday.

• Joey Votto was hitting 1-for-18 in extra innings this season prior to his game-winning home run.

• Alfonso Soriano is the third player in MLB history with 16 or more home runs for an NL & AL team in same season. Manny Ramirez and Mark McGwire are the others. (Via ESPN Stats & Info)

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