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Big League Stew

The Juice: Reds shutout Pirates in round one, Dodgers acquire Joe Blanton, claim Cliff Lee

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

The Juice is back for its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday (and now on Saturdays) for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

Pitching and speed thrills: The Cincinnati Reds didn't need a lot of offense in their 3-0 victory series-opening victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the offense they did muster was a little unusual. In the second inning, Chris Heisey went toe-to-toe with Wandy Rodriguez for 10 pitches before hitting one off the wall in left field. One favorable bounce later, Heisey was around the bases with Cincinnati's second inside-the-park home run of the season — Jay Bruce hit the other on June 15.

''When I hit it, I knew it would be close,'' Heisey said. ''When I hit second base, I saw it hit off Marte's glove and roll toward center field. I didn't see McCutchen close, so I knew I had a chance.''

A couple innings later, starting pitcher Mat Latos' connected for a two-run homer — third of his career, second against Pittsburgh — to give himself more than enough insurance. He ended tossing 7 1/3 scoreless on the hill, allowing four hits and striking out three, as the Reds lead in the NL Central balloons to 4 1/2.

Phillies firesale continues: General manager Ruben Amaro is still wheelin' and dealin' post non-waiver deadline, sending right-handed starter Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash considerations. And it's at least possible Cliff Lee will follow Blanton to Hollywood after the Dodgers claimed him on waivers on Friday. We'll know that answer in 48-72 hours, as to two sides have that time frame to work out a deal.

Oh, and yes, both teams played a little baseball as well. The Dodgers got a terrific outing from Chad Billingsley, who won for the third straight time since coming the DL, in their 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Meanwhile, the Phillies dropped another one, 4-2, to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Nationals find catcher, then split doubleheader: The Washington Nationals hope they filled their need behind the plate in the wake of Wilson Ramos' season-ending injury, acquiring Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland A's. Of course, Suzuki wasn't at the ballpark in time for Friday's double with the Miami Marlins, which the Nats split by winning the opener 7-4 and then dropping the nightcap 5-2.

Another game, another walk0ff: Oakland A's All-Star closer Ryan Cook was one strike away from securing a victory for Dan Straily in his major-league debut, but couldn't seal the deal, allowing a three-run, game-tying homer to the incomparable Jeff Mathis. Of course we know the drill with the A's by now. Late inning dramatics and heroics are their specialty, and sure enough, Coco Crisp's 15th inning sacrifice fly gave the A's a 5-4 win over Toronto.

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Quote of the Day:

''It's not a lot of fun, honestly. The reason you play the game is to win. When you just continue to lose and you lose in different ways, you lose by 10, you lose by four, you lose by 15, you lose by one, it's all the same. It gets tiring and annoying after a while. It's not a fun situation to be in.''

Houston Astros outfielder Jordan Schafer on their frustrating season, which continued with a 4-1 loss to the red hot Atlanta Braves.

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Photo of the Day: Head-on collision

View photo

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(Presswire)

Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta and Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox — two very large men — collide as Iannetta successfully blocks the plate and applies the tag in the first inning. It would prove to be the biggest play in the game... right up until Alex Rios hit a two-run 10th-inning walkoff home run to give Chicago the 8-6 win.

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler:

• After designating Derek Lowe for assignment on Thursday, the Cleveland Indians gave Johnny Damon the same treatment before their 10-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers — their seventh straight loss overall. One has to now wonder if this might finally be the end of the line for Damon, who hit only .222 in 64 games.

• CC Sabathia punched out 10 Seattle Mariners en route to a 6-3 victory for the New York Yankees. That gives Sabathia 32 outings with 10-plus strikeouts in his career, which ties him with Tim Lincecum for second-most among active pitchers. Johan Santana leads the way with 50.

• Jamey Carroll and Justin Morneau both went 4 for 4 in Minnesota's 6-5 win over the Boston Red Sox. It's the second time the Twins have had two separate hitters go a perfect 4 for 4 in the same game this season. No other team has done it even once.

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