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The Juice: Reds walkoff with safety squeeze, Strasburg and Harper shine in Fenway debuts

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.

Walkoff safely: After jumping out to an early 4-0 lead thanks largely to Joey Votto's three-run homer, the Cincinnati Reds watched their advantage slowly evaporate over the middle innings and then turn into a one-run deficit in the eighth. That's where Todd Frazier' delivered a pinch-hit RBI double that eventually sent the game to extra innings and set the stage for Wilson Valdez to find another creative way to win a baseball game.

If you recall, it was Valdez who shifted from his usual role as a utility infielder to a desperation relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in a 19-inning game last season, and actually earned the victory on the mound over his current employers from Cincinnati. This time around, Valdez used his bat to get the job done, dropping a safety squeeze to score Miguel Cairo with the winning run as the Reds squeezed past Detroit, 6-5.

And the credit all goes to Valdez for laying down the perfect and to Cairo for being heads up, because manager Dusty Baker never signaled in that he wanted to run a squeeze play.

''It was something I decided,'' Valdez said. ''I feel I can put down a perfect bunt.''

Youth prevails at Fenway: For many a young player the first trip to a historic venue such as Fenway Park can be overwhelming and even a little bit intimidating. Such rules do not apply to the Nationals duo of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, however, as the No. 1 overall picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts dominated the Red Sox in Washington's 7-4 triumph.

On the mound, Strasburg fanned 13 over his six innings. That's the most strikeouts by a visiting pitcher at Fenway since Mike Mussina struck out 13 in his near perfect game back on Sept. 2, 2001. At the dish, Harper launched his sixth home run — a two-run laser over the 420 sign in center field off lefty Felix Doubront — and contributed two more hits to raise his average to .288.

The Tatman knows drama: Ryan Roberts delivered the signature home run in Arizona's fantastic rise from worst-to-first in 2011 — a grand slam that led them past the Los Angeles Dodgers in late September. He was at it again on Friday, connecting for a three-run walkoff homer that punctuated a gusty comeback from a 6-0 deficit and gave them an exhilarating 9-8 victory over the Oakland A's.

Five-hit wonder: Back in 1965, a band by the name of the Gentry's released their only memorable song titled Keep On Dancing. That has nothing to do with baseball other than the fact that they share a name with Texas Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry, who had five hits in a 5-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

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Quote of the Day:

''My whole career I've been trying to get over here to play. I like this stadium,'' he said. ''I used to watch it on TV all the time, all these years and I was wondering if I was going to see this place before I got out of this game.''

Torii Hunter on playing his first career game at Coors Field. The 13-year veteran connected for a pair of home runs and drove in six as the Angels topped Colorado, 7-2.

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Photo of the Day: Holy Smoltz

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(AP)

The Atlanta Braves retired the No. 29 jersey of John Smoltz prior to their 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Smoltz also threw out the ceremonial first pitch in front 42,488 at Turner Field, and later confirmed it was a four-seam fastball.

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler:

•  The Tampa Bay Rays used five pitchers and threw 185 pitches. Not quite as efficient as the six pitcher effort the Seattle Mariners used to throw a the tenth combined no-hitter in MLB history, but still good enough to earn a 5-1 victory over their interleague rivals from Miami.

• Alfonso Soriano's first home run didn't come until May 15. With his two homers on Friday  — including the 350th of his career — he now has 11 since that date, which is the most in baseball. Cubs win, right? Nope, Twins rally in ninth and tenth to eek out a 8-7 victory.

• Jim Thome collected his first RBI of the season in Philadelphia's 9-6 win over the Orioles. It came after Thome legged out an infield single. Seriously.

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