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Morning Juice: Cubs hope comeback could, maybe, spark them

Big League Stew

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This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in Chicago, where few sounds drive a White Sox fan battier than hearing "Go Cubs Go" in the same stadium where his or her favorite team just suffered a crushing defeat.

Game of the Day

Cubs 6, White Sox 5

Turnabout: The AL reps from the South Side seemed on an easy Lake Michigan cruise to victory, and a rain-shortened two-game sweep in enemy territory, with a late 5-1 lead.

But when infielder Chris Getz(notes) booted a grounder for an error to start the Cubs' eighth, you could feel a shift as real as the wind changing direction. It seemed like a false alarm when Scott Linebrink(notes) got two quick outs, but it was so on when Derrek Lee(notes) clobbered (VIDEO) a three-run homer to right to make it 5-4. When the next man up, homer-starved Geovany Soto(notes), lined the tying homer to right, the Cubs had as good as won.

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Sorry no more: The Cubs, who have used every excuse in the book for their mediocrity — from injuries, to the fans having too much energy (yes, really) — won it on Alfonso Soriano's(notes) two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Soriano, who was in slumps of (pick one) 14-for-102 and 0-for-15, was mobbed by ecstatic teammates. Wrigley, always noticeably full of White Sox supporters in the crosstown games, shook with roars of the home fans like no other time this season.

The Cubs were back at .500 and had regained some hope at repeating again in the NL Central.

"I needed a game like this today and the team needed a game like this today," Soriano said. "Everybody can relax and come back tomorrow with new energy."

The White Sox, treading water in the kiddie pool that is the AL Central, just had "Go Cubs Go" ringing in their ears.

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Feelin' Rundown (getting out of Cook County):

Nationals 3, Yankees 0: The Nats win a series! The Nats win a series! The Nats win a series! And they get a shutout, becoming the 30th team to do so in 2009, thanks to rookie Craig Stammen(notes), some middle relievers we all know and closer (stop snickering) Mike MacDougal(notes). If we could imagine a Washington Nationals Baseball Textbook, Manny Acta's boys just wrote it with this performance, baby. The Nats are now 18-46. Yeesh.

Outside the box score: Somebody forgot to tell the Yankees that, after a 5-1/2 hour pregame rain delay, they would be playing.

But seriously, folks: New York's highlight is that Brett Gardner(notes) does not have a concussion, the team medical staff says, after running into the outfield fence (VIDEO). The club put him on its charter flight, so the medics must really be sure about the "no concussion" thing (see Ryan Church).

Bonus! Out of the goodness gracious of their hearts, Yankees brass let fans sit anywhere they wanted — even in the $2,500 seats nobody can afford. The announcement caused a minor stampede among the 10,000 or so guessed to be in attendance at the first pitch.

Further, any fans holding a June 18 ticket stub get a free ticket to a future game, with some limitations, stipulations and other fine print.

Orioles 5, Mets 4: The odds ain't too favorable when you're trailing by a run going to the ninth, when you're 0-34 in such situations, and Francisco Rodriguez(notes) is standing on the mound with an 0.56 ERA.

But then, Matt Wieters(notes) hits a double and Nolan Reimold(notes) walks, plus a little of this, a dash of that and — bam! — Aubrey Huff(notes) ends it with a soft single.

No matter how Amazin' the Mets are, they don't have any remedy for Orioles Magic.

Braves 7, Reds 0: For those keeping score, please note the first major league hit and RBI for wunderkind Tommy Hanson(notes), who helped to end the ATL's four-game losing streak and picked up career victory No. 2 in the process. Oh, they grow up so fast.

This was a breakout game for Nate McLouth(notes) (HR, 4 RBI) with the Braves. People might have been wondering, "Hey, what's John Cangelosi doing out there in center?" No more!

Twins 5, Pirates 1: With his brothers in arms having various troubles, Nick Blackburn(notes) has quietly become the ace of the Twinkies staff. Les Straker was unavailable.

"He's basically been the stabilizer," pitching coach Rick Anderson said after Blackburn tossed a six-hitter.

I know a nickname and T-shirt when I see one. Nick Blackburn — "The Stabilizer." Get to work on that, Twin Cities.

Meanwhile, the Pirates have lost 13 road series in row to AL opponents. Man, stat guys can find any old stuff to make a team look bad — even a great organization such as the Pirates — if they search hard enough.

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Astros 5, Rangers 3: They renamed the owners suite at Rangers Ballpark (can't we get a new sponsor for this place, already?) for former President George W. Bush, who then hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth. Or maybe I've got him mixed up with Hunter Pence(notes). Yes, that's right. Pence had the suite named after him.

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Blue Jays 8, Phillies 7: The AP story describes Toronto's Rod Barajas(notes), who hit the tiebreaking homer in the ninth, as "an unpopular player in Philadelphia" since playing there at one time. Not to perpetuate a stereotype about Philly fans, but where does that line start?

Kudos to the Jays, who sweep despite massive injury hemorrhaging. Brad Mills(notes), their starting pitcher, was 1-8 in Triple-A, for cry-aye. O' Canada.

Rockies 4, Rays 3: Ooh, Baldo! The Rock Stars are one victory from another streak after taking two of three from Tampa/St. Pete. Are these clodhoppers seriously playoff viable?

Padres 4, Mariners 3 (10 inn.): Every time San Diego reaches four runs, I am surprised. But, that'll happen when you pitch "around" Adrian Gonzalez(notes) twice — as Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu claims he ordered — and he still manages to hit a home run and a double in those at-bats.

Communication breakdown, it's always the same. The M's are having a nervous breakdown, pitching to Gonzalez is insane.

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Tigers 6, Cardinals 3: Youngsters, don't let what happened to Joel Pineiro(notes) (VIDEO) happen to you. Drink your Ovaltine water to avoid cramping.

Dodgers 3, Athletics 2: Joe Torre surpasses Sparky Anderson in career victories, but will always trail in hair quality.

Marlins 2, Red Sox 1 (6 inn.): Ricky Nolasco(notes) gets the win, rain gets the save.

D-backs 12, Royals 5: Why, again, has Dan Haren(notes) already been traded twice? Does he ever have a bad game? Yes, the answer is yes. Back in '06, he had one.

Someone needs to check on the status of Chris (4-for-4) Young's groin. We already have one Chris Young on the DL, and the economy can't stand another.

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