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Morning Juice: Hoffman beats Manny in bases-loaded showdown

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 at Chavez y Chavez Ravine, where an Old West-style showdown went down between a pair of aging gunslingers. An improbable rally against the Brewers in the bottom of the ninth inning loaded the bases for the Dodgers, pitting Hells Bells against Hell's Haircut.

Game of the Day: Brewers 6, Dodgers 5

Home on the Mange: Trevor Hoffman(notes) looked every bit of 41 and 9/10ths years old as the Dodgers whittled Milwaukee's four-run lead down to one. Hoffman, the ninth inning's all-time leading swindler with 578 saves (including 67 against the Dodgers), got two outs in the ninth on a sacrifice bunt and a long "hold your breath" fly ball to center (as Vin Scully called it). So, he didn't exactly have L.A. quaking in its designer boots.

To ratchet-up the drama even more, up stepped that no-good varmint, Manny Ramirez(notes), with the bases loaded. Not quite two weeks ago, Manny lined a winning pinch-hit grand slam on his own bobblehead night to send SoCal into a frenzy.

Since that magical moment against Dusty and the Reds, ManRam had no RBIs in 41 at-bats. You might say he was due. Watch 'em draw.

But Hoffman, who has seen more High Noons than most cowboys, got Ramirez to fly out to right on a 1-1 pitch. Outfield trainee Bill Hall(notes) had to circle the ball once or twice, but it found a soft landing in his glove. Trevor had saved 'em again.

"That's not necessarily the situation you want to be facing Manny in, that's for sure," Hoffman said after nailing down, albeit crookedly, his 24th save of the season.
"He's prolific with the bases loaded, and [I had] not great stuff on the mound. It’s an enjoyable win for the ballclub."

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Enjoyable, he calls it.

From MLB.com:

"I'm glad it was a short at-bat," Brewers manager Ken Macha said, "because I couldn't hold my breath any longer."

Manny must reload.

"He threw me a couple of little curves," Ramirez said. "I made a good swing on the first one, but then I thought he was coming with a changeup, and he got me."

Ryan Braun, who went 1-for-14 against the Dodgers in a series at Milwaukee, went 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs.

Manny Parra(notes) went further into a game than he ever had — eight-plus innings, four runs, for his sixth victory.

Clayton Kershaw(notes) came back to Earth with his first rocky start in a while — three runs and six walks in four innings. He had an 0.79 ERA in his past nine outings.

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Feelin' Rundown (Bill Hall caught the last out in these games too):

Athletics 3, Rangers 2: If you went to bed thinking the Rangers had this one in the bag, you ain't never met Rajai Davis(notes). His two-out, two-run triple ruined what had been a promising Texas evening in the East Bay. Oakland had no runs and two hits headed into the ninth, but C.J. Wilson(notes) didn't have it and Nelson Cruz(notes) couldn't come up with Davis' well-placed ball hit to the right-field corner. Cruz also hurt himself on the play, needing assistance to exit the field. Yeah, it was pretty much heck in a hand basket.

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Tigers 6, Orioles 5: If Clete Thomas(notes) were destined to play in the NBA, would he be Sneaker Thomas? Or Spur Thomas, if he were a rodeo driver? Or Flipper Thomas, were he a swimmer? Watch him unload this game-winner.

Nationals 8, Pirates 4: Will this series ever end? Won't know for sure until today.

Cubs 4, Reds 2: Randy Wells(notes) reminds me of Mike Bielecki in 1989. Kind of comes from nowhere to be somebody, Cubs win, etc.

D-backs 6, Mets 5: Mark Reynolds(notes) scoffs — scoffs! — at your puny — puny! — Citi Field.

Astros 4, Giants 3: Cain's balls of fire weren't quite great enough this time. He'd still make a decent ace on a team without Timmy (perish the thought).

Padres 4, Braves 2: The Padres Grand Plan is all coming together, starting with Mat Latos(notes). I'm not sure what the other 24 parts will be (bringing back the Chicken?), but he looks like a great place to start.

Rays 10, Royals 4: Zack Greinke(notes), heading for an ERA title and a losing season all at once.

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