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David Brown

Morning Juice: Mark Ellis saves the game, series (kinda) for A's

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This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings. Today's Roll Call starts in the East Bay, where the Athletics prevented a sweep by the Angels thanks to some deja vu-ish (not Yu Darvish) heroics by Mark Ellis.

Game of the Day: Athletics 7, Angels 3 (12 inn.)

Heat check, Bootcheck, checkmate: Mark Ellis popped a game-ending grand slam against Chris Bootcheck, hitting the foul pole like he did with another game-winner a month earlier against the Orioles. Not that he wants to talk about the past, but Mark McGwire was the previous A's player to end a game with a grand slam.

Manage a tres: Rich Harden struck out the side in the first inning on nine pitches, the first to do so since NASCAR's Buddy Carlyle did it in July of '07. An AL pitcher hadn't done it since Pedro in '02. As long as we're throwing out names, the previous A's pitcher to do it was Lefty Flippin' Grove in 1928, when I think the A's played home games in Scotland.

We're not done dropping names: Carlos Gonzalez hit an RBI single in the fourth, ending a string of seven extra-base hits to start his career. Not since Johnny Flippin' Mize in 1936 had a major leaguer done that. Johnny Mize was one of several guys to be known as "The Big Cat." He ran about 6-2, 215, which tells me cats have gotten bigger since.

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Feelin' Rundown (Sunday's other games):

Marlins 9, Reds 2 — Sure, we know the Reds stink, but does Aaron Harang have to p.u. right along with 'em? His 2-9 record makes things look worse than they are, and he's still striking out people, so it's not the end of the world. His recent results are, however, like a plague that affects much of the world. Jay Bruce's stats are settling in: .429/.533/.694. Sounds like reasonable career numbers to me.

Pirates 6, D-backs 4Doug Davis is 2-5 with a 6.39 ERA at PNC Park -— which is too bad, because it's a beautiful venue and we all should have a chance to enjoy it once in a while.

Giants 6, Nationals 3 — It was hot in Warshington. How hot? Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes melted together in the 8th inning. The world, curiously, did not stop.

Phillies 6, Braves 3 — He's still on a 200+ strikeout pace, but Ryan Howard is kinda sorta coming around a little. OPS of .875 in his past 30 games coming into Sunday, when he had three doubles and four ribs to help the Phillies sweep. They found blood in Chipper's sore quad, which might knock him out of the Braves upcoming series at the Cubs. Worse news in that bit of info: the Braves go, oh no, on the road, where they are about 3-117.

Cardinals 5, Astros 4 — The Cards took two of three over the weekend at Minute Maid, but there are some ominous signs. Adam Wainwright flew back to St. Louis early to have his sprained right middle finger looked at by doctors. Also, Todd Wellemeyer has an inflamed right elbow.

Brewers 3, Rockies 2Salomon Torres with a rare five-out save. Managers should do it more often if the pitcher is rested and it feels right. If he's your best choice to get out of a jam in the eighth, go get him. That's how Earl Weaver did it. Praise be to Earl.

Cubs 3, Dodgers 1 — Great stat: The Cubs are the only team in the majors that hasn't lost at last three in a row at some point. Jason Marquis was pretty good Sunday, probably keeping Lou's blood pressure down a little. Another great stat: Swayze's coming to Chicago to shoot a TV series. Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

Padres 8, Mets 6 — Willie Randolph is bound to have another meeting with management if the Mets keep staggering around as they are. Tony Clark — he's tall, he's old — turned around Billy Wagner's heater for a two-out, pinch-hit, three-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth. The kind of moment that just makes the flight home awful. Of the hit, Trevor Hoffman noted: "...Once it got about 20 feet over second (base), it just kind of kicked into another gear." That's not possible. There's no clutch aboard a flying baseball. That's jackalope stuff right there, Hoffy.

Yankees 6, Royals 3 — Baby steps for Joba; 4 1/3 innings, one walk. Jason Giambi, I thought he was done, kaput. But he was batting .400 with a .772 slugging over his past 17 games before his tie-breaking homer on Sunday. Greinke has a 7.88 ERA over his past four starts. That won't git 'r' done.

Tigers 5, Indians 2 — Too bad they don't play in Ned Skeldon Stadium anymore, but the Toledo Mud Hens hosted Jim Leyland on Sunday night so he could watch Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya pitch in rehab assignments. Having them healthy would be the best news the Tigers received all year. Zumaya allowed a hit in his inning, and Rodney struck out the side, but allowed a homer. The second-best news for the Tigers would be a win today; then they'd take the four-game series.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 4Vernon Wells has a wrist of the gods. He was expected to miss 6-8 weeks after breaking his left wrist May 9, but here it is a month later and the dude's sizzling right out of the box. Halladay has a 39-2 strikeout/walk ratio on turf this season. He might be good.

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1Justin Masterson is the first pitcher in Fenway Park history to be undefeated through his first four starts. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

White Sox 12, Twins 2 — The Twins have allowed 33 runs so far in this series, which concludes this afternoon. This stuff about "nobody wanting to," and any team "being able to," win the AL Central is Jimmy Gobbledeegook. The Sox run this prison.

Rangers 6, Rays 3 — The only thing that can stop us, is us. Dioner Navarro and Matt Garza fighting over which pitches to throw does not look good in front of the kids. It's only one loss but Joe Maddon and his metrosexual glasses are going to need to put the kibosh on any unrest immediately.

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Photo of the Day: Now that is going to hurt

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"You know what, Gabe?"

"What's that, B.J.?"

"I really don't need your help right now."

"Sorry, Beej."

"That's OK, Gabe."

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Fantasy Freaks

Mark Ellis (Athletics) 2-6, HR, 4 RBI

Luke Scott (Orioles) 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) 3-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI

Mark Reynolds (Diamondbacks) 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Ryan Howard (Phillies) 3-5, 4 RBI

Nick Swisher (White Sox) 2-4, HR, 4 RBI

Gavin Floyd (White Sox) 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 9 K, Win

Jason Marquis (Cubs) 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, BB, 2 K, Win

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Fantasy Flakes

Aaron Harang (Reds) 4 1/3, 11 H, 7 ER, 4 K, 2 HR, Loss

Doug Davis (D-backs) 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, Loss

Kevin Slowey (Twins) 3 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, BB, 4 K, Loss

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Big Mouth

"Finally, I made a contribution other than shaking hands at the end of the game." — Tony Clark
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