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David Brown

Morning Juice: Sandoval's kung fu way too strong for Nationals

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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 either at AT&T Park, again, or at the Valley of Peace in China, home of Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval(notes) — AKA, Kung Fu Panda.

Game of the Day
Giants 9, Nationals 7

Da Bear: We're on a nickname kick lately here at the Stew. What to call Zack Greinke and Curtis Granderson, when their given names just won't do? Well, there's no need to search for a monicker for Sandoval, the hefty 22-year-old third baseman whom teammates call "Kung Fu Panda" because he bears (Get it? Bears?) a resemblance to animated film star Po, who charmed audiences of all ages last summer with his nimble martial artistry and rapier wit.

Pandamonium: After having an embarrassing baserunning moment in the seventh, Sandoval relied not on his legs but instead on what brung him, his bat, delivering a two-out, game-ending, three-run homer against non-closer Joe Beimel(notes) in the bottom of the ninth.

"I couldn't believe that happened for me," Sandoval said. "In [that] moment, I'm just going to get my pitch and drive the ball. I don't want to tie the game. I just want to end it."

Earlier, Sandoval looked like he might not be around for game's end when he doubled but got greedy, tripping and flopping to his face after touching the second-base bag. He lay still on the ground for a briefly frightening moment — later admitting he was simply embarrassed — before getting up and running toward third, where Ryan Zimmerman(notes) was waiting with a polite tag.

"Kung Fu Panda doesn't get hurt," Giants starter Matt Cain(notes) noted.

The new 30: Zimmerman went 2-for-5, extending his hitting streak to 30 games, tying 15 others for the 29th-longest in major league history. Did you know that Joe DiMaggio had the 56-game streak, but no others as long as 30? His brother Dom DiMaggio, who recently died, had a 34-game streak in 1949.

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Feelin' Rundown (crouching ballgames, hidden boxscores):

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Boston 4, Los Angeles 3: You've got to give the Celtics credit; any win at the Forum is hard-earned. Jason Varitek(notes), the Kevin McHale of the Red Sox, appeared to be at the end of the road last season but he's been quite Tek-ish so far in '09. A .787 OPS will git 'er done. His socks? Big, as usual.

The Angels let go of K-Rod (or he, them) and it's had a trickle-down effect. Their best reliever has been Darren Oliver(notes) — and God bless Darren Oliver — but that means trouble.

Phillies 5, Dodgers 3: Jayson Werth(notes) swipes four bags, stealing for the cycle (second base, third and home) in the seventh inning alone. His theft of home was pure genius. It's too bad that Werth couldn't have struck out and reached on a wild pitch or passed ball, something old timers called "stealing first." That really would have been stealing for the cycle, youngsters.

Reds 3, D-backs 1: Do you believe Micah Owings(notes) when he says that beating his old team, just because it's his old team, was no big deal? Me, neither. ... Joey Votto(notes) appeared to be feeling a little blotto and he was removed in the fourth inning because of dizziness. Man, it would have been the perfect time to do Answer Man with him.

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 1: A.J. Burnett(notes) and his big, fat American Yankee contract was no match for Roy Halladay(notes), M.D. Skydome again is the place to be for a baseball game. I feel like Lloyd Moseby.

Pirates 7, Cardinals 1: The Duke Boy allowed a first-inning homer to AhPu, which you'd expect to be only the first salvo in some kind of horribly lopsided Cardinals victory. But no. The Bucs make their last nine deals with the Devil and break an eight-game losing streak. "Man, it's so nice to get a win," a soulless Brandon Moss(notes) said.

Orioles 7, Rays 5: Adam Jones(notes) ups his homer count to eight, only one fewer than a season ago. And now, I will make another reference to his funny headshot of '08 in which Jones' eyes were practically shut, and how he's opened his eyes this season and thus is hitting better. So there's the reference. Go ahead, laugh your butt off, world.

Mets 4, Braves 3 (11 inn.): Carlos Beltran(notes) does the impossible: He manages to be an underrated, under-hyped superstar playing in New York City. Not quite Jayson-Werthy, but Beltran doubled, stole third and scored the tying run in the ninth. He simply stood there and took ball four with the sacks packed to win it in the 11th. A few years ago, I would use a monotone voice and refer to Beltran as "Bel-Tron, the Baseball-Playing Robut," and my friend Cedric would then do the robot dance with his arms. You had to be there.

Brewers 6, Marlins 3: The Crue smacks three homers (two from Prince) against John Koronka(notes). John Koronka! Holy 2006, Batman! If you're not catching bullpens for your left-handed toddler twice a week, shame on you, parent. Exploit that child! There's scholarship money at stake.

Cubs 6, Padres 2: Milton has been missing in action all season, but he hit a deep against Jake Peavy(notes) that would have made Dave Kingman go, "Whoa." Ah, who am I kidding? Dave Kingman don't give no crap about Milton. ... Padres starting pitchers are 0-10 in 23 outings since April 17. Hilarious and sad at the same time. ... Peavy is now 2-5, 4.30. Just needs to work on those earned runs and he'll make a serious run at the Big Ed Walsh Double Double: leading the league in losses and ERA.

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Last Ups (one sentence says it all):

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White Sox 7, Indians 4: Jim Thome(notes) homers twice, then gets to dance with Jermaine Dye(notes).

Rangers 7, Mariners 1: Josh Hamilton(notes), a new guy up from the minors or somewhere, hits the go-ahead homer in a six-run seventh.

Rockies 12, Astros 1: Ian Stewart(notes) hits a granny, Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) walks nobody and the desperate 'Stros gear up to fire Phil Garner, who doesn't even work there any more.

Athletics 12, Royals 3: Orlando Cabrera(notes) called a team meeting and the A's took out their bats on Luke Hochevar(notes), who always seems to get dumped on when he reaches the bigs.

Twins 6, Tigers 2: It would have been worse were it not for Clete Thomas(notes), who kept Joe Mauer(notes) in the ballpark, for one at-bat anyway, with a Kirby-like grab at the Metrodome.

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