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National League notebook -- Tuesday, June 5, 2012

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Arizona: RF Justin Upton was given a day off, his second in four days, and manager Kirk Gibson said he believes Upton is pressing. "We're trying to get him going. Try a lot of things. We need him to relax, and we need him to get on a roll," Gibson said. Asked if Upton was taking extra work, Gibson said, "I hope he does no work today." ... The D-backs were shut out at home Monday for the first time in more than a year. San Francisco beat the D-backs 2-0 on Sept. 6, 2010, at Chase Field. The D-backs are 8-13 against lefty starters this season.

Atlanta: 3B Chipper Jones rejoined the team, took batting practice and fielded groundballs in his first baseball activity since last week's surgical procedure to drain the hematoma in his left calf. Jones is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday but is not expected to be ready then. ... The Braves' No. 2 hitters were leading the league in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles and extra-base hits going into Tuesday, mainly thanks to 3B-LF Martin Prado, who has started there in 50 of the first 55 games.

Chicago: SS Starlin Castro was in the lineup one day after making a mental mistake and starting to run off the field with two outs rather than possibly completing an inning-ending double play. Manager Dale Sveum said he talked with Castro on Tuesday. "He felt awful about it," Sveum said. "We talked about trying to eliminate those kinds of things from happening. He knows that. He knows he's got to get better at the 'focus' part of it." ... C Geovany Soto (left knee surgery) could go out on a rehab assignment this weekend.

Cincinnati: 3B Scott Rolen (left shoulder) hit off a tee four of five days before moving up this week to hitting flipped balls in a batting cage. "We've been able to avoid that ugly word 'setback,' " he said. ... RHP Johnny Cueto has lost his last two starts and three of his last four going into today's outing. The Reds have scored a total of six runs in his three losses.

Colorado: LHP Christian Friedrich, who won his third straight start Monday and improved to 4-1 in six career starts, is the first pitcher to earn four wins in his first six starts with the Rockies since RHP Jason Marquis went 4-2 in 2009. Friedrich is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his first four career road starts. That's the second lowest ERA by a Rockies pitcher in his first four career road starts, behind only LHP Franklin Morales (1.27). ... The Rockies went into Tuesday with 53 first-inning runs in 54 games. They had not scored 40 runs in any other inning.

Houston: RHP Bud Norris is taking advantage of the Astros' decision to use Monday's off day to give their starters an extra day's rest. Norris, who had hip flexor pain in his last start, was able to push back his bullpen session a day in addition to his next start, scheduled for tonight. ... SS Jed Lowrie has been the Astros' best position player, and as much as there is the urge to get him in the lineup every day, manager Brad Mills knows the limitations of Lowrie, who was injury-prone with the Red Sox. "We can't kill this guy," Mills said.

Los Angeles: RH reliever Javy Guerra underwent right knee surgery and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. He is the 13th Dodgers player to go on the disabled list this season. ... 3B Juan Uribe (left wrist) is scheduled to play in three rehab games Friday through Sunday with high-A Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.). ... 1B James Loney was out of the lineup for the fourth time in the last six games, but at least this time the opposing pitcher was a left-hander, Cliff Lee. Monday, the left-handed hitter didn't start against RHP Vance Worley. "The game tells you what to do. I'm trying to put a lineup out there that has a chance to win a game," manager Don Mattingly said.

Miami: RF Giancarlo Stanton said he would love to participate in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby. "He's got the most raw power I've ever seen. I absolutely think he can win it," teammate Logan Morrison said. "Hopefully he can hook me up with a field pass and I can be his towel boy." ... Manager Ozzie Guillen said he expects OF Austin Kearns (right hamstring) to come off the disabled list Thursday. Kearns started a rehab assignment Monday with high-A Jupiter (Fla.) and went 1-for-3.

Milwaukee: RHP Marco Estrada (right quadriceps) is not progressing as quickly as hoped and won't be ready to be activated Friday when eligible. RHP Michael Fiers, called up from Class AAA Nashville to fill that rotation spot, has made two starts and will continue to fill in for Estrada. ... LF Ryan Braun, who missed Sunday's game because of pain in his right Achilles and hip, was back in the lineup, but 3B Aramis Ramirez (left quadriceps) remained out for the second consecutive game.

New York: RHP Miguel Batista (lower back) was activated from the disabled list to back up RHP Chris Young, whose contract was purchased from Class AAA Buffalo so he could make his first start since April 26, 2011. RH reliever Ramon Ramirez, who strained his right hamstring running from the bullpen after LHP Johan Santana completed his no-hitter Friday, was put on the DL, and RH reliever Jack Egbert was designated for assignment. ... LHP Jon Niese was examined for an accelerated heartbeat, a condition he experienced both during Sunday's start and in past seasons. Niese expects to undergo a minimally invasive procedure later this year to correct the condition. In the interim, doctors have cleared him to pitch.

Philadelphia: 1B Ryan Howard (left Achilles) is scheduled to play in a game today for the first time since he was injured last October -- as a designated hitter in extended spring training in Clearwater, Fla. He is not expected to run the bases or play first base. 2B Chase Utley, who started playing in extended spring training games Monday, is scheduled to be in the same game, also as a DH. ... 1B Jim Thome is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list Friday and serve as the DH for the team's three-city interleague road trip, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Thome no longer will play first base. That means that his future after the interleague road games is in doubt.

Pittsburgh: LF Alex Presley was recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis after batting .277 with a .385 on-base percentage, five home runs, two doubles, three triples, four steals and 12 walks. The walks were management's main emphasis when he was sent down a month ago. He had only four walks in 118 at-bats with Pittsburgh to open the season. ... RF Jose Tabata was placed on the disabled list to allow a long ailing right hamstring to heal. The Pirates let him try to play through it even though he was struggling at the plate.

St. Louis: C Yadier Molina and OF Carlos Beltran both were out of the lineup. They normally would have been rested Monday, but manager Mike Matheny wanted them to play because of the Cardinals' five-game losing streak, which they snapped by defeating the Mets that day. ... Two of the Cardinals' first three draft picks will square off this weekend in Tallahassee, Fla., when Florida State plays Stanford in an NCAA super regional. Seminoles CF James Ramsey, the 23rd pick in the draft, will be playing against Stanford and OF Stephen Piscotty, the 36th player chosen.

San Diego: RH closer Huston Street (shoulder) was activated from the disabled list, and RH reliever Miles Mikolas was sent down to Class AAA Tucson. That's still a step forward for Mikolas from where he was a month ago -- he was called up from Class AA San Antonio on May 5. ... The Padres are 4-16 against lefty starters. They face another one today, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, who beat them on April 29.

San Francisco: Monday marked the seventh straight game a Giants starter lasted at least seven innings while surrendering two or fewer runs. That happened just once previously in San Francisco franchise history: July 1-10, 1988, when Giants pitchers did it nine straight games. ... C Buster Posey drew four walks Monday, a rarity for a Giants catcher. Dick Dietz in 1969 and Dave Rader in 1975 were the only catchers in the team's San Francisco history to walk four times in a game previously. Each of the plate appearances, Posey had a 3-2 count. In all, he saw 27 pitches.

Washington: RH closer Drew Storen (elbow surgery) returned to D.C. to continue his rehab and said he was glad to be back because of the heat in Florida. He is throwing 120 feet off flat ground and is expected to throw off a mound in two weeks. His projected return date is around the All-Star break. ... The Nationals went into Tuesday with a 16-9 home record, making them one of only three teams with less than 10 losses at home (the Reds and Dodgers were the others). The .640 winning percentage at Nationals Park was second in the majors behind the Dodgers (.700).
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