The Juice: Adam Dunn powers Chicago comeback, Texas draws first blood against Oakland

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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South Side fireworks: Adam Dunn's reputation reclamation project in 2012 might have already been deemed a success, but the big Chicago White Sox slugger added a big exclamation point to his case on Monday night. Two of them, actually. With his team facing a potential loss that would have dropped it into a tie for the AL Central lead, Dunn mashed two homers in the later innings to carry the White Sox to a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. The victory allowed Chicago to preserve a one-game lead over the Detroit Tigers — who beat Kansas City 6-2 at Comerica Park — with nine games remaining for each squad.

''The last homer, that probably was the most important so far in my career,'' Dunn told reporters after the game. ''That was a win we needed.''

Dunn got his night started with a solo shot off Indians starter Zach McAllister in the sixth. His eighth-inning at-bat against reliever Vinnie Pestano, meanwhile, got off to an inauspicious start with Dunn taking an 0-2 count with two outs. Over 443 career plate appearances, Dunn had only hit 10 home runs while striking out a total of 290 times.

This plate appearance, however, ended with Dunn crushing Pestano's pitch over the right-field wall to turn a 3-2 Cleveland lead into a 5-3 White Sox advantage. In addition to winning the game, both of Dunn's blasts earned him the undisputed title of truest three outcome player. He's the first batter in baseball history to collect 40 homers, 100 walks and 200 strikeouts in a season.

Dream dashers: Any hopes that Oakland harbors of stealing the AL West title were dealt a serious blow when Texas took home a 5-4 victory over the A's on Adrian Beltre's walkoff hit at Rangers Ballpark. Though the two teams still have six games remaining against each other, the Rangers lead the division by five games. Oakland has lost six of its last eight with its last three defeats being of the one-run variety.

Separation state: A 1.5-game lead may not seem like much, but it represents the biggest lead the Yankees have held over the Orioles since Sept. 2. New York opened the chasm with a 6-3 win over the Twins at Target Field while Baltimore split a doubleheader with the Blue Jays at Camden Yards. Good news for the Yankees: Andy Pettitte's great return does not appear to be a mirage as he threw six scoreless innings in his second start since returning from injury.

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Quote of the day

''The difference is, I'm just not awful.  The first 2 1/2 months I was terrible. I felt like I never had played baseball before.''

— Mets first baseman Ike Davis who hit two homers on Monday night in a 6-2 win over Pittsburgh. Davis has 30 home runs for the season, 18 of them coming in the second half.

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Photo of the day: So long, St. Louis

The Cardinals started their Minute Maid Park swan song in good fashion, riding a strong Lance Lynn start to a 6-1 victory. St. Louis now owns a solid 3 1/2-game lead in the race for the NL's second wild card with Milwaukee losing at Washington and the Dodgers staying dormant.

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Three facts for the water cooler

The Pirates have lost 31 of their last 43 games. They're at 78 losses with nine games left and need to finish 7-2 to post a winning season.

• The Rockies ended a nine-game losing streak by beating Arizona 4-2. A 10th straight loss would have allowed Colorado to tie a franchise record for losses with 95, though reaching and surpassing that number still seems inevitable.

• Ricky Romero's win in the nightcap of the Toronto-Baltimore doubleheader broke a 15-game winless streak for the pitcher that dated back to June 22.

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