The Juice: Blue Jays rally extends win streak to nine; Rangers take opener of 2011 Series rematch

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The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays waged a classic a back and forth battle on Friday night that featured plenty of firepower. Early on it was the red hot Blue Jays who jumped ahead 2-0 on Adam Lind’s first inning two-run homer. Baltimore then began to chip away at the lead on J.J. Hardy’s solo shot in the second, before finally claiming a 5-3 advantage in the sixth on Chris Davis’ three-run blast, his league-leading 27th of the season.

The teams then traded homers over the next three half innings. Edwin Encarnacion made it 5-4 with a solo homer, Ryan Flaherty pushed Baltimore’s lead back to two on his own solo blast, and then Munenori Kawasaki evened things at six with a two-run homer off Tommy Hunter, the first of his career. That set the stage for a dramatic ninth inning in which the hometown Blue Jays extended their winning streak to nine on Rajai Davis' walk-off single.

Also of significance here: The Blue Jays, despite all of their struggles and injury woes early on, have climbed back to .500 (36-36) before reaching the halfway point of the season. They're now in prime position to make the run everyone anticipated during the offseason.

Cole Hamels first to 11 losses: Staked to a 3-0 lead over the New York Mets in the second inning, Cole Hamels hit the proverbial wall in the middle innings and watched it slowly evaporate during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Recently acquired center fielder Eric Young Jr. had perhaps the biggest hit for New York, tying the game with two-out, two-run single in the fifth. Juan Lagares provided the go-ahead run with an RBI double in the sixth and that ended up holding up as the Mets won it 4-3.

When all was said and done, Hamels allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks over six frames. Not a dreadful line by any stretch, but certainly disappointing considering the set up and the opponent. He's now 2-11 with a 4.50 ERA.

Rematch in the Lou: Anytime you get a rematch of a recent World Series, it creates a lot of buzz around the league. The Texas Rangers visiting the St. Louis Cardinals in a redo of the 2011 World Series this weekend is certainly no different, and the opener lived up to the hype. It actually looked like a repeat of Game 6, save for the result. After plating three of their own in the first, St. Louis watched Texas rally for four in the second to take the lead. However, after the Cards evened in the bottom half, both teams would go scoreless until the ninth.

It was there that Nelson Cruz, the defensive goat in the gut-wrenching Game 6 loss for Texas, came through with a clutch two-run single scoring Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus to provide the difference in their 6-4 victory. That would have been the final had Cruz made the catch in 2011, by the way. Fittingly, left fielder David Murphy sealed this one with a tough running catch that could have forced extra innings.


Cubs 3, Astros 1: All solo home runs in this game. Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Scott Hairston went yard for Chicago. Chris Carter hit his 15th for Houston.

Nationals 2, Rockies 1: Stephen Strasburg struck out nine Rockies over seven innings, but needed an Ian Desmond homer in the seventh to earn his elusive fourth win. On the other side, the Rockies have lost the first five on their current seven-game roadtrip.

Yankees 6, Rays 2: Making his first career start in place of Vernon Wells, Zoilo Almonte responded with three hits, including his first home run, to pace the offensive attack. Think Joe Girardi will stick with that arrangement again on Saturday?

Indians 5, Twins 1: Scott Kazmir isn't exactly pushing for Comeback Player of the Year honors, but he's certainly performing at a higher than anticipated for Cleveland. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball on Friday, but perhaps most impressively he struck out seven while walking nobody.

Red Sox 10, Tigers 6: You can't stop Miguel Cabrera, who connected for a three-run homer, but you can still outscore the Tigers if you get into their bullpen early. Shane Victorino homered, singled three times and drove in five as Boston did just that.

White Sox 9, Royals 1: A five-run third inning helped Chicago put this one away early.

Brewers 2, Braves 0: A three-man band for Milwaukee. Starter Wily Peralta was dominant, allowing only two hits over seven shutout innings. Offensively, Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura combined to go 6 for 8 at the top of the order, including Segura's 11th homer, as the Brewers coasted.

Diamondbacks 11, Reds 5: Teams are still pitching to Paul Goldschmidt, and he's still beating them. Two more home runs on Friday gives him 19 on the season. He also has three multi-homer games in 2013.

Pirates 5, Angels 2: Gerrit Cole only made one mistake — a home run by Albert Pujols — but was otherwise impressive as he improved to 3-0 through three big league starts.

A's 6, Mariners 3: Yoenis Cespedes hit a pair of two-run homers in support of ten-game winner Bartolo Colon. Yes, you read that correctly. He's won seven decisions in a row.

Padres 5, Dodgers 2: San Diego lost starter Clayton Richard to injury after only two pitches but patched it together with four relievers and went to work on Clayton Kershaw for four runs in six innings. A confidence-building team win, not that San Diego needs much of a boost right now.

Marlins 6, Giants 3: Make that nine straight victories for Miami at AT&T Park dating back to 2010.

''He looked at me. I said, 'Yeah, you better run.' We have kind of like a friendship, a camaraderie. He's a great player.''

— Shane Victorino on his failed attempt to throw out Miguel Cabrera at first base following a clean basehit to right field. I guess having a bigger night at the plate just wasn't enough.

Stormy skies invade Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.

• With three home runs allowed to the Cubs on Friday, the Astros have allowed three or more in a game 14 times this season. That's the most in MLB

• Opposing batters are now 0 for their last 40 against Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil. That's a franchise record.

• According to Elias, Cole Hamels is the first Phillies pitcher with 11 losses before the end of June since 1937. Wayne LaMaster and Claude Passeau were the first two.

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