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The Cincinnati Reds emerged victorious in the opener of a big weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates thanks to none other than Brandon Phillips. Yes, the same Brandon Phillips who we learned earlier on Friday felt like his 72.5 million contract with the Reds was a "slap in the face."
After getting that off his chest in an interview with Cincinnati magazine, Phillips proceeded to slap around Pirates hurler Justin Wilson — who relieved starter Francisco Liriano — with a huge bases-clearing double in the fourth inning. That extended Cincinnati's lead to 5-0. They would hold to win it 5-3 after Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin each solo homers in the sixth.
Hey, I think we'd all agree there's no better way for a dissatisfied athlete to take out his or her frustrations than by elevating their performance on the field. That's exactly what Phillips did on Friday, and manager Dusty Baker wasn't a bit surprised.
Phillips' excellence with runners on base has helped the Reds get through the loss of cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick, who tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding into base on opening day.
''He's been our RBI clutch man all season,'' Baker said. ''You certainly need a guy like that in the middle of your lineup, because he's going to come up with men on base.''
One of those men who is always on base is Joey Votto. That may explain why he got the $200 million deal, but I'm pretty sure Phillips will end up just fine.
The 500 Club: The Los Angeles Dodgers moved one game over .500 (48-47) while the Washington Nationals fell back to even (48-48) following the Dodgers 3-2 victory. It was another tough no-decision for Stephen Strasburg, who gave up the lead on Hanley Ramirez's two-run homer in the third inning, but at least he got off the hook when Ian Desmond tied it with an RBI single. In the ninth, Andre Ethier provided the difference with a solo home run off Rafael Soriano.
Singles win Home Run Derbys: In a game that featured eight home runs by eight different players, it was Ryan Roberts' RBI single that put the Tampa Bay Rays in position to bring home an 8-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. The go-ahead hit came in the eighth inning off of All-Star reliever Steve Delabar, and was quickly followed by a Desmond Jennings RBI double that provided some important insurance. Prior to those big hits, Tampa received only solo home runs from Ben Zobrist, Wil Myers, Evan Longoria and Kelly Johnson.
For Toronto, Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia and Brett Lawrie each hit solo shots. Jose Bautista muscled up for a two-run homer in the third.
Buck 250: Buck Showalter became the fourth manager, along with Joe Torre, Gene Mauch and Dick Williams, to win 250 games with at least four different teams in the Orioles 3-1 victory over the Rangers. Showalter has also won more than 250 games with the New York Yankees (1992-95), Arizona (1998-2000) and Texas (2003-06).
Red Sox 4, Yankees 2: Felix Doubront held the Yankees hitless through four innings and extended his streak to 12 consecutive starts with three runs or fewer allowed.
Phillies 13, Mets 8: New York outscored Philadelphia 8-2 over the final six and a half innings. Unfortunately, they were already down 11-0.
Brewers 2, Marlins 0: Carlos Gomez and Juan Francisco each homered for Milwaukee.
Mariners 10, Astros 7: Brad Miller's two home runs and five RBIs trumped Brandon Barnes' cycle for Houston.
Braves 6, White Sox 4: Chicago has lost 32 of 45 and falls to 19 games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 27, 2007, when they were 70-89.
Royals 1, Tigers 0: Ervin Santana allowed only two singles over 7 1/3 scoreless innings to further boost his trade value.
Twins 3, Indians 2: Cleveland fails to gain ground thanks to Joe Mauer's go-ahead single and stellar work by Minnesota's bullpen.
Cardinals 9, Padres 6: Jake Westbrook allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings and also contributed a single and double.
Cubs 3, Rockies 1: Three-hit major league debut for Junior Lake.
Angels 4, A's 1: Albert Pujols hits career home run No. 491 in support of Jered Weaver.
Giants 2, Diamondbacks 0: Chad Gaudin tossed seven scoreless as San Francisco moves to within 5.5 of Arizona in the NL West. The Dodgers are now 1.5 back.
''You had to mention four different teams. Count the losses, I probably have as many of them. Been fortunate to have good players. Tonight was a good example of that.''
— Buck Showalter on his managing milestone.
Johnny Knoxville, Rob Riggle, J.K. Simmons, Angela Kinsey and Sarah Chalke (left to right) sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in Kansas City.
• The Phillies scored 11 runs in the first three innings on Friday. In their three games prior to the All-Star break, they scored a total on 10 runs.
• With wins on Friday, the Rays and Dodgers are both an MLB-best 18-5 since June 22. (via ESPN Stats & Info)
• Chris Davis is 3 for 34 with 20 strikeouts in 10 career games against his former team, the Rangers.