Thursday, July 2, 2009

Blalock's 9th-Inning Blast Lifts Rangers; Cueto Leds Reds 1-0 Past Arizona

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 1, 2009 American League The struggle for supremacy in the AL West reached new heights last night as the Texas Rangers got 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth on Hank Blalock's second homer of the game to knock off the Angles, 9-7. The win was the second straight for the Rangers over LA, giving them a 2-1 edge in their three-game series and shrinking LA's lead in the division to a mere 1/2-game. Blalock, who's struggled with consistency at the plate this season (.245 batting avg.), put on a power display that should keep him in the lineup. Following a solo homer in the 4th, he doubled and scored in the sixth and then delivered the dramatic blow with two outs and Michael Young standing at second. The homers were numbers 15 and 16 for Blalock. The 3 RBI upped his total to 35 for the year. National League The race for the NL Central title has been a see-saw battle all season and shows no signs of change. With all six teams within 6 games of each other, there's reason to believe in every clubhouse, from St. Louis to Pittsburgh to Houston. One team that's remained in the thick of battle - though still considered a dark horse to win the division - is the Cincinnati Reds, currently holding onto 3rd place 3 games off the pace of the Brewers and two behind second place St. Louis. On Wednesday, as pitchers across the league were in control, Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto and three relievers shut down Arizona on two hits in a 1-0 nail-biter. After walking four of the first five batters he faced, Cueto, who worked the first 6 innings, settled down and allowed only a Felipe Lopez single to open the third inning, setting down the last 12 batters he faced in order. Ageless Arthur Rhodes took the ball in the 7th, loaded the bases on a bunt single and two walks, but got out of the inning without allowing a run. David Weathers and Francisco Cordero worked perfect 8th and 9th innings, respectively.

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