Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rollins, Victorino Victimize Cardinals; Pena Leads Rays Comeback

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 25, 2009 American League After leading the Rays 8-1, the Toronto Blue Jays managed to squander all of that over the final four innings of regulation and finally lose the game, 10-9, in 12 innings. Jason Bartlett's double scored Ben Zobrist with the game winner, but it was Carlos Pena and his teammates who kept rallying the rays in the late innings. Pena went 2-for-6 with a bases loaded triple in the 7th inning and a solo homer in the 9th which got the Rays to within one run. Willie Aybar tied the game one out later. Pena drove in four runs and scored twice; his home run was his 25th, tying him for the league lead with the Yanks' Mark Teixeira. The Rays are still a factor in the AL East, trailing the Yankees by 5 1/2 games, and 4 games behind second place Boston. Toronto's loss dropped them 12 1/2 out in the division. National League With a 6 1/2 game lead over the Marlins and Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies are not only on cruise control in the NL East, they have shifted into overdrive, winning 16 of 21 games in the month of July. After taking one on the chin Friday in an 8-1 home loss to St. Louis, the Phils came back in the second game of the division-leader series with a vengeance, beating up Cardinals' starter Kyle Lohse and five relievers to the tune of a 14-6 laugher. The Phillies banged out the same number of hits as they scored runs, including home runs by Jimmy Rollins (left) and Shane Victorino (right), the #1 and #2 hitters in their potent lineup. The back-to-back, 6th inning homers were of the grand slam variety (Rollins) and a solo shot by Victorino. Rollins went 2-for-5, with 5 RBI and 2 runs, while Victorino also stroked three singles in a perfect 4-for-4 game, driving in 3 and scoring 3 times. The 5-run inning turned a 4-3 Cardinal lead into an 8-4 deficit and the Phillies added six more in the 7th to put the game away. Having gotten off to a very poor start in 2008, Rollins is batting .315 over the past 8 games, while Victorino has been solid all season, checking in at .318. NOTES: St. Louis' loss at Philadelphia assisted in tightening the race in the torrid NL Central, as the Cubs and Brewers won, while the Astros suffered a loss. The Cards' lead is down to just 1/2 game over Chicago, with Houston 1 1/2 back and Milwaukee 2 1/2 out. In the AL, the Tigers took their third straight from second place Chicago, improving their lead to 3 games in the Central. In the West, the Angels continued to gradually pull away, now 4 1/2 ahead of Texas, as the Angels won their 8th straight, 11-5 over Minnesota, while the Rangers dropped a 6-3 decision at Kansas City.

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