Friday, August 13, 2010

Kubel Launches Twins Over White Sox; Ruiz Caps Wild Comeback as Dodgers Blow 7-Run Lead

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 12, 2010 American League Jason Kubel socked a three-run homer in the top of the 7th inning, knocking out White Sox starter Gavin Floyd as the Twins beat Chicago, 6-1, to regain first place in the AL Central. Kubel's blast - his 17th of the season - came with two out in the inning and provided a cushion for Minnesota's relievers to finish the job Francisco Liriano (11-7) had started. Liriano lasted only 5 2/3 innings, but limited the Sox to just one run on seven hits. Kubel's home run was his only hit in five at-bats. The free-swinging right fielder is batting .266, but has knocked in 73 runs. Kubel hit career-highs last year when he had 28 home runs and 103 RBI. Over his last six games, he's hit four homers driven in eight runs and scored eight times. The Twins and White Sox were tied for first place in the division when the three-game series began. Taking two out of three, the Twins leave Chicago with a slim one-game lead. National League Just a few days ago, when the Dodgers topped the Phillies, 15-9, to open a three-game series in Philadelphia, there was reason for optimism in Los Angeles. On Thursday night in Philly, after blowing an 8th inning, 9-2 lead, the good feelings have faded to disgust and the Dodgers look like dead men walking in the NL West, now nine games behind the division-leading Padres. The Dodgers led the game 4-2 after five innings, added two runs in the 7th and three more in the 8th before handing the ball over to Ronnie Belisario to open the bottom of the 8th. Belisario failed to retire a single batter, allowing four straight hits. Two relievers and three outs later, the Dodgers still felt safe entering the 9th with a 9-6 lead, knowing the baseball would be in the reliable hands of closer Jonathan Broxton. They were sorely mistaken. Broxton started off the inning by plunking Placido Polanco, then issued back-to-back walks to Mike Sweeney and Jayson Werth. With the bases loaded and no outs, it got worse, when third baseman Casey Blake allowed Ben Francisco's ground ball between his legs and into left field, allowing Polanco and Sweeney to score. The next batter, catcher Carlos Ruiz, who had singled twice earlier, lashed a drive to the left field gap that plated both the tying and winning runs, capping a wild comeback and a crucial 10-9 win for the Phillies. Broxton, like Belisario, retired not a single batter, even though he gave up just one hit, Ruiz's game-ending double. While the Dodgers sink slowly into the West, the Phillies captured the final two games of the series and picked up half a game on the idle Braves, who lead the NL East and the Phillies by two games. The Dodgers fell 6 1/2 games behind the Giants in the wold card hunt, with Philly, the Reds and the Rockies also ahead of them.

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