Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Murphy Drives Rangers Closer to AL West Crown; Kershaw Shuts Out Giants

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 14, 2010 American League Replace Josh Hamilton? Hardly, but that's what Rangers' outfielder David Murphy is trying to do. Since the star of the Rangers went down on September 4 with bruised ribs, Murphy has stood in his place, mostly batting third in the lineup, and he's doing a bang-up job. Riding am 11-game hit streak into Tuesday's contest with the visiting Tigers, Murphy led the way with a pair of doubles and his 10th home run of the season, driving in two and scoring twice in an 11-4 Rangers' win. Hamilton was leading the majors in hitting with a .361 batting average when he went down, and is expected back prior to the playoffs. With 507 at-bats, he probably doesn't need any more plate appearances to claim the batting title, but Murphy is doing a good impression. Over the course of his 12-game hitting streak, he's gone 20-for-51 (.392), raising his batting average from .271 to .288. Texas took another step closer to winning the AL West with the victory. They now lead the A's by nine games and have their magic number down to 10, the lowest in the majors. National League It's life or death in the NL West, and the Giants must feel like they've just been executed. Clayton Kershaw hurled a 4-hit shutout over San Francisco Tuesday, for a 1-0 win in which the Dodgers got only one hit and scored the game's only run on an error by Giants' shortstop Jose Uribe. Kershaw faced off against Barry Zito, who took the loss but hardly deserved it. Zito lasted 6 1/3 innings, lifted after he loaded the bases with a hit batsman and two walks and Casey Blake smashed a grounder that Uribe couldn't handle, allowing Reed Johnson to score. Aided by the good fortune, Kershaw continued mowing down one Giant hitter after another. He set down the first ten batters in order, gave up hits in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th innings, didn't walk anyone and never allowed a baserunner past second. Kershaw improved to 12-10, though the victory is a hollow one for the Dodgers, who fell out of contention in August and trail the Padres by 10 1/2 games in the division. Their only satisfaction can come from ruining the Giants' chances. San Francisco trails the Padres by 1 1/2, with Colorado - 7-6 losers to the Padres Tuesday - 3 1/2 back. PENNANT NOTES: Cole Hamels struck out 13 Marlins in just 6 2/3 innings, leading the Phillies to a 2-1 win over Florida and a two-game lead in the NL East, as Atlanta was shut out by Washington, 6-0. The Reds and Cardinals both lost, so the Reds' lead remains at seven games in the Central. The Yankees won in dramatic fashion, on a pinch-hit solo homer by Jorge Posada in the 10th inning, to take an 8-7 decision over the Rays and reclaim first place in the AL East by 1/2 game. Minnesota took care of business with a 9-3 laugher over the white Sox in the first of their three-game showdown. The Sox fell seven games behind the Twins in the AL Central. Minnesota's magic number is 12.

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