MLB News and Notes August - 29

MLB News and Notes August - 29

Notes from Tuesday's games
August 28, 2007

BOSTON: RHP Eric Gagne is getting his first taste of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. ``It's like the Montreal Canadiens against the Quebec Nordiques. You guys know anything about that?'' said Gagne, from Canada. ``It's going to be exciting.'' ... Backup catcher Doug Mirabelli, on the disabled list with a strained right calf, was with the team and planned to take batting practice before the game. Mirabelli is expected to come off the DL when he is eligible on Sunday.
   
NEW YORK: LHP Sean Henn was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reliever Chris Britton was recalled from the Yankees' top farm club. Henn threw 79 pitches Monday night against Detroit. ... First-round draft pick Andrew Brackman had elbow ligament replacement surgery last Friday and is expected to be sidelined 12-18 months. The right-hander's operation was performed by Dr. James Andrews. ... Hideki Matsui, who has a sore knee, was the DH again. But manager Joe Torre didn't sound concerned. ``I'm sure I could write his name in there and he could play left field,'' Torre said. Johnny Damon started in left again. ... Torre on Boston slugger David Ortiz, a longtime Yankees nemesis: ``I don't think that because he's hit fewer home runs that he scares you any less.''


MINNESOTA:
Manager Ron Gardenhire met with RHP Carlos Silva following Monday's 8-3 loss to the Indians. Silva was upset with where his infield was playing on DH Travis Hafner's two-run single up the middle in the fourth. Following the hit, the pitcher was removed and had an animated discussion with first-base coach Jerry White in the dugout. Later, he and Gardenhire met. ``We talked for a long time,'' Gardenhire said. ``Carlos is an emotional guy. I wanted to take care of it.'' ... C Mike Redmond re-aggravated a knuckle injury while batting in the fifth inning Monday. The injury has bothered him for six weeks, but with starting C Joe Mauer (strained hamstring) out of the lineup, Redmond has no choice but to keep playing. ``It is what it is,'' said Redmond, who grounded into a triple play on Monday. ``These games are big.'' ... Gardenhire is still unsure when Mauer will return. ... RHP Scott Baker is scheduled to start one of the games of Friday's doubleheader with Kansas City. Baker is at his Louisiana home to be with his wife, Leann, who gave birth to a son, Easton, five weeks premature. Baker is slated to rejoin the team in Cleveland on Wednesday and throw a side session.

CLEVELAND: DH Travis Hafner may finally be back in the swing. Slumping all season, he's showing signs his struggles may be over. Hafner, who has batted just .235 - .073 points below his 2006 average - since April 26 is stinging the ball again. ``He's closer now than maybe he has been all year,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ``You watch in BP, you watch the swings he takes in games and you watch the way the ball comes off his bat. There's a lot of good things happening there.'' Sure enough. About two hours after Wedge's comments, Hafner hit his first homer since Aug. 6 to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. It was his 125th career homer as Cleveland's DH, matching Andre Thornton's club record. ... The triple play turned by the Indians in Monday's series opener against Minnesota was the 29th in club history. Interestingly, two Indians Hall of Famers grounded into double plays against Cleveland. In 1915, Nap Lajoie, then with Philadelphia, hit into one. And in 1939, in Early Wynn's rookie season with Washington, the right-hander grounded into one turned by Kenny Keltner and Lou Boudreau.


TAMPA BAY: A single in the first inning Tuesday gave Carl Crawford 43 hits in August, most in the majors and one hit shy of matching Aubrey Huff's club record for hits in a month, set in August 2002. ... A makeup game Monday forced Tampa Bay to play three games in three cities in three days for the first time in franchise history. The Rays closed out a homestand Sunday with a win over Oakland, made up a May 26 rainout against the White Sox in Chicago on Monday and began a three-game series Tuesday in Baltimore.

BALTIMORE: The Orioles designated RHP Paul Shuey for assignment Tuesday and recalled LHP Kurt Birkins from Triple-A Norfolk. Shuey, who had not pitched in the majors since 2004 after undergoing hip surgery, was 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA and one save in 25 games. He allowed nine runs in the final two innings of a 30-3 loss to Texas on Aug. 22. ``It hurt to tell (Shuey) he was done with us,'' manager Dave Trembley said. ``I thought he did so much more than just suck up some innings for us when a lot or lesser guys wouldn't have.'' Birkins, in his fifth stint with the Orioles this year, is 0-1 with a 9.95 ERA in seven games. ... Trembley didn't say when rookie RHP Radhames Liz would start again, but said that Liz will not pitch out of the bullpen. Liz lost in his major league debut Saturday against Minnesota.


DETROIT: The Tigers are looking to acquire a bat after DH-OF Gary Sheffield was placed on the disabled list Monday with a sore right shoulder. ``Have we tossed some names around? Sure,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``But when somebody knows that you're in dire need of something, the ante goes up. We're trying to win, but we're not going to do something foolish.'' ... RHP Chad Durbin, who has started 17 games and made 15 relief appearances, will likely start Friday at Oakland. He would replace rookie RHP Jair Jurrjens, who left a start Sunday in the second inning with right shoulder inflammation and was placed on the disabled list. Leyland said Jurrjens would likely pitch out of the bullpen when he returns.

KANSAS CITY: RHP Kyle Davies, who gave up seven runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in two innings Saturday in a loss to the Indians, has been pushed back a day in the rotation. Instead of starting Thursday against the Tigers, Davies will start the first game of a doubleheader Friday at Minnesota. RHP Leo Nunez, who has been skipped a start with two days off in the past week, will start in Davies' place Thursday. ... LHP Jorge De La Rosa, who is on the disabled list with an elbow strain, will make at least one more rehab start in the minor leagues. De La Rosa yielded five runs on four hits, including two home runs, in two innings Monday against Tulsa for Class AA Wichita. ---

KANSAS CITY: RHP Kyle Davies, who gave up seven runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in two innings Saturday in a loss to the Indians, has been pushed back a day in the rotation. Instead of starting Thursday against the Tigers, Davies will start the first game of a doubleheader Friday at Minnesota. RHP Leo Nunez, who has been skipped a start with two days off in the past week, will start in Davies' place Thursday. ... LHP Jorge De La Rosa, who is on the disabled list with an elbow strain, will make at least one more rehab start in the minor leagues. De La Rosa yielded five runs on four hits, including two home runs, in two innings Monday against Tulsa for Class AA Wichita. ---

CHICAGO: INF Alex Cintron was placed on the restricted list on Tuesday by Major League Baseball after his bereavement leave expired. Manager Ozzie Guillen said he wanted Cintron to stay in Puerto Rico with his ailing mother until Cintron felt comfortable returning to the team. ``His mom is fine, everything's fine,'' Guillen said. ``But I told him I don't want him to come back here, then go back to Puerto Rico. So I told him to be sure when you get here, you're here for good. He should be here in the next couple days.'' ... LHP John Danks is trying to scrape together tickets for the contingent of family and friends expected to be on hand for his first big league start in his home state against the Rangers on Thursday night. Danks was in the Texas organization until he was traded to the White Sox in a five-player deal that brought RHP Brandon McCarthy to the Rangers last December. Danks said he had no hard feelings toward the Rangers. ``Baseball's a business,'' Danks said. ``I understand why they traded me. I expected to be a Ranger, but they had to fill their needs. I wish Brandon the best but I'm happy the White Sox wanted me and gave me an opportunity.''

TEXAS: SS Michael Young was back in the lineup after sitting out one game and having an off day to rest a sore back. ``It worked out,'' Young said. ``I don't feel anything in my back. It was good to take two days off and put it behind me.'' Young has missed four games this season. ... C Adam Melhuse, designated for assignment by the Rangers, cleared waivers and is now a free agent. ... RHP Edinson Volquez is expected to be among the Rangers' callups when rosters are expanded on Saturday, and Volquez will probably get the start Saturday night at the Angels. ... 1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia was scratched from the original lineup due to a cold.


TORONTO: The Blue Jays signed LHP Joe Kennedy to a minor league contract Tuesday and assigned him to Triple-A Syracuse. Kennedy, who started the season in Oakland and most recently pitched for Arizona, is expected to be called up to the major leagues in September. He had a 20.25 ERA in three relief appearances for the Diamondbacks before being designated for assignment on Aug. 15. ... RHP Roy Halladay will make his third attempt at win No. 15 on Wednesday night against Oakland. In his two previous attempts, Toronto lost 3-2 in extra innings to Baltimore and was shut out by the Angels. ... DH Frank Thomas is one of three AL players to lead his team in home runs, walks and RBIs. New York's Alex Rodriguez and Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena are the others.

OAKLAND:
RHP Rich Harden, who has been on the disabled list because of a strained right shoulder since July 8, rejoined the A's on Tuesday to continue his rehab work and is scheduled to throw off the mound Wednesday. Projected to be Oakland's ace this season, Harden has spent two stints on the DL and has appeared in just seven games with the A's. ``I definitely feel like I'm heading down the right path,'' Harden said. ``I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself. That's the key, not trying to figure out what I'm going to be doing in four weeks. I just need to figure out what I'm going to do tomorrow.'' ... INF Marco Scutaro continues to be plagued by dizzy spells and ringing in his ears. He nixed plans for an MRI exam Monday because of claustrophobia and said he might consult an ear specialist if the condition continues. ... LHP Dallas Braden, sent down to Triple-A Sacramento on Aug. 13, struck out 17 batters Monday, two short of the Pacific Coast League record.

REDS: C David Ross was activated for Tuesday's doubleheader in Pittsburgh and started the second game after being out two weeks because of a concussion. ... RHP Tom Shearn, who finally made it to the majors after pitching 12 years in the minors, turned 30 on Tuesday. He beat the Marlins on Sunday in his first major league start. Shearn became the eighth player to debut with the Reds this season. The Yankees lead the majors with nine rookie debuts. ... The Reds began a six-day, seven-game road trip to Pittsburgh and St. Louis. On their most recent trip, they went 4-2 at Chicago and Milwaukee - their first winning trip since June 2006.

PIRATES: LHP Zach Duke (elbow) will pitch a sideline session in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, before a planned minor league rehabilitation start for Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates' opening day starter hasn't pitched for them since late June. ... RHP Salomon Torres, sidelined again because of a sore elbow, will rest for several days before starting to throw again Friday. He's not eligible to return until Sept. 6. ... CF Chris Duffy (left shoulder), also out since late June, will see a specialist Wednesday, as will LHP Sean Burnett (elbow). Duffy was initially sidelined with a sprained ankle, but had to shut down a rehabilitation stay at Bradenton, Fla., when the shoulder problem developed. ... OF-1B Ryan Doumit (sprained left wrist) has been cleared to resume throwing, though his return remains uncertain.


FLORIDA: Commissioner Bud Selig was in South Florida to meet with city and county officials on the Marlins' ballpark, but did not stay for Tuesday's game. Proposals to build a new stadium for the team have repeatedly failed. ... Injured LHP Renyel Pinto threw a bullpen session Tuesday. Pinto is on the disabled list because of a strained shoulder. ... The Marlins have lost 12 of their past 13 games. The past three games, they have allowed an average of 11 runs. ... 2B Dan Uggla has 26 HR this year, one shy of the 27 he hit this past season. ... Manager Fredi Gonzalez apologized Tuesday for his behavior with reporters following Monday's 13-2 loss. ``I apologize to you guys for being short. I was worse than short,'' he said. Gonzalez responded to three questions after Monday's game by saying only ``We lost.''

ATLANTA:
3B Chipper Jones was scheduled to start Tuesday. Jones had three hits and scored three runs Monday, but left the game in the fifth. He missed Sunday's game at St. Louis because of a strained right groin. ... Tuesday was the Braves' ninth game of a 10-game road trip. The Braves are 3-5 on this road trip ... For the first time this season, RHP John Smoltz started on three days of rest Tuesday.


NEW YORK: RHP Pedro Martinez could rejoin the rotation in September after making at least one more rehab start in the minor leagues. Mets general manager Omar Minaya said he was hopeful that if all goes well, Martinez could start during the final two weeks of the regular season. ... RF Endy Chavez was activated from the DL and batted eighth. ... RHP Brian Lawrence (1-2) was sent to Triple-A New Orleans to make room for Chavez. ... Mets manager Willie Randolph said Lawrence likely would be called up again in September after the rosters expand. ... 1B Carlos Delgado hit his 426th career homer, tying him with Billy Williams for 38th on the career list. ... LHP Tom Glavine recorded his 2,557th career strikeout, putting him 26th on the career list.

PHILADELPHIA:
Manager Charlie Manuel said injured LHP Cole Hamels looked good during a bullpen session on Tuesday and should be ready to pitch in this weekend's series, probably Sunday, at Florida. ... The Phillies designated RHP John Ennis for assignment. Ennis earned a save in his only appearance of the season. He was designated to make room for Tuesday's starter Adam Eaton. ... RF Jayson Werth struck out looking in the second inning, ending his streak of hits in nine straight at_bats.


MILWAUKEE: The slumping Brewers were hoping to get their ace Ben Sheets back to start Wednesday's second game. Sheets (10-4) has been out since mid-July because of a sprained finger on his right hand. Milwaukee has fallen out of first during his absence. Sheets threw before Tuesday night's game, from the outfield and not the mound. ``He was fine,'' Yost said. ``We don't have to make a move right now but if he feels as good as he feels today, then we'll probably go with Benny tomorrow. ... Claudio Vargas was put on the disabled list because of a strained lower back. He lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his last start against the Giants, giving up six runs and five hits with a walk and hit batter. ... Yost is confident the Brewers can rediscover their winning ways after losing 10 of 13. They're in second place after holding first for 125 days this season. ``It's just been a combination of things,'' he said. ``We've been giving up runs early and we've been giving up runs late. We've been scoring runs early, but we haven't scored them late.''

CHICAGO:
A media mob descended on the Cubs' clubhouse for the start of their three-game series with the Brewers, the final meeting of the season between the top two teams in the AL Central. Asked how much was riding on the series, manager Lou Piniella had this observation: `` So much riding in August? I don't know. ... You want to win this series no question. We don't play Milwaukee anymore the rest of the time, it's the last time we'll see them and it would be nice to pick up ground. But the secret to this thing is to be ahead the last day of the season.'' ... The Cubs' schedule the rest of the way has only seven games against teams not in the NL Central - four against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field next week. ... The Cubs are one of three NL teams to have three starters with at least 10 wins - Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis. The others are the Mets and Brewers. ... The Cubs were 8-11 after Alfonso Soriano went on the DL.


ST. LOUIS: SS David Eckstein returned to the lineup after taking a pitch off his right index finger while trying to bunt in Saturday's win over Atlanta. ... Manager Tony La Russa hopes Chris Duncan's two-run double on Friday is an indication that he's going to snap out of his August slump and help the Cardinals in the stretch run. Duncan batted .348 in July, but is hitting only .167 this month. ``He needs the at_bats,'' La Russa said. ``He's getting closer to himself.'' Duncan has 20 home runs this season, but he hadn't hit one in 28 games (67 at_bats) heading into Tuesday's game in Houston. Only four NL teams have hit fewer homers than the Cardinals and La Russa said Duncan needs to start producing if St. Louis intends to make a playoff surge. ``He has the potential to be an impact guy,'' La Russa said. ... Counting Tuesday's game, the Cardinals have 35 games without an open date over the final 34 days of the regular season. If no games are canceled, that would set a major-league record for most consecutive games without an off day to end a regular season.

HOUSTON: New manager Cecil Cooper had a hectic first day on the job. Cooper took over the team after Phil Garner was fired Monday. He started his Tuesday by running errands for his wife, Octavia, then returned several phone calls from family members and friends, congratulating him on his promotion. He planned to call Garner after Tuesday's game or early Wednesday. ... 1B Lance Berkman said he and his teammates are to blame for Garner's firing. ``Phil never threw a pitch or swung the bat or took the field in the three years he was here,'' said 1B Lance Berkman. ``We're the ones that do that. We had to either win or lose the game on the field.'' ... SS Adam Everett jogged in the outfield before batting practice as Astros' trainer Dave Labossiere watched him. Everett broke his right leg in June in a collision with LF Carlos Lee.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August - 29

COLORADO: RHP Aaron Cook, nursing a strained muscle in his left side, threw 46 pitches in a simulated game, stopping and starting three times to more closely mimic a true game. He was able to throw all of his pitches, an encouraging sign to manager Clint Hurdle. ``We were going to play it by ear (with number of segments),'' Hurdle said. ``As he went, he said he felt good. Tomorrow we'll see how he feels. That will lead us further on our trail - hopefully in the right direction.'' ... OF Willy Taveras (right quad strain) had two of the three hits that Triple-A Colorado Springs managed Monday against Sacramento's Dallas Braden, who struck out 17. Taveras was scheduled to play again Tuesday night and is expected to return to action when the Rockies travel to Arizona to begin a three-game series on Friday. ... LHP Jeremy Affeldt left the team to be with his wife when she gives birth.

SAN FRANCISCO: RHP Vinnie Chulk does not have a blood clot in his arm after all. He has Buerger's Disease in his middle finger, a circulatory disorder affecting the arms and legs that can be caused partially from the use of chewing tobacco. Athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said he and doctors are still doing some investigating to determine what course of action to take. ``If he continues to use tobacco products it could be an issue that could spread to other fingers or his toes,'' Groeschner said. ... Manager Bruce Bochy said rookie RHP Tim Lincecum likely will have his next turn in the rotation skipped as a precaution - and the other starters will likely have one or two extra days between outings after Thursday's off day. ``We may make an adjustment,'' Bochy said. ``We're talking about it now.'' A six-man rotation for September also is a possibility.

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Yankees pull Mussina from rotation, Kennedy to start Saturday
August 28, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -After winning 247 games in the major leagues, Mike Mussina lost his spot in the New York Yankees' rotation Tuesday.

Following three terrible starts in a row, the 38-year-old right-hander was told by manager Joe Torre that he'll be passed over for his next scheduled start Saturday against Tampa Bay.

``He was disappointed, naturally. This was very difficult for me,'' Torre said. ``We have relied on him every year since he's been here.''

The Yankees will call up touted prospect Ian Kennedy, a first-round draft pick last year, from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to pitch against the last-place Devil Rays in the middle of a pennant race.

How long Kennedy stays in the rotation will depend on how well he pitches.

``It's basically what we're getting from that spot. That's what you look at first,'' Torre said.

Mussina refused comment as he walked out of the clubhouse following New York's 5-3 victory over Boston on Tuesday night.

Torre didn't say whether he would consider using Mussina out of the bullpen. The manager said he spoke to Mussina and said: ```Keep doing what you're doing. Keep doing your work. Keep doing your throwing so you don't lose that, the arm strength part of it.'''

Not long ago, Mussina was the team's top starter, but he has faded fast. After going 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA last season, he is 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA this year. He has a 17.69 ERA in his past three starts, struggling with velocity and control.

Kennedy, who pitched for Scranton last Saturday, is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in six starts at Triple-A. The 22-year-old right-hander played college ball at Southern California.

``He's got great mound presence,'' said Yankees rookie Joba Chamberlain, who called Kennedy his best friend. ``He understands how to pitch and how to get outs. He's going to come up and do a great job. It's going to be exciting to see.''

Before the game, Torre said he wanted to speak with Mussina about his recent struggles before making a decision. He said the pitcher ``earned that conversation'' because of ``who he is and what he's done.''

``I just want to hear how he feels, and from there we'll talk about what we're going to do,'' Torre said before the game.

``Some conversations are difficult to have,'' he added. ``I hope he makes it easy on me.''

Mussina's last three starts have been particularly alarming. He has allowed 19 earned runs in 9 2-3 innings spanning two outings against the hard-hitting Detroit Tigers and one against the Los Angeles Angels.

Before this slump, Mussina won four straight starts - giving up eight runs in all - and improved to 8-7.

Has he run out of gas? Does he need a breather?

Or, is he completely finished? That's certainly what Yankees fans are afraid of, especially since Mussina has a year remaining on his $23 million, two-year contract.

Mussina and Torre have both said they think the right-hander has more productivity left, but the Yankees decided they couldn't afford to wait for him to find his form.

New York heads into the final month of the season fighting for a playoff spot, so every game is crucial. The Yankees began the day two games behind Seattle, the AL wild-card leader. With their victory over Boston, they pulled within seven games of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.

``You like to be loyal to all your players. But loyalty to all 25 comes before loyalty to any individual,'' Torre said.

The manager added that he spoke to Mussina recently about the possibility of skipping a turn if he thought that might benefit him.

``I know he's probably looked at some video to see if there's anything with his mechanics,'' Torre said. ``He's obviously at times trying to make more perfect pitches than he's probably capable of making.''

Mussina didn't speak with reporters before the game, either. He talked on his cell phone at his locker after batting practice, then dashed off to a team meeting.

His latest flop, three ineffective innings Monday night in a 16-0 loss at Detroit, dropped Mussina to 0-7 following Yankees losses this year. It also left him visibly dejected. Mussina said he would ``understand'' if Torre went with another pitcher next time through the rotation.

``Two weeks ago I felt really good about the way I was throwing the ball,'' Mussina said Monday night. ``Two weeks later it's completely at the other end of the spectrum and I really don't feel like I can do much of anything right, and I haven't helped us at all in the last three games that I pitched. It's disappointing.

``I don't even know how to describe it because I've never had to deal with it before,'' he added.

Mussina was hurt by some bad luck and poor defense Monday night, which Torre noted.

``There were some balls that with any kind of luck he would have had a better result. I know he wasn't happy with it,'' Torre said. ``He threw more strikes, gave himself more of a chance. I thought it was better. I thought he was a little freer throwing the ball. I thought he got frustrated quicker.''

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Orioles end Shuey's comeback, recall Birkins from Triple-A
August 28, 2007

BALTIMORE (AP) -The Orioles cut ties with right-hander Paul Shuey on Tuesday, ending his comeback with Baltimore.

Shuey, signed to a minor league contract as a free agent in February, made it back to the majors for the first time since 2004 after undergoing hip surgery. He was 0-1 with one save and a 9.82 ERA in 25 games.

``We needed to make a move. We needed to try something different,'' Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. ``He told me that he expected it. ... It's best for the team.''

Shuey gave up nine runs in the final two innings of the Orioles' 30-3 loss to Texas on Aug. 22, capping the first 30-run game in the majors since 1897.

``It hurt to tell him he was done with us,'' Trembley said. ``I thought he did so much more than just suck up some innings for us when a lot or lesser guys wouldn't have.''

Shuey had already cleaned out his locker and departed the clubhouse before the Orioles began a three-game series with Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The Orioles have 10 days to trade, waive or send him to the minors.

Baltimore recalled left-hander Kurt Birkins from Triple-A Norfolk.

``He's a friend of mine - playing with him early in the year at Norfolk, him helping me through some rough times early in the year,'' Birkins said.

Birkins is 0-1 with a 9.95 ERA in seven relief appearances. But in 19 starts and one relief outing at Norfolk, Birkins went 8-4 with a 3.07 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 105 2-3 innings.

``The changeup has been the pitch that my success really depends on, and I've had trouble with it up here,'' Birkins said.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August - 29

Baseball Today - August 29
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD

Wednesday, Aug. 29

Minnesota at Cleveland (7:05 p.m. EDT). Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia are each in search of win No. 15.

STARS Tuesday

-Ryan Howard, Phillies, hit a game-ending homer in the 10th inning to lift Philadelphia over the New York Mets 4-2.

-Freddy Sanchez, Pirates, drove in five runs in the opener, then scored the go-ahead run in second game to help Pittsburgh sweep a doubleheader from Cincinnati.

-Vladimir Guerrero, Angels, had four hits and three RBIs, helping Los Angeles rally from five runs down to beat Seattle.

-Matt Cain, Giants, struck out eight over seven innings to lead San Francisco to a 3-1 win at home against Colorado.

AWESOME AUGUST

Andy Pettitte allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings to win his sixth straight start in the New York Yankees' 5-3 win over Boston on Tuesday. Pettitte improved to 6-0 this month, making him 45-16 in August during his career. ... Jake Westbrook allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings to improve to pick up the win in Cleveland's 6-5 victory over Minnesota. The right-hander went 4-1 this month with a 1.90 ERA.

LEAKY PEN

Tampa Bay used an 11-run eighth inning to beat Baltimore 15-8 on Tuesday to hand the Orioles their seventh straight loss. The Orioles' bullpen has yielded 46 runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings during the skid. Baltimore's bullpen has a 22.29 ERA during the losing streak.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Miguel Tejada hit two of Baltimore's six home runs in a 15-8 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. ... Corey Hart drove in three runs, providing all of Milwaukee's offense in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs. ... Magglio Ordonez went 4-for-5 in Detroit's 6-3 loss to Kansas City and is hitting .404 in August

SNAPPED

Brandon Webb allowed a season-high six earned runs over 5 1-3 innings and had his six-game winning streak snapped in Arizona's 6-4 loss at San Diego on Tuesday. It was his shortest outing since June 22, when he lasted five innings in a 7-1 loss to Baltimore.

DREADFUL

The White Sox lost for the 14th time in 17 games and dropped their seventh straight on the road, 4-3 at Texas on Tuesday.

SLUMPING

Oakland dropped its fifth straight, 5-4 to Toronto on Tuesday.

SPEAKING

''It's not fun. It's embarrassing, it's tiring. It's not good.'' - Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, after the Orioles' bullpen surrendered 11 runs in the eighth inning of a 15-8 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Baltimore has been outscored 85-28 during their seven-game losing streak.

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Sheets to return to Brewers
ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO -- The Milwaukee Brewers will bring ace right-hander Ben Sheets off the disabled list Wednesday to start against the Chicago Cubs.

Sheets, on the DL since July 16 with a sprained middle finger on his right hand and bothered by blisters, threw in the outfield before Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Cubs.

''He was fine,'' said manager Ned Yost, who announced after the game Sheets would start Wednesday.

Sheets is 10-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 19 starts this season. He missed 40 games and Milwaukee went 14-26 while he was on the DL, falling out of first place in the NL Central.

''It provides a little stability for your club. Having your No. 1 guy back out there helps,'' Yost said.

Milwaukee also placed right-hander Claudio Vargas on the disabled list because of a strained lower back. He lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his last start against the Giants, giving up six runs and five hits with a walk and hit batter.

Vargas is 10-4 with a 5.13 ERA in 25 games, including 23 starts.

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Cecil Cooper takes over as Astros manager
ASSOCIATED PRESS

HOUSTON -- Cecil Cooper has never had a problem communicating with players individually. It's the group settings Cooper is going to have to get used to as the new manager of the Houston Astros.

Cooper took over as manager after Phil Garner was fired Monday, getting a little more than a month to show that he should have the job next year. The Astros began Tuesday 58-73, nine games behind first-place Chicago in the NL Central.

Cooper, Houston's bench coach the last three seasons, met with his team for about 30 minutes before batting practice.

''I'm pretty comfortable with the players when it's just moving around with them and talking one-on-one,'' Cooper said. ''What I have difficulty with is when it's a big group. I struggle with that a little bit, but those are things I have to get through and work through. The more I do it, the better I'll get.''

Team owner Drayton McLane also fired general manager Tim Purpura on Monday and appointed team president Tal Smith the interim replacement. McLane said he'd like to have a permanent GM in place by the end of this season.

McLane suggested at Monday's announcement that the Astros' final 31 games this season amounted to an audition for Cooper, the first black manager in franchise history.

''I don't feel any pressure, really. This is something I've done my whole life,'' Cooper said.

The Astros were surprised by the moves, which came less than two years after the franchise made its first trip to the World Series. Until Monday, first baseman Lance Berkman had no inkling that Garner was in danger of losing his job.

''Not that the manager has zero impact,'' Berkman said, ''but I think many times, the manager gets too much credit for success and too much blame for as poor a season as we're having.''

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Cooper has built a reputation around baseball as a skilled, competent coach. But La Russa wasn't happy to see Garner go.

''Phil was outstanding,'' La Russa said. ''They know their organization and they made their move. What I know is Phil Garner did a hell of a job against us every game.''

Cooper didn't make any major lineup changes, vowing as he did on Monday that he could win with the current roster. He said the team's main problem has been complacency.

''We have to play with more excitement, more fire,'' Cooper said. ''This is not a criticism of anyone, but we have been really flat, particularly in the last week or so, and we need to pick it up. Sometimes, you just look at the team in general and things are just not clicking.''

A five-time All-Star during his 17-year playing career, Cooper is a major league manager for the first time. He was the bench coach in Milwaukee in 2002 and managed Triple-A Indianapolis for two seasons before joining the Astros when Garner replaced the fired Jimy Williams in 2004.

''I don't think you ever know what a guy is going to be like as a manager until he is the manager,'' Astros reserve infielder Chris Burke said. ''At the same time, I see a lot of leadership, I see a lot of poise and ability to relate to the players. Those are a lot of good qualities right there.''

St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols shook Cooper's hand on the field before Tuesday's game. Berkman said Cooper's success as a player gives him instant credibility in the Astros' clubhouse.

''He's been around a long time and, in my opinion, he's a borderline Hall of Fame player,'' Berkman said. ''He understands how a team works and what makes a team successful. I think he's deserving of a shot to be a manager.

''The fact that he was an outstanding player certainly helps when it comes to dealing with us in here.''

Berkman said he was ''sad to see Phil go,'' but he thinks the Astros were smart to promote from within the organization.

''Cooper's been here as long as Phil has. We know him really well,'' Berkman said. ''I don't see it as going to be a really huge change in philosophy or way we're going to operate in the clubhouse. From that standpoint, the transition is not going to be a difficult one.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes August - 29

Dodgers claim RHP Loaiza, saving A's more than $8 million
August 29, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) -The Los Angeles Dodgers claimed right-hander Esteban Loaiza off waivers from the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, assuming nearly $8.5 million in guaranteed salary.

Loaiza, a two-time All-Star, had made only two starts after missing the first 4 1/2 months of the season because of three different injuries. He allowed just three earned runs in 14 2-3 innings in the two starts and gives the Dodgers depleted rotation a boost for the stretch run.

Los Angeles signed David Wells last week as general manager Ned Colletti tries to overcome injuries to Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf and Hong-Chih Kuo and ineffectiveness by Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson.

``At this time of the year, we're looking for any way to improve the team and Esteban is a talented veteran who we hope can contribute down the stretch and next season,'' Colletti said. ``He has a history of winning games and right now that's what's most important to our team.''

The Dodgers assume the $1.08 million Loaiza is owed for the rest of this season, as well as his $7 million salary for 2008. Loaiza, 35, also has a $7.5 million club option for 2009 with a $375,000 buyout.

Loaiza has a 124-108 career record and 4.60 ERA in 362 career games for the Pirates, Rangers, Blue Jays, White Sox, Yankees, Nationals and Athletics.

To make room for Loaiza on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers transferred outfielder Jason Repko to the 60-day disabled list.

Oakland recalled right-hander Colby Lewis from Triple-A Sacramento to take Loaiza's place on the roster.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August - 29

Coutlangus back with Reds, Ramirez sent down
August 29, 2007

PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Cincinnati Reds recalled left-hander Jon Coutlangus from Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday and optioned right-hander Elizardo Ramirez to their top farm club.

Coutlangus was 4-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 57 appearances before being optioned to Louisville on Aug. 7, where he was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA in nine games.

Ramirez allowed six runs and nine hits in five innings during the Reds' 6-4 loss in the opener of a doubleheader in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in four games, including three starts.

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