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THURSDAY SERVICE PLAYS

THURSDAY SERVICE PLAYS

SPORTS ADVISORS

Chicago Cubs (45-27) at Tampa Bay (42-29)

The Cubs and Rays close out their interleague series at Tropicana Field, with Tampa Bay looking to complete the three-game sweep when it hands the ball to James Shields (4-5, 3.91), who will work opposite Chicago rookie Sean Gallagher (3-3, 4.54 ERA).

Tampa Bay followed up Tuesday’s 3-2 win with a 5-4 victory on Wednesday, improving to 24-4 in its last 28 home games, including 7-1 in the last eight. The Rays are also 21-7 in their last 28 against right-handed starters and 6-1 in their last six interleague home games. However, the Rays are still a middling 7-7 in their last 14 overall, and they’re 7-20 in their past 27 against the N.L. Central.

Despite suffering a pair of one-run losses the last two nights, Chicago is still on a 26-12 roll, going 6-3 in the last nine, and the Cubs haven’t had a three-game losing streak all season. However, Lou Piniella’s club is just 16-19 on the road this year and 4-13 in its last 17 interleague road games against winning teams.

Prior to this series, these two teams hadn’t met since 2003, when Chicago won two of three at Wrigley Field.

Gallagher has given up three runs or fewer in five of his first seven major-league starts, but he has made it through at least six innings just twice. In fact, he went exactly five innings in his last two outings, both on the road, giving up a total of five runs and 10 hits, losing 3-0 at the Dodgers and 3-2 at Toronto.

In addition to losing at Los Angeles and Toronto, Gallagher suffered a 5-3 setback at Houston in his first road outing. His numbers on the highway: 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA, with the Cubs scoring a total of just five runs in the three contests.

Shields is coming off a league-imposed suspension for fighting and has been idle since June 10, when he gave up six runs and 10 hits in eight innings in a 6-1 loss at the Angels. However, the right-hander has been brilliant at home this year, going 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA in seven starts, with Tampa Bay also winning his three no-decisions at home. In fact, the Rays are 10-1 in Shields’ last 11 outings at Tropicana Field dating to 2007, but they’re 1-5 in his last six interleague outings.

The under is 5-0 in Gallagher’s last five starts (3-0 on the road), 3-0 in Shields’ last three overall and 4-1 in Shields’ last five at home.

For Chicago, the under is on streaks of 37-18-5 on the highway, 7-1-1 against winning teams and 9-3-1 in interleague play. Likewise, for Tampa Bay, the under is on runs of 13-5-1 overall, 21-8-1 at Tropicana Field, 14-7-2 in interleague play and17-7-1 in interleague home games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CHICAGO CUBS and UNDER


Oakland (39-32) at Arizona (38-34)

A pair of southpaws are set to do battle at Chase Field this afternoon, as the DBacks’ Doug Davis (2-3, 3.99 ERA) opposes Greg Smith (4-5, 3.62) in the finale of a three-game interleague set.

Arizona quickly avenged Monday’s ugly 15-1 loss to the A’s with an 11-1 rout on Tuesday, halting its three-game losing skid, as well as Oakland’s four-game overall winning streak and its five-game road winning streak. The DBacks are still just 10-18 in their last 28 overall, including 4-7 at Chase Field. They’re also in slumps of 8-20 against winning teams and 5-10 against the A.L. West.

Oakland is still 10-5 in its last 15 games, and last night’s defeat snapped a 7-0 run against N.L. West clubs.

These two teams last met in the 2006 season, with Arizona sweeping three games at Oakland. The A’s are 6-2 in their last eight trips to Chase Field, but they haven’t played there since 2001. Also, the road team had won eight straight meetings before the DBacks’ win last night.

Davis, who spent six weeks on the disabled list earlier this year while recovering from cancer treatment, is coming off his best outing of the season, as he scattered six hits and four walks over seven scoreless innings against the Royals on Friday, but he got a no-decision in his team’s 1-0 home win. Four of Davis’ last six starts have been quality outings (at least six innings pitched and three earned runs or fewer allowed).

With his dominating effort against Kansas City, Davis lowered his home ERA to 4.00 in three starts. He’s also 6-1 with a 3.19 ERA in eight career games (six starts) against Oakland, having last faced the A’s in 2002. On the downside, he’s 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in two daytime starts this season.

After two terrible starts against the Rangers and Angels (11 earned runs allowed in 11 1/3 innings), Smith bounced back on Friday at San Francisco, allowing a run on three hits in five innings, winning 5-1. The A’s are 3-1 in Smith’s last four starts.

Smith, who makes his first career start tonight against the team that drafted him, is 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA in seven starts on the road. He’s also 1-1 with a 5.20 ERA in day starts, compared with 3-4 with a 2.77 ERA at night, but Oakland is 4-1 in the 24-year-old’s five daytime outings.

The under is 7-1-1 in Smith’s last nine starts overall, including 5-1 in his last six on the road. Conversely, the over is 11-4 in Davis’ last 15 overall and 6-2 in his past eight at home.

Although the first two games of this series easily hurdled the total, the under for Oakland is still on streaks of 8-5-1 on the road, 5-2 as an underdog and 45-23-3 against the N.L. West. However, the over is 6-1-1 in the DBacks’ last eight overall, 10-3 in their last 13 against the A.L. West, 12-4-1 in their last 17 in interleague play and 23-10-2 in their last 35 interleague home games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA and UNDER

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Dave Cokin

HOU Astros and BAL Orioles
Take BAL Orioles

The 2007 Baltimore Orioles were about as awful as it gets in one-run results, staggering to the finish line at 13-31. Their extra-inning Wednesday win puts the O's at a stellar 17-10 in '08 one-run decisions. This surprising team has also snared 16 wins in games where they've trailed by two runs. Dave Trembley has energized the Orioles and they're worth backing again Thursday against the poor traveling Astros.

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Jim Feist

CLE Indians and COL Rockies
Take Over

The Indians have very good starting pitching....with the exception of Jeremy Sowers, today's starter. He has an ERA over 7 giving up 28 hits in 18 innings. At least Cleveland's offense is getting better, on a 14-5-1 run over the total. Colorado is an excellent hitter's park and struggling lefty Jorge De La Rosa takes the hill for the Rockies with his 6.89 ERA. Play the Indians/Rockies over the total!

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JEFFERSONSPORTS

EARLY RELEASE MLB FOR THURS

MINNESOTA-136
CINCINATTI-170
COLORADO-125

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Mike Rose

Pittsburgh Pirates +140

Phil Dumatrait has been a solid arm in the Buccos starting rotation this season. He comes into this afternoon’s start 3-3 overall with a 3.84 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, and Pittsburgh has won six of his nine overall starts. The Buccos also sport a winning mark in his road starts (3-2) where he owns a personal mark of 1-1 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. He’s coming off a very disappointing start at Baltimore where he blew a 6-1 lead, but he says he’s corrected the mechanics that haunted him that night. This will be his first career start against the White Sox.

Looking to outduel the Pirates left-hander will be Chicago’s Gavin Floyd who didn’t figure into the White Sox 5-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies last Friday. The effort saw his streak of three straight wins get snapped, and he was lucky not to get saddled with the loss after serving up four home runs. He currently stands 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.07 WHIP allowing 60 hits and 37 runs (31 earned) with a K/BB ratio of 49/31 in just under 85 total innings of work. At home, he’s 4-1 with a miniscule 2.82 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He made one career start against the Pirates when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2006, but is yet to face them as a member of the White Sox.

The Buccos have failed miserably throughout the first two games of this series, but I still expect them to show up in the series finale. Chicago has to be overlooking this spot with a huge set in Wrigley about to take place this weekend. Pittsburgh has secured victories in Game 3 of a series four straight times, and they’re a perfect 5-0 in Dumatrait’s starts if they lost their previous game. Roll with the dogged pirates in this spot as the catch the Palehose overlooking them for bigger game this weekend.

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BRAD DIAMOND

Play on: Oakland (Smith) over Arizona

You know quite well that lefty Greg Smith is one of my favorite young hurlers in baseball. In fact, recently the Diamond has used the youngster as a profit center in this column. Thursday should be no different as he goes up against hurler Davis (Arizona) who has suffered serious health issues this season. Recall, the Oakland club is 5-1 versus LHP, 5-0 on the road and 4-0 (before Wednesday night) last four Inter-League encounters. Finally, the pesky A’s have owned the Snakes of late, taking 4 straight.

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Marc Lawrence

Play On: Baltimore vs. Chacon.

The Orioles close out their three game series with Houston in Baltimore Thursday evening when they take on Shawn Chacon and the Astros. With the O's one of the few teams scoring runs on a regular basis these days and Chacon in rocky KW form with 9 walks and 6 strikeouts in his last three starts, look for Chacon to fall to 1-8 in his last nine team starts in June here tonight.

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Jimmy The Moose

Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles
Prediction: Baltimore Orioles

The Astros have lost 7 straight and 9 of their last 10 games overall. In their last 10 road games the Astros are 1-9. In their last 13 games as an underdog the Astros are 1-12. Houston has lost their last 5 interleague games. Houston has lost Chacon's last 3 starts. The Orioles have won 4 of their last 5 games, all have been at home. The Orioles are 13-4 in their last 17 games as a favorite. Baltimore has won 6 of their last 8 interleague games. Baltimore is also 10-4 in their last 14 home games vs. a team with a losing record. Play on the Baltimore Orioles -.

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Robert Ross

Oakland Athletics at Arizona Diamondbacks
Prediction: Oakland Athletics

Clubs have traded one-sided losses thus far with the A's on the losing end last night. Even with that they are 19-12 against the money line when playing against a team with a winning record this season while Arizona is 7-16 against the money line when playing against a team with a winning record this season and 14-20 against the money line in home games vs. an AL team with a team batting average of .260 or worse since 1997. Take Oakland!

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Big Al Mcmordie

Kansas City Royals at St Louis Cardinals
Prediction: St Louis Cardinals

At 2:15pm our member selection is on the St. Louis Cardinals over the Kansas City Royals. The incredibly injured St. Louis pitching staff (one of the most banged-up staffs in recent memory) suffered yet another blow when successful reliever-turned-starter Todd Wellemeyer left his last start with elbow soreness after getting lit up in the 20-2 shellacking at the hands of the Phillies on June 13. Although Wellemeyer has so far avoided the DL, the Cards will turn to righthander Brad Thompson today for this aftenoon's start, previously belonging to Wellemeyer. The Cards need this game to keep them competitive in the NL Central, not to mention to save them the embarassment of being swept in an interleague series by one of the American League's most pitiful teams. KC righthander Zack Greinke has really fallen on some hard times after a decent start to the season. In his last three starts, Greinke has an ERA of 6.00 and the Royals are 0-3. In fact, KC has lost the last five of Greinke's starts. Take the Cards.

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Stephen Nover

Toronto Blue Jays @ Milwaukee Brewers
PICK: Over

Toronto's A.J. Burnett is one of those Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type pitchers. Lately he's been a lot more Hyde. Burnett has been tagged for 10 earned runs and 14 hits in his past two starts, spanning just 9 1/3 innings.

Just as ominious is Burnett has issued eight walks during this time frame, while throwing 211 pitches.

Milwaukee ranks among the top five clubs in home runs. The Brewers are averaging 5.8 runs during their last nine home games. A day game at Miller Park isn't usually a pleasant afternoon for hurlers.

Toronto, though, should be able to score frequently against Milwaukee starter David Bush, who has been so ineffective this season that he was sent to the minors for a spell. Bush is 2-7 with a 5.73 ERA.

Brewers closer Salomon Torres could be fatigued after picking up a tough save last night by going 1 1/3 innings. Guillermo Mota, the Brewers' top setup man, had a rough eighth inning last night.

It's certainly not asking much for each team to score four runs.

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Scott Ferrall

OAKLAND -105 over Arizona--The A's played great in the desert and I think Smith will edge out Davis at Chase Field.  Oakland has been rattling off  lots of wins this week.

Baltimore -125 over Houston--I like Chacon, but the Astros are falling off the face of the earth.  They've been losing every night.  Take Burres here and THE OVER 10 RUNS

TAMPA -160 over Chi-Cubs--Shields get the Rays another home win.  This team simply gets it done at the Trop every time out.  Gallagher will keep the Cubs in it though, so TAKE THE UNDER 8.5 RUNS

Colorado -120 over Cleveland--De La Rosa gets the Rockies the final game of the set at Coors.  The Tribe have stunk this year and the Rockies are actually coming around.  They have won 6 of 10 heading in to Wednesday's game and are .500 at home finally

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Sports Gambling Hotline

Los Angeles +160 at CINCINNATI 

Today we are willing to take a shot on the underdog Dodgers.

We understand LA has been sliding of late, but this series in the Queen City has been exactly what they have needed to get back on track. Los Angeles has won the first two games, and are now 6-1 in the season series against the Reds.

Cincinnati is now mired in a 4-game slide, and have seen losses in 6 of their last 8.

Reds starter Aaron Harang is off a nice win over Boston, but the fact remains he is just 3-9 for the season, and to lay this kind of wood is not the kind of "value" we can get behind this Thursday afternoon.

Eric Stults will make his first start of the season for Los Angeles, and we feel with the season series results being so heavily slanted in the Dodgers' favor, we have no choice but to side with the big dog in this game.

Play on LA.

1* LOS ANGELES

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Chris Jordan

San Diego at NEW YORK

I will take a shot with Joba Chamberlain here, as it’s taken some time, but he’s found the rhythm the Yanks were hoping he’d have on the rubber and comes in off a stellar performance in Houston.

The power right-hander was clocked at 97 miles per hour on his final pitch of the outing, as he tossed six strong innings, scattering six hits and allowing just one run and striking out two. He still doesn’t have a decision as a starter, and has a 2.48 ERA this season.

With the Friars still enduring a long road trip, a matinee is not going to do them any good in the Bronx Zoo.

1* YANKEES RUN LINE

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Karl Garrett

Oakland at ARIZONA -110 

The Diamondbacks came out firing early last night, as they were able to snap a 3-game slide, and stop the A's 4-game winning streak.

The G-Man likes the D-Backs again today over the Athletics, as Doug Davis has turned in a couple of quality outings over his last three trips to the mound.

His counterpart Greg Smith has been adequate, but he usually doesn't last much past the 6th inning, and he is just 2-3 away from home with an ERA of 4.32.

Arizona is now 23-15 at home this season, and with the Dodgers starting to inch a little closer in the NL West standings, expect the Snakes to come out strong in this one, and capture the rubber game of this three game set.

Take 'Zona!

3* ARIZONA

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Bobby Maxwell

Chicago Cubs +145 at TAMPA BAY 

Improved to 18-9 with our last 27 days of FREE plays when the D'Backs destroyed the A's on Wednesday. Today we've got a complimentary selection on the Cubs as they take on the Rays in Tampa Bay.

Can the Rays sweep the Cubs out of Tampa Bay? These two have played two tight games in this series as Tampa has won 3-2 and 5-4. We don't think the sweep is there and we're playing the Cubs to get the road win in this one.

Sean Gallagher (3-3, 4.54 ERA) is on the mound for Chicago tonight against the Rays' James Shields (4-5, 3.91). Gallagher has given up three runs or less in five of his first seven big-league starts. He lasted five innings in both of his last two starts, giving up a total of five runs on 10 hits and looked poised even though the Cubs lost both outings at the Dodgers and at Toronto.

Shields hasn't pitched since June 10 when he gave up six runs on 10 hits in eight innings of a 6-1 loss to the Angels. He was suspended for fighting during the Rays' brawl with the Red Sox earlier this month.

Even with losses in the first two games of this series, the Cubs are on a 26-12 roll overall and 6-3 in their last nine. They haven't had a three-game losing streak all season and it won't start tonight. We're playing Lou Pinella's boys to at least get him one win against his old team. Play Chicago.

3* CHICAGO CUBS

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PlusLineSports Daily Baseball Selection

NYY -1.5

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Players of America

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds
The Play: Cincinnati Reds -170.0
3* (30 Units)


Cleveland Indians vs. Colorado Rockies
The Play: Cleveland Indians +115.0
Star Value: 1* (10 Units)


Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Play: Under 9.0
Star Value: 1* (10 Units)


Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago White Sox
The Play: Pittsburgh Pirates +140.0
Star Value: 1* (10 Units)

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WILD BILL

Under 9 Dodgers-Reds (1 unit)
Under 9 Padres-Yankees (2 units)
Under 11 Braves-Rangers (1 unit)
White Sox -155 (2 units)
Blue Jays -115 (1 unit)
Under 8 1/2 A's-D-backs (1 unit)
Over 10 Orioles-Astros (1 unit)
Rays -160 (2 units)

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VEGAS SPORTS PICS

Atlanta -105*

Arizona +100*

Houston +115*

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