MINNESOTA: The Twins began the day 7 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central, but that deficit is nothing compared to what they overcame last season to win their fourth division title in five seasons. ``Obviously, Cleveland's going to be tough, Detroit's handled us well and Chicago's hitting is going to come around because they have too many guys who can hit. So it's going to be a battle, but we think we have a team that's good enough to do it,'' reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau said. ``We haven't played as well as we can, but we haven't really been healthy for the most part all year and guys in our bullpen have been hurt and banged-up.''
te a game situation, and that's the most difficult part. But hopefully, by taking more swings and taking the same amount from both sides will keep me sharp. I'll continue to be aggressive and the hits will come sooner or later.''
BALTIMORE: Manager Sam Perlozzo said the team won't wait for its bullpen to suddenly turn around. The relievers entered the day with a blown save and a loss in each of the previous three games, and its bullpen ERA of 4.83 was 11th in the AL. ``I'm sure we're exploring options outside the organization,'' Perlozzo said. ``I'm not saying something's going to happen, but we're certainly exploring making the bullpen better, making it work again.'' ... One reason the bullpen has gone bad: repeated use. Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, Danys Baez and closer Chris Ray had each appeared in at least 28 of the Orioles' first 59 games. Ray and Baez each have four losses, and Baez has a 6.84 ERA. That has caused Perlozzo to use Walker and Bradford far more than for just the one or two batters the manager had planned before the season. ... LHP Brian Burres will go to long relief as the team skips his next start because of off days on Thursday and Monday. ... The team's 16 hits were a season high.
SEATTLE: LHP Jarrod Washburn, starting with flulike symptoms, didn't get out of the fifth inning but struck out a season high-tying six and did not walk a batter for the first time this season. After going 2-2 with a 2.97 ERA in his first five home starts, Washburn is 0-1 with a 9.42 ERA in his last three in Seattle. ... When Jon Huber allowed a run in the sixth inning, it snapped a seven-inning scoreless streak for the bullpen dating to June 3. ... LHP Horacio Ramirez is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday. But manager Mike Hargrove said the No. 4 starter, out with left shoulder tendinitis, has yet to throw off a mound and that his return is ``going to be a while.''
KANSAS CITY: SS Angel Berroa, the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year, was designated for assignment and OF Joey Gathright was recalled from Triple-A Omaha. ``Maybe Joey can give our offense a spark,'' manager Buddy Bell said. Gathright hit .374 since April 26 and went 13-for-13 in steal attempts since May 19 at Omaha. ... C Jason LaRue started in place of John Buck, who was given a day off. ... 3B Alex Gordon, in an 0-for-19 slump, returned to the lineup after sitting out one game. ... RHP David Riske has pitched 15 1-3 straight scoreless innings since May 1, lowering his ERA from 6.97 to 2.81.
Sabathia homered to center field over the head of his boyhood hero, Ken Griffey Jr. ``Without question, my biggest thrill,'' Sabathia said. ``It was awesome.'' ... LHP Cliff Lee is 2-for-17 (.118) in interleague play, but is eager to step in the batter's box. ``I can't wait,'' he said. ``Hitting is the most fun part of the game.'' ... Entering play, the Indians had hit .303 over their previous 23 games, raising their team average from .259 to .275.
Devil Rays-Blue Jays
TAMPA BAY: Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton combined to go 7-for-12 with five RBIs on Tuesday, but Tampa Bay blew a five-run lead in the ninth and lost 12-11 to Toronto. Manager Joe Maddon spoke to individual players on Wednesday and urged them to remain positive. ``There were a lot of good things attached to (the game), but it ended up being a bad day,'' Maddon said. ... Tampa Bay's bullpen recorded its 13th loss Tuesday, second-most in the major leagues. Chicago Cubs relievers have 14 losses. ... OF Elijah Dukes, stuck in an 0-17 slump, got the night off. ``I just thought he was pressing a little bit,'' Maddon said. ``He'll be back in there tomorrow.'' Dukes went 0-for-6 on Tuesday, dropping his average to .200.
TORONTO: C-INF Curtis Thigpen, called up from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday, made his major league debut. Thigpen started at 1B and batted ninth. ... C Sal Fasano, who injured his groin in Tuesday's game, was not in the starting lineup and manager John Gibbons said he'd try to avoid using Fasano as a pinch-hitter. ``He's not feeling too bad but we'd rather not,'' Gibbons said. Jason Phillips started at catcher. ... The Blue Jays purchased the contract of RHP Jordan De Jong from Syracuse and demoted RHP Brian Wolfe to Triple-A.
Yankees-White Sox
NEW YORK: LHP Andy Pettitte said his back felt fine and he expects to start Friday against Pittsburgh. ``I felt good,'' Pettitte said after throwing in the bullpen. ``I can't say I felt restricted at all.'' He left Sunday's start against Boston with lower back pain and cut back from his usual two bullpen sessions between outings to one. ``I've been feeling so good I didn't think I was going to have a problem,'' Pettitte said. ... The Yankees were no strangers to attention before, but manager Joe Torre thinks the spotlight is shining brighter on them this year. ``There are a lot of issues connected to our club, whether it's on-the-field stuff, whether it's winning or losing. Whether it's stuff that's not baseball, we get a lot of attention. I think the fact that we started off badly magnified it,'' Torre said. ... With his solo homer Tuesday, Alex Rodriguez improved to 8-for-16 with five homers and 12 RBIs in the ninth inning this year - a big improvement from 2006. Last season, he was 5-for-35 with three homers and five RBIs in the ninth.
CHICAGO: 3B Joe Crede was placed on the disabled list because of a bad back and 3B Josh Fields was called up from Triple-A Charlotte. Fields, who was batting .283 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs for Charlotte, said he's feeling comfortable at the plate. ``I've been hitting the ball well,'' he said. ``I felt like every time I walked up to the plate I could basically get a hit or hit a home run at any time. That's a good feeling, and hopefully it will continue to last.'' Fields played in 11 games for the White Sox last September. ... The White Sox are in the early stages of a stretch of 37 consecutive games against teams at .500 or below - one that started May 31 and runs through July 5. Philadelphia, at 29-29 as of Wednesday afternoon, is the only opponent during that stretch with a non-losing record. Manager Ozzie Guillen is aware that Chicago needs to put together a long winning streak. ``That's our goal,'' he said. ``I talked about how we need to win two weeks in a row. I think we have the potential to do it because of our pitching staff. We keep waiting for those two weeks.''
DETROIT: C Vance Wilson, on the DL since March 30 with a sore right elbow, went 0-for-4 on Tuesday night in the first game of a rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo. ... RHP Roman Colon has a 2.35 ERA in five relief appearances of a rehab assignment with Toledo. Colon is recovering from neck surgery on March 31.
TEXAS: Manager Ron Washington said RHP Vicente Padilla will probably be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday night against Milwaukee. Padilla was scratched from Tuesday night's start against Detroit due to right triceps irritation. Padilla will have a bullpen session on Thursday to determine his readiness for Sunday's start, but Washington said: ``He assured us he just needed to miss this one start.'' ... 2B Ian Kinsler has already reached double figures in homers and steals, becoming the 41st player in club history to do so. Kinsler has done it twice in his two seasons with the Rangers. Toby Harrah is the franchise leader with five seasons of double-digit homers and steals. ... Kinsler was 10-for-10 in steal attempts this season.
Red Sox-Athletics
is father could be by his side. The draft begins at 11 a.m. PDT, about 95 minutes before the first pitch of Boston's game against Oakland. ``Hopefully, Beau will be drafted before the first pitch,'' Francona said.
OAKLAND: CF Milton Bradley was scratched from the lineup with soreness in his right calf. Bradley, who left last Saturday's game against Minnesota with the injury, was slated to return to the lineup before the late change. LF Shannon Stewart replaced Bradley in the lineup, with Nick Swisher moving to CF. ... Closer Huston Street, who has been out since May 13 with an irritated nerve in his right elbow, made 30 light throws from 60 feet as he works his way back. Street will play catch again Friday and there's no timetable yet for his return. ``I was nervous on every single throw,'' he said. Street said it will take some time before he can trust that his arm is healthy.
d one more shot at the Braves. ``He fought me a little bit'' about sitting out, Gonzalez quipped. ... RHP Justin Miller picked up his first win since Sept. 8, 2004 while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays. ... After getting two runners thrown out the previous day, the Marlins stole a season-high five bases. Their previous high was three against Pittsburgh on May 15.
ATLANTA: RHP John Smoltz made it through six innings with an ailing shoulder, but he's not ready to say if he'll be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday. Smoltz pitched well in a loss to the Marlins on Tuesday, giving up only three hits and two runs. Still, he conceded that he didn't have his full repertoire, and it was clear he was in some pain the day after. ``I'll wait until the last minute,'' Smoltz said, referring to his next start. ``I want to be smart about it and communicate with Bobby. It's a long season.'' ... RHP Buddy Carlyle hung around the clubhouse another day, even though he's been assigned to Triple-A Richmond. He had 72 hours to report to the minor league club. ... The Braves, who are carrying 13 pitchers, plan to add another position player before they head out on a road trip next week. The most likely candidates are infielder Martin Prado and catcher Brayan Pena, who already have spent time in Atlanta.
CHICAGO: The Cubs snapped a four-series losing streak by taking 2-of-3 from the Brewers. The last time Chicago won a series was May 18-20 vs. the Chicago White Sox. ... CF Felix Pie's homer in the second made it six consecutive games that the Cubs have homered for the first time since September 6-11, 2006. It was Pie's second home run. His other came on April 27 at St. Louis during his first stint with Chicago. ... 3B Aramis Ramirez left the game after the top of the second with a left knee strain and did not return. Bench coach Alan Trammell said that Ramirez hurt himself as he stretched to beat the throw to first. Ramirez will be examined in Chicago on Thursday and should be able to rejoin the team in Atlanta.
MILWAUKEE: After taking the loss during his season debut vs. Florida on Saturday, RHP Jose Capellan pitched two scoreless innings. Capellan had two strikeouts and no walks. Before the game, he said he was happy to be back. ``They've given me another chance, and I have to take advantage of it,'' he said. ... Despite losing 2-of-3 to the Cubs at Miller Park, the Brewers still hold the best home mark (22-12) in the NL. ... The three fielding errors (J.J. Hardy had two and Prince Fielder one) were the most for the Brewers since they had three against Pittsburgh on April 18.
PITTSBURGH: OF Rajai Davis started for the second consecutive in place of OF Chris Duffy, who has gone 14-for-48 (.292) in his last 12 games. Despite swiping 10 bases in 12 attempts this season, Duffy hasn't had as many stolen base opportunities because of his .240 average, manager Jim Tracy said. ``You've got to get to first base to run,'' Tracy said. ... LHP Sean Burnett, the former No. 1 pick who is pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis, was examined Wednesday in Pittsburgh by Dr. Mark Baratz to determine the cause of his left lateral elbow irritation. No damage was found and once Burnett's symptoms cease, he can begin a throwing program.
WASHINGTON: RHP John Patterson, on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right elbow and biceps, threw a pain-free simulated game Wednesday afternoon. He will throw a bullpen session with Single-A Potomac over the weekend. ``He threw the ball well,'' manager Manny Acta said. ``Had some pop on it and snapped off a few breaking balls.'' ... Right-hander Jason Bergmann, on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, threw from a mound Wednesday afternoon for the first time since his injury in a drill aimed at accuracy. Bergmann threw 35 fastballs and changeups.
s average from .213 to .311. ... Coming into Wednesday, the Phillies led the majors with 22 outfield assists. RF Shane Victorino led the NL with eight. ... LF Pat Burrell was not in the starting lineup on Wednesday night. He is hitting .150 (12-for-80) with one homer on the road this season. ... The Phillies have the 19th overall selection in the first-year player draft Thursday. The team currently has five first-round draft picks on its roster: RHP Adam Eaton (1996), Burrell (1998), Myers (1999), Utley (2000) and LHP Cole Hamels (2002).
was slated to play his second straight nine-inning game for Class-A St. Lucie on Wednesday night. Both manager Willie Randolph and general manager Omar Minaya were optimistic that Valentin would return in the next few days. ``The odds are looking very good for tomorrow or the next day,'' Minaya said before Wednesday's game. ... It's early to be thinking about the trade deadline, but Minaya said the Mets will probably be in the market for pitching, both starters and relievers. He said he didn't expect this to be a year with many trades. ``There's a lot of parity. Everyone thinks they have a chance,'' Minaya said.
CINCINNATI: SS Alex Gonzalez (hamstring) was out of the lineup for the second straight game, although he was a late substitution on Tuesday. ... Scott Hatteberg batted leadoff for the fourth time this season. Norris Hopper got a day off after going 0-for-3 with a bases-loaded walk and sacrifice, cooling him to a mere 12-for-28 in the first seven games of a nine-game trip. Manager Jerry Narron said Hopper likely would play all three games this weekend. ... Narron had little reaction to Cardinal manager Tony La Russa's call for a two-week suspension for Aaron Harang after beaning Gary Bennett on Tuesday. ``He's been around the game a long time,'' Narron said. ``It bothers me when somebody on the other team gets hit on head, how about that?''
ST. LOUIS: RHP Todd Wellemeyer's spot in the rotation is in no immediate jeopardy, even though he lasted only 3 2/3 innings and walked six on Tuesday against the Reds. ``It isn't the way he's been throwing for us, but we'll give him another shot,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ``I was just yanking it out of the zone. It was either low or away, one or the other,'' Wellemeyer said. ... 3B Scott Rolen returned to the lineup after being out with a hamstring injury since Friday. ... C Kelly Stinnett made his first start with the Cardinals after filling in Tuesday when Gary Bennett was beaned by Aaron Harang in the second inning and had to leave the game. La Russa and teammates all gave Stinnett high marks for handling pitchers he was unfamiliar with. ``He has no idea what their tendencies are, what their strengths and weaknesses are,'' Bennett said. ``The job he did was unbelievable.''
ing a third strike. Afterward, he threw his batting glove and an equipment bag onto the field from the dugout. In the ninth inning, Berkman returned to the field when the benches emptied after Rockies pitcher Manny Corpas hit Astros outfielder Carlos Lee with a pitch. Berkman violated the rules by returning. ... Garner has an explanation for OF Lance Berkman's return to the dugout an inning after being ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a third strike ruling. ``I think he figured he'd left stuff he'd thrown on the field,'' Garner said. ``He went back to get it.''
COLORADO: The Rockies are convinced RHP Manny Corpas won't be disciplined after he hit Carlos Lee in the ninth inning Tuesday. ``He was trying to get a fastball inside,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ``Why would we hit him in a 2-1 game?'' ... Hurdle has been impressed with 3B Garrett Atkins after returning from a two-game benching. ``The guy is finding the ball with the barrel of his bat,'' Hurdle said. ... RHP Josh Fogg is due to come off the DL on Thursday and Hurdle said he would choose between Fogg, Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz for two spots in the starting rotation.
LOS ANGELES: Manager Grady Little said Jason Schmidt came out of his start Tuesday night in good shape. Schmidt, sidelined since mid-April with bursitis in his right shoulder, held the Padres to one hit in six scoreless innings and retired 13 of his last 14 batters. ``He'll go through his work and be ready to go on Sunday,'' Little said. ... Closer Takashi Saito was due to throw off a mound during batting practice to test his strained hamstring. Little said Saito definitely wasn't going to be available Wednesday night. ... OF Marlon Anderson, on the DL with a sore right elbow, is scheduled to fly to Las Vegas on Thursday to begin a rehabilitation assignment.
SAN DIEGO: SS Khalil Greene sat out again due to a sore right elbow. He was going to try to swing in the indoor batting cage so manager Bud Black could determine whether he'd be available to pinch-hit. Black said he believes the injury is short-term. ... Pitcher David Wells showed why batting practice is one of his least-favorite baseball activities. He injured his left thumb when he was jammed on a pitch. He came walking through the dugout, threw down his bat and yelled, ``I think I just broke my hand.'' Later, he said he'd be OK, although his thumb was swollen. Hitting coach Merv Rettenmund said Wells is always hitting the ball off the end of the bat in batting practice.
SAN FRANCISCO: LF Barry Bonds was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of shin splints. He has been taking prednisone again lately - often his practice in the past - to help lessen the inflammation in his shins. His knees, ankles and feet also have been hurting, and Bonds is wearing compression socks to help matters. ``I won't go on the DL,'' Bonds said. ``Don't count on seeing me on the DL - ever. I won't let myself. I will work hard. I will play through it.'' ... SS Omar Vizquel is still recovering from a sinus infection, but had more energy Wednesday. On Tuesday, he was spitting up phlegm.
ARIZONA: INF Chad Tracy, on the DL since May 16 with soreness in his left rib cage, went 1-for-4 in in an extended spring training game in Tucson. On Thursday, he is slated to play for Triple-A Tucson and could be activated soon. ``Maybe this weekend or when we go on the road,'' manager Bob Melvin said. ... Arizona's 4-3, 10-inning win Wednesday was the club's majors-best 16th one-run victory of the season in 22 tries. The Dodgers had 14 entering play Wednesday.

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