White Sox-Phillies
CHICAGO: The White Sox continue their Pennsylvania road trip with a three-game set in Pittsburgh after a day off Thursday. ... Jim Thome started at first base for the first time since last July 1. ... The White Sox are eight games under .500 (27-35) for the first time since June 6, 2003. ... Jon Garland, who has allowed two runs in 15 1-3 innings over his last two starts, faces the Pirates on Friday night.
PHILADELPHIA: The Phillies completed their first sweep at home this season. They also swept a three-game series in Atlanta from May 25-27 and in New York over the Mets last week. ... Kyle Kendrick isn't guaranteed another start, despite a solid outing in his major league debut. Manager Charlie Manuel said he'll evaluate the rotation on Thursday's off day. Kendrick's next scheduled start would be at Cleveland on Tuesday. ... Shane Victorino has stolen 18 straight bases without getting caught. ... Since a 4-11 start, the Phillies are 31-20.
Blue Jays-Giants
TORONTO: RHP A.J. Burnett, who left his start Tuesday night with a mild right shoulder strain, had an MRI exam and won't need a stint on the disabled list. ... Toronto designated C Sal Fasano for assignment and purchased the contract of reliever Lee Gronkiewicz from Double-A New Hampshire. He joins a Blue Jays bullpen that was second in the AL with a 3.22 ERA entering Wednesday. ... The Blue Jays won for the first time in six tries in San Francisco and improved to 1-7 in the series.
ue hits. Rookie Nate Schierholtz did it Tuesday night, then got two more hits Wednesday. ... Randy Winn was back in San Francisco's lineup and playing LF after being held out a night earlier with a sore ribcage. ... Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Dave Winfield were picked to manage in the All-Star Futures game on July 8 in San Francisco. Marichal, a nine-time All-Star who spent 14 seasons with the Giants, will manage the World team. Winfield, a 12-time All-Star, will lead the U.S. team.
Rockies-Red Sox
COLORADO: The Rockies scored two runs or less for the 21st time in their first 64 games when they lost to Boston 2-1 on Tuesday. They are 1-20 in those games. ... Troy Tulowitzki snapped an 0-for-12 slump with a single in the second inning. ... When Jeremy Affeldt gave up a sacrifice fly to J.D. Drew that drove in the go-ahead run on Tuesday, it was only the second time the Colorado bullpen allowed an inherited run to score over the last 20 games.
sp, who entered batting .225, moved into the leadoff spot. Julio Lugo, with a .215 batting average through Tuesday, batted first all season before hitting ninth Tuesday and Wednesday.
TEXAS: Manager Ron Washington said RHP Kameron Loe would start Thursday night's series finale in Pittsburgh instead of RHP Brandon McCarthy, who has a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Washington indicated that McCarthy will be placed on the disabled list Thursday, retroactive to June 10. He would sit out two starts. Loe is 1-6 with a 7.40 ERA this season in 15 games, 10 starts. ... OF Marlon Byrd, who has only 20 home runs in 1,364 career at-bats and was in the minor leagues until being recalled May 26, was in the cleanup spot. Byrd was batting .403 in 16 games, so Washington said he just wanted to ride the streak. ``I don't want him to be a power hitter,'' Washington said. ``I just need him to keep doing what he's doing.'' ... The Rangers came in 16-2 when scoring seven or more runs and 7-39 when they didn't.
vious nine games and was batting .317 against right-handed pitching since May 19. Nady, a right-handed batter, is a career .334 hitter against lefties and .247 against right-handers. ``(Nady has) not expanded the strike zone,'' Tracy said. ``He's getting better pitches to swing at against right-handed pitchers, pitches he can handle.'' ... Through Tuesday, 3B Jose Bautista's 24 runs scored since May 18 ranked first in the NL. He had scored at least one run in 17 of the 24 games in that span.
CLEVELAND: LHP Jason Stanford, who hasn't pitched in the majors since April 2004 because of reconstructive elbow surgery, will start the series finale Thursday at Florida. Stanford was 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Buffalo this season. ... RHP Jake Westbrook (abdominal strain) threw five innings for Class-A Lake County on Wednesday, his third minor league rehab start. Westbrook allowed six hits, five runs (four earned) and struck out five while walking none. ... Late afternoon rain has kept the Indians from taking batting practice before either game in Florida.
over Fausto Carmona and the Indians on Tuesday, got the night off. ... Florida is 10 games closer to first place in the NL East than it was at this time last season. ... The Marlins entered with the third-best interleague record (101-74), behind only the New York Yankees (108-73) and Oakland Athletics (108-75).
MILWAUKEE: LHP Chris Capuano was scratched from his start Wednesday and was replaced by RHP Carlos Villanueva, who allowed a run, five hits and two walks while striking out four over five innings. ... 1B Prince Fielder downplayed his first game at Detroit's Comerica Park, not far from Tiger Stadium, where his father, ex-Tiger Cecil Fielder, hit home runs. ``It's not that big of a deal,'' he said. ``It would be if I was playing in the old Tiger Stadium because that's where I hung around.'' ... INF Rickie Weeks (right wrist tendinitis) is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, but manager Ned Yost doesn't expect him to play right away. ... RHP Elmer Dessens (right shoulder strain) is making progress and could be ready for a simulated start as early as Saturday.
h an injured right hamstring since Sunday, said he is improving, but did not know when he would return. ... DH Gary Sheffield said he has ``no idea'' when his appeal of a three-game suspension will be heard. Umpire Greg Gibson ejected Sheffield after the slugger argued a strike call, then broke his bat on a groundout and threw away the piece of wood still in his hands. ... The Tigers had some success getting seagulls off the field with a noisemaker and dogs.
ARIZONA: Conor Jackson was the designated hitter and Chad Tracy played 1B. Tracy was the DH on Tuesday night and Tony Clark was the 1B. Manager Bob Melvin said Jackson will be back at 1B for Thursday's game. ... LHP Doug Slaten was struck on the right hand buy a batted ball during batting practice Tuesday. The hand was bandaged Wednesday but Slaten said he was OK. ... Arizona entered Wednesday night's game 1-3 in interleague play and 66-80 all-time. ... Melvin said RF Carlos Quentin has been working on his approach at the plate. Quentin was batting .212 with four homers and 23 RBIs entering Wednesday night's game. ``He needs to be a little bit more selective, especially on the first pitch,'' Melvin said.
NEW YORK: RF Bobby Abreu singled in the fourth inning to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He also scored his 1,000th career run. ... C Wil Nieves was in the lineup and Jorge Posada moved to designated hitter. The move left New York without a catcher on the bench but manager Joe Torre said he wanted to see Nieves catch RHP Mike Mussina again. ``I'm not sure that this has anything to do with Moose but it just feels good to me right now,'' Torre said. Nieves was behind the plate when Mussina allowed one run in six innings in a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox in his previous start. ... Johnny Damon was back in CF after nine straight starts at designated hitter. Damon has been bothered by sore legs this season but said he felt good before the game. ``We need to play Johnny in the outfield every once in a while anyway just to keep him going there,'' Torre said.
Acta said.
BALTIMORE: LHP Adam Loewen will undergo season-ending elbow surgery on Thursday. Loewen, who's been on the disabled list since May 4 with a stress fracture in his elbow, hoped that resting his pitching arm would enable him to return in August or September. But because the injury failed to improve, surgery became the best option because he can be ready by spring training. ... RHP Danys Baez expressed hope Wednesday that he might soon be able to reclaim the setup role he lost after a series of ineffective appearances. ``I feel a lot better. I'm more comfortable on the mound. I've been working a lot on mechanics, and I think they are where they should be,'' said Baez, who kept the opposition scoreless in four of his last five outings. Manager Sam Perlozzo, however, said he wasn't quite ready to commit to using Baez in tight games.
Padres-Devil Rays
series Friday with the Chicago Cubs. Former Cubs' RHP Greg Maddux is scheduled to pitch in the series' finale Sunday.
TAMPA BAY: LHP Scott Kazmir, who was kicked on the left hand during a play at the plate Tuesday, threw in the outfield and took part in fielding drills. ``A little sore, but good,'' Kazmir said. ``I'm ready to go.'' Kazmir's next scheduled start is Sunday at Colorado. ... 2B B.J. Upton (strained left quadriceps) took BP, but didn't participate in pregame defensive drills. He has missed the past four games and is not expected back until at least this weekend. ... CF Rocco Baldelli (strained left hamstring) had six at-bats in an extended spring training game as the DH. He could start a minor league assignment this weekend or early next week.
League in fielding, but manager Mike Scioscia likes the way they've been handling themselves defensively. ``I think we are a much more cohesive defensive team now than we have been in the past few years,'' he said.
CINCINNATI: CF Ryan Freel is scheduled for another exam on Friday. Freel hasn't played since May 28, when he ran into Norris Hopper while making a catch. Freel, who is on the DL, has the symptoms of a concussion. ... RH Homer Bailey hopes to throw more strikes and fewer pitches in his second major league start on Thursday against the Angels. He needed 114 pitches to go five innings in his debut Friday, a 4-3 win over Cleveland. ``There were a lot of things that went on in that last game,'' Bailey said. ``So this time, I'll take it a little bit slower and get ahead of the hitters.'' ... Manager Jerry Narron likes the Angels' balance and versatility. ``They're probably constructed more like a National League team than anybody in the National League, the way they can play,'' Narron said.
n the DL will be necessary. ... A night after using six relievers, Hargrove said the bullpen was overtaxed. ``We're thin, but we've been thin for a few weeks,'' Hargrove said, adding that only Jake Woods and Jason Davis were definitely available Wednesday night.
CHICAGO: C Michael Barrett insisted his relationship with the pitching staff is fine. Barrett and starter Rich Hill had a lively exchange in the dugout after the top of the fourth inning Tuesday, less than two weeks after a fight with Carlos Zambrano that left the catcher with a black eye and six stitches in his lower lip. ``We work really hard together,'' Barrett said. ``I've developed a really good relationship with these guys.'' Asked if he and Barrett had resolved their differences, Hill said, ``No, no, no, no, there wasn't any need to. We discussed what needed to discuss in the dugout.'' Manager Lou Piniella dismissed the exchange as ``15 seconds of conversation.'' Barrett's night took another bad turn in the 13th inning when he mishandled RF Jacque Jones' throw as Jose Vidro scored the go-ahead run. ... Piniella did not address the media following Tuesday's game. Why? ``I was tired,'' he said. ``Thirteen innings. I had a headache.''
OAKLAND: DH Mike Piazza took batting practice on the field before Wednesday's game. Piazza has been on the DL since straining his right shoulder in Boston on May 2. A's manager Bob Geren said Piazza swung the bat without pain. LF Travis Buck also took some swings, but was out of Wednesday's lineup with a jammed right thumb. ... OF Shannon Stewart missed another start Wednesday with a sore right foot, but could return on Thursday. ... Geren said RHP Rich Harden is close to being ready to pitch in a real game. Harden has been out with a strained right shoulder since April 15. He'll throw a simulated game and could come out of the A's bullpen during next week's six-game homestand. ``There are too many stepping stones on the way to guarantee that,'' Geren said ... The A's struck out 18 times in Tuesday's loss, their first-ever game in Houston. Astros ace Roy Oswalt had 10 strikeouts, a combination of good pitching and Oakland's unfamiliarity with him. ``Probably more of the first one,'' Geren said. ``Good fastball, great breaking ball. He was impressive.''
s starting catcher on Wednesday, a curious move after Brad Ausmus knocked in four runs, including the game-winner on Tuesday. Ausmus had no problem with the move. ``If it helps us win to play Eric more, do it,'' Ausmus said. ... 1B Lance Berkman sat out for the second straight game to complete his two-game disciplinary suspension. Berkman was suspended for coming on the field during a bench-clearing confrontation in Colorado on June 5. Berkman was ejected for arguing a call earlier in the game.
ATLANTA: RH John Smoltz will make his next start this Saturday, he said shortly before Wednesday's game. His last scheduled start (Sunday) was skipped because of inflammation in his right shoulder, and he hasn't taken the mound since June 5. Smoltz, however, said he felt fine after a bullpen session Wednesday afternoon. Manager Bobby Cox left the decision on when to start up to Smoltz. RH Buddy Carlyle will start on Friday for the beginning of a three-game series at Cleveland. ... Cox said he thought it would take Chipper Jones a couple of at-bats to get his form back after missing the past two-plus weeks with bruised hands. Jones will probably be the DH most of the time this week while the Braves play in AL parks.
MINNESOTA: LF Jason Kubel (sprained right knee) was available to play Wednesday, but manager Ron Gardenhire held him out of the lineup for one more day and planned to start him Thursday. ... LH Dennys Reyes (left shoulder inflammation) felt fine and was expected to be activated from the disabled list following Wednesday's game, and LH Carmen Cali - who has been filling in for him as the specialty lefty in the bullpen - was expected to be sent back to Triple-A. ... Gardenhire has 30 career ejections, 100 less than Braves manager Bobby Cox - who is one shy of John McGraw's all-time record. With all the attention he's received recently for the approaching milestone, Cox told Gardenhire he's a little ``leery'' of getting tossed. ``I said, 'Coxy, I guarantee when it comes time, you won't be leery,''' Gardenhire said, laughing.
ST. LOUIS: After finishing this series Thursday night, the Cardinals will be off to Oakland for their first-ever regular-season games at McAfee Coliseum. St. Louis is in the midst of a 12-game stretch against AL clubs Oakland, Kansas City and Los Angeles. Despite recent interleague struggles, the Cardinals maintained the No. 3 spot among NL teams in interleague play, trailing only Florida and Atlanta. ... The Cardinals have announced the signing of 26 of the 52 players they drafted in the June draft. ... In fan balloting announced this week, Albert Pujols led NL first baseman in All-Star voting.
KANSAS CITY: 2B Mark Grudzielanek was out of the lineup with a swollen knee, the same knee that was operated on during spring training. Grudzielanek said he did not think the injury was serious. ``Give me a couple of days, I'll be out there,'' he said. Several Royals have come close to hitting for the cycle in recent games. Grudzielanek needed a triple, and Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen needed a home run. ...The Royals purchased the contract of INF Fernando Cortez from Triple-A Omaha and optioned OF Shane Costa to Omaha. Cortez, who brings some much-needed speed to the lineup, was hitting .299 with 12 doubles, a triple, three home runs and 19 RBIs in 61 games for Omaha.
NEW YORK: The Mets, in the midst of a stretch against six consecutive teams that were in the postseason last year, begin a three-game set at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. Oliver Perez will attempt to delay Roger Clemens' 350th career victory in the opener, and Tom Glavine will make his fifth attempt at his 296th victory on Saturday afternoon. Manager Willie Randolph, who was a Yankees coach under Joe Torre for nine seasons and Torre's bench coach in 2004 before taking the Mets job, is 8-7 against Torre since leaving the Bronx. ``I don't really look at it as managing against Joe,'' Randolph said. ``I mean, Joe and I have a special relationship and it's always good to see him, but I never feel like I'm managing against any manager.''
LOS ANGELES: The batting helmet RHP Hong-Chih Kuo wore when he hit the Dodgers' third home run on as many pitches against John Maine of the New York Mets on Tuesday night was sent to the Hall of Fame. It was the seventh time in history that a pitcher was a part of a trio of consecutive home runs, and only the second time since 1963. Kuo pitched for the Dodgers' Triple-A Las Vegas club last season and hit the team's only grand slam. ... C Russell Martin's next stolen base will tie the Los Angeles Dodgers single-season record for catchers, set by Johnny Roseboro with 12 in 1962.

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