Twins-Red Sox
MINNESOTA: Joe Nathan is the first Twins pitcher with 36 or more saves in four straight seasons. He got his 36th Thursday night in a 5-4 win over the Red Sox. ... Twins starter Kevin Slowey had allowed four hits in each of his previous two outings, one lasting six innings, the other seven. On Friday, he gave up five hits in the first three innings. ... Minnesota is assured of its third consecutive losing month after having winning records in two of the first three months of the season.
BOSTON: CF Coco Crisp missed his fourth consecutive game because of illness. ... David Ortiz set a record Friday with his 51st double as a DH, passing the mark of 50 set by Edgar Martinez of Seattle in 1995. It was Ortiz's 52nd double of the season, with one as a first baseman. ... Daisuke Matsuzaka made his 32nd start Friday night. He's the fourth Red Sox rookie with 30 starts and the first since Jim Lonborg made 31 in 1965. ... CF Jacoby Ellsbury was back in the starting lineup after leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning with cramping in his right calf.
Blue Jays-Devil Rays
TAMPA BAY: Manager Joe Maddon is still considering whether to give 3B Akinori Iwamura a start at second base before the season ends, but acknowledged it's unlikely. Iwamura started at DH on Friday and Joel Guzman started at third. ... Maddon said he'll give OF Delmon Young a game at DH over the final three days, but will play Young every day to keep the rookie on pace to play in all 162 games. ... INF Brendan Harris (strained left lat muscle) is only available for defense and pinch-running duties, Maddon said.
TORONTO: 3B Russ Adams (sore right shoulder) was scratched from the lineup about an hour before game time and replaced by Hector Luna. Adams is hitless in his past 13 at-bats and went 2-for-23 on Toronto's recent road trip. ... 2B Aaron Hill entered play Friday with an AL-leading .404 batting average in September. ... Toronto pitchers have recorded a major league-high six complete games since the All-Star break, and have allowed just 256 earned runs, the fewest in baseball.
Torre said being prepared for the playoffs was his priority. ``Certainly we're going to try and win if we have a chance to win,'' he said. ``The most important thing to me is to make sure these guys are ready to start the second season.''
BALTIMORE: Scott Moore started at first base Friday night instead of Kevin Millar. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he wanted to see Moore play first base and didn't want to use the rookie against the left-handers New York intends to start on Saturday and Sunday. But Millar was also batting just .190 over his last 19 games. ... Erik Bedard (rib cage) hasn't pitched since Aug. 26, but he still ranks third in the AL with 221 strikeouts. ... Baltimore needed one win or one Tampa Bay loss over the final three games to avoid finishing in last place.
Tigers-White Sox
n't unfounded. ``I don't think there's anything wrong about (people talking about) Zumaya being the closer because that's what we want eventually. It's not a matter of if he is but when he is,'' Leyland said. He then cautioned, ``(Zumaya) has to get more economical with his pitches on a steady basis.''
CHICAGO: Manager Ozzie Guillen would like the organizational meetings in the offseason to focus on the minor league system. ``For our organization, our minor league system needs to be stronger,'' Guillen said. ``The minor league system, I'm going to take a deeper look this spring training than I did before. I'm going to spend a lot of time in Tucson (Ariz.) watching the minor league kids.'' ... Guillen isn't sure where to begin when trying to upgrade the club for 2008. ``Right now, I don't know, because we failed at so many different ways,'' Guillen said. ... Despite a disappointing season, Guillen won't question his team's passion to win. ``They just struggled. I wouldn't say they weren't hungry, I wouldn't say they played lousy,'' Guillen said. ``Everybody just struggled. We just had a bad year.''
CLEVELAND: Manager Eric Wedge said he has not decided who would start the third game of the playoffs, but it will be either Paul Byrd or Jake Westbrook. ``We talked about it today, but I need to have a conversation with Birdie and Jake before announcing it,'' Wedge said. Byrd is 15-8 with a 4.59 ERA in 31 starts, while Westbrook, who starts Saturday at Kansas City, is 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 24 starts. ... Wedge said if the Indians opened the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday, they would likely use a 10-man staff. If they begin on Thursday, it would likely be an 11-man staff. ... The Indians did not arrive at their Kansas City hotel until 6 a.m. Friday after a night game Thursday in Seattle. ``It was a long night, a long day - a continuous day,'' Wedge said. ... The Indians entered Friday 29-11 since Aug. 15, the best in the majors.
KANSAS CITY: Buddy Bell, who announced Aug. 1 that he is stepping down as the Royals manager after this season, said it ``is a weird feeling'' entering the final weekend. ``I'm sure I'm making the right decision, but the closer I get to the end I'm more unsure if that makes sense,'' Bell said. ... SS Mike Moustakas, who the Royals selected with the second overall pick in the June draft, is scheduled to take batting practice before the game Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Moustakas hit .293 in 11 games with Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League after signing for a $4 million bonus. He is playing for the Royals in the Instructional League this fall in Surprise, Ariz. ... 3B Alex Gordon, who was in a 1-for-25 skid, was held out of the lineup Friday.
ATLANTA: Baseball officials reduced Rafael Soriano's suspension from four games to two, and the right-handed reliever planned to sit out Friday and Saturday in Houston. Soriano was suspended for hitting Florida's Dan Uggla with a pitch on Sept. 17. He appealed the suspension and spoke with major league officials on Tuesday. ... The Braves had 801 runs entering Friday's game, the fourth time in five years the Braves have reached the mark. They've only topped 800 runs in seven of their 42 seasons.
HOUSTON: For the last homestand of Craig Biggio's career, a black ``7'' was painted on Tal's Hill in center field and a giant banner in left read ``Thanks for All the Memories Craig!'' Biggio debuted with Houston in 1988 and played all 20 seasons with the Astros. ... RHP Brad Lidge will face three months of rehab after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee scheduled for after the season. ``It's a little more than a scope because they have to do a cartilage plug,'' Lidge said. ``But it's not a major surgery, like reconstructive.'' The rehab period shouldn't affect Lidge's offseason - he usually doesn't start throwing again until January. ``I'll have the exact time I need to do what I always do,'' he said.
WASHINGTON: The Nationals picked up manager Manny Acta's option for 2009. Acta, the youngest skipper in the majors, has guided the Nationals to fourth place in the NL East, better than most expected. ``I feel the Nationals' future is in good hands with one of the best young managers in baseball,'' general manager Jim Bowden said. ... Ronnie Belliard nearly was thrown out by RF Shane Victorino on his first-inning single.
PHILADELPHIA: SS Jimmy Rollins won the Mike Schmidt MVP award. LHP Cole Hamels won the Steve Carlton Most Valuable Pitcher award, CF Aaron Rowand won the Tug McGraw Good Guy award, and Larry Shenk, vice president of public relations, earned the Dallas Green special achievement award. All awards were voted on by the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The awards will be handed out before Saturday's game. ... The entire weekend series sold out Friday morning. ... Adam Eaton (10-9, 6.33) takes the mound Saturday. The struggling right-hander was pushed back instead of skipped in the rotation.
hampionship. I like the city. We've got to do it somewhere. This is the place.'' ... Ken Griffey Jr., who played for Piniella in Seattle, snuck into his session with reporters in the visitors' dugout to say hello. ``You still doing this stuff?'' Griffey said. The Reds outfielder is sidelined by a strained groin. ... Piniella wasn't aware that several Marlins suggested the Cubs were panicking while they got swept in Florida on Thursday. ``You know, they've got a lot of talent over there to lose 90 games,'' Piniella said, pointedly. ``Outside of that, I don't have much to say about the situation.''
CINCINNATI: The Reds are missing their starting outfield to injury. Ken Griffey Jr. (groin), Adam Dunn (knee) and Josh Hamilton (hamstring) combined for 89 homers and 246 RBIs. Their replacements on Friday - Norris Hopper, Buck Coats and Jason Ellison - had a combined one homer and 18 RBIs. ... Dunn was back in the clubhouse Friday for the first time since he had surgery on his right knee Wednesday to repair torn cartilage. Dunn said it had been bothering him for the last two seasons. ``I don't remember hurting it,'' Dunn said. ``I can't put my finger on how I did it.''
FLORIDA: Entering play Friday, SS Hanley Ramirez needed just one homer to become the third major leaguer in the 30-homer, 50-stolen base club. He had 51 steals. Eric Davis hit 37 homers and swiped 50 bases for Cincinnati in 1987 and Barry Bonds had 33 homers and 52 steals for Pittsburgh in 1990. Ramirez also could give the Marlins three players with 30 or more homers in one season for the first time in franchise history. Miguel Cabrera had 34 homers and Dan Uggla 31 heading into the matchup with New York. ... The bullpen had not allowed a run in Florida's three previous games (10 innings).
ARIZONA: Manager Bob Melvin was impressed with the performance of RHP Micah Owings, who found out two hours before the game Thursday against Pittsburgh that he would replace RHP Brandon Webb as the starter. ``I can't say enough of what he did for us,'' Melvin said. ... Melvin noticed a restless Webb throughout the game Thursday. ``Brandon was pacing,'' Melvin said. ``Pitchers get into a certain routine and it bothers them when that routine is changed.'' ... OF Justin Upton was in the lineup to get another right-handed bat in against LHP Jeff Francis. ... When asked if he'd rather face a team on a nine-game losing streak or one on an 11-game winning streak, Melvin said, ``Both are scary. You know the one will eventually come out of it and the other seems like it might not ever lose again.''
r than last season's figure. ... The first time up to bat Friday night, OF Matt Holliday was greeted by an ``M-V-P'' chant from the crowd.
SAN DIEGO: Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader with 523 career saves, helped keep the Padres loose during batting practice. As the players began their warm-up jog, he appeared to trip over a bucket holding baseballs. His teammates rushed to help him up and then started retrieving the balls. Hoffman's antics caught the attention of manager Bud Black who said stuff like that helped ease the tension of a tight playoff race. ... Black said that he watches the scoreboard during the game. ``I don't think it's dangerous,'' he said. ``It's part of the game. I might not look as close as others, but I'll peek between innings.'' ... RHP Chris Young makes his first career start against Milwaukee on Saturday and looks for his first win since July 19. He's 0-5 in his last 10 starts since that victory.
night after Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals got hit during the eighth inning of a 7-3 loss. ``I'm big-time happy,'' said Yost who served his suspension Thursday night. The players' association appealed the penalty, given out by Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline.
SAN FRANCISCO: The Giants are playing their 14th season-ending series against the Dodgers in a span of 26 years. ... This will be only the second time since divisional play began in 1969 that these storied rivals will finish on the bottom two rungs of the NL West ladder. It also happened in 1992, when San Francisco and Los Angeles were fifth and sixth, respectively. ... Last year, L.A. clinched a playoff berth by beating the Giants at San Francisco with one game remaining.
LOS ANGELES: 2B Jeff Kent has a $9 million option year on his contract for 2008. He doesn't want his Dodger career ending with him getting thrown out at home plate on Tuesday night by Colorado CF Cory Sullivan and bruising his left leg in the ensuing collision with Yorvit Torrealba. But Kent needs some time to decide whether he wants to return next season. ``I guarantee you that if I were to make a decision right now, I'd say no - because that's how frustrated I am about not being able to get to the playoffs,'' said Kent, a 16-year veteran who has played in only one World Series. ``I'm also frustrated at myself because I didn't play good enough to get there. Now I have to go home and look at my wife and my four kids in the face and try to figure out what we all want to do.'' Kent said he probably wouldn't decide until November.

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