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After two blowout wins, 9-1 and 10-2, the Giants had closed the gap to 2½ games and were aiming for a sweep on Wednesday night. With Matt Cain headed to the hill, things were looking pretty positive for the team from the Bay but Jorge De La Rosa stopped all that momentum cold.
De La Rosa held the Giants to only three hits in eight shutout innings, and after a 0-6 start to the season, he has been nothing short of spectacular, with a 15-3 record and a 3.60 ERA. Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Stewart both homered off Matt Cain, who left after six innings trailing 4-0.
The Giants didn't go down without a fight, scoring three times in the bottom of the ninth, and nearly pulling off a comeback that surely would have crushed the Rockies' spirit. However, when Rafael Betancourt struck out Nate Schierholtz to end the game, all the momentum swung right back to the Rockies.
If anyone knows that the course of a season can turn on a dime, it's the man who truly saved the season for the Rockies, Jorge De La Rosa. Due to his awful April and May, he's not going to be on any postseason "best of" lists, but thanks to this one performance, he's looking real good to be on the mound in the postseason, and that's the only thing that really matters.
• There were three pitchers who probably wished they hadn't taken the mound Wednesday. Toronto's Brian Tallet suffered a bruised right foot on a Robinson Cano comebacker. Tallet lasted only two innings, allowing two runs. Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox left his start after only three innings due to left hip soreness. He surrendered three runs to the Mariners before departing. Finally, there's Atlanta's Derek Lowe, who left his start against the Mets after two innings with a blister after allowing three runs on five hits.
• Another loss for the Mets, but at least nobody got hurt. Francisco Rodriguez blew the save against the Atlanta Braves, allowing a leadoff double to Garret Anderson and hitting Brian McCann. Pinch runners for both eventually came around to score. K-Rod's second-half ERA is now 5.66 and he is only 8-of-11 in save opportunities.
• Still, as bad as it seems for K-Rod, Brian Fuentes has been worse for K-Rod's former team, the Angels. Fuentes blew his seventh save of the season Wednesday night, as Alex Gonzalez's bases-loaded bloop single drove home the winning run for the Red Sox in their 9-8 victory. To make matters worse, Vladimir Guerrero left the game after getting hit in the ribs with a Takashi Saito pitch, and he's day-to-day, pending X-rays.
• Ryan Rowland-Smith threw eight innings of one-run ball as the Mariners continue to play good ball in their attempt to stay above .500 for the season, currently at 75-71. First baseman Mike Carp hit his first major league home run in the victory as he continues to audition for the full-time job in 2010, with Russell Branyan eligible for free agency.
• Matt Wieters may finally be living up to the hype, at least a little bit. The Orioles catcher not only hit a walk-off two-run homer to beat the Rays, but he also threw out Carl Crawford attempting to steal, not once, but twice. It's only the second time in his career that Crawford has been nabbed multiple times in a game.
• Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Alcides Escobar went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored in the team's 9-5 win against the Chicago Cubs. Wrigley Field has been a great place for Brewers rookies to shine: The past four rookies to have four-hit games inside those ivy-covered walls have all been Brewers: Escobar, Casey McGehee (earlier this season), Ryan Braun (2007) and Alex Sanchez (2002).
• Ronnie Belliard went 3-for-3 with a home run and a double to lead the Dodgers to a 3-1 win against the Pirates. Hiroki Kuroda allowed only one run through six innings and struck out seven, as he got his record back to above .500 for the season, at 7-6.
• One pitcher who won't have to worry about a losing record any time soon is Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins. After defeating the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday with six innings of one-run ball, Johnson's résumé reads as follows: 11-1 in day games for his career and a winning percentage of .815 the past two seasons, better than any other pitcher in the majors. Tim Lincecum and Chris Carpenter both share second place at .762.
Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks
Upton had his first career five-hit game, and was a home run short of a cycle Wednesday. Pitchers should really stop throwing him fastballs, as his batting average is .379 when the catcher drops a single finger.
Trevor Cahill, Athletics
A single to Marlon Byrd in the second inning, then a walk to Ian Kinsler, and after that, nothing. Cahill retired 17 Texas Rangers in a row before walking Kinsler again in the seventh, and left the game after that frame having struck out seven. With the win, Cahill improved to 9-12 on the season.
After trailing 4-2, the Yankees came back to beat the Blue Jays 5-4 on Francisco Cervelli's walk-off single in the ninth inning, after Hideki Matsui's two-run blast had tied the game in the eighth. It was the 34th time this season the Yankees had trailed a game at home only to come back and win, tying a franchise record that has stood since 1932. They'll have six chances to break that record with Boston and Kansas City coming in to Yankee Stadium later this month. .
• New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was suspended for three games, as was his "rumble-mate" Jesse Carlson of the Toronto Blue Jays, for the "aggressive and inappropriate actions" that led to a bench-clearing brawl. Both players have already begun to serve their sentence. Shelley Duncan was also suspended for three games, but is appealing the decision.
• Washington Nationals catcher Jesus Flores underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday. He'll miss the rest of the season after the successful repair of a torn labrum. Fellow catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Texas Rangers is also out for the season, and he'll go under the knife Monday to fix his shoulder woes.
• Bartolo Colon is looking for work, essentially because the Chicago White Sox grew tired of looking for him. The team has requested waivers on Colon for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release. Twice this season, the team had to track Colon down after he had gone AWOL rather than show up for minor league rehab assignments after injuries.
• The Big Unit is back. The Giants have activated the pitcher from the 60-day disabled list and will put him in their bullpen. The plan is for Johnson to get plenty of warm-up time before entering a game, so it's unlikely you'll see him come in to pitch in the middle of an inning.
Eric Karabell: Yeah, it makes no sense what he's doing, but I believe. Eligible at 2B, SS and 3B, he's hitting much better at home -- makes no sense -- and hitting much better against RHP, also makes no sense. Use him while he's hot.
-- Full chat transcript
Rob Neyer: It's hard to see a great fit, unless the Indians move LaPorta to first base to make a space for Brantley. I don't know that he's good enough right now to play every day -- his Triple-A starts aren't particularly impressive -- but he's young and figures to deserve a spot before long.
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Jason Grey, 3 p.m. ET
• Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa allowed three runs on five hits in relief of Ian Kennedy, which was more than enough to throw Game 2 of the Governors' Cup Finals away for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Now the Yankees will need to sweep the next three games in order to defeat the Durham Bulls and win the title for the second straight season.
• First baseman Mark Hamilton homered in the sixth inning to give Triple-A Memphis a 3-2 victory over Sacramento, and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five PCL championship series. The series now shifts to Sacramento, where the River Cats will need to get wins from Jerome Williams and Shawn Chacon in order to force a deciding Game 5.
• At Boston, where Josh Beckett is 13 games above .500, we always expect him to step it up a bit. Plus, he goes against the Angels' Ervin Santana, who is 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA for his career in the shadow of the Green Monster.
• Mystery man Johnny Cueto of the Reds can certainly be frustrating, as you never know what you're going to get, but he's lost only once in five outings and faces Florida's Anibal Sanchez, who has lost two of his past four times on the mound.
• For more on Thursday's games, check Daily Notes.