The Juice: Alfonso Soriano homers to help hand Reds fifth straight loss

David Brown
Big League Stew

The Juice is back for its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

Reds Alert? Meh:The Cincinnati Reds still lead the NL Central by 2 1/2 games after losing for the fifth straight time, 5-3 to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. Alfonso Soriano connected for a tie-breaking two-run home run in the eighth, his 20th of the season, against Logan Ondrusek. Soriano, it should be noted, has 20 homers for the 11th consecutive season, joining Albert Pujols and David Ortiz as the only active players with that distinction. The second-place Pittsburgh Pirates failed to make up any ground on Cincy, falling 6-3 to the Diamondbacks, and the Reds are still 20 games over .500 despite their slide.

Lurking: The St. Louis Cardinals continue to hang around, five games out in the division, with ace Adam Wainwright rounding into Cy Young form after rebounding from Tommy John surgery at the start of 2011. Waino was bueno again, allowing a run and five hits over seven innings to help the Cards win for the seventh time in 10 games, 3-1 against the Giants. Wainwright has allowed two earned runs or less in each of his past past five starts. San Francisco had blown out St. Louis 15-0 the night before. Carlos Beltran hit his league-best 27th homer for Team Fredbird.

Back-to-back Yank cranks: Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez hit home runs on consecutive pitches by Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning, and closer Rafael Soriano got out of a big jam in the ninth for the Yankees in a 4-3 victory at Detroit. Here's a stat: Benoit has allowed nine hits — including seven home runs — in 10 games since the All-Star break. Yikes! The Yanks also overcame a shady looking call by umpire Tim Welke, who signaled "foul" then quickly switched to "fair" on a two-run double by Andy Dirks that hit near the left-field line. Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave Welke the what-for, then got the heave-ho, as was his goal. Also in this game: Miguel Cabrera boxed out and got a rebound for Team Venezuela.

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Quote of the Day:

''That nine-game streak that was stopped today is more important than the 15 wins."

— R.A. Dickey of the Mets, who had lost nine straight at home. Dickey won his 15th game of the season, allowing five hits and striking out 10 in a 6-1 victory against Miami.

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Photo of the Day: Here lies Lucas Harrell of the Houston Astros.

Harrell thinks about all the other lines of work he could have gone into during Washington's 5-0 victory at Minute Maid Park. Actually, he pitched OK over five innings, but Michael Morse did some traumatic damage after Harrell left, hitting a pair of home runs to back Jordan Zimmermann. The Nats completed a four-game sweep.

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler:

• Jason Kubel came in riding a 5-for-39 slump, but hit a pair of two-run homers to lead Arizona to a 6-3 victory at Pittsburgh.

• The Cleveland Indians fired pitching coach Scott Radinsky — the obvious source of their trouble — and won their second straight game following an 11-game losing streak, beating Boston 5-3.

• Billy Butler had a big night for the Royals, hitting a home run, triple and double in an 8-2 victory at Baltimore. But the single was elusive in his final two plate appearances, so he could not complete the first cycle for Kansas City since George Brett in 1990. It's all Robinson Cano's fault, anyway.

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