Big League Stew

The Juice: Hunter Pence’s big homer in San Francisco, Jason Vargas outduels college pal

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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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.

Pence pays off: You can stop looking at those return receipts, Giants fans. Though Hunter Pence's arrival in your fair city has been bumpy at time, the prized deadline acquisition came through in a big way on Sunday. Pence clubbed a go-ahead three-run homer off Colorado closer Rafael Betancourt in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Giants to a 9-6 win at a packed AT&T Park.  It was Pence's first home run in a Giants uniform.

"Hopefully there's a lot more of those," Pence told reporters.

Pence entered Sunday's game hitting .149 (7-for-47) in his 11 games since being traded. His homer was part of a five-run eighth that allowed the Giants to win two games in the three-game set and escape the weekend with a one-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.

Dueling dirtbags: Seattle's Jason Vargas stole AL pitcher of the month award away from Jered Weaver in July, then helped to end his old Long Beach State teammate's winning streak with an awesome effort of his own on Sunday. Vargas allowed only one run over 8 1/3 innings of work in a 4-1 victory over Weaver and the Halos at Angel Stadium. Weaver pitched well, but two home runs from Jesus Montero ended his winning streak at nine straight starts and dealt the big Angel only his second loss of the season. Vargas has been excellent since July 1, going 6-1  with a 1.79 ERA over eight starts.

Adios, Angels: Josh Hamilton's 32nd home run and Yu Darvish's 12th victory compounded Los Angeles' weekend frustration as Texas' 8-3 win over Detroit moved the AL West division deficit to 6 1/2 games. Though the gap was down to just three games at the trading deadline, the odds of the Angels being forced to get that rotation just right for the play-in game are increasing.

Unhappy flight: The Cardinals were a few outs away from leaving Philadelphia with a series win, but Erik Kratz and Juan Pierre had other ideas. Kratz, a career  minor league catcher who's making the most of his opportunity in this post-Carlos Ruiz world, hit a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth while Juan Pierre ran out an infield single that allowed Jimmy Rollins to come home with the winning run in the bottom of the 11th. The end result: An 8-7 Phillies win that sure would have looked nice on St. Louis' side of the ledger.

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Quote of the day

'We kind of felt we got slapped by our girlfriend in front of our mother (on Friday and Saturday) and we just needed something to feel good about.''

— Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle on Sunday's 11-5 win over San Diego, which came after the Padres won the series' first two games and took an early 5-0 lead in the third.

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Photo of the day:  Whyyyyyy?

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Chicago's Chris Sale struck out 11 Oakland batters over 6 2/3 innings in the White Sox's 7-3 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. This was the result of one of those strikeouts.

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Three facts for the water cooler

Jon Lester's win in a 14-1 romp over Cleveland was his first since June 27. The Red Sox pitcher had gone 0-5 with a 7.49 ERA in the time in-between.

• Arizona's Patrick Corbin has allowed just four runs in 19 innings of work since being recalled three starts ago. The 23-year-old rookie gave up two runs over seven innings of work in a 7-4 win over Washington.

• The Rays are 6-0 since Evan Longoria returned to the lineup and a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings on Sunday put them atop the AL wild card pile.

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