San Jose----Do you know the way back into first place? If Dionne Warwick doesn’t, then the cross-town rival Oakeyland Ballers do, pasting the host Rockets by a 9-4 score and in the process picking up another game in the standings and taking over the Central lead from Las Vegas, which lost another heartbreaker in extra innings on the road in Yuma. The Ballers began the year with Jim Thome and a number of other bats njured, their pitching in disarray and quickly lost 14 of their first 21 games to fall seven games behind the Luchadores at the end of May.
Since then, however, Oakeyland has compiled a respectable 35-22 mark. 3B Mike Lowell and 2B Mark Ellis have shored up the infield defense and sent disappointing Brandon Inge and others to the bench. Andre Ethier and Eric Byrnes picked up some of the slack when Thome was out, and since his return Thome has been formidable. In their most recent win, the Ballers got a boundary belt from Thome (his 10th of the year), along with #18 from CF Andruw Jones and seven strong innings from Dontrelle Willis (7-2, 4.24) and another strong relief outing from Francisco Cordero, who seems to be putting the nightmarish quality of his last two seasons behind him. It all added up to another loss by the host Rockets and a lost season for lefty ‘ace’ Barry Zito (3-8, 5.11).
(Gossip: With a little rivalry, perhaps Las Vegas will consider parting with some of their excess hitting in order to improve their front-line pitching? Stay tuned!)
In other BARB action:
FROSTBITE FALLS 3, DARWIN 2
WP: Bronson Arroyo (7-5, 4.47)
LP: Kelvim Escobar (8-3, 3.56)
SV: Nathan (14)
Mark Teahen broke a 1-1 tie with a solo homer in the sixth, his seventh of the year, and Joe Nathan came in with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth to collar the host Finches as the Squirrels won on the road in Darwin.
BLACK MESA 7, S-MART 4
WP: Jon Garland (6-5, 3.99)
LP: Alan Embree (1-2, 5.29)
SV: Saito (2)
Justin Morneau hit his team-leading 15th homer of the season, one of three hit by Anomalous hitters, and Jon Garland allowed only one run through the first eight innings to help the Classified Corps win on the road at S-Mart...
WORCESTER 11, BROOKLYN 7
WP: Jeremy Sowers (8-6, 5.01)
LP: Andy Pettite (4-5, 3.31)
Ryan Howard homered twice in a losing cause, but it was the death of a thousand cuts for Brooklyn, which gave up 16 hits, the bulk in two awful middle innings (the 5th and 6th) as the Eliminators and their hard contact lineup simply outhit their way to victory, an increasingly familiar pattern for Matt Caskey’s club...
ARIZONA 5, POTTSYLVANIA 1
WP: Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-4, 8.57)
LP: David Wells (3-10, 4.43)
The inconsistent ‘Dice-K’ had his best start in a BARB ‘uni’, flirting with a shutout and fanning nine before coughing up a run and yielding to Zack Greinke in the ninth, as the D-Backs once again climbed up to the .500 mark with help from Mark Loretta, who hit his sixth homer, and from David Wright, who collected four hits.
YUMA 2, LAS VEGAS 1 (11 innings)
WP: Roy Halladay (7-4, 3.84)
LP: Mike MacDougal (3-5, 2.18)
SV: Otsuka (14)
Shane Victorino doubled in the top of the eleventh and scored two outs later on Vernon Wells single through a drawn-in infield (!), and the Firebirds, led by an impressive Roy Halladay, pulled out another last-minute win at the expense of the Luchadores, who for the second day in a row lost in extra frames.