Worcester—Garret Atkins’s one-out single to right in the bottom of the 12th scored Hanley Ramirez with the winning run, as the Eliminators, playing their best ball of the year, won for the ninth time in their last ten games to improve to 68-43, and in the process sent the visiting Finches to a loss that had Darwin (second in the Eastern Division) four-and-a-half games behind the home club.

The Elims were able to cash in Ramirez because new acquisition Chone Figgins, playing short following a double-switch, couldn’t handle a routine grounder. Grady Sizemore hit the ball so sharply off losing pitcher Jonathan Broxton (1-1, 3.49) that the speedy Ramirez had to hold at second, but Derek Jeter worked a walk to bring up Atkins, whose hit to right won the ballgame, 4-3.

Darwin (64-48) had enjoyed a 3-2 lead after seven strong innings from Scott Kazmir, but J.J. Putz blew a rare save by allowing an RBI double to Sizemore in the eighth that sent the thing into extra innings. There, reliever Jon Rauch (1-2, 4.40) was sensational, allowing only two hits in four frames of work.

If the Elims can maintain their current pace, they’ll finish with at least 95 wins while at least one of their Eastern foes will win 90 or more games without making the playoffs. At worst, the win guarantees a series win against Darwin and hurts the Finches’ chances of getting back in the playoff hunt.

In other BARB news:

WP: Jered Weaver (4-12, 3.62)
LP: Alan Embree (1-8, 6.21)

B.J. Upton hit a three-run homer as part of a five-run fourth, and Jered Weaver pitched seven strong innings as the D-Backs (59-53) pulled six games over .500 for the first time this season. Alex Rodriguez homered in his fifth straight game, a losing cause, but also good enough for his 20th of the season after a dreadful start.

WP: Randy Flores (2-1, 6.00)
LP: Will Ohman (1-3, 6.75)
SV: Wagner (12)

Matt Murton, who had come into the game as an emergency catcher when Jason LaRue was knocked out at home plate, nevetheless hung around long enough to pump a two-run double past Miguel Tejada as the Creepers rallied for three late runs to beat visiting Yuma (65-46) after failing to protect a lead earlier for ‘Boomer’ Wells. Despite the win, Pottsylvania (35-77) has a magic number for elimination which is in the ‘teens.’

WP: John Lackey (10-10, 3.32)
LP: Aaron Heilman (8-3, 4.15)

Jermaine Dye homered in the first to give the Rockets an early 3-0 lead, and John Lackey went all the way for his team-leading sixth complete game, finally reaching the .500 mark and served notice that the Rockets have at least one pitcher who would be in anyone’s rotation. The loss dropped Central-leading Las Vegas to 59-52, but still seven-and-a-half games over second-place Oakeyland.

WP: Bronson Arroyo (12-5, 4.42)
LP: Andy Pettite (5-6, 4.33)

Michael Young had three hits, including his third homer of the season, and Jason Bay added his 20th of the year, a three-run shot, as the host Squirrels hung a terrible inning on Pettite, scoring nine times in the fourth against him and two relievers and waltzing to a blowout victory just one day after scoring 16 against the reeling Moabs. The win pulls the two clubs even in the Eastern Division’s cellar, if you can call 63-48 (only five games out) the ‘cellar’.

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