The McGwire inquisition drags on

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Mark McGwire was criticized for years for not saying anything about his steroid use. Now that he’s talking about it to anyone who asks him, Bill Madden of the Daily News slams him for not doing a one-and-done presser like A-Rod and Pettitte did. Oy:

Perhaps, but as far as rehabilitating his image, mere apologies from
McGwire will not suffice – not as long as he continues to maintain that
all the extra power he displayed after ’94 was merely the result of an
altered batting swing and not the steroids. Andy Pettitte in 2008 and Alex Rodriguez last year sat for over an hour, taking their medicine, in the Yankee
pavilion confessional and, for the most part, came out of it for the
better. If nothing else, they’ve been mostly left alone about their
steroid sins from that day forward.

Yeah, remember how Pettitte talked about how that HGH he took gave him all of those extra strikeouts instead of falling back on that tired old “they just helped me stay healthy” lie.  And remember how A-Rod whipped out that chalkboard and drew up that formula which established that he would only have had 437 home runs instead of the 553 he had before last season.  That, my friends, was the kind of candor to which McGwire should aspire.

Madden is a Spink Award winner. I would expect him to be better than this.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.