Braves hold on to beat Phillies; 3-way tie still possible

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The Braves made it far too interesting after taking an 8-2 lead in the sixth inning Saturday, giving up two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth, yet they held on to beat the Phillies 8-7 and guarantee that Bobby Cox will manage at least one more game.
With the victory, the Braves are 91-71. The Padres and Giants are currently playing this afternoon, with San Diego going for a three-game sweep. If the Padres win, all three teams will be 91-71, leading to one-game playoffs on Monday and Tuesday. If the Giants prevail, then the NL playoff picture will be set, with the Padres being eliminated.
The Braves seemed to be staring at an easy win today with Tim Hudson in command. He allowed just two hits in the contest. However, both were two-run homers. John Mayberry Jr. hit one in the third, and Jayson Werth hit the second in the seventh, bringing the Phillies back to within four runs.
Things got dicey in the eighth, as the Braves turned to Jonny Venters to replace Hudson. After two quick outs, Venters allowed a single and then had Mike Sweeney reach on an Omar Infante error. That brought in Billy Wagner, who gave up a single and a double to make it an 8-7 game.
Wagner got out of trouble after intentionally walking Jayson Werth and striking out Raul Ibanez. He then struck out Shane Victorino, Brian Schneider and Greg Dobbs all looking in the ninth, ending the game.
Of real concern to Atlanta has to be that both Infante and Brooks Conrad committed errors in the game. Those two switched positions today, with Infante moving from third to second, because of Conrad’s recent problems making throws from the hot corner. The Braves may want to reevaluate things now. Infante offers superior range at second base, and that is the busier position of the two.
The Braves offense shined today, but it did so against a bunch of pitchers just getting their work in. After Cole Hamels opened with two hitless innings, the following seven pitchers allowed 14 hits and six walks. Roy Oswalt gave up a run in his one inning, and Joe Blanton allowed two in his.
The Phillies could have suffered something of a blow in the seventh, as lefty specialist J.C. Romero left with an apparent injury. He’s struggled much of the year, but he was still going to be counted on for matchup purposes in the postseason.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.