Carl Pavano’s “other suitors are pessimistic and think he’s going back to Minnesota”

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This morning I wrote about how Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies leaves Carl Pavano as the top starting pitcher on the free agent market, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Pavano’s “other suitors” aside from the Twins “are pessimistic and think he’s going back to Minnesota.”

That jibes with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s latest report, which speculates that Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is no longer aggressively pursuing Pavano.

Melvin told Haudricourt that he got in touch with Pavano’s agent yesterday, but “just to gauge interest.”

Pavano resurrected his career in Minnesota, going 22-15 with a 3.97 ERA in 44 starts for the Twins after coming over in a mid-2009 deal from the Indians, so it makes sense that he’d want to re-sign.

However, with the Brewers and Nationals also being linked often to Pavano–and the Rangers perhaps jumping into the bidding late after missing out on Lee–there was speculation that he could be in line for a three-year deal, which seemingly would have taken the Twins out of the mix. If instead he’s choosing between two-year offers, the Twins can indeed be viewed as front-runners.

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.