Andy Pettitte to testify today at the Roger Clemens trial

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This is a surprise: Andy Pettitte just showed up at the courthouse in Washington and is expected to testify today in the Roger Clemens trial. It was thought that his testimony would come later in the trial.

Two thoughts:

1. This will certainly be good for him and the Yankees, as it gets a big distraction out of the way before he makes his debut with the big club; and

2. I said this once a long time ago, but I don’t think Pettitte’s testimony helps the prosecution that much.  At least if Clemens’ lawyers are smart about his cross examination.  That’s because if you back and look at his congressional deposition, he was pretty darn equivocal about Clemens’ PED use.  He said he never saw Clemens use and never knew for sure that he did. He thought at one time that Clemens said he did, but that he later was told that he was mistaken about that and basically took it at face value. The most they have out of Pettitte with any degree of certainty is that he and Clemens once discussed PEDs in a fairly innocuous way.

Now, Clemens’ lawyers still have to be very careful here. Pettitte is going to likely come off as a nice guy and sympathetic witness, and it would be a major mistake to go after him with any degree of vehemence. But, if they’re subtle, and simply and politely walk Pettitte through his past testimony while adding some helpful “but you weren’t sure, is that right?” and some “but you never saw him take anything, that is your testimony?”  He can actually help Clemens’ case, not hurt it.

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.