Phillies decline mutual option on Placido Polanco

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An expected move, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that the Phillies have declined their half of Placido Polanco’s $5.5 million mutual option for 2013.

Polanco will receive a $1 million buyout and will become a free agent. This was a pretty easy call for the Fightins, as the 37-year-old was limited to just 90 games this season due to back, knee and finger injuries and batted just .257/.302/.327 with two home runs, 19 RBI and a career-low .629 OPS in 328 plate appearances. After signing a three-year, $18 million deal during his last stint as a free agent, Polanco will almost certainly have to settle for a one-year deal with a modest base salary this time around. His days as a starting player are likely over.

As of now, the Phillies intend to keep Chase Utley at second base next season, so Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis are the most likely in-house alternatives at third base. Neither option inspires much confidence, so Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. figures to explore the free agent and trade markets.

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.