D.J. Short

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Video: Prince Fielder powers Rangers past Astros

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The Rangers won 5-3 tonight in the first game of a huge four-game series against the first-place Astros. The game was tied 3-3 before Prince Fielder put Texas in front with a two-run homer off Will Harris in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Watch Fielder’s heroics below…

That place got loud. Fielder had a really nice first half, but he came into tonight’s action hitting just .253 with four home runs and a .681 OPS since the All-Star break. He picked a good time to get back to mashing again.

The Rangers (76-67) are now just a half-game back of the Astros (77-67) in the American League West. The two teams are tied in the loss column.

Jonathan Papelbon blew a save — and got the win — in his return to Philadelphia

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After his pointed comments about the Phillies this afternoon, Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon entered the bottom of the 10th inning tonight with a chance for a save against his former team. Fittingly, he gave up a game-tying solo homer to Freddy Galvis for his first blown save of the season.

You can watch the video here.

Papelbon was 17-for-17 in save chances with the Phillies this season and converted each of his first six save opportunities with the Nationals coming into tonight. Amusingly, tonight is the one-year anniversary of Papelbon’s last blown save, which resulted in the infamous “crotch-grab” incident.

Papelbon escaped further damage in the 10th inning before the Nationals took the lead back in the top of the 11th. Doug Fister finished things off for his first career save and the 8-7 victory, so Papelbon actually “earned” the win in his return to Philadelphia.

Joe Panik likely done for season with back injury

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Giants second baseman Joe Panik has been limited to just 15 games during the second half due to a back injury and manager Bruce Bochy told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com today that he’s likely done for the season.

Panik originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to lower back inflammation. He returned last Monday, but appeared in just three games before suffering a setback. Panik was sent for an MRI this morning and Bochy said he’s not optimistic about his chances of returning.

“The odds lean more toward the season being over for him,” Bochy said. “I talked to him yesterday. He didn’t really feel a lot of improvement. He’s going to need some rest. I would be surprised if he plays, unless things work out really, really well and we get to October.”

Fortunately, Panik’s back issue isn’t believed to be chronic and he’s expected to be ready for spring training next year. The 24-year-old was really impressive during the Giants’ World Series run last year and followed that up by batting .312/.378/.455 over 100 games this season while earning his first All-Star selection.

Panik might not be the only member of the defending World Series champs who gets shut down, as Bochy also said that Hunter Pence is running out of time to return from an oblique injury.