Not one, not two, but three straight walk-off victories (the first against therival White Sox) had the Wrigley Bleacher Bums agog. "These are wins youhave to get," said first baseman Derrek Lee, hitting .368 in June. After afourth straight W, on Sunday, Chicago was only 2½ back in the NL Central.
Wait, the dude's getting faster? He won the 100-meter butterfly with apersonal-best 50.48 at the Canada Cup and a day later took the 100 freestyle.How did the 23-year-old Phelps celebrate that one? He tossed his gold medal toa kid in the crowd.
He had a rough start with the Angels, but lately? The former Rockie, who signeda two-year, $17.5 million deal, was unscored upon in his last six outings. Oh,and he had a major-league-best 19 saves. "It's kind of weird," saidFuentes. "I've never led in anything."
Kasey Kahne broke a 37-race winless streak, but that wasn't the real dry spell;Kahne's victory at Sonoma was team owner Petty's first since 1999. More fun onthe way: The King's giving a talk in Connecticut on Friday, which the state hasproclaimed Richard Petty Day.
Is that annual summer swoon coming early in Texas? Four consecutive losses hadcut the team's AL West lead to a half-game. The Rangers had averaged only threeruns over an 11-game stretch and were batting .218 in June. Second baseman IanKinsler (left): "It's just a funk. There's not much else you cansay."
The guy is making a habit of this. Three weeks after getting bounced in thefirst round of the French Open, Blake was upset in straight sets by No. 50Andreas Seppi in a Wimbledon opener. "I still have the ability," saidBlake, 29. "It's just frustrating."
The Phillies reliever did O.K. in his first days as a fill-in for closer BradLidge. Then, not so much. In three outings he had two losses and two blownsaves (yes, that's possible) and his ERA jumped from 1.95 to 3.06. At least hisrun may be short. Lidge is due to return this week.
None of his drivers—Jeff Burton, Casey Mears, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer—areabove 15th in the Cup standings, and Harvick hasn't won in 86 races. "We'vejust got to all keep working," said Childress. "If you ever bury yourhead in the sand, you can't get back."
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
WHICH MANAGER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO PLAY FOR?
Bobby Cox, Braves 25%
Joe Torre, Dodgers 16%
Mike Scioscia, Angels 8%
Joe Maddon, Rays 8%
Terry Francona, Red Sox 7%
Players could not vote for the manager of their own team.... Cox has won arecord eight Manager of the Year awards.... The Tigers' Jim Leyland, who haswon the award four times (the second most of all time), finished ninth (3.3%)in the balloting.... Torre, who at 68 is the majors' oldest manager, hasreached the postseason in 13 straight seasons, the first 12 with theYankees.
Based on a survey of 380 MLB players
TOM SZCZERBOWSKI/US PRESSWIRE (KINSLER)
SIMON BRUTY (PHELPS)
JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES (FUENTES)
MIKE SCHNEIDER/SOUTHCREEK SPORTS/ICON SMI (PETTY)
GREGORY SMITH/AP (COX)
ROBERT BECK (TORRE)