Jim Edmonds has always had a flair for the dramatic, so it wasn't surprising that his two home runs -- one a grand slam -- provided an exclamation point in the final game of the Cubs' four-game sweep of the second-place Brewers.

Edmonds likes a big stage, and a big crowd always seems to bring out the best in the veteran center fielder, so he was happy to see so many Cubs fans had driven north for the key series.

"I appreciate it," Edmonds told MLB.com. "They come up here to cheer for us, and it's exciting. It's exciting when you're a Cubs player, but it's also exciting for the game of baseball to see that many people make that much effort to come to this series."

Shoppach joins Boudreau with hit parade: With three doubles and two homers on Wednesday night, Kelly Shoppach became the first Major Leaguer to have five extra-base hits in a game since the Dodgers' Shawn Green did it in 2002, and the first American Leaguer to reach the mark since the Indians' Lou Boudreau in 1946.

"To hear some of the names talked about and the length of time it's been since someone's done that, it definitely makes you feel small," Shoppach told MLB.com. "It was a lot of fun."

Angels trio lands in elite group with home runs: Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera and Vladimir Guerrero each hit a three-run homer on Thursday, the first time the Angels have accomplished that feat in 30 years. Brian Downing, Reggie Jackson and Don Baylor did the same thing in a 10-7 win at Oakland on June 8, 1978.

"This is definitely the best we've played all season," Hunter, who had nine homers and 21 RBIs in July, told The Los Angeles Times. "Guys are swinging the bats well. Man, this is what I expected, why I came here, looking at Vladdy and Garret hitting, [Chone Figgins] getting on base, running, putting the panic on pitchers. I love it."

Carpenter shows guts in four-inning return: In his first start since April 1, 2007, Chris Carpenter pitched four innings in the Cardinals' 7-2 win over the Braves on Wednesday night. Working with an 85-pitch maximum -- Carpenter had just two rehab starts before joining the team -- the 2005 Cy Young Award Winner worked into and out of trouble in the first three innings.

"We don't win that game without Chris Carpenter," manager Tony La Russa told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He wasn't sharp early, but the other starters are watching how he handles those situations. That's why his value goes beyond the day he pitches."

Hawkins brings experience to 'Stros pen: Veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, acquired in a trade with the Yankees, was scheduled to join the Astros on Friday.

"We've had ongoing discussions with the Yankees on a couple different occasions about LaTroy over the course of the season," Astros general manager Ed Wade told The Houston Chronicle. "And he was on our list over the offseason. We made an offer to him and had had discussions. He ended up signing with the Yankees, but he was somebody that we had on our radar screen back during the offseason.

"He's always had good stuff. He's pitched in critical games in the latter stages of games, so it's a role with which he's familiar."

Griffey Jr. could 'tear it up' with White Sox: For Ken Griffey Jr., the chance to play for a contender again has finally arrived, but he leaves behind a Reds clubhouse in which he was the unquestioned ringleader.

"It's bittersweet for [Griffey]," Reds outfielder Adam Dunn told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "He hates to leave the guys, but he's going to a place where they're in first place. He probably feels likes he's a lot more wanted over there. He'll probably go over there and do well. He'll probably tear it up."

Broken finger can't keep Michael Young down: A broken finger didn't stop Michael Young from hitting a sacrifice fly that brought in the tie-breaking run for the Rangers on Wednesday night.

Young spent most of the game in the clubhouse with his finger in a bucket of ice, but he answered the call for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of the 4-3 win over Seattle by launching a deep fly to center field.

"I was pretty jacked up," Young told The Dallas Morning News. "I hadn't ever pinch hit in that kind of situation. I had to take some deep breaths."

Richmond makes strong showing in debut: Recalled him from Triple-A for his first Major League start, Scott Richmond got a standing ovation from Blue Jays fans for his effort in a 3-2 loss to the Rays.

"It was really exciting, and I just tried to keep my emotions in check," Richmond told The Toronto Sun. "The last couple of games, I was watching the games, and it was nice to get a couple of days under my belt before I started. Emotions -- I was just trying to make sure I was relaxed, to breathe and be comfortable. I just tried to do that and focus on every pitch."

Move to left field not a problem for Braun: Ryan Braun, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year as a third baseman, has yet to commit an error in 103 starts in left field this season.

"He has played left field awesomely for me," manager Ned Yost told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I think he has been phenomenal in left field. Under the circumstances as a first-year left fielder, he has far exceeded my expectations for what he could be out there.

"I thought it would be a struggle, and then he'd develop into where he'd be OK. He was OK and developed into being very, very good."

Romero gets high praise for highlight catch: Rookie Alex Romero made a catch on Tuesday night that Arizona manager Bob Melvin called the "play of the year."

"He takes balls off the bat with full-out effort every day," Melvin told The East Valley Tribune. "He takes nothing for granted. He works to make himself better every day."

Pudge Rodriguez traded to Yankees: Needing a catcher after losing Jorge Posada for the rest of the season, the Yankees traded reliever Kyle Farnsworth to Detroit in exchange for 14-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez.

"Farnsy did a hell of a job for us, but you have to give up to get," general manager Brain Cashman told The New York Daily News. "We're excited to have Pudge here. We're robbing Peter to pay Paul, so I hope it works out. You do the balancing act and tough decisions get made. I made a tough one today."

Perez maintains consistency on mound: In his last six starts, Oliver Perez has gone at least six innings, and he has a 1.36 ERA since June 24. He has also struck out 44 batters while walking only 15.

The string of solid outings has made life easier for manager Jerry Manuel, who joked when he first took over the manager's job on June 17 that he would have to watch Perez's starts from the top step in order to get to the mound earlier.

"I haven't been on the top step for a while with Ollie," Manuel told Newsday. "Ollie told me to sit down and be quiet over there, so that's what I'm doing. He's pitching very well."

Masset sees starting possibilities with Reds: Nick Masset, who was part of the deal that sent Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox, hopes he can eventually join the Reds' rotation.

"Ultimately, I think it's going to really open up my future as a starter," Masset told MLB.com. "I'm really looking forward to being a starter, if that's where they want me to fit.

"That's something I've always wanted to do, and I'm excited to head over to the National League. But I also have a lot of great friendships with the guys over here, and it's tough leaving a first-place team in contention for the playoffs. It's tough leaving the White Sox."

Harden gets nine K's in first Cub victory: Rich Harden picked up his first win with the Cubs on Thursday, pitching seven innings and allowing just one run in Chicago's 11-4 victory over Milwaukee. Harden had nine strikeouts.

"I don't think I felt as strong as I've been," Harden told MLB.com. "I was a little inconsistent with some of my offspeed pitches today, but I was able to get through it. There were some great defensive plays made today, and that helped me get out of some jams."

Sammons posts memorable blast in second start: Braves rookie Clint Sammons got his second Major League start and delivered his first home run, which broke a 4-4 tie and propelled Atlanta to a 9-4 win over St. Louis.

"It's something you'll remember forever, just like the first hit that I was able to get last year," Sammons, a Georgia native whose parents, wife and in-laws were in the stands, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "To get a home run and get a chance to give us a lead, which I know we haven't had here lately, was definitely a positive. It was a great memory."

Bengie Molina using healthy arm to throw out runners: Jose Molina leads the Majors in throwing out runners, throwing out 47.3 percent of would-be base stealers.

But now that Bengie Molina is healthy again, the eldest of the catching Molina brothers is back to seventh in the Majors with a caught-stealing rate of 32.6 percent -- one spot ahead of younger brother Yadier Molina of the Cardinals, who has a 32.4 percent rate.

"I feel I have the confidence to throw anybody out if these [pitchers] give me a chance," Bengie Molina told The San Francisco Chronicle.

-- Red Line Editorial