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Alvarez is a showman

Henderson Alvarez leads N.L. with 1.01 ERA in eight starts since May 22 and hasn’t allowed a home run in 61 innings. (Associated Press)
Henderson Alvarez leads N.L. with 1.01 ERA in eight starts since May 22 and hasn’t allowed a home run in 61 innings. (Associated Press)

Henderson Alvarez’s a pitcher, and that’s not his only position. He’ll throw a batter out at first base while sitting on the mound. He’ll lie flat on his back while watching a teammate make a play.

Most of all, Alvarez will rise to the occasion when the Miami Marlins need him most. He has been doing it for weeks.

The Marlins are unbeaten in Alvarez’s past nine starts, keeping them afloat in the N.L. East. They won again Tuesday, when Alvarez allowed only two runs in seven innings to help beat Philadelphia, leaving his ERA at 2.33.

The 24-year-old Alvarez goes about his business with theatrical flair. He goes into a comically elaborate windup before his first pitch in each game. He takes lusty swings at the plate. He throws a 96 mph fastball, and an occasional 56 mph junk curve. And his defensive work can be endlessly entertaining.

When the Phillies’ A.J. Burnett hit a broken-bat dribbler, Alvarez leaped to avoid the barrel, collapsed on the mound and watched from a supine position as third baseman Casey McGehee threw the batter out.

Alvarez leads the league with an ERA of 1.01 in eight starts since May 22. He hasn’t allowed a homer in his past 61 innings.

With team victories in his past nine starts, Alvarez has tied the franchise record set by Chris Hammond in the Marlins’ 1993 expansion season. The rest of the rotation is 8-15 in the same stretch.

Mauer placed on DL

Just when Minnesota’s Joe Mauer restored his smooth swing, it brought more trouble by triggering his latest injury.

Mauer was hurt swinging on his two-run double in the fourth inning Tuesday that stretched his hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Mauer woke up with more discomfort Wednesday than he had the night before from a strained muscle on his right side and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Sundberg to retire

Jim Sundberg is retiring from the Texas Rangers’ front office at the end of the season, 40 years after his big-league career began as a catcher with the club.

The 63-year-old Sundberg said he will step down as senior executive vice president while remaining involved in community relations in a part-time role.

Sundberg spent more than 30 years with the Rangers as a player, executive, broadcaster and minor league instructor.

Clearing the bases

San Diego Padres outfielder Seth Smith has signed a $13 million contract extension through 2016. … Colorado has acquired right-hander Jair Jurrjens from Cincinnati in exchange for minor league first baseman Harold Riggins.

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