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Cardinals strike early, down Pirates 6-1

Saturday, 05 April 2014 23:08 Published in Sports
 
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Yadier Molina hit his second homer of the season, Jhonny Peralta added a late two-run shot and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Saturday night.
 
Molina finished 2 for 4 and his solo homer in the sixth gave the Cardinals plenty of cushion as they bounced back from a 12-2 loss on Friday night by jumping on Pittsburgh ace Francisco Liriano (0-1) early.
 
St. Louis used a three-run first inning to put the Pirates in an early hole then held on as Joe Kelly (1-0) wiggled his way out of trouble. The right-hander worked 5 1-3 innings, walking four and striking out four in his first start of the season.
 
The Pirates left 11 runners on base, including seven in the first four innings.
 
Liriano, who struck out 10 in six innings on opening day against the Cubs, settled down after early trouble. The left-hander gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out four.
 
It wasn't exactly a repeat of the last time Liriano faced St. Louis, when he held the Cardinals in check in Game 3 of the NL division series to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. The Cardinals rallied to take the series in five, though six months later it appears the clubs that finished one-two in the NL Central remain evenly matched. The teams have now split the last 26 meetings.
 
The Cardinals didn't give Liriano time to settle in on a brisk night at PNC Park.
 
Matt Carpenter led off with a single. Peralta walked and Matt Holliday followed with an RBI single to right. Peralta scored on a sacrifice fly by Allen Craig, with Holliday scoring on a perfectly placed single to left by Matt Adams.
 
The Pirates had their chances to get back in it against Kelly. They loaded the bases in the third but managed only a single run when Kelly walked Russell Martin.
 
Pittsburgh had two on with two outs in the fourth and two one with one out in the sixth against Kelly but couldn't come through. St. Louis reliever Carlos Martinez replaced Kelly and retired Starling Marte and Travis Snider on groundouts to end the threat.
 
The Cardinals' bullpen didn't give up a hit in 3 2-3 innings of work.
 
Molina provided insurance with a homer to right and Peralta's second home run with the Cardinals slipped inside the left field foul pole against Pittsburgh reliever Jeanmar Gomez in the ninth.
 
NOTES: Marte went 1 for 5 and has reached base in each of his 17 career games against St. Louis. ... St. Louis reliever Jason Motte, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, participated in a simulated game in Florida on Saturday. Manager Mike Matheny said the team doesn't have a pre-determined role set for Motte, who saved 42 games in 2012 before the injury. ... The series concludes on Sunday when Adam Wainwright (1-0, 0.00) is set to go for St. Louis against Edinson Volquez (0-0, 0.00), who pitched two innings of relief in a loss to the Cubs on Thursday.

Varlamov, Avalanche blank Blues 4-0

Saturday, 05 April 2014 23:08 Published in Sports
 
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Semyon Varlamov tied the franchise single-season record for goalie wins held by Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy and Paul Stastny had another big game in his hometown in a penalty-filled 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
 
Stastny had a goal and two assists and Nathan Mackinnon had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which has won six in a row and has 106 points, third-most in franchise history. Roy became the fifth coach in NHL history to win 50 games in his first season.
 
Varlamov made 31 saves for his second shutout of the season and NHL-leading 40th win, matching Roy's total in 2000-01. The Avalanche reached 50 wins for the second time in franchise history and tied the franchise mark with 24 road victories.
 
The Blues fell two points behind Boston, which beat the Flyers 5-2, for first place overall. They've been dependent on goalie Ryan Miller with Vladimir Tarasenko out since mid-March with a hand injury and Alexander Steen also sidelined, and scored two or fewer goals for the seventh time in 10 games.
 
There were several scrums and frustration boiled over for the Blues late in the third. Ryan O'Reilly scored his 27th goal on a power play with a two-man advantage after St. Louis captain David Backes and Barret Jackman both received 10-minute misconducts.
 
The Blues had 91 minutes in penalties in the third and finished the game with seven players on the bench.
 
St. Louis has been shut out on home ice for the first two times all season in the past three games, counting a 1-0 shootout win over Philadelphia on Tuesday.
 
Stastny, who grew up in St. Louis, has 29 points in 24 career games against the Blues. He has two goals and six assists in a seven-game point streak.
 
The first five games in Colorado's win streak were decided by one goal, two in overtime and two by shootouts. The first three goals against St. Louis came on rebounds.
 
For the third straight Blues game, the first period was scoreless. A scrum at the end of the period led to a double-minor penalty on St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka that helped the Avalanche get rolling.
 
Stastny scored his 22nd goal on a power play at 1:14 of the second and MacKinnon had a wide open net at 6:20, a little more than a minute after Blues coach Ken Hitchcock called timeout.
 
Nick Holden made it 3-0 at 10:25 after a lengthy review because he kicked the puck, but replays indicated the Blues' Steve Ott's stick touched the puck before it crossed the goal line.
 
Notes: The last coach to win 50 games in his debut season since San Jose's Todd McLellan won 53 games in 2008-09. Tom Johnson won 57 games with Boston in 1970-71, Mike Keenan won 53 with Philadelphia in 1984-85 and Pat Burns won 53 in 1988-89. ... Steen (lower body) did not dress for the second straight game and may not play Sunday at Chicago.

Kentucky 74-73 over Wisconsin, to play for title

Saturday, 05 April 2014 23:06 Published in Sports
 
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- No, this was not an instant replay, though it certainly is turning into a highlight reel Kentucky and Aaron Harrison could get used to watching over and over again.
 
Harrison took a pass from his twin brother, Andrew, spotted up from NBA range and watched the ball rattle in for the lead with 5.7 seconds left to lift the Wildcats to a 74-73 victory Saturday night over Wisconsin in the Final Four.
 
It's the third straight game the Kentucky freshman has made a 3 for the winning points in this magical ride for the Wildcats (29-10), and the second straight time the pass has come from his brother for a spot-up shot from the left center of the arc.
 
Traevon Jackson had a last-second shot to try to beat the Wildcats, but the desperation jumper rimmed out and once again Harrison found himself at the bottom of a dog pile at center court.
 
Eighth-seeded Kentucky will play seventh-seeded UConn in the final Monday - the highest seed total to play for the title since they started putting numbers by the names back in 1979.
 
Wisconsin (30-8) set a Final Four record by going 95 percent from the free-throw line - 19 for 20. But it was that one miss that cost the Badgers. Jackson got Andrew Harrison to jump into him while attempting a 3-pointer with 16.4 seconds left. His first free throw rimmed out, and after he made the second two, Wisconsin had a 73-71 lead and Kentucky had the ball.
 
Who didn't know where it was going?
 
Against Louisville in the regional semifinal, Aaron Harrison was spotted up in the corner when Julius Randle spotted him open. He hit the go-ahead 3 with 39.1 seconds left. Two nights later, there were 3.4 seconds on the clock and Harrison was a few steps over to the left when he took the pass from his brother. The ball clanged in and he trotted backward and pumped his hands in the air.
 
A few minutes later, he was hugging his mom in the stands.
 
James Young led Kentucky with 17 points and Randle finished with 16, but only five boards to snap his string of three straight double-doubles.
 
But Kentucky had an answer for Wisconsin's do-everything 7-footer, Frank Kaminsky, who was held to eight points and five rebounds.
 
Ben Brust and Sam Dekker had 15 each for the Badgers, who came up a game short of their first appearance in the final since 1941.
 
Instead, it's Kentucky going for its ninth national title and second in three years, with an almost completely rebuilt roster from 2012. It's the way coach John Calipari does it, like it or not.
 
His star during this run: Aaron Harrison, who has first-round potential, though it won't be his final numbers in this game - eight points, three rebounds - that will impress the scouts as much as his final shot.

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