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The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have recalled right-handed pitcher Carlos Martinez from Memphis (AAA) and optioned right-handed pitcher Michael Blazek to Memphis following last night’s game. 

Martinez, 21, is joining the big league club for the second time this season after making seven relief appearances (0-0, 4.50 ERA, 8.0 IP, 9 SO) for the Cardinals in May.

Martinez joined the Memphis starting rotation following his option on May 27, going 3-2 with a 1.98 ERA in eight starts. He struck out 35 batters in 41.0 innings pitched, walked just 16, and allowed only one home run. He was recently named the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month for June.

Martinez began his 2013 season at Springfield (AA), where he was 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in three starts, striking out nine batters in 11.2 innings pitched. 

A native of Colinas Del Sur, Dominican Republic, Martinez was signed by the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent in April of 2010. He has posted a career mark of 19-14 in the minors with a 2.63 ERA in 63 games (62 starts) and fanned 312 batters in 300.2 innings pitched.

The 6-0, 185-pound right-hander was a combined 6-5 between Palm Beach (A) and Springfield (AA) last season and ranked third amongst Cardinals minor league pitchers in ERA (2.93) and opponent’s batting average (.236)

Martinez will join the Cardinals for tonight’s series opener at Chicago and will wear uniform # 62.

 
Thursday, 11 July 2013 09:34
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Matt Carpenter hit a two-run home run and Matt Holliday drove in two with a two-out hit to help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Houston Astros 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Carpenter's ninth homer of the season in the seventh gave the win to Seth Maness (5-1). Tony Cruz got hit by starter Jordan Lyles' first pitch of the inning and one out later Carpenter put a 2-1 pitch into the right field stands off reliever Wesley Wright (0-3).

Maness gave up two hits and a run in two innings of relief. He struck out three.

Edward Mujica earned his 25th save in 26 tries. He has appeared in six consecutive games, going 1-1 with four saves.

Lyles gave up four runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out two and walked two. Lyles hasn't won a game since beating Milwaukee on June 18.

Shelby Miller used 94 pitches to labor through five innings. He gave up three earned runs, walked five and struck out five. He had a total of six full counts, coming back to strike out Jason Castro and getting Brett Wallace to ground out.

Wallace, who had four hits and scored a run, drove in Jose Altuve in the seventh to give Houston a 4-3 lead. His only out was a grounder in the fifth that led to Houston's third run.

Holliday's single in the fifth tied the score at 3-3. His slap to right field drove in Cruz and Shane Robinson, who had a pinch hit single in place of Miller.

Allen Craig walked to open the second and scored on Matt Adams' single. Adams has five RBIs in in his past six games.

After going in order to start the game, the Astros put their leadoff batter on and had a runner reach scoring position in three of the next four innings against Miller.

Chris Carter hit his 18th home run just over the right field fence to open the second. Houston then used a Wallace single, two walks and an error for a 2-0 lead. It took a 3-1 lead after Jason Castro hit a ground rule double and J.D. Martinez drove him in with a single in the fifth.

NOTES: Cardinals C Cruz got his third start in the past four games in place of All-Star catcher and league-leading batter Yadier Molina who is nursing a sore right knee. He's gone 3 of 9 in that span. ... Molina struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh. ... Wallace, former first-round pick of the Cardinals, is 7 for 18 with five RBIs and four runs in four games this season against St. Louis. ... Jake Westbrook will start the Cardinals' first game after the All-Star break, July 19 against the visiting Padres, manager Mike Matheny said. Westbrook will be followed by Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright. Following an off day on July 22, Miller will start against the Phillies in St. Louis. Because of the off day, the Cardinals do not plan to use Joe Kelly until July 27. ... Astros manager Bo Porter said before the game he had not yet finalized his team's rotation plans for its series at Tampa Bay this weekend. ... The Astros have lost 13 of their past 15 games against their former NL Central division rivals.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013 22:58
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ST. LOUIS, MO – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has acquired forward Magnus Paajarvi  and a 2nd round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for David Perron.

“Magnus is a well-rounded player who has good size and great skating ability, said Armstrong. “He is just coming into his own and this will open up more ice time for Jaden (Schwartz) and Vladimir (Tarasenko). I would like to thank David for his time in St. Louis and wish him well in Edmonton.”

Pääjärvi (pronounced Pie-ARE-Vee), 22, was originally Edmonton’s 1st round pick (10th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The 6’3” left wing, recorded 16 points (9g, 7a) last season in 42 games after recording 15 goals and 34 points in his rookie season in 2010-11, which was 6th on the Oilers in scoring. He recorded a hat trick in his first NHL preseason game in 2010.

In the 2010 World Championships he led Sweden in scoring and was selected to the All-Tournament Team. Pääjärvi became the youngest player ever to play for Sweden during the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships. He assisted on Mikael Backlund’s overtime goal vs. Russia to put Sweden in the Finals.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013 22:55
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Chris Wondolowski's misspelled jersey was about the only thing that was amiss for the U.S. men's soccer team.

The national team jumped on Belize with Wondolowski's first-half hat trick and cruised to a 6-1 victory to open the CONCAF Gold Cup tournament Tuesday night.

Landon Donovan had a goal and two assists, becoming the first national team player with at least 50 career goals and 50 assists.

But Wondolowski, who just had his first international goal last weekend, stole the show, sporting an extra "W" - "Wondowlowski" - on his red and white jersey when he popped in his three goals against Belize.

Laughing about it afterward, he pondered whether he should wear it for the remainder of the tournament.

"I'm pretty superstitious, so we'll see what we can conjure up," he said.

Costa Rica defeated Cuba 3-0 in an earlier match at Jeld-Wen Field.

The 12-team Gold Cup is played every other year between national teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean. The Group C teams next meet on Saturday in Salt Lake City, with the U.S. facing Cuba followed by Belize against Costa Rica at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Wondolowski is the third American to score three goals in a Gold Cup match, joining Donovan and Brian McBride. The United States has won four Gold Cups since the tournament's inception in 1991. Mexico has won the past two.

"It's just great to get the start, especially in front of some great fans, and they provide such an atmosphere that makes it exciting and it makes you want to go out there and play," Wondolowski said.

The U.S. men were coming off a 6-0 rout of Guatemala in San Diego on Friday, an international friendly to warm up for the Gold Cup. Donovan scored twice, extending his American record to 51 international goals.

That was Donovan's first match after a five-month break from the national team. He was not included on rosters for the U.S. team's June World Cup qualifying matches.

Wondolowski scored his first international goal against Guatemala. Tuesday night's match was just his 11th with the national team.

"I think Wondo realizes, `Every time I'm on the field, I have an opportunity, and I need to take advantage of it,'" U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann said.

Belize was making its first Gold Cup appearance. The Jaguars, as they are known, qualified for the competition with a fourth-place finish in the UNCAF Copa Centroamericana.

The U.S. struck early when Wondolowski - who plays for Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes - knocked in a rebound off Belize goalkeeper Shane Orio in the 12th minute.

The United States relentlessly peppered Orio with shots and he made a dramatic save when Joe Corona fired at him in the 27th minute. But Wondolowski was able to get another one past him in the 36th minute to make it 2-0.

Belize scored on a penalty kick two minutes later when Elroy Smith fed Ian Gaynair for the header to beat U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

But Belize, a team made up of a mix of amateur and professional players, lost steam after the goal, coach Andrew Mork said.

"It didn't last long enough," Mork said. "And that really turned the game around for us."

Wondolowski added a third goal in the 40th minute.

The United States took a 4-1 lead in the 58th minute when Stuart Holden scored with an assist from Donovan, giving him 50 for his career.

Donovan got another when he passed to Michael Orozco for a header in the 72nd minute to make it 5-0. He got a goal - the 52nd of his career - with a penalty kick in the 76th minute.

"The crowd was great, the energy was great, I thought we started really well," Donovan said. "A little disappointed to give up a goal, but I think it was a great night for us, a great night for the fans and a good start for the tournament."

After the round-robin phase, the winners and runners up from each group, and the two top third-place finishers, advance to the knockout round. The Gold Cup tournament concludes July 28th at Soldier Field in Chicago.

It was the first visit to Portland for the U.S. men's team since 1998. Attendance was announced at 18,724.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013 08:06
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Adam Wainwright picked up his National League-tying 12th win with seven scoreless innings and Matt Holliday hit his team-high 13th home run to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 9-5 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

Matt Carpenter had three hits and drove in three runs for St. Louis, which has won four in a row and five of six.

Houston dropped its ninth in the last 11 and leads the majors with 58 losses.

Wainwright (12-5) improved to 13-1 in 15 career starts against Houston. His 1.56 ERA against the Astros is the lowest for any opponent. Wainwright allowed five hits, struck out nine and walked one. The right-hander, who will make his second All-Star appearance next week, has won seven successive starts against his former NL Central rival. His lone loss to the Astros was a 2-0 setback on Aug. 2, 2009.

Wainwright is tied with Washington's Jordan Zimmermann (12-3) for most wins in the NL.

St. Louis closer Edward Mujica struck out J.D. Martinez with two on and two out to pick up his 24th save in 25 opportunities.

The Cardinals, who jumped out to a 7-0 lead, battered former nemesis Bud Norris (6-8) for seven runs and 11 hits in five innings. Norris entered the game with an 8-5 mark and a 2.74 ERA against St. Louis.

Holliday slammed Norris' seventh pitch of the game over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead. Carpenter highlighted a three-run rally in the fourth with a two-run double.

David Freese broke out of an 0-for-11 skid with three hits for St. Louis, which has won its last seven home games against Houston. Daniel Descalso chipped in with a pair of doubles.

Freese and Descalso started the fourth with hits. Carpenter pushed the lead to 5-0 with a double that just eluded a diving Carlos Pena at first. Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI single.

Allen Craig added run-scoring hits in the sixth and eighth. He is second in the NL with 71 RBIs.

St. Louis reliever Kevin Siegrist pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He has not allowed a run over the first 12 games of his career, a franchise record.

The Astros scored four times in the ninth. Jake Elmore and Jose Altuve had RBI singles.

NOTES: St. Louis right-hander Shelby Miller (9-6, 2.80) will face Jordan Lyles (4-3, 3.87) in the finale of the two-game series on Wednesday. ... The Astros are 8-8 in interleague play this season. ... Houston INF Ronny Cedeno left the game in the fifth inning after fouling a pitch off his left big toe. He is listed as day to day with a contusion. ... St. Louis C Yadier Molina returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with right knee inflammation. ... Molina and Houston catcher Jason Castro were each hit by pitches. Norris hit Molina in the fifth. Wainwright plunked Castro in the sixth, prompting home plate umpire Mark Wegner to warn both benches.

Tuesday, 09 July 2013 22:37
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Chris Chelios played in the NHL for as long as he could.

And he did it at a high level.

"I always said I'd go right until the tank was empty," he said. "And, I believe I did."

Chelios and fellow defensemen Scott Niedermayer along with forward Brendan Shanahan found out Tuesday they will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November.

Only Hall of Famer Gordie Howe was an older NHL player than Chelios, the only player in league history to play in at least 400 games with three different teams. His career ended with the Atlanta Thrashers during the 2009-10 season when he was 48.

"I was part of an era, Chris was part of a few," Niedermayer joked.

Chelios, Niedermayer and Shanahan will be joined in the 2013 class by Geraldine Heaney, the third woman to be enshrined in the hall, and coach Fred Shero, who led the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup in 1974 and '75. He was selected posthumously in the builder category.

"There's no sense looking back as to why it didn't happen sooner, because today's a happy day to celebrate the fact that a guy that deserves it immensely has finally been elected to the Hall of Fame," Flyers chairman Ed Snider said.

Chelios and Niedermayer earned hockey's biggest individual honor in their first year of eligibility, and Shanahan got in on his second shot.

New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello raved about all three players, each of whom he had a connection to during their careers.

"Scott was an integral part of our success in New Jersey, not just on the ice, but off the ice," Lamoriello said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

"Shanahan was a part of my first draft - back in 1987 - and he went on to establish himself as one of the best, all-time power forwards in the history of the game. Chelios, who I was with in the 1996 World Cup and the Olympics, is one of the best success stories for an American hockey player."

Shanahan was a teammate of Chelios' in Detroit, and played with Niedermayer during the Olympics in 2002 when Canada won gold by beating Chelios and the Americans in Salt Lake City.

"When you got to play with them, it was a thrill," Shanahan said. "I spent some years playing with Cheli, and there's not another guy that you would want to go into a tough situation looking out for you.

"It absolutely makes it more special to go in with people I not only played against, but played with and got to know well."

Shanahan and Niedermayer are members of what's known as the Triple Gold Club, a group of players who have won the worlds, the Olympics and a Stanley Cup.

Each player is still working in the sport. Chelios is an adviser to hockey operations in Detroit. Niedermayer is an assistant coach in Anaheim. Shanahan is the NHL senior vice president of player safety.

Niedermayer won four Stanley Cups in 17 full NHL seasons to go along with a Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy. He played for the New Jersey Devils from 1991-92 through the 2003-04 season and finished his career in Anaheim in 2010.

Among the game's best U.S.-born players, Chelios won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman three times.

The Chicagoan split much of his career with three storied franchises in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit and was asked which team he will be affiliated when he is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"U.S.A.," he said.

Shanahan finished his career with 656 goals and 698 assists. He won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, an Olympic gold medal and was the quintessential scoring power winger of his era.

Shanahan started his career with the Devils, went on to play in St. Louis, Hartford, Detroit and for the New York Rangers before ending his playing career back in New Jersey.

Heaney was a defenseman on Canada's gold-medal-winning team at the 2002 Olympics and is considered one of the best female players in history.

"As a young girl playing hockey, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be going into the hall," she said.

Tuesday, 09 July 2013 22:36
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- After losing consecutive starts for the first time in his career, Lance Lynn resisted the temptation to alter his approach.

He has 11 wins prior to the All-Star break both of his years in the rotation because he stayed with the plan.

"That last one was all singles and bloops," manager Mike Matheny said after a 3-2 victory over the Miami Marlins wrapped up a three-game sweep Sunday. "The adjustment really is not to make too many adjustments.

"He was a bulldog," Matheny added.

Lynn outpitched Marlins All-Star Jose Fernandez and Matt Holliday homered for St. Louis, which rebounded from a 3-8 stretch that bumped them from the majors' best record.

The Cardinals regained a share of the NL Central lead with the Pirates, who lost to the Cubs.

"We've had some heartbreaks as of late," Lynn said. "To be able to get a sweep any time of the year is great. It would be nice to get hot right before the All-Star break and rattle off a bunch of wins."

Lynn (11-3) worked seven strong innings in 87-degree heat and matched All-Star Adam Wainwright for the team lead in wins. He struck out seven, fanning Giancarlo Stanton all three times, shaking off two outings in which he gave up nine runs in 13 2-3 innings.

"I tried to not even think about the last one," Lynn said. "You're going to have times where it seems like every time you throw a pitch and they hit it's a hit, no matter where it goes.

"That's kind of what the feeling was the last time," he said, "but it can't always be like that."

The 20-year-old Fernandez (5-5) worked six innings a day after getting the nod as the Marlins' lone All-Star and gave up three runs on four hits and a season-high four walks. He hadn't allowed more than two earned runs in his previous six outings.

"They were just better than us," Fernandez said. "I thought I made some good pitches but it's not a secret for anybody, the Cardinals are one of the best teams in the league."

The Cardinals swept the Marlins, with whom they share a spring training complex in Jupiter, Fla., for the first time since Aug. 4-7, 2011 at Florida, and the first time at home since May 23-25, 2000.

Trevor Rosenthal escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by getting pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs on a groundout, getting some help when Stanton froze between second and third and could not score on Logan Morrison's hit.

"If a couple of things go our way or we make a couple of better plays, we win this game," Morrison said. "That's why they're going to be in the playoffs. That's why we're not, because they know how do those things.

"We're young. We're learning. We'll get there," Morrison said.

Edward Mujica pitched for the fourth straight game and finished for his 23rd save in 24 chances, giving him a win and two saves in the series.

Adeiny Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis had an RBI apiece for the Marlins, who had won eight of 10 entering the series and had been on a 19-11 roll for the majors' best record since May 31. Derek Dietrich doubled, walked and was hit by a pitch twice.

Holliday's 12th homer, and first in 12 games, was a 420-foot shot to straightaway center in the first.

Both teams manufactured a run early. A wide throw to the plate from first baseman Morrison helped Carlos Beltran score on the front end of a double steal with Holliday in the third for St. Louis, and Mathis had a squeeze bunt for an RBI in the fourth for the Marlins.

Stanton fanned three times for the second time in four games. He's 1 for 7 against Lynn with a homer, two RBIs, a walk and five strikeouts.

NOTES: Wainwright (11-5, 2.36) jumps ahead of rookie Shelby Miller in the rotation to start Tuesday against the Astros and Bud Norris (6-7, 3.22). Wainwright also will start the final game before the break, but didn't mind not being eligible to pitch in the All-Star Game. ... Kevin Slowey (3-6, 4.24) takes Ricky Nolasco's rotation spot for the Marlins Monday at home against the Braves and Mike Minor (8-4, 3.15). ... Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson threw the ceremonial first pitch. ... Holliday grounded into his major league-leading 22nd double play in the fifth. Both teams had a pair of double-play balls in the finale and totaled 10 in the series, five by each. ... All three games were sold out and offered giveaways, with a porch flag for the finale following a Holliday jersey and Mike Shannon bobble head. ... The Cardinals earned their first sweep since taking four straight from Milwaukee May 2-5. The Marlins have been swept nine times, seven times in three-game series and twice in two-gamers.

Sunday, 07 July 2013 22:50
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LONDON (AP) -- Andy Murray needed one more point, one solitary point, to win Wimbledon - a title he yearned to earn for himself, of course, and also for his country.

Britain had endured 77 years since one of its own claimed the men's trophy at the revered tournament referred to simply as The Championships, and now here was Murray, on the brink of triumph after 3 hours of grueling tennis against top-seeded Novak Djokovic under a vibrant sun at Centre Court.

Up 40-love, Murray failed to convert his first match point. And his second. And then, yes, his third, too. On and on the contest, and accompanying tension, stretched, Murray unable to close it, Djokovic unwilling to yield, the minutes certainly feeling like hours to those playing and those watching. Along came three break points for Djokovic, all erased. Finally, on Murray's fourth chance to end it, Djokovic dumped a backhand into the net.

The final was over.

The wait was over.

A year after coming oh-so-close by losing in the title match at the All England Club, the No. 2-ranked Murray beat No. 1 Djokovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 Sunday to become Wimbledon's champion in a test of will and skill between a pair of men with mirror-image defensive styles that created lengthy points brimming with superb shots.

"That last game will be the toughest game I'll play in my career. Ever," said Murray, who was born in Dunblane, Scotland, and is the first British man to win the grass-court Grand Slam tournament since Fred Perry in 1936. "Winning Wimbledon - I still can't believe it. Can't get my head around that. I can't believe it."

For several seasons, Murray was the outsider looking in, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic collected 29 out of 30 Grand Slam titles. But now Murray has clearly and completely turned the Big 3 into a Big 4, having reached the finals at the last four major tournaments he entered (he withdrew from the French Open in May because of a bad back). And he's now a two-time Slam champion, having defeated Djokovic in five sets at the U.S. Open in September.

All this from a guy who lost his first four major finals, including against Federer at Wimbledon in 2012. After that defeat, Murray's voice cracked and tears rolled as he told the crowd, "I'm getting closer."

How prescient. Four weeks later, on the same court, he beat Federer for a gold medal at the London Olympics, a transformative victory if ever there was one. And 52 weeks later, on the same court, he beat Djokovic for the Wimbledon championship.

"You need that self-belief in the important moments," observed Djokovic, a six-time major champion, "and he's got it now."

Murray's mother, Judy, who is Britain's Fed Cup captain, agreed that the setback 12 months ago "was a turning point in some ways."

"Every time you have a really tough loss, a loss that really hurts you," she said, "I think you learn a lot about how to handle the occasions better going forward."

Murray trailed 4-1 in the second set Sunday, and 4-2 in the third, before wiggling his way back in front each time.

He won the last four games, breaking for a 5-4 lead when Djokovic flubbed a forehand, setting off a standing ovation and applause that lasted more than a full minute. When he got out of his changeover chair, preparing to serve for the title, an earsplitting roar accompanied his trek to the baseline.

Djokovic missed a backhand, Murray smacked a backhand winner and added a 131 mph (211 kph) service winner, and suddenly one point was all that remained between him and history. That's where things got a tad complicated.

On match point No. 1, Djokovic capped a 12-stroke exchange with a forehand volley winner. On No. 2, Djokovic hit a backhand return winner off an 84 mph (135 kph) second serve. On No. 3, Murray sailed a backhand long on the ninth shot.

Now it was deuce.

"I started to feel nervous and started thinking about what just happened," Murray said. "There's a lot of things you're thinking of at that moment."

The match continued for eight additional points.

Seemed to take an eternity.

"Just how that last game went, my head was kind of everywhere. I mean, some of the shots he came up with were unbelievable," Murray said. "At the end of the match, I didn't quite know what was going on. Just a lot of different emotions."

Any of Djokovic's break points in that game would have made it 5-all, and who knows what toll that would have taken on Murray's mind? But Murray erased the first two chances with a 116 mph service winner, then a forehand winner on the 21st stroke.

At deuce for a third time, Djokovic conjured up a forehand passing winner to get his third break point. Murray dropped his head and placed his hands on his knees. The crowd clapped rhythmically and shouted, "Andy! Andy!" They couldn't know it, but their man wouldn't lose another point.

On a 16-shot exchange, Djokovic delivered an overhead that was retrieved, then tried a drop shot that Murray got back. Djokovic put the ball in the net, and Murray was at match point No. 4. When that one went Murray's way, the ball on Djokovic's side of the court, Murray dropped his neon-red racket, yanked his white hat off and pumped both fists overhead, screaming, "Yes! Yes!" He was looking directly at the corner of the stadium with benches for members of the press, a group that he used to worry helped fuel the intense pressure and only-one-way-to-satisfy-them expectations on Murray's shoulders.

"It's hard. It's really hard. You know, for the last four or five years, it's been very, very tough, very stressful," Murray said. "It's just kind of everywhere you go. It's so hard to avoid everything because of how big this event is, but also because of the history and no Brit having won."

When a Brit did win, 15,000 or so spectators around the arena rose and yelled right back at him, some waving Union Jacks or blue-and-white Scottish flags. Soon, Murray was climbing into the guest box for hugs with his girlfriend, his mother and his coach, Ivan Lendl, who won eight major titles as a player but never fared better than the runner-up at Wimbledon.

"I didn't always feel it was going to happen," said Murray, who fumbled with his gold trophy after the ceremony, dropping the lid. "It's incredibly difficult to win these events. I don't think that's that well-understood sometimes. It takes so much hard work, mental toughness, to win these sort of tournaments."

At the end, across the grounds, thousands responded with cheers while watching on a giant videoboard at the picnic lawn known as Murray Mount. And, surely, millions more following along on TV across Britain stood up from their sofas. British Prime Minister David Cameron was in the Royal Box, a sign of the day's significance, and Buckingham Palace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II sent Murray a private message afterward.

"The end of the match, that was incredibly loud, very noisy," Murray said. "It does make a difference. It really helps when the crowd's like that, the atmosphere is like that. Especially in a match as tough as that one, where it's extremely hot, brutal, long rallies, tough games - they help you get through it."

Said Djokovic, who famously ate blades of grass after winning Wimbledon in 2011: "The atmosphere was incredible for him. For me, not so much. But that's what I expected."

The fans were active participants throughout, lamenting "aHTTP://WWWW" when Murray missed a serve; cheering rowdily when he hit one of his 36 winners, five more than Djokovic; shushing in unison when someone called out in premature agony or delight while a point was in progress.

That was understandable. Points rarely are over when they appear to be if Murray and Djokovic are involved. The elastic Djokovic's sliding carries him to so many shots, while Murray is more of a powerful scrambler. It took a half-hour to get through the opening five games, in part because 10 of 32 points lasted at least 10 strokes apiece. And this all happened with the temperature above 80 degrees (27 Celsius), with only the occasional puff of cloud interrupting the blue sky.

Born a week apart in May 1987, Murray and Djokovic have known each other since they were 11, and they grasp the ins and outs of each other's games so well.

"You've got to fight so hard to get past Novak, because he's such an incredible competitor, an amazing athlete, and it's never over `til it's over," Judy Murray said.

This was their 19th meeting on tour (Djokovic leads 11-8), and their fourth in a Grand Slam final, including three in the past year. Both are fantastic returners, and Murray broke seven times Sunday, once more than Djokovic lost his serve in the preceding six matches combined.

In the late going, Djokovic was taking some shortcuts, repeatedly trying drop shots or rushing to the net to shorten points, but neither strategy tended to work.

"He was getting some incredible shots on the stretch and running down the drop shots," Djokovic said. "He was all over the court."

Admittedly feeling the effects of his five-setter Friday against Juan Martin del Potro - at 4 hours, 43 minutes, it's the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history - Djokovic was far more erratic than Murray, with particular problems on the backhand side. Djokovic wound up with 40 unforced errors, nearly double Murray's 21.

"I wasn't patient enough," Djokovic said.

Ah, patience. The British needed plenty when it comes to their precious, prestigious tennis tournament.

Thanks to Murray, the wait is over.

Sunday, 07 July 2013 22:48
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Matt Adams got a curtain call after the biggest swing of the game. Then the St. Louis Cardinals capitalized on the day's biggest mistake.

Jon Jay scored from first on a single after right fielder Giancarlo Stanton's throwing error with two outs in the ninth for a 5-4 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday.

"We've had a lot of close games like this that we couldn't quite pull off at the end," manager Mike Matheny said. "So, it doesn't matter to me. Just that we did."

Edward Mujica (1-1) worked a scoreless ninth for the Cardinals after Adams' pinch-hit, two-run homer tied it two innings earlier.

Jay drew a full-count walk off A.J. Ramos (3-3) with two outs in the ninth and took third easily on Robinson's pinch-hit single, then scored without a play after Stanton hesitated before throwing a relay that skipped under Logan Morrison's glove at first base.

"I was just trying to get the ball before it hit the ground," Morrison said. "I should have played it back or just let it go because it was on the line.

"We should have won that game, no doubt about it, but we didn't and now it's over and that's why we play every day."

Stanton did not speak to reporters after the game.

The Marlins got homers from Derek Dietrich and Morrison but their run of four straight series wins ended after dropping the first two against the Cardinals.

Manager Mike Redmond was ejected for arguing a close play at the plate in the fourth, with replays indicating Adeiny Hechavarria's legs crossed the plate before catcher Tony Cruz tagged him on the shoulder.

Redmond was already frustrated after an incorrect call at third base Friday ended up saddling the Marlins with an unusual double play in a 4-1 loss. He thought Hechavarria was "clearly safe" and wasn't certain that Cruz made the tag.

"I knew that run was going to be big," Redmond said. "You can only take so much, right? I think of those guys in the dugout and they're busting their butts. You've got to stick up for those guys, too."

Adams' homer off Mike Dunn foiled the Marlins' switch from starter to a lefty-lefty matchup and tied it at 4. Adams has both of the Cardinals' pinch homers this season and is 6 for 16 against lefties with two homers and six RBIs.

"In that situation, I don't know if I'd pull him for anyone," Matheny said. "He's earned it. If we're going to use him, we're going to use him."

Both starters reached season bests for innings, with Eovaldi going up three runs in 6 2-3 innings and Joe Kelly allowing four runs in six innings.

Matheny gave Kelly the fifth spot in the rotation on June 22 but the Cardinals didn't need him until now because of three off days, and the right-hander was used just once in long relief on June 28 before facing the Marlins. Matheny said Kelly will get another start next week.

Morrison has four homers in his last six games against the Cardinals. His fourth of this season put the Marlins up 3-1.

Kelly singled for his sixth career hit in 38 at-bats and scored on Matt Carpenter's triple in the third, a hooking drive that barely got past center fielder Marcell Ozuna. Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI single before Matt Holliday grounded into his 21st double play, by far the most in the majors.

Dietrich doubled with one out in the second and scored easily on Hechavarria's single.

NOTES: The Cardinals are slotting ace Adam Wainwright ahead of rookie Shelby Miller on Tuesday, giving the 11-game winner two starts heading into the All-Star break but making him ineligible to pitch in the game. ... A second straight giveaway, this one for Holliday jerseys, attracted a second straight sellout with attendance of 45,475. Fans jammed entrances more than two hours before game time, to make sure they got the souvenir given to fans 16 and over. ... Cardinals SS Daniel Descalso had two throwing errors, a day after 2B Carpenter had a pair of errors. ... Cruz made just his eighth start of the season with Yadier Molina sent for medical tests on an injured knee. ... Cardinals starting SS Pete Kozma, in an 0 for 17 slump, did not play for the third straight game.

Saturday, 06 July 2013 23:41
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LONDON (AP) -- Ever since she was a kid, practicing until midnight with her father, Marion Bartoli went about playing tennis her own way.

The two-handed strokes for backhands, forehands, even volleys. The hopping in place and practice swings between points, which help her focus. The unusual setup for serves - no ball-bouncing, arms crossed, right wrist resting on her left thumb before the toss.

Whatever works, right? This unique Wimbledon, appropriately enough, produced a unique champion in the ambidextrous Bartoli, the 15th-seeded Frenchwoman who won her first Grand Slam title by beating 23rd-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 6-4 Saturday in an error-filled, one-sided final that was far from a classic.

"It's always been a part of my personality to be different. I think being just like the other one is kind of boring. I really embrace the fact of being a bit different and doing something that not everyone is," said the 28-year-old Bartoli, who plays tennis right-handed but signs autographs with her left. "I actually love that part of my game, being able to have something different."

She certainly stands alone.

This was Bartoli's 47th Grand Slam tournament, the most ever played by a woman before earning a championship.

She is the only woman in the 45-year Open era to win Wimbledon playing two-fisted shots off both wings (Monica Seles, Bartoli's inspiration for that unusual style, collected her nine major titles elsewhere).

Until Saturday, it had been more than 1 1/2 years since Bartoli won a tournament at any level.

Until these last two weeks, Bartoli's record in 2013 was 14-12, and she had failed to make it past the quarterfinals anywhere.

Asked how to explain how she went from that sort of mediocre season to winning seven matches in a row at Wimbledon, never dropping a set, Bartoli briefly closed her eyes, then laughed heartily.

"Well," Bartoli said, spreading her arms wide, "that's me!"

Unlike Lisicki, a first-time major finalist who was admittedly overwhelmed by the occasion and teared up in the second set, Bartoli already had been on this stage, with the same stakes. Back in 2007, Bartoli won only five games during a two-set loss to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final.

"I know how it feels, Sabine," Bartoli said during the on-court trophy ceremony. "And I'm sure, believe me, you'll be there one more time. I have no doubt about it."

Bartoli became the first woman in the Open era to win Wimbledon without facing anyone seeded in the top 10 - her highest-rated opponent was No. 17 Sloane Stephens of the United States in the quarterfinals. That's in part because of all of the injuries and surprises, including exits for No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Sara Errani, No. 7 Angelique Kerber, No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 10 Maria Kirilenko by the end of the second round.

Lisicki, meanwhile, used her game built for grass - fast serves, stinging returns, superb court coverage - to end defending champion and top-seeded Serena Williams' 34-match winning streak in the fourth round. Lisicki also eliminated past major champions Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur, along with No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, last year's runner-up.

But Lisicki was an entirely different player Sunday, rattled by every little thing, even the walk downstairs from the locker room to Centre Court and the final-afternoon ritual of players carrying bouquets of flowers when they enter the arena.

"Everything is a little bit different. You've been here for two weeks; the feeling, atmosphere, gets different," said Lisicki, who is based in Bradenton, Fla., and marked her rare winners Saturday with yells of "Yes!" or "Come on!"

"I felt fine this morning, but it's an occasion that you don't get every day," she said. "So it's something completely new for me. But I will learn and take away so much from it."

When play began under a sunny sky, it was Bartoli who looked jittery, double-faulting twice in a row to drop the opening game.

Then it was Lisicki's turn to serve, and she returned the favor, double-faulting on break point - her last serve barely reaching the bottom of the net - to make it 1-all.

From there, Bartoli took over, winning 11 of 12 games, and doing exactly what her father, a doctor who taught his daughter how to play, used to hope and imagine could happen in such an important match. Standing inside the baseline - another sign of individuality - Bartoli got back serves that topped 110 mph. She won the point on 9 of 11 trips to the net. She dictated the flow of baseline exchanges, thinking one or two moves ahead, the way one tries to do in chess, her father's favorite pastime.

"I was doing everything well," Bartoli said. "I was moving well. I was returning well. I mean, I really played a wonderful match."

It was not exactly the greatest theater or a "How To" guide for young players. Bartoli and Lisicki combined for more unforced errors, 39, than winners, 36. They finished with 11 doubles-faults and eight aces. When Lisicki double-faulted twice in one game while getting broken to trail 4-1 in the second set, she covered her face with her racket as her eyes welled.

"I was a bit sad that I couldn't perform the way I can," Lisicki said.

Lisicki already was on the precipice of defeat when she finally did look like someone who entered the day with a 19-4 career record at Wimbledon - the afternoon's lone, brief moment of intrigue and competitive tennis. Facing match points while serving at 15-40 with a scoreline of 6-1, 5-1 in Bartoli's favor after only 67 minutes, Lisicki suddenly remembered how to play again.

She hit a swinging backhand volley winner to erase one match point, then a 106 mph service winner to take care of the next. Another followed shortly, and this time Bartoli put a backhand into the net. At deuce, Lisicki smacked a 115 mph service winner and a 114 mph ace to hold serve for the second time in seven tries.

Bartoli, who said she napped for a bit and danced to music in the locker room beforehand to stay loose, now was the one who was tight. With the crowd roaring after nearly every point, wanting more match for their money, Lisicki broke to 5-3, then held to 5-4.

Lisicki put together third-set comebacks against Williams and Radwanska, but could she really dig herself out of this hefty deficit?

No. Bartoli served out the match at love, using that one-of-a-kind serve to close with a 101 mph ace that hit a line and sent chalk dust spraying.

"You can't describe that kind of feeling. You cannot put (into) any words what I feel in this moment," said Bartoli, who won earned 1.6 million pounds (about $2.4 million). "I can't believe I won Wimbledon this year. We'll have to see the pictures, to see the match again on DVD, to ... realize it."

So might everyone else.

Soon after that final ace, she was climbing atop an overhang to get to the guest box for hugs with her father, Walter, and other members of her entourage, including French Fed Cup captain Amelie Mauresmo (the last player from France to win a Grand Slam title, at Wimbledon in 2006) and hitting partner Thomas Drouet (who began working with Bartoli in May after splitting with a player, Australia's Bernard Tomic, whose father faces court charges in Spain for allegedly assaulting Drouet).

"She fooled a lot of people during this fortnight," Mauresmo said.

Bartoli didn't let anything faze her, including a blister on her right big toe she said was the size of a quarter and left her sock bloody. When Lisicki took an extended bathroom break after the first set, Bartoli ran out to the baseline under the Royal Box and, facing a wall, jumped in place, did deep-knee bends, took practice cuts.

All of her idiosyncrasies were on display Saturday. The raised fist to celebrate pretty much every point she won. The sprints to the sideline at changeovers. And, most importantly of all, those flat forehands and backhands, putting her racket on balls while they're still low to the ground.

At 7 1/2, she watched Seles beat Steffi Graf in the 1992 French Open final, and Bartoli decided - with Dad's encouragement - to adopt the double-handed technique. Her father devised all sorts of original training methods, including taping tennis balls to the heels of her shoes so she'd be forced to stay on her toes. He also used balls of varying colors and sizes to work on hand-eye coordination.

"All the pros were saying that I was completely crazy when they used to see me working with Marion," said Walter Bartoli, who got to town Friday. "But I kept believing in myself - and Marion."

Good thing, too.

No matter what else happens, she will always be the winner of the 2013 title at the All England Club.

"Just hearing `Wimbledon champion,' that kind of sounds good to me," Bartoli said, rocking forward in her chair and chuckling. "I wanted that so badly. ... It was like: Dare to dream. I kept dreaming. I kept my head up. I kept working hard. And it just happened."

Saturday, 06 July 2013 23:38
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