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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom hit back-to-back homers in a four-run first inning and that was plenty for Jeff Samardzija, who pitched the Chicago Cubs over the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 Tuesday night.

Chicago started fast against Adam Wainwright (10-4) and broke a five-game losing streak in St. Louis.

Pinch-runner Shane Robinson was called out for interference while trying to break up a double play to end the game.

Carlos Beltran hit his team-high 17th homer for the Cardinals, who lost for the third time in five games but still lead the majors with a 45-26 record.

Samardzija (4-7) gave up two runs and seven hits in 8 1-3 innings. He struck out six and walked one for his first win since May 27, a 7-0 shutout against the Chicago White Sox.

The Cardinals cut the lead to 4-2 on an RBI single by Yadier Molina with one out in the ninth.

Kevin Gregg got David Freese to ground into a game-ending double play for his 10th save in as many opportunities. Robinson interfered with shortstop Starlin Castro on the pivot at second base.

Wainwright was trying to become the majors' first 11-game winner. The Cubs tied a season high with four runs in the first - they also did it in the first inning of a 10-7 loss to San Francisco on April 14.

Wainwright gave up back-to-back homers for the third time in his career. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits over seven innings.

Wainwright had won his previous five starts, but has not beaten the Cubs since Sept. 24, 2010. Wainwright, who bounced back to retire 12 in a row, had given up a total of four first-inning runs over his first 14 starts this season.

The Cubs' first-inning runs all came after two outs. Nate Schierholtz and Alfonso Soriano hit consecutive doubles before Sweeney unloaded with his second homer of the season to make it 3-0. Ransom followed with his eighth homer.

Samardzija never let a runner past second base in the first five innings and was helped out by three double plays.

Beltran homered off the right-field foul pole with two outs in the sixth. Molina went 3 for 3 and leads the NL with a .363 average.

NOTES: Schierholtz has hit safely in a career-best 10 straight games. ... St. Louis OF Jon Jay has gone 215 successive games without making an error in center. He is second in team history behind Curt Flood (226). Jay last made an error on Aug. 24, 2011. His streak is the longest current run in the NL. .... Chicago signed LHP Rob Zastryzny, their second-round draft choice. ... St. Louis rookie right-hander Shelby Miller (8-4, 2.08) left after five innings of Monday's 5-2 win due to cramps caused by dehydration. He will not miss a start. ... Chicago pitchers have a league-leading 22 RBI this season.... The Cardinals signed LHP Rob Kaminsky, their second first-round selection. The 28th overall pick, Kaminsky is from St. Joseph's Regional High in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 23:11
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SANDY, Utah (AP) -- Jozy Altidore scored a goal in his fourth consecutive international match, enough for the United States to edge Honduras 1-0 in a World Cup qualifying game Tuesday night.

Before 20,250 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Americans remained atop the six-team CONCACAF group. The United States (4-1-1) won three straight games this month, all since a 0-0 draw at Mexico gave it a boost toward the top.

It has also shut out its last two opponents, Panama and Honduras.

Honduras (2-3-1) was the last team to win at the United States in a World Cup qualifying match, back in 2001. The Americans have won or drawn 25 straight at home since then.

The visitors made it difficult on the Americans for much of the game by slowing the pace before Altidore broke through.

After several second-half near misses, the U.S. got its goal in the 73rd minute. Altidore took a cross from Fabian Johnson from near the end line and put it past goalkeeper Noel Valladares across the goalmouth inside the right post.

It was Altidore's ninth goal in a qualifier as he finally develops into the scoring threat the United States has hoped for.

Both teams played physical soccer in the first half, leading to an emphasis on defense and a limited number of scoring chances on either side of the field. Just before the first period ended, though, Tim Howard was forced to make a difficult save when Andy Najar launched a running right footer from the right side of the box. Howard met the ball in the center of the box and deflected it outside the right post.

Eddie Johnson had a chance in the 17th minute when he latched onto a cross from Fabian Johnson. His left-footed shot from the center of the box was knocked away by Valladares.

When the U.S. stepped up the offensive pressure early in the second half, it put Honduras on its heels. Altidore had the finishing touch.

He even appeared to score earlier in the half. Moments after Graham Zusi sent a free kick into a crowd of players just outside the 6-yard box in the 56th minute, only to see Brad Evans' header go right into Valladares' gloves, Altidore got behind the defense. Clint Dempsey sent a through ball ahead to Altidore, who was ruled offside and his score was negated.

Valladares came up with another clutch save in the 69th minute. Zusi, who was particularly active all night after sitting out the win over Panama because of yellow card accumulation, sent a ball into Dempsey in the center of the box and he leaned into a point-blank header. The ball bounced off of Valladares' hands and Michael Bradley sent a follow-up shot too high.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 23:09
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Rookie Shelby Miller pitched five shutout innings and Yadier Molina had a two-run double to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

Miller (8-4), who had to wait out a rain delay of 1 hour, 59 minutes to start the game, left due to cramping in his right leg. He allowed just two hits and struck out five in the shortest start of his career. His previous shortest stint was 5 1-3 innings at Los Angeles on May 26.

Kevin Siegrist and Seth Manness followed Miller and combined for two shutout innings before Trevor Rosenthal allowed a run in the eighth on a broken bat single by Nate Schierholtz. Edward Munica gave up a homer to Darwin Barney with two outs in the ninth, but still earned his 20th save in 20 opportunities.

Molina also had a single in four at-bats to raise his average to a National League leading .355. Shane Robinson and Allen Craig added sacrifice flies for the Cardinals, who moved back to a major league best 20 games over .500 (45-25).

Chicago fell to 8-22 against the National League Central, the lowest winning percentage by any team in its own division (.266). The Cubs are 5-23 when they score three runs or less, including Travis Wood's last three starts. Wood (5-6) was again a hard-luck loser, as he gave up four runs on seven hits. He has dropped three straight games despite having a 2.70 ERA in those contests.

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday started the inning with singles, and Beltran then went to third on Craig's long fly out to right. Molina then drove both Beltran and Holiday home with a double to the gap in right center.

St. Louis began the seventh the same way, with Molina and David Freese getting singles. Molina would score on a throwing error by first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Freese came home on Robinson's sacrifice fly.

Craig's sacrifice fly in the eighth gave the Cardinals a 5-1 lead.

NOTES: The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (10-3) will try to become the Major League's first 11-game winner when he opposes Jeff Samardzija (3-7) in the second game of the series Tuesday. ... Chicago manager Dale Sveum was ejected with one in the seventh inning after arguing with home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn over whether Molina had eluded Wood's tag. ... St. Louis is 17-7 in the first game of a series. ... Schierholtz has a nine-game hitting streak, equaling his career best.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 06:40
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MIAMI (AP) -- They lost three times in three months in one of the most overpowering stretches the NBA has ever seen.

Now the Miami Heat have lost three times in five games.

So superb during the regular season, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat have to be something even more for the rest of the NBA Finals.

They have to be perfect.

"We look forward to the challenge," James said.

The San Antonio Spurs can finish Miami off Tuesday night in Game 6, reaffirming themselves as one of the league's greatest franchises.

If so, the Heat and their Big Three once again go from celebrated to devastated, just as they were two years ago when they came home from Texas facing this same predicament.

"We're going to see if we're a better team than we were our first year together," James said.

The Spurs took a 3-2 lead with their 114-104 victory Sunday night. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were all brilliant again, and Danny Green added to what could become one of the most out-of-nowhere finals MVP campaigns ever.

One more victory makes the Spurs 5-0 in the NBA Finals, keeping pace with Michael Jordan's 6-0 Chicago Bulls as the only teams to make it here multiple times and never lose.

"We understand Game 6 is huge," Parker said. "Obviously, you want to finish in the first opportunity you get. We understand that Miami is going to come out with a lot more energy, and they're going to play better at home. They're going to shoot the ball better. Their crowd is going to be behind them."

None of that mattered two years ago.

Clearly reeling and their psyches shaken after dropping two straight games in Dallas, the Heat were blitzed early in Game 6. They never recovered, Chris Bosh inconsolable as he made his way back to the locker room afterward while the Mavericks celebrated at center court.

James had to endure the criticisms that came with not getting it done in the finals, a story line that was put to rest last year but will be back again if the Heat don't manage to put together consecutive victories.

"We challenge ourselves to see if we're a better team than we were," Wade said. "Same position no matter how we got to it."

The Heat would also host Game 7 on Thursday. They're trying to join the 1988 and 2010 Los Angeles Lakers and 1994 Houston Rockets as the only teams to rally from 3-2 down by winning the final two on their home floor since the NBA Finals went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985.

Of course, the Heat - who won 27 in a row during the second-longest winning streak in league history - haven't put together consecutive victories now in close to a month.

"We're in a position where it's a must-win and everything that we've done all year comes to this point, and we have to win," Heat guard Ray Allen said. "We've found ourselves in so many situations this year, and we've thrived in tough moments because this is a tough team. We will be ready for Game 6."

So will the Spurs, and the Heat know it.

"I'm sure this team, they've been here before many times. They understand winning that last game is one of the hardest things you're going to do. And we understand it as well," Wade said.

"But you know what? It's the game; we've got to play it. I like our chances, just like they like their chances, in this series and in Game 6. We'll see. We'll see which team, which style is going to prevail."

Their four titles have made the Spurs respected but never beloved. Their first, in 1999, came following a 50-game lockout season, and they certainly weren't the team to help the NBA regain its jilted fan base.

Victories in 2003 over New Jersey, 2005 over Detroit and 2007 over James' Cleveland Cavaliers were all low-rated, lukewarm-interest series in which the Spurs were supposed to win and did, just not in a way that erased the idea that they had boring players with a boring brand of basketball.

Win this one, though, and they will surely get their due. They would be knocking off the league's winningest team and the game's best player, with Duncan at 37 and Ginobili soon to be 36, behind a more wide-open offense that has helped Green break Allen's finals record for 3-pointers.

Not that they're thinking about that, or anything else beyond Game 6 at this point.

"We'll reflect back and let it hit us when it's over. We still have a lot more work to do. There's still some business to be done. We have to carry it out and finish it," said Green, who was cut previously by the Cavaliers and Spurs and now has made 25 3-pointers in the first five games.

It looked as though the game was finally passing by the Spurs last year, when the young Oklahoma City Thunder blew by them with four straight victories after San Antonio had taken a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

The Heat routed the Thunder for the championship and the Spurs brought back essentially the same team, believing another year in their system for players like Green and Kawhi Leonard was a better option than seeking out some quick-fix outsider.

That's almost always been the Spurs' way, and it's on the verge of again being the model for an NBA title - at the expense of the Miami one that once appeared to be the way champions would be built.

"I think every one of us wants this very badly from the top on down," Duncan said. "We're trying to play that way."

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 06:39
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BOSTON (AP) -- The puck bounced off the post and rolled across the crease, away from the goal line. The red light flashed briefly, but replays would confirm that Tuukka Rask's shutout streak was intact.

For the last 122 minutes, 26 seconds of the Stanley Cup finals, the Bruins goalie has prevented Chicago from scoring.

Rask made 28 more saves in Game 3 on Monday night to earn his third shutout of the postseason, leading Boston to a 2-0 victory over the Blackhawks and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"We ran up against some of the best goalies in the league here," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Tonight I thought we made it rather easy on him as far as traffic and finding and seeing pucks. I think we've got to be better at going to the net."

After playing four extra periods in the first two games, the Bruins made an early night of it in Game 3 with second-period goals by Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron.

Corey Crawford had 33 saves for a Blackhawks team playing without Marian Hossa, who was scratched just before gametime.

Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston before the matchup of Original Six franchises returns to Chicago for a fifth game. The teams split the first two games there, with the Blackhawks winning Game 1 in triple-overtime and the Bruins stealing home-ice advantage on Paille's goal in the first OT of the second game.

"Obviously, you go triple-overtime, (then) overtime the next game, it takes a lot of energy out of you," Rask said. "But we'll take a regulation win, for sure."

This time the intrigue came before the opening faceoff instead of after the end of regulation.

Hossa and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara both left the ice after warmups. But while Chara needed just some stitches after a collision with teammate Milan Lucic, Hossa was dropped from the lineup with an unspecified injury.

"I was as surprised as anybody else," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I can definitely tell you they lost a pretty important player on their roster, but that doesn't mean we change our game. I think it's important we stick with what we believe in."

Julien said Chara slipped and "had a little gash over his eye."

"Nothing serious," the coach said of his captain and No. 1 defenseman, who still managed to lead the team in ice time.

Quenneville was less forthcoming with information on Hossa's malady, sticking to the standard NHL diagnosis: Upper body.

"We'll say `day-to-day.' We're hopeful he'll be ready for the next game," he said, adding that it did not happen during warmups, as had been reported on the team's Twitter account and the TV broadcast. "It was a game-time decision after the warmup there. That's when we made the call, after warmup."

Hossa, who has three game-winning goals in the playoffs this year, was tied for the team lead with 15 playoff points and was third on the Blackhawks with 17 goals during the regular season.

It was a loss the Blackhawks couldn't afford.

Not with Rask stopping everything that came his way.

The backup to Conn Smythe-winner Tim Thomas in the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run, Rask didn't face as difficult a test as in the first period of Game 2, when the Blackhawks sent 19 shots at him but managed just one goal.

The Bruins outshot Chicago 26-18 and led 2-0 after two periods. The Blackhawks had a 10-9 edge in the third, including a late flurry on a 6-on-4 - a power play with Crawford pulled for an extra skater - that led to Bryan Bickell's shot off the post with 42 seconds left in the game.

The puck caromed off the right post as play continued for another 30 seconds before the whistle blew and the game degenerated into fisticuffs. Chara was on top of Bickell, pounding away, and Andrew Shaw got the better of Brad Marchand.

By the time it was all sorted out, the benches were a little emptier and the scoring column for Chicago was still blank.

"You're playing the last five minutes of the game, you know they're going to throw everything at you that they possibly can," Rask said. "Got the penalty there. Got a little lucky there, one save off my blade and the post."

After a scoreless first period, the Bruins made it 1-0 when Paille slapped in the puck at 2:13 of the second, falling to one knee for extra power. It stayed that way until late in the second, when the Bruins picked up their first power plays of the game on two nearly identical sequences, with a Bruin racing to the net and a Blackhawk undercutting his skates and sending him crashing into the left post.

Boston set up its offense during the 11-second two-man advantage, and just five seconds after it expired - but before Dave Bolland was able to get back into the play - Jaromir Jagr slid one across the middle, past Lucic in the center to Bergeron on the other side; he settled it and then knocked it in.

It was Jagr's 197th career playoff point in 199 games, moving him into sole possession of fifth place on the NHL's all-time postseason points list.

Notes: Jagr had been tied with Paul Coffey on the career postseason scoring list. ... Two of Jagr's playoff points came on goals scored against the Blackhawks when they were swept by the Penguins in 1992 final. ... Boston's Gregory Campbell, who broke his leg blocking a shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, attended the game. ... The Bruins have killed off 27 straight penalties in the playoffs. ... Boston's David Krejci entered the game tied with Chicago's Andrew Sharp for the most goals in the postseason with nine. The Bruins center entered the game leading all scorers with 23 points. ... The Bruins are attempting to win a Cup for the second time in three seasons for the third time in their history. They also did it in 1939 and `41 and again in 1970 and `72. ... The Bruins won their seventh straight home playoff game. ... The Blackhawks fell to 3-5 on the road in the postseason. ... Ben Smith, who played just one game this regular season and none in the playoffs, replaced Hossa in the lineup.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 06:36
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Manu Ginobili had 24 points and 10 assists in a surprise start to spark the San Antonio Spurs to a 114-104 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, pushing the Spurs one victory away from their fifth championship.

Danny Green scored 24 points and broke Ray Allen's finals record for 3s in a series with 25. Tony Parker had 26 points for San Antonio.

LeBron James scored 25 points on 8-for-22 shooting for the Heat and Dwyane Wade had 25 points and 10 assists. But the Heat missed 21 of their first 29 shots to fall behind by 17 points in the second quarter of another uninspired performance.

Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Miami.

Whirling through the defense like the Manu of old, Ginobili shrugged off a postseason full of disappointment to deliver a performance that the Spurs have never needed more desperately. He hit 8 of 14 shots and had his highest points total since June 4, 2012.

Tim Duncan had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Green was 6 for 10 from 3-point range, and Parker gutted through 36 minutes on that tender right hamstring. Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and eight rebounds, and the San Antonio shot 60 percent to overcome 19 turnovers.

Allen scored 21 points and Chris Bosh had 16 points and six rebounds for the Heat, who were stunned by a vintage Ginobili performance early and never really recovered.

Miami missed 21 of its first 29 shots and Green hit three straight 3s in the middle of the second quarter to tie Allen's record of 22. The Spurs led 47-30 on Duncan's two free throws before the Heat finally showed some fight.

A 12-0 run got them back within striking distance at 47-42 and the Heat surged out of the halftime gates to cut San Antonio's lead to 61-59 in the first 1:17 of the third.

San Antonio pushed right back, getting a jumper from Parker, a 3-pointer from Green that broke Allen's record and a lefty layup from Ginobili to get a little breathing room.

Ginobili closed the third with a twisting, off-balance, left-handed runner and a right-handed drive to the bucket to bring cheers of "Manu! Manu!" from the delirious crowd.

Nowhere to be found in the first four games, and for most of these playoffs, Ginobili had his fingerprints all over the opening of Game 5. He hit a step-back jumper, had two pretty assists on a backdoor cut from Green and a thunderous dunk from Duncan and knocked down two free throws for an early 9-4 lead.

Ginobili's 3-pointer from the wing made it 15-10, bringing the nervous crowd to its feet. The awakening was a welcome sign for the Spurs, who desperately missed their playmaking daredevil.

The Heat reclaimed momentum in Game 4 thanks to a shuffle of the starting lineup by coach Erik Spoelstra, who moved sharp-shooter Mike Miller into the starting lineup in Udonis Haslem's place, giving Miami a smaller lineup that spaced the floor better and gave James and Wade room to operate.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a move to match that on Sunday night, putting the struggling Ginobili in for center Tiago Splitter. Ginobili was averaging 7.5 points in the first four games and shooting 34 percent. In the final year of his deal, the soon-to-be 36-year-old was asked about retirement on Saturday.

The crowd roared for Ginobili when he was introduced last, with one banner reading "We still Gino-believe!"

Wade had endured a similarly quiet start to these finals before erupting for 32 points and six steals in Miami's Game 4 victory that evened the series. That carried over to the opening quarter of Game 5, when Wade's assertive play helped Miami withstand Ginobili's initial haymaker.

Wade's trademark euro-step on the break and two free throws kept the game tight and James hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 17 with under 5 minutes to play in the period.

The two teams entered Game 5 riding a pendulum of momentum that was swinging wildly back and forth over the previous three games. A classic, air-tight Game 1 victory by the Spurs gave way to three blowouts - Miami by 19 in Game 1, San Antonio by 36 in Game 3 and the Heat by 16 in Game 4.

The volatility made it difficult for either team to feel like it had a grip on expectations heading into the pivotal Game 5, but the Heat did appear to finally assert themselves with a dominant performance from their three All-Stars on Thursday night.

James, Wade and Bosh broke out of a series-long malaise to combine for 85 points, 30 rebounds and 10 steals, finally finding a way to get to the rim against the paint-clogging Spurs defense.

But for a team as talented and experienced as they are, these Heat have shown a maddening inconsistency over the last month. The team that won 27 straight during the regular season came into the game having going 11 straight games without winning two in a row.

There was so much more riding on this game for the Spurs than the Heat, who reclaimed homecourt advantage with their decisive victory in Game 4. Under the current 2-3-2 format that was adopted in 1985, no visiting team has won both Games 6 and 7 on the road in the finals.

And the Spurs played with more urgency from the start.

Now the Heat's backs are against the wall one more time. And it was Ginobili who put them there.

Sunday, 16 June 2013 22:04
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MIAMI (AP) -- Maybe the St. Louis Cardinals were looking ahead to the Chicago Cubs.

In a matchup of worst versus first, NL Central leader St. Louis mustered only five hits Sunday and lost to the woeful Miami Marlins. 7-2.

The Cardinals dropped two of three games in Miami - the first series they've lost since April 26-28 against Pittsburgh. They went 5-4 on a three-city trip and open a homestand Monday against the traditional rival Cubs.

The Marlins climbed above .300 at 21-47, still baseball's worst record.

"We didn't see it," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "The team we saw is hitting the ball and making good pitches."

The Cardinals didn't do enough of either. Tyler Lyons (2-3), making his fifth major league start, lost for the third time in a row after winning his first two decisions.

Lyons gave up six runs in 5 1-3 innings.

"I made some mistakes with guys on base," the rookie said.

The Cardinals, who have the lowest ERA in the majors, gave up 19 runs in the series. Meanwhile, they managed just three hits and one run against Ricky Nolasco, who pitched seven innings.

St. Louis scored a run in the ninth and loaded the bases with two out, but Steve Cishek came to strike out pinch-hitter Matt Holliday looking to end the game.

Matheny liked the comeback bid.

"These guys have always shown that - they don't give up," Matheny said. "They keep coming. That will pay off in the long run."

Aside from the ninth inning, the Cardinals did little. All of their hits were singles, and with Holliday and NL batting leader Yadier Molina out of the starting lineup and given a day to rest, St. Louis went down in order in five of the first six innings.

Carlos Beltran finished 0 for 4 to end the longest active hitting streak in the majors at 14 games. Matt Carpenter was also hitless and went 7 for 38 (.184) on the trip.

Jon Jay and Matt Adams drove in St. Louis' runs. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton made a leaping catch at the fence to rob Adams of an RBI and an extra-base hit in the seventh.

"With that lineup, probably among the top three in the league, you just have to stay focused," Nolasco said. "You can't lose concentration and leave balls over the middle, because they're just going to start crushing you. I was able to get away with some balls that they hit hard, and we had great defense at the same time, so it worked out."

A bout of wildness against the bottom of the order cost Lyons in the fourth inning. He hit Jeff Mathis, who was batting .128, and then Nolasco walked for the first time this year to load the bases. Juan Pierre followed with a two-out, two-run single for a 4-1 Miami lead.

Placido Polanco had three hits starting for the first time in five games after being sidelined by back stiffness. His two-out, two-run double in the fifth made it 6-1.

The abundance of offense was a refreshing change for Nolasco (4-7), who has endured the worst run support of any pitcher with at least 14 starts. Luxuriating in an early lead, he retired 11 in a row during one stretch.

"It helps a ton," he said. "It just changes everything and the way you pitch and your approach."

Pierre drove in two runs and had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, while Justin Ruggiano added a two-RBI single. The Marlins have won eight of the past 14 games, their best stretch this season.

"To get a win against such a great team and a great lineup, and to play as well as we did, that's a great day for all of us," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.

NOTES: Miami 1B Logan Morrison (back) took grounders before the game but sat out for the third day in a row. ... Lyons' six strikeouts were a career high. ... The crowd of 18,468 was the largest of the homestand. ... David Freese had one hit, but his lifetime average against the Marlins fell to .462 (18 for 39).

Sunday, 16 June 2013 21:13
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ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) -- A steady hand gave Justin Rose the shiny U.S. Open Trophy. A wild ride gave Phil Mickelson yet another silver medal.

Rose captured his first major championship on Sunday with remarkable calm and three pure shots on the punishing closing holes at Merion. A par on the 18th hole gave him an even-par 70, and that was good enough to become the first Englishman in 43 years to win America's national championship.

Rose hit 5-iron to the first cut of rough, pin-high on the 17th for an easy par. He smashed the most important tee shot of his career down the middle on the final hole, about 15 feet short of the famous Ben Hogan plaque. And his 4-iron rolled near the pin and settled against the collar of the green.

"When I came over the hill and saw my ball laying in the fairway, I thought, `This is my moment.' It was me hitting from the middle of the fairway," Rose said.

As usual, someone's big moment in the U.S. Open came at Mickelson's expense.

Rose was in the scoring area a half-mile from the grandstands behind the 18th green where the fans began to chant, "Let's go Phil!" as Mickelson paced off a last-ditch effort to force a playoff. It was a long shot - the 18th hole didn't yield a single birdie all weekend. From about 40 yards away, Mickelson's chip for birdie raced by the cup, securing Rose's victory.

Mickelson, already in the U.S. Open record book with five second-place finishes, added another that will hurt as much any of them.

Sunday was his 43rd birthday. It was the first time he was equipped with the outright lead going into the last day. His week began with a cross-country trip home to San Diego to watch his oldest daughter graduate from the eighth grade, returning just three hours before his tee time on Thursday. This was the same daughter born the day after his first runner-up finish in 1999.

All the stars were aligned. None of the putts fell in.

Mickelson surged back into the lead by holing out from 75 yards in thick rough on the 10th hole for eagle, another moment that made it seem like surely was his time. The cheer could be heard across the road, through the trees, loud enough that Rose knew exactly what had happened.

But on the easiest hole at Merion, Mickelson drilled a wedge over the green on the par-3 13th and made bogey.

What hurt Mickelson even more was a wedge from about 121 yards on the 15th hole. It should have given him a good look at birdie, but it came up so short that Mickelson's best chance was to use one of his five wedges to chip from the front of the green. He hit that one too far, 25 feet by the hole, and the bogey wound up costing him a chance at the major he covets.

Mickelson wound up with a bogey on the 18th for a 74 and tied for second with Jason Day, who closed with a 71.

"Heartbreak," Mickelson said. "This is tough to swallow after coming so close. This was my best chance of all of them. I had a golf course I really liked. I felt this was as good an opportunity as you could ask for. It really hurts."

Day appeared to salvage his round by chipping in for bogey on the 11th hole, and he was still in the picture when he made a 12-foot par putt on the 17th to stay one shot behind. But he put his approach into the bunker left of the 18th green, blasted out to about 7 feet and missed the putt.

The back nine was a four-way battle that included Hunter Mahan, who played in the last group with Mickelson. He was one shot out of the lead until he three-putted the 15th hole for a double bogey, and then closed with back-to-back bogeys when his hopes were gone. Mahan had a 75 and tied for fourth with Billy Horschel (74), Ernie Els (69) and Jason Dufner, who had a 67 despite making triple bogey on the 15th hole.

Rose finished at 1-over 281, eight shots higher than David Graham's winning score in 1981 when the U.S. Open was last held at Merion. The shortest course for a major championship in nearly a decade held up just fine. It was the third time in the last four years that no one broke par in the toughest test of golf.

The last Englishman to win the U.S. Open was Tony Jacklin at Hazeltine in 1970, though Rose added to recent dominance of the Union Jack at the U.S. Open as the third winner in four years. The others were Graeme McDowell (2010) and Rory McIlroy (2011) of Northern Ireland.

Walking off the 18th green, he looked through the patchy clouds and point to the sky, a nod to his late father, Ken, who died of leukemia in September 2002.

"I couldn't help but look up at the heavens and think my old man Ken had something to do with it," Rose said.

It seems like more than 15 years ago when Rose first starred on the major scene as a 17-year-old amateur who chipped in on the final hole at Royal Birkdale in the 1998 British Open and tied for fourth. He turned pro the next week, and then missed the cut in his first 21 tournaments. But he stayed the course and slowly picked off big tournaments - including the AT&T National in 2010 just down the road at Aronimink.

The U.S. Open takes him to another level and moves him to No. 3 in the world.

"Just for the last few years has been known as one of the best ball-strikers in the game. He showed that today," said Luke Donald, who played alongside him. "To win a U.S. Open, you have to have the ultimate control of your golf ball. He did that. He hit some really clutch iron shots down the stretch."

Tiger Woods turned out to be nothing more than an afterthought. He hit out-of-bounds on his second hole and made triple bogey, and closed with a 74 to finish at 13-over 293, his worst score as a pro in the U.S. Open, and matching his worst score in any major.

The score wasn't nearly that bad considering the golf course, with its tricky contours on the greens and punishing rough.

Mickelson wore all black when he arrived for the final round, and in a brief TV interview he said, "The best for me is to play well and have fun."

Sunday at the U.S. Open is rarely fun.

Just ask Donald, who was only two shots behind starting the final round. It all crumbled when he pulled his tee shot on the par-3 third hole - so long and hard that Donald hit a driver - and struck a standard-bearer. She was on the ground for several minutes, and Donald appeared visibly shook. He made bogey, and then followed that with two bogeys and a double bogey. He shot 42 on the back nine.

Steve Stricker took his lumps on one hole, and it was ugly. One shot behind, he pushed his tee shot on the par-5 second hole out-of-bounds. After hitting the next tee shot into the fairway, he tried to lay up with a 4-iron and hit a shank out-of-bounds. Stricker had to make a 7-foot putt to escape with a triple-bogey 8.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, trying to give South Africa a major for the fourth straight year, opened with a birdie and a tie for the lead. That became a distant memory, however, when he dropped seven shots over the seven holes and closed out his front nine with a 42.

Horschel wore pants with octopus prints, and he putted like he had eight arms. Out in 39, he opened the back nine with a pair of three-putts.

For a short time, it looked as though Mickelson might join this parade of pretenders when he three-putted for double bogey twice in three holes on the front nine. And then came his shot out of the rough on the 10th, and he was on his way - but not for long.

Rose made his share of mistakes, too, like the three-putt bogey on the 11th and a horrible shot out of the bunker on the 14th. The difference was his approach into the 12th to 3 feet, followed by a 20-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole.

With Mickelson watching so many putts graze the lip, that cushion was all that Rose needed.

Sunday, 16 June 2013 21:11
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CHICAGO (AP) — Daniel Paille scored in overtime and the Boston Bruins beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 Saturday to tie the Stanley Cup finals at one game apiece.

The Blackhawks failed to clear the puck along the boards. Tyler Seguin picked it up and delivered a cross-ice pass to Paille, who beat Corey Crawford on his glove side for the winner at 13:48 of the extra period.

Game 3 is Monday at Boston.

It's the second consecutive year that the first two games of the finals have gone to overtime, this one coming after the Blackhawks won a triple-OT thriller 4-3 in Game 1.

Crawford and Boston's Tuukka Rask were outstanding in goal again after coming up big in the opener, turning away shot after shot in the extra period until Paille scored.

Jaromir Jagr just missed scoring the game-winner in the opening minutes of OT when his shot from the right circle hit the right post, his second near miss in as many games. Chris Kelly, who scored in the second period for Boston, had a shot from the slot stopped by Crawford at 5:39 of overtime.

Rask also stood his ground down the stretch, just as he did in the opening period, when Chicago simply fired away at him.

The Blackhawks swarmed the Bruins in the early going, taking the lead in the first on Patrick Sharp's ninth goal of the postseason.

They continued to dictate the tempo until Kelly tied it with just over five minutes remaining in the second. Paille skated out from behind the net, beating Nick Leddy with a neat move for a wraparound shot. Crawford made the save, but Kelly crashed the net and knocked in the rebound to tie it at 1-all.

The Bruins nearly grabbed the lead with just over a minute remaining, after Paille picked off Duncan Keith's pass and flipped the puck to a breaking Brad Marchand. He got pulled down by Brent Seabrook as his shot hit the inside of the right post, preserving the tie.

Either way, the Bruins had to like the way the period ended after being dominated most of the way.

They ended up outshooting Chicago 8-4 in the second after getting outgunned 19-4 in that area in the first, with the Blackhawks holding a 28-19 edge through regulation.

Rask had 33 saves while Crawford had 26.

The Bruins nearly took the lead early in the third when Jagr made a cross-ice pass to Marchand for a one-timer. Crawford came across the crease to block it with his body. Boston also had some chances in the closing minutes, with a shot by Jagr getting deflected over the net by Keith and Johnny Boychuk's attempt from the blue line getting stopped by Crawford.

The Boston rally was in stark contrast to the early going, when the Blackhawks teed off and finally broke through with 8:38 left after Rask stopped a backhand and wrist shot by Patrick Kane.

The flurry continued with a slapshot by Michael Rozsival, and with the Bruins scrambling in the zone, Sharp wound up with the puck on the right side. He fired it past a screened Rask to give the Blackhawks the lead, with the Bruins' Kaspars Daugavins and Andrew Ference jammed in front trying to cover Dave Bolland.

Chicago continued the siege against Rask, who had 18 saves in the period, but couldn't add to the lead.

Then again, the Bruins couldn't get anything going on offense. Sharp alone had more shots than them in the opening period with six, and things didn't get much better for Boston in the second.

Crawford wasn't really tested in the early going, other than a nice glove save on a high shot by Jagr midway through the first period and point-blank stop on Rich Peverley with 1:35 remaining. Star wing Nathan Horton was in the lineup for the Bruins after leaving the series opener with an injured left shoulder, a huge boost for a team trying to tie the series.

Horton got tangled up with Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson in the first overtime, a pivotal moment for a key player to go down. But after watching Horton practice on Friday and skate on Saturday, coach Claude Julien declared him ready, saying he saw "absolutely no reason" not to play him.

For excitement alone, it would be hard to match what happened in Game 1, let alone top it.

From the late rally in regulation by the Blackhawks to the string of spectacular saves by Crawford to Jagr's near-miss off the post and, finally, Andrew Shaw's double-deflection goal to win it, that one was simply breathtaking. It added up to the fifth-longest Stanley Cup finals game in league history and a 1-0 series lead for Chicago.

Now the series is tied headed back to Boston.

Saturday, 15 June 2013 22:40
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CHICAGO (AP) — Daniel Paille scored in overtime and the Boston Bruins beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 Saturday to tie the Stanley Cup finals at one game apiece.

The Blackhawks failed to clear the puck along the boards. Tyler Seguin picked it up and delivered a cross-ice pass to Paille, who beat Corey Crawford on his glove side for the winner at 13:48 of the extra period.

Game 3 is Monday at Boston.

It's the second consecutive year that the first two games of the finals have gone to overtime, this one coming after the Blackhawks won a triple-OT thriller 4-3 in Game 1.

Crawford and Boston's Tuukka Rask were outstanding in goal again after coming up big in the opener, turning away shot after shot in the extra period until Paille scored.

Jaromir Jagr just missed scoring the game-winner in the opening minutes of OT when his shot from the right circle hit the right post, his second near miss in as many games. Chris Kelly, who scored in the second period for Boston, had a shot from the slot stopped by Crawford at 5:39 of overtime.

Rask also stood his ground down the stretch, just as he did in the opening period, when Chicago simply fired away at him.

The Blackhawks swarmed the Bruins in the early going, taking the lead in the first on Patrick Sharp's ninth goal of the postseason.

They continued to dictate the tempo until Kelly tied it with just over five minutes remaining in the second. Paille skated out from behind the net, beating Nick Leddy with a neat move for a wraparound shot. Crawford made the save, but Kelly crashed the net and knocked in the rebound to tie it at 1-all.

The Bruins nearly grabbed the lead with just over a minute remaining, after Paille picked off Duncan Keith's pass and flipped the puck to a breaking Brad Marchand. He got pulled down by Brent Seabrook as his shot hit the inside of the right post, preserving the tie.

Either way, the Bruins had to like the way the period ended after being dominated most of the way.

They ended up outshooting Chicago 8-4 in the second after getting outgunned 19-4 in that area in the first, with the Blackhawks holding a 28-19 edge through regulation.

Rask had 33 saves while Crawford had 26.

The Bruins nearly took the lead early in the third when Jagr made a cross-ice pass to Marchand for a one-timer. Crawford came across the crease to block it with his body. Boston also had some chances in the closing minutes, with a shot by Jagr getting deflected over the net by Keith and Johnny Boychuk's attempt from the blue line getting stopped by Crawford.

The Boston rally was in stark contrast to the early going, when the Blackhawks teed off and finally broke through with 8:38 left after Rask stopped a backhand and wrist shot by Patrick Kane.

The flurry continued with a slapshot by Michael Rozsival, and with the Bruins scrambling in the zone, Sharp wound up with the puck on the right side. He fired it past a screened Rask to give the Blackhawks the lead, with the Bruins' Kaspars Daugavins and Andrew Ference jammed in front trying to cover Dave Bolland.

Chicago continued the siege against Rask, who had 18 saves in the period, but couldn't add to the lead.

Then again, the Bruins couldn't get anything going on offense. Sharp alone had more shots than them in the opening period with six, and things didn't get much better for Boston in the second.

Crawford wasn't really tested in the early going, other than a nice glove save on a high shot by Jagr midway through the first period and point-blank stop on Rich Peverley with 1:35 remaining. Star wing Nathan Horton was in the lineup for the Bruins after leaving the series opener with an injured left shoulder, a huge boost for a team trying to tie the series.

Horton got tangled up with Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson in the first overtime, a pivotal moment for a key player to go down. But after watching Horton practice on Friday and skate on Saturday, coach Claude Julien declared him ready, saying he saw "absolutely no reason" not to play him.

For excitement alone, it would be hard to match what happened in Game 1, let alone top it.

From the late rally in regulation by the Blackhawks to the string of spectacular saves by Crawford to Jagr's near-miss off the post and, finally, Andrew Shaw's double-deflection goal to win it, that one was simply breathtaking. It added up to the fifth-longest Stanley Cup finals game in league history and a 1-0 series lead for Chicago.

Now the series is tied headed back to Boston.

Saturday, 15 June 2013 22:40
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