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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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MIAMI (AP) -- Carlos Beltran homered from each side of the plate and tripled Saturday, and Lance Lynn notched his ninth victory when the St. Louis Cardinals outslugged the Miami Marlins 13-7.

Swinging left-handed, Beltran hit his 15th home run in the second inning and tripled for the first time since May 2012 in the eighth. He hit another home run from the right side in the ninth - the 11th time he has homered from both sides in a game.

Beltran extended the longest active hitting streak in the NL to 14 games as the Cardinals pounded out 17 hits.

Yadier Molina singled home two runs in the Cardinals' five-run first inning, and David Freese's fourth homer in the third inning put them ahead to stay.

Lynn (9-1) allowed a career-high seven runs in five innings against the lowest-scoring team in the majors, but his two-run single hit in the fifth inning gave the Cardinals a three-run lead to help them pull away.

It's the fifth time this season the Cardinals have scored at least nine runs when Lynn has started. But while the outburst by the NL's best-hitting team was no surprise, Lynn's hit was a shocker.

A two-out single off Ryan Webb raised Lynn's lifetime average to .077. He came into the game with five hits and one RBI in 76 career at-bats.

Molina finished with three RBIs and two hits, hiking his NL-leading average to .352. Freese and Daniel Descalso had three hits each.

The Cardinals went 7 for 14 with runners in scoring position, hiking their season average in those situations to .342.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer for Miami, his fifth. Rob Brantly had two hits and three RBIs.

The Marlins, last in the majors in runs, scored four in the first and tied the game 6-all in the second. But they never took the lead.

Tom Koehler (0-5) allowed a career-high nine runs in 4 2-3 innings.

Lynn has received the best run support of any Cardinals starter this season, and they went to work for him right away, loading the bases with one out in the first before Molina singled home their first runs. Freese followed with an RBI single, Descalso doubled home a run, and Freese beat a throw home on a grounder to first.

After Juan Pierre led off Miami's first with a triple, Ed Lucas and Adeiny Hechavarria had RBI singles, and Brantly hit a two-run single.

Stanton's homer in the second inning made it 6-all, but Miami couldn't keep up after that.

Notes: Marlins 1B Logan Morrison said his stiff back felt better, but he was held out of the lineup for the second day in a row, and he might sit out Sunday, too. ... Molina's hit raised the Cardinals' average with the bases loaded to .379 (22 for 58). ... Miami rookie SS Hechavarria has committed just two errors to rank fourth in the majors in fielding at his position. ... RHP Ricky Nolasco, who faces the Cardinals on Sunday, hasn't allowed an earned run in his past 18 2-3 innings against them.

Saturday, 15 June 2013 22:35
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ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) -- For all those runner-up finishes, with so much heartache chasing the major he covets, Phil Mickelson has never had a better chance to win the U.S. Open.

It's the first time he has ever had the outright lead going into the final round. Of the nine players within five shots, only one has the experience of winning a major. And Tiger Woods went from contender to middle-of-the-pack by matching his worst U.S. Open score as a pro.

Despite a bogey on the final hole at Merion - the 18th was so tough it didn't yield a single birdie in the third round - Mickelson was the sole survivor to par Saturday with an even-par 70 that gave him a one-shot lead over Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

Mickelson celebrates his 43rd birthday Sunday - on Father's Day, no less. He left Merion on Monday and didn't return until three hours before his tee time on Thursday so he could attend the eighth-grade graduation of his oldest daughter.

"It's got the makings to be something special," Mickelson said. "But I still have to go out and perform, and play some of my best golf."

He has been good enough to play 54 holes in 1-under 209.

And he was close to perfection when he stood on the par-3 17th hole with a 4-iron in his hand, 253 yards away from the orange wicker basket attached to the pin, the signature look at Merion. He was one shot behind Luke Donald until a pure swing and an 8-foot birdie putt gave him the lead.

"I just stood and admired it," Mickelson said. "It was one of the best shots I've ever hit. I mean, it just was right down the center of the green and I was hoping it would kind of get the right bounces. It left me a beautiful uphill putt that I could be aggressive with and I made it. That was fun to do that because that's just not a hole you expect to get one back."

Four others players who had been under par late in the round couldn't hang on.

Donald twice made poor swings with a 2-iron, and it cost him three shots. Mahan, Schwartzel and Justin Rose all finished bogey-bogey.

There was trouble everywhere at Merion, and it didn't take much to find it. One swing cost Ian Poulter, who drove out-of-bounds on the 15th. One decision cost Nicolas Colsaerts, who tried to hit a shot under a tree on the 18th and made triple bogey. That left Mickelson alone at the top for only the second time in a major - he won the 2006 Masters with the lead.

The U.S. Open, however, has been nothing but trouble for Lefty.

"I don't think I feel any more pressure than anybody else who wants to win ... the U.S. Open," Mickelson said. "This is a tournament for years I've had opportunities, I've come close to, and it would mean a lot tomorrow if I could play some of my best golf - certainly if I can play the way I have been."

Saturday was more about weeding out the pretenders for this U.S. Open - and one of them turned out to be Woods. He started out just four shots out of the lead, and made a bending, 12-foot birdie putt on the opening hole. It never got any better for the world's No. 1 player. He made seven bogeys the rest of the way and didn't add another birdie. It was the fourth time he shot 76 in the U.S. Open, but never when he started out so close to the lead. Now, he's 10 shots behind.

"It certainly is frustrating," said Woods, who has been stuck on 14 majors since winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. "I'm playing well enough to do it, and unfortunately just haven't gotten it done."

The final hour might have been a sneak preview for Sunday. At one point, there were five players under par, and suddenly there was only Mickelson.

Donald made double bogey on the 18th hole from the middle of the fairway, trying to swing too hard on a 2-iron to get up the hill and beyond the false front of the green. He wound up in ankle-deep rough, so gnarly that his third shot squirted across the green and into more thick grass.

"I should have done better," Donald said. "It was disappointing, but I'll take the positives out of today - a really solid 16 holes of golf, and I'm only two back."

Mahan let his spectacular back nine filled with four birdies go to waste with a bogey-bogey finish for a 69. He will be in the final group for the first time in a major with Mickelson, whom he considers a close friend.

"It's going to be a very, very exciting finish," Mahan said, "because I don't think any lead is safe."

Stricker made a 10-foot par putt on the 18th hole to complete a 70 and perhaps the steadiest round of the day. His only mistake in a round that lasted 5 1/2 hours under sunshine was a tee shot into the water on the par-3 ninth for a double bogey. At 46, Stricker can become the oldest U.S. Open champion.

"I've got to play smart golf ... not make any mistakes," he said. "I think that's the biggest thing. And it's a course where it's tough to come back."

Billy Horschel, tied with Mickelson at the start of the third round, kept his emotions in check and shot 72. He was two shots behind, along with Donald and Rose

The third round featured so much movement, and so many wild swings, that seven players had a share of the lead at some point. Even though USGA executive director Mike Davis said the course was set up to allow for good scores, this was more about hanging on for dear life.

There was no faking it Saturday afternoon.

Thirty players were separated by only five shots at the start of the third round. By the end of the day, there were just 10 players separated by five shots, including amateur Michael Kim. He was tied for third until losing four shots on the last three holes.

For all the talk about Merion being just a short course, the final two holes were beastly - 253 yards for a par 3 surrounded by deep bunkers and framed by the Scottish broom grass, and then a 530-yard closing hole up the hill, deep rough on both sides with bogeys or worse waiting for a single missed shot.

Stricker, remarkably, played bogey-free on the back nine. Horschel, striving for perfection at a championship that doesn't allow for it, dropped only one shot.

"Seventeen and 18, you've got to buckle up and hit good shots," Horschel said. "So I think tomorrow, with the pressure being on, those holes will stick out even more."

Mickelson chose not to carry a driver, and he had to be flawless again on the long closing hole. He swung the 3-wood with confidence throughout the back nine and drilled another. With some 250 yards left, another fairway metal took him just over the green. His chip came out some 10 feet short and he missed the par putt to end a streak of 12 holes without a bogey.

But he still had the lead. It was the first time only one player remained under par through 54 holes at the U.S. Open since 2007 at Oakmont, when there was none. Mickelson was tied for the 54-hole lead at Winged Foot in 2006, where he lost a one-shot lead on the final hole by making double bogey.

Of his five runner-up finishes, that one stung the most.

But he's back for another try to win his national championship. The challenge has never been more severe - not from any player, but from Merion.

Mickelson has one piece of history working against him. In the four previous U.S. Opens at this classic course, no one with the lead going into the final round has ever gone on to win.

"I love being in the thick of it," Mickelson said. "I've had opportunities in years past, and it has been so fun, even though it's been heart-breaking to come so close a number of times and let it slide. But I feel better equipped than I have ever felt heading into the final round of a U.S. Open."

Saturday, 15 June 2013 22:32
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