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VIERA, Fla. (AP) -- As he warmed up in the bullpen for his second spring training start, Stephen Strasburg felt strong. Perhaps a little too strong.
 
The right-hander overcame a shaky first inning and the Washington Nationals' offense came up big again in an 11-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
 
Strasburg walked two and gave up an RBI single to his first three batters before settling down. He went three innings, allowing two hits while throwing 28 of 48 pitches for strikes.
 
"I got some good work in," Strasburg said. "I felt too good in the bullpen and then went out there and tried to paint the first pitch on (the black) instead of starting out with a little bit bigger zone and then working off the middle of the plate.
 
"I made a good adjustment and then I didn't see any problems."
 
Anthony Rendon homered and Wilson Ramos had two hits and three RBIs for the Nationals, who have 27 runs in their last three games. Washington scored four runs in the third inning, three on infield singles.
 
Allen Craig had two of St. Louis' three hits, including an RBI single. Cardinals starter Joe Kelly gave up five runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Cardinals: Kelly had a rough outing, but manager Mike Matheny wasn't entirely displeased.
 
"I thought he did a lot better job than what his line is going to look like," Matheny said. "It was just one of those days."
 
Nationals: Strasburg continued to work on his slider, which he is mixing in about as often as his curveball right now. He said he throws the slider to get contact, not for a strikeout.
 
"Before, I would kind of throw it easy, a little unsure," Strasburg said. "But in the `pen, it felt really good. Then I go out there and I was overthrowing it. It had a little too much movement. But then I took a step back and then I started to get some better results with it."
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
Cardinals: Outfield prospect Oscar Tavares made the trip to Viera, but his only action was shagging fly balls before the game. Matheny said Tavares felt tightness in his right hamstring during Saturday's game. Tavares is day to day.
 
Nationals: Manager Matt Williams said RHP Doug Fister (elbow inflammation) is feeling better, but there is still no timetable for his return. Ryan Mattheus (chest inflammation) has started a throwing program, but has not thrown off a mound yet.
 
THE OTHER CORNER
 
Ryan Zimmerman did not play for the Nationals, but he did take some grounders at first base. Williams indicated he plans to give the team's starting third baseman some time on the other side of the diamond this spring.
 
NEW ADDITION
 
The Cardinals signed 23-year-old Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz to a four-year contract. He will report to camp Monday.
 
"He looked like a very experienced player for as young as he is," said Matheny, who attended Diaz's workout. "He was clean fielding the ball. ... The ball jumped off his bat. He looked pretty polished."
 
Matheny said Diaz would have to be evaluated by the team's medical staff before it could be determined when he will be ready to play this spring. Diaz can play shortstop or second base.
 
NATS MAKE CUTS
 
The Nationals made their first cuts of spring training Sunday morning. The team reassigned 1B-3B Matt Skole, C Jeff Howell, INF Josh Johnson, C Brian Jeroloman, LHP Tyler Robertson and RHP Gabriel Alfaro to minor league camp.
Sunday, 09 March 2014 22:35
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Antonio Barton scored 16 points and Jarnell Stokes had a double-double Saturday as Tennessee trounced Missouri 72-45 to win its fourth straight game and boost its NCAA tournament hopes.
 
Tennessee (20-11, 11-7 SEC) hasn't trailed at any point during its winning streak. Its last three games have been decided by an average margin of 31 points.
 
Barton shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range against Missouri and has now gone 13 of 22 from behind the arc over his last three games. Stokes had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan McRae added 11 points.
 
Jordan Clarkson had 13 points for Missouri (21-10, 9-9).
 
Both Tennessee and Missouri are perceived to be on the NCAA tournament bubble, raising the stakes in this regular-season finale for both teams. Missouri had beaten Tennessee 75-70 on Feb. 15 in Columbia, but Saturday's rematch bore no resemblance to that game.
 
The Tigers shot 56.5 percent in their victory over Tennessee last month. Missouri shot 32 percent (15 of 47) overall and was 2 of 17 from 3-point range Saturday while recording its lowest point total of the season.
 
Missouri's Jabari Brown, who entered the day leading the SEC with 20.1 points per game, shot 1 of 10 and was held to eight points. His only basket came with 1:19 left in the game. Brown scored 24 points against Tennessee last month.
 
Tennessee grabbed a 37-19 halftime lead by crushing Missouri on the boards and from 3-point range.
 
At the start of the day, Tennessee was second in the SEC and Missouri third in rebound margin. But their matchup Saturday turned into a mismatch. In the first half, Stokes nearly outrebounded Missouri by himself. Stokes had 11 boards in the first half to give Tennessee a 23-12 rebounding edge. Tennessee ended up outrebounding Missouri 45-28.
 
Tennessee also shot 6 of 16 from 3-point range in the first half while Missouri was just 1 of 6. Tennessee got some long-range contributions from unlikely sources. Armani Moore, who entered the day 8 of 32 from 3-point range in his college career, made both his first-half attempts from behind the arc. The Vols cooled off from long range in the second half — going 1 of 8 — but the game already was pretty much out of reach by then.
 
While Tennessee was on fire early, Missouri had nearly had as many first-half turnovers (six) as baskets (seven).
 
Missouri briefly threatened to make a game of it early in the second half.
 
McRae picked up his third foul on a Ryan Rosburg three-point play that cut Tennessee's lead to 39-25 with 17:25 left. With McRae on the bench in foul trouble and plenty of time remaining, Missouri had a chance to rally.
 
Tennessee instead responded with a 10-0 run to put the game away. The Vols' lead never dipped below 22 points the rest of the way as they delighted the partisan crowd with five second-half dunks, including a reverse jam from McRae that resulted in a three-point play with 3:58 remaining.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:41
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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Trevor Rosenthal had a pain-free spring training debut and Michael Wacha pitched three effective innings for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-4 tie with a Washington Nationals split squad that was called after 10 innings Saturday.
 
Groin pain prompted the Cardinals to sideline Rosenthal for a few days this spring, but that wasn't a problem Saturday. The hard-throwing closer said he's nearly in regular-season form following his first Grapefruit League appearance.
 
Wacha worked two perfect innings before allowing a run on two hits and a walk in the third.
 
Destin Hood's three-run homer gave the Nationals a 4-1 lead in the eighth. St. Louis tied it with three in the bottom half, including Greg Garcia's two-run single.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:39
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DENVER (AP) -- Ryan Miller stopped 26 shots, and David Backes broke up a scoreless game in the second period, helping the St. Louis Blues beat the surging Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Saturday in a Central Division showdown.
 
Patrik Berglund added a pivotal insurance goal early in the third period as the Blues won their fourth straight.
 
Colorado finally solved Miller midway through the final period when P.A. Parenteau lifted a shot over him while he was trying for his first shutout in nearly two years. Miller is 4-0 since being acquired from Buffalo.
 
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon had his point streak snapped at 13 games. It is the NHL's longest streak by an 18-year-old player.
 
Miller withstood a furious rally by the Avalanche in the final two minutes after they pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov.
 
The division-leading Blues are five points ahead of Colorado.
 
St. Louis also improved to a league-best 17-0-1 in division games. The Blues have outscored the Avs 13-5 in taking all three games in the season series. The teams will meet again on April 5 in St. Louis.
 
This was a frustrating afternoon for the Avalanche as their four-game winning streak was halted. Early on, they couldn't sneak anything past Miller, even hitting the post twice. They also lost one of their top offensive players when Paul Stastny went out with a back injury after his opening shift.
 
Berglund gave St. Louis a 2-0 cushion at 3:53 of the final period when he gobbled up the puck down low, spun and lined it over the glove of Varlamov.
 
Moments later, Parenteau beat Miller after receiving a pass from Matt Duchene.
 
With 6:05 remaining, Gabriel Landeskog had a chance to tie it after getting loose in front, but Miller rose up to stop it.
 
St. Louis made it 1-0 at 7:03 of the second period on a play set up by a long pass from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has thrived against his former team since he was traded three years ago.
 
Deep in his own end, Shattenkirk sent a pass to T.J. Oshie, who, as he was falling down, slid the puck to Backes. From there, Backes guided the puck past Varlamov's left skate.
 
Shattenkirk has four goals and five assists in 12 games against Colorado.
 
Both teams had a failed power play in the first period and eight shots. Miller had the save of the period when he stopped a point-blank shot from Parenteau with his left shoulder.
 
At one point, Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau made his way back to the bench following a big hit, and was pushed by Barret Jackman, then by Ryan Reaves and finally by Maxim Lapierre in a comical scene.
 
NOTES: Blues coach Ken Hitchcock tied Ron Wilson for seventh place on the NHL career wins list with 648. ... Miller has stopped 84 of 90 shots since his arrival in St. Louis. ... Colorado had 13 of its 27 shots in the final period.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:38
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Ian Cole had a goal and an assist to lead the St. Louis Blues to their third straight win, 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
 
Magnus Paajarvi had the other goal for the Blues, who have won all four of their games against Nashville this season.
 
Ryan Miller stopped 20 shots to win his third game in as many starts since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Nick Spaling scored for the Predators, losers of six of seven.
 
Cole scored the game's first goal at 4:03 of the opening period after Steve Ott won a faceoff in the left circle and Cole beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot high to the far side.
 
Ott's assist was his first point as a Blue.
 
Nashville drew even at 10:28 of the first on Spaling's 11th goal of the season.
 
From the right half boards, Patric Hornqvist sent a pass in front, where Spaling tipped the puck high over Miller's right shoulder.
 
St. Louis regained the lead at 8:18 of the second on Paajarvi's sixth of the season.
 
Paajarvi took a pass from Roman Polak in the neutral zone and then skated into the Nashville zone on the right side, where he cut into the right faceoff circle and beat Rinne with a quick wrist shot.
 
Alexander Steen was awarded a penalty shot at 15:27 of the second period after being fouled from behind on a breakaway, but Rinne gloved down Steen's wrist shot from the right side.
 
Steen has converted one of two penalty shot attempts this season, while Rinne has turned aside the two that he has faced.
 
NOTES: Hornqvist's assist was the 100th of his career. . Nashville C Mike Fisher has points in five consecutive games, equaling a season high. . The Blues are 34-1-4 when scoring first this season
 
Thursday, 06 March 2014 23:11
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Thursday, 06 March 2014 08:29
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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Shelby Miller finally got a chance to pitch against the Boston Red Sox.
 
The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander gave up a leadoff home run in his spring training debut Wednesday, then retired eight in a row to help beat Boston 8-6. The game was a relaxed rematch of last year's World Series, won by the Red Sox.
 
Miller, who was held of the World Series because the Cardinals didn't want to add to the rookie's season-long workload - a decision made easier because of Michael Wacha's rise, gave up a homer to Daniel Nava on his second pitch. That was the lone baserunner allowed by Miller, who struck out five, four looking, and reached 95 mph on the radar gun.
 
"Physically I felt amazing out there," he said. "It's still early and we've got to build up, but I felt like the fastball was coming out of my hand really good."
 
Boston newcomer Chris Capuano, pitching his first game, went two innings and allowed two runs on a homer by Xavier Scruggs. Xander Bogaerts homered for the Red Sox.
 
The stakes will be higher when the reigning NL and AL champions meet in St. Louis on Aug. 5-7. Miller conceded the atmosphere for the exhibition game didn't quite compare to the World Series.
 
"I was surprised - I didn't really see too many Boston fans," he said. "But when I gave up the home run, it was pretty loud. Obviously Boston has really good fans. Not better than ours, though."
 
The game marked the start of a two-day visit to Jupiter for the Red Sox. They'll play the Miami Marlins on Thursday before returning to Florida's West Coast.
 
Among those not making the trip: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Red Sox: Capuano gave up three hits and a walk but pitched well considering it was his first outing, manager John Farrell said.
 
Farrell wasn't as happy with other aspects of the Red Sox performance. They committed three errors, could have been charged with another and gave up five walks.
 
"We've got a lot of work to do as a team," Farrell said. "We've got to do a much better job of commanding the strike zone."
 
Cardinals: At this time a year ago, Miller was competing for a job in the majors leagues. Now he's coming off a 15-win rookie season but mindful of the Cardinals' pitching depth.
 
"Am I comfortable knowing I have a better shot obviously of making the team? Yeah," he said. "But at the same time, nothing is guaranteed here, especially with all the young guys we have here. All of them have great arms. There's so much ability around here, I feel like I'm still competing for a spot right now."
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
Red Sox: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who hurt his left ankle Monday, is expected back in the lineup Saturday. Right-hander Jake Peavy, who cut his left index finger with a fishing knife on Saturday, threw his first bullpen session since the injury.
 
Cardinals: Closer Trevor Rosenthal threw batting practice one day after he cut a throwing session short because of discomfort in his right leg. Manager Mike Matheny said there's no rush to get Rosenthal into a game.
 
Outfielder Peter Bourjos sat out because of tightness in his leg.
 
REPLAY
 
A replay review in the eighth inning took only about a minute despite technical trouble.
 
The umpires' ruling on a 1-4-3 inning-ending double play turned by the Red Sox was upheld after Matheny challenged the call. A headset in the TV truck didn't work and had to be replaced, the umpire crew said.
 
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 23:20
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Earnest Ross converted two free throws with 7.3 seconds remaining to give Missouri its first lead of the night and help the Tigers survive a scare from Texas A&M with a 57-56 win on Wednesday night.
 
Ross, honored before the game for Senior Night, only scored five points before hitting his game-winning shots. With 2.2 ticks left, Ross broke up a pass from Texas A&M's Alex Caruso's inbounds pass, and the Aggies couldn't put up another attempt.
 
Missouri (21-9, 9-8 SEC) overcame 26.9 percent shooting in the first half and trailed by no more than four points during the final 10 minutes, but never caught Texas A&M until the final seconds.
 
Jamal Jones led the Aggies (17-13, 8-9) with 16 points, but committed a turnover with 17.4 seconds remaining and missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 with 8.1 seconds left.
 
Missouri's last-minute comeback revived hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season with just Saturday's matchup at Tennessee remaining in the regular season.
 
Kourtney Roberson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for Texas A&M, which took a step back in trying to reach the postseason for the first time in three seasons under Billy Kennedy. The Aggies entered the contest having won five of their last eight games.
 
The Aggies fell to 1-11 away from Reed Arena, where they are 16-2 this season. Texas A&M limited Missouri to 34 percent shooting a game after the Tigers shot a season-high 62 percent from the field.
 
Missouri started 1 of 9 from the field and entered the locker room with more turnovers (9) than field goals (7). The Tigers then started the second half 6 of 10 from the field, and got a spark from freshman Torren Jones.
 
Jones, who didn't play before the break, entered the game and converted a traditional three-point play to get the Tigers within 41-35 with 13:22 remaining. He then stole a pass from Texas A&M's Blake McDonald on the next possession, which led to a dunk by Johnathan Williams III.
 
Jones' plays highlighted a 12-2 Missouri run that narrowed the deficit to 43-42 with 9:16 remaining. But Jamal Jones' steal and fast break layup ended the streak, and the teams traded baskets until the final seconds.
 
Torren Jones finished with five points after garnering a career-high eight in last Saturday's 85-66 win against Mississippi State. All seven of Ross' points came in the final 1:06.
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 23:18
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- In both of Ryan Miller's starts with the St. Louis Blues, they've faced two-goal deficits. Both times, they've rallied to win.
 
Though they're still learning what type of player Miller can be, it took no time at all to pick up on the calming influence projected from the man in net.
 
"His disposition and the way he carries himself has a professionalism to it that I think over time just rubs off on everybody," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Coaches, players - from the time he comes into the building, the way he carries himself has a positive effect on everybody."
 
Alexander Steen got the go-ahead goal early in the third period in a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Miller, who got a huge ovation during player introductions, made sure it stood up in his first home start since the Blues acquired him from Buffalo.
 
"I don't think it was just another game," Miller said. "My sports psychologist will probably get mad at me for saying it's just another game.
 
"It was special. It's nice to get the win at home."
 
T.J. Oshie's short-handed goal tied it in the second period and he assisted on Steen's 29th of the season for the Central Division leaders. Patrik Berglund started the comeback with his third goal in two games and Vladimir Tarasenko's empty-net score cinched it with a half-minute to go.
 
Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson gave Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, a St. Louis native and former Blue, an early cushion against an opponent that's had to come from behind in all four games since the Olympic break.
 
"I would have liked to have done a little better," Bishop said. "It's one of those things where it's nice to play in front of family and friends, and it would have been nice to get the W."
 
Miller made his second career appearance in St. Louis and faced just 17 shots against a team playing on the road for the eighth time in 10 games. He made a nice glove save on Martin St. Louis with just under two minutes to play.
 
The Blues also rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Phoenix 4-2 on Sunday. They're 19-4-2 against the Eastern Conference, including 11-0-1 at home.
 
Tampa Bay is 3-7 in its last 10 games and was 1-3 on a four-game trip.
 
"We had multiple-goal leads in three of the four games and we led in every single game, but if you're going to sit here and take 16 shots in one game, 17 shots in another game, 21 shots in another game and expect to win games, it's not going to happen," coach Jon Cooper said. "Unacceptable."
 
Oshie slipped past St. Louis in front of the net and then beat Bishop with a backhander for the Blues' third short-handed goal of the season at the midpoint of David Backes' minor slashing penalty. Backes dropped his gloves preparing to fight after trading hacks with Hedman. But Hedman backed off and the Blues captain was cordoned off by a linesman before skating off in anger.
 
Backes threw his helmet down the corridor on his way to the locker room, and didn't play the rest of the period while getting medical attention from a blow to the jaw.
 
"He might have me by 30 pounds and I've had my nose fixed before, but at that point in the game I was trying to get a little bit of a spark and try to get the guys going," Backes said. "I don't really want to take a two-minute penalty there, but to get a short-handed goal on that sort of penalty makes you feel a little bit better."
 
Killorn capitalized on a giveaway by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the St. Louis zone for his 15th goal. Johnson scored on a power play for his 18th of the season and first in eight games with Brenden Morrow off for high-sticking at 14:49.
 
Notes: The Lightning play the next six games at home starting with Thursday against Buffalo. ... Tampa Bay C Valtteri Filppula returned after missing four games with a non-displaced right ankle fracture and played 22 minutes with one shot. ... Steen earned his 200th career assist on Oshie's short-handed goal. ... The Blues are 23-5-3 at home but fell about a thousand shy of a sellout. ... The Blues have scored three or more goals in their last 10 meetings against Tampa Bay, going 8-2.
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 23:27
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