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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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MIAMI (AP) -- An hour after what he called the best regular-season game he's ever played, LeBron James simply explained why this performance was like none other.

The basketball, he said, felt small as a golf ball.

The basket, to him, looked as wide as the ocean.

Best player in the game. Best game of his career. James rewrote his record book Monday night, etched his name a few different times in Miami Heat annals as well, and let the NBA know in crystal-clear terms that his MVP award won't be ceded without a fight this season. He scored 61 points, setting career- and franchise-bests, as the Heat topped the Charlotte Bobcats 124-107.

"A surreal feeling for me right now," James said.

With good reason. He made 22 of his 33 field-goal tries, becoming just the third player in the past 25 years to take that many shots and make at least two-thirds of them, with only Alex English and Shaquille O'Neal on that list. James set a career-high for field goals made, plus Heat records for points in a quarter (25) and a half (37).

And of all his feats on Monday, the most impressive might have been how he started 8 for 8 from 3-point range.

"The man above has given me some unbelievable abilities to play the game of basketball," James said before the Heat flew to Houston for a game there Tuesday. "I just try to take advantage of it every night. I got the trust of my teammates and my coaching staff to go in there and let it go."

Glen Rice scored 56 to set the Heat record on April 15, 1995, against Orlando. James' previous career best had been 56 points, on March 20, 2005, for Cleveland against Toronto.

This outing was much better, James said. Not because 61 tops 56 - but because the night he scored 56, his Cavaliers lost.

"Phenomenal, amazing, stupendous ... he reminds me of me," Heat forward Chris Bosh said afterward in an overjoyed locker room.

James had 24 points at halftime, then added 25 in the third quarter. The record-breaker came with 5:46 left, when James spun through and around three defenders for a layup that fell as he tumbled to the court.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra walked into his postgame news conference with a confession: He nearly took James out after the third quarter.

He didn't. Good call.

"He was in a great groove, obviously," Spoelstra said.

Here's how good James was on this night: Al Jefferson finished with 38 points and 19 rebounds for the Bobcats, making him just the fourth player in the past six seasons to put up a stat line like that.

No one noticed.

"You take away his 61 points," Jefferson said, "and we still had a fighting chance there at the end."

Yes, even the Bobcats were marveling at James. He was hitting from everywhere, even a 3-pointer from about 30 feet - Spoelstra joked it was from 40 - late in the third quarter, as the crowd roared and the Heat bench jumped with joy.

"Yeah, that was a designed play," Spoelstra deadpanned. "We've been working on that one for a while."

That was the moment, James said, when he knew he was in the midst of a special night.

"I felt pretty good in the first half but halftime can always kind of derail things and slow things up," James said. "But I was able to get things going once again in the third quarter and I knew it could be one of those nights."

Not "one of those nights."

Even for James, this was like no other.

"Once he sniffed 60, we knew he was going for it," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "And the amazing part is the efficiency. Good Lord. Sixty-one on 33 shots, that's Wilt Chamberlain-esque. That's pretty amazing. Incredible performance."

When James checked out with 1:24 left, the entire Heat roster met him near midcourt for high-fives and hugs, and the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation. A second huge roar followed when he waved to the crowd, as "M-V-P" chants rained down.

"If he's going to shoot the ball like that from that range, there's nobody that's going to beat them," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

Miami was without guard Dwyane Wade, who got a night off to rest. Spoelstra stressed there's been no setback for Wade, who has been on a knee-maintenance program throughout this season and is averaging 23.5 points on 62 percent shooting since the All-Star break.

Wade probably didn't mind sitting for this one. It gave him a courtside seat for the show.

James made three 3-pointers in the first 7 minutes of the quarter - he was 6 for 6 from beyond the arc at that point - and when Charlotte bit on his head fake from the top of the key, James coolly found Toney Douglas to set up another 3. A tip-in by James followed not long afterward and just like that, the lead was up to 83-63.

Charlotte scored the next six points, but any notion that the game was slipping from Miami's control was quickly extinguished.

James scored the next six himself, a pair of three-point plays to restore the 20-point edge and give him 43 points, already a season high.

All that was left to see was what he'd finish with.

The answer was history.

James has been asked plenty of times in recent weeks about the MVP race, especially with many prognosticators suggesting the trophy is likely headed to Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant.

Might be time to reopen the thinking on that one.

"Every night I go on the floor I want to be the MVP, of this league, MVP of this team, MVP for me, myself and my family," James said. "I've set a high standard and I have to live by that."

On this night, he did. And more.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 06:36
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Challenged for the first time under Major League Baseball's expanded replay system, umpires got it right.

The umps went 3 for 3 on Monday as MLB tried out the new format at three spring training games.

The first test came at 3:06 p.m. EST in Fort Myers, Fla., after first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki's throw pulled Jared Goedert off the bag in the sixth inning.

"I'm not too sure that you're not right here," Culbreth said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told him, "but since we haven't done it before, let's go take a look."

Culbreth answered: "OK. That's what it's for."

After 2 minutes, 34 seconds, replay umpire Brian O'Nora relayed his call by headset, confirming that Minnesota batter Chris Rahl was safe. During the wait, Rahl said he realized he perhaps was part of history.

"It's kind of funny. I was thinking, `Is this the first one?'" he said.

O'Nora made the final ruling from a satellite truck outside the stadium. During the regular season, umpires on the field will check with the replay booth in New York, where an MLB umpire will make the final call.

Later in the game, Culbreth rotated and took a turn in the truck, confirming another safe call at first base.

"I'm looking at this thing as, this is the future of the game. And I'm going to treat these games here the same way that I'm going to treat them during the regular season," Culbreth said.

In the eighth inning, Doug Bernier of the Twins was called safe on a close play at first. As Culbreth studied the replay, the ballpark sound system played a Rolling Stones song with the familiar lyric, "I can't get no satisfaction."

The call was confirmed, Bernier was safe.

Extra replay also was in place for two games in Arizona - the Los Angeles Angels vs. Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale and the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee in Phoenix.

Each team in the majors will have at least five exhibition games with the new system in place.

In January, owners approved the use of additional video replay to review most calls other than balls-and-strikes. Previously, umpires could only go to replay to review home runs and boundary calls.

Moments after the first replay call, Angels manager Mike Scioscia wasted little time in using his challenge.

In the top of the second, Luis Jimenez of the Angels tried to steal second. Catcher Bobby Wilson's throw was high but second base umpire Bill Miller ruled that Aaron Hill tagged the runner out.

Scioscia bounded out of the dugout and charged toward Miller to argue, just like managers always have done.

Instead, though, he chose to use his challenge. After two of the umpires made a quick visit to the Angels dugout to communicate with the replay umpire, the call was upheld.

"We weren't trying to make a mockery out of it," Scioscia said of using the challenge so soon. "We thought it was a pretty close play."

There was only one angle available with the limited camera work of a spring training telecast.

"If we have 15 angles of that," Scioscia said, "there's a possibility it gets reversed."

That review took 2:31.

Since he lost the challenge, Scioscia had no more.

"I don't think it's going to take much time in the logistics. That will smooth out," he said. "As far as the strategy of it, that's going to take a lot. It might be something you win, but you know you need that challenge to save the big play somewhere."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Arizona's Kirk Gibson did not use their challenge. Neither did Cubs manager Rick Renteria nor the Brewers' Ron Roenicke.

Gibson said he thought about contesting a close play when Paul Goldschmidt nearly beat out a grounder but said he decided it was 50-50 and not worth it.

"I think it's going to be a lot more complicated than we thought," Gibson said. "We had a lot of conversation during the game."

For the Angels-Diamondbacks game, the replay trailer was set up in the parking lot behind center field. Teams are allowed to have a person to watch the game on television and advise the managers via phone whether it would be worth it for the call to be challenged.

The Angels communicated via walkie talkie Monday but there will be a dedicated phone line for each team in the major league parks.

Under the new rules, each manager has one challenge. If the first challenge is successful, the manager gets a second. From the seventh inning on, if the manager is out of challenges, the umpire can decide to have the play reviewed.

Some critics of expanded replay worried that challenges would delay the game too much. Culbreth said he didn't think that would be a problem, and pointed at the benefits.

"It will work itself out. I think time really isn't going to be an issue in the end," he said. "And if it is, it's about getting the play right in the end, anyhow."

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 06:35
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