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

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

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

The final was over.

The wait was over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now it was deuce.

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

The match continued for eight additional points.

Seemed to take an eternity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Murray, the wait is over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stanton did not speak to reporters after the game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She certainly stands alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So might everyone else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good thing, too.

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

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

Saturday, 06 July 2013 23:38
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The last three innings, Jacob Turner allowed only one base runner. The Miami Marlins right-hander was happy with his homecoming start even though his first three innings did not go so well.

"It was fun, obviously, no matter what happened," Turner said after a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night. "Obviously, I wished I would have pitched a little better, a little deeper."

Turner (2-1) said facing a patient Cardinals lineup was a much bigger factor than any nerves playing against the team he used to follow.

"Once the first inning gets past you, it's just another game," Turner said. "Obviously, I think they're the best-hitting team in the league and they showed it.

"I threw a lot of good pitches, but I made too many mistakes with two strikes and they capitalized on all those mistakes."

Jake Westbrook worked seven strong innings and Allen Craig had two RBIs for St. Louis, which had lost eight of 11 and plummeted from the majors' best record to second place in the NL Central entering a five-game homestand. Matt Holliday doubled twice with an RBI and Edward Mujica rebounded with the save.

The Marlins totaled three hits and lost for just the third time in 11 games.

"A lot of ground balls," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "It seemed like every situation we would beat balls into the ground. We had a couple opportunities, but not much."

The hard-throwing Turner, a former first-round pick from suburban St. Charles, Mo., also is a confidant of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. The 22-year-old right-hander entered with a 1.76 ERA his first six starts of the year and threw his first career complete game his last time out.

Westbrook (5-3) was hurt only by Logan Morrison's 440-foot homer to straightaway center leading off the second that ended the right-hander's streak of 23 innings without allowing an earned run at home to start the season. The sinkerballer got all three outs on ground balls five times and benefited from two double plays, one of them a bit unusual, and is 3-1 in his last four starts.

Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the eighth and Mujica worked a perfect ninth with a pair of strikeouts for his 22nd save in 23 chances. He blew his first save opportunity of the year Thursday night in a loss to the Angels.

With runners on first and second and none out in the fifth, Turner was called out by home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth after his sacrifice bunt attempt bounced off the plate and right to catcher Yadier Molina for a quick tagout. Molina pumped once before throwing to third and Adeiny Hechavarria was ruled out without a tag, and was in the dugout before the Marlins could react.

"No. 1, we didn't get the bunt down, which was probably the biggest part of it," Redmond said. "I thought the ball was clearly foul, he called it fair.

"I think everyone on defense thought the ball was foul, and after that I don't really know what happened."

Holliday and Craig doubled with two outs in the first to nearly identical drives to right-center to put the Cardinals in front. They got RBI doubles from Holliday and Matt Adams plus a sacrifice fly from Craig in the third to make it 4-1.

Craig is near the top of the National League with 68 RBIs and entered with a league-leading .469 average with runners in scoring position.

A standing room crowd of 46,177 attracted by a Mike Shannon bobblehead giveaway gave the longtime Cardinals announcer a lengthy ovation before the seventh.

Notes: Joe Kelly (0-3, 3.86) makes a long-delayed first appearance as the Cardinals' fifth starter since getting elevated to the rotation on June 22 on Saturday. Four starters had been enough because the Cardinals had three days off. Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 2.00) makes his fourth start of the year for the Marlins. ... Morrison has three homers his last five games against the Cardinals.

Friday, 05 July 2013 23:20
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Josh Hamilton hit a tying two-run homer in Los Angeles' three-run ninth inning, and the Angels rallied for a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

Mark Trumbo belted his 19th homer and Mike Trout had two RBIs for Los Angeles, which took two of three in the series. Scott Downs (2-2) got three outs for the victory.

St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, the NL pitcher of the month for June, took a 5-3 lead into the ninth before giving up a leadoff single by Albert Pujols, who was 1 for 11 in his first series against his former team.

Manager Mike Matheny then brought in Edward Mujica, and Hamilton drove the right-hander's second pitch into the center field trees for his 11th homer. Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo followed with singles, and Mujica (0-1) retired his next two batters before Erick Aybar drove in the winning run with an opposite-field single to left.

Aybar had three hits and scored a run for Los Angeles.

Angels starter Joe Blanton gave up five runs, four earned, and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. The right-hander, who signed a $15 million, two-year contract with Los Angeles over the winter, is 0-4 with a 5.17 ERA in nine starts this season at Anaheim Stadium.

Blanton averaged 13 pitches through the first three innings while retiring nine of his first 10 batters. But just three batters into the fourth, the Cardinals pulled ahead 3-2 on a single by Carlos Beltran, a walk to Matt Holliday and Allen Craig's homer. Craig leads the majors with a .469 average with runners in scoring position.

It was the seventh straight start in which Blanton gave up a home run.

The Angels tied it in the bottom of the fourth on a drive to center from Trumbo. But the Cardinals got the run back in the fifth on Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly, and then made it 5-3 in the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Daniel Descalso that chased Blanton, who has given up a major league-worst 135 hits.

The Angels opened the scoring in the third on a two-out, two-run single by Trout, after Wainwright gave up singles to Alberto Callaspo and Aybar, and J.B. Shuck advanced them with a sacrifice bunt.

NOTES: Hamilton, the only player in the Angels' starting lineup who had faced Wainwright previously, was 0 for 2 against him after coming in 3 for 7. ... St. Louis' Jon Jay played his 227th consecutive game in center field without an error, breaking Curt Flood's franchise record for any outfield position. Matheny holds the major league record for errorless games by a catcher with 252. ... Holliday was back in the Cardinals' lineup as the designated hitter, going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk after missing two games because of a pinched nerve in his neck. ... Trout leads the Angels with 55 RBIs, just two fewer than he had through his first 84 games last season, when he finished with 83 and was named AL rookie of the year after spending the first month of the season at Triple-A. ... RHP Lance Lynn's next start for the Cardinals will be Sunday at home against the Miami Marlins. He has two chances left to become the sixth pitcher in Cardinals history to post at least 11 wins before the All-Star break in consecutive seasons, and the first since Joaquin Andujar (1984-85). The others were Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, Mort Cooper and Gerry Staley.

Thursday, 04 July 2013 23:36
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LONDON (AP) -- Whether in a match, a set, a game - or even within a single point - Sabine Lisicki simply cannot be counted out.

Especially at Wimbledon, where she is one victory from becoming a Grand Slam champion.

Fashioning the same sort of comeback she used to eliminate defending titlist Serena Williams at the All England Club, the 23rd-seeded Lisicki reached her first major final by edging No. 4 Agnieska Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 in a compelling, back-and-forth match Thursday.

"I just fought with all my heart," said Lisicki, who twice was two points away from losing to 2012 runner-up Radwanska. "I believed that I could still win, no matter what the score was."

On Saturday, Lisicki will face 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli, who took a nap on a locker-room couch before heading out to Centre Court and earning a berth in her second Wimbledon final with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.

It's only the second time in the 45-year Open era that two women who have never won a Grand Slam trophy will play for the championship at the grass-court tournament.

Germany's Lisicki and France's Bartoli also form the second-lowest pair of seeded women to meet for the Wimbledon title. In 2007, Bartoli was No. 18 when she lost to No. 23 Venus Williams.

"In the beginning of the tournament, no one, I think, (expected) those names in the semis or in the finals," Radwanska said.

That's for sure.

In 11 of the past 13 years, one Williams sister or the other - and sometimes both - reached the final at the All England Club. This year, five-time champion Venus sat out because of a back injury, while five-time champion Serena's 34-match winning streak ended with a loss to Lisicki in Monday's fourth round.

In that match, Lisicki won the first set, dropped nine games in a row to fall behind 3-0 in the third, and eventually took the last four games.

In the semifinals, Lisicki won the first set, dropped nine of 11 games to fall behind 3-0 in the third, and eventually turned it around.

"I thought, `I've done it against Serena, so you can do it today as well. Just hang in there,'" Lisicki said. "It gave me so much confidence."

Some of that derives from a more daunting recovery. In 2010, she badly injured her left ankle and missed five months.

Not only did she fall outside the top 150 in the rankings, but Lisicki says her rehabilitation felt like a course in how to use that leg.

"I can still remember when the doctor told me that I have to be on crutches the next six weeks. I was like, `OK, when can I get back?' That was my first question," Lisicki recalled Thursday. "That period made me such a much stronger person and ... I know anything is possible after learning how to walk again."

She cited inspiration drawn from two injured athletes in other sports, NFL quarterback Drew Brees and Alpine ski racer Hermann Maier.

Brees tore his throwing shoulder in the last game of the 2005 regular season, and needed a complicated operation. Let go by the San Diego Chargers, he wound up signing with the New Orleans Saints and led that franchise to the Super Bowl title in 2010. Maier, who won two Olympic gold medals and four overall World Cup titles, nearly lost his right leg - and his life - in a 2001 motorcycle accident. Sidelined for two years, he returned to win the World Cup in 2004.

Lisicki also was motivated by a text message she said she received before Thursday's match from the last German woman to play in a Grand Slam final, back in 1999, Steffi Graf.

"She told me to go for it," Lisicki said.

Lisicki's formula against Radwanska was the same one she employed while beating major champions Francesca Schiavone in the first round, Sam Stosur in the third and Williams: powerful serves, stinging returns and an uncanny ability to get to balls that seem out of reach. On Thursday, Lisicki smacked serves at up to 122 mph, including nine aces, and hit eight return winners.

Her game clearly is built for grass. She is 19-4 at Wimbledon, 16-15 at the other three major tournaments. She's 8-2 in three-setters at Wimbledon, 5-9 at the other Slams.

Bartoli also has been most successful at what many players consider tennis' most prestigious site. Her career winning percentage at Wimbledon is .730; it's .586 at the other Slams. She is 2-0 in Wimbledon semifinals, 0-1 elsewhere.

"I had to play, I don't know, 500 percent, I think, to beat Marion today. She was just too good," said Flipkens, who fell face-down in the grass in the sixth game, landing on her bandaged right knee, and later received treatment.

"I tried my slices. She didn't have any problem with that. I tried the drop shot. She got it," added Flipkens, who never had been past the fourth round at a major. "I tried a lob. I tried everything, actually."

Hitting two-handed shots off both wings - like her idol, Monica Seles - Bartoli took the first three games of each set and never relented.

"Definitely," said 2006 Wimbledon winner Amelie Mauresmo, the French Fed Cup captain serving as an adviser to Bartoli, "the best match of the tournament for her."

As always, Bartoli took practice cuts between most points, pumped her fist after nearly every point she won, and sprinted to the sideline at changeovers.

"It's not like I want to annoy my opponent," Bartoli said. "It's really me trying to be ready for the point that is coming."

She figures she's much better equipped to handle a Grand Slam final now than when she managed to win only five games in the loss to Venus Williams six years ago.

"I'm just doing everything better, honestly," said Bartoli, who was only 22 when she made her major final debut.

Lisicki, 23, and Radwanska, 24, have known each other since they were junior players, and their styles could hardly be more different. All in all, Lisicki is far more aggressive than Radwanska, who relies on varying speeds and angles while mainly aiming to keep the ball in play. According to the official statistics, Lisicki finished with far more winners, 60-21, and far more unforced errors, 46-10.

Lisicki won her first five service games and was up a break in the second set when everything changed. Radwanska broke five times in a row, until Lisicki finally held again to get within 3-1 in the third. Lisicki ran off five out of six games, ignoring the distraction of a courtside scoreboard that began flickering, then was shut off. At 5-4 in the third, Lisicki served for the match, twice getting within two points of victory, but Radwanska broke again.

At 6-5, 30-all, and again at deuce, Radwanska needed two points to win. She couldn't do it.

"I had a lot of chances. Couple of easy mistakes," Radwanska said. "It cost me."

At 7-all, Lisicki broke by nearly sitting on the grass for a backhand that forced Radwanska to miss a volley. Given another chance to serve it out, Lisicki capped the most meaningful victory of her career with a forehand winner.

"It's unbelievable the way she came back again in the third set," said Lisicki's coach, Wim Fissette, who used to work with four-time major champion Kim Clijsters.

Radwanska, who spent nearly three total hours more on court than Lisicki in previous rounds, played with both thighs heavily taped.

"If we play in two days from now," she said, "I think it would be definitely different."

Asked why she offered Lisicki only a cursory, no-look handshake, then quickly left the court, Radwanska answered: "Should I just be there and dance?"

Understandably, Lisicki's mood at her news conference was cheerier. She couldn't stop smiling or chuckling.

"When I arrived here at the tournament, I just said that anything's possible. That's what I believed. I still do," Lisicki said. "I came to win every match that I walk on the court (for), and that's what I've done so far."

Thursday, 04 July 2013 23:34
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From a famous speech that has echoed for decades to a crazy slugfest at Coors Field, baseball has had its share of memorable moments on July Fourth. Here's a look back at some of the all-time moments of the day.

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1. GEHRIG'S FAREWELL: Delivering one of the most hallowed speeches in sports history, Lou Gehrig spoke between games of a New York Yankees doubleheader with the Washington Senators on July 4, 1939. It came two weeks after he retired, having been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gehrig played only eight games that season, driving in one run and hitting .143.

The "Luckiest Man" speech has been played countless times.

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2. RAGS' NO-NO: Forty-four years after Gehrig retired, Dave Righetti provided a July Fourth highlight for the Yankees, pitching a no-hitter against rival Boston. It was the first no-hitter by New York since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series and the first by a Yankees left-hander since 1917. Righetti got the final out by striking out Wade Boggs, much to the delight of owner George Steinbrenner, who was celebrating his 53rd birthday that day in 1983.

"I did it on the right day, I guess. I guess they replay it every year in New York," said Righetti, now the pitching coach for the San Francisco Giants. "I haven't watched it in years. My family watches it. It's funny. If I go outside and walk anywhere and am recognized, it comes up 95 percent of the time."

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3. FIREWORKS AT 4 A.M.: One of the greatest games played on July Fourth didn't end until almost 4 a.m. the next morning because the New York Mets needed 19 innings to beat the Atlanta Braves 16-13 on a rainy night in 1985. Dwight Gooden started and Ron Darling finally closed it out for the Mets.

"So many guys had been used and there was only a few of us left on the field coming in, and my memory is of the most jubilant clubhouse other than postseason that I've ever been in," Darling said. "Budweiser beer cans and Chick-Fil-A wrappers everywhere. That's all I can remember."

It was a wild game that included Braves pitcher Rick Camp's two-out homer in the 18th to tie the score at 11. New York then pushed across five runs in the 19th before Darling, normally a starter, came out of the bullpen and whiffed Camp for the final out.

"Even though it wasn't a save opportunity, it was saving the day," Darling said. "It's definitely one of the thrills of my life walking off the field that night."

Keith Hernandez hit for the cycle in 10 at-bats and Gary Carter caught all 19 innings for New York. Darling, currently a Mets announcer, remembers the 4 a.m. fireworks display for the 10,000 fans still left in the stands.

"When we heard it go off, we just couldn't believe it," he said. "I think it was like a War of the Worlds moment for Atlantans. They had to feel as though, what the hell is going on here in the middle of the evening? There's tons of people who didn't know there was a baseball game that night."

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4. SLUGFEST AT COORS FIELD: Fans crammed into the ballpark to see the postgame fireworks - but the show started early. Colorado staged the biggest comeback in franchise history, rallying from nine runs down to beat the Florida Marlins 18-17 in 2008. The Rockies hit six homers and Chris Iannetta singled home the winning run off Kevin Gregg in the ninth inning. The teams combined for 43 hits, 21 for extra bases, and eight home runs. Soon after he was removed from the game, Colorado slugger Troy Tulowitzki slammed his bat into the ground and the splintered end sliced his right palm. The All-Star shortstop required 16 stitches.

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5. TIRED ARMS: Hall of Famers Rube Waddell and Cy Young locked up in a pitchers' duel for 19 innings in 1905 before the Philadelphia Athletics scored twice in the 20th for a 4-2 win. Waddell gave up two runs in the first, then pitched 19 scoreless innings. Young also went the distance. Waddell's day wasn't done, either. He came back to get the final two outs in the second game of the doubleheader.

Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:08
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels were confident about extending their winning streak to eight games, which would have matched their longest of the season. Jerome Williams didn't give them much of a chance.

Williams was charged with seven runs, four hits and four walks in just 1 2-3 innings of a 12-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. The right-hander had not given up more than three bases on balls in any of his previous 17 starts.

"I think Jerome had a good idea of what he wanted to do going into the game, but I think he tried to get a little bit too fine," manager Mike Scioscia said. "They've got some guys over there that are swinging the bat well. In the second inning, I don't know if it was a situation where he really felt comfortable putting the ball in some areas and he tried to get a little too fine, especially early in the count and he got behind some guys."

Jon Jay had three RBIs, including a two-run homer off center fielder Mike Trout's glove during St. Louis' seven-run second inning. Matt Carpenter, batting leadoff in front of Jay, also homered and drove in three runs to help keep the Cardinals two games behind Pittsburgh in the NL Central.

One night after the Angels scored all of their runs in the second inning of a series-opening 5-1 victory, the Cardinals sent 12 men to the plate in the second after Williams had set them down 1-2-3 in the first.

"In the first inning he looked sharp, had good velocity and really good action on his sinker," Scioscia said. "At the start of the second inning he looked a little bit tentative, and the walks obviously compounded that inning. He just couldn't minimize the damage and the inning got away from him."

The seven-run rally included a two-run double by David Descalso, and a two-run homer by Jay that Trout had in his glove for an instant before it popped out as his arm made contact with the top of the fence.

Yadier Molina, who raised his NL-leading average to .352 after going 3 for 4 with a walk, greeted Garrett Richards with an RBI single that delivered the seventh run.

After Hank Conger's two-run homer in the bottom half, David Freese scored an unearned run in the Cardinals' third when Richards mishandled a throw from first baseman Mark Trumbo on Carpenter's two-out grounder behind the bag.

St. Louis increased the margin to 10-2 in the fifth on a run-scoring, ground-rule double by Carpenter and an RBI single by Jay, who had driven in only one run in his previous 35 at-bats coming in. It was only his second game this season with three or more RBIs, the other on May 4 when he had four at Milwaukee.

Carpenter ended the scoring in the eighth with his eighth homer, a solo shot off Billy Buckner.

"After winning that many in a row, you almost always think you're due for a butt-kicking," Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton said. "You'd rather lose one like this than a really close one, but you've got to put it behind you."

The Cardinals scored one more run than the Angels had allowed in their previous six games combined.

"Matt Carpenter sets the tone for us, and he had a terrific game," manager Mike Matheny said. "He put together good at-bats and he doesn't give any away. It was also nice to see John Jay have some real nice at-bats. We need to get him going, and today was a real good indicator that he's on the right path. He's been making some adjustments that are allowing him to have good at-bats, and it worked out for him today."

Shelby Miller (9-6) struck out six over six innings and allowed five hits. The right-hander was coming off back-to-back losses against two other AL West clubs, including a 6-1 defeat last Friday at Oakland in which he lasted only 1 2-3 innings and gave up five runs.

"I wouldn't say I was any fresher tonight," Miller said. "I mean, I threw 51 pitches in the second inning at Oakland and that's going to wear your arm down moreso than going eight innings and throwing 100 pitches. But I felt strong, so I basically wanted to try to go deep in the ballgame."

NOTES: Matheny caught Williams when they were teammates in San Francisco during the 2005 season. ... The Angels have committed 61 errors, the second-most in the AL. The Cardinals have made 34, the fewest in the NL. ... Howie Kendrick's 102 hits are the most by an Angels second baseman before the All-Star break. ... St. Louis LF Matt Holliday didn't play for the second straight night because of a pinched nerve in his neck. ... Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was named the NL pitcher of the month for June after going 4-2 with a 1.77 ERA in six starts, including complete-game 7-1 victories over San Francisco and Oakland. ... Molina was back in the fifth spot in the batting order, after hitting in the two hole the previous six games and going 7 for 25 with a homer and three RBIs. ... Cardinals LF Allen Craig drew three walks in the first four innings, matching the total he had in 116 plate appearances over his previous 28 games. He has 18 this season in 338 plate appearances.

Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:05
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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Jordan Leopold on a two-year contract.

Leopold, 32, posted two assists in 15 regular season games with the Blues after the club acquired him from Buffalo on Mar. 31 last season.  In addition, Leopold dressed in all six games for the Blues during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Overall, the 6’1, 206-pound defenseman has appeared in 10 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons including stints with Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and St. Louis.  For his career, Leopold has registered 204 points (65 goals, 139 assists) and 268 penalty minutes in 625 regular season games as well as 16 assists in 65 postseason games.

The Golden Valley, Minnesota native was originally drafted by Anaheim in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 1999 Entry Draft.

Wednesday, 03 July 2013 15:53
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Jered Weaver earned his second win of an injury-plagued season with help from a five-run second inning, and the Los Angeles Angels extended their winning streak to seven games Tuesday night with a 5-1 victory over St. Louis in the Cardinals' first game at Angel Stadium.

St. Louis was the only National League club that had never played at the "Big A," having hosted the three previous interleague series between the teams in 2002, 2007 and 2010.

Three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols, who spent his first 12 major league seasons with the Cardinals before signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels in December 2011 as a free agent, played his first game against his former club and was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk as the designated hitter while Mark Trumbo started at first base.

The first time Pujols came up, he tapped catcher Yadier Molina's shin guard with his bat and Molina tapped Pujols on the back of the helmet with his glove - a subtle but meaningful display of affection and respect between two All-Stars who were teammates for nine seasons and won two World Series rings together. Pujols then struck out, and Molina threw out J.B. Shuck at second for an inning-ending double play.

Weaver (2-4) allowed a run, six hits and no walks over seven innings. He struck out five in his ninth start of the year, working with runners on base in every inning but the seventh.

The All-Star right-hander, who became a 20-game winner for the first time last year before a broken bone in his non-pitching arm sidelined him for more than six weeks this season, ended a streak of five winless starts that began after his 3-1 victory against the Dodgers on May 29 at Angel Stadium - his first game back from the injury.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the eighth against Kevin Jepsen. Scott Downs came in and struck out rookie Matt Adams before finishing a spectacular 3-6-1 double play, after Trumbo made a slick play in the hole on a hard-hit grounder by David Freese.

Lance Lynn (10-3) gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings, striking out eight. The 26-year-old right-hander, coming off a 4-3 loss last Wednesday at Houston, has dropped back-to-back outings for the first time in 1 1/2 big league seasons spanning 48 starts.

The Angels sent 10 batters to the plate in the second. Lynn gave up singles to six of his first seven hitters, including run-scoring hits by Trumbo, Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar and Shuck. Aybar scored when second baseman Matt Carpenter misplayed Mike Trout's grounder up the middle for an error with a chance to force Shuck. Lynn ended the inning by striking out Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday was a late scratch because of tightness in his neck, hampering a lineup that had averaged a league-best 7.04 runs of support for Lynn in his other 16 starts this season. Molina was 2 for 4, raising his NL-leading average to .347.

The Cardinals got on the board in the fourth. Allen Craig reached on an infield single, was held up at third on a double by Adams and scored on a groundout by Freese.

NOTES: A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Stan Musial's grandson, Brian Schwarze, with Pujols as his catcher. Musial, who died on Jan. 19 at age 92, was honored with a video tribute following the first inning. "Stan was my buddy," Pujols said. "I wish I would have had more opportunities to talk to him. When he walked into the clubhouse, it was like a light that was so bright. It was amazing. Everybody would stop what they were doing." ... Shortly after Pujols joined the Angels, he took offense to promotional billboards put up throughout Southern California that heralded him as "El Hombre" - or "The Man." Pujols requested they be taken down, saying that only Musial - whose moniker was "Stan The Man" - should ever be referred to in that manner. ... The Angels wore circular patches with Musial's name and No. 6 on the front of their jerseys, which they will do throughout this series. The idea for the unique tribute came during spring training. "It's out of the respect that everyone in baseball has for Stan Musial and his legacy, and obviously the connection with Albert," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We wanted to honor a great person and a great ballplayer in a very classy way, and we're proud to wear them." ... Former Angels Jim Edmonds, Scott Spiezio, David Eckstein and Jeff Weaver all played significant roles for the Cardinals during their 2006 championship season. Eckstein was the World Series MVP, and Weaver won the Series clincher against Detroit's Justin Verlander. ... The Cardinals won five of the nine meetings between the teams in St. Louis.

Wednesday, 03 July 2013 00:08
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