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

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

Game 3 is Monday at Boston.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rask had 33 saves while Crawford had 26.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the series is tied headed back to Boston.

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

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

Game 3 is Monday at Boston.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rask had 33 saves while Crawford had 26.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the series is tied headed back to Boston.

Saturday, 15 June 2013 22:40
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MIAMI (AP) -- Carlos Beltran homered from each side of the plate and tripled Saturday, and Lance Lynn notched his ninth victory when the St. Louis Cardinals outslugged the Miami Marlins 13-7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was no faking it Saturday afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 15 June 2013 22:32
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ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) -- Even for Phil Mickelson, his path to the top of the leaderboard Thursday in the U.S. Open was unconventional.

He traveled about 2,400 miles in the air and 7,000 yards on the ground. He took a short nap on his private jet from San Diego and another one during a rain delay when he found a secluded corner of the library room in the Merion clubhouse. He carried five wedges but no driver.

Some 17 hours later, Mickelson had a 3-under 67 to match his best opening round in the U.S. Open.

Mickelson returned from his daughter's eighth-grade graduation about 3 1/2 hours before his tee time. He three-putted his first hole for a bogey and didn't give back a shot the rest of the day at Merion, which proved plenty tough by yielding only one other round under par to the 78 players who completed the first round.

Because of two rain delays, the first round won't be completed until Friday morning. Mickelson won't have to tee it up again for another 24 hours.

Enough time to fly back to San Diego?

"I don't want to push it, no," Mickelson said with a tired smile.

Tiger Woods faced a tougher road. He appeared to hurt his left hand after trying to gouge out of the deep rough on the opening hole. He grimaced and shook his left wrist again after hitting a 5-wood out of the rough on the fifth hole. He already had three bogeys though five holes before starting to make up ground with a 50-foot birdie putt on the par-4 sixth hole.

Woods, however, failed to take advantage on the short stretch of holes in the middle of the round, and he was shaking his hand again after shots out of the rough on the 10th and twice on the 11th. He was 2-over for his round and had a 4-foot par putt on the 11th when play was stopped for the day.

"I've got a lot of holes to play tomorrow," Woods said. "And, hopefully, I can play a little better than I did today."

Luke Donald was 4-under through 13 holes, making one last birdie before leaving the course. The first round was to resume at 7:15 a.m. Friday, and the forecast called for drier weather for the rest of the week.

Masters champion Adam Scott, playing with Woods and Rory McIlroy, was 3-under through 11 holes, while defending U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson was 2-under through eight holes. McIlroy was even par.

Lee Westwood got the full Merion experience. He was 3-under when his approach on the 12th hit the wicker basket - the signature at Merion, replacing traditional flags - and bounced off the green, leading to a double bogey.

For Mickelson, this could be the start of yet another chance to win the major championship he wants so dearly. Or maybe he's setting himself up for more heartache. He already has been a runner-up a record five times in the U.S. Open.

"If I'm able - and I believe I will - if I'm able to ultimately win a U.S. Open, I would say that it's great," Mickelson said. "Because I will have had ... a win and five seconds. But if I never get that win, then it would be a bit heart-breaking."

Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, the only other player from the morning wave to break par, picked up birdies on the short seventh and eighth holes for a 69.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, Tim Clark, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Jerry Kelly were the only others who at least matched par at 70. Clark and Kelly were at 2 under deep in their rounds until running into trouble, which isn't hard to do in the U.S. Open, especially at Merion. Clark took a double bogey-bogey stretch in the middle of his back nine. Kelly was one shot behind Mickelson until a double bogey on the 18th hole.

"It's a lot tougher than they say it is," Schwartzel said.

It doesn't take much - just two holes for Sergio Garcia, who found Merion far more daunting than the few wisecracks from the gallery. Garcia received mostly warm applause, with some barely audible boos from the grandstand when he started his round on No. 11. It was his first time competing in America since his public spat with Woods took a bad turn when he jokingly said he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open and serve fried chicken.

"There were a couple here and there," Garcia said about some jeers. "But I felt the people were very nice for the whole day. I think that almost all of them were behind me and that was nice to see."

They saw him hit his tee shot out of bounds on No. 14 right before the first rain delay, leading to double bogey. Then, he hooked his next shot out of bounds and hit a bunker shot over the green on his way to a quadruple-bogey 8 at No. 15. Despite being 6-over on those two holes, he rallied for a 73.

Mickelson, meanwhile, looked as though he could play this golf course in his sleep. And he nearly did.

With two holes remaining, he hit 5-iron into 30 feet on the 237-yard ninth hole and told caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay that he was starting to hit the ball. Despite the constant smiling, Mickelson is intense inside the ropes, and Mackay told him to stop thinking about his swing, his next shot, the course or anything else related to golf during the walk to the green. Lefty rolled in the right-to-left breaking putt for another birdie.

"Being able to tune in and tune out was kind of nice the last hole or two," Mickelson said. "It's been a long day."

The only other time Mickelson opened with a 67 in the U.S. Open was in 1999 at Pinehurst No. 2, and his oldest daughter was part of that story, too. Mickelson carried a pager with him that week because his wife was due with their first child. He finished one shot behind when the late Payne Stewart holed a 15-foot par putt on the last hole, and Amanda was born the next day.

Mickelson was always going to be home before the U.S. Open because Amanda, who turns 14 next week, was chosen to be a featured speaker at her graduation. He left Merion on Monday, a day earlier than planned, when more heavy rain washed out most of the practice round. Besides, Mickelson felt like he knew the course well enough from his scouting trip last week.

"She told me that it's fine. `Stay, it's the U.S. Open. I know how much you care about it.' And I told her that I want to be there," Mickelson said. "I don't want to miss her speech. I don't want to miss her graduation. She spent nine years at that school. And she's worked very hard and I'm very proud of her."

The ceremony was at 6 p.m. PDT. Mickelson was on the plane two hours later, landing in Philadelphia about 3:30 a.m. He had a few hours of sleep on the plane, and then played five holes before the rain delay. He found a few cushions for a makeshift bed in the clubhouse library.

Despite his four birdies, including a 25-foot putt that fell on its last turn at No. 1, Mickelson saved his round with some crucial pars.

He missed the par-3 third green to the right, in fluffy grass down the hill, and hit a flop shot that landed on the collar and stopped 5 feet from the cup. He caught a break when his tee shot went into the hazard left of the fifth fairway, about a foot away from dropping into the small stream. He got that out, hit wedge to 8 feet and made a difficult right-to-left putt. And on the next hole, he swung hard to generate height and spin out of the bunker, the only way to get the ball close. He made an 8-footer for par.

Mickelson hit 9-iron to 2 feet on the seventh hole for birdie, and holed that 30-foot putt on the ninth.

And then, it was time to rest.

"He had a crazy 24 hours," said Keegan Bradley, playing alongside Mickelson and Steve Stricker. "Sometimes that helps, not thinking about it."

Thursday, 13 June 2013 22:50
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- LeBron James scored 33 points while playing with the aggression and ferocity that everyone expects of the four-time MVP, leading the Miami Heat to a 109-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night that evened the NBA Finals at two games apiece.

James also had 11 rebounds and four assists and finally got some much-needed help from his struggling All-Star teammates. Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, Chris Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds and the defending champions made sure the series will head back to South Beach.

Tony Parker had 15 points and nine assists while playing through a sore right hamstring for the Spurs, who were trying to move one step closer to their fifth championship.

Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is Sunday night in San Antonio.

Ray Allen scored 14 points for the Heat. Miami had 50 points in the paint after managing 32 in a 36-point loss in Game 3.

Tim Duncan scored 20 points, and Kawhi Leonard added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Spurs, who turned the ball over 19 times. After setting a finals record with 16 3-pointers in Game 3, San Antonio was 8 for 16.

James was an abysmal 7 for 21 for 15 points in Game 3, and he promised to be better in Game 4. He delivered on that the only way he knows how, hitting 15 of 25 shots and putting the team on his shoulders to set the tone early.

Every time James snatched a Spurs miss off the glass he thundered up the court, attacking the back-pedaling defense for easy layups that simply haven't been there for him this series.

He made six of his first seven shots, controlling the tempo and responding when the Spurs threatened to run away with the game in the first six minutes.

Parker strained his right hamstring during Game 3, leaving many in San Antonio to fear that the big step forward they made with their win in Game 3 came at a hefty price. But Parker deemed himself "ready to go" at the team's morning shootaround and looked fine, save for a quick trip to the locker room in the fourth quarter.

All the old Parker tricks were there in the first quarter - a pull-up jumper to open the game, a driving layup and then another off the pick-and-roll. Leonard then buried a 3-pointer to give the Spurs a 15-5 lead early in the game.

Then James made the move the Heat have been waiting for all series.

He took the ball coast-to-coast on two straight possessions during run that tied it at 19. James then hit two mid-range jumpers - an area that has been a struggle for him - to cap the 14-2 surge and give Miami a 25-21 lead.

In an unusual move, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decided to shuffle the starting lineup in the middle of a series. He inserted the sharp-shooting Mike Miller for big man Udonis Haslem in an effort to create more room for James and Wade to penetrate to the rim.

Miller was 9 for 10 on 3-pointers in his first three games of the finals, but was scoreless in the game.

Wade was averaging 2.7 points in the second half in the finals, but had eight in the third quarter of Game 4.

Wade then finished off the Spurs with a flurry of eight straight Heat points followed by an assist to Bosh for a 94-83 lead with seven minutes to play. The Heat's Big Three scored all but three points for Miami in the fourth.

If there was a common theme in the first three games, it was the curiously meek performance from James. He entered this series after perhaps the best season of his career, a versatile and efficient freight train that had taken the league and made it his own.

He was out to show just how far he'd come from 2007, when the Spurs dismantled his Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals and exposed the rising star as a player who could be neutralized if he was forced to settle for jump shots. James promised that he would not be so easily contained this time around, and .565 shooting percentage during the regular season, including .406 on 3-pointers, seemed to support that theory.

But the Spurs had done to him in these finals exactly what they did to him six years ago. They've clogged the paint with two big men - Duncan and Tiago Splitter - and surrounded him on the perimeter with a pack of hungry young wings led by Leonard and Green.

The results had been unlike anything the league has grown used to seeing from its biggest star. James entered Game 4 averaged 16.7 points on 38.9 percent shooting. He was just 3 for 13 from 3-point range in the first three games, and even more startling, only had six free throw attempts.

"I'm putting all the pressure on my chest, on my shoulders to come through for our team," James said. "That's the way it is."

It would be hard to find much higher stakes than Game 4 for the Heat. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship.

Thursday, 13 June 2013 22:43
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Adam Wainwright became the major leagues' first 10-game winner by pitching seven scoreless innings and sent Matt Harvey to his first loss of the season, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the New York Mets 2-1 Thursday in a classic pitching matchup.

Wainwright (10-3) retired his first 11 batters before David Wright's single, and allowed four hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Wainwright matched his career best by winning his fifth straight start, dropped his ERA to 2.18 and got his 1,000th career strikeout when Wright was called out on a first-inning curveball.

Known best in New York for freezing Carlos Beltran with a called third strike to end Game 7 of the 2006 NL championship series, Wainwright had been 0-4 with an 8.46 ERA in four starts against the Mets since beating them on April 18, 2010.

Trevor Rosenthal pitched the eighth, and Edward Mujica allowed a long home run to Marlon Byrd with one out in the ninth. John Buck then doubled and took third as Kirk Nieuwenhuis grounded to second baseman Matt Carpenter, who made a diving backhand stop as he fell and threw to first for the out.

Josh Satin, who had his first big league at-bat of the season a night earlier, fouled off two full-count pitches and then swung over a splitter as Mujica remained perfect in 19 save chances.

Harvey (5-1) had been unbeaten in 14 starts since Sept. 12 and he pitched well enough to win, giving up one run and five hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and a walk.

St. Louis scored its only run off him in the third, when Pete Kozma hit a one-out, opposite-field single to right for the first hit of the game and Carpenter tripled past Byrd, who tried for a sprawling catch in right but allowed the ball to bounce past him.

New York's bullpen gave up a run in the eighth, when Carpenter and Beltran singled off Scott Rice, and Matt Holliday and Allen Craig singled against LaTroy Hawkins. Craig's RBI was his 49th of the season.

Craig made a diving stop at first base in the bottom half to rob Omar Quintanilla of a hit, just before Wright singled for his third hit.

Harvey, who lowered his ERA to 2.04, had no-decisions in eight of previous nine starts, and the Mets have scored just 18 runs while he's been in the game during his last 10 outings, according to STATS. He opened impressively, striking out Beltran for the second out of the game with three 97 mph fastballs. He shook off a second-inning comebacker by Yadier Molina that struck him on the left foot.

His next scheduled start is Tuesday's day-night doubleheader, when right-hander Zack Wheeler is to make his major league debut for the Mets. The highly touted Wheeler was making his last minor league outing for Triple-A Las Vegas against Tacoma later Thursday.

Under dark skies and with heavy rain forecast, an announced crowd of 25,471 that seemed much smaller watched the Mets lose for the eighth time in 10 games following a five-game winning streak. The Cardinals took two of three in the series and improved the big leagues' best record to 43-23.

Wainwright was perfect before Wright dumped a 2-2 curveball into center field for a single, a pitch after first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt gave the Mets captain the call on a checked swing - Wainwright had started to walk off the mound, anticipating strike three.

Daniel Murphy took four straight balls, just Wainwright's eighth walk of the season, and Lucas Duda flied out to John Jay a step in front of the fence in right-center. Jay also made a nice grab to catch a wind-blown drive by Jordany Valdespin leading off the sixth.

Byrd singled with one out in the seventh and advanced on Buck's grounder to give the Mets a runner past first for just the second time. Nieuwenhuis, in an 0-for-19 slide, was intentionally walked to bring up Harvey's spot in the batting order, and pinch-hitter Justin Turner grounded out on a slow roller to third baseman Daniel Descalso.

Kozma, who had three hits, doubled with one out in the fifth when he popped the ball into short center. Nieuwenhuis sprinted in and tried for a sliding catch, but cut short his slide when Valdespin ran out from second and peeled off late just in front of him. Harvey then induced consecutive groundouts.

NOTES: The Mets started the same lineup and batting order from Nos. 1-8 in three straight games for the first time since April 23-26, 2011, STATS said.

Thursday, 13 June 2013 16:09
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CHICAGO (AP) -- Andrew Shaw scored on a deflection in triple overtime to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in a riveting Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night.

Michael Roszival shot the puck from the right point into traffic. It deflected off Dave Bolland and Shaw before slipping past Tuukka Rask. Boston's Kaspars Daugavins had a huge opportunity midway through the third overtime but his backhand shot in the crease went wide after Johnny Oduya got a stick on him.

All of this came after Jaromir Jagr nearly won it for Boston in the closing seconds of the second OT when the puck deflected off him and hit the post, preserving the tie.

The Bruins were on a power play after Chicago got called for too many men on the ice with 52.8 seconds left in the second OT.

Zdeno Chara's shot from the right point hit Jagr in the slot and deflected off the right post, then bounded through the crease in the waning seconds.

With Original Six franchises playing for a championship for the first time in 34 years, the series is off to a rousing start.

The Blackhawks got third-period goals from Dave Bolland and Oduya to erase a 3-1 deficit. Corey Crawford was simply spectacular in the extra period, and the Blackhawks wound up going to double OT for the second straight game after taking out the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals.

Crawford made a sprawled-out pad save on Shawn Thornton about four minutes into OT, and he stood his ground in a flurry with just under eight minutes remaining, stopping Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin on the rebound to draw oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

In the second overtime, Patrick Kane had a chance to win it. But he fired wide left off the end of his blade from the edge of the crease seven minutes into the period.

Chicago's Michael Frolik just missed high and wide with 6:30 remaining, and Shaw's stuff-in attempt with 3:51 left got stuffed by Rask.

The Bruins appeared to be in good shape building a 3-1 lead in regulation, with Milan Lucic scoring twice and Patrice Bergeron adding a power-play goal just over six minutes into the third. But the Blackhawks came storming back after that.

Shaw picked off a clearing attempt by Torey Krug and fed Bolland on a two-on-one rush to pull Chicago within one with 12 minutes left in regulation. Lucic then got stopped on a two-on-one by Crawford midway through the third, and Oduya tied it for Chicago when his shot from the point deflected off Andrew Ference and bounced past Rask.

Just like that, the Blackhawks were back in it. Crawford fought off a big flurry by Boston in the closing minutes, and the game went to overtime with Chicago outshooting Boston 39-25 after getting off to a slow start.

The Bruins grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 13:11 mark of the opening period after David Krejci knocked Niklas Hjalmarsson off the puck along the boards behind the net. He fed a pass to Nathan Horton, who feathered the puck across to Lucic for an easy wrist shot from the slot in front of Crawford.

Lucic struck again just 51 seconds into the second period with another wrist shot after Hjalmarsson gambled along the boards and fell, allowing Boston to break in.

Chicago started to come on strong after that.

The Blackhawks got on the board just over two minutes later when rookie Brandon Saad scored his first goal of the playoffs. He carried the puck down the ice but was bumped off it in the left corner of the Boston zone. Marian Hossa recovered it and fed Saad in the slot, making it 2-1 and bringing the sellout crowd to their feet.

The Blackhawks' momentum came screeching to a halt on a power play - make that a two-man advantage - midway through the second. A big issue during the regular season, it continues to haunt the Blackhawks in the playoffs.

They came in 7 for 51 on the power play - 12th among the 16 playoff teams - and that number took another hit when they couldn't convert a five-on three advantage, Horton got called for interference at 7:37 and the Bruins were whistled for having too many men on the ice at 8:20, but Chicago came away empty.

Before Saad's tally, Rask had not given up a goal in 149:36 - he gave up only two goals in a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh - and he saved 54 shots through the first two OTs for the Bruins, who are seeking their second title in three years.

Crawford made 44 stops through the first two overtimes for the Blackhawks, back in the finals for the first time since their championship run three years ago, didn't get much going in this one.

Not since the Montreal Canadiens knocked off the New York Rangers in five games in 1979 had Original Six teams played for the championship. But both these teams have been here, done that, with Chicago winning it all in 2010 and Boston taking the championship the following season.

For the Blackhawks, it was a long climb back.

The buzzer had barely stopped ringing after Kane scored the winning goal against Philadelphia to end a 49-year championship drought when the bulldozer hit Chicago. Salary cap issues forced the Blackhawks to part with a long line of supporting players, and the result was back-to-back first-round playoff losses.

But things sure came together this year. From a 24-game points streak to start to capturing the Presidents' Trophy at the end, no team dominated like Chicago during the regular season. In the playoffs, things haven't been as easy. The Blackhawks took out Minnesota in five games, but had to rally to beat Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals.

They won that one in seven games and didn't blink facing arguably the league's hottest goalie in the conference finals. Instead, they took out Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings, winning Game 5 in overtime on Kane's third goal of the game to get to this point.

The Bruins, meanwhile, nearly got eliminated in the first round but have been on a roll ever since.

It's a big reversal after they blew a 3-1 series lead in Round 1 against Toronto and fell behind by three in the seventh game.

Then they did something no other team had done. They became the first team in league history to take a Game 7 after trailing by three in the third, with Patrice Bergeron scoring the tying and winning goals. Since then, they've made it look easier.

They beat the New York Rangers in five games and swept Pittsburgh, never trailing and allowing just two goals in the series while keeping former MVPs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin without a point.

Now, here they are, the physical Bruins going against high-flying Blackhawks. Both teams came in with hot goalies, with Rask posting a league playoff-high .943 save percentage for Boston and Crawford not far behind at .935.

A big question for the Blackhawks was how they would get around the 6-foot-9 Chara. Coach Joel Quenneville decided to split up Jonathan Toews and Kane and keep one of his biggest stars away from the big defender, after they played on the same line for the last part of the Los Angeles series.

Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:16
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NEW YORK (AP) — Dillon Gee is grateful for the recent spate of bad weather — in more ways than one.

Gee revealed he has tendinitis in his right elbow and was able to make his start Wednesday night because two rainouts last week in Washington pushed his turn back a couple of days.

What a start it was, though.

Gee pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Lucas Duda hit one of three Mets homers and New York scored the most runs allowed by Shelby Miller in his young career for a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"Luckily, the rainouts came at a great time for me personally," Gee said.

The right-hander said he's had tendinitis since spring training and his elbow was checked out by a doctor. Now, it's just a matter of managing the pain.

David Wright and Marlon Byrd also connected for the Mets, who snapped a three-game skid and improved to 2-6 in June. Duda drove in two runs, including a first-inning single that scored Daniel Murphy from first base.

With prized pitching prospect Zack Wheeler nearing his promotion to the big leagues, Gee (5-6) has done everything possible to protect his spot in the rotation. He has yielded only three earned runs over 21 innings in his past three starts — all wins.

The run of poor weather — the Mets have been postponed six times this season — also might help keep Gee in the rotation for at least another start or two. More rain is forecast for Thursday.

"We're looking right now at a possibility of going with the sixth starter for a few days," manager Terry Collins said.

New York needs an extra starter for a makeup doubleheader Tuesday in Atlanta.

A day after being named NL captain for the Home Run Derby during All-Star week at Citi Field, Wright hit a long ball into the center-field seats just to the right of the Big Apple in the sixth.

"I simply didn't execute," Miller said. "A curveball right down the middle to Duda, a fastball right down the middle to Wright. I made mistakes and they capitalized on them."

The NL Central-leading Cardinals entered with the league's best batting average at .277 but could get little going against Gee, who is on a three-game run that's as good as Miller (7-4) has been all season.

Gee scattered six hits and struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings. He gave up a one-out homer in the sixth to Allen Craig — his second in two days against the Mets.

The recent success could not have come at a better time for the crafty Gee, because the Mets plan to call up Wheeler to start one game of Tuesday's doubleheader. While Collins said everyone would get their turn through the rotation, a pitcher will likely be demoted to the bullpen after that to make room for Wheeler — and it most likely will be Gee or Jeremy Hefner.

"You've got to weigh a lot of things, Collins said. "You've got to weigh health. You're going to weigh who could pitch out of the bullpen, who's got credentials out of the bullpen. It could be we can't afford to put somebody in the bullpen, we're going to need a starter at another time."

Miller, on the other hand, has solidified a spot in the Cardinals' rotation with surprising consistency for a 22-year-old. The four runs the Mets scored were the most he's allowed in 19 big league appearances — 13 starts this season. He had allowed three runs three times this year and his ERA is 2.21, up from 1.91 going into the game.

"There are time that it's not just selection (of pitches), but execution," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Sometimes young pitchers with early success in their careers fall into this. It is a tough league, good hitters — they make adjustments. They call this a game of adjustments for a reason."

Miller struck out 10 without a walk in six innings.

The Mets did not score against him over 5 2-3 innings on May 15 but were able to go ahead in the first when Wright lined a two-out double to right-center and scored on Murphy's single.

Running on a pitch to Duda, Murphy, not known for his speed, scored from first when right fielder Carlos Beltran played the line drive down the first base line lackadaisically and made his throw to second base.

"What a great read. He never slowed down," Byrd said. "That's what we need — aggressive."

With one out in the fourth, Duda homered into the Cardinals' bullpen in right-center to end a run of eight straight outs by Miller that began after Duda's RBI single in the first.

Byrd homered off Seth Maness in the seventh.

David Freese went 0 for 4 for the Cardinals, ending his career-best hitting streak at 20 games — longest in the majors this season.

NOTES: Cardinals RHP Jake Westbrook (elbow inflammation) is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Friday night in Miami, but Matheny still has not said who will be sent to the minors to make room. ... Thursday's matinee features a marquee pitching matchup between St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright (9-3) and Mets RHP Matt Harvey (5-0), but heavy rain is in the forecast. ... Mets SS Omar Quintanilla struck out four times. ... Yadier Molina had three hits for St. Louis.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 22:41
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Tony Parker, along with all of San Antonio, really, spent a restless night worrying about a gimpy right hamstring that hampered him in Game 3 of the NBA Finals and threatened the momentum the Spurs seized with a drubbing of the Miami Heat.

A day later, Parker said he got some good news. Just how good the news is likely won't be known until Game 4 begins on Thursday night.

Parker had an MRI on Wednesday that revealed a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring, the mildest level of strain. He's listed as day to day.

"I was just hoping it was not a tear," Parker said. "The good news is it's not a tear or a defect. So that's the good news. Now I just have to see how I feel tomorrow."

Parker was injured early in the second half of Game 3, which the Spurs won 113-77 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. He was limited to six points and eight assists in 27 minutes and left the game early in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided.

Parker did not participate in the portion of practice on Wednesday that was open to the media, instead watching his teammates go through a light workout while spending much of the time in conversation with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

"We'll see how it goes tomorrow. We'll talk with Pop," Parker said. "I know Pop is always going to prefer to take low risk."

When asked about Parker's outlook, Popovich said, "a lot of it will be what he feels, I think."

Parker's injury somewhat muted the celebration in San Antonio following the Spurs' decisive bounce-back victory that put them two wins shy of the franchise's fifth championship.

While the Spurs' role players have been playing incredibly well in these finals, they know they will need Parker's leadership, guts and unparalleled mastery of the pick-and-roll to bury LeBron James and the Heat. Danny Green, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard have been revelations so far in this series, scoring the same number of points (130) through the first three games that the Heat's vaunted trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have managed.

Neal filled in brilliantly for a slowed-down Parker on Tuesday night, scoring 24 points and hitting six 3-pointers to pick up the slack. The Spurs have two more games at home - on Thursday and then Game 5 on Sunday - to try to close out the Heat and avoid having to head back to Miami.

"A lot of the Miami defense is focusing on me and my teammates are taking advantage of it," Parker said. "They're playing great and hopefully they can keep it going."

Still, it feels like a long way to go, because Parker is the engine that keeps this precision machine humming. He entered his fourth NBA Finals at the height of his powers, asserting himself as the best point guard in the game by carrying the Spurs into the showdown with Miami. After scoring 21 points and dishing out six assists in San Antonio's Game 1 win, Parker was averaging 22.9 points and 7.1 assists this playoffs, the best numbers of his career for a postseason that included more than one series.

He scored 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting in their Game 2 loss and was just 2 for 5 on Tuesday night.

As important as his scoring and distributing have been for the Spurs, the confidence he instills with his steady hand on the throttle may be even bigger. The Spurs aren't big on swagger, but they play with a different demeanor when he's on the court slicing and dicing opposing defenses.

"He does a lot for us," Neal said. "If he's not scoring, he's drawing the defense and being a facilitator. He has a great basketball I.Q. He brings a certain amount of confidence and toughness to our team. We definitely need Tony on the floor."

If Parker has to miss Game 4, it no doubt would inject some life into a Heat team that was dazed and staggered in Game 3. A club that won 66 games in the regular season, including 27 straight at one point, and entered the playoffs as the prohibitive favorite to repeat as champions found itself down by 37 points at one point in the loss.

Without Parker on the floor Thursday night, things would be different.

"He is the head of their snake," Heat guard Mario Chalmers said. "I feel like that. The whole team feels like that."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra brushed aside a question about Parker's availability, clearly more disappointed and concerned about his own team's performance in Game 3 than anything happening with the Spurs.

"If we bring the level of effort and focus that we did last night it doesn't matter who plays," Spoelstra said. "We're hoping he plays. We want both teams to be healthy. We don't want any excuses and they don't want any excuses either."

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 22:39
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