Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fedorov, Caps win third straight over Rangers, advance

Game played April 28, 2009

Veteran Sergei Fedorov scored his first goal of the playoffs with less than five minutes to play in regulation as the Washington Capitals completed a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit with a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal Tuesday night in Washington.

The series victory is Washington’s first since 1998, and the Capitals became the 21st team in NHL history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing three games to one.

The game-winner came with 4:59 to play in the third period, when Fedorov scored from the right side past New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to the far post off an assist from Matt Bradley.

The Rangers drew first blood early. With just 5:35 gone in the first period, Nik Antropov beat Capitals rookie tender Simeon Varlamov for his second goal of the playoffs off assists from Brandon Dubinsky and Sean Avery for a 1-0 lead.

Washington scored the equalizer 10 minutes later, when Alexander Semin scored for the fifth time this series with 15:34 elapsed in the first. Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green were credited with helpers.

The Rangers outshot Washington 8-2 in the first period, but the Capitals took 13 shots in the third while New York only took one.

Varlamov, who turned 21 Monday, stopped 14 shots, only surrendering seven goals in six games after taking over for veteran goalie Jose Theodore after a 4-3 loss in Game 1 of the series. Lundqvist made 22 saves in the loss.

Washington moves on to face Pittsburgh, which beat Philadelphia in six games to advance.

NOTES: Washington’s last series win was over Buffalo in the 1998 conference finals … Capitals captain Chris Clark played for the first time since Jan. 27 in Boston, after undergoing wrist surgery … Washington’s Donald Brashear and the Rangers’ Blair Betts did not play. Brashear was serving the first game of his six-game NHL suspension, five of which are for a hit that broke an orbital bone in Betts’ left eye socket and gave him a concussion in Game 6. Artem Anisimov played in his second career NHL game in place of Betts.


Video credit – CSN

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Red Sox win 10th straight, complete sweep of Yankees

Game played April 26, 2009

Justin Masterson limited the New York offense to one run over 5 1-3 innings, David Ortiz recorded two runs batted in and Jacoby Ellsbury stole home as the Boston Red Sox finished off a three-game sweep of the Yankees with a 4-1 win in Boston Sunday night.

The win was Boston’s 10th straight. The winning streak is the longest April winning streak in team history and the longest overall since taking 12 straight from June 16-29, 2006.

With the score tied at one, the Red Sox scored the game’s final three runs in the fifth inning. Jason Varitek led off by drawing a walk from Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. After Ellsbury reached on a one-out walk, Ortiz doubled to left field, scoring Varitek to break the tie and sending Ellsbury to third.

With New York third baseman Angel Berroa playing deep and the left-handed Pettitte facing first base, Ellsbury took a huge lead off third base and broke for the plate. He stumbled just before crossing the plate but easily beat catcher Jorge Posada’s tag after Pettitte’s delivery home. It was the first straight steal of home by a Red Sox player in 10 years.

J.D. Drew then hit a ground-rule double to right to score Ortiz to cap the scoring at 4-1.

New York scored the game’s first run in the third. Hideki Matsui led off with a single to left, moved to third on Berroa’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a Brett Gardner sac fly to left for a 1-0 edge.

Boston knotted the score in the bottom of the inning. Ellsbury reached on a forceout, stole second and scored on Ortiz’s sac fly to left for the equalizer.

Masterson (2-0), who is filling in for Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation after Matsuzaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain, scattered six hits over his time on the mound, striking out four and walking one. Hunter Jones, Michael Bowden and Takashi Saito then came on and proceeded to retire 10 straight Yankees at one point, with Saito earning his second save of the year and giving closer Jonathan Papelbon the night off.

For the Yankees, Robinson Cano and Matsui each went 2-for-4.

Pettitte (2-1) took the loss, allowing four runs on six hits over six innings. Mark Melancon made his major league debut in relief for New York and pitched two scoreless frames.

NOTES: Boston’s Mike Lowell stretched his hitting streak to 10 games … For the first time in 18 games this season, Nick Swisher failed to reach base after going 0-for-4 … Derek Jeter’s streak of four straight multi-hit games ended … Pettitte faced the Red Sox for the 33rd time in his career and made his 31st start. He is 16-9 lifetime against Boston … Ortiz has not homered in his last 21 games, his longest drought since 42 straight homerless contests with Minnesota in 2002 … The Sox (12-6) are second in the AL East, trailing Toronto by a game. New York (9-9) is in third, four games back of the Blue Jays … Boston returns to action Monday night at Cleveland in the opener of a three-game set, with Tim Wakefield slated to work. The Yankees travel to Detroit for three, with C.C. Sabathia kicking off the series Monday night.


Video credit – ESPN

Saturday, April 25, 2009

No. 22 Gators clinch series win over S. Carolina, 8-3

Game played April 25, 2009

The No. 22 Florida Gators scored five unanswered runs over their final three at-bats on their way to an 8-3 win over South Carolina Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, Fla.

The victory clinched Florida’s second series win over the Gamecocks in their last 10 tries.

With the score knotted at three, the Gators reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Brandon McArthur hit a one-out infield single off Gamecocks starter Nolan Belcher. Then, with reliever Curtis Johnson on for Carolina, Teddy Foster hit into a fielder’s choice, and Gamecocks shortstop Bobby Haney, who had made the force play at second, then committed a throwing error, allowing McArthur to score.

Then, in the seventh frame, Florida sent eight batters to the plate and scored three more runs. Avery Barnes led off with a single to center and stole second. Daniel Pigott walked and Preston Tucker was credited with an infield single after Carolina second baseman Casey Rihn dropped the ball trying to force Pigott out at second, loading the bases.

Matt den Dekker’s groundout to first scored Barnes for a 5-3 lead. McArthur then doubled to left, and Pigott and Tucker scored for a 7-3 edge.

The Gators manufactured one more insurance run in the eighth. Mike Mooney drew a leadoff walk from South Carolina reliever Michael Roth and advanced to second on Barnes’ sacrifice bunt. Mooney took third on Jonathan Pigott’s single and scored on Tucker’s groundout to Roth to close the scorebook at 8-3.

The Gamecocks drew first blood their first time at the plate. Whit Merrifield led off with an infield single off Florida starter Anthony DeSclafani’s glove, took third on DeAngelo Mack’s single off DeSclafani’s leg and scored on Nick Ebert’s sac fly to right.

Florida took the lead in the bottom half of the frame. Barnes led off with a home run to right-center. Daniel Pigott reached on South Carolina’s Andrew Crisp’s throwing error and scored on Tucker’s double down the left-field line for a 2-1 lead.

Foster doubled the Gators’ lead in the second on a one-out solo shot to left.

South Carolina then drew even in the sixth inning. Haney led off with a single to center and Mack hit a one-out double to deep right-center. Ebert then singled to left, scoring Haney and Mack, who beat the play at the plate when catcher Buddy Munroe dropped Barnes’ strong throw.

Barnes and Tucker each had three-hit performances for Florida.

DeSclafani lasted 5 1/3 innings, yielding three runs on six hits, no walks and three strikeouts. Tony Davis (5-0) picked up the win in relief, allowing a hit and a walk over two scoreless innings, with three strikeouts. Closer Billy Bullock earned his seventh save of the season, allowing one hit over the final 1 2-3 frames.

Mack led the South Carolina offense, going 3-for-4, while Merrifield chipped in two base hits.

Belcher (2-3) was the pitcher of record for the Gamecocks. He worked 5 1-3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, with four walks and four punchouts.

NOTES: Florida has won nine of its last 11 games, including a 9-4 victory Friday night … South Carolina has still won 10 of the teams’ last 14 meetings … Florida’s last series victory over the Gamecocks was in 2005 in Gainesville … Florida (30-14, 12-8 SEC) stands in fourth in the SEC standings, with Georgia leading the league. South Carolina fell to eighth place … The series finale will take place Sunday afternoon. Blake Cooper is the scheduled pitcher for the Gamecocks; Florida has not announced a starter.


Audio credit – Yahoo! Sports/ Gator Baseball Radio Network

Young homer in ninth gives Rangers 5-4 win over O’s

Game played April 24, 2009

BALTIMORE – Texas’ Michael Young hit a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning, his third big ninth-inning homer in five games, as the Rangers came back to defeat the Orioles 5-4 in the opener of a four-game series Friday night.

Trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth against Baltimore closer George Sherrill, the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler singled to left with two outs to set the table for Young, who then homered to right field.

Frank Francisco then came on out of the Texas bullpen and proceeded to retire the heart of the Oriole order one-two-three to end the game and earn the save.

The Rangers drew first blood in the third inning. Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled to right field off Baltimore starter Koji Uehara and scored on Kinsler’s single to left.

Baltimore then took the lead in the bottom of the fourth frame against Texas starter Vicente Padilla. Adam Jones singled to left with one out, and Nick Markakis singled before Aubrey Huff’s double to the center-field wall scored Jones and Markakis.

Huff took third base on the throw home, and with two down, he scored on a Padilla balk for a 3-1 advantage.

The Orioles added another run in their next time at the plate, when Brian Roberts hit a one-out solo shot to right field, to take a 4-1 lead.

Texas began its comeback in the seventh inning, when Hank Blalock led off the inning with a home run that just barely crept over the right-field fence.

Then, in the eighth, against Orioles reliever Jim Johnson, Young singled with one out and Blalock singled with two down, moving Young to third. Marlon Byrd reached on an infield single, scoring Young to cut the Rangers’ deficit to 4-3.

For Texas, Saltalamacchia went 3-for-4, while Kinsler, Young and Blalock each contributed two hits.

Padilla lasted 6 2-3 frames of seven-hit, four-run baseball, with three walks and four strikeouts. Eddie Guardado and Darren O’Day each faced one batter before C.J. Wilson (1-2) came on out of the bullpen and fired a scoreless inning to get the win. Francisco earned his third save of the season.

Huff went 2-for-4 to lead the Oriole offense, while Jones also chipped in two hits.

Uehara worked 6 2-3 masterful innings against a Ranger offense that rocked him April 13, allowing two runs on four hits with zero walks and six strikeouts and tipping his hat to the crowd upon being lifted during the seventh inning. Jamie Walker, Chris Ray and Johnson then worked for Baltimore before Sherrill (0-1) came on, blowing his first save of the year, allowing two runs on two hits over 1 1-3 innings.

NOTES: Uehara allowed seven earned runs over five-plus innings in Arlington, Texas in his second start of the season April 13 … Markakis has an 11-game hitting streak and has reached base in 25 straight contests, the majors’ longest active streak … The series resumes Saturday night, when Scott Feldman is slated to work for the Rangers and Mark Hendrickson will pitch for Baltimore … After Friday night’s action, Texas (7-9) stands in second in the AL West, 3.5 games back of Seattle, while the Orioles (8-9) are fourth in the East, 4.5 behind Toronto.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cubs capitalize on Brewers walks, win series, 8-5

Game played April 12, 2009

The Chicago Cubs offense drew 10 walks from Brewers pitchers and escaped a couple of jams en route to an 8-5 series-clinching win in Milwaukee Sunday night.

The Cubs took the lead for good in the top of the fourth inning against Brewers starter Jeff Suppan, who hit Milton Bradley to lead off the inning. Suppan walked Mike Fontenot with one out and Ryan Theriot singled to load the bases, with pinch hitter Reed Johnson replacing Bradley at third after Bradley appeared to sustain an injury to his right groin.

Suppan proceeded to issue a free pass to Koyie Hill, forcing in Johnson. Then, with two out, Alfonso Soriano drew a walk to score Theriot, and Kosuke Fukudome walked to score Hill for a 4-1 lead and chase Suppan.

Milwaukee reliever Jorge Julio then walked Derrek Lee, forcing in pitcher Ryan Dempster to give Chicago a 5-1 advantage.

Corey Hart got one run back for the Brewers immediately on a leadoff jack to right-center in the bottom of the fourth.

However, the Cubs methodically added another run in the fifth. Fontenot drew a one-out walk and Theriot doubled over Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun’s head to the wall, scoring Fontenot to reclaim a 6-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Brewers narrowly missed tying the game but did cut their deficit in half. Rickie Weeks led off with a single to center, Craig Counsell singled to right and Dempster hit Braun to load the bases with none down. Prince Fielder then launched into a pitch and hit it over the fence, but Johnson made a spectacular leaping catch to rob Fielder of a game-tying grand slam.

Weeks did score from third on Fielder’s sac fly, and Counsell came in on Hardy’s groundout to third to make the score 6-4.

Chicago added one more insurance run in the both the eighth and ninth innings. Pinch hitter Joey Gathright drew a leadoff free pass from Milwaukee reliever Seth McClung, stole second base and scored on Lee’s sac fly to right.

Then, in the ninth, Brewers pitcher Mitch Stetter walked Theriot with two down, and Hill doubled down the left-field line, scoring Theriot from first for an 8-4 lead.

The Cubs and closer Kevin Gregg then had to survive the ninth, which wasn’t without its bumps, as Weeks hit a two-out home to deep left field, Counsell doubled and Braun walked to again give Fielder the chance to tie the game.

However, Gregg struck Fielder out swinging to end the game and preserve the win.

Chicago wasted no time taking its first lead. Soriano hit Suppan’s first pitch of the night out to center field for a 1-0 lead.

Milwaukee evened the score in the bottom half of the frame. Weeks hit a leadoff single to left off Dempster and scored on J.J. Hardy’s one-out sac fly to center to knot the score.

Theriot was 2-for-4 to lead the Cubs offense, which only registered five hits.

Dempster (1-0) allowed four runs on six hits over six innings, with three walks and six strikeouts. Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol each worked a perfect inning before Gregg worked the ninth.

Weeks went 3-for-5 for Milwaukee. Counsell was 2-for-3 on the night.

Suppan (0-2) took the loss, working 3 2-3 innings, allowing five runs on two hits and six walks, with one strikeout. Julio pitched 2 1-3 frames, and allowed a run, with two walks, while McClung worked two frames and Stetter pitched one inning, each yielding one run and one walk.

NOTES: Dempster is 9-1 in his career as a starter against Milwaukee … Geovany Soto pinch hit for the Cubs in the ninth after leaving Tuesday’s game against Houston with right shoulder inflammation. He is expected to return to full-time duty by Wednesday … Chicago (4-2) trails 5-2 St. Louis by half a game in the NL Central, while the Brewers (2-4) are in fifth place … The Cubs return to action Monday afternoon for their home opener and the first of a two-game set with Colorado, with Ted Lilly scheduled to pitch. Milwaukee will host Cincinnati for the first of three Monday night, with Yovani Gallardo working.


Video credit – ESPN

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Yankees play long ball, avoid sweep in Baltimore

Game played April 9, 2009

BALTIMORE – The New York Yankees backed a strong effort by new starter A.J. Burnett with homers from fellow newcomers Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher to beat Baltimore 11-2 Thursday afternoon to salvage the finale of their season-opening three-game series.

Leading 3-2, the Yankees broke the game open in the top of the sixth inning, sending eight men to the plate and scoring four runs. Teixeira led off with a single down the right field line off Orioles starter Alfredo Simon. Robinson Cano singled down the left field line with one out off Baltimore reliever Brian Bass, and Swisher singled through third baseman Ty Wigginton’s glove to left to score Teixeira.

Bass walked Cody Ransom to load the bases before inducing a ground ball back to himself from Brett Gardner. However, attempting the force play at home, Bass threw the ball wildly beyond the reach of catcher Chad Moeller, and Cano and Swisher scored on the play.

Jose Molina then blooped a single to shallow right just beyond the reach of first baseman Aubrey Huff, sending Ransom home for a 7-2 New York edge.

New York then played tack-on, adding two runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth. Xavier Nady hit a ground-rule double to left with two down in the seventh to set the stage for Cano, who homered to left-center.

Then, in the ninth, Swisher hit a two-RBI double to right, scoring Ramiro Pena, who had just singled for his first career major-league hit, and Cano, who singled to defensive replacement second baseman Ryan Freel. That closed the scorebook at 11-2.

Baltimore scored first in the third frame. Felix Pie led off with a single, stole second base and moved to third on Moeller’s single off Cano’s glove. He then scored on Brian Roberts’ one-out single to center for a 1-0 lead.

The Orioles loaded the bases on a Nick Markakis walk with two out, but Burnett struck out Aubrey Huff swinging and then pumped his fist as the inning ended.

The Yankees then took the lead in the fourth. Teixeira hit Simon’s first offering of the inning out to center field. Cano then walked with one out before Swisher homered to right to seize a 3-1 advantage.

The Orioles got one run back in the bottom of the fourth inning on Luke Scott’s homer to left-center.

Cano went 3-for-4 to lead the Yankees offense, while Swisher was 3-for-5 with five RBI. Gardner went 2-for-4, while Teixeira, who was roundly booed again every time he stepped to the plate after spurning an offer from his hometown Orioles to sign with New York this past offseason, was 2-for-5.

Burnett (1-0) lasted 5 1-3 innings, yielding two runs on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts. Phil Coke, Jose Veras, Brian Bruney and closer Mariano Rivera, making his first appearance of the season, combined to shut down the Baltimore offense the rest of the way.

For Baltimore, Moeller was 2-for-3, and Pie went 2-for-4.

Simon (0-1) pitched five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. Bass gave up five runs on five hits over two innings, Matt Albers worked a scoreless inning and Chris Ray yielded two runs in one inning of work.

NOTES: Burnett is 8-1 in his career against Baltimore and 4-0 at Camden Yards … A moment of silence was observed before the game in honor of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22, who was one of three people killed in Fullerton, Calif., early Thursday by a suspected drunk driver. Adenhart, who hailed from nearby Williamsport, Md., pitched six scoreless innings in a no-decision against Oakland Wednesday night. Thursday’s Athletics-Angels game was postponed … New York (1-2) travels to Kansas City for a three-game series, with Andy Pettitte slated to start Friday afternoon. The Orioles (2-1) will host Tampa Bay for three games, pitching Mark Hendrickson Friday night.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tar Heels dominate Michigan State 89-72 for title

Game played April 6, 2009

Ty Lawson scored 21 points and Final Four most outstanding player Wayne Ellington added 19 as the No. 2 top-seeded Tar Heels forced 21 turnovers, ran out to a huge early lead and beat No. 8 Michigan State 89-72 Monday night in Detroit to win the national title.

North Carolina set two first-half marks for dominance, scoring 55 points in the first stanza, a title game record, and led by 21 points at halftime, another record.

The Heels led ever since a Danny Green 3-pointer one minute into the game gave them a 5-3 lead, and the advantage grew to 24 with just under five minutes to play in the first half at 46-22 after Ellington sank two 3s in two minutes. Carolina’s halftime advantage was 55-34.

The Spartans managed to cut their deficit to 13 with just under five minutes to play at 76-63, but could get no closer, with Lawson hitting seven of eight free throws down the stretch.

Tyler Hansbrough scored 18 points and Ed Davis chipped in 11 for Carolina. Lawson made eight steals during the game, the most in championship game history.

Goran Suton posted a double-double, scoring 17 points to lead Michigan State and pulling down 11 rebounds. Kalin Lucas added 14 points and Durrell Summers contributed 13.

The championship is the Tar Heels’ fifth overall and second in five years, after hoisting the hardware in 1957, 1982, 1993 and 2005.

NOTES: The Tar Heels have won the series’ last four meetings, including a 98-63 win Dec. 3 at Ford Field … The night’s announced attendance was 72,922 people, a new championship game record … Carolina finishes the season 34-4, while the Spartans came in at 31-7.


Video credit – CBS

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Braves’ Lowe delivers 4-1 win in opener over Phillies

Game played April 5, 2009

Derek Lowe worked eight scoreless innings in his Atlanta debut as the Braves spoiled the defending champion Phillies’ season opener with a 4-1 victory in Philadelphia Sunday night.

The Braves wasted no time taking the lead in their first at-bat of the season. Chipper Jones blooped a two-out single to left field off Philadelphia starter Brett Myers before Brian McCann laced an upper-deck shot to right for a 2-0 lead.

Atlanta then doubled its advantage in the second. Jeff Francoeur pulled Myers’ first pitch of the second inning out of the yard to left field, and Jordan Schafer added a one-out home run to left-center in his first career major-league at-bat to take a 4-0 advantage.

The Phillies finally mounted their first serious threat of the night in the ninth frame. Pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett started off the inning against Braves closer Mike Gonzalez with a double down the left-field line into the corner, then moved to second on Jimmy Rollins’ flyout to right.

Jayson Werth then laced a single past Jones to left field, scoring Bruntlett to dent the scoreboard at 4-1. Gonzalez then walked Chase Utley to bring Philadelphia’s potential tying run to the plate in the form of Ryan Howard.

However, Gonzalez struck out Howard looking and Raul Ibanez swinging to end it, preserving a 4-1 Opening Night win for the Braves.

Lowe (1-0) yielded two hits and zero walks over eight frames, with four strikeouts. Gonzalez gave up one run on two hits with a walk and two punchouts.

Schafer was two-for-three on the night, while Jones went two-for-four.

Myers (0-1) allowed four runs on eight hits over six innings, with a walk and six strikeouts. Jack Taschner, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge worked the final three frames in relief for the Phillies.

The season-opening three-game set continues Tuesday night, with Jair Jurrjens scheduled to work for the Braves and Jamie Moyer on for Philadelphia.

NOTES: Schafer became the 99th player in history to hit a home run in his first major-league at-bat … Lowe had lost all three of his previous Opening Day starts … Myers was making his third straight Opening Day start in place of Cole Hamels, who has inflammation in his left elbow and is expected to make his first start April 10 at Colorado.


Video credit – ESPN2