Monday, August 31, 2009

Kentucky transfer Delph settling in at Asbury

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

WILMORE, Ky. -- Former University of Kentucky guard Adam Delph has enrolled at Asbury College and will suit up for the basketball Eagles this season.

Delph immediately becomes the highest-profile player on Asbury’s current roster and has to be considered among the biggest names in Eagles history. He will have four seasons of eligibility, since he did not see action as a preferred walk-on for last year’s Wildcats.

Delph joined the Kentucky team last season under then-coach Billy Gillispie. However, Gillispie’s dismissal after last season and the hiring of new ‘Cats coach John Calipari forced Delph to look elsewhere, since Calipari does not normally use walk-ons. Given the opportunity to either remain at Kentucky as a student manager to help coach the team or transfer elsewhere to stay on the floor, Delph chose to move on.

“I was really looking at a place where I would play right away, a place that would fit me and I’d get along with the teammates, and somewhere close to home,” Delph said of his decision. Additionally, he only had approximately three weeks to find a school, since he said he did not find out he would have to leave Kentucky until Aug. 1.

Asbury coach Will Shouse believes Delph is beginning to fit right in on campus and on the court.

“One thing that’s really helped with Adam is how humble he is,” Shouse said. “I almost wonder if spending a year at UK and watching a lot from the sidelines has kind of humbled him, but he’s hungry and ready to play. That’s what I think the biggest surprise is about Adam, he’s very down to earth. You would never know he was a UK transfer because he’s very outgoing and blends in well.”

Shouse added that having a big-name player at Asbury should only help the program in the future, in terms of exposure.

“You put ‘UK’ next to a player’s name in Kentucky, it automatically gets some people to take notice,” Shouse said. “Hopefully they’ll look at us a few more times in the paper and see how we’re doing. With more interest comes more people who want to be a part of the program. It helps all around.”

On the floor, Shouse said Delph should fit into Asbury’s fast-paced style because of his athletic ability.

“Short term, [Delph] gives us a guard that’s athletic, because most of our guards are quick and good shooters, but they’re not the athletes that we normally get, so it’s something that I can work with as far as how we play,” Shouse said. “We play up and down and get to the rim. He gives us something that we really needed from that guard position.”

Additionally, Shouse says Delph can continue to improve at this level of play.

“We’re going to try to expand his game,” Shouse said. “He can shoot it, but his strength right now is his athleticism. It’s crazy to say, but his athleticism is a little bit better than his fundamentals right now, so we’re going to add those together and turn him into a real nice player for us.”

Delph, a sophomore communications major, attended Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, where he was named the Kentucky 6th Region player of the year his senior season. He averaged 28 points per game that year.

Delph first learned about Asbury from two former high school teammates who are now Eagles, junior Phillip Morrison and freshman Nathan Johnson. Their high school coach had built a relationship with Shouse, which contributed to Delph’s decision. He chose Asbury over IU Southeast, Kentucky Wesleyan, Northern Kentucky and Mid-Continent.

For his part, Delph appears to be engaged with the program at Asbury. He believes the Eagles program is “on the rise” and is motivated. Delph’s stated goals for the team this season are to improve upon last year’s 21-win season and to “get to the big [NAIA] tournament, if not win it.”

He is one of 12 new players on the Eagles’ roster. Shouse said that “this freshman class is very good anyway, but Adam being there is like icing on the cake.”

Asbury, the 2009 NCCAA Mid-East region champion, begins the regular season at home against St. Catharine in the Zweifel Classic Nov. 6.

Reprinted with permission from the Asbury Collegian.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blanton, Ruiz, Phillies knock off sloppy Braves, 3-2

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Joe Blanton shut down a punchless Braves offense, Carlos Ruiz went 3-for-3 and the Phillies capitalized on two key late Atlanta errors as the Phillies won 3-2 in Philadelphia Sunday night, winning the NL East rivals’ three-game series.

With the score tied at 1 in the seventh inning, Philadelphia got some help from the Braves to take the lead. After Raul Ibanez drew a leadoff walk, Atlanta’s Chipper Jones’ throwing error on Pedro Feliz’s sacrifice bunt allowed Ibanez to reach third base and Feliz to get to second.

Braves left fielder Garret Anderson proceeded to drop Ruiz’s fly ball, allowing Ibanez and Feliz to score to take a 3-1 lead.

Jones made up for his error in the top of the next frame, singling home Matt Diaz, who was hit by a pitch. Atlanta still had two runners on with no outs, but Scott Eyre induced a double-play ball from Brian McCann and another groundout from Anderson to end the threat.

Brad Lidge then came on for the ninth and worked an uncharacteristically drama-free inning, setting down the Braves 1-2-3 to end the game.

Atlanta drew first blood in the top of the first inning when Martin Prado hit a one-out homer off Blanton to left field.

Philadelphia evened the score in the fourth against Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens, when Chase Utley lined the equalizer over the right-field wall.

Blanton (9-6) held Atlanta to one run on three hits over seven innings, with seven strikeouts and four walks. Lidge picked up his 27th save.

Ruiz had three RBI to lead the Phillies offense. Ryan Howard went 2-for-4.

Prado was the only Braves hitter to get multiple hits, going 3-for-4.

Jurrjens (10-9) was the hard-luck loser for the Braves, yielding seven hits and three runs, two earned, over seven innings. He had two walks and two strikeouts.

NOTES: Philadelphia has won 21 of 29 at home … Jurrjens has gotten two runs of support or less in six of his last seven starts … Blanton has reached the seventh inning in nine of his last 10 games … Atlanta’s Adam LaRoche returned after leaving Saturday’s game with a sore right hip … The Phillies’ Matt Stairs is hitless in his last 27 at-bats after striking out as a pinch hitter in the seventh. He has not gotten a hit since July 17 … Philadelphia (75-53) remains atop the East. The Braves (68-62) are tied with Florida for second place in both the division and NL wild-card races, eight games out in the division and 3.5 games back of Colorado and San Francisco in the wild card … The Phillies are off Monday before beginning a three-game series with the Giants, with Cole Hamels working Tuesday night. Atlanta travels to Florida for a key four-game series. Tim Hudson is set to make his season debut on the mound Monday night.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – ESPN

Greenville whitewashes Legends, 9-0

MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL -- SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ryan Lavarnway went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs to lead the Greenville Drive to a 9-0 win over the Lexington Legends in the opener of a three-game series Saturday night.

Already leading 1-0, the Drive opened up a big early lead with a three-run third against Lexington starter Kyle Greenwalt. Lavarnway doubled to left with one out and scored on Will Middlebrooks’ single to left.

Middlebrooks took second base on a Greenwalt wild pitch and scored on Kade Keowen’s double to right. Tyler Weeden singled Keowen home for a 4-0 edge.

Oscar Tejeda led off the Greenville fourth with a single to center, stole second and scored on Peter Hissey’s double to center.

The Drive then added three more in the sixth on Lavarnway’s 20th home run of the season, scoring Tejeda, who had singled, and Hissey, who had walked.

Greenville tacked on one final run in the top of the ninth. Zach Gentile drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double play to close the scorebook at 9-0.

Lavarnway put the Drive on top in the first, singling to right with one out to score Hissey, who had doubled into the left-field corner to lead off the game.

Weeden and Tejeda each went 3-for-5 for Greenville. Hissey was 2-for-5.

Stolmy Pimentel (10-7) got the win for the Drive, holding Lexington scoreless and scattering two hits across five innings, with four walks and four strikeouts. Mitch Herold and Kyle Rutter combined to work the final four scoreless innings in relief.

Greenwalt (8-13) was the losing pitcher of record, yielding five runs on 10 hits over three frames. He recorded one strikeout and no free passes.

NOTES: Lexington had won five of six after an 11-game losing streak … Keowen and Mitch Dening came off the DL for the Drive before the game … Greenville has won seven of the teams’ 11 meetings this season … Middlebrooks and Hissey extended their hitting streaks to 14 and 11 games, respectively … Greenville (68-61, 29-32 second half), the first-half SAL Southern Division champion, trails Asheville by 8.5 games in second-half play. Lexington (61-70, 25-36) sits dead last at eighth in the division, 12.5 games back of the Tourists … The teams meet again Sunday afternoon, when Greenville’s Fabian Williamson will oppose the Legends’ Jordan Lyles.

BOX SCORE

Friday, August 21, 2009

Martin grand slam leads Dodgers to 7-2 win over Cubs

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Russell Martin hit a sixth-inning grand slam to pace the Dodgers to a 7-2 victory over Chicago in Los Angeles Thursday night, taking the opener of their four-game series.

NL-leading Los Angeles, which had lost five of its last seven games, kept pace with hard-charging Colorado to retain a 3.5-game lead atop the West, while the Cubs dropped to seven games behind St. Louis in the Central and six games back of the Rockies in the wild-card chase.

With the score tied at two in the sixth, Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake each singled to center and reliever Angel Guzman intentionally walked James Loney to set the stage for Martin with one out. Martin responded with a blast to left-center to open up a 6-2 Dodger lead.

Los Angeles drew first blood in the first inning. Rafael Furcal led off with a single and took second base on Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny’s throwing error. Andre Ethier’s fielder’s choice then scored Furcal.

The Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome hit a one-out home run to right field off L.A. starter Jeff Weaver in the second inning to tie the game. Furcal singled home Martin, who had walked, with two out in the bottom of the second before Aramis Ramirez knocked in Milton Bradley, who reached on a hit-by-pitch, with a single to again tie the game in the third.

The Dodgers tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. L.A.’s Ramirez doubled with two out and came around on Blake’s single to close the scorebook at 7-2.

Martin finished 1-for-3 with four RBI. Ramirez went 3-for-4 for L.A., Matt Kemp and Blake were 2-for-4 and Furcal went 2-for-5.

Reliever Ronald Belisario (2-3) got the win in relief for the Dodgers. Weaver went 5 1-3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Gorzelanny worked five innings of two-run, five-hit ball, retiring the final 10 hitters he faced before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. He walked one batter and struck out four before making way for Guzman (2-3), who allowed four runs on three hits over one frame.

Fukudome went 3-for-3 for Chicago. Derrek Lee was 2-for-5.

NOTES:
Manny Ramirez had been 1 for his last 14 coming in … Chicago has lost 10 of 14 … The Cubs are 3-11 on the road against NL West teams … Fukudome’s homer was his 11th of the season, a career high … Chicago’s Jeff Baker extended his hitting streak to 10 games, a new career high … The Dodgers (72-50) will send Randy Wolf to the mound Friday night to oppose Randy Wells for Chicago (61-58).

BOX SCORE


Video credit – WGN

Monday, August 17, 2009

Howard, Happ pace Phillies to series win in Atlanta

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Ryan Howard hit two home runs, rookie J.A. Happ put together another strong start and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Braves 4-1 in Atlanta Sunday night, winning the three-game weekend series.

The Phillies first had to wait out a rain delay of approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes before winning for the fifth time in six games and extending their NL East lead over second-place Florida to 4.5 games. The third-place Braves sit six games out.

Howard’s second homer of the night put the Phillies on top for good. With the score tied at one, Howard drove a one-out, three-run shot off Atlanta starter Javier Vazquez to right, scoring Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, who had each singled.

That was enough for Happ (9-2), who limited the Braves offense to one run on three hits over 7 2-3 innings, and the Phillies bullpen.

Howard’s first home run, a leadoff jack in the second that just barely cleared the wall in right-center, gave Philadelphia its first lead at 1-0.

The Braves’ Matt Diaz tied the game with a two-out opposite-field solo homer to right in the fourth.

Howard went 3-for-3 with four RBI for Philadelphia. Victorino was 2-for-4.

Beleaguered Phillies closer Brad Lidge earned a one-out save, his 23rd of the season. He forced Omar Infante to pop out to second to end the game, stranding a runner.

Diaz went 2-for-4 to lead the Atlanta offense.
Vazquez (10-8) allowed four runs on six hits over seven innings. He struck out seven batters and walked two.

NOTES: Philadelphia’s 37-20 record away from home is the best in the majors … Howard put up his 20th career multi-homer game. That ties him for the third-most in team history with Dick Allen … Happ has worked at least six innings in each of his last 11 starts … Howard knocked in a run for the seventh straight game … Vazquez had won five straight decisions … Atlanta lost for just the third time in their last 11 games … The Braves have won eight of the teams’ 12 meetings this season … Atlanta’s Nate McLouth was out of the lineup with a left hamstring injury. He left Saturday’s contest in the fifth inning … The Braves (61-56) are 3.5 games behind Colorado in the NL wild-card race … The Phillies (66-49) are off Monday and begin a three-game home series with Arizona, with Pedro Martinez scheduled to pitch Tuesday night. Atlanta hosts the Diamondbacks Monday afternoon in a makeup of a May 17 rainout, with Tommy Hanson on the mound, before heading to New York for a three-game series with the Mets.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – ESPN

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pirates-Cubs series finale rained out

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

The Pirates-Cubs game scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Chicago was postponed after a rain delay of approximately three and a half hours.

No makeup date was announced. Pittsburgh and Chicago are scheduled to face off in two more series this season -- Sept. 7-9 in Pittsburgh, and Sept. 29- Oct. 1 in Chicago.

The Cubs have already clinched the series after their victories Friday, 17-2, and Saturday, 3-1. They have taken six of the teams' eight meetings this season.

NOTES: Chicago's Ryan Theriot, who has hit safely in all eight games against Pittsburgh this season, was out with stomach flu symptoms and was not at the park ... The Cubs' Aramis Ramirez, who has not started in seven consecutive games with a sore shoulder and a head cold, was in the lineup before the rainout ... Chicago (60-55) remains in second place in the NL Central, five games back of division leader St. Louis. The Cubs trail Colorado by 3.5 games in the wild-card race. The Pirates (46-70) are 19.5 games out in the Central, in sixth place ... Pittsburgh, which has lost 12 of 13, heads home for a three-game series with Milwaukee, with Kevin Hart on the mound Monday night. The Cubs head to San Diego for three games. Ted Lilly will work Monday night.

Video credit -- WGN

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brewers out-slug Padres, hold off comeback, 12-9

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

MILWAUKEE – One day after a shakeup that included J.J. Hardy’s demotion and Bill Hall’s designation for assignment, the Brewers offense exploded.

Prince Fielder and Mike Rivera each hit two of Milwaukee’s five home runs as the Brewers nearly squandered a 9-0 lead but hung on for a 12-9 victory over San Diego Thursday afternoon, avoiding a three-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Padres.

The Brewers spoiled San Diego starter Cesar Carrillo’s major-league debut early, beginning the carnage in the second inning. Fielder launched a leadoff jack 465 feet off the center-field scoreboard. Carrillo then hit Mike Cameron and walked Jody Gerut before yielding Rivera’s three-run bomb to center for a 4-0 lead.

Milwaukee continued to pour it on in the third. Carrillo hit leadoff batter Craig Counsell and gave up a Ryan Braun homer to left, then walked Cameron with one out before Gerut’s double to left scored Cameron and ended Carrillo’s outing.

Rivera then connected for his second homer of the afternoon off reliever Luis Perdomo, opening up a 9-0 advantage.

However, the Milwaukee pitching staff showed more of the same result that got pitching coach Bill Castro fired as part of Wednesday’s transactions. With one out in the fifth, Manny Parra surrendered four straight singles, with Chase Headley singling in David Eckstein and Kevin Kouzmanoff scoring Adrian Gonzalez.

Nick Hundley’s sacrifice fly to center then scored Headley to cut San Diego’s deficit to 9-3.

The Brewers got two of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, on Fielder’s second homer of the game and Parra’s RBI single to score Gerut, who had singled.

The Padres were right back at it in the sixth. Pinch hitter Oscar Salazar led off with his first homer of the season, and with one out, Gonzalez’s homer to center scored Tony Gwynn Jr., who had reached on an infield single, making the score 11-6, Brewers.

Milwaukee tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, when Felipe Lopez doubled home Alcides Escobar, who had reached on an infield single.

However, Lopez’s defensive error helped San Diego’s eighth-inning efforts. Kouzmanoff’s one-out single to center scored Gonzalez, who had walked. Lopez then dropped Hundley’s easy pop fly, scoring Headley, who had reached on a free pass. Everth Cabrera’s single to right then scored Kouzmanoff and, unbelievably, brought the potential tying run to the plate in the form of pinch hitter Will Venable.

However, Mitch Stetter came on in relief and retired Venable to end the eighth, and closer Trevor Hoffman retired the Padres side 1-2-3 in the ninth.

Fielder, Gerut and Rivera were each 2-for-4 for Milwaukee. Rivera picked up five RBI on his first two long balls of the season.

Parra (8-8) won his fifth straight decision despite allowing six runs on 13 hits over 5 2-3 innings. He walked two batters and struck out seven. Hoffman recorded his 26th save of the season.

Kouzmanoff concluded a stellar series with a 5-for-5 performance, with two RBI. Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two RBI and Kyle Blanks was 2-for-5.

Carrillo (0-1) gave up eight runs on four hits in 2 1-3 frames, with two walks and a punchout.

NOTES: Fielder’s first home run tied for the third-longest home run hit at Miller Park … Carrillo is the 13th different starting pitcher San Diego has used this season … Escobar registered his first hit in his third appearance of the season after his call-up from Triple-A Nashville Wednesday, taking Hardy’s roster spot … Headley extended his hitting streak to nine games … Milwaukee (56-58) was seven games back of NL Central-leading St. Louis, in third place at the end of play Thursday. The Brewers trail Colorado by 7.5 games in the wild-card race. San Diego (49-67), dead last in the West, trails the division-leading Dodgers by 20.5 games … The Brewers next begin a three-game series with Houston, with Yovani Gallardo pitching Friday night. The Padres travel to St. Louis for three contests. Mat Latos is scheduled to work Friday night’s series opener.

BOX SCORE


Audio credit – Brewers Radio Network

Monday, August 10, 2009

ZSN College Football Preseason Top 25 Rankings

School (2008 Record)/Season opener (Sept. 5 unless otherwise noted)

1. Florida (13-1)/Charleston Southern
2. Texas (12-1)/Louisiana-Monroe
3. Oklahoma (12-1)/Brigham Young (Arlington, Texas)
4. Southern California (12-1)/San Jose State
5. Virginia Tech (10-4)/Alabama (Atlanta)
6. Alabama (12-2)/Virginia Tech (Atlanta)
7. Mississippi (9-4)/at Memphis (Sept. 6)
8. Oklahoma State (9-4)/Georgia
9. Oregon (10-3)/at Boise State (Sept. 3)
10. LSU (8-5)/at Washington
11. Ohio State (10-3)/Navy
12. California (9-4)/Maryland
13. Penn State (11-2)/Akron
14. Georgia (10-3)/at Oklahoma State
15. Texas Christian (11-2)/at Virginia (Sept. 12)
16. Iowa (9-4)/Northern Iowa
17. Boise State (12-1)/Oregon (Sept. 3)
18. Georgia Tech (9-4)/Jacksonville State
19. Brigham Young (10-3)/Oklahoma (Arlington, Texas)
20. Utah (13-0)/Utah State (Sept. 3)
21. Florida State (9-4)/Miami (Fla.) (Sept. 7)
22. Texas Tech (11-2)/North Dakota
23. North Carolina (8-5)/The Citadel
24. Notre Dame (7-6)/Nevada
25. West Virginia (9-4)/Liberty

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Damon, Teixeira homers help Yankees sweep Sox, 5-2

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Not even Jon Lester, who has never lost to New York, could end Boston’s slide against its bitter rival.

Lester held the Yankees offense to just an Alex Rodriguez home run over seven innings, but Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira hit back-to-back home runs as part of a four-run eighth inning as the Yankees completed a four-game sweep of Boston with a 5-2 win in New York Sunday night.

The Yankees, who began the series 0-8 against Boston this season, finished off their first four-game home sweep of the Red Sox since Aug. 16-19, 1985, and extended their winning streak to seven games. They are 18-5 since the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, Boston finished its road trip 0-6 after dropping two games at fellow AL East contender Tampa Bay and four in Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez started the late-inning fireworks in the seventh by hitting a leadoff home run off Lester to right-center field. The homer was the 574th of Rodriguez’s career, moving him into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time home run list, and it gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

That advantage proved to be short-lived. After going 31 innings without crossing the plate, the Red Sox finally scored and took the lead in the top of the eighth. Dustin Pedroia singled to left off reliever Phil Coke with one out before Victor Martinez homered to left, his second homer since being acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline. The jack gave Boston its first lead since early in Thursday night’s 13-6 loss.

The Red Sox lead didn’t hold up long, either. Reliever Daniel Bard retired the first two Yankees he faced in the eighth before Damon and Teixeira went back-to-back in a span of three pitches, with Teixeira’s shot reaching the second deck in right field.

Rodriguez then drew a walk and Jorge Posada doubled against reliever Hideki Okajima before Nick Swisher’s single up the middle scored them both to open up a 5-2 lead.

Closer Mariano Rivera took care of the rest, pitching around a J.D. Drew leadoff single and two-out walk to pinch hitter David Ortiz, inducing a groundout from Jacoby Ellsbury to end it.

Teixeira and Posada each went 2-for-4 to lead the New York offense. Swisher knocked in two runs.

Starter Andy Pettitte held the Red Sox scoreless over seven innings, yielding five hits and two walks with four strikeouts before making way for Coke. Coke (4-3) recorded his fifth blown save of the year but got the win, and Rivera earned his 32nd save.

Lester allowed one run on five hits in seven innings of work, with no walks and seven strikeouts. Bard (0-1) took the loss and blew his second save, allowing three runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Drew went 3-for-4, and Nick Green was 2-for-3 for the Red Sox, who went 3-for-38 with runners in scoring position for the series.

NOTES: Rodriguez broke a tie with Hall-of-Famer Harmon Killebrew in ninth place on the all-time homer list … Until Martinez’s home run, Boston had not scored since the ninth inning Thursday, and had not recorded an extra-base hit since Casey Kotchman’s home run in the fourth inning of that game … Damon and Teixeira have gone back-to-back six times, the most by any teammates in team history … Lester remains 3-0 all-time against New York in seven career starts … Ortiz did not start. He remains 6-for-35 since July 30, when the New York Times reported his name was on the list of players to allegedly test positive for a banned substance in 2003, and is hitless in his last 22 at-bats with runners on base, the longest such streak of his career … Jason Bay returned to the Boston lineup for the first time this series, after missing the first three games with a right hamstring injury … The Red Sox avoided being shut out in three straight games for the first time since Texas held them scoreless from April 27-29, 1981 … New York had not held Boston scoreless for so long since putting up 33 straight shutout innings in 1952 … The Yankees (69-42) extended their edge over Boston (62-48) to 6.5 games in the East race. The Red Sox fell into a tie with Texas atop the wild-card standings … New York returns to action Monday night in the opener of a three-game series with Toronto, with Sergio Mitre scheduled to pitch. The Red Sox return home to host Detroit for four. Brad Penny will throw Monday night.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – ESPN

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kemp, Dodgers win series in Atlanta, 9-1

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Matt Kemp knocked in five runs to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a dominating 9-1 victory over the Braves in Atlanta Sunday night, clinching a series win.

Los Angeles drew first blood and took control for good in the fifth inning. Kemp drilled a three-run, two-out home run to dead center off Braves starter Jair Jurrjens, scoring Manny Ramirez and James Loney, who had each singled to center.

Russell Martin followed for the Dodgers with a double down the left-field line and scored on Mark Loretta’s single to center for a 4-0 edge.

The Dodgers tacked on a run in the sixth when Jason Schmidt, the winning pitcher Friday night, pinch-hit for injured starter Chad Billingsley, singled to center and scored on Loney’s double to right.

Los Angeles delivered the knockout blow with three runs in the eighth. Loney’s groundout scored Rafael Furcal, who had singled with one out. Kemp then singled to left-center, scoring Andre Ethier, who reached on a single to right and stole second, and Ramirez, who took an intentional walk. When the dust cleared, the Dodgers led 8-0.

Atlanta broke up the shutout in the bottom of that frame. Matt Diaz led off with a single to right, the Braves’ first base hit in five innings, and came home on Martin Prado’s two-out single to left.

The Dodgers closed the scorebook with one more tally in the ninth. Orlando Hudson hit a ground-rule double to right-center to score Loretta, who led off with a double.

Billingsley (11-6) worked five innings of two-hit shutout ball before leaving after the fifth inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. He recorded nine strikeouts, with one walk.

Kemp and Ethier each went 3-for-5. Loney was 3-for-6 with two RBI, Hudson went 2-for-4 and Martin and Loretta each were 2-for-5.

Jurrjens (9-8) yielded four runs on 10 hits over five innings, striking out five batters and walking two.

Prado went 2-for-4 to lead Atlanta at the plate.

The Dodgers out-hit Atlanta, which has lost four of its last six games, 19 to 5.

NOTES:
Ethier went 7-for-14 in the series, with five RBI … The Braves lost for just the fourth time in 15 games at home … Atlanta’s Yunel Escobar is expected to return Monday. He has not played since leaving Thursday’s game at Florida after suffering a wrist contusion on a hit-by-pitch … Diaz’s ninth-inning single was Atlanta’s first hit since Nate McLouth doubled in the third … George Sherrill made his second appearance for Los Angeles out of the bullpen since his acquisition from Baltimore last Thursday … Los Angeles (65-40) owns the best record in the majors and leads the NL West by seven games over San Francisco and Colorado, who are tied for second. Atlanta (53-52) is in third in the East, seven games back of Philadelphia and two behind Florida … The Dodgers head home for a three-game series with Milwaukee, with Clayton Kershaw scheduled to throw Monday night. Atlanta also heads west for a three-game set in San Diego, with Kenshin Kawakami on the mound Monday night. The Braves and Dodgers are scheduled to face off again four times in L.A. beginning Thursday.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – ESPN

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cubs take big early lead, hang on to beat Marlins 9-8

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Derrek Lee hit a 10th-inning game-winning home run as the Chicago Cubs squandered an early six-run lead but knocked off the Marlins 9-8 in Miami Saturday night.

After the Cubs had Florida down to its final out with an 8-5 lead but were unable to close the deal in regulation, Lee gave Chicago back the lead with a leadoff jack to left off the Marlins’ Leo Nunez.

Aaron Heilman then came on out of the Cubs bullpen to retire Florida 1-2-3 in the 10th to end the game and earn his first save of the season.

The Cubs took control early, plating three runs in each of the first two innings against Florida starter Burke Badenhop. Andres Blanco reached in the first on a fielder’s choice and Lee blooped a one-out single to right before Aramis Ramirez’s two-run double to the center-field wall.

Marlins catcher John Baker’s throwing error after a passed ball allowed Ramirez to score for a 3-0 Chicago edge.

Then, in the second, Mike Fontenot stroked a leadoff double down the right-field line and Kosuke Fukudome and Blanco drew two-out walks ahead of Lee, whose single to left scored Fontenot and Fukudome.

Ramirez’s single to center then scored Blanco for a 6-0 advantage.

Florida began to chip away at its deficit against Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano in the bottom of the second. Baker doubled with one out to left, moved up on reliever Brain Sanches’ sacrifice bunt and scored on Chris Coghlan’s single to center.

Zambrano hit Hanley Ramirez with a pitch to begin the third inning. Ramirez proceeded to take second on a Zambrano wild pitch and came around on Jeremy Hermida’s single to center to cut the Marlin deficit to 6-2.

Zambrano left after the third inning with back stiffness, bringing on Jeff Samardzija out of the Chicago bullpen. Samardzija was unable to immediately stem the tide, as Sanches reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on newcomer Nick Johnson’s two-out double to deep left-center.

Then, in the fifth, Hermida’s one-out single to right scored Emilio Bonifacio, who had reached on a leadoff walk, and a Cody Ross fielder’s choice plated Dan Uggla, who had walked with one down, to cut the Cubs’ lead to 6-5.

Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol averted danger in the eighth inning, loading the bases with one out and then striking out Uggla looking and Hermida swinging to escape the jam.

The Cubs then added a little insurance in the ninth inning, with some help from the Florida defense. Milton Bradley led off with a broken-bat single to center. Jeff Baker then grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Bradley was safe at second on a throwing error by the Marlins’ Jorge Cantu, playing third base after primarily working at first all season.

Ryan Theriot then tripled with two-out to the left-center-field wall to score Bradley and Baker to extend the Chicago lead back to 8-5.

However, Florida found some two-out magic in the ninth against Cubs closer Kevin Gregg. Pinch hitter Ronny Paulino hammered a towering two-out homer to left before Coghlan and Johnson hit back-to-back singles.

Bonifacio did the rest with a two-run triple over Fukudome’s head to center to tie the game and force extra baseball.

Lee went 4-for-6 with three RBI to lead the Cubs offense. Ramirez was 2-for-5 with three RBI, and Theriot went 2-for-3. Fukudome drew three free passes.

Gregg (4-2) was credited with the win despite blowing his fourth save of the season.

The Marlins bullpen recorded 13 strikeouts, led by Sanches’ six in 3 1-3 frames of work. Nunez (3-4) took the loss for Florida.

Hermida went 3-for-6 for the Marlins, with two RBI. Bonifacio was 2-for-2 with two RBI, Johnson went 2-for-3, Baker was 2-for-4 and Coghlan went 2-for-5.

NOTES:
Johnson made his Marlins debut after his acquisition from Washington at the trade deadline Friday … Chicago has won 14 of its last 19 games, while the loss was Florida’s third in its last 11 … Zambrano has hit safely in five of his past seven games … Badenhop was making his second start of the season and first appearance since serving a three-game suspension for hitting the Dodgers’ Orlando Hudson with a pitch July 26 … Florida’s Ramirez departed with a left-knee contusion after taking Zambrano’s pitch off that knee and scoring in the third inning … The Cubs’ Ramirez departed in the 10th after Nunez hit him with a pitch on the left arm … Chicago (55-47) remains a half-game behind NL Central-leading St. Louis, while Florida (54-50) is in second place in the East, six games back of Philadelphia … The rubber match of the series is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, with Chicago’s Ryan Dempster set to oppose the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco.

BOX SCORE


Video credit – WGN