Saturday, July 31, 2010

Backup Hanigan keys Reds’ 5-2 comeback over Atlanta


CINCINNATI – With a little help from a crucial Braves defensive miscue, Reds reserve catcher Ryan Hanigan helped his club beat the NL East leaders for the first time this season.

Hanigan’s seventh-inning double coupled with Atlanta center fielder Melky Cabrera’s odd throwing error allowed three runs to score on the play as Cincinnati came back to beat the Braves 5-2 Saturday.

The Reds (58-47) had been stymied by Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens most of the afternoon, trailing 2-1 entering the seventh inning. But Cincinnati changed all that when Scott Rolen doubled, Jonny Gomes singled and Jay Bruce singled to right to score Rolen and tie the game with one out.

One out later, Hanigan took Jurrjens’ offering to the center-field wall. Cabrera retreated to field it, but his throw slipped out of his hand and meekly shot sideways toward right field, allowing the merry-go-round on the bases to continue. Gomes and Bruce scored ahead of Hanigan, who came all the way around and slid home to give Cincinnati a 5-2 lead.

Reds closer Francisco Cordero, fresh off taking the loss in Atlanta’s series-opening win Friday, took the mound to boos and pitched himself into trouble in the ninth, allowing two runners to bring Braves rookie Jason Heyward – who victimized Cordero with the winning two-run 10th-inning double Friday – to the plate as the potential tying run with two out.

But Cordero struck out Heyward looking, turning the boos into cheers and evening the NL contenders’ weekend series. The rubber match is Sunday.

Atlanta (59-44) jumped on Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (11-6) early, taking a two-run first-inning lead. Omar Infante led off the game with a double and came home when Hanigan fielded Heyward’s topper and threw the ball away into right field. Eric Hinske then drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Heyward.

But Arroyo shut down the Braves after that, and Rolen cut the Reds’ deficit in half in the fourth with a two-out solo shot to left.

Rolen led the Reds with a 2-for-3 performance. Arroyo allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings, with three walks and three strikeouts, to earn the win. Cordero produced his 28th save.

Jurrjens (3-4) gave up five runs on eight hits in 6 2-3 frames of work, with six punchouts and no walks. He has yet to win on the road this season.

Brian McCann and Infante each had three of Atlanta’s seven hits.

NOTES: Cincinnati’s win was its 31st comeback victory of the season, second in the majors. … The Reds honored Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, who is retiring from managing after this season, at home plate before the game. … Atlanta discovered Saturday that leadoff hitter Martin Prado broke the second knuckle on his right pinkie sliding into home Friday. He is expected to miss at least a week. … Arroyo is 6-3 all-time against the Braves. … All of Jurrjens’ losses have come in day games. … Early during the game, the Braves completed a deadline deal with Kansas City that brought Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta. Cincinnati did not pull off any blockbuster deals. … The Reds remain a half-game back of St. Louis in second in the NL Central. Atlanta is 3.5 games up on Philadelphia in the East. … Cincinnati’s Edinson Volquez and the Braves’ Tommy Hanson will work Sunday afternoon.


Photo above: Cincinnati's Ryan Hanigan (29) slides home after his game-winning double Saturday. (Al Behrman/AP)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garza no-hits Tigers, Rays win series opener, 5-0


Thanks to Matt Garza, the Tampa Bay Rays finally ended up on the right side of a no-hitter.

Garza held Detroit without a hit and Matt Joyce broke up the Tigers’ Max Scherzer’s own no-hit bid with a sixth-inning grand slam as Tampa Bay won 5-0 in St. Petersburg, Fla., Monday night.

The no-hitter is the first in franchise history for the Rays (60-38), who have been no-hit twice themselves this year.

Garza’s effort is the fifth no-hitter in 2010. Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez no-hit Atlanta April 17, Oakland’s Dallas Braden threw a perfect game against the Rays May 9, Roy Halladay of Philadelphia was perfect against Florida May 29 and Arizona’s Edwin Jackson dominated his old team, the Rays, June 26. The Tigers’ Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game against Cleveland with two outs in the ninth inning on a blown call June 2.

Remarkably, Garza’s no-no came against a team he had never beaten. He was 0-4 with a 5.85 ERA in six starts against Detroit coming in.

Garza (11-5) struck out six batters and allowed just one baserunner – he walked Brennan Boesch in the second inning. He only had one near-miss all night, giving up a third-inning drive to right to Danny Worth, but right fielder Ben Zobrist leaped to make the catch.

He didn’t need a whole lot of offense to win, but the Rays helped him out with a big sixth inning. Scherzer got the first out of the inning, but Zobrist drew a walk, Carl Crawford reached on catcher’s interference on Gerald Laird and Evan Longoria walked to set the stage for Joyce, who laced a pitch halfway up the right-field foul pole for a four-run cushion.

Crawford added a little more insurance with an eighth-inning homer to dead center, and Garza induced a groundout from Don Kelly, struck out Laird looking and got pinch hitter Ramon Santiago on a flyout to Zobrist to end it.

Joyce spoiled a dominant start by Scherzer (7-8), who allowed two hits through 5 2-3 innings, with four walks and eight strikeouts.

Detroit (51-47) manager Jim Leyland wasn’t around to see the show. He was ejected in the third inning after arguing when second-base umpire Marty Foster called the Rays’ B.J. Upton safe stealing second, though replays showed Tigers second baseman Will Rhymes tagged him out.

The Tigers have lost 10 of their last 13 games and are 16-30 on the road this season, having lost seven straight.

Tampa Bay has won seven of its last eight at home after dropping 12 of 19 at Tropicana Field.

NOTES: The Padres and the Mets are now the only major-league teams who have never thrown no-hitters. … This was the first game of an 11-game homestand for the Rays. … Garza has won his last four home decisions. … Detroit was without Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, all on the 15-day DL. … With Longoria’s 0-for-3 night, he is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. … Leyland was also ejected by Fieldin Culbreth of the same umpiring crew at Atlanta June 27. … Tampa Bay remains three games back of the Yankees in second in the AL East. The third-place Tigers are three games behind the first-place White Sox in the Central. ... The Rays’ James Shields and Detroit’s Justin Verlander have the unenviable task of following Garza’s effort. They’ll pitch the second game of the four-game set Tuesday night.


Photo above: Tampa Bay's Matt Garza pitches during his no-hitter Monday. (Mike Carlson/AP)

Video credit – ESPN

Lopez hands Cardinals 4-3 11-inning win over Cubs


Trying to avoid their fourth straight loss and solidify their spot atop the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals were saved by an extra-inning home run – not from any of their usual suspects, but from Felipe Lopez.

Lopez’s 11th-inning homer helped the Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-3 to end their losing streak and avoid a three-game sweep in Chicago Sunday night.

The Cardinals (55-44) took a half-game lead in the Central. Their main competition for the division lead, Cincinnati, lost 4-0 at Houston Sunday. Chicago is 10 games out in fourth place.

Lopez provided the winning run in the 11th inning with his two-out, no-doubt homer off Chicago reliever Brian Schlitter to right, after which he flipped his bat, raised his hands and hopped, à la Sammy Sosa, out of the batter’s box.

Cubs pinch hitter Xavier Nady led off the bottom of the inning with a bloop single, but Chicago couldn’t push him home as St. Louis’ Dennys Reyes struck out Kosuke Fukudome to end the game.

The Cardinals struck first against Chicago starter Ryan Dempster in the second inning. Jon Jay led off with a triple to the wall in right-center and Skip Schumaker drove him in with a bloop single.

Pitcher Chris Carpenter then sacrificed Schumaker to second, and Brendan Ryan’s single up the middle scored Schumaker for a 2-0 St. Louis edge.

The Cubs (45-54) cut their deficit in half in the fourth when Derrek Lee led off with a double into the left-field corner and came home on Marlon Byrd’s one-out single to left-center.

Chicago took its first lead one inning later. Ryan Theriot tripled past a diving Jay to score Geovany Soto, who had walked, to tie the game before Starlin Castro’s two-out single knocked in Theriot.

But Albert Pujols stole the Cubs’ lead and momentum immediately, hitting a leadoff shot to left to lead off the sixth. St. Louis almost took the lead back, but Byrd fielded a two-out Carpenter single up the middle and threw Schumaker, who had doubled, out at home to end the inning.

Both teams loaded the bases in the 10th but couldn’t push a run across. Matt Holliday, Jay and Schumaker hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases for St. Louis before Schlitter (0-1) got Yadier Molina to ground into an inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the frame, Tyler Colvin reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second, Castro was hit by a pitch and Aramis Ramirez reached on a Schumaker error, but Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin (5-1) struck out Byrd looking to strand three runners.

Schumaker went 4-for-4 to lead St. Louis. Ryan Ludwick, Jay and Ryan had multiple-hit nights. Reyes earned his first save of the season.

Carpenter pitched seven innings and yielded three runs on nine hits. He struck out four batters and walked one. With the no-decision, he remains 10-3 against the Cubs all-time.

Dempster also threw seven frames, allowing three runs on nine hits with four walks and four strikeouts. He’s allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his last 10 starts.

Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Theriot posted two-hit performances.

NOTES: Chicago hasn’t swept the Cardinals at home since taking four straight from July 27-30, 2006. … The Cubs’ series win breaks a 10-series losing skid in division play and is just their third all season. They last beat a Central team by sweeping Milwaukee April 23-25 and dropped a combined six series against woeful Pittsburgh and Houston during that time. … St. Louis is an MLB-best 39-9 when scoring first this season. … Holliday ran his hitting streak to 11 games with his 10th-inning single. … Cubs reliever Sean Marshall posted his 10th straight scoreless appearance. … Nady had just three hits in his last 39 at-bats before his pinch-hit single. … The Cardinals are off Monday before a three-game road set with the Mets. Jaime Garcia will pitch Tuesday night. Chicago heads to Houston for three, with Carlos Silva – who allowed five runs in one inning in a loss to the Astros last Monday – pitching Monday’s series opener.


Photo above: Felipe Lopez watches his game-winning 11th-inning homer Sunday. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Video credit – ESPN

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Buehrle, Quentin, White Sox cool off A’s, 5-1


One year to the day after throwing a perfect game, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle finally figured out how to win at Oakland, with a little help from Carlos Quentin.

Buehrle threw a complete-game four-hitter for his first-ever win at Oakland Coliseum, Quentin drove in two runs in his return from injury and Chicago beat the Athletics 5-1 in their series opener in Oakland, Calif., Friday night.

Buehrle’s effort came 365 days after he took down Tampa Bay with a perfect game last July 23.

The White Sox have won a majors-best 29 of their last 38. Oakland lost for just the second time in nine games.

Quentin, in the lineup for the first time since Sunday after bruising his hand at Minnesota, put Chicago (53-42) on the board in the fourth inning. He knocked in Alex Rios on a sacrifice fly to the warning track after Rios’ leadoff double off A’s All-Star pitcher Trevor Cahill.

Two innings later, the White Sox tripled their lead. Juan Pierre led off with a walk and Omar Vizquel singled ahead of Rios, who reached on Oakland’s Cliff Pennington’s error, letting Pierre score.

Quentin’s groundout then scored Vizquel for a three-run edge.

Oakland (48-48) scored its run on back-to-back seventh-inning doubles. Jack Cust’s base hit off the right-center-field wall scored Kevin Kouzmanoff to cut the Athletics’ deficit to two.

But the Sox weren’t done at the plate. In the ninth, A.J. Pierzynski’s bouncer up the middle scored pinch runners Andruw Jones and Brent Lillibridge, who each stole second, for some insurance.

Buehrle (9-8) struck out two batters and walked none, retiring 11 straight A’s at one point. He had been 0-6 at the Coliseum with a 4.66 ERA in 12 appearances. He’s just 4-12 against Oakland all-time.

Vizquel and Rios each went 2-for-4.

For Oakland, Cust was 2-for-3.

Cahill (9-4) allowed three runs on four hits over seven innings, with two walks and no strikeouts. He has lost two of three decisions after winning seven straight.

NOTES: Buehrle is 6-2 in his last eight starts. … The only AL parks Buehrle remains winless in are the new Yankee Stadium, erected before last season, and Minnesota’s Target Field, which is in its inaugural campaign. … Oakland reliever Jerry Blevins worked two-thirds of a scoreless inning, his 13th consecutive scoreless outing. He hasn’t allowed a run since June 25. … Athletics outfielder Rajai Davis was scratched with a reported hamstring injury. … Chicago stretched its lead in the AL Central to 2.5 games over second-place Detroit, which was rained out Friday. The Athletics sit in third in the West, 8.5 games back of Texas. … The middle game of the series is Saturday afternoon, with Chicago’s Freddy Garcia set to oppose Vin Mazzaro for the A’s.


Photo above: Chicago's Mark Buehrle pitches Friday. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Video credit – WGN

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sox ninth-inning error caps Twins comeback, 7-6


The Chicago White Sox began their second half-opening four-game series at Minnesota with a solid lead in the AL Central.

After a sudden ninth-inning meltdown to lose the third game of those four, Chicago’s lead over the Twins and Detroit has dwindled to 1 ½ games.

Sox outfielder Alex Rios’ wild throw up the third-base line allowed Michael Cuddyer to score the winning run as the Twins scored four runs in the ninth to win 7-6 in Minneapolis on Sunday.

Combined with the Tigers’ five straight losses, Minnesota’s three-game winning streak has moved it into a tie in second in the Central with the Tigers.

Chicago, which won its ninth straight game in the series opener, has lost three straight for the first time since dropping four in a row April 15-18. Minnesota is on its first three-game winning streak since taking five straight May 27-31.

White Sox (50-41) starter Freddy Garcia was in line for his seventh straight win after allowing three runs over six innings, but closer Bobby Jenks wasted no time helping the Twins off to a great start in the bottom of the ninth, walking Orlando Hudson on 10 pitches and Joe Mauer.

Jason Kubel’s single to center scored Hudson and Cuddyer’s single plated Mauer to cut the Twins’ deficit to 6-5 and chase Jenks.

With reliever Sergio Santos on the hill to put out the fire and still no outs, Jason Repko walked to load the bases and Delmon Young blooped a base hit to center in front of Rios. Pinch runner Nick Punto scored on the play, and Cuddyer dashed home on Rios’ throwing error to clinch the series for Minnesota.

The Twins (49-33) scored first in the second inning. Young’s homer to left plated Jim Thome, who had singled.

Chicago cut Minnesota’s lead in half in the next frame when Gordon Beckham’s double against Twins starter Nick Blackburn scored Alexei Ramirez, who led off the inning with a double.

Cuddyer and Kubel got that run back for the Twins in the fourth, when Kubel singled and Cuddyer drove him home with a triple to center for a 3-1 Minnesota edge.

But the White Sox scored the next five runs, putting them in good position heading into the ninth. Juan Pierre knocked in Ramirez with a groundout in the fifth, and Carlos Quentin doubled home Rios and Paul Konerko after their sixth-inning singles to chase Blackburn.

Reliever Brian Duensing walked Ramirez intentionally and Quentin stole third before Ramon Castro singled in Quentin and Beckham’s single knocked in Ramirez for a 6-3 lead.

Each team had 16 hits. Kubel and Cuddyer were each 3-for-5, while Thome, Young, Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy each had two hits.

Beckham led the way for Chicago, going 4-for-4. Omar Vizquel, Rios, Konerko, Quentin, and Ramirez all registered two hits.

Duensing (3-1) scattered seven hits over four innings of one-run ball to record the win. Jenks (1-2) took the loss. The Twins’ comeback rescued Blackburn from what would have been his seventh loss in eight decisions.

Quentin left after the sixth inning with a bruised right hand. No more information regarding his condition was immediately available.

NOTES: J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless eighth inning out of the White Sox bullpen. It was his 24th straight shutout outing, tying him with Shingo Takatsu for the longest streak in Sox history. Takatsu did it in 2004. … The White Sox have lost just eight of their last 34 games. … The Twins host the Indians for a three-game set beginning Monday night, with Scott Baker on the mound. Chicago begins a six-game West Coast swing with three tilts in Seattle. Daniel Hudson is set to make his fourth career start Monday night.


Photo above: Delmon Young (center) celebrates with teammates Sunday after his ninth-inning hit helped the Twins win 7-6. (David Brewster/Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Video credit – WGN

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

McCann 3-RBI double snaps NL skid, 3-1


Atlanta catcher Brian McCann was just 12 years old the last time the National League won an All-Star Game.

The 26-year-old’s bases-clearing seventh-inning double finally ended the American League’s 13-year streak of dominance.

Game MVP McCann provided all the NL’s offense as the senior circuit knocked off the AL 3-1 in Anaheim, Calif., in the Midsummer Classic Tuesday night.

The AL, which has come back to win four straight one-run All-Star Games, finally ran out of heroics this time. Boston’s David Ortiz reached on a leadoff single in the ninth inning off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton but was forced out at second on a great defensive play by Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd, and the NL hung on for the win.

Coming into the seventh inning, the NL offense had been stymied all night by a combination of Rays starter David Price, the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte, Texas’ Cliff Lee, the Tigers’ Justin Verlander and Jon Lester of Boston.

But the NL lineup, down 1-0, won the game in the seventh. Cincinnati’s Scott Rolen and the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday singled and Byrd drew a walk to load the bases for McCann.

The catcher did not disappoint, taking White Sox reliever Matt Thornton’s pitch to right for a three-run double.

The AL, as usual, didn’t go quietly. Toronto’s John Buck doubled with one out in the seventh off Holliday’s glove and the Blue Jays’ Vernon Wells reached on a fielder’s choice, but Angels local favorite Torii Hunter struck out swinging to end the inning.

Ortiz led off the ninth with a single, but Broxton struck out Adrian Beltre of the Red Sox and Byrd fielded Buck’s bloop to right, spun and threw Ortiz out at second.

Broxton then got the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler to fly out to Arizona’s Chris Young in center field to give the NL its first All-Star win since 1996.

The AL scored first, manufacturing a run to go on top in the fifth inning. New York’s Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly to deep left to score Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria, who had walked and gone to third on Dodgers pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo’s throwing error.

Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun made the prettiest defensive play of the night, robbing Texas’ Josh Hamilton of an extra-base hit with a diving snag in the fourth.

The Mets’ David Wright was the only player with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-2.

Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado was the first of nine NL pitchers, while 10 AL hurlers took the mound.

Washington reliever Matt Capps was the winning pitcher of record, while the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, who allowed two hits in the seventh, took the loss. Broxton was credited with the save.

NOTES: The players observed a moment of silence before the game for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, 80, who died Tuesday morning. … With the win, the NL pennant winner will have home-field advantage in the World Series in October. … The NL leads the all-time series 41-38. … The senior circuit’s last win was 6-0 in Philadelphia in 1996. … Price, 24, was the youngest starting pitcher in an All-Star Game since the Mets’ Dwight Gooden, then 23, did it in 1988.


Photo above: Atlanta's Brian McCann hits a three-run double Tuesday. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Video credit – FOX

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Iniesta gives Spain first World Cup title, beats Dutch


The European champions have finally won their first world title.

Andres Iniesta scored in the 116th minute as Spain defeated the 10-man Netherlands 1-0 in extra time in the World Cup final in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday.

Spain, a first-time finalist,claimed its first World Cup, ending the Netherlands’ 25-game unbeaten streak. Its patient attack yielded just eight goals in the entire tournament, the lowest ever for a champion, as Spain became the first nation to ever lose its first game and come back to win the title.

With about five minutes to play in extra time, Iniesta took a ball in the penalty area from substitute Cesc Fabregas and finished across Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

The match was anything but beautiful – the 14 cards English referee Howard Webb handed out more than doubled the previous record for a final – but both goalkeepers provided sublime moments to force extra time and set the stage for Iniesta.

La Roja’s Iker Casillas dove to stop two Arjen Robben second-half breakaways, while Stekelenburg stonewalled Sergio Ramos in the fifth minute and stopped Fabregas in the 95th minute.

Iniesta alone had two earlier chances to score, but hesitated and was stopped by Stekelenburg after being alone in the penalty area in the 81st minute and again in the 99th.

Both sides missed out on some earlier seemingly easy scoring opportunities. The Oranje’s Joris Mathijsen almost completely whiffed on a corner in the 37th minute, and Spain’s Joan Capdevila returned the favor in the 48th minute, failing to capitalize on an open net.

Spanish Golden Boot contender David Villa blasted a tough-angle shot from inside the 6-yard box well high in the 69th minute, then hit a 25-yard free kick over five minutes later.

Ramos headed a corner over the bar in the 77th minute, Jesus Navas’ shot was deflected off the side net by Netherlands defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst in the 101st minute and a slipping Fabregas missed wide right in the 104th minute.

Mathijsen headed a corner over the bar, missing a wide-open net, 13 minutes before teammate John Heitinga received his second yellow card and was sent off.

Xavi missed the 110th-minute free kick, but the Spaniards’ one-man advantage soon paid off with Iniesta’s goal six minutes later.

NOTES: The Dutch hadn’t lost since falling 2-1 to Australia on Sept. 6, 2008. … This was the first World Cup held outside Europe won by a European nation. … Spain lost its opener to Switzerland, 1-0, but has lost just two of its last 56 matches. … The last World Cup to reach extra time scoreless was in 1994, when Brazil beat Italy on penalty kicks in Pasadena, Calif. … Spain has won five straight games by one goal. … Dutch captain van Bronckhorst played in his final professional game.

Photo above: Spain's Andres Iniesta celebrates his World Cup-winning goal Sunday. (Luca Bruno/AP)

Video credit – ESPN on ABC

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Germany claims third place with 3-2 win over Uruguay


The pitch and players were dampened, but Germany’s and Uruguay’s effort and performance were worthy of a World Cup medal-round match.

In one of the most exciting games from start to finish of the World Cup, Germany’s Sami Khedira headed home the winning goal in the 82nd minute to beat Uruguay 3-2 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Saturday.

The steady rain didn’t stop Germany from winning third place for the second straight World Cup. They also did so as the hosts in 2006 and have won bronze four times overall.

Die Mannschaft’s win wasn’t secured until just a few seconds from time, when Uruguay’s Diego Forlan’s free kick in the second minute of stoppage time hit the crossbar and bounced away.

Forlan and Germany’s Thomas Muller both scored a goal, tying them with the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder and Spain’s David Villa for the tournament lead with five goals.

Muller opened the scoring in the 19th minute, knocking in a rebound off Bastian Schweinsteiger’s long shot.

Edinson Cavani hit the equalizer for La Celeste nine minutes later, toe-poking the ball on the ground to the far post past German keeper Jorg Butt.

Uruguay scored the first goal of the second half to take the lead. Forlan took Egidio Arevalo’s cross in the 51st minute and bounced it over a frozen Butt.

Just five minutes later, Germany tied the game again. Marcell Jansen outjumped two Uruguayan defenders and beat keeper Fernando Muslera with a header.

Both sides dodged a couple of chances, with Butt stopping Luis Suarez and Forlan and Schweinsteiger and Stefan Kiesling missing for Germany, before Khedira’s late heroics.

Khedira’s header off a corner proved to be the winning goal.

Not before a little last-second stress, though. Arne Friedrich received a yellow card in the second minute of stoppage time, but Forlan couldn’t connect to force an extra session.

Uruguay striker Suarez returned after missing his side’s semifinal loss to the Dutch and was loudly booed nearly every time he touched the ball after his now-infamous late intentional handball that kept host continent nation Ghana from reaching the semifinals.

The Germans’ victory ensures that all three medal teams will be European. The Netherlands and Spain face off in the final Sunday.

NOTES: Germany improved to 7-1-2 all-time against La Celeste, which finished higher at the World Cup (fourth) than in its South American qualifying group (fifth). … The Germans finished with 16 goals, currently good for the tournament high. … Germany’s Miroslav Klose sat out with a back injury. He is currently one goal shy of Ronaldo’s all-time World Cup goal record with 14, and the 32-year-old is not considered likely to make the German squad for the 2014 Cup in Brazil. … Muller, 20, became the youngest player to score five goals in a World Cup.

Photo above: Germany's Sami Khedira, center, celebrates with Per Mertesacker after his game-winning goal Saturday. (Gero Breloer/AP)

Video credit – ESPN on ABC

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hunter, Pineiro, Angels whitewash Royals 11-0


The Los Angeles Angels used record-tying contributions from two of their stars to avoid a sweep at the Royals’ hands and pick up a game on division-leading Texas.

Torii Hunter tied a career high with seven RBI, Joel Pineiro posted his sixth straight win and the Angels beat the Kansas City nine 11-0 in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday night.

With the win, Los Angeles (46-38) drew to within 3.5 games of first-place Texas, which lost to the White Sox earlier Sunday, in the AL West race.

Pineiro pitched seven scoreless innings, winning his sixth straight decision for the first time since June and July 2003. He had lost his last three starts against the Royals.

In a rare national television appearance for Kansas City on Independence Day, the Royals mustered eight hits but left 11 runners on base.

Hunter and Los Angeles jumped in front for good in the fourth inning. Bobby Abreu’s sacrifice fly to the wall in center plated Jeff Mathis, who had singled.

After Erick Aybar singled and Howie Kendrick drew a walk, Hunter hit a long drive just inside the left-field foul pole for a 4-0 edge.

Three innings later, Mike Napoli hit a sac fly to score Hunter, who had walked. Paul McAnulty, who was recalled earlier Sunday, then hit his first homer of the season, a long drive to right-center, to score Hideki Matsui, who had singled, to go up 7-0.

Hunter then hit his second homer of the night in the seventh, a two-run shot to center to score Reggie Willits, who had walked.

Hunter’s two-out, two-run single in the eighth plated Aybar, who reached on an infield single, and Kendrick, who also singled, to mercifully end the scoring at 11-0.

Pineiro (9-6) allowed six hits and four walks, with three strikeouts. Hunter went 3-for-4, while Aybar, Kendrick, Matsui and Mathis all had two hits.

One game after beating the White Sox for his first career win, Kansas City starter Anthony Lerew (1-2) allowed six runs on six hits over five frames, with two walks and three strikeouts.

David DeJesus and Mike Aviles were each 2-for-4 for the Royals (36-46). Billy Butler singled in the top of the third for his 500th career hit. The 24-year-old is the youngest active player to reach the mark.

The Royals, who saw their season-long three-game winning streak end, have won three straight series.

NOTES: Kansas City hasn’t won four consecutive games since Sept. 7-11 of last season. … Pineiro has allowed only 10 runs in his last 43 1-3 innings. … The Angels have won 16 of their last 21 games against the Royals. … Kansas City’s Scott Podsednik’s two-out ninth-inning single extended his hitting streak to seven games. … McAnulty was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake earlier Sunday. … The Royals’ Albert Callaspo sat out for the second straight game with a slight bone bruise on his left wrist. … L.A.’s Juan Rivera missed his fourth straight game with a stress-related left eye ailment. … The Angels’ Cory Aldridge made his first appearance since Oct. 7, 2001, with Atlanta. … The Royals sit in fourth place in the Central, trailing Detroit and Minnesota by eight games. … The Angels head to Chicago for a four-game series with the White Sox. Trevor Bell, who was optioned to Salt Lake Friday, will reportedly be recalled to start Monday afternoon. Kansas City next travels to Seattle. Brian Bannister will pitch the opener of the three-game set Monday night.


Photo above: The Angels' Torii Hunter (48) rounds third base in front of Kansas City's Wilson Betemit (46) after homering Sunday. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Video credit – ESPN

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Klose, Muller, Germans thrash Argentina, 4-0


Miroslav Klose, Germany’s active goals leader, scored twice, which would have been more than enough for his side to eliminate Argentina from the World Cup.

That wasn’t all, though. The Germans also got a goal from a 20-year-old who Argentina’s coach famously thought was a ballboy five months ago and another player who had never scored an international goal.

Klose tied Gerd Mueller’s record for most World Cup goals by a German, Thomas Muller and Arne Friedrich also scored and Germany backed up all its pregame trash talk, trouncing Argentina 4-0 in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday.

Die Mannschaft advances to the semifinals on Wednesday to face the winner of Saturday’s Paraguay-Spain match.

Klose, getting his 100th cap for Germany, helped turn a close game through the first half into a blowout, scoring in the 68th minute and adding the finale in the 89th minute.

Argentina manager Diego Maradona probably knows who Muller is now after refusing to share a podium with him following a March friendly in Munich, thinking Muller was a ballboy. Muller scored Germany’s first goal just three minutes into the match, heading home a Bastian Schweinsteiger free kick off Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero from six yards out.

Then, with Argentina continuing to create offensive chances, Klose stepped up in the 68th minute. He took Lukas Podolski’s ball in the box and tapped it into an open net.

Six minutes later, Friedrich scored his first goal for the German side, knocking in Schweinsteiger’s ball into the box.

The Germans, who have been dominant much of this tournament, finished off their South American rivals in the 89th minute, when Klose finished Mesut Ozil’s cross, then somersaulted.

La Albiceleste’s Lionel Messi, who some in the media have called the best player in the world, finished the World Cup without a goal. Fittingly, he was stonewalled by Manuel Neuer just a few seconds from time.

Argentina had some good chances but was unable to finish. Messi’s through ball to Carlos Tevez in the 2nd minute was stopped by Neuer. Angel Di Maria shot right at Neuer in the 33rd minute, and two minutes later, Gonzalo Higuain tested the keeper again, who made a diving stop at the near post.

An offsides call off the ensuing corner negated an Argentina goal – at least four Argentines appeared to be offsides.

In the second half, Germany’s Per Mertesacker blocked Tevez’s shot with his face and Higuain again shot right at Neuer for an easy save in the 63rd minute.

Germany made headlines with pre-match verbal attacks on Argentina, which it beat on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals four years ago. German captain Philipp Lahm called the Argentine side “impulsive” and “temperamental” and said “they don’t know how to lose.”

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff called Argentina “aggressive and provocative” and Schweinsteiger said La Albiceleste had “no respect” as they “try to influence the referees.”

Mueller will miss Wednesday’s match after getting his second yellow card of the tournament in the 35th minute for handling the ball. … Germany is 36-2-1 all-time when leading at halftime in World Cup play. Argentina is 0-9-1 when trailing at halftime. … Germany has reached the semifinals for the third straight World Cup. ... Klose’s second goal was his 51st all-time for the national team. Klose and Mueller are tied for second-most ever with 14 at the World Cup. Brazil’s Ronaldo scored 15.

Photo above: Miroslav Klose scores during Saturday's game. (Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

Video credit – ESPN on ABC