SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — For all that the San Jose Sharks accomplished with their overtime victory over Los Angeles in Game 3, they know it will mean very little if they don’t back that win up with another at home against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.
”We haven’t accomplished anything,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. ”We didn’t get our work done in LA, and that put us behind the eight ball. The fact that we win Game 3, that’s great, but we still are behind in the series and the series is getting shorter. The lifeline wasn’t as long as it was in the past. We’ve just got to find a way to get even. If our intensity or urgency drops because we’ve won a single game, I would be disappointed in our group.”
After taking it easy the day after San Jose’s 2-1 win, both teams stepped up preparation on Monday in advance of Game 4 on Tuesday night at the Shark Tank.
The Kings aren’t about to feel complacent, considering they were less than 2 minutes away from losing Game 2 at home and have won just once in 10 road games since March.
”We can’t rest and just be comfortable with being a good home team,” forward Justin Williams said. ”We need to be killers on the road. Coming back with a 3-1 lead is certainly something we’re going to do our darnedest to do.”
The Kings came close to getting that elusive road win in Game 3 on Saturday when they fell in overtime after being called for two penalties in the final minute of regulation to set up Logan Couture’s power-play goal in overtime.
The second of those penalties particularly irked the Kings, who contend Trevor Lewis was pushed into San Jose goalie Antti Niemi by Patrick Marleau and shouldn’t have been called for goaltender interference.
That came one game after the Sharks complained about a late delay of game call on Marc-Edouard Vlasic that gave the Kings a two-man advantage and eventually led to two goals that gave Los Angeles a 4-3 win.
The Kings look to rebound from their disappointment the same way the Sharks did from theirs.
”There’s zero momentum,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. ”Once you get in the playoffs, there’s zero momentum unless somebody is way better than somebody, and as you see, nobody is. If there’s a carry-over, then you’re probably not a playoff team.”
The home teams have won all three games so far this series and both teams are undefeated at home in the postseason this year. The Sharks have been dominant all season on home ice, going 17-2-5 in the regular season that included two wins over Los Angeles.
The biggest reason for the home success has been a potent power play that has been far more efficient at the Shark Tank than on the road. San Jose has scored on an NHL-best 28.4 percent of power plays at home during the regular and postseason compared to just 13.6 percent on the road.
The difference has been even more stark in the postseason where the Sharks are 8-for-20 on the power play at home and just 1-for-16 on the road, including 0-for-7 the first two games in Los Angeles. San Jose did score one goal 5 seconds after the end of a power play in Game 2 against the Kings.
Defenseman Dan Boyle said there was little difference other than the final results on the power play in Game 3, when he got the scoring started with a power-play goal 4 seconds into a man advantage early in the first period and Couture ended the game with a power-play goal in overtime.
”It’s about scoring goals,” Boyle said. ”If we don’t score yesterday, you guys would be talking about how bad we are, how much we’re struggling. We had some good looks in L.A., we just didn’t put the puck in the net. The one goal we had, the penalty had just expired.
”The end of the day, you’ve just got to put the puck in the net and the first power play took, what? Three or four seconds. That’s not a good power play, that’s execution. It’s a won faceoff, it’s a guy going to the net. That’s just good execution.”
The Kings could get a boost with the potential return of forward Kyle Clifford, who has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury.
Clifford scored three of his seven regular-season goals this year against the Sharks and all three of his career playoff goals came in a six-game series against San Jose two years ago.
”He can give us that big physical, emotional lift that we can use right now,” forward Colin Fraser said. ”He’s a guy that doesn’t take a shift off, and he’s hard to play against. I’ve played with him on and off for two years, and he’s a big, physical player who keeps it simple. You know what you’re going to get out of him every shift.”
NOTES: McLellan said he would consider dressing seven defensemen with F Marty Havlat once again sidelined with a lower-body injury. D Jason Demers, who has missed the past 11 games with a lower-body injury, skated with the forwards for part of practice. … San Jose F Adam Burish, who was ruled out of the series with a broken right hand, took part in practice and remains hopeful he could return at some point this series.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Don’t judge the New York Rangers by the scores of their two losses to the Boston Bruins.
According to coach John Tortorella, the Rangers played much better in the Game 2 blowout than in their overtime defeat in the series opener.
The bottom line is this: for the second consecutive series, New York has dug an 0-2 hole on the road and will need to rebound quickly at Madison Square Garden if the club hopes to extend this postseason run.
”The first game, the score doesn’t indicate the game,” Tortorella said Monday. ”We probably should’ve lost by more.”
The Rangers returned to practice one day before they will host the Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. New York was looking to shake off its 5-2 loss on Sunday while focusing on the task at hand.
”After watching the tape, which always helps me the next day one way or another,” Tortorella said, ”there were a lot of good things.”
Game 4 will also be in New York on Thursday.
In the first round, the Rangers returned home after dropping two games in Washington and evened the series with a pair of wins at the Garden. The home team won every game in that series until New York took Game 7 in a dominating 5-0 decision.
”We know we can’t take them lightly,” forward Brad Marchand said Monday after the Bruins practiced in Boston. ”We’ve got to make sure we go to New York being very hungry and ready to go out hard.”
History is hardly on the Rangers’ side. New York is 2-19 in series it trailed 0-2, and no NHL team has won consecutive series after losing the first two games.
”You don’t want to be down 2-0,” Tortorella said. ”We know what hole we’re in, but by no means is this a really bad thing. We need to win a game and try to get momentum on our side.
”Last year, we had to win a couple in a row and we were going back and forth with wins and losses. We’ve been in this situation for a long time the past couple of years. I am not worried about that. I just want to make sure we correct the things we need to correct, and I think we’ll be OK.”
The Bruins are also well aware they still have plenty of work to do to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in three seasons.
Boston led Toronto 3-1 in the first round before being forced to Game 7. The Bruins then staged a three-goal comeback in the third period of the decisive game to get to overtime. Patrice Bergeron scored the tying and winning goals to help the Bruins survive and advance.
The last thing they want to do now is give the Rangers a chance to seize momentum.
”It’s about realizing the series is not over until you win that fourth game. We know that,” Bergeron said. ”We know (Tuesday) is going to be a huge game. They’re going to try to bounce back, and we’re expecting them to come out really hard. We need to make sure we match that.
”It’s going to be in their building so we’re expecting them to come out with a lot of energy and feed off the crowd.”
The Rangers are banking on the same thing. New York won three games at home against Washington, and figures to need three more against Boston to get out of this round.
Star forward Rick Nash netted his long-awaited first postseason goal with the Rangers on Sunday. If that gets him going on a roll, New York’s outlook will appear that much brighter.
”I’d rather trade that goal in for a win, so it doesn’t matter,” Nash said. ”Anytime you play at home it seems like you create that energy off the fans. If you look at the good teams around the league - and they are the teams that don’t need it - there is no excuses. It shouldn’t make a difference whether we are home or on the road.”
One key factor for the Rangers is the play - and health - of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He was back on the ice Monday after his rough game on Sunday, in which he also appeared to injure a shoulder.
He was no worse for wear during and following the hour-long practice.
”Everybody is sore,” he said.
Before Sunday, Lundqvist hadn’t allowed five goals in 151 consecutive games, dating to a 5-2 loss at Anaheim on March 9, 2011. He also had never yielded more than three goals in any of his 31 previous games against the Bruins, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Lundqvist gave up 12 total goals in the first five games of the first-round series versus the Capitals before shutting them out in Games 6 and 7. Boston has already registered eight goals against him.
”It’s disappointing to give up five goals, but positioning-wise and reading the plays for the most part was good,” Lundqvist said. ”They made some good plays, too, and then there were some unlucky bounces and screens.
”I could probably find excuses for the goals, but it’s not going to help my game. I just have to try to be better and work even harder to see pucks.”
Tortorella chalked up some of Boston’s goals to ”simple coverage” mistakes by his team - errors he said were uncharacteristic and fixable.
”It doesn’t bother me, it surprises me a little bit,” he said. ”We beat ourselves. I am not disrespecting Boston by any means. We hurt ourselves in our play away from the puck, and I think that is one of the biggest strengths we have.”
The Bruins also expect to see the best of the Rangers once the series shifts to New York.
”We always worry about the other team. We need to worry about ourselves,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. ”When we play well, we’re a good team and we give ourselves a chance to win.
”We need to understand they’re going to be better. We also need to be better.”
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Zach Randolph’s miserable Western Conference finals debut led to a sleepless night and a long film session.
The All-Star power forward and his Memphis Grizzlies are hardly down and out, though. In both rounds of the playoffs so far, Memphis has lost Game 1 before rallying back to knock out the Los Angeles Clippers and then the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This time, Randolph had his worst game ever in the playoffs, managing two points in a 105-83 blowout. His only lower-scoring game in 40 playoff appearances was when he played 1 minute as a rookie for Portland in a 2002 game.
”It’s more frustrating than embarrassing,” said Randolph, who missed his first seven shots in Game 1. ”It’s basketball. It happens to the best of them.
”Muhammad Ali, he got knocked down before. What made him the greatest fighter in the world is he always bounced back.”
It took the Grizzlies two games to get off the mat in the first round, when they suffered a 21-point blowout at Los Angeles and then lost on a Chris Paul buzzer-beater in Game 2. Memphis then won the next four.
There weren’t as many adjustments needed in Round 2, when Kevin Durant’s spectacular finish lifted Oklahoma City to a two-point win in the opener. Again, the Grizzlies won four straight to advance.
So, the panic button is nowhere in sight for these comeback kids with Game 2 on Tuesday night in San Antonio.
”That’s what you do in life. Every time you have a bad moment, you’ve got to bounce back and get up and go again,” coach Lionel Hollins said. ”You have a bad day, you’ve got to get up the next morning and make it a good day. Every team has lost games that have been really bad, they’ve lost one-point buzzer-beaters, all of those types of things.
”If you’re going to be in life and live, you’ve got to get up and go do it again and try to be better.”
After last year’s West finals, the Spurs are wary of feeling good about any series lead. San Antonio won the first two games at home last year, and then lost four in a row to the Thunder.
”Everything can change real fast,” point guard Tony Parker said.
The Spurs had a surprisingly easy time against the NBA’s best defense in Game 1, shooting 53 percent and making a franchise postseason-record 14 3-pointers on just 29 attempts. It took Memphis too long to settle in during its first conference finals appearance, and San Antonio was up 17 by the end of the first quarter and 20 in the second quarter.
”We found out it wasn’t as bad as it looked,” Hollins said. ”It was a lot of just out of position, playing with hyper speed and doing things that we don’t normally do because of the moment and not just playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
The mistakes were many. Point guard Mike Conley said Memphis needs to pick up its defense on Parker beyond the 3-point line and keep him from penetrating the lane so easily to set up the 3-point shooters around him. Once in scramble mode, the Grizzlies over-helped and left too many openings.
On offense, the ball got stuck, which allowed the Spurs’ defense to recover and wipe out any scoring opportunities for Randolph around the basket.
”All the things that we did wrong - no pace, no moving the ball, no running back, no communicating - if we do all that good and we are who we are and we lose, now we’re going to see,” center Marc Gasol said. ”It’s hard to get a lot of information about that last game because we just played so poorly.”
Game 2 provides a clean slate to try again, and Memphis hasn’t had two straight poor games yet this postseason.
”We adjust, I think, pretty well to teams and this is no different. We have to come out, make the same adjustments, stick to those adjustments and trust them because this team is so disciplined that they’re not going to stop what they’re doing,” Conley said. ”They do what they do very well. They’re the best in the league at it.”
The Spurs were hesitant to take too much credit for what went right.
”The ball happened to go into the basket,” coach Gregg Popovich said. ”It’s a game. Some nights you make two, some nights you make 14. That’s a rarity. But there’s never really a reason. … We didn’t run anything magical to get the shots. They just went in.”
It was quite the turnaround from the last round, when San Antonio made 44 percent and struggled to make shots consistently.
”I’m a math guy,” said Matt Bonner, who made four of his five 3-point attempts. ”It’s highly improbable we’re going to shoot at the clip we did last game. They’ve got the best defense in the league. They’re going to come out and make adjustments and play better on defense for sure.”
Adam Dunn is finally finding a rhythm at the plate, and that’s a big reason why the Chicago White Sox are having some success.
Dunn looks to build on another powerful display Tuesday night while trying to help the White Sox to another victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Dunn’s .183 average in two-plus seasons with Chicago (20-23) is the lowest in the majors, and his 453 strikeouts are the most. The slugger, an All-Star in 2012, has been able to counter that anemic production by hitting 63 homers with 163 RBIs.
This year hasn’t been much different as he’s hitting .172 with 11 homers and 25 RBIs - and 54 strikeouts in 145 at-bats.
He’s showing signs of being able to change that, going 9 for 25 with two doubles, five homers and 13 RBIs during the White Sox’s 5-2 run.
“When he’s right, he can do a lot of damage,” manager Robin Ventura said. “His pitch selection is good. I don’t know mechanically exactly what it is but when a guy knows he’s in the right position to hit and he’s more confident, it comes down to pitch selection.”
Dunn’s big bat was on display again Monday, hitting a three-run, two-out homer in the first inning to spur a 6-4 win in the opener of this three-game set with Boston (27-18).
“It was hard to sit here and keep saying over and over and over how good I felt, with no results,” Dunn said. “Hopefully these results keep coming and people start believing me that I wasn’t lying to them.”
He’s 3 for 26 with two homers and five RBIs in his last eight meetings with the Red Sox, and 0 for 4 versus Felix Doubront, Tuesday’s scheduled starter.
Doubront (3-1, 6.03) won both of his starts against Chicago last year, yielding four runs in 12 innings.
He hasn’t come close to being that sharp lately, going 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three starts after compiling a 3-0 record and 4.24 ERA in his first four.
The left-hander battled through 104 pitches in five innings Thursday, issuing a career-high six walks while allowing two runs and three hits and not getting a decision in a 4-3 win at Tampa Bay.
“I finally figured out my pitches,” Doubront told the team’s official website. “My breaking balls, changeups and curveballs, I started getting the feeling back. I wasn’t that consistent, but I had good spin and my grip was good.”
The Red Sox are unsure if they’ll have Shane Victorino. who is day-to-day available after he injured his left hamstring running the bases in the sixth inning Monday. He missed two games last week with a back injury.
“Given what he’s been dealing with, low back, I wasn’t going to take any chances in that situation,” manager John Farrell said.
Dustin Pedroia is batting .449 during a 12-game hitting streak, his longest since a 15-game run from Aug. 21-Sept. 4.
Chicago is expected to send Jose Quintana (2-1, 3.97) to the mound as he tries for his first win since beating Cleveland on April 24. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in four starts since.
He didn’t get a decision in his latest outing Thursday, surrendering four runs with three walks in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Quintana was terrific in his only start versus Boston on July 19, tossing eight shutout innings before closer Addison Reed served up a three-run, walkoff homer in a 3-1 loss.
Jay Bruce is on a tear, and his recent results against the New York Mets could be described the same way.
A day after his home run proved to be the difference, Bruce looks to continue pounding the Mets as the Cincinnati Reds attempt to extend their dominance at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
Bruce, a career .257 hitter, is on an 11-game hitting streak. The right fielder owns a .400 average with five homers, seven doubles and 14 RBIs in that stretch.
He’s also approaching his career-high 13-game hit streak set as a rookie July 27-Aug. 9, 2008.
Bruce has been just as effective against the Mets of late, going 10 for 27 (.370) with five homers, four doubles and 11 RBIs in the last seven meetings. He has two hits in each of the last four matchups, with three homers, four doubles and seven runs in that span.
Bruce was at it again Monday, hitting a go-ahead shot as Cincinnati (27-18) took the opener of this three-game set 4-3, its eighth win in 10 games at Citi Field.
Baker is expected to turn to Mike Leake (3-2, 3.72 ERA), who remains in the rotation despite Johnny Cueto’s return from the disabled list Monday.
Leake’s latest effort was his best of the season, as the right-hander scattered nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-0 win at Miami on Wednesday. He had lost two of his previous three outings with a 5.17 ERA.
“He’s doing better than some of the guys on our staff,” Baker said of the possibility of Leake losing his rotation spot. “I don’t understand why it was coming down between him and somebody else anyway. Leake has pitched well. It shouldn’t have been thought of.”
Leake has posted a 1.65 ERA in four starts versus the Mets, but is just 1-1 in those games as he received two or fewer runs of support in three of them.
He didn’t need much help at home against New York on Aug. 15, tossing a four-hitter in a 6-1 victory. Leake has limited David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis to a combined 3 for 28.
Davis hasn’t posed a threat to anyone this season, as his .152 average is third-worst in the major leagues.
The first baseman has been particularly bad over the past nine games, going 1 for 33 with 13 strikeouts. He’s 6 for 30 with two RBIs in nine career home meetings with Cincinnati.
New York has dropped four in a row and nine of 11 at home, averaging 2.2 runs in that span.
Jonathon Niese (3-4, 5.40) will try to build on his longest start of the season. The left-hander yielded two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win at St. Louis on Thursday, ending the Mets’ season high-tying six-game losing streak. He had allowed 15 runs in 8 1-3 innings over his previous two starts.
Niese has gone 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA while giving up six homers in four starts against the Reds, losing both home outings.
One of those came June 16, a 4-1 defeat in which he allowed a three-run first-inning homer to Bruce before surrendering another run and leaving after the seventh.
The Mets’ Marlon Byrd has gone 6 for 16 (.375) with two homers and six RBIs over his last six games.
The New York Yankees have gotten some outstanding pitching recently, though that wasn’t the case in Phil Hughes’ last start.
Hughes will attempt to bounce back from the worst start of his career and lead the Yankees to their fourth straight win Tuesday night against the sinking Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff in the series opener Monday, allowing at least 10 hits in consecutive starts for only the third time in his career before leaving down 4-3 in the seventh inning.
Travis Hafner, however, hit a game-tying homer in the ninth off Baltimore (23-21) closer Jim Johnson before New York (28-16) added two runs in the 10th for a 6-4 victory.
“The ball’s up. That seems to be the common thing lately,” said Johnson, who has blown three straight saves after converting a franchise-record 35 in a row. “Just not making the adjustment.”
With several key players still out because of injuries, the Yankees have won 10 of 13 and remain atop the AL East partly due to a pitching staff that has posted a 2.85 ERA over that span.
Hughes (2-5, 5.88 ERA), though, has yet to contribute to the staff’s success during that stretch, getting roughed up for 13 runs and 13 hits over 6 1-3 innings in his last two starts. He had gone 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous four.
The right-hander had never failed to make it out of the first in 110 previous starts before getting only two outs in a 12-2 loss to Seattle on Wednesday.
“When I tried to go to changeup, slider, curveball, it seemed like nothing was there,” said Hughes, a 16-game winner in 2012.
His last outing against the Orioles was also a short stint, allowing five runs and nine hits - including three homers - over three-plus innings in a 5-3 loss April 13.
It’s been a different story at Camden Yards, where he’s given up only one homer while going 2-0 with a 3.06 ERA in his last three starts.
Nick Markakis, who has batted .386 while hitting safely in nine of his last 10 games, has done some damage against Hughes with a .326 batting average and two homers in 43 career at-bats.
Nate McLouth should be happy about seeing Hughes again - he’s 7 for 9 with four doubles.
The Orioles will try to avoid their seventh straight loss on this eight-game homestand and eighth in a row overall at Camden Yards. It’s their worst home losing streak since an 11-game slide Aug. 22-Sept. 7, 2007.
Scheduled starter Miguel Gonzalez (2-2, 4.58) looks to end the skid in his first start since coming off the disabled list because of a blister on his right thumb.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 26 2-3 innings over four career starts against the Yankees, including a solid outing in the 2012 ALDS. Gonzalez took the loss in his last start versus New York, giving up three runs and walking five over six-plus innings in a 5-2 loss April 12.
Robinson Cano was 2 for 3 versus Gonzalez after going hitless in his six previous at-bats in this matchup. He hit his 13th homer in the first inning Monday before Baltimore’s Chris Davis re-tied him for the AL lead an inning later.
Cano is batting .431 with 11 homers and 25 RBIs in his last 40 regular-season games at Camden Yards.
NEW YORK (AP) — Things weren’t going well for Johnny Cueto in his return from the disabled list, so he had a conversation - with himself.
That’s all it took.
Cueto responded to the pep talk by striking out six of his last seven batters, then Jay Bruce helped make him a winner by hitting a tiebreaking home run that carried the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets on Monday night.
”I asked myself, ‘What was going on, what happened?”’ Cueto said through a translator. ”I told myself I have to start pitching the way I am. Then after that, I said, ‘That is me.”’
Brandon Phillips had a two-run single for his first career hit off Shaun Marcum in 13 at-bats. Phillips also made two sparkling plays in the field to help the Reds bounce back from a stunning 3-2 loss to the Phillies in which closer Aroldis Chapman gave up two home runs.
Chapman, the Reds’ fifth reliever, struck out two - one on a 99 mph fastball - in a perfect ninth for his ninth save. He had blown his two previous save chances.
”Got to get back on the horse, right away,” manager Dusty Baker said. ”Otherwise it festers and grows.”
Cueto (2-0) started for the first time since leaving his outing April 13 in the fifth inning with a strained left upper-back muscle. Making his fourth start of the season, the Reds’ ace gave up three hits and three runs with eight strikeouts in five innings. But he walked four, including one in the third, when Marlon Byrd touched him for a three-run homer.
”I knew you just couldn’t keep getting in trouble like that, walking guys without centering one, but that’s just what happened,” Baker said. ”But he came back and pitched well.”
After the homer, Cueto struck out four in a row with a fastball that reached the mid-90s.
His counterpart, Marcum (0-5), rarely reached 86 mph in pitching at least six innings for the second straight start after failing to finish five in any of his first three starts with the Mets. Still, he remains winless in his first season in New York.
Slumping Mets first baseman Ike Davis slid deeper into his monthlong funk, going 0 for 3 and being called for interference in the field when he was clipped at first by Joey Votto, who was making a turn toward second base in the Reds’ three-run first inning.
Davis was lifted in a double switch after striking out in the sixth, his second strikeout of the night. He has two hits in his last 36 at-bats, and only one RBI in May.
Marcum appeared headed for another early exit after a 20-minute top of the first. He walked Shin-Soo Choo leading off. After an out, Votto, the NL player of the week, hit a smash that ricocheted off first base and into right field. As he made his turn at first, Votto nudged Davis, who was nonchalantly standing near the bag, watching the play. Votto was tagged out at second but Davis was charged with an error for interference and Votto was awarded second.
”I was looking for the ball and I took a couple of steps,” Davis said. ”That’s why I was there longer than I should’ve been.”
Phillips followed with a two-run single and Bruce doubled in a run, extending his hitting streak to 11. Marcum struck out Todd Frazier and Xavier Paul, and walked off to mock cheers.
”We’ve been through this now for what, five starts? I get hit, it’s location. I made four or five mistakes today and they all got hit,” Marcum said. ”Got to limit the mistakes.”
The right-hander did not give up another hit until Paul singled with two outs in the fourth.
Bruce broke the tie with a scorching line drive into the right-field seats leading off the sixth.
”Woo, that was a missile,” Baker said.
Mets manager Terry Collins took a chance on putting strikeout-prone Rick Ankiel in the second spot in the order because he was 7 for 16 against Cueto, and Ankiel led off the third with a single. David Wright walked and, after Lucas Duda struck out, Byrd sent a drive to left field for his fourth homer this year.
Byrd came in 6 for 11 against Cueto.
The Mets loaded the bases in the first on two walks and a single by Duda, bringing up Davis.
The scoreboard operator urged fans to cheer on Davis, and many of the 23,038 in attendance made some noise. Davis hit a sharp grounder toward second, but Phillips dived to his right to stop it and then threw out Davis.
”I hit one ball hard - at the wrong guy, a Gold Glover,” Davis said.
Phillips then showed why he’s a three-time Gold Glove winner in the fifth, making a long run into center field for a basket catch with his back to the plate. It was a very difficult play, but he made it look easy.
”I practice that,” Phillips said.
Collins and reliever LaTroy Hawkins were ejected by plate umpire Tom Hallion after the top of the seventh for disputing a call that Phillips was hit by a pitch. Collins and Hawkins insisted the ball hit the knob of the bat and not Phillips’ hand.
NOTES: The Mets signed RHP David Aardsma to a minor league contract. He requested his release from the Miami Marlins organization Wednesday. The former Seattle closer missed all of 2011 and made only one appearance late last season with the Yankees. He will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. … The Reds sent INF Neftali Soto to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Cueto. … The Mets will host military appreciation night on Sunday. The Mets have given out more than 3,800 tickets to military personnel and their families for the game against Atlanta.
CHICAGO (AP) — Adam Dunn has been insisting all season he feels great, even while he was piling up strikeouts at the beginning of the year.
It’s not so hard to believe him right now.
Dunn hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the Chicago White Sox handed Jon Lester his first loss with a 6-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.
”It was hard to sit here and keep saying over and over and over how good I felt, with no results,” Dunn said. ”Hopefully these results keep coming and people start believing me that I wasn’t lying to them.”
Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez added consecutive RBI doubles in the second as Chicago took advantage of an ineffective Lester (6-1) to earn its fifth win in seven games in the opener of an eight-game homestand. The White Sox scored each of their runs with two outs.
”The first inning’s good, but you know for me, that next inning when you get a couple doubles and you score like that, that’s a good sign,” manager Robin Ventura said.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run homer for the Red Sox, who had won five in a row. Saltalamacchia made a bid for a second two-run shot, but Dayan Viciedo brought in his drive on the warning track in left-center with the White Sox clinging to a 6-4 lead in the seventh.
Boston right fielder Shane Victorino was running the bases in the sixth when his left hamstring started to bother him, and he was replaced in the field in the bottom of the inning. He also missed games on Friday and Saturday with a back injury.
”He felt the left hamstring grab him, little bit of a spasm,” manager John Farrell said. ”Given what he’s been dealing with, low back, I wasn’t going to take any chances in that situation.”
Farrell said Victorino was day to day, and the team would proceed cautiously.
Lester was trying to become the first left-handed starter to win his first seven decisions for Boston since Roger Moret in 1973. But he was shaky in the first couple of innings while falling to 4-5 in 10 career games against the White Sox to go along with a 5.43 ERA, his highest against any AL team.
”Chicago, for some reason, I don’t feel like I’ve ever pitched well here for whatever reason,” Lester said. ”It is what it is, and it always goes back down to executing pitches at the right time, and I didn’t execute the pitch in the first inning. That changed the whole momentum of the game.”
Lester retired his first two batters before running into trouble. Alex Rios singled to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and Paul Konerko walked before Dunn drove a 2-0 pitch to right for his fifth homer in seven games and No. 11 on the year.
Dunn also walked before Viciedo singled home Ramirez to make it 6-2 in the fifth. The burly slugger is batting .360 with 13 RBIs in his last seven games, raising his average 39 points to .172 for the year.
”When he’s right, he can do a lot of damage,” Ventura said. ”His pitch selection is good. I don’t know mechanically exactly what it is but when a guy knows he’s in the right position to hit and he’s more confident, it comes down to pitch selection.”
Lester retired the side in order in the sixth, and that was it for him. He allowed five earned runs and seven hits, walked three and struck out two.
While Lester struggled, Dylan Axelrod (2-3) pitched six effective innings to win his second straight start. The right-hander, who could lose his spot in the rotation when John Danks comes off the disabled list, gave up two runs and four hits.
”It’s easy to have a lead and pitch to contact and just let the defense work,” he said.
Axelrod acknowledged that he thinks about his role with Danks almost back from August shoulder surgery, but Ventura said there’s still a bit to go before a decision has to be made.
”John’s going to throw next couple of days, and then we’ll find out exactly, go from there,” Ventura said. ”But again, it’s not going to be easy for anybody. We’ll make that decision when we get there.”
Matt Thornton yielded Will Middlebrooks’ two-run double in the seventh and Jesse Crain extended his scoreless streak to 17 innings before Addison Reed finished for his 15th save in 16 chances.
With one out and a runner on first in the ninth, Middlebrooks hit a drive that De Aza caught at the wall in center field. Konerko then made a diving stop on Stephen Drew’s grounder and flipped the ball to Reed covering first to end the game.
The White Sox improved to 9-9 at home on the first night of a stretch of 17 of 23 games in Chicago that includes two against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. If the White Sox (20-23) can turn around their sluggish play at U.S. Cellular Field, it could be a chance to make up some ground in the bunched AL Central.
NOTES: The Red Sox activated closer Andrew Bailey from the 15-day disabled list. He had been out since April 29 with right biceps inflammation. … Chicago 2B Gordon Beckham, placed on the disabled list April 12 with a broken bone in his left wrist, played shortstop in a rehab game with Triple-A Charlotte on Monday night. Ventura said Beckham could return to the team by the end of the week. … LHPs Felix Doubront (3-1, 6.03 ERA) of the Red Sox and Jose Quintana (2-1, 3.97) of the White Sox are slated to pitch Tuesday.
BALTIMORE (AP) — A tense AL East duel between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles revealed the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
After the Yankees beat the Orioles 6-4 in 10 innings Monday night to extend Baltimore’s losing streak to six games, it became apparent why New York leads the division and Baltimore is mired in its longest skid in nearly a year.
Both showed their hitting prowess. Both played solid defense. The difference was that the Orioles got another poor performance from the back end of their bullpen, and New York got a typically strong outing from closer Mariano Rivera.
New York trailed 4-3 in the ninth before Travis Hafner homered with one out on a 3-1 pitch from Jim Johnson, who has blown three straight save opportunities after converting a franchise-record 35 in a row. All three of those botched saves have come during Baltimore’s current slide.
Pedro Strop then gave up two runs in the 10th to complete the collapse. After that, Rivera breezed through a 1-2-3 inning for his 17th save in 17 tries.
”Believe me, I don’t take him for granted,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Rivera. ”It’s hard to do it year after year after year. You’re going to see guys go through some ups and downs, but Mo doesn’t go through a lot.”
Neither did Johnson until last week, when he blew ninth-inning leads against San Diego and Tampa Bay before collapsing against the Yankees.
”The ball’s up. That seems to be the common thing lately,” Johnson said. ”Just not making the adjustment. I’m trying, you know, doing everything. I’m going to work through it.”
Rivera, on the other hand, has been darn near perfect. And that is why the Yankees are 28-16 and Baltimore is five games back, as close to last place as first.
The Yankees also improved to 19-0 when scoring first this season.
”All bullpens are going to go through their struggles,” Girardi said. ”The bottom line is that we were able to get some runs off some pretty good pitchers tonight.”
Robinson Cano hit his team-high 13th home run in the first inning for New York, David Adams clubbed his first major-league homer in the second and Lyle Overbay connected in the seventh.
In the 10th, Ichiro Suzuki led off with a double off Strop (0-2) and Vernon Wells followed with an RBI double to left. Hafner added a two-out single to make it 6-4.
David Robertson (3-0) worked the ninth as part of a relief crew that allowed two hits and no runs in 3 2-3 innings. Their effort followed an uneven performance by starter CC Sabathia.
Asked to assess the bullpen’s performance, Sabathia said, ”Unbelievable, but that’s just been all year. We knew that was a strong point of our team, but they’ve really carried us. They’ve been great.”
After Overbay put New York up 3-2 in the seventh with a homer off Troy Patton, Baltimore took the lead in the bottom half. Alexi Casilla singled and scored on a double by Nick Markakis, who came home on an opposite-field double to right by J.J. Hardy.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter elevated Hardy to the third spot in the lineup because the shortstop came in with a .321 career batting average against Sabathia. Hardy also doubled in the fifth against the big left-hander.
”We had the lead and it’s up to me to go out and shut the door,” Sabathia said. ”It’s very frustrating, especially in a close game like this. Luckily, these guys were able to bail me out.”
Sabathia gave up four runs and 11 hits in 6 1-3 innings. He left with New York trailing 4-3, but Hafner’s shot in the ninth preserved Sabathia’s 17-4 lifetime record against Baltimore.
Orioles starter Freddy Garcia, who pitched the past two years for the Yankees, allowed two runs, three hits - two homers and a meaningless single - in six innings. Aided by two double plays, the right-hander faced only three batters over the minimum.
Cano and Adams provided the Yankees with a 2-0 lead before Chris Davis hit his 13th homer for Baltimore in the second.
After wasting a two-out double by Matt Wieters in the fourth, Baltimore pulled even in the fifth. Steve Pearce hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Markakis. Later in the inning, Sabathia retired Adam Jones on a grounder with runners at second and third.
Replays indicated first base umpire Eric Cooper got two calls wrong in the sixth inning, both of which went against Baltimore. Brett Gardner appeared to be picked off first base and was called safe, and Wieters seemed to beat out an infield hit but was called out.
NOTES: Orioles RHP Miguel Gonzalez (blister on thumb) will return from the disabled list Tuesday night and start against the Yankees, who will have right-hander Phil Hughes on the mound. Hughes yielded seven earned runs in the first inning of his last start, against Seattle. … Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira batted in a simulated game in Florida, testing his injured wrist for the first time since spring training. Also, 3B Kevin Youkilis (spine) took batting practice and fielded ground balls; 3B Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery) fielded grounders; INF Eduardo Nunez (oblique) did dry swinging and also took grounders; and RHP Ivan Nova threw 60 pitches in extended spring training … Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Suzuki extended his hitting streak at Camden Yards to 20 games.
DETROIT (AP) — The young Detroit Red Wings have made the mighty Chicago Blackhawks look vulnerable, beating them two straight times to gain an advantage in their last playoff matchup as Western Conference rivals.
Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller scored 31 seconds apart midway through the second period and Pavel Datsyuk restored a two-goal lead in the third to help Detroit beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 Monday night and take a 2-1 lead in the second round series.
As good as the Red Wings have looked - scoring six straight goals to earn momentum in the matchup - their hard-driving coach isn’t ready to celebrate.
”We haven’t done anything yet,” Mike Babcock said.
That’s an understatement. If the seventh-seeded Red Wings keep playing like they are, the top-seeded Blackhawks will have a long offseason to wonder what went wrong in a season that looked like it was going to be special.
On Thursday night at home in Game 4, Detroit has a shot to put Chicago on the brink of elimination.
”It takes something like this to slap you in the face, so to speak, to really understand what adversity is and how tough the playoffs can be,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. ”A lot of guys in this room have been in tough positions before in the playoffs and that’s never stopped us. We know this is a long series and we’re going to be fighting until the end.”
Chicago’s chances will improve if Toews can end his goal-scoring skid.
He doesn’t have a goal in nine playoff games, dating to last year. He matched Patrick Kane with a team-high 23 goals in the 48-game, lockout-shortened season.
Toews did have a game-high seven shots in Game 3, but Jimmy Howard and his backchecking, shot-blocking teammates wouldn’t let him end his drought.
”I’m not going to let it get the best of me,” Toews said. ”I know I’m doing good things. I’m very confident that it’s going to come.”
Kane scored 4:35 into the third period to pull Chicago within one. About a minute later, the Blackhawks celebrated as if they tied the game, but Andrew Shaw’s goal was waved off because he was in the crease.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he disagreed with the call that negated Shaw’s game-tying score.
”He didn’t touch the goalie,” Quenneville said.
And Chicago’s goalie, Corey Crawford, couldn’t touch Datsyuk’s shot 6:46 into the final period that went in and out of the net before he saw it. Crawford finished with 27 saves.
Howard stopped 39 shots.
Chicago has lost consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months.
The Blackhawks began the lockout-delayed season by setting an NHL record with at least a point in their first 24 games, ended it with a league-high 77 points and avoided having a three-game losing streak.
”The team is facing a little adversity and I am on a personal basis,” Toews said. ”Not going to let that stop us or me.”
After a scoreless first period in a hot and steamy Joe Louis Arena, Detroit took a 2-0 lead with a pretty goal and a gritty one.
Nyquist patiently carried the puck from right to left and waited for defenseman Brent Seabrook and Crawford to sprawl out to make a shot before shooting the puck into the open net.
”He’s real good at hanging onto the puck,” Babcock said.
Miller crashed the net to stuff the puck into the net after Patrick Eaves got to his own rebound to keep pressure on Crawford. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival started the sequence with a turnover in the Chicago end.
It was a sixth straight goal for the Red Wings, who lost the series opener 4-1 and gave up the first goal of Game 2 before going on to even the series with a 4-1 victory.
”They’re a real good team and they’re going to carry the play at times,” Babcock said. ”We’re a good team and we’re going to carry the play at times.”
NOTES: Babcock won his 77th postseason game, matching Quenneville for the most among active coaches and trailing Pat Burns by one victory for 8th place on the NHL’s all-time list. … Chicago hasn’t given up a power play goal in its first eight playoff games, matching the 2001 St. Louis Blues for the longest such streak since 1988, according to STATS. … The Blackhawks put Viktor Stalberg back in the lineup, and scratched Daniel Carcillo, and Stalberg got shook up early in the game, missing a check and going head first into the boards.