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Strasburg settles down, Nats rout Cardinals 11-1

Sunday, 09 March 2014 22:35 Published in Sports
 
VIERA, Fla. (AP) -- As he warmed up in the bullpen for his second spring training start, Stephen Strasburg felt strong. Perhaps a little too strong.
 
The right-hander overcame a shaky first inning and the Washington Nationals' offense came up big again in an 11-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
 
Strasburg walked two and gave up an RBI single to his first three batters before settling down. He went three innings, allowing two hits while throwing 28 of 48 pitches for strikes.
 
"I got some good work in," Strasburg said. "I felt too good in the bullpen and then went out there and tried to paint the first pitch on (the black) instead of starting out with a little bit bigger zone and then working off the middle of the plate.
 
"I made a good adjustment and then I didn't see any problems."
 
Anthony Rendon homered and Wilson Ramos had two hits and three RBIs for the Nationals, who have 27 runs in their last three games. Washington scored four runs in the third inning, three on infield singles.
 
Allen Craig had two of St. Louis' three hits, including an RBI single. Cardinals starter Joe Kelly gave up five runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Cardinals: Kelly had a rough outing, but manager Mike Matheny wasn't entirely displeased.
 
"I thought he did a lot better job than what his line is going to look like," Matheny said. "It was just one of those days."
 
Nationals: Strasburg continued to work on his slider, which he is mixing in about as often as his curveball right now. He said he throws the slider to get contact, not for a strikeout.
 
"Before, I would kind of throw it easy, a little unsure," Strasburg said. "But in the `pen, it felt really good. Then I go out there and I was overthrowing it. It had a little too much movement. But then I took a step back and then I started to get some better results with it."
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
Cardinals: Outfield prospect Oscar Tavares made the trip to Viera, but his only action was shagging fly balls before the game. Matheny said Tavares felt tightness in his right hamstring during Saturday's game. Tavares is day to day.
 
Nationals: Manager Matt Williams said RHP Doug Fister (elbow inflammation) is feeling better, but there is still no timetable for his return. Ryan Mattheus (chest inflammation) has started a throwing program, but has not thrown off a mound yet.
 
THE OTHER CORNER
 
Ryan Zimmerman did not play for the Nationals, but he did take some grounders at first base. Williams indicated he plans to give the team's starting third baseman some time on the other side of the diamond this spring.
 
NEW ADDITION
 
The Cardinals signed 23-year-old Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz to a four-year contract. He will report to camp Monday.
 
"He looked like a very experienced player for as young as he is," said Matheny, who attended Diaz's workout. "He was clean fielding the ball. ... The ball jumped off his bat. He looked pretty polished."
 
Matheny said Diaz would have to be evaluated by the team's medical staff before it could be determined when he will be ready to play this spring. Diaz can play shortstop or second base.
 
NATS MAKE CUTS
 
The Nationals made their first cuts of spring training Sunday morning. The team reassigned 1B-3B Matt Skole, C Jeff Howell, INF Josh Johnson, C Brian Jeroloman, LHP Tyler Robertson and RHP Gabriel Alfaro to minor league camp.

Tennessee rips Missouri 72-45 for 4th straight win

Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:41 Published in Sports
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Antonio Barton scored 16 points and Jarnell Stokes had a double-double Saturday as Tennessee trounced Missouri 72-45 to win its fourth straight game and boost its NCAA tournament hopes.
 
Tennessee (20-11, 11-7 SEC) hasn't trailed at any point during its winning streak. Its last three games have been decided by an average margin of 31 points.
 
Barton shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range against Missouri and has now gone 13 of 22 from behind the arc over his last three games. Stokes had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan McRae added 11 points.
 
Jordan Clarkson had 13 points for Missouri (21-10, 9-9).
 
Both Tennessee and Missouri are perceived to be on the NCAA tournament bubble, raising the stakes in this regular-season finale for both teams. Missouri had beaten Tennessee 75-70 on Feb. 15 in Columbia, but Saturday's rematch bore no resemblance to that game.
 
The Tigers shot 56.5 percent in their victory over Tennessee last month. Missouri shot 32 percent (15 of 47) overall and was 2 of 17 from 3-point range Saturday while recording its lowest point total of the season.
 
Missouri's Jabari Brown, who entered the day leading the SEC with 20.1 points per game, shot 1 of 10 and was held to eight points. His only basket came with 1:19 left in the game. Brown scored 24 points against Tennessee last month.
 
Tennessee grabbed a 37-19 halftime lead by crushing Missouri on the boards and from 3-point range.
 
At the start of the day, Tennessee was second in the SEC and Missouri third in rebound margin. But their matchup Saturday turned into a mismatch. In the first half, Stokes nearly outrebounded Missouri by himself. Stokes had 11 boards in the first half to give Tennessee a 23-12 rebounding edge. Tennessee ended up outrebounding Missouri 45-28.
 
Tennessee also shot 6 of 16 from 3-point range in the first half while Missouri was just 1 of 6. Tennessee got some long-range contributions from unlikely sources. Armani Moore, who entered the day 8 of 32 from 3-point range in his college career, made both his first-half attempts from behind the arc. The Vols cooled off from long range in the second half — going 1 of 8 — but the game already was pretty much out of reach by then.
 
While Tennessee was on fire early, Missouri had nearly had as many first-half turnovers (six) as baskets (seven).
 
Missouri briefly threatened to make a game of it early in the second half.
 
McRae picked up his third foul on a Ryan Rosburg three-point play that cut Tennessee's lead to 39-25 with 17:25 left. With McRae on the bench in foul trouble and plenty of time remaining, Missouri had a chance to rally.
 
Tennessee instead responded with a 10-0 run to put the game away. The Vols' lead never dipped below 22 points the rest of the way as they delighted the partisan crowd with five second-half dunks, including a reverse jam from McRae that resulted in a three-point play with 3:58 remaining.

Rosenthal pain-free, Wacha pitches well for Cards

Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:39 Published in Sports
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Trevor Rosenthal had a pain-free spring training debut and Michael Wacha pitched three effective innings for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-4 tie with a Washington Nationals split squad that was called after 10 innings Saturday.
 
Groin pain prompted the Cardinals to sideline Rosenthal for a few days this spring, but that wasn't a problem Saturday. The hard-throwing closer said he's nearly in regular-season form following his first Grapefruit League appearance.
 
Wacha worked two perfect innings before allowing a run on two hits and a walk in the third.
 
Destin Hood's three-run homer gave the Nationals a 4-1 lead in the eighth. St. Louis tied it with three in the bottom half, including Greg Garcia's two-run single.

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