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Martinez, Gibson sharp in starts

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 23:15 Published in Sports
 
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- St. Louis' Carlos Martinez and Minnesota's Kyle Gibson each enhanced their chances of earning a spot in their team's rotation with solid outings, and the Cardinals beat the Twins 3-1 on Wednesday.
 
Martinez cruised into the fifth, holding the Twins to one hit, but Jason Bartlett had an RBI single to right-center in the sixth that ended the right-hander's scoreless string at 14 innings.
 
For Bartlett, the hit was his first of the spring in 27 at-bats.
 
The 22-year-old righty struck out four but kept his pitch count low by inducing two inning-ending double plays.
 
"He's starting to learn his stuff but he's also trusting a pretty good catcher behind the plate to help him understand which ones he needs to focus on and what pitches are most likely to get him out of a jam," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
 
Making his fourth appearance - second start - Gibson limited the Cardinals to Matt Adams' second homer of spring training in 4 1-3 innings. Gibson allowed four hits.
 
"He's pitching really well," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We really like him. He's doing what he's supposed to do. That's good stuff."
 
Peter Bourjos doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Samuel Deduno in the eighth inning.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Minnesota: Deduno is also a candidate for the fifth spot in the Twins' rotation. Deduno had allowed one earned run in 9 2-3 innings. He piggybacked Gibson against the Cardinals, allowing two runs in 2 2-3 innings.
 
St. Louis: As good as Martinez was in short relief last season, one reason the Cardinals believe he will eventually be a starter is that in minor league starts his fastball didn't lose much of its velocity over the course of multiple innings.
 
"There are some guys who can come out and just really light up the (radar) gun for an inning or so. There's other guys that can hold it. He's been one that's been able to hold it," Matheny said.
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
Twins: shortstop Pedro Florimon made his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday night and was back in the lineup again on Wednesday. After missing much of the spring because of an appendectomy, Florimon should be a fixture in Minnesota's lineup over the final week-and-a-half.
 
"He needs at-bats," Gardenhire said. "He needs to play because he sat out the whole spring and then we'll see where we are in a week and go from there, but I'm going to try to get him out there pretty much every day."
 
Cardinals: Second baseman Mark Ellis' sore knee continues to keep him out of action. Matheny said Ellis could play were it the regular season, but the veteran will likely get at least a couple more days off.
 
NESHEK BACK
 
Pat Neshek pitched in a major league game for the first time since leaving Cardinals camp last week to be with his wife for the birth of their child. A non-roster invitee, Neshek struck out two and earned the save on Wednesday.
 
SUPER UTILITY
 
Barlett received his first spring start at third base for the Twins. Defense hasn't been the non-roster invitee's problem. He entered Wednesday's game 0 for 24 at the plate.
 
"He's actually having quality at-bats," Gardenhire said. "The numbers in spring training never affect me if you are having quality at-bats."
 
ROSTER MOVES
 
After the game, Matheny said St. Louis sent pitcher Tyler Lyons to the minors. Early in the spring, Lyons was thought to be an option for the fifth starting spot. He worked exclusively out of the bullpen once games began, allowing 13 runs in eight innings.
 

Blackhawks beat Blues 4-0 behind Crawford

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 23:12 Published in Sports
 
CHICAGO (AP) -- Corey Crawford stopped 23 shots for his second shutout this season, backstopping the Blackhawks to a physical 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night that gave Chicago coach Joel Quenneville his 700th NHL win.
 
It was a costly victory for the Blackhawks, though. Leading scorer Patrick Kane left the game at 7:56 of the second period, favoring his left leg as he headed to the dressing room following a collision with Brenden Morrow.
 
Kane is expected to miss about three weeks, Quenneville said.
 
Duncan Keith, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith scored as Chicago ended the league-leading Blues' nine-game point streak (8-0-1) and dealt St. Louis its first regulation loss against a Central Division opponent this season. The Blues entered 20-0-2 against division foes and hadn't lost in regulation since a 1-0 defeat at Anaheim on Feb. 28.
 
Quenneville, who previously guided St. Louis and Colorado, has the most wins of any active NHL coach and ranks third all-time behind Al Arbour and Scotty Bowman, now the Blackhawks' senior adviser of hockey operations.
 
Crawford earned his 10th career shutout in Chicago's first win against the Blues this season after three losses.
 
Kane, who has 29 goals and 40 assists in 68 games, assisted on Keith's opening goal.
 
St. Louis goalie Ryan Miller lost in regulation for the first time since joining the Blues following a trade from Buffalo on Feb. 28. Miller, now 7-1-1 with St. Louis, was replaced by Brian Elliott at 7:58 of the third period after allowing four goals on 27 shots.
 
St. Louis needs one win to clinch a playoff spot for the 38th time in franchise history.
 
Defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago entered the game tied with Colorado for second in the Central Division and fourth in the Western Conference.
 
The Blackhawks have struggled this season against their top rivals in the Central. Chicago entered Wednesday's game with only one win and five points in eight games against St. Louis and Colorado.
 
Keith scored the only goal in a physical first period on a power play with 58 seconds left.
 
After taking Kane's feed, Keith fired a drive from the top of the slot that zipped past Miller's stick side just as Shaw provided a screen by cutting across the crease.
 
The play got tighter and grittier in the second, and Chicago took a 2-0 lead thanks to Shaw's goal on a deflection with 4:25 left in the period.
 
Shaw's goal capped a determined, physical flurry by Chicago.
 
The Blackhawks were jamming the net when Patrick Sharp picked up a loose puck and fed back to Nick Leddy at the blue line. Leddy's drive ticked off the shaft of Shaw's stick and past Miller as Shaw battled for position in front of the net with Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
 
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk threw a loose rebound behind Crawford during a St. Louis power play in the final seconds of the second, but the puck slid across the crease and to the far boards.
 
Kruger and Smith scored 2:15 apart in the third period to ice it for Chicago.
 
Following a long lead pass from defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, Kruger took a quick feed from Peter Regin in the slot and beat Miller from just outside the crease at 5:20 to make it 3-0.
 
Smith's power-play goal at 7:35 extended Chicago's lead to 4-0. He connected from the doorstep after taking a feed from Kris Versteeg behind the net after Miller stopped Leddy's shot from the blue line.
 
Notes: Blackhawks C Michal Handzus played in his 1,000th NHL game and was honored in a pregame ceremony. He turned 37 last week. ... St. Louis RW Vladimir Tarasenko underwent surgery for a right hand injury sustained last Saturday at Nashville in the final minute of the game. He will be re-evaluated in six weeks. ... Blues RW T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup after missing one game for the birth of his first child. ... Chicago LW Brandon Saad sat out his second game with an upper-body injury and is day to day.

Brown lifts Missouri over Davidson 85-77

Tuesday, 18 March 2014 23:53 Published in Sports
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Tigers put to rest any questions of whether they would be motivated to play in the National Invitation Tournament.
 
After missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years, Missouri overcame two 13-point deficits in the second half and won its NIT opener against Davidson 85-77 on Tuesday.
 
"There's a lot of teams that don't play," coach Frank Haith said. "We talked about competing. When you have a young team, you have a chance. You can use it as a springboard."
 
Jabari Brown scored 30 points, including his 1,000th career point at Missouri, and Earnest Ross added 16 for the Tigers (23-11), who advance to face the winner of Wednesday's matchup between Southern Mississippi and Toledo.
 
De'Mon Brooks led Davidson (20-13) with a career-high 29 points. The Wildcats ended their season with two consecutive losses after winning 13 in a row to win the Southern Conference regular-season title.
 
The legaue player of the year fought back tears after the game, saying he told his teammates in the locker room how quickly time flies.
 
"I've been at Davidson for the past four years," Brooks said. "It's changed my life. It's the best decision of my life coming to this school. I'd do anything for anything affiliated with Davidson."
 
Missouri trailed 54-41 with 16:52 remaining following a 16-4 run by the Wildcats but scored 12 of the next 16 points and took a 69-67 lead on a traditional three-point play by Johnathan Williams III with 6:05 left — Missouri's first advantage since the 10:41 mark of the first half.
 
Brown then sparked a 10-2 Missouri run to give the Tigers an 81-74 lead with 1:17 remaining. Davidson's Tyler Kalinoski hit a 3-pointer to end the streak, but the Wildcats could get no closer than four points the rest of the way.
 
Kalinoski finished with 16 points.
 
The Tigers played with a three-man bench following the arrests of freshmen guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector on Saturday for suspicion of 35 grams or less of marijuana. Tony Criswell sat out for a violation of team rules and Corey Haith watched while nursing an injury.
 
Despite Missouri playing shorthanded, Davidson coach Bob McKillop said the Tigers wore his team down. Davidson shot 51.5 percent (17 of 33) from the field in the first half but only 32.4 percent (11 of 34) after the break.
 
"(Jordan) Clarkson and Ross and Brown have the bodies of pro guards," he said. "Brian Sullivan certainly doesn't. They took advantage of that throughout the game. I think the guards overpowered us."
 
Missouri shot 58 percent (29 of 50) from the field, its best performance of the year behind a 62.3 percent performance at Mississippi State on March 1. Brown noted the importance of bench players such as Danny Feldmann, who contributed four points and four rebounds in a season-high 22 minutes.
 
"Danny really stepped up. He knows every word, where he's supposed to be on the court, offense and defense. He's not afraid to make plays," Brown said. "When the opportunity presents itself, he did that."
 
The Tigers improved to 2-7 all-time in the NIT in front of a season-low attendance of 2,403, with their only other win coming in 1996.
 

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