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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Carlos Beltran, Michael Wacha and the St. Louis Cardinals are going to the World Series - not even Clayton Kershaw could stop them this year.

Beltran and the Cardinals stunned the Dodgers' ace with a four-run third inning, Wacha was again magnificent on the mound and St. Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game 6 of the NL championship series Friday night.

Wacha, a rookie, was selected MVP of the series after throwing 13 2-3 scoreless innings and beating Kershaw twice in the NLCS.

Matt Carpenter sparked St. Louis' big third inning with a one-out double on the 11th pitch of his at-bat. Beltran singled him home and the Cardinals quickly removed all the suspense surrounding a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS last fall against San Francisco.

"I'm so happy right now. We did it as a team," Beltran said. "We fought hard, we worked hard all season long and thank god we're here."

Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday at the winner of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals won their 19th NL pennant and will be trying for their third title since 2006, last winning in 2011.

The glamorous Dodgers, with the second-highest payroll in baseball at $220 million, failed to reach the World Series for the first time since winning it all in 1988.

After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals turned to Wacha once again. The right-hander was even better in outpitching Kershaw for the second time this series.

It was 52 degrees at game time, a 23-degree drop from the Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and Kershaw never warmed up.

The top NL CY Young Award candidate was knocked out of a start for the first time this season without finishing the fifth.

Beltran had three hits and drove in two runs while facing Kershaw and made a spectacular catch in right field, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.

Perhaps showing the Cardinals weren't stressed by the possibility of a second straight postseason meltdown, Games 1 and 5 starter Joe Kelly had a post-national anthem staredown against Dodgers reserve outfielder Scott Van Slyke that was broken up by a fed-up home plate umpire Greg Gibson after several minutes.

Kelly blinked first, all in good fun but, when it counted, St. Louis wouldn't budge.

The Cardinals jumped on Kershaw in the third, batting around. After Wacha grounded out, Carpenter doubled in a gritty at-bat. Beltran singled him home for the game's first run. With two outs, Yadier Molina added an RBI single, Shane Robinson drove in two runs with a single in his first career postseason start after replacing slumping Jon Jay - and advanced to second base on Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig's first of two errors in the Cardinals' big innings.

The Cuban defector also struck out twice and was booed heartily. Hanley Ramirez, a last-minute addition to the Dodgers' lineup, went 0 for 3 while playing with a broken rib.

Kershaw needed 48 pitches, the most pitches of his career in one inning, in the third. He took exception one pitch in particular, complaining to plate umpire Greg Gibson after Matt Adams' full-count walk loaded the bases.

The Dodgers bench also was vocal after the call on a pitch that may have been an inch or two low of the strike zone.

The Cardinals knocked Kershaw out in a five-run fifth. Adams doubled in a run to chase Kershaw. Wacha drove in one with a fielder's choice grounder and Carpenter had a sacrifice fly

Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in three postseason starts, one of the gems in Game 4 of the division series to keep the Cardinals alive. In his last regular season start and the NL Central up for grabs, he no-hit the Nationals for 8 2-3 innings.

"There's not anything you can't say about him," Kelly said of Wacha. "He's just going out there and pitching his butt off right now and as you can see he's just a pretty damn good pitcher."

Beltran was the star of the Cardinals' 3-2, 13-inning Game 1 victory, driving in all three runs plus making a throw to keep it tied in extra innings.

Kershaw was charged with seven runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings. The lefty led the majors in ERA the last three years but has lost five straight starts against St. Louis.

None of his starts this year were shorter than five innings and the most runs he allowed was five, on two occasions. The four-run fourth was his worst since July 24, 2012, at St. Louis, when Kershaw yielded eight runs in 5 2-3 innings.

The Dodgers didn't have much of a chance again Wacha.

Carl Crawford led off the game with an infield hit but was erased on Mark Elllis' double-play ball. A.J. Ellis doubled to start the sixth and didn't advance.

 

NOTES: Cardinals Hall of Fame SS Ozzie Smith threw the first pitch. ... Beltran has a .331 career postseason average.

Friday, 18 October 2013 23:18
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams ran only 41 plays last week while riding a wave of turnovers to an easy win at Houston.

Still, Sam Bradford found a way to get almost everyone involved, with nine players combining for 12 receptions and three running backs getting touches.

Bradford is off to his best start of his career. Through six games, he is sixth in the NFC in completions (126) and tied for fourth in the NFL with 13 touchdown passes.

After a humbling 35-11 loss to San Francisco, the Rams were 1-3. In the last two weeks, Bradford has thrown three touchdown passes in each game, both wins. The Rams have outscored their last two opponents 72-33 to improve to 3-3.

Coach Jeff Fisher is happy with Bradford's play.

"Been great. No mistakes," Fisher said. "There's only two quarterbacks, I think, in the NFC that have more touchdown passes than he and one is (Cowboys QB Tony) Romo and the other's (Saints QB Drew) Brees. He's got 13 and they've got 14, so he's coming on. He enjoys what he's doing. He's managing the thing and practicing well. His feet are excellent right now in the pocket, so he's playing well."

Against Houston, the Rams scored 38 points while running just 42 offensive plays. Bradford threw just 16 passes with no interceptions against the Texans. He finished with a 134.6 passer rating, the highest of his career for a single game.

There's more to it than Bradford: The Rams have been using multiple tight end sets and the running game has benefited. Rookie running back Zac Stacy started for the second consecutive game. Against Jacksonville, Stacy gained 78 yards on 14 carriers. He followed that with 79 yards on 18 carries against Houston.

The balanced attack is a welcome one for the Rams, who missed departed Steven Jackson early this season.

"You've seen the past two weeks just having some balance between the run game and the pass game, I think it's led us to be more efficient," Bradford said. "We've kept defenses off balance with what we're doing. I think it's been really good for all aspects of our game."

Distributing the ball to different receivers shows growth for Bradford, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. Bradford has been sacked just 13 times, none by Houston.

Throwing to multiple receivers also shows the Rams have depth, Schottenheimer said.

"We have a lot of weapons. We use a lot of different personnel groupings. We mix and match the pieces pretty well," Schottenheimer said. "Again, he just shows his ability to go through progressions. He's willing to take what the defense gives him."

The receivers know that. The ball can come at any time to any one depending on what the defense does.

"I think that shows how much Sam knows and that he can read the defense," Austin Pettis said. "I think he is playing really well, absolutely. You wouldn't really know that because of his demeanor."

There are six receivers who have caught 12 or more passes. Twelve different players have caught a pass this season. Six receivers have caught touchdown passes. Tavon Austin leads the receivers with 24 catches. Pettis has 23 receptions and a team-high four touchdowns. Tight end Jared Cook has 22 catches.

"Sam is doing a good job spreading it around," Cook said. "Everybody is getting some balls which is a good thing and making plays when needed."

Notes: RB Stacy (chest) and DE Chris Long (thigh) both returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's workout.

Thursday, 17 October 2013 23:15
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Growing up in Ohio, Maty Mauk stood on the sideline at Kenton High School watching older brother Ben star at quarterback while father Mike coached the Wildcats to consecutive state championships in 2001 and 2002.

Football ran in the family, and Maty jumped right in. At Kenton with his dad still the coach, he broke national prep records in passing yards (18,932), touchdown passes (219), completions (1,353) and total offense (22,681).

The gaudy numbers led to a scholarship to play quarterback at Missouri, where Mauk hoped he would have the opportunity to play in pressure situations. Last Saturday would probably qualify as one, when the redshirt freshman trotted unexpectedly onto the field with a two-point lead in the fourth quarter at Georgia.

Mike Mauk says he wasn't nervous as he watched from the stands of Sanford Stadium with his wife, Gwyn, and nearly 93,000 others. He wasn't surprised, either, when his son and protege led two touchdown drives to stave off the Bulldogs' comeback and win 41-26.

"It's something that ever since he's been a young kid starting to play athletics — you enjoy competition, you enjoy playing against the best," said Mike Mauk, who with his wife travels to all of the Tigers' games. "That's what competitors enjoy doing."

Maty Mauk figures to be involved in more of these situations as he leads No. 14 Missouri (6-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) into its game Saturday against No. 22 Florida (4-2, 3-1) in place of James Franklin, who sprained his right shoulder at Georgia and is out for at least three weeks. At 6 feet and 200 pounds, Mauk gives up 2 inches and 30 pounds to Franklin, but he likes to run, so he says don't expect anything different in the team's play calling.

"Last year, I kind of struggled," Mauk said. "I didn't know as much. But now I know that playbook like the back of my hand, man."

He'll be surrounded by a physically and statistically healthy offense, one that's producing 45.7 points and 515.7 yards per game. Mauk started practicing with the first string this week after taking "mental reps" with it all season.

Teammates told him to just be confident in himself and to not try to do too much. Even former Missouri quarterback and current Kansas City Chiefs backup Chase Daniel requested Mauk's phone number to pass along some advice.

"He's probably going to make some mistakes like all kids do," coach Gary Pinkel said. "But the big thing is you don't want him to be a robot out there. You want him to do what he does and play quarterback the way he plays quarterback."

Quarterbacks coach Andy Hill said not much fazes Mauk, who has a "cool demeanor" that likely arose out of the trials and successes he went through in high school. Occasionally, however, that attitude can lead him astray.

In just his first few weeks on campus in August 2012, police arrested Mauk on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident on a scooter. Mike Mauk said that incident turned into a growing opportunity for his son, who communicates with his parents almost daily.

Regardless, the elder Mauk says he's proud of Maty and everything he's been able to accomplish since the day he was born. That's why the quarterback's parents still make every effort to watch their son play, and will do so again — this time with older brother Ben — Saturday in Columbia.

"He likes people, enjoys being around people," Mike Mauk said. "And sometimes, maybe he's got his guard down too much. But at the same time, I think he's learned some things and situations that have occurred that have helped make him a better person. That's what most of us go through in our lives."

Thursday, 17 October 2013 23:13
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CHICAGO (AP) -- T.J. Oshie scored the lone goal in the shootout, Jaroslav Halak stopped all three Chicago shooters in the extra session and the St. Louis Blues defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night.

David Backes scored a power-play goal for St. Louis, while Alexander Steen was credited with an even-strength score in regulation in the Blues' first road game.

Chicago's Marian Hossa scored on a breakaway and set up Brandon Pirri's first NHL goal in regulation. All but one of the Blackhawks' (4-1-2) first seven games have been decided by one goal.

The Blues (5-1-0) started the season with five straight home games, and won the first four before losing 6-2 to San Jose on Tuesday.

Chicago's Corey Crawford made 26 saves and Halak had 27.

Both goalies made a handful of tough stops early before Pirri opened the scoring at 7:42 of the first.

After taking Hossa's perfect pass, Pirri sent a one-timer from the left circle that ticked off the post and into the upper left corner of the net.

Backes' power-play goal at 10:14 of the first tied it at 1. He was parked in front of Crawford and deflected in Jay Bouwmeester's wrist shot from the left point.

The Blues dominated early in the second period. Any momentum was broken when St. Louis' Barret Jackman hit Chicago star Patrick Kane hard from behind and was sent off for boarding at 7:18.

Hossa put Chicago ahead 2-1 with 2:38 left in the second on a breakaway. After the puck slipped past the Blues' defense, both Hossa and Patrick Sharp skated in alone, and Hossa fired a shot past Halak on the stick side.

Steen was credited with a goal 51 seconds later that was inadvertently knocked in by Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith and tied it at 2.

Steen was 30 feet out in the slot, and deflected Bouwmeester's shot from the point. The puck slid to the right side of the crease where Keith was trying to tie up Backes, but Keith swept the puck on goal and past Crawford.

The Blackhawks and Blues are expected to battle at the top of the Central Division, and the rivalry was reflected in increasingly physical, sometimes chippy play on Thursday. Chicago enforcer Brandon Bollig and St. Louis' Roman Polak fought midway through the third.

Crawford made a tough close-in save on Alex Pietrangelo with just over seven minutes left to keep it tied.

Halak made an alert save on Brandon Saad 33 seconds into overtime with Jonathan Toews closing in for a rebound. Jackman's shot hit the post 3:17 into the extra period.

Notes: Pirri, who played in his ninth NHL game, led the AHL with 75 points in 76 games last season while with Rockford. ... Backes played his 500th game and Jackman played his 650th. ... The Blues have played the Blackhawks 288 times, more than any other team. ... St. Louis F Maxim Lapierre, who knocked San Jose D Dan Boyle out a game on Tuesday with a blow to the head, did not dress. Lapierre is scheduled for a hearing with the NHL on Friday. ... The Blackhawks had the NHL's third-best penalty killing last season en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but have allowed six power-play goals in 21 chances so far.

Thursday, 17 October 2013 23:10
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It took the Dodgers five games to hit a home run in the NL championship series. Once Adrian Gonzalez powered up for the first one, their dormant offense broke loose.

Gonzalez homered twice and Zack Greinke came through with the clutch performance Los Angeles needed in a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday that trimmed St. Louis' lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven playoff.

"Guys weren't ready to lose today," said Carl Crawford, who also went deep to help the Dodgers save their season.

Los Angeles held on in the ninth, when St. Louis scored twice off closer Kenley Jansen before he struck out pinch-hitter Adron Chambers with two on to end it.

The series shifts back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Friday night, with ace Clayton Kershaw scheduled to start for Los Angeles against rookie Michael Wacha.

When those two squared off in Game 2, the Cardinals won 1-0 on an unearned run.

"We've kind of become America's team because everyone wants to see a seventh game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Probably even the fans in St. Louis would like to see a seventh game, so I figure that everybody's for us to win on Friday night."

The Cardinals also led last year's NLCS 3-1 before losing three straight games to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

"We're looking to do the same thing," Gonzalez said.

Desperate to avoid elimination, the Dodgers brought in some Hollywood star power for pregame introductions. Will Ferrell announced their lineup and lent a comic spin to each player's name, capping it by introducing Greinke as "today's winning pitcher."

Ferrell knew what he was talking about.

Greinke got into a bases-loaded jam with none out in the first but escaped with no damage. From there, he pitched seven strong innings and even delivered an RBI single.

"That was big. I was real nervous out there with that situation," Greinke said.

A.J. Ellis also homered at Dodger Stadium, where it is tougher to clear the fences in the heavy night air.

Helped by playing in 82-degree heat on a sunny afternoon, the Dodgers rediscovered their power stroke just in time to extend the series. They hit .274 in three games at home after batting .184 during the first two games in St. Louis.

"It was just one of those days that we were a little better, got some runs, good feeling," Mattingly said.

The Dodgers regrouped after Greinke squandered an early 2-0 lead just as he did in Game 1, which Los Angeles lost 3-2 in 13 innings on the road.

After neither team homered in the first three games for the first time in NLCS history, the big bats came out. The Cardinals used a two-run homer by Matt Holliday and a solo shot from pinch-hitter Shane Robinson to win 4-2 on Tuesday night.

This time, Gonzalez went 3 for 4 with two solo homers and three runs scored. His two-out shot in the eighth made it 6-2.

"We have a team that can bounce back and do some pretty incredible things out there," he said.

The Cardinals tied it at 2 in the third on Carlos Beltran's RBI triple and Holliday's run-scoring double before Yadier Molina grounded into his second inning-ending double play against Greinke.

"He wasn't as sharp as he was the first time we faced him," Beltran said. "But guys like that, the best guys in the game, they're able to regroup and find a way to help their team win."

Los Angeles answered in the bottom of the third. Mark Ellis singled leading off but was erased when Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play.

Gonzalez followed with the Dodgers' first homer of the NLCS, slugging the ball an estimated 428 feet into the right-field pavilion for a 3-2 lead.

As he headed toward the dugout, Gonzalez cupped his hands to his ears and wiggled them in a gesture resembling mouse ears. It was an apparent jab at Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, who said Gonzalez had done "some Mickey Mouse stuff" in celebrating a double on Monday night.

"It's just having fun," Gonzalez said. "I'm going to retire them so they're not talked about once again."

Crawford egged Gonzalez on.

"I'm pretty sure it rubbed them the wrong way and they're going to use that as some kind of fuel, so you might as well keep doing it," Crawford said, laughing.

Gonzalez replied: "Hey, if Carl wants them. It's for him, not for anybody else."

After wriggling out of big trouble in the first when Molina bounced into a double play, Greinke allowed two runs and six hits. He struck out four and walked one.

"He made his pitches, we made the plays, got out of it," Gonzalez said. "We were able to get run support for him. All he needed was a few runs."

Jansen gave up RBI singles to Matt Adams and Pete Kozma in the ninth.

A.J. Ellis homered in seventh, sending an 0-2 pitch from Edward Mujica into the left-field pavilion to make it 5-2.

Crawford homered with one out in the fifth, extending the Dodgers' lead to 4-2. He walloped a 3-2 pitch from starter Joe Kelly an estimated 447 feet into the right-field pavilion.

Kelly gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked none.

"I made a few bad pitches on heaters and didn't locate that well, and they turned into home runs," he said. "With guys on base, I was going after them and attacking them with the fastball, but they're good hitters and they put good swings on them and hit them out of the park."

Beltran's triple went over the head of Andre Ethier and to the wall in center, scoring Matt Carpenter, who singled. Holliday followed with a double to deep center, but that was it for St. Louis until the ninth.

"We had a couple of opportunities to do something, and we just couldn't make it happen," manager Mike Matheny said. "These guys have done a tremendous job in those exact same situations all season long. You're going to have games where you just can't make it happen, and we've got to figure out a way to get it done the next time we get a chance."

NOTES: Molina went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. ... Greinke's hit in the second was the third of his postseason career. ... Ramirez, playing with a broken left rib, left after six innings. ... In the three games Ramirez has started with the injury, only two grounders have been hit to him at shortstop. ... The homers by Gonzalez and Crawford were the first given up by Kelly in 24 career postseason innings. He allowed two homers in a game twice during the regular season. ... The Dodgers are trying to become the 12th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. ... Beltran's triple was his first ever in the postseason. ... Former Dodgers star Orel Hershiser tossed out the first pitch on the 25th anniversary of his three-hit shutout against Oakland in Game 2 of the 1988 World Series.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 23:28
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Thanks to two big swings and some excellent defense, the St. Louis Cardinals are one win from the World Series.

Just like last year.

Matt Holliday and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson connected for the first home runs of the NL championship series, and St. Louis beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff.

"We can't get ahead of ourselves," Holliday said.

In a series starved for offense, the Cardinals scored as many runs as they did in the first three games combined, when the teams totaled nine runs.

Game 5 is Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, with the Cardinals one win from the World Series. Zack Greinke is set to start for Los Angeles against Joe Kelly.

Of course, St. Louis had a 3-1 lead in last year's NLCS before dropping three straight to San Francisco, the eventual World Series champion.

"Hopefully, we can throw some offense together like we were today a little bit and keep some positive thoughts going," manager Mike Matheny said. "When we start talking about where the series is, I think it's a distraction. What we've got to do is play a game."

It was a painful defeat for the Dodgers - in more ways than one. Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, playing with a broken left rib, left in the middle of the sixth after striking out three times.

"It got worse as we went along," manager Don Mattingly said.

St. Louis third baseman David Freese came out after six innings. He left Monday's game with a cramp in his right calf.

Hitless in his previous 22 at-bats at Dodger Stadium, Holliday sent a two-run shot off Ricky Nolasco an estimated 426 feet to left field, capping a three-run third that gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.

"That's about as good as I can hit one," said Holliday, who was 0 for 13 in the series before connecting.

"I wasn't really doubting my swing at all. I felt actually really good with my at-bats. Sometimes in this game you don't always get the results that you want even if you feel like you're having good at-bats, so I just wanted to stay with it," he said.

Seeking a second World Series title in three years, St. Louis turned three important double plays and picked off a runner at second base in the seventh. Defensive standout Pete Kozma, inserted at shortstop in the sixth, started a difficult double play and darted in to complete the pickoff.

Second baseman Matt Carpenter also keyed St. Louis' sharp work with the gloves, one night after some sloppy play was costly in a 3-0 defeat.

Carpenter had an RBI double in the third that scored Daniel Descalso, who hit a leadoff single. Carpenter came around on Holliday's homer after there were none in the first three games for the first time in NLCS history.

Carlos Martinez pitched two scoreless innings in relief of winner Lance Lynn. Trevor Rosenthal got three outs for his second save in the series.

After a leadoff single by Andre Ethier in the ninth, Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play. Juan Uribe struck out to end it, leaving the Dodgers on the brink of elimination.

Now, they'll count on Greinke and ace Clayton Kershaw to pitch them back into the series.

"Kind of the best thought I have is, I've got one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching tomorrow," Mattingly said. "If we come out here and play well tomorrow and get a win, I've probably got the best pitcher in baseball pitching the next day."

Robinson's home run bounced off the top of the wall in left field on a 1-0 pitch from J.P. Howell with one out in the seventh, extending the Cardinals' lead to 4-2.

"For a little guy, he's got surprising power," Holliday said. "I mean, honestly, he's got some thump."

Lynn allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.

The right-hander lost his only other start this postseason, giving up five runs over 4 1-3 innings in Game 2 of the division series against Pittsburgh.

The Dodgers were down 4-2 in the seventh when Nick Punto doubled with one out. Martinez, however, picked off Punto before throwing another pitch and then retired Carl Crawford on an inning-ending groundout.

Trailing 3-2, the Dodgers put the potential tying run on base in the sixth when Puig singled to chase Lynn. Uribe grounded into a double play against Seth Maness to end the inning.

The Dodgers stuck with Nolasco as their starter even though he hadn't pitched since Sept. 29. He struggled in his last three starts in September, giving up at least five earned runs in each.

Nolasco was passed over for his scheduled assignment in Game 4 of the division series, when the Dodgers chose to use Kershaw on three days' rest for the first time in his career. Kershaw pitched well and took a no-decision in a 4-3 victory over Atlanta that clinched the series.

Before this one, Mattingly had said Nolasco was being put in a difficult position after not pitching for so long. Mattingly said Kershaw and Greinke both offered to start on short rest at Dodger Stadium.

Nolasco allowed three runs and three hits in four innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Los Angeles scored twice in the fourth to cut it to 3-2. Adrian Gonzalez hit a leadoff double and scored on Puig's single. A.J. Ellis singled to drive in Andre Ethier, who walked.

But just when it appeared the Dodgers had grabbed the momentum, pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker bounced into an inning-ending double play.

NOTES: St. Louis won a Game 4 on the road for the first time in NLCS play. ... Nolasco, who is from nearby Corona and grew up a Dodgers fan, made the first postseason start of his career. ... Schumaker was 3 for 21 with no RBIs as a pinch-hitter during the regular season, and struck out in his only other at-bat as a pinch-hitter in the postseason. ... There was a pregame moment of silence for MLB umpire Wally Bell, who died Monday at 48. ... Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's famous pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth at Dodger Stadium, giving Los Angeles a 5-4 win over Oakland in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. ... Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, who at 86 is special adviser to the team chairman, tossed out a first pitch from midway between the mound and home plate that missed the target. Mattingly, who was catching, gave him a mulligan. Lasorda managed that 1988 team, the Dodgers' last appearance in the World Series. ... With the government partially shut down, there was a pregame flyover of vintage aircraft by a nonprofit organization founded by a group of World War II fighter pilots. ... Among the famous faces in the crowd were Tom Cruise and Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad."

Tuesday, 15 October 2013 23:16
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Joe Thornton had a goal and three assists and Patrick Marleau had a goal and two assists and the San Jose Sharks downed the St. Louis Blues 6-2 Tuesday night.

The Sharks (6-0-0) won the matchup of unbeaten teams, but they had other concerns after the game.

The Sharks were concerned about the status of teammate Dan Boyle after the game after losing their veteran defenseman with a head injury.

Boyle was taken off on a stretcher early in the first period following a check from behind by the Blues' Maxim Lapierre, who was ejected from the game for checking from behind.

A Sharks spokesperson said Boyle was alert and responsive on the way to the hospital.

The Sharks got a goal and assist from Logan Couture.

Joe Pavelski, Tommy Wingels and Scott Hannan also scored, while Antti Niemi stopped 25 shots.

The Blues, who dropped to 4-1-0 on the season, had their 10-game regular-season home winning streak snapped as the Sharks won in dominating fashion.

Jaroslav Halak also suffered his first defeat of the season, stopping 22 shots and was replaced by Brian Elliott to start the third period. It was Elliott's first action of the season.

Vladimir Tarasenko broke Niemi's shutout with his fourth goal in as many games for the Blues. Roman Polak also scored for the Blues.

After the Boyle injury, it was a penalty-filled first period, with 79 minutes in penalties handed out.

Lapierre was ejected for a five-minute checking from behind penalty as well as fighting, as was teammate Ryan Reaves.

The Sharks also lost forward and Matt Pelech with a fighting major and game misconduct. Andrew Desjardins was originally awarded a fighting major and 10-minute game misconduct, but was changed to a 10-minute misconduct and he was able to return for the second period.

Later in the period, San Jose's Brent Burns checked the Blues' Brenden Morrow from behind into the boards, but only got a two-minute boarding penalty to the resounding boos from Blues fans.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead on power-play scores from Couture and Pavelski just 48 seconds apart.

Both goals came from the left circle, with Couture scoring at 9:37.

The Blues trailed on home ice for the first time since April 16, 2013, a stretch of 568:47.

Pavelski one-timed his first of the season on the short side past Halak just after a 27-second two-man advantage for the Sharks expired.

The Sharks added to their lead in the second period, getting goals from Wingels and Hannan to grab a 4-0 lead.

Wingels scored on a wraparound off the skate of Barret Jackman 8:34 into the period for a 3-0 lead, and Hannan with his first of the season off a slap shot with 2:47 left in the period for a 4-0 lead.

Thornton made it 5-0 on a shot from the slot, beating Elliott 5:06 into the third period off a pass from rookie Tomas Hertl.

Tarasenko hammered home a rebound off a shot from Jaden Schwartz at 7:23 of the third period to make it a 5-1 Sharks lead. Polak's shot from the low slot with 7:32 remaining cut the Sharks' lead to 5-2.

Marleau added his fifth of the season at 17:06, the Sharks' third power-play goal of the game.

NOTES: Hertl leads the NHL in rookie scoring with nine points. ... San Jose's win was only its second in the past eight meetings with the Blues. ... The Blues' previous home regulation home loss was April 14, 2013, to Chicago. ... The Sharks lead the NHL in goals (30) and goal differential (plus-21). ... Polak's goal was his first since April 11, 2013, second in two seasons and 10th of his career.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013 23:12
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Led by a pair of precocious rookies, the Los Angeles Dodgers got themselves right back into the NL championship series.

Hyun-Jin Ryu outpitched Adam Wainwright with seven innings of three-hit ball, and Yasiel Puig tripled home a run to help Los Angeles beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 on Monday night in Game 3.

Adrian Gonzalez's RBI double ended a 1-for-17 drought for the Dodgers with runners in scoring position. An ailing Hanley Ramirez added a run-scoring hit of his own as Los Angeles handed Wainwright his first postseason loss and trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Game 4 is Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, with Ricky Nolasco scheduled to start against St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn.

Los Angeles got Ramirez and center fielder Andre Ethier back in the lineup after both proved in batting practice they were healthy enough to play. Ramirez wore a lightweight flak jacket to protect his broken left rib - having been hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly in Game 1 - while Ethier has been bothered by shin splints.

"What can I say? It couldn't be better," Ramirez said. "Really happy we got the first win. Just come back tomorrow and even up the series."

Ramirez singled his first time up off Wainwright and then helped the Dodgers extend their lead to 3-0 in the eighth.

Ramirez hit a soft single off Seth Maness over the head of new second baseman Kolten Wong to score Carl Crawford. The speedy Crawford, on second base after a one-out single, rounded third and never stopped running when the throw from the outfield went to second base.

On a close play at the plate, Crawford barely beat the tag by catcher Yadier Molina.

During the rally, retired Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, whose 1988 team won the franchise's last World Series title, stood up and waved his white rally towel to raucous applause.

Ryu and Wainwright were nearly even through the first three scoreless innings, with Wainwright giving up one hit. Ryu, who struggled in his first career postseason start in the division series against Atlanta, retired 12 of his first 13 batters, yielding only a walk.

Ryu was much improved after lasting just three innings as the first South Korean pitcher to start a playoff game last week against Atlanta. He allowed four runs on six hits for a no-decision in a game the Dodgers won.

The left-hander didn't allow a Cardinals runner past second base. David Freese's single to right leading off the fifth was their first hit of the game.

Freese was replaced by a pinch-runner in the fifth because of tightness in his right calf. He is day to day.

Ryu struck out four and walked one.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly came out to the mound accompanied by a translator with two outs in the seventh. Ryu responded by striking out Matt Adams to end the inning as catcher A.J. Ellis pumped his right arm in the air. Fans waved South Korean flags in support of Ryu.

Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for a save.

Wainwright gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked none in his first career postseason loss.

Puig's RBI triple in the fourth snapped an 0-for-11 skid in the series.

After the first two games in St. Louis were decided by one run, the Dodgers got to Wainwright in the fourth and took a 2-0 lead.

Gonzalez's double down the right-field line scored Mark Ellis, who doubled leading off. With two outs, Puig tripled off the wall in right, scoring Gonzalez.

Puig had struck out seven times before getting his first hit against the Cardinals. He raised his arms and watched the ball sail toward right before starting to charge harder when he realized it wasn't going to be a home run. He ran into third base and clapped his hands before raising them again as the sellout crowd of 53,940 cheered.

"He brings unbelievable energy every day," Ramirez said. "When we spoke to him, he told me, `I got it today,' and he did. He's a great player."

Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay was involved in an apparent miscommunication when the ball hit by Mark Ellis dropped between him and right fielder Carlos Beltran. The Dodgers' first hit, a single by Ramirez to shallow center in the first, dropped between Jay and second baseman Matt Carpenter.

NOTES: Ethier was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. ... Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, Ron Cey and Steve Garvey - baseball's first 30-homer quartet in 1977 - tossed ceremonial first pitches. That Dodgers team won the NL pennant before losing to the Yankees in six games in the World Series. ... Neither team has hit a home run through the first three games. ... Among the famous faces in attendance were Dustin Hoffman and Ice Cube.

Monday, 14 October 2013 22:38
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HOUSTON (AP) — The St. Louis Rams had a simple chant in the locker room after Sunday's 38-13 rout of the Houston Texans.

'2-and-0, 2-and-0,' coach Jeff Fisher said his team repeated.

Sam Bradford threw three touchdown passes, St. Louis added a score on defense and special teams and the Rams stunned the mistake-prone Texans with a 38-13 win on Sunday to win their second straight after dropping their previous three games.

"I think everyone totally bought in," Bradford said of the turnaround. "I think if you look at the way we've played the past two weeks; it's been a completely different mindset, a completely different attitude."

The Rams (3-3) were up 24-6 early in the third quarter before rookie Daren Bates returned Keshawn Martin's fumble on a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Rookie first-round pick Alec Ogletree pushed the lead to 38-6 when he took an interception by T.J. Yates back 98 yards for a touchdown. Yates was in after Schaub sustained an apparent right ankle injury.

Coach Gary Kubiak didn't have many details on Schaub's injury after the game, saying only: "Matt's got a little bit of everything on that one leg."

Schaub didn't have a turnover after throwing six interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns in the past three games.

But several other Texans had key gaffes as preseason Super Bowl hopeful Houston (2-4) lost its fourth straight game.

"For the past few weeks the finger has been pointed in one direction a lot," Kubiak said. "But we sprung leaks all over the place today."

The Texans had 95 yards of penalties, lost two fumbles and Yates threw two interceptions. Schaub had 186 yards passing and Yates finished with 98 yards passing.

"We played our absolute worst football the last two weeks and we've got to change it," Houston safety Ed Reed said.

Bradford was 12 of 16 for 117 yards. Rookie Zac Stacy had 18 carries for 79 yards in his second straight start.

"To come out here and play a pretty much complete game was fun," St. Louis defensive end Chris Long said. "Offense and defense were in complete sync."

Brian Quick's 4-yard touchdown reception extended the Rams' lead to 24-6 early in the third quarter.

Rodney McLeod forced the fumble by Martin on the ensuing kickoff and Bates, an undrafted free agent, scooped it up and returned it 11 yards, diving into the end zone for the score.

Schaub was injured on Houston's next drive when he was sacked by Chris Long. Some fans cheered while he was down after the injury, angering Houston's players.

"For them to cheer about something like that, it just shows they have no class," Andre Johnson said.

He was replaced by Yates. Schaub had thrown an interception that was returned for a touchdown in four straight games entering Sunday.

Yates made it five in a row for Houston when his first drive ended with the interception return by Ogletree, who high-stepped his way into the end zone as the home fans serenaded the Texans with boos.

The Rams took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Cory Harkey grabbed a 2-yard touchdown pass from Bradford. Kareem Jackson received a 40-yard penalty for pass interference early in that drive.

The Texans were driving later in the first when Ogletree forced a fumble by rookie DeAndre Hopkins which James Laurinaitis recovered and returned it 43 yards.

The Rams capitalized on the fumble with a 42-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein to push the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter.

Houston cut the lead to 10-3 with a 20-yard field goal by Randy Bullock.

Another 2-yard pass by Bradford — this one to Lance Kendricks — extended the lead to 17-3. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Brian Cushing for a late hit on Bradford helped that drive.

Houston settled for another field goal just before halftime when Schaub's pass on third down fell incomplete to make it 17-6 at halftime.

About the only highlight for Houston on Sunday was the play of Arian Foster, who finished with 20 carries for 141 yards. He added four catches for 57 yards.

Ben Tate scored Houston's only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Martin has an injured shoulder. ... Houston S Danieal Manning has a right knee injury, but Kubiak didn't know how severe it was after the game. ... Janoris Jenkins had an interception for the Rams.

Sunday, 13 October 2013 18:48
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Lance Lynn will start Game 4 of the NL championship series for the St. Louis Cardinals, perhaps strengthening his case when he earned the win in Game 1.

Rookie 15-game winner Shelby Miller had also been under consideration. Miller warmed up early in Game 1 and manager Mike Matheny said Saturday he'd be available in the bullpen in Game 2.

Lynn worked the last two innings of the Cardinals' 3-2, 13-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He took the loss in Game 2 of the NL division series against the Pittsburgh and has failed to pitch five innings in any of his three career postseason starts the last two seasons.

Sunday, 13 October 2013 09:15
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