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ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis wide receiver Austin Pettis is still struggling with the old man tag.

At age 25 and with two years' experience, Pettis is the grizzled veteran of the Rams' receiving corps, which is the youngest in the NFL.

"Never really thought of myself in that way because I'm still young," Pettis said. "It's fun being a leader to some of the younger players. But I'm not that old."

Pettis is the leader, at least in teams of experience and age, to a group that includes rookies Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and second-year players Brian Quick and Chris Givens.

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford has a quintet of speedy targets and Pettis is the most tenured of the group.

"He's taking a bigger role," Bradford said of Pettis. "Plus, he's got the experience to help everyone else out there."

Pettis, who was drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft, caught 57 passes for 517 yards in his first two seasons, but was never a main target playing behind Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson.

Now, the former Boise State standout is being asked to take a much large role while the younger receivers learn the ropes.

Austin, the Rams' first-round draft choice and eighth overall selection out of West Virginia, has picked Pettis' brain during the first few weeks of training camp.

Pettis remembers what it was like to learn the complex offense during his first two seasons. And he is happy to share his knowledge.

"I know it was a hard experience for me, so I know what a lot of these guys are going through," Pettis said. "I've helped them with a lot of stuff and as long as they keep on asking me, I'm happy to help out."

Pettis closed out the 2012 campaign on a roll with touchdown catches in his last two games. He caught five passes in back-to-back contests against Buffalo and Minnesota in Weeks 14 and 15. He scored the Rams' lone touchdown in a season-ending 20-13 loss in Seattle.

Pettis left Boise State holding school records in career receptions (229) and touchdowns (39).

He caught 27 passes in a 12-game rookie season that was marred by a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He sat out the final two games of 2011 and the first two contests in 2012.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 203-pounder is known for his skills close to the goal line. All four of his TD catches have come in the red zone.

Pettis enters this season with high expectations. After a pair of solid campaigns, he feels it is time to break out. Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer says Pettis had a strong off-season and big things are expected from him this time around.

"I've been waiting for this moment for a while," Pettis said. "It was just a matter of time until all the things clicked and I think that's happening now. We've got a lot of weapons on this team and I think the ball is going to be spread around a lot.

I just want to be part of it."

Pettis is impressed with what he's seen from the younger wide outs. Austin and fellow West Virginia product Bailey, a third-round selection, have looked good. Bailey caught two passes for 27 yards in a 27-19 loss at Cleveland last Thursday.

"Honestly, we're a pretty confident group right now in the locker room and I don't mean that in a bad way," Pettis said. "We've put in a lot of work and a lot of time. We're just excited to go out there and show the rest of the league what we can do.

Even though we're young, we've got a lot of smart guys and a lot of talented guys."

Most of the St. Louis players were given Wednesday off. Fisher held a special-teams only practice in the afternoon. A full-squad workout, open to the public, was held Thursday.

The Rams host Green Bay on Saturday night.

Friday, 16 August 2013 07:58
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Just a few days ago, the St. Louis Cardinals had no wins when trailing after eight innings and just one extra-inning victory.

They certainly showed the Pittsburgh Pirates they can go the extra mile.

"We did a good job of bouncing back," said Matt Holliday, who hit a game-ending RBI single in the 12th inning of St. Louis' 6-5 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday. "Winning this game could be very important for us."

Matt Carpenter had four hits and scored the winning run in the Cardinals' second extra-inning triumph over the NL Central leaders in three days.

"Anytime having a walk-off win, it's a big deal," manager Mike Matheny said. "Jumping on it again it today is just the resiliency of this club.

"You could sense it on the bench. The guys weren't going to give in, weren't going to stop pushing."

The Cardinals took two of three in the series to pull within two games of the sagging Pirates, who have dropped five of six. St. Louis won 4-3 in 14 innings in the opener on Tuesday night.

"We had a number of guys that had opportunities," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The great thing about what we're going through is the challenge and opportunities we're all getting.

"It's playoff atmosphere baseball."

The Cardinals lost the division lead when they dropped four of five in Pittsburgh from July 29-Aug. 1.

Rookie Kevin Siegrist (1-1), St. Louis' seventh pitcher, struck out two in a perfect 12th against the heart of the order.

Russell Martin and Clint Barmes homered for Pittsburgh, which blew a 4-0 lead in one inning. Jose Tabata had three straight hits after entering as a pinch hitter.

Carpenter sparked the winning rally with a one-out walk. He went to third on Jon Jay's single before Holliday grounded a single up the middle off Bryan Morris (5-6).

Carpenter, the Cardinals' leadoff man, leads the National League with 48 multihit games and 40 doubles. He entered with league-leading averages of .366 at home and .367 in day games.

Holliday also had an RBI double and is batting .452 during a 12-game hitting streak.

Martin hit a tying leadoff drive off Trevor Rosenthal in the eighth, handing the setup man his second blown save of St. Louis' 4-6 homestand.

The Pirates hit for the cycle against Lance Lynn in a four-run fifth that featured rookie Andrew Lambo's first hit and RBI on a double and Barmes' two-run homer. The Cardinals responded by knocking out A.J. Burnett with five runs in the bottom half on a two-run single by Daniel Descalso and RBIs in consecutive at-bats from Carpenter, Jon Jay and Holliday.

"As good as it looked early, it's never easy against this group," Burnett said. "They figured me out early."

Both managers put a heavy stamp on the game. Hurdle hit for two regulars in the sixth and emptied his bench, and Matheny used three relievers in the sixth and seventh.

St. Louis activated All-Star catcher Yadier Molina from the 15-day disabled list, and he announced his presence almost immediately. He threw out Starling Marte trying to steal third to end the first.

NOTES: The Pirates begin a three-game homestand Friday against the Diamondbacks. Pittsburgh rookie Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.95 ERA), who opposes Brandon McCarthy (2-6, 4.73 ERA) in the opener, has lost five of his last six decisions. ... The Cardinals open a three-game series at Chicago, with St. Louis' Jake Westbrook (7-7, 4.11 ERA) opposing minor league callup Jake Arrieta. It will be Westbrook's first appearance since giving up nine runs in 4 2-3 innings of relief on three days' rest after Shelby Miller was knocked out by a liner off his elbow on his second pitch of the game. ... Cardinals reliever Seth Maness, who grounded into a double play and struck out to strand five runners Tuesday night, got his first career hit in the sixth. ... Pirates reliever Tony Watson worked three scoreless innings and retired the heart of the order in the 10th.

Friday, 16 August 2013 07:52
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is going with senior James Franklin to start at quarterback for the Tigers.

Pinkel said Franklin, who was dogged by injuries last season, beat out redshirt freshman Maty Mauk for the job. He felt it was important to make an announcement well ahead of the Aug. 31 opener against Murray State.

"James has shown that he's very capable of leading this team at a high level, and we fully expect him to do that," Pinkel said Thursday night in a release. "He's really developed as a leader of this offense, and of this team, and we feel he's ready to be the difference-maker he was before all of the health challenges he dealt with last season."

Pinkel added the coaching staff is considering giving Mauk planned series in games to give him experience. Sophomore Corbin Berkstresser started four games last year when Franklin was sidelined and also had been in the competition.

Three former Missouri quarterbacks are in the NFL. Franklin is among those who got regular work as the backup, seeing limited playing time in 2010 behind Blaine Gabbert, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Future Heisman Trophy finalist and New Orleans Saints backup Chase Daniel got his feet wet backing up Brad Smith, a longtime wide receiver in the NFL.

"We have a history with that, and it's something that has worked very well for us," Pinkel said.

Franklin opened fall workouts atop the depth chart and was named one of four captains on the first day of practice. Pinkel emphasized repeatedly at that point that the honor did not guarantee the starting job.

Injuries to Franklin were among the disappointments last year as Missouri went 5-7, ending a string of eight consecutive bowl appearances.

Franklin had 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions last season, and rushed for 116 yards and two scores. In 2011, he had 21 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions, and rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Friday, 16 August 2013 07:50
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) -- Calling it a historic moment, Commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday that Major League Baseball plans to expand its video review process next season, giving managers a tool they've never had in an effort to dramatically reduce the number of incorrect calls made in games.

Selig made the announcement after two days of meetings with representatives of the 30 teams. The proposal is to be voted on by the owners in November.

"I'm proud of them," Selig said about the replay committee. "It's worked out remarkably well. It's historic. There's no question about it."

A 75 percent vote by the owners is needed for approval, and the players' association and umpires would have to agree to any changes to the current system. But the announcement was met with mostly praise at ballparks across the country.

"This is the time. It's time to make the right decision," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was not available several years ago. So, just live with it, understand it. It makes things better. It makes things more accurate, so what's wrong with that."

MLB executive vice president Joe Torre gave the replay presentation to representatives from all 30 teams Wednesday and it was discussed Thursday morning.

Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, a member of the replay committee along with Torre and former manager Tony La Russa, said the umpires were receptive to the change. Schuerholz said 89 percent of incorrect calls made in the past will be reviewable, but he did not provide a list.

Umpires have come under increased scrutiny following several missed calls this season.

"We believe this will be very impactful and very, very meaningful and useful for all sides," Schuerholz said. "Managers will have a new tool that they'll have to learn how to use."

Managers will be allowed one challenge over the first six innings of a game and two from the seventh inning until the completion of the game. Calls that are challenged will be reviewed by a crew in MLB headquarters in New York City, which will make a final ruling.

A manager who sees a call he feels is incorrect can file a challenge with the crew chief or home plate umpire. Only reviewable plays can be challenged. Non-reviewable plays can still be argued by managers, who can request that the umpires discuss it to see if another member of the crew saw the play differently. Reviewable plays cannot be argued by the manager.

Challenges not used in the first six innings will not carry over, and a manager who wins a challenge will retain it.

The home run replay rules currently in use will be grandfathered in to the new system, Schuerholz said.

MLB expects to use the new system in the 2014 playoffs, and the system could be enhanced in the postseason. Training sessions for umpires will start in the Arizona Fall League this winter and continue into spring training.

"We know we have to prepare people for this," Schuerholz said. "Everyone is embracing it. We believe managers will in time."

Schuerholz said after the first year MLB will look at what worked and what didn't and make adjustments for 2015. "It's going to take some time," he said.

One of Selig's major concerns was the possible slowing of games. Schuerholz said with a direct line of communication between the central office and the ballparks the expectation is that replays under the new system will take 1 minute, 15 seconds. Current replays average just over 3 minutes.

"We want to prevent stalling," Schuerholz said. "If it's a reviewable play, he (the manager) has to tell the umpires he's going to review it."

In other matters, Selig said baseball's investigation of Biogenesis, the now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs, has been completed.

Alex Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece on Aug. 5 when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players for their relationship to Biogenesis. Rodriguez has appealed his suspension.

Selig also called the Tampa Bay Rays stadium situation "very, very discouraging."

"Baseball needs a resolution to this problem," Selig said with Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Rays, in the room listening. "I find it a very, very troubling situation. We were optimistic this was moving in a very positive direction. Unfortunately, it's stalled."

Selig said the situation was serious enough that he was giving "very strong consideration to assigning someone from MLB to intervene in this process, find out exactly what the hell is going on."

"They've been a model organization, extraordinarily capable," Selig said. "They've done everything in their power to make their ballpark situation work. Years have ticked by now with no tangible progress."

The team is obligated to play at outdated Tropicana Field through 2027 and is averaging just over 13,000 fans a game this season. The low attendance figures have led to the Rays receiving millions of dollars in revenue sharing.

"Without that, we wouldn't be able to compete," Sternberg said. "The other owners are looking at it. How many years is this going to be? How much money is it going to be? We should be able to get to the point where the revenue sharing dollars we would receive don't need to be so significant year in and year out."

Relocating is not on the table, Sternberg said.

"Frankly, I haven't been able to get this (new stadium deal) done," Sternberg said. "Something needs to be done and nothing's happening. We've got an enormous following, but something is clearly stopping people from coming through our doors. This isn't a one- or two-year thing. Even the economy has picked up a bit and our attendance has gone down."

Friday, 16 August 2013 07:47
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) - Major League Baseball is expanding its video review process next season, giving managers a tool they've never had.

Commissioner Bud Selig calls it a historic moment for the game in a press conference in Cooperstown after two days of meetings with representatives of the 30 teams. The proposal is to be voted on by the owners in November.

Managers will be allowed one challenge over the first six innings of games and two after the seventh inning until the end of the game. Calls that are challenged will be reviewed by a crew in MLB headquarters in New York City, which will make the final ruling.

A 75 percent vote by the owners is needed for approval and the players' association and umpires would have to agree to any changes to the current system.

Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, a member of the replay committee, says the umpires are receptive to the change. Schuerholz says 89 percent of incorrect calls made in the past will be reviewable.

Thursday, 15 August 2013 15:49
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- St. Louis Rams starting linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Dunbar, who was second on the team with 157 tackles last season, is able to participate in all team activities prior to suspension, which begins with the season-opening game against Arizona.

He will be able to practice and play in all exhibition contests.

Dunbar will also miss games against Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco.

The 6-foot, 235-pounder Dunbar is the second St. Louis player suspended by the league this season. Running back Isaiah Pead will miss the opening game for violation of the substance abuse policy.

Dunbar had 4.5 sacks last season.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013 23:00
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Francisco Liriano was dominant coming off the worst outing of his career and the Pittsburgh Pirates got home runs from Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones in a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

The win snapped a season-worst four-game losing streak and gave Pittsburgh a three-game lead in the NL Central.

The Pirates had a five-run cushion after four innings against rookie Shelby Miller, who didn't miss a turn five days after getting drilled on the elbow and lasting just two pitches against the Dodgers. They're 8-4 against the Cardinals heading into the series finale matching A.J. Burnett and Lance Lynn.

Pittsburgh totaled just 10 runs during the losing streak and won in 2 hours, 30 minutes one night after losing 4-3 in 14 innings in a game that lasted 4:55.

Liriano (13-5) allowed four hits with six strikeouts and needed just 94 pitches to beat the Cardinals for the second time this year. He is 3-0 in his career against St. Louis. His last time out, the lefty was punished for 10 runs in 2 1-3 innings at Colorado.

Matt Carpenter doubled and eventually scored on a groundout by Carlos Beltran in the ninth to snap Liriano's shutout bid. He settled for his second complete game of the year.

Alvarez hit his 29th homer an estimated 440 feet to straightaway center leading off the second against Miller (11-8), and with one out Jones lined his 11th over the right field wall estimated at 392 feet. Starling Marte's two-run double capped a three-run fourth, with two of the runs unearned due to fielding error by third baseman David Freese.

Miller gave up two homers for the fourth time and has lost all of those starts, twice against Pittsburgh. In six innings, he gave up five runs, three earned, on eight hits.

Liriano retired the side in order six times, twice with the help of double plays. A third double play helped him escape without damage in the second when the Cardinals got two of their hits.

In the three starts prior to his clunker at Colorado, Liriano allowed one earned run over 21 2-3 innings in winning three straight starts.

The Cardinals are 3-6 with one game to go on a 10-game homestand that began with series losses to the Cubs and Dodgers.

Notes: The Pirates have outscored the Cardinals 14-2 in Liriano's two starts this year. ... Tabata missed his second straight start but entered as a defensive replacement in right field in the eighth. He was scratched with flu-like symptoms Tuesday. ... The Cardinals left a season-high 17 runners on base Tuesday night. ... Matt Holliday has 17 hits during an 11-game hitting streak but also grounded into his major league-leading 27th double play. He also lined into a twin killing in the fourth. ... Nine of the homers off Miller have come with the bases empty.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013 22:58
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The Rams will be without one of their starting linebackers to start the season.

Jo-Lonn Dubar was suspended without pay for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs. Dunbar had a career year with the Rams, tallying 91 tackles, 4-and-a-half sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions.

He will be eligible to return to the roster following the team's September 26 game against the San Francisco 49'ers.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013 15:25
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   Backup outfielder Adron Chambers singled home the winning run in the 14th inning as the Cardinals outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates and cut into their NL Central lead with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night.

   Sam Freeman (1-0) allowed a walk in a scoreless 14th for the Cardinals, who saddled the Pirates with their fourth straight loss and pulled within two games of them with a win in the 4-hour, 55-minute game.

   Pittsburgh had four hits the first time through the order against Adam Wainwright and led 3-0 after two innings on homers by Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer. They had six hits the rest of the way.

   Both teams had chances in extra innings before the Cardinals, who had dropped four of five, cashed in.

   Jon Jay singled off Jared Hughes (2-3) with one out in the 14th with his fourth hit. Jay stole second and then raced home and beat left fielder Starling Marte's throw.

 
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 02:19
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The Cardinals made more moves in advance of Tuesday's match up against the Central-leading Pirates.

The team recalled infielder Jermaine Curtis from the Triple-A club and optioned Michael Blazek to Memphis. Curtis was batting .259 in Triple-A with four homers and 42 RBIs. First pitch tonight at 7:15.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 13:19
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