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PERTH, Australia (AP) — Authorities say unidentified material that washed ashore in southwestern Australia is being examined for any link to the lost Malaysian plane.

The search coordination center said Wednesday evening that police secured the material that washed ashore 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of Augusta in Western Australia. Its statement did not describe the material found.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is examining photographs to assess whether further investigation is needed and if the material is relevant to Flight MH370.

Augusta is near Australia's southwestern tip about 310 kilometers (190 miles) from Perth, where the search has been headquartered.

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision.

Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a "bionic eye," he's regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.

"It's awesome. It's exciting - seeing something new every day," Pontz said during a recent appointment at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. The 55-year-old former competitive weightlifter and factory worker is one of four people in the U.S. to receive an artificial retina since the Food and Drug Administration signed off on its use last year.

The facility in Ann Arbor has been the site of all four such surgeries since FDA approval. A fifth is scheduled for next month.

Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disease that causes slow but progressive vision loss due to a gradual loss of the light-sensitive retinal cells called rods and cones. Patients experience loss of side vision and night vision, then central vision, which can result in near blindness.

Not all of the 100,000 or so people in the U.S. with retinitis pigmentosa can benefit from the bionic eye. An estimated 10,000 have vision low enough, said Dr. Brian Mech, an executive with Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the Sylmar, Calif.-based company that makes the device. Of those, about 7,500 are eligible for the surgery.

The artificial implant in Pontz's left eye is part of a system developed by Second Sight that includes a small video camera and transmitter housed in a pair of glasses.

Images from the camera are converted into a series of electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. The pulses stimulate the retina's remaining healthy cells, causing them to relay the signal to the optic nerve.

The visual information then moves to the brain, where it is translated into patterns of light that can be recognized and interpreted, allowing the patient to regain some visual function.

When wearing the glasses, which Pontz refers to as his "eyes," he can identify and grab his cat and figure out that a flash of light is his grandson hightailing it to the kitchen.

The visual improvement is sometimes startling for Pontz and his wife, Terri, who is just as amazed at her husband's progress as he is.

"I said something I never thought I'd say: `Stop staring at me while I'm eating,'" Terri Pontz said.

She drives her husband the nearly 200 miles from tiny Reed City, Mich., to Ann Arbor for check-ups and visits with occupational therapist Ashley Howson, who helps Roger Pontz reawaken his visual memory and learn techniques needed to make the most of his new vision.

At the recent visit, Howson handed Pontz white and black plates, instructed him to move them back and forth in front of light and dark backgrounds and asked that he determine their color.

Back home, Terri Pontz helps her husband practice the techniques he learns in Ann Arbor.

For them, the long hours on the road and the homework assignments are a blessing.

"What's it worth to see again? It's worth everything," Terri Pontz said.

The artificial retina procedure has been performed several-dozen times over the past few years in Europe, and the expectation is that it will find similar success in the U.S., where the University of Michigan is one of 12 centers accepting consultations for patients.

Candidates for the retinal prosthesis must be 25 or older with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa that has progressed to the point of having "bare light" or no light perception in both eyes.

Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, one of two physicians who performed the 4.5-hour surgery on Roger Pontz, is scheduled to discuss his experiences with the retinal prosthesis process during a meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery on Friday in Boston. He calls it a "game-changer."

Pontz agrees: "I can walk through the house with ease. If that's all I get out of this, it'd be great."

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Adam Wainwright threw seven neat innings before leaving with a knee injury, and Jon Jay hit a two-run single that sent the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
 
Left fielder Matt Holliday robbed Chris Young of a tying homer, one night after the Mets played some dazzling defense of their own to post a shutout in the series opener.
 
Wainwright (4-1) faced the minimum through four innings and outpitched Dillon Gee. It was the second consecutive scoreless start for Wainwright, who tossed a two-hit shutout last Thursday at Washington.
 
This time, the right-hander allowed four singles and walked none to extend his scoreless streak to 17 innings. He struck out three but was pulled after 79 pitches following an awkward tumble in the seventh.
 
Young fisted a short flare between the mound and first base. Wainwright went after it and lunged at the ball, but was unable to grab it and fell to the grass. Young was tagged out by first baseman Matt Adams, and Wainwright never threw another pitch.
 
He left the game with a hyperextended right knee.
 
Kevin Siegrist tossed a perfect eighth and Trevor Rosenthal completed the Cardinals' fourth shutout in 21 games this season. He worked around two walks in a hitless inning for his sixth save.
 
Holliday added an RBI single off Jose Valverde in the ninth for the Cardinals, who had lost four of six following a four-game winning streak. St. Louis starters entered with a 0.90 ERA in the previous eight games.
 
Even when Wainwright made a mistake, he got help. Holliday leaped at the fence to take a two-run homer away from Young in the fifth. Two batters later, Wainwright hung a curve but Travis d'Arnaud banged it right to shortstop for an inning-ending double play.
 
Curtis Granderson went 0 for 3 for the Mets before a sparse crowd announced at a season-low 20,220. The slumping newcomer is hitless in his last 22 at-bats during a 4-for-50 slide.
 
New York had won five of seven.
 
Rain fell in the first inning and Gee (1-1) matched zeros with Wainwright until the fourth.
 
Holliday drew a leadoff walk and the Cardinals loaded the bases on consecutive singles by Adams and Yadier Molina. Jay hit a sharp grounder through the box for a two-run single that ended New York's season-best scoreless streak at 20 innings.
 
Gee, who beat Arizona last Wednesday, had gone 10 innings without giving up a run.
 
The right-hander buckled down and prevented further damage - even after Jay prevented a double play with a hard slide at the plate that took out d'Arnaud. Mets manager Terry Collins came out for a chat with umpire John Kellogg, but the play looked clean.
 
Gee gave up six hits over six innings in the latest solid outing for Mets starters, who have a 1.98 ERA in the last eight games.
 
NOTES: Molina extended his hitting streak to 13 games. ... Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said LHP Tyler Lyons will get another start this weekend against Pittsburgh. Pitching in place of injured Joe Kelly, Lyons allowed two runs in six innings of a 2-0 loss to the Mets on Monday night after he was called up from Triple-A Memphis. "He impressed us," Matheny said. "He gave us a chance." ... Matheny said slumping CF Peter Bourjos will play against left-handers, and the Mets are scheduled to start LHP Jonathon Niese on Wednesday night. Matheny kept Jay in the lineup Tuesday, however, because he thinks the Cardinals need to "capitalize" on the good at-bats he's taking right now. ... Omar Quintanilla was at shortstop for the Mets instead of regular starter Ruben Tejada, who had a strong game Monday. Quintanilla entered 4 for 12 against Wainwright but went 0 for 2 with an error and a diving catch. ... Collins said OF Bobby Abreu is likely to get his first start for the Mets in the series finale Thursday against RHP Lance Lynn. ... David Wright's hitting streak ended at 12 games.
 
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 23:34
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Albert Pujols reached 500 homers in a hurry.
 
The Los Angeles Angels' first baseman hit a pair of shots off Washington Nationals right-hander Taylor Jordan on Tuesday night - a three-run homer in the first inning and two-run drive in the fifth - to become the 26th player in major league history to reach the milestone.
 
Pujols is the first player to collect his 499th and 500th homers in the same game, according to STATS. About three months past his 34th birthday, he's also the third-youngest to get to 500; Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx were both 32.
 
Making a quick recent surge, Pujols has eight homers this season, all in the past 13 games.
 
The 500th went to left-center field at Nationals Park, on an 89 mph pitch with the count at 1-2. Pujols clapped his hands together a few strides before trotting home, then pointed both index fingers to the sky. As soon as he touched the plate, Pujols was greeted by his Angels teammates, who streamed over from the visiting dugout.
 
Fans gave the three-time NL MVP a partial standing ovation, and he acknowledged the spectators by tipping his red batting helmet as he approached the dugout. After heading down the steps, he came back out for a curtain call.
 
In other at-bats Tuesday, Pujols struck out swinging in the second inning and grounded to shortstop in the seventh.
 
After a couple of down-for-him years with the Angels following 11 transcendent seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, a healthier Pujols appears ready to reclaim his spot among the game's elite hitters. He homered Friday and Saturday in games at the Detroit Tigers to lift his career total to 498, and now he's reached the round number of 500 - a total that remains hallowed despite losing its luster in recent years because so many players have surpassed it.
 
Of the 26 members of the 500-homer club, 11 have reached the mark in the last 15 years, according to STATS. Gary Sheffield was the most recent player to do it, hitting No. 500 on April 17, 2009.
 
"It's huge. That's a lot of balls over the fence. That's a lot of them. Albert's one of the great hitters of this generation," Nationals manager Matt Williams said before his team's series against the Angels. "The ability to not only hit home runs, but the ability to hit .330 and drive in 100-plus every single year - that's saying something. That's the ultimate guy you want on your team, because he provides it all."
 
The Cardinals selected Pujols in the 13th round of the 1999 draft, with the 402nd overall selection - a steal if ever there was one. Pujols stormed onto the scene as a 21-year-old rookie in 2001, hitting .329 with 37 homers and 130 RBIs.
 
He won a batting title in 2003, National League MVP awards in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and World Series titles with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. Pujols was the first player to hit 30 homers in each of his first 12 seasons and the second - after Al Simmons in 1924-34 - to reach 100 RBIs in each of his first 10.
 
A nine-time All-Star, Pujols hit 455 homers with the Cardinals.
 
So many power hitters of this era, have come under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. Earlier this year, radio host and former Cardinals player Jack Clark apologized for and retracted comments he made in 2013 implying that Pujols used steroids. Pujols sued Clark for defamation in October.
 
After his decade-plus of excellence in St. Louis, Pujols signed a 10-year deal worth $240 million with the Angels following the 2011 season. Almost immediately, the 6-foot-3 slugger appeared to be slowing down. He hit .285 with 30 homers in 2012 - impressive numbers for most players, but career lows at that point for Pujols.
 
Things got even worse in 2013. Injuries limited Pujols to 99 games, and he was sidelined from July 26 on. He ended up hitting .258 with 17 homers and 64 RBIs.
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 23:32
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