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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Joe Kelly began the season in the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen with an electric fastball and an identity crisis.

Consider the crisis solved.

At the moment, Kelly has become The Stopper.

The right-hander allowed four hits over six solid innings to win his fourth straight start and the Cardinals moved back into a tie for first place in the NL Central with a 7-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Kelly (7-3) walked two and struck out five while remaining unbeaten since being moved to the starting rotation full-time in July.

"He's kind of figured himself out," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Early in the season, he was confused. He thought he should be a strikeout guy at 97 (mph), but with the movement on his fastball he'd be crazy not to use that movement to try to command the bottom of the zone and get ground balls, too."

Kelly received plenty of help from an offense that snapped out of a three-game funk by tagging Pittsburgh spot starter Kris Johnson (0-2).

Matt Holliday and David Freese drove in two runs apiece while Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and Shane Robinson added two hits each for St. Louis.

The Cardinals managed all of one run over the first 18 innings of the series, losses that came at the hands of proven veterans Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett. On Sunday they faced a 28-year-old making his first major league start who was nearly out of baseball two years ago.

"For us to come back out in a day game after scoring one run the first two nights was really big," Freese said. "It finally gave us a little momentum."

Pittsburgh's push for an NL Central title could go down to the wire. The Pirates reclaimed first place with a 7-1 victory Saturday night but St. Louis responded by knocking around Johnson, who took the hill after Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle decided to give struggling All-Star Jeff Locke a much-needed breather.

Locke is 1-2 with a 6.88 ERA in the second half, and Hurdle thought a few days off would allow the left-hander to work on his mechanics and get some rest.

Locke won't pitch again until next weekend at the earliest. If Pittsburgh decides he needs even more time off, it will likely have to look elsewhere for help after the Cardinals took it to Johnson.

Carpenter doubled to open the game and Robinson followed with a walk. Craig and Molina provided consecutive RBI singles, and Jon Jay added a sacrifice fly to stake Kelly to a 3-0 lead before he threw his first pitch.

The advantage grew in the third when Freese doubled to score Craig and Molina and end Johnson's day. Two weeks after limiting Arizona to one run in six innings of relief in his first major league appearance, Johnson gave up five runs on seven hits in two-plus innings.

"These are the kind of situations you want to be put in, I just didn't take advantage of them when I had the chance," Johnson said. "I worked all my life to get here and to fall short today, just going to have to get back on the field, get back on the throwing program and get back to where we were before."

Justin Morneau went 1 for 3 in his debut with the Pirates a day after Pittsburgh acquired the first baseman from Minnesota to bolster the franchise's bid for its first playoff appearance in 21 years.

Kelly has been a pleasant surprise since moving into the rotation. He never let the Pirates in the game, allowing only an RBI single by Marlon Byrd in the sixth.

By then the Cardinals had things well in hand as baseball's tightest division race once again drew even.

"My velocity was a lot better than in my last start, my sinker was really working and I was able to pitch to both sides of the plate," Kelly said.

The Pirates, whose 79 wins are tied for the franchise's high-water mark since 1992, made two bold moves last week in hopes of drawing ahead. They brought in Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday, then made an even bigger splash Saturday when they convinced Morneau to leave Minnesota after 11 seasons.

Morneau arrived at PNC Park midway through Saturday night's blowout and watched the remainder of the game from the dugout. He got a better view on Sunday, playing first base and batting sixth.

The 2006 AL MVP grounded out in his first plate appearance, walked in his second and then lined a single to right field his third time up. He ended his first game for Pittsburgh with a deep fly to the warning track in the ninth.

NOTES: Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez is dealing with arthritis in his pitching arm. Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list since July with forearm tightness, is expected to resume his throwing program this week after a visit with Dr. James Andrews revealed no structural damage to the arm. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said the team remains hopeful Rodriguez can return in some capacity down the stretch. ... The Cardinals activated C Tony Cruz from the 15-day disabled list even though Cruz hasn't been cleared to swing a bat as he recovers from a broken forearm. Cruz would be used only in an emergency. ... The Pirates begin a three-game series in Milwaukee on Monday. Charlie Morton (6-3, 2.14 ERA) faces Tyler Thornburg (1-0, 1.94). ... St. Louis travels to Cincinnati on Monday to begin a four-game set with the Reds. Adam Wainwright (15-8, 2.96) starts for the Cardinals against Mat Latos (13-5, 3.03). ... The Cardinals sent reliever Michael Blazek to Milwaukee to complete the trade they made Friday for RHP John Axford.

Sunday, 01 September 2013 22:40
Published in Sports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — For the first time in 12 years, the National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival has offered a meatless alternative.

Thousands of chicken wing lovers flocked to the poultry mecca of western New York on Saturday to experience the latest and greatest in wings — including hummus dip and breaded green beans flavored like the real thing.

Local chef Steven Binks tells The Buffalo News the trick is in getting the right mix of Frank's Original RedHot and gorgonzola cheese.

The two-day festival features more than 130 different styles of wings, live music and wing-eating contests.

Event founder Drew Cerza said 40 tons of wings will be served up by two dozen restaurants from across the country.

Among the eateries is Buffalo's Anchor Bar, considered the birthplace of Buffalo-style chicken wings.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A military hearing for three former Navy football players accused of sexual assault is set to resume after the alleged victim was given a day to rest.

Testimony was scheduled to continue Sunday morning at the Washington Navy Yard.

The hearing is being held to determine whether the three U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen will be court-martialed on the charges. It was postponed Saturday because the alleged victim said she was too fatigued to testify after a week of difficult cross-examination.

The woman, who is now a senior at the academy, allegedly was sexually assaulted at an April 2012 party after a night of heavy drinking. She says she doesn't remember having sex with the men.

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JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A man wanted in the 1984 killing of a Joplin woman has been arrested in San Diego, California.

Joplin police say FBI agents arrested 64-year-old Paul Moses on Friday on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in the killing of 62-year-old Frances Ramsey.

The Joplin Globe reports that a felony murder warrant for Moses had been on the books since shortly after Ramsey's killing. Her body was found August 11th, 1984 in an unoccupied duplex that was being remodeled.

Authorities said Moses is being held in San Diego pending extradition proceedings to bring him to Missouri. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.

Moses was described in court records in 1984 as a 35-year-old transient.

Sunday, 01 September 2013 07:09
Published in Local News
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