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LONDON (AP) -- As tumultuous a day as professional tennis has produced in its nearly half-century history ended in the most unforeseeable, unexplainable way of all: A second-round loss by Roger Federer at the All England Club.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion and 17-time Grand Slam champ shuffled off Centre Court with dusk approaching on the fortnight's first Wednesday, his head bowed, his streak of reaching at least the quarterfinals at a record 36 consecutive major tournaments snapped by a man ranked 116th.

His remarkable 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky marked Federer's earliest Grand Slam exit in a decade. He lost in the first round of the French Open on May 26, 2003, back before he owned a single trophy from any of the sport's most important sites.

"This is a setback, a disappointment, whatever you want to call it," said Federer, the defending champion. "Got to get over this one. Some haven't hurt this much, that's for sure."

He had plenty of company on a wild, wild Wednesday brimming with surprising results, a slew of injuries - and all manner of sliding and tumbling on the revered grass courts, prompting questions about whether something made them more slippery.

Seven players left because of withdrawals or mid-match retirements, believed to be the most in a single day at a Grand Slam tournament in the 45-year Open era. Among that group: second-seeded Victoria Azarenka; sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; 18th-seeded John Isner, who will forever be remembered for winning a 70-68 fifth set in the longest match ever; and Steve Darcis, the man who stunned 12-time major champion Rafael Nadal on Monday.

"Very black day," summed up 10th-seeded Marin Cilic, who said a bad left knee forced him to pull out of his match.

The third-seeded Federer simply was unable to derail Stakhovsky's serve-and-volley style, breaking the 27-year-old Ukrainian only once.

Still, there actually was a real chance for Federer to get back in the thick of things. Ahead 6-5 in the fourth, he held a set point as Stakhovsky served at 30-40. But Stakhovsky came up with this sequence: volley winner, 111 mph ace, serve-and-volley winner.

"I had my opportunities, had the foot in the door. When I had the chance, I couldn't do it," said Federer, who is 122-18 on grass over his career, while Stakhovsky is 13-12. "It's very frustrating, very disappointing. I'm going to accept it and move forward from here. I have no choice."

In the closing tiebreaker, with spectators roaring after every point, Stakhovsky raced to a 5-2 lead, and the match ended with Federer pushing a backhand wide on a 13-stroke exchange. Stakhovsky dropped to his back, then later bowed to the stadium's four sides. He sat in his sideline chair, purple Wimbledon towel draped over his head, as Federer quickly headed for the locker room. Stakhovsky peeked out and saw Federer leaving, then applauded right along with the fans' standing ovation.

"You're playing the guy and then you're playing his legend," Stakhovsky said. "You're playing two of them. When you're beating one, you still have the other one who is pressing you. You're saying, `Am I about to beat him? Is it possible?'"

It was, and Federer was one of seven players who have been ranked No. 1 to depart the tournament in a span of about 8 1/2 hours. The others: Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, who lost 6-3, 6-4 to 131st-ranked Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal; Caroline Wozniacki; Ana Ivanovic; Jelena Jankovic; Azarenka; and Lleyton Hewitt, who won Wimbledon in 2002.

All told, five players who have combined to win 26 Grand Slam titles headed home, along with another three who have been the runner-up at a major tournament.

"Today has been bizarre," said 17th-seeded Sloane Stephens of the U.S., who stuck around by winning her match 8-6 in the third set. "I don't know what's going on."

Look at it this way: Three days into the two-week tournament - merely halfway through the second round - a total of five of the 10 highest-seeded women are gone, as are four of the top 10 men.

The beneficiaries might very well be folks such as defending champion Serena Williams, who most figured might only be challenged in a potential final against Sharapova or Azarenka, and Andy Murray, whose path to Britain's first men's title in 77 years no longer can be blocked by Federer, Nadal or Tsonga.

How, then, to decipher it all?

Let fly with far-flung conspiracy theories.

One hypothesis making the rounds: The grass is different because there is a new head groundsman at the All England Club, Neil Stubley (keep in mind, though, that he's been helping prepare the courts here for more than 15 years, albeit with a less distinguished title).

Another popular idea was that the recent weather - it's been in the 60s and humid, but without a drop of rain so far - is affecting traction.

"I don't know if it's the court or the weather. I can't figure it out," said two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka, who said she bruised a bone in her right leg when she slipped on the turf in her victory Monday and couldn't face Flavia Pennetta on Wednesday. "It would be great if the club or somebody who takes care of the court just would examine or try to find an issue so that wouldn't happen."

Tsonga, a finalist at the 2008 Australian Open and semifinalist the past two years at Wimbledon, fell Wednesday and had his leg treated by a trainer, then quit while trailing two sets to one against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.

Sharapova managed to finish her match, at least, despite losing her footing a few times, but told the chair umpire the conditions were dangerous.

"After I buckled my knee three times, that's obviously my first reaction. And because I've just never fallen that many times in a match before," said the four-time major champion, noting that she thought she might have strained a muscle in her left hip.

"I just noticed a few more players falling a bit more than usual," Sharapova added.

The All England Club took the unusual step of issuing a statement in response to Wednesday's events - and complaints.

"There has been some suggestion that the court surface is to blame. We have no reason to think this is the case. Indeed, many players have complimented us on the very good condition of the courts," the statement read. "The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years and it is well known that grass surfaces tend to be more lush at the start of an event. The factual evidence, which is independently checked, is that the courts are almost identical to last year, as dry and firm as they should be, and we expect them to continue to play to their usual high quality."

Like Sharapova, Federer will not be among the players who gets a chance to gauge those courts' quality the rest of the way.

He's been as good as it gets at Wimbledon for the better part of 10 years; Pete Sampras and Willie Renshaw (whose titles came in the 1880s) are the only other men to have won the tournament seven times.

"Beating Roger here on his court, where he's a legend, is, I think, having definitely a special place in my career," Stakhovsky said.

Uh, yeah, that's fair. Stakhovsky owns a losing record for his career (108-121) and at Grand Slams (12-18) and never has been past the third round at a major tournament. Until Wednesday, he was best known, if at all, for grabbing his cellphone to take a photo of a disputed ball mark in the clay during a first-round loss at the French Open last month.

Federer's consistent brilliance extends beyond Wimbledon, of course: He reached 23 Grand Slam semifinals in a row in one stretch, which also included 10 straight finals.

Not since a third-round loss at the 2004 French Open had Federer failed to reach the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam. That means he'd won 141 consecutive matches in the first through fourth rounds at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open (he advanced four times via an opponent's withdrawal).

But given the way this week has gone so far, Wednesday in particular, this loss somehow fit in.

"There was a time where some players didn't believe they could beat the top guys. So maybe there's a little bit of a thing happening at the moment," Federer said. "I'm happy about that - that players believe they can beat the best on the biggest courts in the biggest matches."

Now the question becomes: What could Thursday, let alone the rest of Wimbledon, possibly have in store?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 23:11
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year contract Wednesday, and reached a one-year deal with center Patrik Berglund.

The 24-year-old Shattenkirk had five goals and 18 assists in 48 games last season. In four NHL seasons with Colorado and St. Louis, the former Boston University player has 23 goals and 86 assists in 201 games.

The 25-year-old Berglund, from Sweden, had 17 goals and eight assists in 48 games last season. In five seasons with the Blues, he has 92 goals and 96 assists in 358 games.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 23:08
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 LONDON (AP) - Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of Wimbledon after hurting her right knee in her opening-round win.

 

   Early in the second set of her match against Maria Joao Koehler, Azarenka did the splits near the baseline, then crumpled to the grass, clutching her right knee and sobbing.

 

   Azarenka recovered after a medical timeout to finish out the 6-1, 6-2 victory on Monday but she moved gingerly after falling and said she wasn't sure about the extent of the injury.

 

   On Wednesday, minutes before her second-round match against Flavia Pennetta was to begin, she pulled out of the match.

 

   Considered one of Serena Williams' toughest matchups, Azarenka has won the last two Australian Opens and had reached the semifinals in her last two Wimbledon appearances.

 
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 08:31
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- When UCLA's baseball players went to the weight room for workouts, there were reminders all around about what their program lacked.

Every other sport at the famed school had at least one national championship recognized on the wall.

"We've got to get our name on that board," Nick Vander Tuig remembers coach John Savage telling his players last fall.

Finally, baseball is represented among the NCAA-record 109 team national championships in Westwood.

The Bruins secured their first title Tuesday night with an 8-0 victory over Mississippi State that completed a two-game sweep in the College World Series finals.

"We believed we were the best team in the country from the get-go," second baseman Cody Regis said. "We had that mindset that we weren't going to stop until July 1. That's what Coach always said: `Season ends July 1 when the tournament is over. And I think we are here because we believed throughout in the process."

That process focused squarely on pitching and defense. The Bruins were among the best in the nation in both. The offense produced just enough. On Tuesday, though, the offense stole the show.

Eric Filia drove in a career-high five runs for the Bruins, who collected 12 hits and scored their most runs in 18 games, and Vander Tuig limited Mississippi State to five hits in eight innings.

"They had a great year," Savage said of his players, "and it was one of those situations where it was our time."

Adam Plutko, the Bruins' No. 1 starter, was chosen the CWS Most Outstanding Player. He beat LSU in the Bruins' first game and was the winner in Game 1 of the finals. He allowed two runs in 13 innings.

Vander Tuig held off the Bulldogs (51-20) when they threatened in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings to record his fourth win in the NCAA tournament. Vander Tuig (14-4) struck out six and walked one. David Berg pitched the ninth.

Filia produced runs with a sacrifice fly, squeeze bunt and two base hits.

"To beat us like they did today, and to do what they did to our pitching staff, which I think is one of the best in the nation," Bulldogs right fielder Hunter Renfroe said, "we didn't do what we were supposed to do. We didn't put up run support like we should have."

Bulldogs starter Luis Pollorena (6-4) lasted one inning. Jonathan Holder, the closer, came on with one out in the fourth inning and went the rest of the way.

UCLA allowed four runs in five games to set a CWS record for fewest in the metal-bat era that started in 1974.

The Bruins' .227 batting average in the CWS also was the lowest since teams went away from wooden bats. Their 19 runs in five games were the fewest by a champion since the CWS went to eight teams in 1950.

After Arizona's title last year, the Pac-12 has now won two straight and 17 titles overall in baseball - the most of any conference.

Mississippi State was playing for its first national title in a team sport and was the sixth straight Southeastern Conference team to make it to the finals.

"What we did was knock on the door, and UCLA has knocked on the door before and they knocked down the door, and we didn't do that," Bulldogs coach John Cohen said. "It bothered me we didn't play well the last two days. We played 15 postseason games and didn't play well in two of them."

Vander Tuig, who won his fourth straight postseason start, gave up just one earned run in 21 1-3 innings over his last three outings.

"I think back on all the experience I've had in three years and how it really helped me," Vander Tuig said. "I also think of just how many wins this team has had and the opportunities we've had. It's what has gotten me to where I am, trying to keep things simple, making pitches and letting my defense work."

The Bruins won their first title in their third CWS appearance in four years and fifth all-time. They had made it to the finals in 2010 and were swept by South Carolina. Last year they went 1-2 in Omaha.

This season they finished third in the Pac-12, behind Oregon State and Oregon, and then got hot in the postseason.

They made magic with an offense that started Tuesday 264th out of 296 teams in batting (.247) and 215th in scoring (4.7 runs per game), but was among the national leaders in sacrifices, walks and hit batsmen.

UCLA won three straight at home in the regionals and went on the road to upset No. 5 national seed Cal State Fullerton in a two-game super regional.

Once the Bruins got to Omaha, they made themselves at home in spacious TD Ameritrade Park. UCLA produced just enough offense to support its superb pitching and defense in bracket play, and again in Game 1 of the finals.

The pitching and defense showed up again in Game 2, and this time so did the offense.

"We've been capable all season long," Savage said. "We have good players. I said that all along. They started to believe, and they used the whole field. Fortunately, we had some hits tonight."

UCLA was up three runs early - a lead that has been insurmountable for every team in this year's CWS.

The Bruins used a hit batsman, a bunt that produced two Mississippi State errors, and Filia's sacrifice fly to lead 1-0 in the first. It was 3-0 in the third after Brian Carroll scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Filia and Pat Valaika's RBI single.

By the time the Bulldogs were forced to call on Holder, it was pretty much game over.

"As far as Mississippi State goes, they'll be back," Bulldogs shortstop Adam Frazier said. "Coach Cohen is doing the right things, the coaching staff has it going in the right direction. I trust coach Cohen will get it to what it is supposed to be, and I've got a feeling this team will be back in the future."

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 08:16
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NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was taken from his home in handcuffs Wednesday morning, more than a week after a Boston semi-pro football player was found dead in an industrial park a mile from the player's house.

Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits, was found slain June 17. His relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, that the two men were friends and that both men were out together on the last night of Lloyd's life.

Officials ruled the death a homicide but did not say how Lloyd died.

It's unclear why Hernandez was being taken into custody Wednesday around 9 a.m. and put into the back of a police cruiser. He was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt, with his arms inside the shirt and behind his back. He casually spit into some bushes on his way to the car.

The Associated Press emailed a message to his attorney, Michael Fee, who hasn't discussed the investigation beyond acknowledging media reports about it. A message also was left with the Bristol County district attorney's office.

State police have searched in and around Hernandez's home in North Attleborough several times. At least three search warrants have been issued in connection with the investigation.

Reporters have been camped out for days at Hernandez's sprawling home on the Rhode Island line, not far from the stadium where the Patriots play. They reported Tuesday that Hernandez got a visit from Boston defense attorney James Sultan.

The Patriots drafted Hernandez, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James has said the team did not anticipate commenting publicly during the police investigation.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 08:08
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HOUSTON (AP) -- Allen Craig homered and had a season-high four hits with three RBIs, and Carlos Beltran and David Freese both added a homer as the St. Louis Cardinals got back on track by rolling to a 13-5 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

The Cardinals managed just seven runs combined in a three-game sweep by the Texas Rangers, the first time they were swept this season. On Tuesday, they piled up the same number of runs in the fourth inning alone, powered by a three-run triple by Matt Carpenter.

Jake Westbrook (4-2) didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and yielded four hits and four runs in six innings in his third start since coming off the disabled list.

Matt Dominguez got Houston's first hit of the game on a towering home run to left field. Brett Wallace added a two-run triple in that inning in his first game back from Triple-A.

Houston starter Lucas Harrell (5-8) entered the game with a 1.73 ERA in four starts this month, but things went wrong quickly. He allowed seven hits and seven runs with four walks in 3 1-3 innings.

Craig extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single to start the second before Matt Holliday ended an 0 for 11 slump with a single. Adams grounded into a double play before Harrell walked Freese. He escaped the jam when Jon Jay grounded into a force out to end the inning.

Harrell struck out the side in the third before trouble began in the fourth.

Beltran opened the fourth with a double and scored on a single by Craig to make it 1-0. Holliday and Matt Adams walked before a one-out, bases-loaded walk by Jay made it 2-0.

Pete Kozma's RBI single pushed the lead to 3-0. Carpenter's three-run triple sailed just out of reach of a diving Justin Maxwell in right-center and left St. Louis up 6-0. Maxwell crashed violently into the grass on the play and was taken out of the game and replaced by J.D. Martinez. The team said Maxwell had a concussion.

A run-scoring single by Yadier Molina wrapped up the scoring for that inning and chased Harrell. He was replaced by Dallas Keuchel, who struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

Chris Carter walked to start the second inning, but Westbrook got back on track after that, retiring the next 12 batters. The Astros didn't have another baserunner until the homer by Dominguez to start the sixth.

Barnes walked and Jose Altuve singled before the triple by Wallace scored them to make it 9-3.

Houston got within 9-4 on a sacrifice fly by Jason Castro. Carlos Pena doubled with two outs, but Westbrook limited the damage by retiring Martinez.

Beltran launched a 73 mph curveball into the Crawford Boxes in left field for a two-run home run - his 18th of the season - to make it 9-0 in the sixth inning.

Freese pushed the lead to 11-4 when he hit his fifth homer of the season off Travis Blackley in the seventh.

Craig's two-run homer off Josh Fields made it 13-4 in the eighth.

Houston added a run on an RBI single by Ronny Cedeno in the ninth.

NOTES: The two-game series wraps up on Wednesday when Houston's Erik Bedard opposes Lance Lynn. ... Cardinals manager Mike Matheny moved Holliday out of the No. 3 spot on Tuesday for the first time and into the fifth spot in the order. Matheny said he had a couple of conversations with Holliday before making the change. "It's just a matter of trying to get some things going in a positive direction," Matheny said. "I think we need to be proactive in trying to make it happen. Not that that changes his approach or anything else but we're going to try to make some changes to see if we can jumpstart it." Beltran hit in his place. ... Matheny said he has had a couple of good talks with ace Adam Wainwright since the pitcher lost his cool after being pulled in the seventh inning of a loss to Texas on Sunday. He said he was never mad at him and that he appreciates the intensity Wainwright shows on the mound. "I understand the whole dynamic," Matheny said. "I think he was frustrated and I think he kind of let his emotions get the best of him. That once again led to some great opportunities for us to have conversations together, and for him to have conversations with some guys on our team and some of the younger players about this." ... The Cardinals will skip Joe Kelly's spot in the rotation because they have two days off this week. The rest of the rotation will remain the same. ... The Astros also changed their rotation because of two off days and will skip Keuchel. ... The Astros recalled infielders Wallace and Jake Elmore from Triple-A Oklahoma City. They take the roster spots of shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, who was optioned to Oklahoma City on Monday, and left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who was designated for assignment.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 23:40
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- UCLA's offense showed up this time, which meant Mississippi State never had a chance.

Eric Filia drove in a career-high five runs, Nick Vander Tuig limited Mississippi State to five hits in eight innings, and UCLA won its first national championship in baseball with an 8-0 victory Tuesday night.

The Bruins (49-17) completed a two-game sweep in the College World Series finals and ended the season with 11 straight wins. The national title is UCLA's NCAA-record 109th in team sports.

"They had a great year," UCLA coach John Savage said, "and it was one of those situations where it was our time."

Adam Plutko, the Bruins' No. 1 starter, was named the CWS' Most Outstanding Player. He beat LSU in the Bruins' first game and was the winner in Game 1 of the finals. He allowed two runs in 13 innings.

Vander Tuig held off the Bulldogs (51-20) when they threatened in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings and recorded his fourth win in the NCAA tournament. Vander Tuig (14-4) struck out six and walked one. David Berg pitched the ninth.

Filia produced runs with a sacrifice fly, squeeze bunt and two base hits as the Bruins collected 12 hits and scored their most runs in 18 games.

"To beat us like they did today, and to do what they did to our pitching staff, which I think is one of the best in the nation," Bulldogs right fielder Hunter Renfroe said. "We didn't do what we were supposed to do. We didn't put up run support like we should have."

Bulldogs starter Luis Pollorena (6-4) lasted one inning. Jonathan Holder, the Bulldogs' closer, came on with one out in the fourth inning and went the rest of the way.

UCLA allowed four runs in five games to set a CWS record for fewest in the metal-bat era that started in 1974.

The Bruins' .227 batting average in the CWS also was the lowest since teams went away from wood bats. The Bruins' 19 runs in five games were the fewest by a champion since the CWS went to eight teams in 1950.

"It was a team effort all the way through," Savage said. "It was guys believing in each other and being great teammates. People didn't believe in us all season long. We kept battling, and it's a team win."

After Arizona's title last year, the Pac-12 has now won two straight and has 17 in all in baseball, most of any conference.

Mississippi State was playing for its first national title in a team sport and was the sixth straight Southeastern Conference team to make it to the finals.

"What we did was knock on the door, and UCLA has knocked on the door before and they knocked down the door, and we didn't do that," Bulldogs coach John Cohen said. "It bothered me we didn't play well the last two days. We played 15 postseason games and didn't play well in two of them."

Vander Tuig, who won his fourth straight postseason start, gave up just one earned run in 21 1-3 innings over his last three starts.

The Bruins won the title in their third CWS appearance in four years and fifth all-time. They had made it to the finals in 2010 and were swept by South Carolina. Last year they went 1-2 in Omaha.

This season they finished third in the Pac-12, behind Oregon State and Oregon, and then got hot in the postseason.

They made magic with an offense that started Tuesday 264th out of 296 teams in batting (.247) and 215th in scoring (4.7 runs per game), but among the national leaders in sacrifices, walks and hit batsmen.

They won three straight at home in regionals and went on the road to upset No. 5 national seed Cal State Fullerton in a two-game super regional.

Once they got to Omaha, the Bruins made themselves at home in spacious TD Ameritrade Park. UCLA produced just enough offense to support its superb pitching and defense in bracket play, and again in Game 1 of the finals.

The pitching and defense showed up again in Game 2, and this time so did the offense.

"We've been capable all season long," Savage said. "We have good players. I said that all along. They started to believe, and they used the whole field. Fortunately, we had some hits tonight."

UCLA was up three runs early - a lead that has been insurmountable for every team in this year's CWS.

The Bruins, as usual, were creative and opportunistic. They used a hit batsman, a bunt that produced two Mississippi State errors, and Filia's sacrifice fly to lead 1-0 in the first. It was 3-0 in the third after Brian Carroll scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Filia and Pat Valaika's RBI single.

The Bulldogs called on their closer, Jonathan Holder, with one out in the fourth after Cody Regis singled in another run. Holder hit Carroll to load the bases, and another sacrifice fly made it 5-0.

"As far as Mississippi State goes, they'll be back," shortstop Adam Frazier said. "Coach Cohen is doing the right things, the coaching staff has it going in the right direction. I trust coach Cohen will get it to what it is supposed to be, and I've got a feeling this team will be back in the future."

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 23:35
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The Cardinals are in Houston tonight to take on the Astros, but before the team took the field, they had to wrap up some business from their most recent loss.

Adam Wainwright was visibly upset with manager Mike Matheny's decision to take him out of Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Rangers. Today, Wainwright publicly apologized to the skipper and said his actions were only the result of his wanting to win so badly.

 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 16:46
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BOSTON (AP) -- An NHL-record unbeaten streak to start the lockout-shortened season.

Three straight victories to clinch the title.

From beginning to end, the Chicago Blackhawks skated away from the rest of the league.

Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart in the final 1:16 and the Blackhawks struck quickly to win Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final 3-2 on Monday night for their second NHL championship in four seasons.

"I still can't believe that finish. Oh my God, we never quit," said goalie Corey Crawford, who made 23 saves. "I never lost confidence. No one in our room ever did."

Jonathan Toews returned from injury to add a goal and an assist in the first finals between Original Six teams since 1979. Patrick Kane, whose overtime goal in Game 6 beat Philadelphia to win the 2010 championship, was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as this year's playoffs MVP.

"In 2010, we didn't really know what we were doing. We just, we played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing," said Toews, who scored his third goal of the playoffs to tie it 1-1 in the second period, then fed Bickell for the score that tied it with 76 seconds to play. "We played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing.

"This time around, we know definitely how much work it takes and how much sacrifice it takes to get back here and this is an unbelievable group," Toews said. "We've been through a lot together this year and this is a sweet way to finish it off."

Trailing 2-1, Crawford went off for an extra skater and the Blackhawks converted when Toews fed it in front and Bickell scored from the edge of the crease to tie the score.

Perhaps the Bruins expected it to go to overtime, as three of the first four games in the series did.

Because they seemed to be caught off-guard on the ensuing faceoff. Chicago skated into the zone, sent a shot on net and after it deflected off a player and the post it went right to Bolland, who put it in the net and started the Chicago celebration with 59 seconds left in the game.

The Blackhawks on the ice gathered in the corner, while those on the bench began jumping up and down. It was only a minute later, when Boston's Tuukka Rask was off for an extra man, that Chicago withstood Boston's final push and pored over the boards, throwing their sticks and gloves across the ice.

The Bruins got 28 saves from Rask, who was hoping to contribute to an NHL title after serving as Tim Thomas' backup when Boston won it all two years ago. The sold-out TD Garden began chanting "We want the Cup!" after Milan Lucic's goal put the Bruins up 2-1 with eight minutes left, but it fell silent after their team coughed up the lead.

The arena was almost empty - except for a few hundred fans in red Blackhawks sweaters who filtered down to the front rows - when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman handed the 35-pound Cup to Toews, who left Game 5 with an undisclosed injury and wasn't confirmed for the lineup until the morning skate.

The Chicago captain skated the Cup right over the crease in which the Blackhawks mounted the comeback and in front of the fans in Blackhawks sweaters who lined the front row behind the net. Toews banged on the glass while the remaining Bruins fans headed up the runways.

He then continued the tradition of handing it from player to player before the team settled to the side of the faceoff circle for a picture with the trophy they will possess for the next 12 months.

"It's unbelievable man," Crawford said. "So much hard work to get to this point. Great effort by everyone on the team."

The Blackhawks opened the season on a 21-0-3 streak and coasted to the Presidents' Trophy that goes to the team with the best regular-season record. But regular-season excellence has not translated into playoff success: Chicago is the first team with the best record to win the Cup since the 2008 Detroit Red Wings.

The Blackhawks went through Minnesota in five games and Detroit in seven, rallying in the Western Conference semifinals from a 3-1 deficit and winning Game 7 in overtime. They got through the defending NHL champion Los Angeles Kings in five games to return to the Cup finals, where Boston was waiting.

The Blackhawks won the first game at home in three overtimes but dropped Game 2 - another overtime - and fell behind 2-1 in the series when it returned to Boston.

But since then, it's been all Chicago.

The tightly contested finals - with three games going a total of five overtimes - may help fans forget the lockout that shortened the season to 48 games and pushed back the opener to Jan. 19. That left the teams still playing ice hockey on a 95-degree day in Boston on June 24, matching the latest date in NHL history.

Fans in their Bruins sweaters filtered into the air conditioned TD Garden to see the last game in Boston for the year with the hope there would be one more in Chicago: a seventh game just like two years ago, when the Bruins rallied from a 3-2 deficit, then won in Vancouver for their first NHL championship since 1972.

Both teams were bolstered by the return of star forwards, Selke Trophy winner Toews of Chicago and Patrice Bergeron, who was a finalist for the award given to the top defensive forward in the league. Both returned after missing the end of Game 5, and but only Toews showed up in the box score.

What had already been a physical series continued to take its toll, with Jaromir Jagr - the NHL's active playoff scoring leader - and Andrew Shaw both going to the dressing room during the first period. Jagr's injury was not known, but Shaw deflected a slap shot from Shawn Thornton off his own right cheek and crumpled to the ice, leaving behind a pool of blood when he skated off.

Both returned, but Jagr again disappeared from the Boston bench in the second. Crawford also forced a stoppage of play when his mask came off following a David Krejci slap shot off his shoulder; the Chicago goalie appeared to need a little time to recover, but he stayed in the game.

The Bruins, who never led in Games 4 and 5, took the lead seven minutes into the game when Tyler Seguin gloved a pass from Daniel Paille and controlled it, then backhanded it across the middle to Chris Kelly. He beat Crawford on the glove side to make it 1-0.

But the Blackhawks tied it early in the second when, as a Bruins power play was ending, Toews broke into the Boston zone on the right side. He had Kane in the middle and Andrew Shaw coming out of the box, but didn't need either one, rattling it in off the right post to make it 1-1.

It stayed that way until Lucic put Boston ahead with 7:49 left in the third.

The final series seemed headed for a Game 7 for the sixth time in the last 10 years before Bickell and Bolland turned it around.

"Dave Bolland, what else can you say about that guy?" Kane said. "He just shows up in big playoff games."

Monday, 24 June 2013 23:01
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Adam Wainwright lost the lead in the seventh, and then he lost his temper.

The St. Louis Cardinals ace strenuously objected to being pulled before Ian Kinsler's go-ahead hit that helped the Texas Rangers complete a soggy three-game interleague sweep with a 2-1 victory Sunday night.

Hearing manager Mike Matheny's assessment that he'd been "laboring" and that it had been "two pretty stressful innings in a row" got Wainwright even hotter.

"He's wrong," Wainwright said after missing a chance to become the National League's first 11-game winner. "You don't want to call your manager out and I would never do that. Laboring is not what I was doing."

After noting Matheny was in charge and criticizing himself for allowing the tying hit, Wainwright (10-5) had more to say on the issue of fatigue. He gave up an earned run in 6 2-3 innings, ending a string of six straight outings of seven innings or longer during which he'd gone 5-1.

"If you think I'm laboring because I went into deep counts, I went into deep counts all day," Wainwright said. "Made good pitches. That's his opinion."

Wainwright said there was no use trying to persuade Matheny to leave him in the game, because the umpires had already been informed of a double switch. He struck out six and walked one.

"No amount of lobbying ... I wasn't going to stay in that game," Wainwright said. "But I mean, no, I didn't want to come out of that game. I felt I was as strong or stronger at the end than I was in the beginning."

He wouldn't say whether he confronted Matheny in the dugout.

"Even if I did, I would never tell y'all that," Wainwright told reporters. "That's something that stays in here."

The finale of Texas' first visit to Busch Stadium since losing Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series, and first time ever in the regular season, was delayed 2 hours and 59 minutes by heavy rain with less than half of a near-capacity crowd sticking around. The first pitch Saturday night was pushed back 1 hour, 6 minutes and was the third rain delay of the Cardinals' 3-4 homestand.

"Well, the other team's dealing with it, too," Matheny said. "It's odd. You don't want to go through the season like this."

Rookie Nick Tepesch had a resurgent outing for Texas, allowing a run on four hits in 5 2-3 innings after surrendering 11 runs in 8 2-3 innings the previous two starts. Kinsler and David Murphy had two hits apiece for the AL West-leading Rangers, who have won five in a row after losing six straight.

The Cardinals, who have the majors' best record at 47-29, were swept for the first time this season and totaled just seven runs.

"I got good pitches to hit," said second-place hitter Carlos Beltran, who was 0 for 4. "Today, I just couldn't do anything with them. The whole series I got pitches right down the middle."

Leadoff man Matt Carpenter homered to start the sixth, singled and walked for St. Louis.

Robbie Ross (4-1) got the last out of the sixth to strand a pair of runners and Joe Nathan worked around two hits in the ninth to earn his third save of the series and 25th overall in 26 chances.

Pete Kozma, whose fielding error at shortstop set the stage for Kinsler's go-ahead hit, lined into an inning-ending double play.

Wainwright retired the first two batters before Murphy doubled off the base of the right-field wall in the seventh and scored on a single by Leonys Martin to chase the Cardinals ace. Reliever Trevor Rosenthal appeared to get the Cardinals out of the inning still tied but Kozma dropped pinch hitter Jurickson Profar's weak pop fly, and Kinsler followed with the go-ahead hit.

Tepesch, a former Missouri star from suburban Kansas City, held the Cardinals hitless before David Freese singled with one out in the fifth. He struck out three and walked two.

The Rangers had two on with one out in the sixth with the heart of the order coming up after Elvis Andrus drew a full-count walk, but Wainwright got Nelson to pop out to shallow left and Adrian Beltre on a foul ball out.

Both teams have Monday off with the Rangers headed to New York to face the Yankees and the Cardinals opening a two-game set at Houston - but both teams apparently had little interest in a postponement Sunday night.

Notes: Rookie LHP Martin Perez gave Rangers starters their first win of the month Saturday. Relievers claimed the first eight, half of them by Neal Cotts. ... Lance Berkman, who helped the Cardinals beat the Rangers in the 2011 World Series, did not play in the series due to knee soreness and because there was no DH in the NL park. Profar didn't start, either, after starting 16 games earlier this month. ... Actor David Guintoli, a St. Louis native who stars on the TV show Grimm, waited out the delay and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Monday, 24 June 2013 04:28
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