At 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, MSU is tied with Illinois State (a team the Bears have already beat) for third place in the league. A win at Southern Illinois this weekend would give the Bears their most league wins since 1990, which was also the last time MSU made the FCS playoffs.
It’s been a roller coaster season that began with an 0-4 start in the non-conference schedule, followed by losing two of the first three MVFC games.
But somehow, some way, the Bears are on the upswing/
MSU has finally found some offense to go with its stellar defense, and the results have been three straight convincing wins. Their game this Saturday will have long-term and short-term implications.
A win, and the Bears keep their slim hopes for the p-word (I can’t bring myself to type it and jinx it) alive. The Bears would be 5-6 overall and 5-2 in the MVFC, with a regular season finale at home the following week against last-place Northern Iowa.
You wouldn’t think a .500-level record would be good enough to get into the FCS playoffs, but the Bears have a few things working to their advantage.
For one, they play in what’s usually viewed as one of the toughest conferences in the FCS. Generally, the MVFC sends multiple teams to the playoffs. That at-large bid may be a pipe dream with a 6-6 overall record, but at least at 6-2 and alone in third place, the Bears would have chance.
In speaking with the media this week, Allen said: “If we can get this one (at Southern Illinois), then we’re coming home and might be playing for something pretty specially. So we gotta make sure they know that, but also stay in the mindset that it’s one game at a time.”
So, you mean to say MSU’s season might not be over after playing Northern Iowa on Nov. 16?
“(Players) understand that,” Allen said. “We’ve made sure of that.”
The FCS playoffs also expanded from 20 to 24 teams for the 2013 season. While it may have been bleak to get a bid two or three years ago, the Bears could land in one of those new playoff spots.
Here’s a recap of how many MVFC teams have made the playoffs in the last five years. Keep in mind, between 2010-2012, there were 10 at-large spots available. There are 13 at-large spots this year.
• 2012 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Illinois State, South Dakota State
• 2011 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Northern Iowa
• 2010 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: North Dakota State, Western Illinois
• 2009 – League champ: Southern Illinois; At-large: South Dakota State *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
• 2008 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: Southern Illinois *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
In the interest of full disclosure, the easy case against the Bears’ playoff chances would be that none of those at-large teams in the last five years had a .500-level record. That just makes the Bears’ early season struggles all the more frustrating.
If they don’t somehow pull a loss from the jaws of victory against Murray State, Central Arkansas and South Dakota, they’re at least 6-4 and a near-lock for the playoffs if they win out.
Let’s play along and say the Bears win their last two games, defy the odds, and squeak into the playoffs with one of the last at-large bids.
Suddenly, your head coach goes from the hot seat to the contract-extension seat. Allen will have given the Bears their most league victories and first playoff appearance in over 20 years. He also would go into 2014 in the final year of his contract.
You have to bring him back for 2014 and let the contract play out, but now do you reward him with an extension? Does one improbable late-season run into a playoff spot outweigh seven seasons of average-to-above average football?
It would be hard for Allen to go on the recruiting trail, coming off a breakthrough playoff appearance for the school, and try to land players while they know his contract will be up after their first season at MSU.
That contract extension depends on if the Bears can win at Southern Illinois, then return home and beat Northern Iowa (something Allen has never done at MSU.) Past history would tell us that this is the classic MSU sports scenario where we slightly get our hopes up, only to be let down.
If they lose one or both of the next two games, we could see a lot of changes with MSU football before next season. A “lame duck” situation would not be ideal for anyone.
Still, it’s a refreshing change that basketball season is about to start and the football Bears still have something to play for.
(West Plains) – The West Plains Country Club’s 54th Annual Four Ball Tournament was held this past weekend, with great golfing weather in the West Plains area.
Organizers would like to thank all of those who attended, and particularly Gary Brown and his staff for getting the course in such great shape, and Melissa Hardin and the restaurant staff for their hard work in preparing food.
The Championship Flight was tightly packed after the first round but the defending champions won it again with some excellent play. Bryan Johnson of Cape Girardeau and Justin Nelson of Thayer shot a two day total of 129 to win the event by four shots.
1st Justin Nelson – Bryan Johnson 65-64 = 129
2nd Daniel Taylor – Aaron Circle 66-67 = 133
3rd Tod Rose – Jordan Land 64-70 = 134
4th Phil Wade – Matt Garnett 64-71 = 135
1st Stacy Buchanan – Jim Cooper 69-68 = 137
2nd Gary Brown – Jack Montgomery 70-69 = 139
3rd Dustin Hunter – Charlie Blackwell 70-70 = 140
4th Jarrod Land – Justin Rutledge 69-72 = 141
1st Justin Mitchell – Brandon Maxwell 71-70 = 141
2nd Kevin Pruett – Jerry Thomas 72-69 = 141
3rd Kenny Shamblin – Josh Wideman 71-71 = 142
4th Mike Renfrow – Jeff Lowery 72-72 = 144
1st Robert Cooper – Dustin Burns 74-66 = 140
2nd Bill Temple – David Cox 73-68 = 141
3rd Mike Finley – Andy Hawkins 73-69 = 142
4th Brad Heinsohn – Isaac Gaston 73-69 = 142
1st Jordan Slayton – Aaron Hawkins 75-70 = 145
2nd Seth Johnson – Brian Johnson 75-70 = 145
3rd Ray Pangle – Mike Magee 76-73 = 149
4th Ron Murray – Gary Clinton 75-74 = 149
1st Larry Barton – Carl Hicks 78-70 = 148
2nd Dana Friedland – Craig Thoren 78-74 = 152
3rd Jerry Womack – Jacob Womack 77-77 = 154
4th Tom Marhefka – Matt Morrison 79-75 = 154
1st Joe Dockins – Rodney Rowe 80-75 = 155
2nd Jerry Walker – Jay Garnett 80-75 = 155
3rd Danny Lafferty – Mike Rowe 80-77 = 157
4th Gary Holloway – Gary Trail 80-80 = 160
1st Grant Frederick – Koddy Frederick 83-78 = 161
2nd Asa Grennan – Del Parsons 84-82 = 166
3rd Mike Woods – Jim Dorris 83-83 = 166
4th Chris Kimes – Cody Russell 83-83 = 166
(Willow Springs) – The annual free Willow Springs athletic physicals will be given on Monday, August 4, at 8 AM at Mumford Gymnasium.
Organizers say the physicals, which will be conducted by the staff of the Willow Springs Medical Clinic and Willow Springs Schools, are for any Willow Springs student participating in athletics or cheerleading, who are in grades 7th-12th. The Missouri State High School Activities Association requires a yearly physical before a student is allowed to practice for an activity.
All necessary forms will be available on the physical date. Athletes will not be allowed to practice or participate without the proper forms being signed and turned in.
Another Ace at WS
Yes Willow Springs recorded its third ace of the year less than a week after Mike Coatney recorded his. This time it was Joel Hicks with the perfect shot and a golfer’s dream. He aced the # 8 par 3 with a 5 iron. He joins his dad Carl as the only two in the family with a hole in one….we are waiting for Bev and Jared to complete the family “ace”. Congratulations Joel on a job well done and a shot you will never forget.
Junior Tourney Results
We had a very good turnout for our annual Junior Tournament sponsored by the Banks of Willow Springs. The scoring in several groups was very impressive. In the girls’ 6-9 age group Georgia Osborn continued her excellence with a 34 over 6 holes from the Junior tees. Second place went to Alyssa Peifer who improved on her score form last year to shoot a 40. In the boys’ 6-9 it was a real dog fight with one on top then another and then another until the end. In fact all 3 boys were dead even going into the last hole. Logan Davis came out on top for the second year in a row with a 40. Second place was a dead tie with Wyatt Newton and Michael Jones (only 7) who shot a 42. In the 10-12 we only had one player for each division… Logan Foster won the girls’ group with a 52 for 9 holes. Jackson Bailey shot a 47 to win on the boys’ side. The 13-14 boys’ group had 5 golfers and again it was closely contested with all 5 within 10 strokes. Matthew Price and Kodi Shockey tied with a fine round of 44. In a chip off Price won over Shockey for first place. Third place went to Tristen Foster who shot a 44. This group played from the gold tees. In the 15-18 age group Ethan Graves ran away from the competition and won easily (he was alone in his age group). Ethan shot a 42-44 for a total of 86. Congratulation to all of the golfers, it was a really good day.
Without the generosity of Jon White (Landmark Bank) and Heather Butler (US Bank) this day would not have been possible. Trophies were awarded to the top 3 in each division and medals were awarded to all of the participants. We also had lunch for everyone and all of this was due to our banks being so supportive. Thanks again Jon and Heather.
The Casual League was won by Steve Coatney, Ryan Cawvey, Kaye Tipton and Barb Tate. They shot a 1 under to win. Steve Coatney won closest to the pin. In the Cat and Dog League Michele and Michael McDaniel won with a 33 and Patsy Wyatt and Steve Coatney shot a 34 for 2nd. Patsy also won closest to the pin.
CHICAGO (AP) — The struggling Kansas City Royals knew they weren’t going to get too many chances against Chris Sale.
So when the Royals had an opportunity to tie the game in the fourth inning against the White Sox they got aggressive. But true to the way things have been going recently for the Royals it backfired in their 3-1 loss Monday night.
Trailing by 2-1, Alcides Escobar, doubled down the left-field line and it appeared the score would be tied. But Danny Valencia was nailed at the plate as left-fielder Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez got the ball to catcher Tyler Flowers for the putout to end the inning.
Despite the result, manager Ned Yost stood by third-base coach Mike Jirschele’s decision to send Valencia.
“Absolutely,” Yost said. “If Danny’s half a step faster he’s safe. It was a good send.”
Valencia went 1-for-2 with a RBI for Kansas City, which has dropped four straight and seven of eight. The Royals had a team meeting before the game, but couldn’t turn around their fortunes as they dropped two games below .500 (48-50).
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie (5-9) gave up three runs on five hits in six innings to get the loss. He had been 4-0 against the White Sox with the Royals before Monday and liked the Royals’ effort but not the result.
“It’s not enough. You need wins and I think this was a well-fought game against a very difficult pitcher. We didn’t go in there and give up. I think we out-hit them. We had base-runners, we had chances,” Guthrie said. “We took good swings and just didn’t get any breaks late in the game.”
The Royals also had a chance in the sixth with two men on against Sale, but Valencia and Escobar struck out to end the threat.
“(Sale) just finds a way,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s a great pitcher, but the competitive part of him gets him through when he might not have his best stuff.”
In the bottom of the sixth, the White Sox regained the two-run edge as Adam Dunn scored on a sacrifice fly by Gordon Beckham to make it 3-1.
Sale (9-1) wasn’t at his best, allowing seven hits and a walk in seven innings, but he worked out of jams in the fourth and sixth innings. He struck out eight and now has allowed three runs or less in 14 of his 15 starts this season. Jake Petricka pitched the ninth for his fourth save to give Sale the win in his first start after the all-star break.
“I had a lot of time off and I felt rested. I felt really good tonight,” Sale said. “I got loose and I tried to throw strikes and be effective.”
The Royals haven’t been recently, though Yost liked some of what he saw Monday.
“I thought there was more energy. I thought we had better at-bats,” Yost said. “I thought it was better today.”
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — One year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were coming off a two-win season that led to the ouster of the general manager and coach, and the turnover of roughly half the roster.
There’s a different feel heading to training camp this season.
General manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid are firmly entrenched, and there has been less personnel turnover. That means most players will have had a year in Reid’s system, and that could help build on an 11-5 season that ended with a playoff loss to Indianapolis.
“We’re ahead of last year, just natural progression,” Reid said, “and that’s a good feeling. Last year, every day was a new day, and so it was a heavy workload, plus the mental part of that, the new scheme. We’re quite a bit ahead.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to do.
The Chiefs are still in search of their first playoff victory since 1993, and nobody around Arrowhead Stadium will be satisfied until that dubious streak finally ends.
The problem is that Kansas City was limited in making upgrading moves this offseason. Already bumping against the salary cap, the Chiefs watched three starting offensive linemen leave on the same day in free agency: Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah. Pro Bowl punt returner Dexter McCluster signed with Tennessee, and Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers was released in a cost-saving move.
The Chiefs are hopeful their draft class can fill some holes.
They drafted a pass-rushing linebacker in Dee Ford out of Auburn in the first round, and added cornerback Phillip Gaines and running back De’Anthony Thomas later on. But how much can the rookies be counted on?
“I don’t want to say football is my life, but it’s what I do 90 percent of my day,” Ford said. “If you want to be great, it’s more of a mentality than actually playing the game. You have preparation before you even step on the field.”
That preparation will continue at training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri, a couple hours’ drive north of Kansas City. On the sweltering fields of Missouri Western, Reid and Co. will begin to answer the questions:
WHAT TO DO WITH JUSTIN HOUSTON? The Pro Bowl linebacker is due to become a free agent next season and wants a new contract. The Chiefs would like to give it to him, too, but only if the price is right. That quibble led to Houston skipping the entire offseason program, including a mandatory minicamp. Houston is expected to report, just when is anybody’s guess.
DITTO ALEX SMITH? The quarterback is also a free agent next year, and the Chiefs have been trying to reach a long-term deal for months. Asked whether he shared in Reid’s optimism that a deal will be done before the season, Smith replied: “Absolutely, I do. But like I said, it’s playing quarterback. That (other) stuff gets figured out.”
WHO PLAYS CORNERBACK? The release of Flowers saved the Chiefs about $15 million in salary cap space over two seasons. It also created a gaping void at cornerback. Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker are first in line, but keep an eye on Gaines, who has a bigger frame and seems to fit what Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton prefer in their cornerbacks.
AND ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE? Rodney Hudson is back at center. Jeff Allen will reprise his role at left guard. After that? The line will be entirely new. Eric Fisher is expected to move from right to left tackle, and veteran backup Donald Stephenson will slot in on the right side. But right guard remains a mystery heading into camp.
WHO WILL PROVIDE DEPTH? There are plenty of backup jobs up for grabs. Aaron Murray, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray are competing at quarterback, and Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris and Sean McGrath are battling at tight end. There will also be intriguing competitions at linebacker, safety and along the defensive line. And who steps in when star running back Jamaal Charles needs relief?
“We’ve got a lot of work to do when we get to St. Joe,” Reid said during a recent meeting with reporters, “and the guys understand that. They are wired that way. They don’t shy away from the work. Once we get up there we will be ready to go.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) — This time last year, diminutive Tavon Austin could brag about never missing a practice, let alone a game.
After a rookie season that featured a handful of brilliant highs mixed with stretches of low productivity and three weeks of downtime at the end with a high ankle sprain, the St. Louis Rams wide receiver came clean. Especially early on, the playbook had him bamboozled.
“I didn’t really know what was going on,” Austin said. “Everything looked like Spanish and sounded like Spanish to me.”
Entering Year 2, the eighth overall pick of the 2013 draft realizes there’s more to the job than simply outrunning defenders. He’s comfortable with a system that’s undergone only minor tweaks, and better prepared to bedevil opposing coordinators.
“I understand the plays, the depth, the routes, the splits and everything,” Austin said. “I just feel good that I can make some plays. Definitely, the game’s slowed down for me.”
Having Sam Bradford calling signals can only help, even if Austin’s memorable 310-yard, three-TD game at Indianapolis came on tosses from backup Kellen Clemens a couple weeks after Bradford’s season-ending knee injury.
Austin’s overall numbers were somewhat pedestrian: 40 catches with a 10.5-yard average and six total TDs.
Though the Rams (7-9) never envisioned the 5-foot-8, 176-pound Austin as an every-down threat, they know there’s plenty of untapped talent.
Here are some things to know about the Rams:
SAM’S TOWN: Coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead deserve kudos for making the Rams the first NFL team to draft an openly gay player. And for not making it a big deal.
Michael Sam had an individual media session in addition to spending time on the podium with the rest of the later-round draft picks, but that’s the last time the Rams made a concession to celebrity status.
The Oprah Winfrey Network’s Sam documentary was shut down after collecting one day of footage. Players welcomed the former SEC co-defensive player of the year into the fold, many of them pointing out sexual orientation has never been a big deal.
Now, it’s up to Sam to win a roster spot as a lowly seventh-rounder on a team that has one of the NFL’s best pass rushers. Fisher had the guts to take him and also has the guts to cut him loose.
BRADFORD’S STAR: While the first overall pick of the 2010 draft rehabbed from knee surgery, job security was never a concern. Well before the draft, the Rams assured Bradford he was the unquestioned starter and that rumors they might take Johnny Manziel had no basis.
Bradford was eased back into the mix during OTAs and anticipates he’ll be ready for the preseason opener. He’s coming off a nice half-season, finishing with 14 touchdown passes and four interceptions, and at 26 is a seasoned hand counted on to guide one of the NFL’s youngest teams.
WILLIAMS FACTOR: Gregg Williams was Fisher’s original pick as defensive coordinator in 2012. Reunited with a long-time friend, the one-time villain of the Saints’ bounty program is appreciative of the second chance. He seems as feisty as ever and has relentlessly prodded a unit that has underachieved despite being loaded with top picks and free agents.
At least after the fact, players seem to appreciate the instantaneous feedback. Williams definitely made an impression on rookies during OTAs.
“If he gets on me, I’m obviously not doing my job,” said defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, a second-round pick who’ll provide immediate help for a secondary that struggled last season. “I need that. I don’t want this guy mad at me.”
JOB LISTING: Fifth-round pick Zac Stacy just missed 1,000 yards after cracking the lineup in Week 5. He’ll have to earn the carries again. Tre Mason, a Heisman finalist and third-rounder who ran behind Greg Robinson for Auburn’s national title runner-up team, will push for playing time.
“Oh, absolutely there’s going to be competition,” Stacy said.
Mason is far from content being a change-of-pace back, Fisher’s initial designation.
“Not sure how it starts out, and you never know what can happen,” Mason said. “I’m the type of guy who’s hands-on.”
THROWBACK TIME: Throughout the season, the Rams will recognize the 15-year anniversary of the “Greatest Show on Turf” Super Bowl title team that held off Fisher’s Titans, 23-16. Remembrances will be less bittersweet if Year 3 under Fisher can be that long-awaited breakthrough.
The Rams have a pair of seven-win seasons so far, a major step forward from the franchise’s darker days. They’ll try to honor that `99 team with their first winning record since 2003.
(West Plains) – West Plains residents are encouraged to turn out in support of “West Plains Day” at the Springfield Cardinals ballpark Saturday, August 2, for their 6:10 PM game against the Arkansas Travelers.
Tickets for the game can be purchased in advance for only $10 each at the West Plains Parks and Recreation Office at Butler Children’s Park.
West Plains Day at the ballpark is a joint effort by the City of West Plains and the Springfield Cardinals, according to Tourism and Marketing Director Todd Shanks. This event gives all residents a chance to represent West Plains while enjoying the sights and sounds of the ballpark. Businesses are also encouraged to purchase blocks of tickets for their employees and family members as a token of appreciation.
This year’s game features the Cardinals, who are the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, versus the Arkansas Travelers, who are an affiliate to the Los Angeles Angels.
Gates open at 5:10 PM, with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM, with the first 2,500 fans to the game will receive a wristlet.
People may call the Parks Office at 417-256-7304 for more information.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals missed a chance at a three-game sweep over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The consolation prize was refusing to let Clayton Kershaw beat them at home.
“I think we hung in there against one of the best pitchers in the game,” said Peter Bourjos, whose two-run homer tied it in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss on Sunday night.
“We knew going into this game that their guy, he’s not going to give us a lot,” manager Mike Matheny said. “I think they’re pretty accustomed to him not giving up anything. That’s a great job staying with it, fighting.”
Adrian Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning off closer Trevor Rosenthal (1-5), pitching for the third consecutive day after earning saves the first two games. Matheny said he was “hesitant” to go with set-up man Pat Neshek, who’d also pitched the first two games plus pitched in the All-Star Game.
“That’s the way the game rolls,” Rosenthal said. “Just a bad pitch. I just missed a little too much inside.”
The Dodgers pulled into a tie for first place with San Francisco in the NL West despite a so-so outing from Kershaw, who had been 8-0 with an 0.74 ERA his previous eight starts. Yasiel Puig did not play after getting hit by a pitch on the left hand a day earlier and the Dodgers finished without Hanley Ramirez, who was taken out in the ninth – also after getting struck on the left hand.
Gonzalez leads the National League with 38 road RBIs. He missed a chance earlier, flying out with the bases loaded to end the fourth. J.P Howell (2-3) got the last out in the eighth and Kenley Jansen finished for his 28th save in 31 chances.
Kershaw lost his previous four starts in St. Louis, the last two in the NLCS. Manager Don Mattingly said before the game that he had no doubt that bitterness lingered from Game 6 last fall when Kershaw was tagged for seven runs in four innings and the Dodgers were eliminated.
Kershaw was booed before flying out to end the sixth, a byproduct of dueling hit batsmen two innings earlier. Both benches were warned after Carlos Martinez drilled Ramirez in the shoulder and Matt Holliday was plunked by Kershaw leading off the bottom half.
Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier had consecutive two-out RBI singles in the third to put the Dodgers up 3-1. The inning was fueled by Kershaw’s leadoff walk on a full count, and Martinez was removed after escaping the fourth.
“Typically, bad things are going to happen and they did,” Matheny said. “He thinks more is better and sometimes it is, sometimes it just takes him out of rhythm.
“We needed to get him out of there.”
The highlight of the Dodgers’ fruitless fourth was Kershaw’s first career stolen base – his first attempt, too. Kershaw was running on a 1-1 pitch in the dirt and took second without a play with two outs.
Shelby Miller had made 50 consecutive starts over two seasons before entering in the sixth, and he was taken out after the first two Dodgers reached in the seventh. Coming out of the All-Star break, Miller was moved to the bullpen and after the game Matheny said Lance Lynn (11-6, 3.13) will start on regular rest Wednesday against the Rays.
Matheny said Miller is in the bullpen to regain strength and added, “We’re going to need him.”
BOSTON (AP) — Jon Lester just wants to put up impressive numbers on the mound. He will worry about the figures on his next contract later.
Red Sox fans showed appreciation for his latest brilliant outing with loud applause as he walked to the dugout after his eighth and final inning Sunday.
“I hope people are more pleased with how I’m pitching and not how I’m handling contract stuff,” the All-Star left-hander said after a 6-0 win that gave Boston a three-game sweep over the Kansas City Royals.
Lester, who can become a free agent after the season, allowed no earned runs for the third time in four starts. He struck out eight and gave up two walks and four hits. Only one Royals player reached third base.
Clearly, he hasn’t let the uncertainty over where he will be pitching next season hurt his pitching this season.
“He’s been a model for others to witness as players get to that stage of their career,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s been able to handle it, I think, in a professional manner.”
Lester (10-7) is 4-0 with a 0.85 ERA over his last seven starts with 47 strikeouts and eight walks in a span of 52 2-3 innings. He has yielded just one earned run in 31 innings.
“You’ve got to take each one as an individual,” Lester said. “If I’m out there thinking about what I did last time, I’m not worried about the right things.”
Lester extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings before Junichi Tazawa got the first out of the ninth. Edward Mujica retired the next two batters.
“We matched up against an All-Star pitcher today and he was on top of his game,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Yordano Ventura (7-8) gave up all six runs.
The first scored on Dustin Pedroia’s forceout at second base in the first, Daniel Nava hit a two-run double in the third, and Boston added three in the fourth on David Ross’ two-run homer and Nava’s sacrifice fly.
That was more than enough support for Lester as he keeps building a case for a lucrative contract.
“If these guys are happy with the way I’m throwing and how I’m going about my business, then that’s all I care about,” he said. “The other stuff will take care of itself when the right time comes.”
Boston entered the game in last place in the AL East, percentage points behind Tampa Bay, but won for the seventh time in eight games.
Kansas City went scoreless after losing 2-1 Saturday night. The Royals have lost nine of 12, are 9-17 since a 10-game winning streak, and have scored less than two runs in four of their last six games. They open a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
“You basically just shake it off and get right back out there,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “We faced a tough left-hander today and it doesn’t get any easier. We face Chris Sale tomorrow.”
The Royals put runners at first and second in the first when Eric Hosmer was hit by a pitch with two outs, and Danny Valencia singled. But Alex Gordon flied to left.
Alcides Escobar was left on base after a one-out single in the second, and Lester retired eight consecutive batters before Escobar led off the fifth with a double. He reached third on a one-out groundout, but the threat ended when Lorenzo Cain flied out, leaving him hitless in 22 at bats.
Hosmer singled with one out in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. After Valencia struck out, Gordon drew a walk, the first issued by Lester in three starts. But Butler grounded out.
Cain walked leading off the eighth, but Lester finished his outing by getting Omar Infante to ground into a double play before fanning Hosmer.
“Jon Lester did a really nice job of holding us down,” Yost said, “mixed in his curveball effectively, spotted his fastball well and used his cutter really well.”
Brock Holt scored Boston’s first run after he and Nava singled. Nava’s double in the third came after a walk to Ross and a single by Jackie Bradley Jr. In the fourth, Shane Victorino doubled and scored on Ross’ sixth homer. Nava’s sacrifice fly drove in Bradley, who had singled.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — After stumbling in his first start following three months on the disabled list, Joe Kelly tinkered with his mechanics.
Kelly bounced back with seven strong innings and Matt Adams homered in a four-run first as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Saturday to send All-Star Zack Greinke to losses in consecutive regular-season starts for the first time in nearly four years.
Kelly (2-1) gave up four hits over seven innings, retiring his last 13 batters as the Cardinals won for the eighth time in 10 games.
Kelly didn’t get a decision on July 11 in his return from a strained left hamstring, when he gave up six runs over three innings during the Cardinals’ 7-6 win at Milwaukee. After winning for the first time since April 5, he wouldn’t detail his changes.
“I did a lot of stuff different, but I’m not going to give it away,” he said. “If you watch the video, you can probably tell.”
Kelly induced 12 groundouts and got out of trouble with double plays in each of the first two innings.
“I was just trying to mix up pitches and hide stuff better,” he said.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was impressed with Kelly’s ability to keep the ball down.
“I thought it was one of his better pitching performances,” Matheny said. “There were times when I even thought his changeup was a breaking ball. It has so much depth to it. So his secondary pitches were on.”
The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez thought Kelly had great pitch location.
“He didn’t throw any balls in the middle of the plate,” he said. “He kept throwing his fastballs right on the corner. There weren’t any pitches to drive.”
Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals’ third reliever, got his 30th save in 34 chances when Andre Either grounded into a game-ending double play.
Coming off a July 9 defeat at Detroit, Greinke (11-6) walked a season-high five and gave up four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He had not lost back-to-back starts in the regular season since Sept. 20 and 25, 2010, for Kansas City at Detroit and Cleveland, according to STATS.
Greinke did lose his regular-season finale against Colorado last year and was beaten by Atlanta in his first postseason start.
“Too many mistakes in one inning,” Greinke said. “I’ve been doing that too much lately, getting behind in a game too early. I need to find a way to be better right from the get-go.”
St. Louis improved to 21-10 at home against the Dodgers in the regular season since the start of the 2006. The Cardinals also beat Los Angeles in six games in last year’s NL championship series.
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday left the game in the fifth, four innings after he was shaken up while diving back into second base on a pickoff attempt. The Cardinals said team doctors determined Holliday did not sustain a concussion.
Dodgers All-Star outfielder Yasiel Puig left in the eighth, five innings after he was hit on the left hand by a Kelly pitch. Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said Puig got hit, “near the top or on the side a little bit.”
Both players were considered day to day.
Matt Carpenter opened the Cardinals’ first with a walk, and Kolten Wong reached on a slow roller when second baseman Dee Gordon threw wide of first, a play ruled a hit and an error that put runners on second and third,
Holliday followed with a two-run single and Adams hit his 12th homer on Greinke’s 16th pitch of the game.
Adams, who has 15 hits in his last 39 at-bats, drilled a line drive over the right-field wall.
“The curveball just popped up in the zone,” Adams said. “When it does that, you know it’s a good one to swing at.”
Greinke said Adams outsmarted him.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and it was the wrong choice,” he said. “Usually, he’s kind of patient early.”
Los Angeles, which has lost five of eight, scored on Hanley Ramirez’s RBI infield single in the third and Carl Crawford’s sacrifice fly against Sam Freeman in the eighth.
The Dodgers have only 12 runs in their last seven games.
“It just tells us that we’ve got to get better,” Mattingly said.