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Archive for June, 2013

SPARTA, Ky. (AP) — Ty Dillon overtook Kyle Busch with 26 laps remaining and held on to win the NASCAR Truck Series race Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, started 22nd and drove the Chevy with the iconic No. 3 made famous by seven-time Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt through the field to his second career Truck victory and first in four starts at Kentucky. He also derailed opening bids by defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and fellow Cup star Busch for a weekend sweep on the 1.5-mile oval.

Keselowski overcame midrace issues to finish second, while Busch edged defending Truck Series champion James Buescher for third. Rookie Ryan Blaney, who started on the pole, was fifth.

Busch appeared headed to his second victory in three years at the track before his No. 51 Toyota lost grip. Dillon pounced and opened up a 2½-second lead and coasted, adding another Kentucky trophy for Richard Childress Racing.

Dillon’s brother, Austin, swept both Nationwide Series races last year at the track.

 

GARY GRAVES,AP Sports Writer
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The investigation of the murder case against former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has led authorities to his hometown of Bristol, Conn., the working-class Hartford suburb where he began a meteoric rise that would carry him to the upper echelons of the NFL.

Bristol police say they are assisting the investigation and a local man, 27-year-old Carlos Ortiz, has been charged as a fugitive from justice.

Massachusetts state police said Thursday night they are seeking another man, Ernest Wallace, in connection with the slaying of Hernandez’s friend, 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.

The charges that Hernandez orchestrated the execution-style shooting of Lloyd have shocked many in Bristol, where he is remembered as a fun-loving teenager during his days as a standout athlete at Bristol Central High School.

 

PAT EATON-ROBB,Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

CHICAGO (AP) — Thousands of Blackhawks fans are pouring into downtown Chicago for a parade and rally to fete the Stanley Cup champions.

Hours before Friday’s parade is set to begin, crowds are jamming entrances to the rally site in Grant Park along Lake Michigan.

Some of them camped out there overnight.

Fans came with faces painted in the red and black team colors. Others were hauling around knock-off versions of the silver Stanley Cup, including one fashioned out of an empty beer keg.

Twenty-two-year-old Sarah Schmidt made the pilgrimage from Milwaukee, telling her boss she was taking the day off no matter what. She hopes she still has her bar tending job when the party is over.

With hours to go before the festivities, trains into the city were packed.

 

DON BABWIN,Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

PARIS (AP) — They grew up watching Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France every year. Now, American riders like Andrew Talansky and Tejay van Garderen carry the burden of winning back the trust from fans back home who were angered by seven-time Tour winner’s doping.

Talansky and van Garderen, both 24, are considered the best of the six Americans in the 100th Tour, which begins on Saturday. They also will be competing for the white jersey awarded to the best young rider.

It is the first Tour since Armstrong admitted to doping last year and had all seven of his titles stripped.

Armstrong’s confession dealt another blow to cycling’s credibility and Van Garderen says “what can you really do? You have to just make a decision to ride clean” and “hope people start taking an interest again.”

 

JEROME PUGMIRE,AP Sports Writer
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

LONDON (AP) — Grigor Dimitrov, considered one of the rising stars in tennis, was eliminated in the second round at Wimbledon on Friday in a five-set, rain-delayed match that lasted more than four hours over two days.

With girlfriend Maria Sharapova watching in the stands on Court 3, the 29th-seeded Bulgarian fell to 55th-ranked Slovenian Grega Zemlja 3-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.

Zemlja hit a forehand passing shot on his sixth match point to become the first Slovenian to reach the third round at the All England Club.

Also, Britain’s Laura Robson beat Colombia’s Mariana Duque-Marino 6-4, 6-1 under the closed roof on Centre Court to reach the third round.

Dimitrov is known as “Baby Fed” for a style that resembles that of Roger Federer. But like Federer, who was stunned in the second round on Tuesday by Sergiy Stakhovsky, Dimitrov was out before the third round.

 

ST. LOUIS – For a team coming off a 13-run outburst at Houston on Tuesday, the Cardinals looked more like a team heading for a slump on Wednesday.

The eighth inning was particularly troubling. After Carlos Beltran drew a one-out walk with St. Louis down 4-3, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday both struck out against Astros rookie Jose Cisnero.

When Craig took strike three, he stood at the plate almost like he was dazed. He could not have been stunned by the call because the pitch clearly was a strike. Holliday then worked the count full before he swung and missed an up-and-in fastball that looked like ball four. Beltran was stranded and an inning later, the Cardinals had lost for the seventh time in 12 games.

In the losses, the Cardinals have scored 4, 2, 2, 4, 2, 1 and 3 runs. They no longer own sole possession of the majors’ best record. The surging Pirates have tied the Cardinals in the standings and passed them for the majors lead in team ERA.

So, what’s the deal? Are the Cardinals not as good as we thought?

I don’t know if they are a 100-win team, which they are on pace to be. But I know this: Baseball isn’t as easy over a 162-game season as the Cardinals have made it look through 78 games. It’s just not.

Teams don’t hit .337 with runners in scoring position for an entire season. Teams don’t use 10 rookie pitchers without seeing more downs than ups. Teams don’t often anoint a new closer during the season and watch him convert his first 20 save chances.

But even if the Cardinals are settling into their level, they will be fine. To finish with 90 wins, which should be enough to make the playoffs, they need to play .500 from here on. While they might not be strong enough to win 100 games, they’re certainly better than .500.

Yadier Molina’s notable number of the week: 96 hits as a catcher. That’s 24 more hits than any other catcher this season, a pretty astounding margin.

Molina will enter this weekend’s series at Oakland on a pace to finish with 199 hits as a catcher, which would break Ivan Rodriguez’a single-season record of 198, set in 1999.

Molina is unlikely to keep up such a pace with the summer just turning steamy. For one reason, he figures to get much more time off. A favorable schedule, however, should get Molina to the All-Star break with perhaps only one more day off.

The Cardinals spend the next week on the West Coast, where mild weather doesn’t add to the catching grind. They have another day off between the Marlins and Astros series at home, then will finish the first half with four games at Wrigley Field.

Molina is likely to get a day off at home next weekend and — maybe — a day in Chicago but I would not expect him to sit any out more than that until the break.

McClellan knew he was a goner: When Kyle McClellan’s season ended last June with shoulder surgery, he knew his days with his hometown team were history. He hadn’t seen many of the organization’s young arms in spring training but he had heard about them.

“I knew they had them coming,” McClellan said when in town last weekend with his new team, the Rangers. “That’s why when I had surgery last year and was asked, what do you think’s going to happen, I said they’re going to let me go.”

McClellan said the club questioned him for saying something like that. But he had his reason.

“Do you know what they have behind me,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re about to find out.”

He was right, about his departure and the young arms that have arrived.

Remember these dates: Aug. 13-Sept. 8. The Cardinals have 26 games scheduled during that stretch, and nine are against the Pirates. In addition, the teams will meet for a five-game series in Pittsburgh at the end of July. The Pirates lead the season series 3-2, so far.

STAN McNEAL

Nelly, Hunting & Fishing Nights and Star Wars Night all head to Busch Stadium

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (June 27, 2013) – The St. Louis Cardinals announced four new theme nights for the 2013 season including Nelly Night, Star Wars Night, and two Hunting & Fishing Nights at Busch Stadium. Fans who purchase the special theme night ticket receive an exclusive theme-related promotional item or a special pre-game VIP program.

The first Hunting & Fishing Night will be held on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, when the Cardinals take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Fans are encouraged to join their fellow outdoorsmen & women at the ballpark, and everyone who purchases a special theme night ticket will receive a one-of-a-kind Cardinals Rapala fishing lure. The second Hunting & Fishing Night will take place on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, when the Milwaukee Brewers come to town. Fans who purchase a themed ticket to the September 11th game will receive their very own Realtree camouflage Cardinals beanie.

On August 6th, the Cardinals will celebrate Nelly Night at the Ballpark. Popular hip-hop artist and St. Louis native Nelly will be in attendance as the Cardinals take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. All fans who purchase a themed ticket will receive a one-of-a-kind Nelly bobblehead. Fans can also purchase a VIP ticket for Nelly Night which includes a pre-game meet-and-greet with Nelly and an autographed Nelly bobblehead. For each themed ticket sold for Nelly Night, a portion of the ticket price will be donated to Nelly’s charity of choice, the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Nelly will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game accompanied by a Make-a-Wish child.

The following night, on August 7th, Busch Stadium will head back to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away as the Cardinals host Star Wars Night. Fans with a themed ticket will receive a t-shirt featuring Fredbird and Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle. Fans can also purchase a VIP-themed ticket for the opportunity to attend a meet-and-greet with Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano from Cartoon Network’s series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Ashley will throw out a ceremonial first pitch to her husband, former Cardinals shortstop and 2006 World Series MVP, David Eckstein, prior to the Wednesday night matchup.

Throughout the game, all fans will be able to take pictures with members of the 501st Legion, an international fan-based organization that dresses as costumed Star Wars characters.

Tickets to all four of the new theme nights are available at cardinals.com/theme.

Hunting and Fishing Nights, Nelly Night, and Star Wars Night at the Ballpark are just some of the unique personalized theme ticket promotions planned for the 2013 season. Theme tickets are customized promotions that allow a select number of fans to celebrate a common interest while enjoying access to a unique promotional item and/or an exclusive pregame event. Fans can learn more about Cardinals theme nights at cardinals.com/theme.

HOUSTON • An offense that strikes out a season-high 14 times, nine of them called third strikes, certainly sounds futile enough. Everybody in the Cardinals’ starting lineup but Jon Jay whiffed at least once. And the pitcher wasn’t even hitting in this interleague game.

But the Cardinals did some serious damage on the balls they actually swung at as they pounded the Houston Astros, 13-5, Tuesday night, stopping their longest losing streak (tied) of the season at three games.

That latest streak was administered by Texas’ other big-league team, the Texas Rangers, over the weekend in St. Louis.

The Astros, like the Rangers now in the American League, weren’t quite as sticky, but Matheny said he did not put too much stock in what happened on the weekend although he did call a brief meeting before Tuesday’s game.

“It’s pretty hard to make too much out of a weekend when you look at a whole season and what our offense has been able to do,” he said. “I don’t think guys read anything into that at all.”

After being blanked for three innings, the Cardinals drew three key walks in the fourth (all scored) and Matt Carpenter, an area high school star here, cracked a three-run triple to highlight a seven-run inning.

Matheny did some lineup juggling on Tuesday but one spot he did not switch was his cleanup man. Allen Craig is doing fine.

Craig, enjoying a four-hit night, including his seventh homer, drove in three runs, giving him 61 in the Cardinals’ 77 games.

Matheny, who moved Matt Holliday from No. 3 to No. 5, said he didn’t feel any inclination to tinker with the No. 4 spot, especially with the cleanup hitter he has. “It’s not one to fool around with too much,” said Matheny.

Carlos Beltran (No. 18) and David Freese (No. 5) each belted a two-run homer and righthander Jake Westbrook, despite a mysterious sixth inning (four runs), which looked nothing like the first five (no hits), gained his fourth victory.

Westbrook, his sinkerball effective again, at least until the sixth, recorded 10 ground-ball outs of his 18 for the night before he turned the game over the bullpen.

Matheny agreed that it was “odd” for his team to strike out so many times, yet have so many hits (15) and score so many runs.

“Guys on our club were having called strikeouts you just don’t see very often. Something was a little off tonight,” said Matheny.

This was a gentle way of suggesting that home plate umpire Marvin Hudson’s strike zone took some getting used to, both for his hitters and even for Westbrook.

“There were a lot of things on both sides,” said Matheny. “The strike zone was tough tonight.”

Houston starter Lucas Harrell, who registered three straight called third strikes in the third, found the Cardinals looking at his offerings again in the fourth. But, this time they were drawing three walks in a span of four hitters after Craig, a .461 hitter with men in scoring postion, singled in Beltran, who had doubled off the left-field wall.

Jay, the third of the Cardinals to walk, forced home Craig. Pete Kozma, a .343 hitter with men in scoring position, some 90 points over his regular average, singled to make it 3-0.

Carpenter then plugged the right-center-field gap with his three-run hit on which Houston right fielder Justin Maxwell was shaken up trying to make a diving catch.

After Maxwell, who later was found to have suffered a mild concussion, was tended to and then removed, Yadier Molina caused the exit of Harrell with a run-scoring single. Molina is a .405 hitter with men in scoring territory.

Carpenter’s three-run hit was his only hit in six at-bats and he contributed three of the strikeouts, two of them called.

“I don’t even want to comment on that,” said Carpenter. “Some of those at-bats were out of our control. It was an odd zone, the best way I can describe it.

“Pitches he thought were strikes were balls and balls were strikes. You see a team score 13 runs and strike out, what 14 times? How many were looking (nine)? That should tell you, right there. It was just one of those nights.”

Carpenter said he always had enjoyed playing in front of family and friends and used to come often to Minute Maid to watch the Astros. He said his favorite player had been former Cardinals teammate Lance Berkman, which, he said, made Berkman feel even older than he already was.

Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez got the Astros’ first hit, a home run to lead off the sixth. Former Cardinal Brett Wallace, just recalled from the minors, tripled home two runs, making him eight for 17 against Westbrook.

Shortstop Kozma made a diving stop on J.D. Martinez to end the inning. Westbrook then stood on the mound for a moment, perhaps trying to figure out why the sixth had been so much different than the first five innings.

“Some bad pitches happened that inning,” said Westbrook. “I’ve had some snowballing innings over my career but that happened a little quicker than I wanted it to. It was a little disappointing.”

Westbrook has made three starts since coming off the disabled list because of elbow problems and said, “I feel pretty good.”

This is Westbrook-speak for there is some discomfort and there always will be.

“I’m always going to have some things, being 35 and having the elbow (two surgeries) that I have and the innings (nearly 1,700) that I have.

“I’d like for it to feel better,” he said. “But it’s not going to be magically like I was 25 again. I’ll just try to maintain how I’ve felt the last three outings.”

Edward Mujica, who didn’t pitch on the weekend, got up to 18 pitches during a mop-up role and allowed a run in the ninth. To save him for tonight, Matheny pulled him for rookie Michael Blazek.

Mujica nearly hurt himself trying to make a sliding grab and then a tag attempt on Martinez’s tapper before Mujica got the out with a throw to first.

“I didn’t like that all,” said Matheny of Mujica’s off-balance play. “And he didn’t give me a real good answer. I think he was frustrated at guys getting on base and letting a run come across.”

Mujica said he was not hurt on the play.

The Cardinals’ seven-run fourth marked the seventh time they had scored that many runs or more in an inning. Cincinnati is next with four.

 

By Rick Hummel rhummel@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8196

The NCAA stripped Oregon of a scholarship in each of the next two seasons and placed the program on probation for three years, opting against stiffer penalties like a bowl ban despite issuing a show-cause order against former coach Chip Kelly, who apologized to the school, its fans and it players.

The NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions released a report on Wednesday that said Kelly failed to monitor the program for its improper involvement with Willie Lyles and his Houston-based recruiting service.

Kelly was hit with an 18-month show-cause order, a sanction that likely will have limited impact now that he’s coaching thePhiladelphia Eagles.

The program he left behind faces three years of scholarship reductions, starting last year and extending through 2014-15. It also faces reductions in paid visits and evaluation days, but avoided some of the harsher penalties handed down to other programs in recent years.

”Now that the NCAA has concluded their investigation and penalized the University of Oregon and its football program, I want to apologize to the University of Oregon, all of its current and former players and their fans,” Kelly said in a statement. ”I accept my share of responsibility for the actions that led to the penalties. As I have I stated before, the NCAA investigation and subsequent ruling had no impact on my decision to leave Oregon for Philadelphia. I have also maintained throughout that I had every intention to cooperate with the NCAA’s investigation, which I did.”

The NCAA had been looking into Oregon’s program for more than two years after learning Oregon had paid $25,000 to Lyles and his recruiting service, Complete Scouting Services.

The NCAA’s infractions committee found that Lyles provided cash and free lodging to a prospect, and engaged in impermissible calls and off-campus contact with prospects, their families and high school coaches.

It also said the football program exceeded coaching limits by allowing staff members to engage in recruiting activity.

Through self-imposed sanctions, Oregon lost one new scholarship in 2012-13 and its total number of scholarships was reduced by one from the maximum of 85. It also will lose a new scholarship in 2013-14 and have the total reduced by one each year through the 2014-15 academic year.

The NCAA cut Oregon’s official paid visits from 56 to 37 for the next three academic years, reduced its spring and fall evaluation days for each of the next three seasons and banned the program from using recruiting services during the probation period. Oregon must also disassociate itself from Lyles and his recruiting service.

The show-cause order for Kelly will require schools to go before the infractions committee should they wish to hire him, which seems unlikely since the coach just left for the NFL. Former Oregon assistant director of operations Josh Gibson was given a one-year show-cause order after the NCAA said he was aware of Lyles’ involvement in recruiting and routinely told him to tell recruits to contact football coaches.

”Listen, no one wants to be in this position so I don’t think anybody’s happy,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said. ”Again, we’re pleased to be at the end of the process and we’re ready to move forward. We’ve learned a lot, some mistakes were made and we corrected some of those along the way and we still have some more things to implement. But we’re pleased that it’s finished.”

The NCAA had been looking into Oregon’s recruiting practices since questions arose over a 2010 payment to Lyles. He had a connection with Lache Seastrunk, a star prep running back from Texas who committed to Oregon in 2010, a month before the payment.

When Oregon later released the recruiting package it said Lyles had prepared for the school, the material was largely outdated. While use of services to identify potential recruits is allowed under NCAA rules, questions were raised about Lyles’ relationship with Seastrunk and other athletes from Texas, and whether he steered any prospects to the Ducks, which would be a violation.

Seastrunk redshirted for the Ducks his freshman year before transferring to Baylor prior to the 2011 season.

The NCAA said Kelly was unaware of Lyles’ involvement in recruiting, but the committee noted it is the head coach’s responsibility to know the rules and ensure staff and coaches comply with them.

”I’ve not met an institution that wants to go through the infractions and enforcement process,” infractions committee member Greg Sankey said. ”This was a multi-year effort that certainly existed and there are penalties that impacted the program. The committee made its decisions based on information given to it, not on other speculation and evaluations.”

Under Kelly, the Ducks appeared in four straight BCS bowl games – including a bid for the national championship against Auburn in 2011. Oregon finished 12-1 last season, capped by a victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.

He was replaced by offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, who will make his debut as head coach on Aug. 31.

Oregon was previously penalized by the NCAA in 2004 for a major violation involving the improper recruitment of a junior college player by an assistant coach. The university was put on probation for two years and the unidentified assistant coach was suspended without pay for a week and restricted from some recruiting activities.

The Ducks remained eligible for postseason play and did not lose any scholarships because of that violation, which occurred in 2003.

The latest recruiting violations are another hit to Oregon’s image, but are unlikely to have an impact on the field for a program that’s become an annual national-title contender

”It was a lengthy process,” Mullens said. ”We’ve been at this for two and a half years and as we said, there’s been some negative recruiting around it. Obviously, the length of the process and the process itself had some punitive measures to it. In the end, I don’t think the facts tarnish anything.”


By JOHN MARSHALL (AP College Football Writer) | The Associated Press
AP Sports Writers Anne Peterson in Portland, Ore., and Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

HANNOVER, Germany (AP) — Hannover captain and American defender Steve Cherundolo needs more surgery on his left knee.

The Bundesliga club says Cherundolo will have the surgery on Friday. The 34-year-old had the same knee operated on in February.

Cherundolo says “the injury and the timing are frustrating,” but he hopes to be able to practice soon without pain.

He felt pain in the knee after a collision on Tuesday as Hannover began preseason training.

Cherundolo played only 20 games last season but set Hannover’s record for Bundesliga appearances with 300.