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MLB Roundup: Astros beat Nationals for 11th straight victory

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep and the Houston Astros extended their winning streak to 11 games with a 6-1 rout of the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

Houston manager Dusty Baker, who led Washington to consecutive NL East titles in 2016 and `17, won in his first game back at Nationals Park since he was fired after two seasons.

Framber Valdez (2-2) allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings for his first victory since April 7. Houston has allowed just 12 runs during its streak with an 0.91 ERA in that stretch.

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Washington has lost seven of its last nine and is 4-14 at home. Its 11-23 record after 34 games is its worst since opening 9-25 in 2007.

Valdez struck out six during his longest outing of the year, yielding his only run on Alcides Escobar’s fielder’s choice grounder in the seventh.

Josiah Gray (4-3) allowed six runs and six hits in six innings.

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YANKEES 10, WHITE SOX 4

CHICAGO (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton homered in his third consecutive game, Aaron Judge went deep for the second time in two nights and New York routed Chicago.

After connecting twice and driving in a career-high six runs Thursday in a 15-7 win, Stanton smacked a two-run drive Friday in the first inning against Vince Velasquez (2-3). The Yankees have won 19 of 22 games.

Judge made it 6-0 when he hit a solo drive in the fourth for his major league-leading 12th home run. Josh Donaldson also homered in his second straight game and drove in three runs, and Joey Gallo went deep, too.

Gerrit Cole (3-0) lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits. The right-hander struck out nine and walked one, helping New York improve to a major league-best 24-8.

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The White Sox lost for the third time in four games.

MARINERS 2, METS 1

NEW YORK (AP) — Ty France hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning for yet another key hit and Seattle broke through against New York’s bullpen after Max Scherzer tired in the Mariners’ first game at Citi Field.

The Mets wore black jerseys on a misty Friday the 13th behind Scherzer, who pitched superbly and left after escaping a seventh-inning jam.

Seattle, which won for just the fourth time in 16 games, went ahead in the eighth after Drew Smith (0-1) walked his first two batters, Abraham Toro and Adam Frazier. With the infield shifted for France to pull, he poked a slider on the outside corner down the right-field line.

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Paul Sewald (2-1) struck out Starling Marte to strand runners at second and third in the seventh and threw a 1-2-3 eighth in his return to Citi Field, where he pitched for the Mets from 2017-20.

Drew Steckenrider pitched the ninth for his second save.

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RED SOX 7, RANGERS 1

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nick Pivetta allowed a run and three hits in a season-long seven innings to win for the first time since August and Boston had a four-run sixth inning to beat Texas.

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J.D. Martinez began Boston’s big inning by lining a single to left field that skipped at Brad Miller’s feet. The hit extended Martinez’s hitting streak to 14 games and his on-base streak to 29 games to last September, both the longest active streaks in the major leagues.

Pivetta (1-4) ended a personal seven-game losing streak over 13 starts. His previous win was Aug. 13, 2021, over Baltimore. He struck out four and walked one. His shutout bid ended in the seventh inning when Kole Calhoun tripled to center and scored on a wild pitch.

The Red Sox have won two of their last three games following a season-long five-game losing streak that put them in last place in the AL East.

Calhoun had three of Texas’ four hits. Dane Dunning (1-2) took the loss.

REDS 8, PIRATES 2

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Moustakas homered twice and Brandon Drury drove in four runs to break out of a slump and lead resurgent Cincinnati past Pittsburgh,

Moustakas hit a solo shot into the right field stands in the fourth inning to break a 2-2 tie. In the seventh, he had another solo homer to make it 8-2, two batters after Drury had a two-run drive.

It was the 15th multihomer game for Moustakas, who has 199 career home runs. He helped the Reds win for the sixth time in eight games following a 3-22 start.

Tyler Mahle (2-4) won for the first time since opening day, snapping a six-start winless streak. Mitch Keller (0-5) remained winless.

Ben Gamel opened the scoring for Pittsburgh with his first career leadoff homer.

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TWINS 12, GUARDIANS 8

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Royce Lewis hit a grand slam for his first big league homer, capping a nine-run fifth inning that sent Minnesota past coronavirus-struck Cleveland.

Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Gary Sanchez also homered for Minnesota. The spree came after Minnesota was shut out in two of its three games against Houston.

The Guardians returned after having a game Wednesday at the Chicago White Sox called off — that was the first COVID-19-related postponement in the majors this season.

Cleveland pitching coach Carl Willis ran the team in place of manager Terry Francona, who entered MLB’s health and safety protocols this week. First base coach Sandy Alomar, third base coach Mike Sarbaugh, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres and hitting analyst Justin Toole also are out. Earlier Friday, Cleveland outfielder Josh Naylor was put on the COVID-19-related injured list.

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Griffin Jax (3-0) got the win despite giving up four runs on four hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings. Aaron Civale (1-3) was the loser.

BREWERS 2, MARLINS 1

MIAMI (AP) — Jace Peterson walked against Anthony Bender with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to lift Milwaukee past Miami.

After starters Corbin Burnes and Pablo Lopez dueled for seven innings, former Marlins star Christian Yelich reached on a leadoff single against Tanner Scott (0-1) in the ninth. Scott hit Luis Urias and surrendered pinch-hitter Tyrone Taylor’s single to right that loaded the bases.

Bender relieved and struck out Hunter Renfroe before walking Peterson on four pitches.

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Devin Williams (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth and Josh Hader closed with a perfect ninth for his 13th save.

The Brewers struck quickly on Kolten Wong’s leadoff shot in the first. Miami tied it in the third on Jesus Aguilar’s solo homer.

TIGERS 4, ORIOLES 2

DETROIT (AP) — Miguel Cabrera doubled and homered to help slumping Detroit beat Baltimore.

Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2) pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and walking four as the Tigers won for just the second time in 11 games. The Orioles left the bases loaded in each of the last three innings.

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Cabrera gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the third. It was his 602nd career double, moving him ahead of Barry Bonds for sole possession of 17th place in major league history and drawing a standing ovation from the Comerica Park crowd.

His 504th career homer in the sixth inning made it 2-0. The homer moved him into a tie with Eddie Murray for 27th on the career list and gave him 1,123 extra-base hits, breaking a tie with Manny Ramirez for 17th place.

Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander homered for Baltimore on Jacob Barnes’ first two pitches of the eighth, making it 4-2. Will Vest finished for his first career save.

Jordan Lyles (2-3) took the loss.

GIANTS 8, CARDINALS 2

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Logan Webb pitched six strong innings and San Francisco Giants beat St. Louis for its sixth straight victory.

Curt Casali hit his first homer of the season during a five-run burst in the eighth inning. St. Louis has lost five of six.

Webb (5-1) gave up just one run despite allowing the leadoff batter to reach in five innings. He didn’t permit a hit until Brendan Donovan’s shift-aided single to lead off the fifth and his defense turned a pair of double plays behind him. Webb allowed three hits, walked three and struck out one.

Dominic Leone, Zack Littell and Jarlin Garcia each pitched an inning to complete the combined six-hitter.

Paul Goldschmidt homered off Littell in the eighth to extend the Cardinals’ home run streak to nine games. Cardinals starter Jordan Hicks (1-3) was the loser.

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RAYS 5, BLUE JAYS 2

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Brandon Lowe hit a pair of triples and Manuel Margot had a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, leading Tampa Bay past Toronto.

Lowe’s RBI triple capped a three-run eighth as the Rays sent Toronto to its fifth straight loss. The Rays broke a 2-2 tie with three straight hits off starter Kevin Gausman (3-2).

Margot returned to the lineup after missing two games with a tight hamstring and extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his go-ahead single.

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Andrew Kittredge (3-0) got the win in relief. Jason Adam pitched the ninth for his first major league save.

PADRES 11. BRAVES 6

ATLANTA (AP) — Ha-Seong Kim hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning off reliever Will Smith, Wil Myers went deep in the sixth against Max Fried and San Diego beat Atlanta.

Kim homered for the fourth time after Eric Hosmer and Myers singled against Smith (0-1) to make it 7-6. Myers added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to make it 8-6. His solo shot to center in the sixth gave San Diego a 4-2 lead.

Kim, Hosmer and Myers each had three hits to help San Diego to a season-high 16.

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Luis Garcia (1-2) pitched a scoreless seventh. Taylor Rogers got the last four outs for his 13th save.



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Led by Andrei Vasilevskiy’s brilliance, Lightning hand Panthers a nightmare ending

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Even their best game couldn’t prevent the Florida Panthers’ worst nightmare, which speaks to how truly special are the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nobody was more special Monday than Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 49 saves in a 2-0 shutout that swept the Panthers from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four games and propelled the Lightning to their third straight Eastern Conference final.

The two-time, defending Stanley Cup champions have won 10 consecutive playoff series, behind only the 40-year-old dynasties of the New York Islanders (19 straight series wins) and Montreal Canadiens (13).

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“It’s remarkable, it’s mind-boggling, but as Pat Maroon says to me: ‘Well, Coop, I’ve won 14,’” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Monday, referring to the Tampa forward who scored the series-winning goal. “But to think in the history of this game and the wonderful, glorious teams that have played in years past, that have made the tradition of this sport so wonderful, to sit here and think we’re in the breath of the greatest teams that have played this game.

“Hopefully we’re not done with that streak, but it’s pretty cool tonight to sit back and marvel at it.”

Monday was the sixth time that Vasilevskiy has closed out a series with a shutout.

“When we look back, when we’re older, that’s going to be something that stays there for a long time,” Lightning forward Alex Killorn said of his goalie. “It’s pretty cool to play with a player that I think will go down as one of the best goalies that’s ever played the game. You know, that’s how you kind of gauge players — how they perform in big-time games — and he’s been nothing but tremendous in these games.”

For the first time in the series, the Panthers were tremendous, outshooting the Lightning 18-3 in the first period and 49-26 in the game. But their only victories were a pair of video reviews that overturned Lightning goals in the second period, and the highest-scoring NHL team in 26 years managed only three goals in the series.

The Panthers high-octane offence, which drove Florida to a 115-point regular season and the Presidents’ Trophy, was ineffective when their power play failed and the experienced, battle-hardened Lightning stopped feeding the Panthers’ transition game and built a fortress in front of Vasilevskiy.

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The Lightning blocked 77 shots in the four games and yielded few second chances in front of their goalie, frustrating all of the Panthers’ regular-season scoring heroes: Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Claude Giroux and Aaron Ekblad.

It seemed fitting that the speedy and skilled Panthers were sent home on a greasy, bat-in goal by Maroon, one of the slowest players on the ice — and also the winningest.

The 230-pound fourth-liner has won 14 straight playoff series because he won a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019 before joining the Lightning.

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Maroon broke the scoreless tie at 6:16 of the third period when he reached over Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to bat down a puck that had tumbled into the air from a point shot by Zach Bogosian, another Lightning throwback who before winning a Cup with Tampa two years ago was regarded by many as too slow and outdated. Ondrej Palat scored an empty-net goal with 23 seconds remaining.

The Lightning in 2019 were a lot like the Panthers, and then transformed themselves.

“They were once a high-flying kind of offensive team,” Florida coach Andrew Brunette said Monday, “and they found (another) recipe how to win and they stick with it. And obviously we aspire to be them. This was another learning experience for us. We need to be better.

“I think the learning is all the little things they do that win hockey games, how they block shots. I mean, they’ve got a guy like their captain (Steven Stamkos), who has scored 60 goals in this league, and he’s playing defence, blocking shots, he’s willing his team to win. And they’re all like that, and that’s the reason why they win.”

The Lightning can still score goals – they had 13 in the series, including the empty-netters – but are no longer a high-flying offensive team. They are loaded with guile and experience, a proudly blue-collar team led by some high-end skill. They defend relentlessly.

“They kept it tight on the penalty kill, they kept it tight when they’re up, when they were down,” Ekblad said. “They’re a strong, strong team. They don’t give up much.

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“Getting swept is tough. It hurts, it stings.”

It took the Lightning six second-round games to eliminate the Panthers from last year’s playoffs. After all those wins and goals, Florida was an easier out this time. Until Monday, they hadn’t been shut out since Vasilevskiy and the Lightning eliminated them last season.

“The whole series we were always behind,” Barkov lamented. “We were always trying to tie the game. Credit to them, obviously. But there’s a lot of things that we could have done better.

“We can say we didn’t get bounces or we didn’t get lucky, hit the post a couple of times. But they played well and they didn’t give us much.”

Challenged by Brunette to display more “will” and “resilience” after losing Game 3 5-1 on Sunday, the Panther players didn’t do enough to create Grade-A scoring chances in the series. They need to evolve like the Lightning have, but not every team can do it. Not every organization has that will, will take that risk, when things are great in the regular season.

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Yes, the Lightning are special.

“And the beauty of the group is that we’re not satisfied,” Stamkos, the captain, said. “We want 12 straight (series wins). When you kind of take a step back and put things into perspective, especially in the salary cap world that we’re in and the parity in our league, it’s a very, very special group.”

Without arguably their best player in injured forward Brayden Point, the team that has played more hockey than anyone over the last three years will get some vital time this week to rest and heal.

The Lightning will meet the winner of the Carolina Hurricanes-New York Rangers series as they try to become the first team since the 1983 Islanders to win three straight Stanley Cups.

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Kadri’s hat trick leads Avalanche past Blues in Game 4, take 3-1 series lead

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Nazem Kadri scored three goals, including two during a four-goal second period barrage, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference series.

Kadri’s outburst came after he received racist death threats on social media following a first-period collision with Blues goalie Jordan Binnington in Game 3 on Saturday night.

Kadri, who was booed heavily every time he touched the puck, skated towards the glass and appeared to salute the Blues fans after each of his first two goals, inciting even more jeers. It was his first career playoff hat trick.

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Erik Johnson and Devon Toews also scored and Mikko Rantanen added an empty netter for the Avalanche, while Darcy Kuemper made 17 saves.

David Perron scored twice and Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist for the Blues. Ville Husso, making his first start since Game 3 of the first round against Minnesota, made 31 saves.

The Avalanche took control of the game — and the series — with three goals in less than a two-minute span early in the second period.

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Johnson got it going with his first of the playoffs at the 2:44 mark. Kadri gave the Avalanche the lead with his first at 4:07 and Toews scored 19 seconds later to make it 3-1.

Kadri gave Perron a late shove a minute later, causing retaliation by Perron and Buchnevich that landed them both in the box with minor penalties. Colorado did not score on the two-man advantage, but Kadri buried his second goal moments after it ended to make it 4-1.

Perron and Buchnevich each scored power play goals late in the second to bring the Blues back within one, but Kadri’s goal midway through the third scuttled the comeback attempt.

Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game. Buchnevich set up the goal by intercepting Toews’ pass behind the Avalanche net and quickly passed it to an open Perron in front.

The Blues escaped the first period with the lead despite getting outshot 15-3. Husso made several tough saves drawing chants of “HUSS!” from the crowd.

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EXTRA SECURITY

St. Louis police are investigating the threats made towards Kadri. The NHL told the AP on Monday that it is working with the St. Louis Police Department to employ enhanced security procedures both at the arena and in the hotel.

ROAD WARRIORS

Colorado is 4-0 on the road this postseason and is the only team without a loss away from home. The streak ties the second-longest postseason-opening road winning streak in franchise history with the 2001 team. The longest streak is a 7-0 start by the 1999 team.

FACE IN THE CROWD

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Rapper and St. Louis native Nelly participated in the pregame hype by beating on a large drum and leading the crowd in a “Let’s Go Blues” chant.

NOTES: Blues D Torey Krug skated with the team during the morning skate for the first time since sustaining a lower body injury in Game 3 against Minnesota. There is no update on his return. … Avalanche C Alex Newhook played in his first playoff game this year and got an assist on Johnson’s goal. … Blues F Vladimir Tarasenko played in his 88th career playoff game, moving him into a tie with Jaden Schwartz for fifth-most in franchise history. … The Blues recalled G Charlie Lindgren from Springfield, its AHL affiliate, under emergency circumstances on Sunday to back up Husso.



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RJ's USFL Power Rankings after Week 6 I Number One Ranked Show

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Fox Sports’ RJ Young breaks down the best teams in the USFL. The undefeated Birmingham Stallions remain at the top, followed by the New Jersey Generals at number two and the Houston Gamblers, Pittsburgh Maulers, Michigan Panthers, Tampa Bay Bandits, Philadelphia Stars and New Orleans Breakers also making the list.



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