July 22nd, 2006


Maine answers Mets’ call


The AssociatedPress
New York Mets’ Cliff Floyd leaps and catches a ball hit deep by Houston Astros’ Chris Burke during the fourth inning Friday at Shea Stadium. Mets posted 7-0 shutout.

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK — In the hours before Friday night’s game, New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya talked about how he was shopping for pitching as the trading deadline approaches. John Maine’s performance against the Houston Astros may have reduced the urgency for Minaya.
Plugged in at the last minute, Maine responded with a brilliant four-hitter, shutting out the Astros 7-0. He had plenty of help with Jose Valentin hitting his second grand slam home run in two weeks and Carlos Delgado adding a two-run shot.
But this was Maine’s show.
“How about that, huh?” manager Willie Randolph said. “Johnny Maine threw the ball great. He did an outstanding job. He kept hitting his spots and putting up zeroes. He was strong and stayed in his rhythm.”
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t supposed to pitch.
Maine was slotted for today’s game against the Astros with Orlando Hernandez set to go Friday. But with heavy rains falling before the game, Randolph decided to move Maine up a day to protect El Duque from having his start interrupted by the weather.
“They told me about 5 o’clock,” Maine said. “They said, ‘Are you ready to pitch?’ and I told them I was ready to go. I didn’t have much chance to think about the hitters. I think that was the best thing for my performance. I located my fastball well and got away with some changes. I got some quick outs.”
He threw 98 pitches, 67 for strikes and produced his first major league complete game. It was his first win since Sept. 5, 2005 when he was with Baltimore.
Houston manager Phil Garner was frustrated by the loss.
“We got fastballs, that’s why,” he said., “We put them in play but didn’t get anything for it.”
Maine (1-3) walked one and struck out four. It was his first complete game and the sixth shutout of the season for the Mets.
“I just want to win,” he said. “They’re an aggressive team. They put the bat on the ball but hit it at people. My goal is to pitch well. You just want to pitch well.”
Valentin gave him a quick margin with his second inning slam, the ninth of his career and the Mets fifth in the last two weeks.
Delgado added his 24th homer of the season, his second homer in two days.
The Mets loaded the bases with none out in the second.
Delgado walked and David Wright singled up the middle. Cliff Floyd grounded to first but Mike Lamb’s throw to second, trying for the force, pulled Adam Everett off the base and everybody was safe on the error.
Valentin followed with his 11th homer of the season, hitting a 3-2 pitch from Taylor Buchholz (6-8) to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. He gave up seven runs and six hits in five innings.
“I’m trying to do too much with my fastball right now, yanking it,” Buchholz said.
An inning later, Paul Lo Duca opened with a double, moved to third on an infield out and scored on Delgado’s sacrifice fly, making it 5-0.
In the fifth, Carlos Beltran doubled with two out and Delgado followed with his home run.
Beltran and Lo Duca combined to preserve Maine’s shutout in the eighth inning. With Eric Munson on third base, Beltran caught Craig Biggio’s fly to center and made a one-hop throw off the mound to Lo Duca, who blocked the plate.
Giants 8, Padres 2: At San Francisco, Matt Cain took a shutout into the ninth for the Giants, who lost Barry Bonds to a knee injury and traded for Shea Hillenbrand after the game.
The Giants won their season-high fourth straight game and pulled within a half-game of the first-place Padres in the NL West.
Hillenbrand was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Wednesday after he wrote on the clubhouse bulletin board that the “ship was sinking” and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged him to a fight.
Cain (7-6) came within one out of getting his second career shutout, but gave up a two-run homer to Khalil Greene in the ninth.
Jake Peavy (4-10) was the loser.
Reds 6, Brewers 5: At Cincinnati, Ken Griffey Jr.’s bases-loaded single in the ninth lifted the Reds past Milwaukee in a game delayed nearly three hours at the outset because of rain.
The Brewers took a 5-3 lead into the ninth, but closer Derrick Turnbow (4-7) had another meltdown that helped the Reds rally for their sixth win in eight games.
Gary Majewski (4-3), acquired in an eight-player trade with Washington a week ago, pitched the ninth for his first win with Cincinnati.
Phillies 6, Braves 5: At Philadelphia, Jimmy Rollins had four hits, including a homer, and pinch-hitter David Dellucci added the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth.
David Bell went 4-for-4 and Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 22 games for the Phillies.
Edgar Renteria and Scott Thorman homered for the Braves, and Chipper Jones extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games.
Phillies starter Cory Lidle (7-7) gave up three runs and six hits in a season-high eight innings. Tom Gordon pitched the ninth for his 23rd save.
Ken Ray (1-1) took the loss.
Nationals 7, Cubs 6: At Washington, Alex Escobar’s two-run single in the eighth capped the Nationals’ comeback.
The Nationals led 4-1, then trailed 6-4 after Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run shot, his second homer of the game. But Washington scored three runs in the eighth off Bob Howry (3-3). Jon Rauch (3-1) threw a perfect eighth to get the win and Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his 15th save.
Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 2: At Phoenix, Orlando Hudson and Luis Gonzalez each had three hits and Claudio Vargas won for the second time in six weeks for Arizona.
Vargas (8-6) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings for Arizona, which won for the ninth time in 11 games. Aaron Cook (6-8) was the loser for the Rockies, who have lost 10 of 11.
Cardinals 2, Dodgers 0: At Los Angeles, Jeff Suppan (7-5) scattered five hits over seven innings, Chris Duncan homered and St. Louis beat the Dodgers for the seventh straight time.
Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for his NL-leading 27th save.
Brad Penny (10-4) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings against a Cardinals lineup that averaged 12 runs in its previous four games.
Marlins 4, Pirates 1: At Miami, rookie Scott Olsen struck out 11 and Cody Ross hit a two-run homer for Florida.
Olsen (8-4) allowed one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six straight hitters between the first and third innings. Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his 20th save. Paul Maholm (3-9) took the loss.


Tiger’s facing all sorts of challenges

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Tiger Woods has plenty of competition at the British Open.
As the clouds drifted over Royal Liverpool and the breeze picked up off the Irish Sea, Sergio Garcia surged up the leaderboard to join Woods and Ernie Els in a three-way tie for the lead today.
Jim Furyk and Chris DiMarco were only one stroke back, but Phil Mickelson was nowhere to be found. He bogeyed three straight holes to finish the front side, didn’t make a birdie until the 16th and even an eagle at the final hole was only good enough for a 1-over-par 73.
At 3 under for 54 holes, he walked off the course eight shots behind the triumvirate at the top of the board — far too much ground to make upSunday.
Woods was back in a familiar position after missing the cut in the U.S. Open. He started the third round with a one-stroke lead over Els after both shot 65 Friday, the gallery still buzzing about Tiger holing out a 4-iron from 209 yards for eagle at the 14th.
The final group got off a shakier start on day three. Els bogeyed the first hole, Woods did the same at the second and suddenly the two front-runners found themselves tied at 11 under with Garcia, seeking his first major title.
Mimicking Woods, the Spaniard holed out from the fairway for eagle at No. 2 on the way to shooting a 6-under 29 on the front side. He had a chance for the outright lead but missed a 6-footer for birdie at the 11th, leaving it just short of the cup.
DiMarco, whose mother died suddenly almost three weeks ago, was two strokes behind at the start of the round and pulled even closer with a 20-footer for birdie at No. 3.