Sunday, July 31, 2005

MLB: Nationals 4, Florida Marlins 2 (July 31)

WP: Livan Hernandez (13-4)
LP: Brian Moehler (6-8)
S: Chad Cordero (35)

WAS: 56-49 (2nd in NL East, 5 behind Atlanta, 1 ahead of Philadelphia, 1.5 ahead of Florida)


The Nationals came into the game today knowing that if they lost, they would fall at least to third place in the National League East, and possibly fourth, but Livan Hernandez pitched like an ace and the Nats snapped a six-game losing streak.

Hernandez went eight innings, scattering 11 hits and giving up two runs. He also had a bases-loaded single that knocked in the eventual winning run.

Nick Johnson provided the offensive punch that the team hoped he would when he hit an RBI double in the third inning to tie the game at one, then a solo homer in the ninth that made it 4-2 Nationals.

Mike Lowell is snapping out of his season-long funk for the Marlins, as he went 3-for-4 and scored a run.

The Nationals chased Brian Moehler with a two-out rally in the fifth inning. With Jose Guillen on third, Carlos Baerga singled him home, then Gary Bennet hit a double that moved Baerga to third, then Christian Guzman was intentionally walked to bring up Hernandez, who got his RBI single.

The Nats return home to Washington after a day off to face the Dodgers and Padres in a six-game homestand. On Tuesday, Esteban Loaiza (6-6, 3.54 ERA, throws right) is scheduled to pitch against Jeff Weaver (8-8, 4.59 ERA, throws right). The Nationals had been rumored to be coveting Weaver before deciding not to make any moves at the non-waiver trade deadline.

It's hard to call a game with two months left in the season a "must win," but if there has ever been reason to do so, this was it. A loss would have knocked the Nats to third, and possibly to fourth (although the Phillies are getting crushed by Colorado as I write this), while also being six games out of first.

While six games isn't insurmountable, being in third or fourth place and knowing you have to overtake two or three teams to get back to the division lead would be painful. Washington also remains 1.5 behind Houston and in second place for the Wild Card, and you never want to put more teams ahead of you in the Wild Card race.

This win was hopefully telling of future success, because Nick Johnson came back and added some punch to the lineup. If he continues to get hot and the Nats can capitalize on their chances, their pitching isn't going to let them get too far out of this, so they'll have a shot at least at the Wild Card. Don't give up on the Nats yet. They have the potential to be in the playoff mix deep into the season.

MLB: Florida Marlins 3, Nationals 0 (July 30)

WP: A.J. Burnett (8-6)
LP: John Patterson (4-3)
S: Todd Jones (20)

WAS: 55-49 (2nd in NL East, 5 behind Atlanta, 0.5 ahead of Florida and Philadelphia)

Something about Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca being in scoring position seemed to force Nationals pitcher John Patterson to toss pitches past his catcher.

Patterson worked a quality start, going six innings and giving up just two runs on five hits, but the two runs were both scored on wild pitches that scored Paul Lo Duca, once in the second inning and once in the sixth.

Patterson was outdone by A.J. Burnett, who has been the focus of much trade speculation, threw seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and striking out eight.

The Nationals dream run has turned into a nightmare, as a shutout loss yesterday dropped them to five games behind Atlanta in the National League East, and the team is now in serious danger of falling all the way to fourth place.

The loss to the Marlins brought the Fish within half a game of the Nats, and the Phillies are also only a half game behind. If they lose to the Marlins today, they will definitely be in third place, and would be in fourth if Philadelphia beats Colorado.

The Nats will attempt to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Marlins today at 1:05 p.m. in Florida. They will send ace Livan Hernandez (12-4, 3.32 ERA, throws right) to face Brian Moehler (6-7, 3.56 ERA, throws right).

It has gone from bad to worse for the Nationals, who are in serious danger of being swept by a second straight NL East opponent, which could drop them to fourth place. Just two days after General Manager Jim Bowden said that the current players are the guys that the Nationals will be "going to war with," it is looking more and more like the Nats won't be involved in any war at all.

The frustrating part is that the pitching has been good, but the bats just continue to be useless. The team heads home after this series to take on two NL West opponents, the Dodgers and Padres, but they really can't afford to take another loss to an NL East opponent. If they can salvage one win in this series then go dominate the Rockies, they may still be in the thick of things into the month of August.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

MLB: Chicago White Sox 9, Orioles 6 (July 30)

WP: Neal Cotts (3-0)
LP: Chris Ray (0-3)
S: Dustin Hermanson (24)

BAL: 51-52 (4th in AL East, 6.5 behind Boston, 4.5 behind New York, 1.5 behind Toronto)

For the second time in three games, an Oriole pitcher took a come-backer off the hand and had to leave the game before finishing three innings.

This time, it was Daniel Cabrera taking a hard liner off his pitching hand that knocked him out of the game.

The Orioles looked as though they would recover, though, scoring four runs in the third inning to go up 4-2 after loading the bases with none out. Brian Roberts hit a double that scored two, then a wild pitch scored David Newhan from third, then Eric Byrnes earned his first Orioles RBI by knocking in Roberts with a double of his own.

But the lead wouldn't last, as the White Sox tied the game with two runs in the fifth off of Monday's scheduled starter, Bruce Chen, who was pitching to try to give the bullpen some rest.

Rafael Palmeiro gave the O's another two-run lead with a blast in the sixth, but Chris Ray gave up a three-run homer to A.J. Pierzynski and a solo shot to Jermaine Dye to make it an 8-6 White Sox lead.

The Sox added an insurance run in the ninth.

The loss drops the Orioles to under .500.

Eric Byrnes batted second and went 1-for-5 with an RBI in his first game with the Orioles.

The O's will look to get back to .500 (that's so depressing) when they take on the White Sox again tomorrow at 8:05 p.m. on ESPN. Rodrigo Lopez (9-5, 4.37 ERA, throws right) will pitch for the O's against Freddy Garcia (10-4, 3.76 ERA, throws right).

This one was particularly hard to take because Cabrera got knocked out and they STILL looked like they could win, but the bullpen couldn't hold. Now that's not completely their fault, because they have worked a lot of innings over the past few games, but it is disheartening none the less.

They keep blowing leads, and you almost have to think that eventually they are going to hold some of those and hopefully reel off a winning streak. Until then, this is looking real bad real fast.

MLB: Nationals GM tells his players they aren't going anywhere

With the non-waiver trade deadline looming, Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden went into the locker room before Friday's game and told the players that none of them are going anywhere, The Washington Post reports.

Players told The Post that Bowden came in and said, "Look around this locker room. These are the guys we are going to war with," and added that their "big trade" had already happened when they got Preston Wilson from the Rockies for pitcher Zach Day and minor leaguer J.J. Davis.

The Nationals spent almost two months in first place before their recent losing skid dropped them to even with the Braves going into a three game set against the perennial National League East champs. The Braves then swept that series, and the Nationals dropped another game last night and are now four games back.

After being involved in a lot of rumors over the last couple of days, the Nationals have apparently decided to stand pat. While I don't think it's the best idea to make no moves, I think doing nothing is better than some of the deals that the Nats were linked to. It seems like Bowden has been looking for help in all the wrong places.

Sure, they got Preston Wilson, but they have no room for him in their outfield now that Nick Johnson is back because Brad Wilkerson moved from first base back to his normal position in the outfield, and Ryan Church and Jose Guillen aren't leaving the lineup any time soon. So the Nationals "big trade" was for a fourth outfielder that will only play against left-handed pitching.

The problem is, the deals they were looking at made no sense. They were named in all sorts of rumors that linked them to pitchers, especially Jeff Weaver. But the pitching has been excellent, with the exception of fifth starter Ryan Drese who has been inconsistent, but mostly bad.

The problem is that the team ranks dead last in run scoring. So what position player were they rumored to be going after? Tony Womak. That's right. Tony Womak! The guy is batting .242 with no homers, 12 RBIs, and a why-are-you-in-the-big-leagues OPS of .541. Womack isn't helping anyone's offense, especially not the Nationals.

Compared to those deals, doing nothing seems like a genius move. But that's not saying much.

MLB: Orioles send Bigbie to Colorado for OF Eric Byrnes

After countless trade rumors involving numerous players, the Orioles finally made their first trade of the non-waiver trade deadline week when they sent left fielder Larry Bigbie to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Eric Byrnes.

Byrnes started the season with Oakland, but was shipped to Colorado just two weeks ago. He hit .266 with seven homers and 24 RBIs with the Athletics before going to the National League and struggling mightily.

The Orioles really wanted more production from their outfield, because no regular outfielder on the team has an OPS over .730. That is before the acquisition of Byrnes, who has an OPS of .745.

Byrnes also added another aspect that the Orioles wanted; a bat that crushes lefty pitching. Byrnes bats .289 against lefties with a .903 OPS.

Bigbie was batting .248 on the year with a .688 OPS for the Orioles. There are rumors now that Bigbie may be sent to Boston, who needs an outfielder after Trot Nixon was injured, for a minor leaguer or two.

The non-waiver trade deadline is Sunday at 4 p.m.

Byrnes isn't the huge upgrade on offense that the Orioles needed among their outfielders, but he is an upgrade none the less. He is an exciting player who goes all-out on every play and will be fun to watch in Camden Yards.

The Orioles could really still use another solid bat in the outfield or a first baseman/designated hitter that can hit left-handed pitching well to platoon with Rafael Palmeiro. However, after being involved in seemingly every trade talk in the past week, there is now little news about potential trades involving the O's.

MLB: Chicago White Sox 7, Orioles 2 (July 29)

WP: Orlando Hernandez (8-3)
LP: Erik Bedard (5-3)

BAL: 51-51 (4th in AL East, 6 behind Boston, 3.5 behind New York, 1 behind Toronto)

The Orioles skid has brought them all the way down to .500, a mark that they have been 14 games above at different points in the season.

Miguel Tejada's 4-for-4 night could not help the Orioles, as the White Sox jumped out early, going up 4-1 in the third on a Paul Konerko three-run blast.

Erik Bedard pitched just five innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits and four walks. It was just the second time this season that Bedard has failed to record a quality start.

Orlando Hernandez gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings to get the win.

After the third inning, Larry Bigbie left the game because he had been traded to Colorado for Eric Byrnes. It was the first trade that the Orioles have made in the trade deadline weekend.

Lee Mazzilli was ejected in the first inning after Scott Podsednik attempted to steal third base and was called safe on a close play.

Game two of the four game set is at 1:15 p.m today, as the Orioles will send Daniel Cabrera (8-8, 4.67 ERA, throws right) to the mound to try and keep the team from falling under the .500 mark. Cabrera will face Jose Contreras (6-6, 4.36 ERA, throws right).

MLB: Florida Marlins 4, Nationals 3 (July 29)

WP: Josh Beckett (10-6)
LP: Tony Armas Jr. (5-5)
S: Todd Jones (19)

WAS: 55-48 (2nd in NL East, 4 behind Atlanta)

With another one-run loss, the Nationals have fallen to four games out of first place in the National League East.

Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a Paul Lo Duca bases-loaded double, and the Nationals never really recovered.

Brian Schneider homered in the third to make it 3-1, and it was 4-1 before RBI singles from Vinny Castilla and Schneider in the seventh cut the lead to one, but they wouldn't get any more in the final two innings.

Josh Beckett went 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on five hits while striking out eight to get his 10th win of the season.

Tony Armas Jr. settled down after the rough first inning, going six innings, giving up four runs on six hits.

The Nationals play game two of the three game series this afternoon at 1:15, with John Patterson (4-2, 2.58 ERA, throws right) going for the Nationals against A.J. Burnett (7-6, 3.48 ERA, throws right).

Burnett has often been mentioned in trade rumors, but it is looking more and more likely that he will stick with the Fish for the remainder of the season.

WNBA: Indiana Fever 62, Mystics 58 (July 29)

WAS: 12-12 (6.5 behind Connecticut)

Tamika Catchings ran the show in Indiana's four-point win over the Mystics on Friday, netting a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

The Mystics led by six at the half, 33-27, but couldn't hold on in the second half in the face of Catchings' performance.

Temeka Johnson led the Mystics in scoring with 15 points, while DeLisha Milton-Jones added 12 points and eight boards.

Washington now has off until Tuesday, when they face the East's worst team, the Charlotte Sting, at the MCI Center at 8 p.m.

Friday, July 29, 2005

MLB: Texas Rangers 2, Orioles 1 (July 28)

WP: Kameron Loe (5-3)
LP: Chris Ray (0-2)
S: Francisco Cordero (24)

BAL: 51-50 (4th in AL East, 5 behind Boston, 3.5 behind New York, 1 behind Toronto)

And the Orioles are in fourth place.

After what seemed like it could be a rejuvenating win on Tuesday, the Orioles turned around and took two more heartbreaking losses in the next two days. Now, the team is only one game over .500 and has fallen into fourth place in the AL East, where it has finished in six of the last seven seasons.

Last night, Orioles starter Sidney Ponson was thought to be making his last start in an Orioles uniform, but in the third inning of a scoreless game he attempted to barehand a comebacker and it hit him in the thumb, knocking him out of the game and maybe out of the trade talks. Ponson is supposedly not seriously injured, but initial reports were that his thumbnail was partially torn off, and only later were the reports altered to say that it was just bruised.

Tim Byrdak was clutch, coming in and shutting out Texas for 2.2 innings of emergency relief, and leaving with a 1-0 lead that the O's obtained on an RBI single by Melvin Mora that scored David Newhan.

But the Orioles bats, as they have been all too often recently, were quiet for the rest of the game, and Texas took advantage, hitting a pair of solo homers to take the lead and win the game.

The first was hit by Alfonso Soriano off of Jason Grimsley in the sixth inning to tie it at one, and the second came in the top of the ninth, when David Dellucci homered off of Chris Ray.

In the bottom of the eighth, when the game was still 1-1, the Orioles had runners on second and third with no outs and failed to score.

The lone positive was Sammy Sosa continuing to improve, going 2-for-4 with a double.

The Orioles open a huge four game set with the Chicago White Sox tonight at 7:35 at Camden Yards. This series could decide the fate of the Orioles this season, as another series loss would put them below .500 and further back in the standings.

Also, there is some speculation that with the recent skid, the O's may shift from being buyers to sellers in this non-waiver trade deadline weekend, with names like B.J. Ryan being mentioned as possible trade bait. Because of that, the games tonight and tomorrow are especially important in shaping management's decisions on where this team is headed this season.

The Orioles will send their best starter, Erik Bedard (5-2, 2.11 ERA, throws left), to the mound against El Duque, Orlando Hernandez (7-3, 4.78 ERA, throws right).

MLS: D.C. United fall to Premier League's Chelsea, 2-1 (July 28)

In what was called a "friendly" match, two league champions an ocean apart duked it out on the pitch.

English Premier League champions Chelsea FC came across the Atlantic Ocean to face MLS champions D.C. United at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. on Thursday night, and while most expected an easy victory for the Brits, the boys from D.C. were motivated by representing the league and the entire country's soccer status.

In the first half, it looked like D.C. United could even pull off the major upset, as a Bobby Boswell goal (assisted by Christian Gomez) put them ahead, 1-0, in the 31st minute. But only four minutes later, Chelsea tied with a goal by Damien Duff.

In the second half, Chelsea took the lead when Hernan Crespo scored, and England's champions would hold on defensively from there out and Chelsea won the game.

Over 30,000 fans showed up at FedEx Field to watch the match, that compared to the just over 17,000 that the team averaged at RFK Stadium for home games in 2004.

WNBA: Mystics 73, San Antonio Silver Stars 58 (July 28)

WAS: 12-11 (3rd in East)

Alana Beard absolutely destroyed the San Antonio Silver Stars (who are just as awful as their name), dropping 27 points, seven steals and six assists in the Mystics 15-point win. She more than doubled the Mystics next-highest scorer, Chasity Melvin, who had 12 points.

The Silver Stars were led by Shannon Johnson's 15 points, but couldn't get over costly turnovers. The Mystics only turned the ball over eight times, while San Antonio either turned it over 16, 17 or 18, depending on if you believe ESPN, Yahoo! or the Associated Press (the official WNBA site says 17).

The Mystics also completely controlled the pace of the game, scoring 20 fast break points, as compared to San Antonio's two.

Washington's lead at halftime was eight points, 37-29, and they only widened it in the second half, getting up by as much as 20 before winning by 15.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

MLB: Atlanta Braves 5, Nationals 4 (July 28)

WP: Ryan Drese (3-4)
LP: Jorge Sosa (6-1)
S: Chris Reitsma (12)

Major League Baseball might as well just sign the Nationals' ownership papers over to 21-year-old Jeff Francoeur, because 12 games into his Major League career he has already shown that he owns the Washington club.

With two solo homers today, Francoeur powered the Braves to a sweep of the Nationals and a three game lead in the National League East. In the three game series, he went 5-for-9, drove in four runs and scored four more.

For the Nationals, it was another one-run loss. All three games in this crucial series were one-run losses.

Leading 1-0 gooing into the inning, the Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth on a Francoeur home run and a Marcus Giles double that plated two runs.

The Nats cut the lead in half with RBI singles by Carlos Baerga and Jose Guillen in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, but the Braves added an insurance run with another Francoeur homer in the bottom of the sixth.

That run proved crucial, because Jose Vidro hit a two run homer, his sixth homer of the year, to cut the lead to 5-4 in the seventh.

The Nationals threatened in the eighth, getting men on the corners with two out, but pinch hitter Ryan Church struck out on a pitch out of the strike zone to end the inning.

The Nationals will look to get back on track when they go to Florida to face another NL East foe, the Marlins, in a three game series starting tomorrow at 7:35 p.m.

The Nationals will send Tony Armas Jr. (5-4, 4.73 ERA, throws right) to face Marlins ace Josh Beckett (9-6, 3.33 ERA, throws right).

NBA: Juan Dixon headed to Portland

Area favorite and Baltimore product Juan Dixon will take his basketball career out of the Batlimore-Washington area for the first time, as he has agreed to a three-year contract worth about $8 million from the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Post reported.

Dixon, who played high school ball at Calvert Hall in Baltimore and then led the University of Maryland to its only NCAA basketball championship in 2002, was drafted 17th overall by the Wizards in that same year.

Dixon played in Washington for three seasons, averaging 18.1 minutes and starting 23 games. In the 2004-2005 season, Dixon averaged eight points and 1.8 assists per game while averaging under 17 minutes.

It is also expected that former Maryland guard Steve Blake will head elsewhere, as the Wizards have a plethora of guards with the acquisitions of Caron Butler, Chucky Atkins and Antonio Daniels.

MLB: Texas Rangers 11, Orioles 8 (11 innings, July 27)

WP: Francisco Cordero (2-1)
LP: Jorge Julio (3-3)
S: James Baldwin (1)

BAL: 51-49 (3rd in AL East, 4.5 behind Boston, 2.5 behind New York, tied with Toronto)


In a game that looked like it would be an easy Orioles victory in the early-going, Bruce Chen and the O's bullpen ended up finding out just how strong the Rangers bats are.

The Birds jumped out to a 5-0 lead in two innings after a three-run bomb from Miguel Tejada, a solo shot from Sammy Sosa (to give him sole possession of fifth place on the all-time homer list) and a Brian Roberts RBI single. But the pitching wouldn't hold, giving it all away in the fourth inning and more in the fifth.

Texas smacked three homers in the fourth, one each from Rod Barajas, former Oriole Gary Matthews Jr. and Maryland native Mark Teixeira to tie the game at five and chase Bruce Chen from the game.

In the fifth, Todd Williams gave up a run on a Mark DeRosa single to give Texas a 6-5 lead.

The O's fought back, though, tying it in the eighth with a Melvin Mora RBI single, but Texas scored two in the ninth to go up 8-6.

But, oh no, it wasn't over yet. Baltimore rallied in the ninth with a two-run blast by Javy Lopez (his second homer in as many nights) to send it to extra innings.

After the Orioles had been on the ropes and come back twice already in the game, Gary Matthews Jr. continued his complete ownership of the Orioles this series with a three-run homer off of Jorge Julio that knocked the Orioles to the mat.

Knock out. No need to go to the judges' cards.

The Orioles wouldn't come back in the bottom half, and the Orioles took their seventh loss in eight games.

The O's will look for a series split when they play the series finale tonight at 7:05 at Camden Yards. Sidney Ponson (7-9, 5.91 ERA, throws right) will pitch for the Orioles, assuming he doesn't get traded, get hauled off in a squad car, or pass out at a buffet table before then. Ricardo Rodriguez (2-2, 5.31 ERA, throws right) will go to the mound for Texas.

All ribbing aside, Ponson had a quality start in his last outing but took the loss wen the Orioles only scored two runs against the Devil Rays. He threw seven innings, giving up three runs on nine hits and no walks.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, has given up 11 runs in 8.1 innings in two starts since being brought back into the rotation.

MLB: Atlanta Braves 4, Nationals 3 (July 27)

WP: Dan Kolb (3-6)
LP: Gary Majewski (2-2)
S: Chris Reitsma (11)

WAS: 55-46 (2nd in NL East, 2 behind Atlanta)

The Atlanta Braves will not be denied an National League East title.

They just won't. They refuse to, like they have every year since 1992, and it appears there is nothing the Nationals can do to stop them.

In another one-run loss, the Nats dropped to two games behind the Braves in the NL East, and will need a win this afternoon just to salvage something from this series and keep the Braves within easy striking distance.

Last night, Washington jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a Jose Guillen single that scored Brad Wilkerson, but that was the only run they would score until the eighth.

In the meantime, the Braves scored three runs; two in the fourth on a Marcus Giles solo homer and a Jeff Francoeur (who?) RBI single, and one in the seventh on a wild pitch by Joey Eischen that scored Francoeur (who again?).

The Nats tied it in the top of the eighth on RBI singles from Guillen and Nick Johnson, but Francoeur came up big again with an RBI double in the bottom half of the inning that plated the winning run.

To answer that "who?" question, Francoeur is a 21-year-old right fielder who was playing in his 11th game ... so probably the best game of his career so far (3-for-4, 2 RBI).

The Nats and Braves wrap up the three game set this afternoon at 1:05, but the suspense is over because the Braves know that the Nationals will be leaving the division lead in Atlanta when they go.

Ryan Drese (3-3, 4.02 ERA, throws right) will pitch for the Nationals agaist Jorge Sosa (5-1, 2.55 ERA, throws right).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

NFL: Redskins send WR Rod Gardner to Panthers is reporting that the Redskins have agreed to a deal that would send wide receiver Rod Gardner to the Panthers for a draft choice.

The Redskins were going to have to cut Gardner because he was putting more dollars against the cap than any other player on the team while struggling with inconsistency, and the Redskins signed receivers Santana Moss, David Patten and Kevin Dyson, which left little room for Gardner in Joe Gibbs' plans.

ESPN said there is no word on what draft choice the Redskins received.

MLB: Nick Johnson comes off DL for Nationals

The Washington Nationals have brought first baseman Nick Johnson off the disabled list, and he was inserted into the lineup in last night's loss against the Braves.

Johnson, who is hitting .315 with 8 homers and 42 RBI, missed 24 games due to a bruised right heel he suffered on June 26.

The Nats could really use his bat, as they rank last in the league in runs scored and have fallen behind Atlanta in the National League East race.

The move, however, did mean that slugger Preston Wilson was left out of hte lineup, as Brad Wilkerson was moved from first base to outfield and Jose Guillen and Ryan Church have been solid in the other two outfield positions.

Wilson is batting .256 since coming to the Nationals in a trade with Colorado, adding two homers and six RBI in 11 games.

The three outfielders in last night's lineup (Wilkerson, Guillen and Church) have been team leaders all year for the Nationals, with Church and Guillen both batting over .300.

Since it would seem that Johnson, Wilkerson, Church and Guillen will be in the lineup every day that all four are healthy, Preston Wilson's role may end up limited to pinch-hit appearances.

Johnson went 0-for-4 in his first game back.

MLB: Atlanta Braves 3, Nationals 2 (10 innings, July 26)

WP: Chris Reitsma (3-2)
LP: Mike Stanton (0-1)

WAS: 55-45 (2nd in NL East, 1 behind Atlanta)

A one-run game that was a pitchers duel which needed extra innings to be decided.

That was what everyone expected and was hoping for going into this monumental three game series between the two teams that, before last night's game, were tied for first place in the National League East. Unfortunately for Washington, the game did not go the way they had hoped.

Washington led 2-0 through six innings, but the Braves scored one in the seventh and another in the ninth to tie it up and send it to extras. In the bottom of the tenth inning, Mike Stanton loaded the bases, and manager Frank Robinson brought in Luis Ayala with two outs to try and extend the game. But Ayala fell behind 3-0 to Andruw Jones, and Jones took a pitch that appeared to be on the outside corner but was called ball four and scored the winning run in a literal walk-off.

Washington is now out of first place for the first time since June 5.

The Nats took the lead on RBI singles from Brad Wilkerson and Jose Guillen in the third and fifth innings, respectively, but the Braves came back thanks to Adam LaRoche, who wields the power of one of the fiercest uni-brows in all of sports.

In the seventh, LaRoche homered off of Livan Hernandez to make it 2-1, and in the ninth he hit a sacrifice fly off of Chad Cordero to tie the game and send it to extra frames.

Hernandez pitched eight fantastic innings, giving up five hits, walking one, and giving up the lone run on the LaRoche homer. He also struck out five. He out-dueled John Smoltz, who also pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out four.

Cordero, the Nationals closer, couldn't make Hernandez' efforts stand up, though, as he blew just his fourth save in 38 tries.

The Nationals now must regroup and at least salvage a win in the remaining two games of this series, because a Braves sweep would put the Nats three games back in the NL East.

Tonight at 7:05 in Atlanta, the Nationals will send Esteban Loaiza (6-6, 3.56 ERA, throws right) to the hill against Tim Hudson (7-5, 3.59 ERA, throws right).

Hudson has been off-and-on at different stretches this year, and he has given up only three earned runs total in his last two starts (12 innings pitched). However, in the two starts before that he gave up nine earned runs in 6.2 innings total.

Loaiza has been fairly consistent, only giving up more than three earned runs four times in 20 starts so far this season, so this could be setting up for another pitchers duel.

MLB: Orioles 5, Texas Rangers 4 (July 26)

WP: Jason Grimsley (1-1)
LP: James Baldwin (0-1)
S: B.J. Ryan (22)

BAL: 51-48 (3rd in AL East, 3.5 behind Boston, 2.5 behind New York, 1 ahead of Toronto)

Javy Lopez apparently decided to push his welcome back celebration back a day, because after going 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his first game back, he went 3-for-4 with the game-winning homer in his second, helping the Orioles snap a six game losing streak.

After the bullpen let a two-run lead slip away, Javy Lopez came up in the bottom of the eighth and smoked a pitch over a leaping Gary Matthews Jr. to score the winning run.

The O's got the lead in the first off when Rafael Palmeiro continued his hot hitting with a single that scored Miguel Tejada. They made it 2-0 with a Luis Matos homer in the second inning, and 4-1 with a Sammy Sosa two-run homer in the sixth.

Sosa's homer was his 586th, which ties him with Frank Robinson for fifth place all time.

In the seventh, Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez got into some trouble when he gave up an RBI ground rule double to Matthews, who already had a home run in the game. With the lead 4-2 and Matthews on second, Chris Ray came in and David Dellucci hit an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-3.

Rodrigo Lopez didn't get the win for his efforts, but did net a quality start, going 6.1 innings and giving up three runs on six hits.

The Oriole bullpen continued their recent inability to find the strike zone -- or anywhere within five feet of the catcher, for that matter -- when Jason Grimsley bounced a wild pitch that scored Mark Teixeira (the run was charged to Steve Kline) and tied the game at four in the eighth.

In the bottom of the inning, though, Javy Lopez stepped up with the heroics and ended the O's losing streak.

Game three of the four game set is tonight at 7:05 at Camden Yards. And it's Sammy Sosa bobblehead night, so hopefully he'll knock a few more out of the park to celebrate.

Bruce Chen (7-6, 4.09 ERA, throws left) will pitch for the Orioles against Chris Young (8-6, 4.30 ERA, throws right).

Young was dominant for Texas until mid-June. He was posting a 2.78 ERA and was 6-3 before his June 20 start against the Angels. Since then, in seven starts he has pitched 33.1 innings and given up 29 runs, which amounts to an ERA of 7.89. He has also given up eight homers in those seven games, which should make O's hitters salivate since they hit three last night alone.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

WNBA: Houston Comets 83, Mystics 65

WAS: 11-11 (4th in East, 5 behind Connecticut)

The Mystics couldn't complete a home-and-home sweep of the Houston Comets on Tuesday, losing at home, 83-65.

Janeth Arcain and Sheryl Swoopes dominated, with Arcain scoring 23 points and Swoopes adding 17 and eight assists.

The game was close at halftime, with the Mystics only down 37-33, but the Comets blew it open in the second frame.

Alana Beard led the Mystics with 16 points, and Temeka Johnson dished out 10 assists.

Washington plays next on Thursday at 7 p.m. at MCI Center when they will take on the West's worst team, the San Antonio Silver Stars.

MLB: Baltimore now focused on Pittsburgh's Matt Lawton

The Washington Post reported today that with the Phil Nevin deal off, the Orioles are looking into a trade that would send Larry Bigbie to Pittsburgh for outfielder Matt Lawton.

The Post says that the Orioles may ask to attempt to negotiate a contract extension with Lawton, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, before making a trade.

This is an indication, it seems, that the Orioles now have three goals before Sunday's trading deadline; getting a starting pitcher, picking up a right-handed bat that can platoon with Rafael Palmeiro, and now adding some offense to the outfield.

Lawton is batting .270 and his on-base percentage of .376 would be second on the Orioles, only behind Brian Roberts' .411.

His strong on-base percentage and 53 walks (more than any Oriole) would make him an ideal candidate for batting second in the lineup, between Roberts and Melvin Mora. That move would also have Tejada batting cleanup and move everyone else back a spot.

Lawton, who is 33 (six years and a day older than Bigbie), also has 10 homers, 42 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

The Post also reported that the Orioles may ask Pittsburgh to pick up some of the $4.8 million that Lawton is still owed this year.

MLB: Nevin rejects trade to Baltimore

ESPN reported that San Diego Padres first baseman Phil Nevin cited family reasons in deciding to stay in San Diego, as he denied a trade that would have sent him to Baltimore for pitcher Sidney Ponson.

Nevin, who would have split time with Rafael Palmeiro at first base and designated hitter, may now instead find himself on the Padres bench, as there is speculation that they will move Xavier Nady to first base permanently, leaving little playing time for Nevin.

The (Baltimore) Sun is still reporting that the Texas Rangers have interest, with a possible trade coming that would send Ponson to the Rangers for outfielder Richard Hidalgo (batting .225 on the season, but .385 over the last seven days) or a minor leaguer. The Sun says that the Orioles would likely have to absorb some of Ponson's contract in either situation.

The Orioles have been trying to fill two needs before this Sunday's trade deadline; a quality starting pitcher to fortify the rotation and a solid right-handed batter to platoon with Rafael Palmeiro at first base and DH.

While Hidalgo is right-handed, he is batting a disastrous .132 against left-handed pitching this season, with an OPS of .493. Rafael Palmeiro, who the Orioles want to keep from having to face lefties, is batting .213 with a .578 OPS against left-handed pitching.

MLB: Texas Rangers 4, Orioles 2 (July 25)

WP: Joaquin Benoit (2-1)
LP: Daniel Cabrera (8-8)
S: Francisco Cordero (23)

BAL: 50-48 (3.5 behind Boston, 2.5 behind New York, 1 ahead of Toronto)

The Baltimore Orioles need to do something about their losing, and fast. With a 4-2 loss to the struggling Rangers last night, the team dropped their sixth game in a row and are on the verge of hitting some points that no one would have thought likely during the dream first half.

The O's hoped to get an offensive boost from the return of catcher Javy Lopez to the lineup after a two month absence as he recovered from a broken hand, but Lopez went 0-for-4 with a strike out. He batted sixth, with Rafael Palmeiro batting cleanup and Sammy Sosa hitting fifth.

The Rangers got out to a 3-0 lead with one run each in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but the O's cut the lead to one in the sixth with a homer from Jay Gibbons and a Larry Bigbie RBI groundout.

The Rangers added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth off of Jorge Julio.

Daniel Cabrera pitched five innings, giving up three runs on three hits and seven walks.

Like the Orioles, Texas had lost five straight going into the game.

Despite being only two games over .500 and one game ahead of fourth-place Toronto, the Orioles remain only 3.5 out of first place in the American League East, as Boston and New York struggle as well. Last night, the "lowly" Devil Rays that just swept the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 4-3, while the Yankees had the night off. The BoSox have now lost five of their last nine, and the Yankees have lost four of six.

The O's look to snap their skid tonight with the second game of their four game set with Texas at 7:05 at Camden Yards. Rodrigo Lopez (9-5, 4.37 ERA, throws right) will pitch against camera-throwing lefty Kenny Rogers (11-4, 2.71 ERA).

Monday, July 25, 2005

MLB: Nevin has until Tuesday night to confirm or reject trade

Phil Nevin, the first baseman whom the Padres are attempting to deal to the Orioles for pitcher Sidney Ponson, is deciding whether or not to waive his no-trade clause and accept the trade. He has a 72-hour window to make a decision, which ends Tuesday night at 9 Eastern.

His agent has been telling anyone who will listen that Nevin wants to stay in San Diego because his family is there and he has a home being built there and he likes the West coast, but Nevin is taking his time to talk to his family and consider the deal. (He quickly rejected a deal that would have sent him to Cincinnati for Ken Griffey Jr. in 2002.)

On ESPN the night of the deal being made, the Baseball Tonight crew seemed convinced that Nevin would accept the deal because it is clear that the Padres don't want him and that they are trying to move Xavier Nady to first base from third now that they traded for 3B Joe Randa from Cincinnati.

Nevin's comments in ESPN's article indicate that he will take until tomorrow night to decide. "I have a certain amount of time to make a decision and I'm going to use that time," he said.

The Washington Post's article indicates that Nevin will probably accept the deal, citing an executive from one of the teams involved. The Post reported that Nevin talked O's manager Lee Mazzilli, who assured him that he'd be an everyday player and would be batting in the middle of the lineup.

The (Baltimore) Sun reported that Nevin also talked to Orioles utility infielder Chris Gomez, who played with Nevin in Detroit and San Diego and assured him that it was a good place to play with a good group of guys. Also, there were rumors that he would be traded again, but Orioles co-General Manager Jim Beattie told his agent that it wouldn't happen.

According to The Sun, Nevin's agent said that Nevin would like to contact Rafael Palmeiro to get Raffy's feelings about the trade because they would be splitting time at first base.

Meanwhile, the Orioles still search for another starting pitcher, and while reports have stated that the A.J. Burnett talks are dead, the Baseball Tonight crew was not convinced of that. They said that attaching Mike Lowell in any deal would be almost impossible because teams do not want to pay his salary, so the Marlins will eventually have to soften their stance on that. Once that occurs, the BBTN analysts said, the Orioles still have the most attractive package to offer because the Marlins want a Major League-ready closer and Jorge Julio is the only player from an interested team that fits that description.

MLB: Houston Astros 4, Nationals 1 (14 innings, July 24)

WP: Russ Springer (3-3)
LP: Hector Carrasco (3-3)
S: Brad Lidge (23)

WAS: 55-44 (1st in NL East, tied with Atlanta, 3 ahead of Philadelphia)

The Nationals continued their struggles on Sunday, dropping the rubber game of a three game set with the Astros and losing for the 12th time in 16 games.

The team remains tied with Atlanta for first place in the National League East because the Braves lost to Arizona yesterday, 3-2.

Sunday's marathon game beetween the Nationals and Astros was a pitchers duel between John Patterson and Wandy Rodriguez, with neither of them ending up with a victory to show for it.

Patterson threw eight innings, giving up one run on six hits and striking out 10 Astros, while Rodriguez countered with seven innings of three-hit ball, also giving up one run.

The run for the Nats came in the fifth on a Gary Bennett RBI single that gave Washington a 1-0 lead, but in the very next half-inning, the Astros got a Mike Lamb sacrifice fly to make it 1-1. It would stay that way until the 14th inning.

After a single and a walk given up by Hector Carrasco in the top of the 14th, Eric Bruntlett sent a ball over the left field fence to make it 4-1 Astros.

Closer Brad Lidge worked a scoreless 14th for Houston to get the save.

The Nationals and Braves both have the day off today before starting a crucial three game series in Atlanta that will break up this first place tie in the NL East.

Livan Hernandez (12-4, 3.44 ERA, throws right), who was so frustrated after his last start that he contemplated leaving the team to have surgery on his knee, has calmed down and will pitch against John Smoltz (11-5, 2.64 ERA, throws right) on Tuesday night at 7:35.

MLB: Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6, Orioles 2 (July 24)

WP: Casey Fossum (5-8)
LP: Erik Bedard (5-2)

BAL: 50-47 (3rd in AL East, 3.5 behind Boston, 2 behind New York, 1.5 ahead of Toronto)

Not even Erik Bedard could help the Orioles snap out of their funk, as the team dropped its fifth game in a row on Sunday and were swept by the Major League's worst team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The return to mediocrity has been rough for the Orioles, with the offense that was expected to score so many runs this season faltering. They have only managed more than three runs once in the past eight games. Meanwhile, the pitching staff has held up their end but has not been rewarded with wins.

Sunday was no different, with Erik Bedard throwing six innings in his second game after coming off the disabled list, giving up three runs.

Todd Byrdak gave up one run and Jason Grimsley gave up two to round out Tampa's scoring, while the Orioles only managed two runs on Casey Fossum that came on solo homers from Sal Fasano (9) and Sammy Sosa (11).

Now the Orioles return home after the 10 game road trip in which they went 3-7 and dropped to only three games over .500. The schedule doesn't get any easier, as the Birds will face the Rangers and White Sox in the seven game homestand.

The Orioles do hope to get a boost from the return of star catcher Javy Lopez, who has been on the disabled list for over two months.

Tonight, the O's send Daniel Cabrera (8-7, 4.64 ERA, throws right) to the mound against Joaquin Benoit (1-1, 2.32 ERA, throws right). Cabrera has been solid in his last four outings (three wins and a no-decision), giving up only five earned runs in 25.1 innings (a 1.79 ERA in that span).

Benoit has been great for the Rangers out of the bullpen this season, but in his only start (July 20 against the Yankees), he gave up six runs in five innings and watched his ERA balloon from 0.69 to 2.32. Benoit hasn't pitched more than five innings in any game this season.

MLB: Nationals 4, Houston Astros 2 (July 23)

WP: Tony Armas Jr. (5-4)
LP: Brandon Backe (8-7)
S: Chad Cordero (34)

WAS: 55-43 (1st in NL East, tied with Atlanta)

The Nationals managed to maintain their first place tie with Atlanta by beating the Astros on Saturday.

Veteran Carlos Baerga led the Nationals offense with a bases-loaded double in the first inning that scored three runs, and that was all Tony Armas Jr. and the Nats bullpen would need.

Armas threw seven innings of one-hit ball, giving up two runs.

Chad Cordero worked the ninth, giving up two hits and making it interesting before striking out Mike Lamb and getting Jose Vizcaino to fly out to end the game. It was Cordero's 34th save, and his ERA now is a miniscule 1.05.

On Sunday, John Patterson (4-2, throws right) started for the Nationals against Wandy Rodriguez (5-4, throws left).

MLB: Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3, Orioles 2 (July 23)

WP: Scott Kazmir (5-7)
LP: Sidney Ponson (7-9)

BAL: 50-46 (3rd in AL East, 3.5 behind Boston, 1 behind New York, 1.5 ahead of Toronto)

On the day that the Orioles agreed to send Sidney Ponson to the Padres (with thousands of Orioles fans offering to help him pack), the right-hander still had to pitch.

While Phil Nevin waited to decide whether to waive his limited no-trade clause (which says he can't be forced to go to Baltimore or any of seven other teams), the Orioles started their much-maligned Aruban pitcher for perhaps the last time. Surprisingly, it wasn't a disaster.

Ponson threw seven innings, scattering nine hits for three runs.

The O's offense, once again, failed to help support a decent pitching performance, only managing two runs on five hits, including a Miguel Tejada solo homer in the ninth inning. It was Tejada's 21st on the year.

Kazmir shut down the Orioles, only giving up one run on four hits in seven innings pitched.

It was the Orioles fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games.

For Sunday's game, top Orioles starter Erik Bedard (5-1, throws left) would go against Casey Fossum (4-8, throws left).

MLS: D.C. United 1, Los Angeles Galaxy 0 (July 23)

DC: 8-6-5 (3rd in East, 7 points behind Chicago)

The Los Angeles Galaxy hadn't lost a game at home until Freddy Adu's goal in stoppage time in the second half gave D.C. United a dramatic win.

Adu's shot from 20 feet out netted him just his second goal this season.

Throughout the game, D.C. stifled L.A. defensively, only allowing eight shots, two of which were on goal. D.C. had 13 shots, but they also only had two on goal. The difference is, of course, that one went in.

D.C. United now has off until Thursday, when they return home to play Real Salt Lake (4-11-4, 5th in West) at RFK Stadium. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

MLB: Orioles trade Ponson to Padres, Burnett deal off

UPDATE: Apparently the article on ESPN was a tease, because they have now updated it with information that Phil Nevin has a limited no-trade clause and has not yet accepted the deal. Baltimore is on his list of no-trade teams. Stay tuned.

After much shopping, with speculation of Sidney Ponson going to Texas and Tampa Bay, the right-hander has been shipped to San Diego in a trade for 1B Phil Nevin, ESPN reported.

According to ESPN, Ponson (7-8, 6.04 ERA) turned down a trade to Tampa Bay that would have sent reliever Trever Miller to the O's.

ESPN also said that this deal meant that the talks with Florida for A.J. Burnett have been "shelved," and the Marlins will now talk to the White Sox, Red Sox and Blue Jays instead. ESPN is also stating that the Orioles are shifting their attention to Jeff Weaver.

Ponson is making $8.5 million this year, while Nevin (who is 34) is making almost $9.5 million, so the deal is strange on a monetary standpoint.

But Nevin, who bats right-handed, will likely platoon with lefty-batting Rafael Palmeiro at first base. Nevin is only batting .262 this year with a .713 OPS, and his OPS only improves slightly against left-handed pitching (.730). However, Nevin's career OPS is .827, and in 2004 it was .860, so there is no pattern of decline.

Also, PETCO Park in San Diego (which opened in 2004) is a pitcher's park, so Nevin may find some better numbers in Baltimore. He currently has nine homers and 47 RBIs, but he showed in 2001 that he has power, hitting 41 homers and knocking in 126 runs.

The pitcher's park factor, obviously, should also work in Ponson's favor.

Ponson was supposed to start for the Orioles in their game at Tampa Bay tonight, and there is no word on who will replace him.

MLB: Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7, Orioles 5 (July 22)

WP: Seth McClung (1-5)
LP: Bruce Chen (7-6)
S: Danys Baez (18)

BAL: 50-45 (3rd in AL East, 2.5 behind Boston, 1 behind New York)
TB: 33-64 (5th in AL East, 20.5 behind Boston)

The Orioles looked to resurrect their season and make a push at first place in the American League East playing against the worst team in the league and one of the worst pitchers in the league, but Bruce Chen got pounded and they lost their fifth of the last six games.

Seth McClung, pitching for the Devil Rays, got his first win in two years despite giving up three runs in the first two innings. He ended up giving up four runs in five innings.

Bruce Chen gave up a five-run second inning that was capped off by an Aubrey Huff grand slam that put the Devil Rays ahead 6-3, and the Orioles would never recover. Chen gave up six runs on 4.1 innings.

Larry Bigbie, who has been in the middle of trade talks, went 3-for-4 for the Orioles with a home run.

The O's have another shot at the worst team in baseball tonight at 6:15 in Tampa, with Sidney Ponson (7-8, 6.04 ERA, throws right) going against Scott Kazmir (4-7, 4.33 ERA, throws left).

Ponson has been in recent trade talks himself, as the Orioles apparently are looking to dump him so they can take on salary, which would make the Orioles able to take Mike Lowell in a deal for A.J. Burnett.

MLB: Houston Astros 14, Nationals 1 (July 22)

WP: Roger Clemens (8-4)
LP: Ryan Drese (3-3)

WAS: 54-43 (1st in NL East, tied with Atlanta, 4 ahead of New York)
HOU: 50-46 (2nd in NL Central, 12 behind St. Louis)

The Houston Astros took advantage of Ryan Drese and Sunny Kim to pump up their run support for their star pitcher, Roger Clemens.

Clemens threw six innings of three-hit, shutout ball while Drese six runs (five earned) in 6.1 innings and Kim gave up eight runs in 1.2 innings.

The Astros jumped out to a two-run lead in the top of the first on a Morgan Ensberg two-run homer and never looked back, scoring 12 times before the Nats got on the board. Jason Lane went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and Mike Lamb added a pinch hit three-run homer to put the Nationals away.

Luckily for the Nationals, the Braves lost to Arizona, 6-5, so Washington is still in a tie for first place, despite the awful performance.

Game three of the four game series is tonight at 7:05 at RFK. Tony Armas Jr. (4-4, 4.96 ERA, throws right) will pitch against Brandon Backe (8-6, 4.87 ERA, throws right).

Friday, July 22, 2005

MLB: Houston Astros 3, Nationals 2 (July 21)

WP: Roy Oswalt (13-8)
LP: Esteban Loaiza (6-6)
S: Brad Lidge (22)

WAS: 54-42 (1st in NL East, tied with Atlanta, 4.5 ahead of New York)
HOU: 49-46 (2nd in NL Central, 12 behind St. Louis)

With their 11th loss in 15 games, and their sixth straight loss in one-run games, the Nationals have fallen into a tie with the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East.

Roy Oswalt did it all for the Astros last night, throwing eight scoreless innings, hitting an RBI single and pushing home another run when reaching on a fielding error.

The Nationals were down 3-0 in the ninth when Oswalt was replaced by closer Brad Lidge. With one out, Preston Wilson smacked a two-run homer over the left field fence, but Lidge managed to retire Brad Wilkerson and Brian Schneider to end the comeback and the game.

The Nats look to keep their run at the top of the NL East from ending when they play the second game of this four game series at 7:05 p.m. at RFK. They have a tough challenge in facing the Rocket, Roger Clemens (7-4, 1.47 ERA, throws right). For the Nationals, Ryan Drese (3-2, 3.44 ERA, throws right) will pitch with the hope that the Astros will continue their complete lack of run support for Clemens.

The Braves had last night off and open a series tonight at Arizona.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

WNBA: Mystics 70, Houston Comets 65 (July 21)

Tonight, the Nationals play the Houston Astros, but as a precursor, the WNBA's Mystics took on the Houston Comets to end their five game road trip.

Alana Beard led the team, scoring 16 points and adding eight rebounds and seven assists while DeLisha Milton-Jones was solid again, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight boards.

The Mystics led 43-36 at the half after shooting an amazing 60 percent from the floor and held on to the lead in the second half to finish out the win.

Washington completed their road trip 3-2 after losing two of the first three games. The team is now 11-10 and has strengthened their grip on third place in the East and a likely playoff spot (the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs). The Mystics are a full game ahead of fourth place New York and 1.5 behind second place Indiana with 13 games to go.

The Mystics return home (at long last) to take on the same Comets team on Tuesday, July 26 at 11:30 a.m.

NBA: Wizards agree to terms with guard Antonio Daniels

ESPN is reporting that the Wizards have reached an agreement that would bring 6-foot-4 free agent guard Antonio Daniels to Washington.

Daniels averaged over 11 points and four assists in 27 minutes per game last season to help the Seattle SuperSonics to a 50-32 record and the playoffs.

Daniels will combine with Caron Butler, whom the Wizards recently got from the Lakers in the Kwame Brown trade, to fill the void left by Larry Hughes. That means that there may be no space on the roster for former Maryland standouts Juan Dixon and Steve Blake. (Dixon is an unrestricted free agent, while Blake is a restricted free agent.)

The Washington Post reported that Dixon had been in talks with Portland, Miami, Indiana and Cleveland, and that Dixon and Blake both expressed interest in going to teams where they could get more playing time.

The Wizards now have five guards (Gilbert Arenas and Chucky Atkins at the point, Daniels, Butler and Jarvis Hayes at the two), which would mean almost no playing time for Blake and Dixon.

Washington had been trying to sign Donyell Marshall, but he (like Larry Hughes), opted for Cleveland instead.

MLB: Javy Lopez gets two hits in first rehab game

In the first game of his rehab assignment in Bowie, Javy Lopez went 2-for-5 and knocked in the winning run playing as the designated hitter.

After the game, Lopez said "the hand feels great," according to The (Baltimore) Sun. "My hand was hurting a little in batting practice, but once the game started, it was almost pain-free."

Lopez could return as soon as Monday for the beginning of the Orioles seven-game homestand. The O's will play four against Texas and three against the White Sox.

MLS: D.C. United 1, Kansas City Wizards 1 (July 20)

Just 11 days and two games after losing to the Kansas City Wizards 1-0, D.C. United faced the same team and earned a 1-1 tie. The Wizards are directly ahead of D.C. in the Eastern standings.

D.C. United (7-6-5) got their lone goal from Joshua Gros when he kicked a shot off of defender Nick Garcia's leg and past the goalkeeper to put D.C. up 1-0 in the 44th minute.

In the second half, Scott Sealy scored in the 59th minute to even up the match at one, and there would be no more scoring.

D.C. United plays again on Saturday at 4 p.m. when the go to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy. The two teams haven't met since July of last season, when they played to a 1-1 tie.

MLB: Colorado Rockies 3, Nationals 2 (July 20)

WP: Jason Jennings (6-9)
LP: Livan Hernandez (12-4)
S: Brian Fuentes (14)

WAS: 54-41 (1st in NL East, 0.5 ahead of Atlanta)
COL: 33-60 (5th in NL West, 16 behind San Diego)

The Nationals are still in first place, but things may be starting to fall apart.

After a fairy tale of a first half in which the pitching held the team together and the hitting squeaked out one-run wins, the one-run wins have started going the other way.

With their grip loosening on the National League East lead, the Nats dropped two out of three in a series against the Colorado Rockies, the NL's worst team.

Yesterday, Washington led 2-0 after three innings. An RBI double by Jose Vidro and a sacrifice fly by Jamey Carroll staked the Nats out to a lead, but they could not hold it.

In the fifth, Matt Holliday hit an RBI double to cut the lead in half, and J.D. Closser hit a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Rockies the lead. That would be all of the scoring.

The Nationals have now lost five straight one-run games.

After the game, Livan Hernandez said he was angry about something that he would reveal at the end of the season, the Associated Press reported. "I'm not happy for three years. After the season, I'm going to tell you," he said. Hernandez even went as far as to say that his season may be over, which would be devastating to the Nationals chances of winning the division. "t's 99.9 percent I'm not going to pitch no more," he said.

The Washington Post reported that Livan Hernandez has been bothered by an ailing knee, and that he is considering having knee surgery to fix it. The article also pointed out that Hernandez was back and forth, saying that his knee was OK and that he wasn't going to leave his team. "You know I would never quit. Never," he said.

The Nats will try to put all this behind them as the Houston Astros come to RFK for a four game series beginning tonight at 7:05. Esteban Loaiza (6-5, 3.62 ERA, throws right) looks for his fifth straight win for the Nationals. He will face the dominant Roy Oswalt(12-8, 2.54 ERA, throws right), who had won six straight before losing to St. Louis on July 16.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

MLB: Minnesota Twins 3, Orioles 2 (July 20)

WP: Joe Nathan (2-3)
LP: Jason Grimsley (0-1)

BAL: 50-44 (3rd in AL East, 2 behind Boston, 1 behind New York)
MIN: 51-42 (2nd in AL Central, 11.5 behind Chicago)

The Orioles have started the second half on the wrong foot.

Trade talks continue with no resolution and the Orioles have suffered multiple heartbreaking defeats at the hands of the Mariners and Twins.

Today, the Orioles got a two run lead in the fourth on a Rafael Palmeiro two-run homer but couldn't add any insurance, eventually losing in the ninth inning on a Jacque Jones walkoff homer.

The loss is just another in a series of missed opportunities, and with the A.J. Burnett deal seemingly pushing closer and closer to a stalemate (which, according to The Washington Post, is the doing of Peter Angelos), the biggest one may be yet to come.

While the focus of the trade talks has been pitching, it has been the Orioles bats that have let them down since the All-Star break. The O's have only scored 12 runs in their last five games (an average of 2.4 per game), and they have lost four of those.

They are now two games behind Boston because the Red Sox trampled the Devil Rays this afternoon, 9-4.

The O's now get a day off before facing lowly Tampa Bay for a three game set to end this road trip. The opener is at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, with Bruce Chen (7-5, 3.76 ERA, throws left) set to face Seth McClung (0-5, 7.05 ERA, throws right), but that could potentially change if Orioles management decides to pull the trigger on this trade. Facing McClung, hopefully, will resurrect the Oriole bats.

MLB: Javy Lopez to start rehab assignment in Bowie

The Washington Post reported today that the Orioles will send Javy Lopez to AA Bowie for a four game rehab assignment before returning to the Orioles.

Lopez is expected to be back with the Orioles for the series starting Monday, July 25, against the Texas Rangers. The Post said that he will likely DH in two of his games with Bowie and catch in the other two.

He has been out since a foul ball broke his hand while he was catching in a game on May 25, and the O's have gone 20-27 with Lopez on the DL.

MLB: Minnesota Twins 4, Orioles 3 (July 19)

WP: Jesse Crain (9-1)
LP: B.J. Ryan (1-3)

BAL: 50-43 (3rd in AL East, 1 behind Boston, 0.5 behind New York)
MIN: 50-42 (2nd in AL Central, 12 behind Chicago)

B.J. Ryan blew his second save in as many days and the Orioles couldn't capitalize on an opportunity to jump into first place in the American League East, falling to the Twins, 4-3.

With trade winds swirling around the Orioles clubhouse, the team continues to struggle to capitalize on opportunities, not only in the standings, but also on the field.

With the bases loaded and one out in the first inning and a run already in, B.J. Surhoff came up and grounded into an inning-ending double play. (I guess it was a bad night for B.J.'s, if there has ever been such a thing.)

Then, with a 3-2 lead, Ryan came in and failed to record the save in a sloppy ninth inning defensively.

With one out, Joe Mauer walked, and when he attempted to steal second while Shannon Steward struck out, catcher Eli Whiteside hurled a throw well over everyone's heads and into the outfield, allowing Mauer to move to third. With two outs and a man on third, Ryan threw a wild pitch and Mauer scored to tie the game.

A walk and a single later, there were men on first and third for Jacque Jones. Jones hit a grounder up the middle that Tejada ranged to his left to field, and made a solid off-balance throw on one hop to Rafael Palmeiro. But Palmeiro couldn't scoop the throw and the winning run scored. The play was ruled a hit.

With Boston's win over Tampa Bay and New York's loss to Texas, the Orioles are back in third place, exactly where they were two days ago.

The O's play the rubber match of this three game set this afternoon at 1:10. Rodrigo Lopez (9-5, 4.50 ERA, throws right) will look to continue his solid pitching for the Birds and grab his third straight win when he goes against Minnesota's Brad Radke (6-9, 4.00 ERA, throws right). Radke has lost five of six, but his last start was a complete game against the Angels in which he gave up two earned runs and took the loss. He hasn't given up more than four runs in the six game stretch.

MLB: Nationals 4, Colorado Rockies 0 (July 19)

WP: John Patterson (4-2)
LP: Shawn Chacon (1-6)
S: Chad Cordero (33)

WAS: 54-40 (1st in NL East, 1.5 ahead of Atlanta)
COL: 32-60 (5th in NL West, 17 behind San Diego)

The Nationals got a much-needed win over the terrible Rockies last night, doing all their scoring in the second and eighth innings while the Rockies did all their scoring never.

Ryan Church and Jamey Carroll had RBIs in the second and Brian Schneider and Preston Wilson added RBIs in the eighth to score the Nats' four runs.

John Patterson pitched eight innings of three-hit ball to lower his ERA to 2.69. Mike Stanton started the ninth and gave up a hit to the only batter he faced before Chad Cordero came in to get his 33rd save.

Shawn Chacon, who has been mentioned in trade talks as someone who could help a team in a pennant race, gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings to drop his win-loss record to a pennant-race-worthy 1-6.

The Braves lost to the Giants, 5-4, so the Nationals once again have a 1.5 game lead in the National League East.

The rubber match of the three game set between the Nats and Rocks comes tonight at 7:05 at RFK. The Nationals send ace Livan Hernandez (12-3, 3.41 ERA, throws right) to the hill against another guy who is continuously mentioned as a player who could help a contending team, Jason Jennings (5-9, 5.08 ERA, throws right).

WNBA: Mystics 74, Los Angeles Sparks 68 (July 19)

The Mystics got back to .500 with their win over the Sparks yesterday afternoon, led by DeLisha Milton-Jones' 15 points and seven boards.

Milton-Jones came to the Mystics from the Sparks in a trade for Chamique Holdsclaw after Holdsclaw left the team to deal with depression late in the season with the Mystics close to reaching the playoffs. (Without Holdsclaw, Alana Beard stepped up and the Mystics won five of their last six games to squeak into the postseason.)

Holdsclaw led all scorers, putting in 17 points against her former team, but it was not enough to win.

Alana Beard and Chasity Melvin each added 14 points for the Mystics, who now have sole possession of third place in the East because the New York Liberty lost to the Seattle Storm, 87-78, last night.

The Associated Press reported that it was the first time the Mystics had ever won in Los Angeles.

The Mystics look to go above .500 for the road trip and the season when they end their five game road trip Friday at 1 p.m. in Houston, where they will face the Comets. The Comets are 12-7 and in second place in the West.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MLB: Still no Burnett trade for Orioles

Orioles fans continue to anxiously await confirmation of a trade that would bring A.J. Burnett to Baltimore, but there is still no word.

Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News has reported that the Pirates are now in the mix, trying to make it a three team deal that would send Daryle Ward to the Orioles while Pirates pitcher Mark Redman would go to the Marlins.

The Washington Post reported that Steve Kline and Steve Reed could be included in the deal.

Burnett was scheduled to pitch for Florida tonight, and there is no word on whether or not that will happen.

Stay tuned.

MLB: Orioles 3, Minnesota Twins 2 (11 innings, July 18)

WP: Jorge Julio (3-2)
LP: Juan Rincon (4-3)

BAL: 50-42 (2nd in AL East, 0.5 behind New York, tied with Boston)
MIN: 49-42 (2nd in AL Central, 13 behind Chicago)

A pair of homers from players in long home run droughts lifted the Orioles back into the Wild Card lead and second place in the AL East.

The Birds got homers from Sammy Sosa and Miguel Tejada, neither of whom had homered since they both did on June 18th, to take a 3-2 win in 11 innings from the Twins.

Sosa's two-run shot gave the O's a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, but the Twins came back with a run in the seventh and another in the ninth to send it to extra frames.

In the top of the 11th inning with two outs, Tejada rocked a Juan Rincon offering about 25 rows deep in the left-center field stands.

Jorge Julio, who came into the game in the 10th, held the lead in the bottom of the 11th to get the win.

The Red Sox lost 3-1 to Tampa Bay and the Yankees won an 11-10 barn burner against Texas, so the American League East saw a complete shakeup last night. The Yankees are now in first, a half game ahead of both Boston and Baltimore. The Wild Card standings are also on the move, since the Twins and Yankees were previously tied for first. Now Boston and Baltimore are tied for first.

The Orioles continue their three game set against Minnesota tonight at 8:05, sending red-hot Daniel Cabrera (8-7, 4.70 ERA, throws right) to the mound to face Kyle Lohse (7-8, 4.42 ERA, throws right). Cabrera has won his last three starts, giving up just four runs over 20 innings.

MLB: Colorado Rockies 5, Nationals 4 (July 18)

WP: Jose Acevedo (1-0)
LP: Chad Cordero (2-2)
S: Brian Fuentes (13)

WAS: 53-40 (1st in NL East, 0.5 ahead of Atlanta)
COL: 32-59 (5th in NL West, 17 behind San Diego)

The Nationals, who had been so dominant in one-run games in the first half of the season, have lost five of their last six one-run games and watched their lead dwindle to 0.5 games over the Atlanta Braves.

Colorado, who has the worst overall record and the worst road record in the National League, took a sloppy game on the road over the first place Nationals.

Each team logged three errors in the game, which was tied going into the ninth, and it was a fielding error by 3B Vinny Castilla that allowed the winning run to score.

With Eddy Garabito on second after a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt, Aaron Miles hit a routine grounder that got past Castilla and scored Garabito.

Game two of the three game series at RFK is tonight at 7:05, with John Patterson (3-2, 2.92 ERA, throws right) going against Shawn Chacon (1-5, 4.30 ERA, throws right).

Atlanta plays the Giants tonight.

Monday, July 18, 2005

MLB: Orioles trade for A.J. Burnett could come today

The (Baltimore) Sun is reporting that the Orioles and Florida Marlins are close to completing a six player trade that would land highly-coveted pitcher A.J. Burnett in an Orioles uniform.

In Florida, the Miami Herald is reporting that "sources said it is almost certain Burnett won't be making his next scheduled start with the Marlins on Tuesday," which means the deal would come today or tomorrow.

According to The Sun, The Orioles would receive:
SP A.J. Burnett (5-6, 3.64 ERA, throws right)
3B Mike Lowell (.227 AVG, 4 HR, 36 RBI)
OF Eric Reed (in minors)

And the Marlins would get:
RP Jorge Julio (2-2, 4.14 ERA, throws right)
OF Larry Bigbie (.257 AVG, 4 HR, 19 RBI)
SP Hayden Penn (2-2, 6.75 ERA, throws right, now in minors)

Conventional wisdom says that the Orioles would likely move right-handed hitting Lowell to first base where he would platoon with left-handed hitting Rafael Palmeiro. Despite the poor overall numbers, Lowell is batting .313 with a .905 OPS against lefty pitchers, while Palmeiro is hitting .297 with a .908 OPS against righties.

The move would also likely mean a permanent spot in left field for B.J. Surhoff, unless Lowell or Sammy Sosa is moved to the outfield.

Conventional wisdom also suggests that Sidney Ponson would be sent to the bullpen, as he has lost four consecutive decisions and has not pitched well.

The Orioles have said that they would like to secure Burnett to a long-term contract (supposedly a four or five year deal worth nine to 10 million a year, according to teh Miami Herald) before finalizing a trade.

Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News says that the move would be extremely risky for the O's, and he goes as far as to say that Orioles co-general managers Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan "would be putting their jobs at risk" because they are trading Major League talent and adding salary at the same time.

He also mentions in his column that lefty reliever Steve Kline might be included in the deal.

Outfielder Juan Encarnacion had previously been assumed to be in the deal instead of Mike Lowell, but with Lowell's struggles this season and his high salary (he is signed for $18 million over the next two seasons, according to The Sun) they apparently decided to see if they could push him on someone else. The Orioles' willingness to take Lowell has supposedly made them the front-runner.

MLB: Seattle Mariners 8, Orioles 2 (July 17)

WP: Gil Meche (10-6)
LP: Sidney Ponson (7-8)

BAL: 49-42 (3rd in AL East, 1 behind Boston, 0.5 behind New York, 4.5 ahead of Toronto)
SEA: 41-50 (4th in AL East, 13.5 behind Los Angeles)

After taking the first two games of the four game set against the Mariners, the Orioles only earned a series split.

Sidney Ponson looked excellent for the Orioles for five innings before imploding and giving up five runs in the sixth. The Mariners then piled on for two more runs (both unearned) on Todd Williams in the seventh and another run on Steve Kline in the eighth.

A night after leaving seven men in scoring position in a 3-2 loss, the Orioles left five men in scoring position.

Rafael Palmeiro gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the second by leading off the inning with a homerun, but the Orioles wouldn't add any more runs until the ninth inning.

Ponson has now lost four straight decisions (over five starts), and hasn't given up fewer than four runs during that span, totaling 26 runs in 25.2 innings.

The loss, combined with the Yankees beating the Red Sox 5-3, knocked the Orioles to third place in the AL East, a game behind Boston for first and 0.5 behind New York for second. The loss also knocked the Orioles to third in the Wild Card race, a half game behind Minnesota, who the Orioles open a three game series with tonight, and New York.

The O's continue their 10 game road trip when they head to Minnesota tonight for an 8:05 game. Erik Bedard (5-1, 2.08 ERA, throws left) is back for the Orioles after a two month absence, which should be good news for the Orioles (look at those numbers!). Bedard had been the Orioles' best pitcher and won five straight decisions before straining his MCL in late May. He faces Carlos Silva (7-3, 3.53 ERA, throws right), who has won four straight decisions.

Bedard's return is a big step for the Orioles toward getting healthy. Javy Lopez is now the only major player on the team on the disabled list. Stats, Inc. reported that Lopez, who broke his hand in late May, is still at least a week away from returning.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers 5, Nationals 3 (July 17)

WP: Tomo Ohka (6-4)
LP: Ryan Drese (7-8)
S: Derrick Turnbow (19)

WAS: 53-39 (1st in NL East, 1.5 ahead of Atlanta)
MIL: 45-47 (3rd in NL Central, 14.5 behind St. Louis)

The Nationals dropped three of four to the Brewers this weekend, losing the final game of the series 5-3.

Tomo Ohka, who was a National at the start of the season before a confrontation on the mound with manager Frank Robinson that earned him a one-way trip to Milwaukee (the Nats got Junior Spivey in return), pitched gave up three runs on four hits in seven innings to beat his former team.

The Nats took an early 1-0 lead on a first inning homer from Jose Guillen, but Ryan Drese gave up a pair of runs in the bottom half on a Geoff Jenkins double. Milwaukee would never relinquish the lead, adding three more in the third to go up 5-1.

Washington got back within two in the seventh when Brian Schneider hit a double that scored Jose Guillen and Preston Wilson, but the rally ended there and the Nats lost.

Atlanta lost 8-1 to the Mets, so the Nationals' lead in the NL East remains 1.5 games.

The Nationals return home and open a three game series tonight at 7:05 against the team that they just made a trade with, the Colorado Rockies. Tony Armas Jr. (4-4, 4.97 ERA, throws right) will face Byung-Hyun Kim (2-7, 5.46 ERA, throws right). The Nats have only won three of their last 11 games.

MLB: Seattle Mariners 3, Orioles 2 (July 16)

WP: J.J. Putz (2-3)
LP: Chris Ray (0-1)

BAL: 49-41 (2nd in AL East, 1 behind Boston, 0.5 ahead of New York)
SEA: 40-50 (4th in AL East, 13.5 behind Los Angeles)

The Orioles had their four game winning streak snapped as they left seven men in scoring position and lost in the ninth inning after a crucial throwing error by rookie pitcher Chris Ray.

Jamie Moyer and Bruce Chen dueled for 8 innings, each giving up only two runs, but J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless ninth for the Mariners, allowing his team to win it with a game-ending run.

In the ninth, Chris Ray (who came in and struck out Richie Sexson with two outs and a man on second in the eighth) gave up a leadoff single to Adrian Beltre, who went to third when Ray threw Willie Bloomquist's slow roller to the mound over the head of 1B Rafael Palmeiro. Mike Morse followed with a single to score the unearned run that ended the game.

The Yankees beating the Red Sox meant that the O's remained a game out of first, but were only 0.5 ahead of third-place New York.

The Orioles still had a chance to win the series, sending Sidney Ponson to the mound against Gil Meche on Sunday afternoon.

WNBA: Sacramento Monarchs 73, Mystics 59 (July 16)

The Mystics dropped their second game in as many nights to Western opponents, losing by 14 to the Sacramento Monarchs.

Alana Beard once again led the Mystics in scoring with 15 points, but it wasn't enough against 17 each from Sacramento's front court tandem of Nicole Powell and Yolanda Griffith.

The Mystics led 35-34 at the half, but were blown out by the Monarchs in the second.

Washington is now 9-10 and in fourth place in the East.

The fourth game of Washington's five game road trip is at 3 p.m. on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Sparks.

MLB: Nationals 5, Milwaukee Brewers 3 (July 16)

WP: Esteban Loaiza (6-5)
LP: Ricky Bottalico (2-2)
S: Chad Cordero (32)

WAS: 53-38 (1st in NL East, 1.5 ahead of Atlanta)
MIL: 44-47 (4th in NL Central, 14.5 behind St. Louis)

Esteban Loaiza earned his fourth straight win for the Nationals on Saturday by going six innings and giving up three runs in a 5-3 win over the Brewers. Gary Majewski, Mike Stanton and Chad Cordero each pitched an inning of scoreless relief to hold the lead.

Just a day after balking in the winning run in the 10th inning on a questionable call, Stanton pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Nationals.

Vinny Castilla went 2-3 for the Nats, hitting a pair of doubles that both scored Preston Wilson. Jose Vidro homered, and Jose Guillen had the game-winning RBIs on a deep single that scored Carlos Baerga and Ryan Church to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning.

The Nats looked for a split in the four game series on Sunday, sending Ryan Drese to face former National Tomo Ohka.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Opinion: Skip Bayless says Palmeiro "isn't Hall-worthy"

For some assinine and poorly explained reason, Skip Bayless used his Page 2 space to claim that Rafael Palmeiro, despite his milestone accomplishments and elite company, wouldn't be in his Hall of Fame.

Bayless has made a name for himself by being a loudmouth contradictory who brings no legitimate reasoning to his arguments, opting instead for the I'm-yelling-it-so-it-must-be-right approach. This time, he took aim at Palmeiro, saying that Raffy isn't a "game-changing player" and was never "one of the dominant players of his era." Because of this, Skip argues that Palmeiro shouldn't be in the Hall. "It's not the Hall of Very Good," he says. Well, moron, it's not the "Hall of Great" or the "Hall of Dominant" either. It's the Hall of Fame.

Fame, according to one of my favorite sites,, means "great renown." Palmeiro, over the course of his career, has definitely been of "great renown."

If Bayless wants to make an argument that the Hall should be more exclusive, I would be more receptive. But he picked the wrong subject on which to make that point. Palmeiro is, clearly and unequivocally, a Hall of Famer.

Everything that needed to be said on this issue was said extremely well by SC at Camden Chat. Go check out his post.

MLB: Orioles 6, Seattle Mariners 3 (July 15)

WP: Rodrigo Lopez (9-5)
LP: Joel Pineiro (3-5)
S: B.J. Ryan (21)

BAL: 49-40 (2nd in AL East, 1 behind Boston, 1.5 ahead of New York)
SEA: 39-50 (4th in AL West, 14.5 behind Los Angeles)

It was Rafael Palmeiro's big night, and the Orioles wouldn't lose on the historic occasion.

The O's got started quickly with a solo homer from Melvin Mora in the first and two runs in the second on a Brian Roberts RBI groundout and a Sammy Sosa infield hit.

Palmeiro's 3,000th hit came in the fifth inning, an RBI double that scored Melvin Mora and gave the Orioles a 4-1 lead. Jay Gibbons promptly knocked in Palmeiro with another double to make it 5-1.

O's starter Rodrigo Lopez looked shaky, but managed to go 5.1 innings giving up three runs and kept the team ahead, and the bullpen did the rest.

Rookie Chris Ray (and his 0.71 ERA) acted as setup man and retired all three Mariners in the eighth before B.J. Ryan came in to close and retired all three batters he faced, also.

In a great comeback story, Jason Grimsley returned to the O's lineup less than nine months after having Tommy John surgery and struck out Mike Morse with a man on third. Grimsley wasn't expected to be back before September.

The Red Sox absolutely clobbered the Yankees, who were starting the apparently hapless Tim Redding (who said after being called up from Triple-A, "I could die today a happy man putting the Yankee uniform on for the first time"). He then did his favorite team proud by giving up six runs in one-plus innings to the rival Red Sox. The Sox went on to win 17-1. That result means the Orioles remain one game behind Boston, but now are up 1.5 on New York.

The Orioles play game three of this four game series tonight at 10:05. Bruce Chen (7-5, 3.87 ERA, throws left) hopes to continue his successful season for the Orioles, and he faces former Oriole Jamie Moyer (8-3, 4.64 ERA, throws left).

WNBA: Phoenix Mercury 77, Mystics 66 (July 15)

Even without Diana Taurasi in the lineup for the Mercury, they still had enough to beat the Mystics.

Penny Taylor scored 31 points to single-handedly dominate Washington, who fell to 9-9 on the season.

Alana Beard led the Mystics in scoring with 16.

Luckily, the New York Liberty also lost, so the Mystics are still tied for third in the East.

The Mystics get another chance against a Western opponent tonight, as they play the Sacramento Monarchs at 10:00.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers 4, Nationals 3 (10 innings, July 15)

WP: Julio Santana (2-3)
LP: Luis Ayala (7-6)

WAS: 52-38 (1st in NL East, 1.5 ahead of Atlanta)
MIL: 44-46 (4th in NL Central, 13.5 behind St. Louis)

The Nationals struggles continued in an odd way last night.

The Nats and Brewers played to a 3-3 tie for nine innings, with both teams scoring a pair of runs in the first inning. Preston Wilson gave Washington the lead in the fifth with an RBI double that scored Jose Vidro, but the Brewers tied it on a Carlos Lee homer in the eighth.

In the bottom of the tenth, manager Frank Robinson brought in Mike Stanton for his Nationals debut with men on first and third. Stanton, who has a good pickoff move, used it to pick off Rickie Weeks from first, but the first base umpire said Stanton stepped toward home before throwing to first, ruling it a balk that forced in the winning run. Stanton did not appear to have stepped toward home.

To make matters worse, the Braves beat the Mets 2-1 and are now only 1.5 games behind the Nats.

The Nationals play game three of the four game set with the Brewers tonight at 7:05. Esteban Loaiza (5-5, 3.57 ERA, throws right) goes for the Nationals against Chris Capuano (10-6, 3.63 ERA, throws left).

MLS: D.C. United 3, San Jose Earthquakes 0 (July 15)

Christian Gomez notched two goals for United in a win that moved them into a tie for third place in the East. They are now 7-6-4 on the year.

Jaime Moreno, who missed the last game with an ankle sprain, returned last night and contributed with an assist. He did seem to be favoring the ankle slightly and was walking instead of running late in the game.

San Jose hadn't taken a loss in their last seven matches heading into the game.

Friday, July 15, 2005

MLB: Palmeiro hits number 3,000!

In the 5th inning of the Orioles-Mariners game tonight, Rafael Palmeiro laced a double down the left field line (funny, because teams have been putting the shift on him all year playing him to hit it to the right) to get hit number 3,000 on his career.

He is the 26th player in history to collect 3,000 hits, and only the fourth to have 3,000 hits and 500 homeruns.

The reception for him was very warm in Seattle's Safeco Field, with a big "Congratulations" message on the scoreboard, a long ovation from the fans, and a pause long enough to allow all the Orioles players and coaches to come to second base from the dugout and bullpen and share hugs and congratulatory messages with Raffy. Even Joel Pineiro, the Mariners' pitcher who surrendered the hit, offered his congratulations.

After being greeted by most of his teammates, Palmeiro picked up his son Preston, who was watching from the dugout, and gave him a long hug.

It was nice to see Palmeiro get the hit in front of a appreciative (and good-sized) crowd in Seattle. A few weeks ago it seemed as though Palmeiro might have to wait until a series in Minnesota to get the hit, which, if you remember, is where Cal Ripken Jr. got his 3,000th hit in 2000. Twins fans gave Ripken a standing ovation, but it seemed kind of anti-climactic because there weren't even 20,000 people at the game.

Palmeiro's hit scored Melvin Mora to give the Orioles a 4-1 lead, and Jay Gibbons knocked Palmeiro home in the next at bat with a double of his own to make it 5-1.

Raffy is now tied with Roberto Clemente for 25th on the all-time hits list.

Feature: Lots of local sports tonight.

If, for some reason, you don't have any big plans on this Friday night, you might want to just park yourself in front of your television set with your remote in-hand because every in-season local team plays tonight.

Things kick off (literally) at 7:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet with D.C. United hosting the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS action at RFK. Don't miss your chance to see the Nationals' infield covered in temporary turf and the mound shaved down so that there isn't a big lump in the middle of the field (although that would be kind of fun to watch in its own way). D.C. is in fifth place in the East but could move all the way up to third with a win.

At 8:05 the Nationals look to snap out of their recent funk and strengthen their grip on the NL East when they play the Brewers in Milwaukee. The game will be on UPN 20.

At 10, the WNBA's Washington Mystics, who have won seven of their last ten games to get above .500 at 9-8, play the Mercury in Pheonix. The Mystics are currently tied for third in the East, but can move to second with a win and an Indiana Fever loss. The game, unfortunately, is not televised.

Then, at 10:05, the Orioles play on WB 54 and PAX 66, and you can watch future Hall of Famer Rafael Palmeiro go for his 3,000th career hit as the O's take on the Mariners in Seattle. Palmiero stands to be the 26th player ever to accomplish the feat, and only the fourth to collect 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

So if you don't have a hot date, don't feel too bad. Enjoy the games! Just close the blinds and turn out the lights first so the neighbors don't think you're at home all alone on a Friday night.

MLB: Orioles 5, Seattle Mariners 3 (July 14)

WP: Daniel Cabrera (8-7)
LP: Aaron Sele (6-9)
S: B.J. Ryan (20)

BAL: 48-40 (2nd in AL East, 1 behind Boston, 0.5 ahead of New York)
SEA: 39-49 (4th in AL West, 13.5 behind Los Angeles)

For those of you who didn't stay up late last night in hope of seeing Rafael Palmeiro's 3,000th hit, you'll have another chance tonight.

Palmeiro only got one of the two hits he needed, and he now stands at 2,999 career hits.

Despite the flurry of flashbulbs popping around Palmeiro during every at bat, the story last night was Daniel Cabrera, who threw eight innings of two-hit ball to get his third win in a row.

Cabrera was beat up a little bit early in the game, as Seattle scored three runs to go up 3-0 in the third inning. With men on first and second, Willie Bloomquist dumped a single in front of Jay Gibbons, who picked the ball up and fired an errant throw to third that got by Melvin Mora. Instead of having men on first and third and one run in, another run scored and Bloomquist moved all the way to third. In the next at bat, Cabrera threw a pitch that appeared to be fouled straight back by Mariners 2B Jose Lopez, but umpire Eric Cooper ruled that it was not touched by Lopez and Bloomquist scored from third.

After the disastrous inning, Cabrera composed himself and never faced more than three batters in an inning the rest of the game. The only other baserunner he allowed was Randy Winn on a walk, and Cabrera got Richie Sexson to ground into a double play to erase him.

The Orioles, on the other hand, came back with home run power, beginning with a two-run shot that Gibbons smashed in the top of the fourth right after Palmeiro collected his 2,999th hit. Sal Fasano then tied it in the fifth with a leadoff solo homer.

In the sixth, the Orioles got going when Gibbons singled to center and Luis Matos walked with one out. A wild pitch by Aaron Sele moved the runners to second and third, and Larry Bigbie gave the O's the lead with a sacrifice fly to left field that probably would have been a homer in Camden Yards.

Sammy Sosa, who was batting second in the lineup for Lee Mazzilli and had struck out three times already in the game, added an insurance run in the ninth with a sacrifice fly.

The O's brought in B.J. Ryan in the ninth to close things out, and he did so by striking out the side. In a twist of irony, Ryan struck out Sexton on a ball that appeared to be tipped (much like Cabrera's "wild pitch" in the third), but that the ump ruled a swing and a miss. The game ended when Fasano picked up the baseball and tagged Sexson out.

The O's and M's play game two of the four game set tonight at 10:05. Rodrigo Lopez (8-5, 4.47 ERA, throws right) looks for his second straight win after getting slammed for 10 runs (five earned) in three innings against the Yankees on July 5. Lopez turned it around and pitched eight innings of three-hit ball, giving up only one run, to beat the Red Sox on July 10.

Lopez will face Joel Pineiro (3-4, 5.44 ERA, throws right).

Palmeiro batted fifth last night but may get moved to fourth if Sosa is moved down in the order. That means there's a good chance he'll bat in the top of the first inning, so have your dessert ready and be prepared to watch the game from the very start.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers 4, Nationals 2 (July 14)

WP: Matt Wise (3-2)
LP: Gary Majewski (2-1)
S: Derrick Turnbow (18)

WAS: 52-37 (1st in NL East, 2.5 ahead of Atlanta)
MIL: 43-46 (4th in NL Central, 13.5 behind St. Louis)

Preston Wilson homered in his first Nationals at bat, but it wasn't enough to keep Washington from losing their third straight game. (They have now lost six of eight.)

Brewers catcher Damian Miller ended up being the game's hero, going 2-3 with three RBI, including a double that scored the winning runs.

Nationals starter John Patterson went six innings only giving up two runs, but he left with the game tied 2-2. With Gary Majewski pitching in the eighth, Miller smacked a double to deep center field that scored Geoff Jenkins and Russell Branyan. It was Jenkins who homered to tie the game at two in the sixth.

For Washington, Wilson hit a solo shot in the top of the second to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead, but they promptly gave up that lead in the bottom half on a Miller sacrifice fly.

Luckily for the Nats, the Braves fell to the Mets 6-3 at Shea Stadium, so Washington still leads the National League East by 2.5 games. The Nationals and Braves are both on a three game losing streak.

Milwaukee has now won three games in a row.

The Nats play the Brew Crew again tonight at 8:05 in the second game of the four game series in Milwaukee.

Nationals ace Livan Hernandez (12-3, 3.48 ERA, throws right) will start against Brewers ace Ben Sheets (5-6, 3.41 ERA, throws right).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

NHL: The deal is made! Pro hockey will return this season

The NHL owners and the players association have reached a deal that will allow hockey to resume in October 2005.

Official details have not yet been released, but it is being reported that players salaries will be hit hard.

To keep teams competitive -- and to keep owners making money -- there will be minimum and maximum salary caps. ESPN reported that the minimum will be between $22 million and $24.5 million, while the maximum will be between $37 million and $39.5 million. Also, all players' salaries will instantly be rolled back 24 percent.

However, the deal isn't all bad for the players. The league's minimum salary is said to be going from $175,000 to $400,000.

As for the draft, a rushed version will be held. The lottery reportedly will take place on July 21 and the actual draft will occur only nine days later.

The draft lottery is now set up where any team can get the first pick, which is huge with supposedly-sensational Sidney Crosby to be had for the winner. The system is set up where all teams start with three balls, then lose one for each playoff appearance over the last three years or if they have had a number one pick in the last four years. However, each team has to receive one ball. If you're counting at home, that means the Washington Capitals have their name in the drawing twice (no playoff appearances in the last three years, but they had last year's top pick).

The teams that have three balls in the lottery are the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

A massive free agent signing period is also in store, as ESPN reported that over 400 players are currently unclaimed, with many teams currently holding less than 10 players under contract. The Capitals only have four.

There is also a lot of speculation about rule changes, including a return to tag-up offsides, a no-touch icing rule, further limitation on goalie pad sizes, nets moved further back toward the wall, removing the center red line and not allowing goalies to play the puck behind the net.

The overtime structure will change, eliminating ties from the NHL game. Regulation ties will go to a five minute four-on-four sudden death overtime, followed by a three minute three-on-three sudden death overtime. If there is still no winner, games will be decided by a shootout.

Supposedly, more teams will be added to the already-two-month-long NHL playoffs, with 10 teams from each conference getting in instead of eight. The bottom four teams in each conference would then play preliminary best-of-three series to knock the fields down to eight.

According to ESPN, the deal came on the 301st day of the lockout. The NHL was the first North American sports league to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.

NBA: Wizards trade Kwame Brown to Lakers

After much speculation, the Wizards wasted no time in the sign-and-trade period in getting rid of F/C Kwame Brown.

The top pick in the 2001 draft had fallen out of favor with coach Eddie Jordan and Washington fans, culminating in a suspension from the team after missing a practice and game four of the Wizards' first round playoff series against the Bulls.

Brown averaged 7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game in the 2004-2005 season.

In return, the Wizards received SF Caron Butler and PG Chucky Atkins.

Butler, who the Wizards had been known to covet, averaged 15.5 points and just under 6 rebounds in 35.7 minutes per game last year for the Lakers.

Atkins (13.6 points, 4.4 assists in 35.4 minutes last season) fills somewhat of a hole for the Wizards, who have lost starting guard Larry Hughes to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Wizards reportedly offered a very similar deal to the one Hughes accepted from Cleveland.

The Wizards had been pursuing SG Cuttino Mobley to replace Hughes, but they couldn't match the offer that the Clippers gave.

MLB: Nationals trade with Rockies for Preston Wilson

In search of a big bat for the middle of their lineup, the Washington Nationals (sporting the least productive offense in the Majors) made a deal with the Rockies to get power hitting center fielder Preston Wilson. In return, the Nats sent pitcher Zach Day, outfielder J.J. Davis and a player to be named later or cash.

Wilson has 15 homers and 47 RBI for the Rockies, but is only batting .258. He was an All-Star in 2003 when he hit 36 homers and knocked in 141 runs. He has also been a strikeout machine, getting K'd at least 100 times in all of his full seasons, including 156 times in 1999 and 187 times in 2000.

Day, a 27-year-old who looked very promising at times, began the season as a starter but never found his groove and got sent to the bullpen. He hasn't played since breaking his wrist in late May, and now the Nationals have shipped him to the thin air and tiny field of Colorado, where his 6.75 ERA doesn't seem so bad.

Davis started the season with the Nationals but couldn't get his bat going (hitting .231) and got sent to the minors. The Rockies have optioned him to their Triple-A team in Colorado Springs.