Don't look now, but the Mets are undefeated

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Don't look now, but the Mets are undefeated

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The season is off to an unexpected start for the New York Mets. They're the ones getting big hits while their opponents make the crucial mistakes.Daniel Murphy singled home the winning run in the ninth inning and the undefeated Mets took advantage of a throwing error by reliever Henry Rodriguez to beat the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Monday night.Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his first major league homer for the Mets, who are 4-0 for the first time since 2007. After a surprising sweep of Atlanta, New York rallied from a three-run deficit before a crowd of 23,970. Several fans filed out chanting "Undefeated! Undefeated!""Everybody is excited. We know that it's a long year, but we want to show our fans that maybe we are better than everyone expects us to be," manager Terry Collins said. "It's never about the effort with these guys."Coming off three straight losing seasons since Citi Field opened, the Mets were projected by most to finish last in the NL East this year. But they did upgrade the bullpen last winter and they received another excellent effort Monday from a retooled unit that ranked 28th in the majors in 2011 with a 4.33 ERA.Miguel Batista got out of trouble in the sixth, Ramon Ramirez escaped a seventh-inning jam with a double-play ball and Jon Rauch (1-0) worked two hitless innings for his first win with New York. Mets relievers are 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA in 13 1-3 innings.Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter drew a leadoff walk from Rodriguez (0-1) in the ninth and Ruben Tejada sacrificed with two strikes. Rodriguez looked at second, then threw low to first and the ball got by second baseman Danny Espinosa."I'm strong, so sometimes I throw sidearm and the ball moves," Rodriguez said.New third base coach Tim Teufel initially waved Baxter all the way around, but he threw up a late stop sign and Baxter slipped to the turf as he tried to slam on the brakes halfway down the line. He got back to his feet and scrambled back to third, barely beating Espinosa's perfect throw across the diamond."The only thing I wanted to make sure is, I didn't want to make that long throw, you know, throw behind him and have him get up and go straight (home)," Espinosa said. "So I wanted to make sure he had kind of a step to commit over there."Espinosa was shaken up after catching an elbow in the head from Tejada as he ran through the bag, but the Washington second baseman stayed in the game."It's just one of those crazy plays where if you just execute from the beginning, it's a little bit better. But things happen," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said.With first base open and David Wright on deck, the Nationals went after Murphy, who made a diving play at second base to end the top of the ninth. He fisted a looping single to right over a drawn-in infield that dropped in front of Jayson Werth.New York was 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position before Murphy came through. The Mets mobbed him near first base and a teammate pelted him in the face with a cream pie as he was interviewed on the field.Adam LaRoche extended his fast start with a pair of RBI singles for the Nationals. Washington fell to 2-2 in its first full season under Davey Johnson, who managed the Mets to their most recent World Series championship in 1986.Edwin Jackson squandered an early three-run lead in his Nationals debut and was pulled for a pinch-hitter after five innings. The right-hander signed an 11 million, one-year contract after helping St. Louis win the World Series last season.Looking for a bounce-back season, Mets starter Mike Pelfrey gave up 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings in his first outing of the year. But he struck out eight, matching a career high."If I can take that stuff out there every single time, it's going to be a good year," Pelfrey said.Nieuwenhuis was called up after newly acquired center fielder Andres Torres re-injured his calf on opening day. The 24-year-old outfielder had two hits in his big league debut Saturday and hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning Monday to tie it at 3."It could be the start of what might be a very good major league career," Collins said. "After he tied it up, the intensity in the dugout picks up."The drive to right, estimated at 385 feet, cleared the new fence at Citi Field and clanked off the old one, making it the second home run in four games (both hit by the Mets) that would have stayed in the ballpark under the previous configuration.Nieuwenhuis' parents were at the game, and he got the home run ball back as a souvenir. He plans to give it to his father -- even though it was his mother's birthday.Trailing 3-0 and booed as he stepped to the plate, the 6-foot-7 Pelfrey sparked New York's offense in the third. He ripped his fifth career double into the left-field corner and scrambled to third on Tejada's long flyout. Wright's two-out single made it 3-1.NOTES:Nationals LHP Tom Gorzelanny tossed 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief in his season debut. ... New York 1B Ike Davis is 0 for 15.

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.