Matsuzaka leaves with injury, Sox fall 5-4

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Matsuzaka leaves with injury, Sox fall 5-4

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- After completing a very successful (6-3) road trip, the Red Sox returned to what should have been a very friendly Fenway Park. But, the Sox allowed whatever road momentum they had built up to get away, falling to the Mariners 5-4 Friday night.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had been brilliant in his last two outings, allowing just two combined hits over 15 innings, left after facing one batter in the fifth inning, with right elbow tightness.

The Red Sox were leading 4-2 when Matsuzaka who had just given up a single to Ichiro Suzuki left. Matt Albers entered and gave up a single to his first batter, Chone Figgins, putting runners at first and second. A ground ball by Milton Bradley to Adrian Gonzalez appeared destined for a double play. Gonzalez threw to Jed Lowrie, covering second for one out, but Albers could not handle Lowries relay, the ball bounding into the Sox dugout, allowing Suzuki to score and Bradley to go to second.

Albers escaped with no further damage. But, Bobby Jenks, who came in for the seventh, allowed the Mariners to go ahead. He gave up a single to Suzuki and a double to Figgins to open the frame, before getting Bradley to strike out. Miguel Olivos groundball to Dustin Pedroia scored Suziki, tying the game, 4-4. Jenks then walked Justin Smoak, putting runners at the corners for Jack Cust, who entered the game hitting .177. Cust banged a Jenks fastball off the scoreboard in left-center, giving the Mariners the lead, 5-4.

Mike Cameron scored the Sox first run, with his first home run of the seasonjust past the Pesky Pole in right -- in the second inning. He followed that with his second home run, into the Monster seats in left, in the fourth.

The Sox got two runs in the third. Kevin Youkilis two-out single scored Jacoby Ellsbury, who reached on a fielders choice and went to third on Gonzalezs single. Gonzalez then scored on David Ortizs single to right.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jason Vargas
In his first career appearance at Fenway Park, Jason Vargas (1-2, 5.45 ERA) earned the win, his first of the season and his first since Aug. 14, 2010, in Cleveland. Vargas went seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits (including Mike Camerons two home runs) and two walks with four strikeouts. Vargas combined with relievers Jamey Wright and Brandon League to hold the Sox hitless after the fourth inning.

The win snapped a 13-start winless drought for Vargas, in which he was 0-9. The streak was tied for fourth-longest in Mariners history. It also snapped a four-game losing streak to American League East opponents over his last eight such starts.

HONORABLE MENTION: Mike Cameron
Cameron went 2-for-4 with two home runs, his first two of the season. His first home run was a second-inning, two-out solo shot just past the Pesky Pole in right field, for the Sox first run. Camerons second shot led, into the Monster seats in left field, led off the fourth inning, for the Sox final run of the game.

The blasts were Camerons first round-trippers since July 18 against the Rangers at Fenway. He didnt get his first home in 2010 until June 26 in San Francisco. He hit a total of four in an injury-shortened 2010 season. It was the 16th multi-homer game of his career, and first since Sept. 21, 2009, against the Cubs while with the Brewers. It was the first multi-homer game of the season for the Sox.

You dont know when youre going to hit the ball out of the ballpark, Cameron said. You just work on getting good pitches to hit, not missing balls when they come in my area, and do damage on them. The first one I kind of got lucky due to the elements in the park. The second one, I just put a good swing on it. That was it. The ball was hit pretty good.

THE GOAT: Bobby Jenks
Jenks entered to start the seventh inning with the Sox leading, 4-2. With just three pitches he had runners at second and third and no outs. Two batters later, the tying run scored. Two more batters and the winning run scored. Jack Cust, who entered the game hitting just .177, drove in the winning run with a double off the top of the scoreboard in left-center. Jenks took the loss, was charged with his first blown save, and is now 1-2 with an ERA of 8.64.

In 10 appearances, spanning 8 13 innings, Jenks has allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 12 hits and six walks with 10 strikeouts and two wild pitches.

I dont know what to say. I feel terrific. All my stuff is there. I dont know what to make of it, Jenks said.

I dont know where Im at now. Something is off. Ive got to fix this and fix it now. Every day Ive been right as far as physically and mentally. Ive got work to do.

Mentally Im there. Im not thinking bad things. I know itll take a lot to get the fans back, but Ill get them back.

THE TURNING POINT:
Matsuzaka was nothing short of brilliant in his previous two outings. Although he was not matching those performances, he entered the fifth inning with a two-run lead, having allowed both runs in the first inning. But after giving up a lead-off single to Suzuki, Matsuzakas night was done. He left the game with right elbow tightness. Matt Albers entered to replace Matsuzaka, giving up a single to his first batter, Figgins, putting runners at first and second. Albers got Milton Bradley to ground into what could have been a double play. But Albers, covering first, couldnt handle the relay from Jed Lowrie, the ball sailing into the Sox dugout, allowing Suzuki to score. The runs was charged to Matsuzaka. Albers went two innings double each of his previous four appearances and was not charged with any runs. Matsuzakas departure set the stage for a run that inning and Jenks appearance in the two-run seventh.

I didnt really feel particularly especially any special thing before the game start, Matsuzaka said of his elbow, through a team interpreter. But when the game started I started to feel stiffness on my elbow and I could have continued throw. I didnt really feel that I need to pull off from the mound. But I left all the judgments up to Francona. So that was his decision to come off from the mound.

STAT OF THE DAY: 13
Mariners pitchers retired the final 13 Sox batters of the game, including an inning-ending double play in the fifth. Four of the outs were by strikeouts all looking, including pinch-hitter J.D. Drew to end the game.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I have a idea whats going on on my elbow right now. So Im not worried too much about it.

-Daisuke Matsuzaka, who said he will wait to see how his elbow feels on Saturday
and have it further examined. He is uncertain if he will miss any starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance.