Buchholz shelled by homers

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Buchholz shelled by homers

BOSTON Perhaps it was the pregame hoopla, or pitching in front of so many former Red Sox players. Or maybe it was the Yankees lineup, which entered the game hitting .276, second in the American League, third in home runs. Or maybe as manager Bobby Valentine said, Clay Buchholz is still building after spending most of last season on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back.

Whatever the reason, it was clear almost from his first pitch a fastball that was up in the zone - that Buchholz was going to struggle Friday afternoon. Buchholz went six innings (plus one batter in the seventh), giving up six runs, five earned, on nine this and two walks with two strikeouts. He suffered his first loss of the season, dropping his record to 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA, as the Sox fell to the Yankees, 6-2, on Fenway Parks 100th anniversary.

He left some balls over the plate. Obviously they got hit, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The wind 19 mph out to center at the start of the game was blowing good. So nothing to take away from those guys but he made some pitches. It was just one of those days.

For Buchholz, it was one of those days hed like a mulligan.

Five of the hits he allowed were solo home runs. The home runs allowed matched a career high (to the Blue Jays on Sept. 29, 2009) and also matched Josh Becketts April 7 outing in Detroit for most homers allowed by a Sox pitcher this season.

Nick Swisher led off the second inning with a home run to left-center. Two batters later, with one out, Eric Chavez hit another, and led off the fourth with his second home run of the game. Alex Rodriquez led off the fifth with a first-pitch home run over the Monster. And Russell Martin hit the Yankees fifth homer of the game with two outs in the sixth.

Buchholz seemed to struggle with all his pitches.

Too many pitches left up in the zone, said one scout in attendance. He had trouble getting over his front side. He left changeups and cutters up and out over the plate. His curveballs were just rolling.

All the home runs except Rodriguezs came in two-strike counts. Two of the home runs Swishers and Martins were on fastballs, Chavezs were on a changeup and a cutter, and Rodriguezs was also on a cutter.

Against a lot of the hitters he was a very competitive and then those home runs out of the windup, no one on, it seemed, they were perplexing, Valentine said. He had a good curveball. His fastball was located down nicely a lot of the time but at least four of the times fastball wasnt located properly. Hes still building. This is a guy who, he didnt pitch all last year and hes still getting his feet underneath him.

I think itll come quickly. It seems its only eight inches or so that he needs to get the ball down a little better but I havent seen it on film and I didnt talk to catcher or pitching coaches about what they were seeing.

Buchholz extended a dubious streak, giving up four or more runs in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. He also ended his career-high 11-game undefeated streak.

Buchholz, though, said he feels 100 percent healthy and does not believe his issues were mechanical.

Its really simple, he said. I made five mistakes today and they hit them.

Anybody can say that any pitch is the wrong pitch to throw if they hit it, but I believe that a couple of changeups that they hit, a couple of cutters they hit and a couple of curveballs, if they werent middle or werent thigh-high they might have still hit them but it might not have been a homer. I think Salty did a good job of calling the pitches. I have to get out there and execute.

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

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Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

SAN FRANCISCO  — As an irate Bryce Harper charged toward the mound, Buster Posey just stood and watched from behind home plate.

And when the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants cleared their benches Monday and punches flew both ways, the All-Star catcher did his best to remain just outside the fray.

Not where some expected to find the Giants team leader with his pitcher, Hunter Strickland, exchanging head shots with Harper.

“Posey did NOTHING to stop Harper from getting to his pitcher,” former major league pitcher Dontrelle Willis wrote on Twitter. “I’ve never seen that before in my life.”

Posey declined to enter the fracas, instead remaining around its edges and watching as the players scuffled in “a pretty good pile,” as Giants manager Bruce Bochy called it.

Posey dealt with a concussion in April after being struck in the head by a pitch, but did not say he held back because of concerns related to that. He did say he was wary about the risk of injury.

“There were some big guys tumbling around out there,” Posey said. “You see Mike Morse and Jeff Samardzija are about as big as they come and he was getting knocked around like a pinball. So it was a little dangerous to get in there.”

Still, social media was abuzz at the sight of Posey not sticking up for his teammate.

“Strickland must have told @BusterPosey he was hitting him and let him come cause he didn’t even give a soft jog,” Willis wrote.

“Says all you need to know that Buster Posey didn’t bother to hold back Harper,” tweeted Fox broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt . “Let him go get his pitcher.”

Also absent from the fight: hard-nosed Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. As his teammates flew over the dugout railing, Bumgarner stayed put, perhaps because the left-hander is still recovering after injuring his pitching shoulder and ribs in a dirt biking accident in April.