Green, Sullinger lead Celtics to 87-79 win over Suns

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Green, Sullinger lead Celtics to 87-79 win over Suns

BOSTON With the goal being to extend their winning streak to a season-long four in a row, there are few teams in the NBA that would have made for more obliging guests than the Phoenix Suns.
In addition to losing nine of their last 10 games overall, Phoenix had lost 10 in a row coming into Wednesday's matchup.
The Celtics controlled the action for most of the night, but a weak third quarter showing made it a closer game than it should have been.
Still, the C's are in no position to be picky when it comes to winning, which they did by the count of 87-79.
Wednesday's win extended the Celtics (18-17) winning streak to a season-long four in a row.
For the second straight game, Boston got a huge lift from its bench with contributions coming from just about every player who stepped on the floor.
Jason Terry (13 points) and Jeff Green (14 points) did a lot of the scoring. Jared Sullinger (12 points, career-high 16 rebounds) continued to do a lot of the dirty work around the glass.
And Courtney Lee continues to come into his own as a defensive spark off the bench, tallying six points, two assists and a slew of strong plays defensively.
It appeared that the Celtics were well on their way to an easy victory, fueled by a 20-8 run to close out the second quarter that gave the C's a 53-41 lead at the half.
But the C's went through one of their usual offensive lulls.
However, their defense couldn't bail them out this time.
The Celtics' offensive woes opened the door for the Suns to go on a 17-2 run that put them ahead, 58-55.
Boston didn't spend much time playing from behind -- one minute, 46 seconds to be exact -- as Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce scored back-to-back baskets, respectively, to put the C's back on top.
Phoenix had made a game that wasn't all that close, a relatively tight affair (67-64) going into the fourth quarter.
But the C's went with a hybrid second unit that worked well for them in the second quarter -- Terry, Lee, Green, Sullinger and Kevin Garnett who is a starter.
That group, just like they had did earlier in the game, provided a much-needed lift at both ends of the floor as the Celtics blitzed the Suns with a 13-4 run to start the fourth and never looked back.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.