Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

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Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Carl Crawford entered Friday nights game against the As batting just .106 against left-handed pitchers. As reliever lefty Brian Fuentes entered the game allowing lefties a .269 average this season.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run in the seventh inning, bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count, Crawford delivered a 91-mph sinker into center field, scoring Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, giving the Sox the lead.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia's home run to lead off the eighth, on Michael Wuertzs first pitch of the game, completed the Sox scoring, for an 8-6 win.

It was not an easy win, though, for the Sox, who have struggled through this six-game homestand.

Clay Buchholz lasted just 4 23 innings against the As at Fenway Park Friday night. It was his shortest outing of the season since going just 3 23 innings in an April 9 loss to the Yankees.

He allowed the light-hitting and light-scoring As six runs (five earned) on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The As entered the game 12th in the American League in both team batting average and runs scored. They had 11 total hits against the Red Sox. Their season high is 15.

Buchholz faced eight batters in the first inning, giving up four runs on five hits, matching an Oakland season-high for hits in an inning.

By the third inning, the Sox had taken the lead, 5-4, driving Oakland starter Josh Outman from the game. But Buchholz allowed single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, letting the As get ahead. After Daric Bartons two-out single scored Josh Willingham in the fifth, Buchholz was done.

In three starts since throwing a career-high 127 pitches against the Tigers on May 18, Buchholz has gone a combined 18 innings pitched, giving up 10 earned runs for a 5.00 ERA with three no-decisions, while the Red Sox have gone 2-1 in those games. In the three starts before that, including May 18, he threw a combined 19 innings giving up two earned runs (0.95 ERA). The Sox were 3-0 in those games.

Bobby Jenks got the win, pitching a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout and a balk. He improves to 2-2 with a 7.59 ERA. Jonathan Papelbon earned his 11th save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Joey Devine, who started the seventh inning before Fuentes entered, was charged with the loss, going two-third of an inning, giving up two runs the first runs he has allowed this season -- on a hit and walk. His record falls to 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carl Crawford
His two-run single off Brian Fuentes in the seventh inning, with the Sox trailing by a run, bases loaded, and two outs, gave the Sox the lead. Crawford entered the at-bat hitting .106 against left-handed pitchers this season. In his career, he was 1-for-5 with two RBI against Fuentes.

Crawford, whose deep drive to right earlier in the game would have been a home run in most parks, entered the at-bat 0-for-3. The go-ahead single was his only hit of the game.

It was his fifth game-winning RBI of the season. In his last nine games he has nine RBI.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Ortiz
Ortiz went 2-for-3 with a run scored, two RBI, and a double. His second RBI of the night, tied the game in the third inning, before the As regained the lead.

He has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games, batting .414 with 14 extra-base hits and 10 multi-hit games in that span.
THE GOAT: Brian Fuentes
While Joey Devine (0-1, 2.45) was charged with the loss, Fuentes suffered his third blown save. Fuentes is among the league leaders in saves, with 11. While it was a difficult situation in which to enter with the bases loaded, two outs, his team ahead by one tenuous run, facing Carl Crawford, who is still struggling but always dangerous it was a situation his team needed him to handle. He didnt.

THE TURNING POINT
It was a struggle for both teams throughout the game.But with the As ahead by one run in the seventh, Joey Devine, who started the inning, got Dustin Pedroia to ground out before allowing the next three batters to reach -- Adrian Gonzalez on a double, hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch, and walking David Ortiz before getting Jed Lowrie to fly out. At that point As manager Bob Geren called for his closer, Brian Fuentes, to face Carl Crawford. On a 3-2 pitch, Crawford delivered a single to center field, with Gonzalez and Youkilis scoring, giving the Sox the lead, which they would not relinquish.
STAT OF THE DAY: .297
The As entered the game hitting .240, 12th in the American League. Against the Sox Friday night they went a combined 11-for-37, batting .297. They matched their season-high for hits in an inning with five in the first. The 11 hits, which they compiled through the first six innings, were shy of their season high, 15.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
Love of the game. I wouldnt have gone through the stuff I went through and
kept rolling if I didn't want to be here and have a goal of being a big league
pitcher. I think thats what drove me every day.

-Red Sox left-hander Tommy Hottovy -- who made his big league debut Friday, retiring David DeJesus, the only batter he faced -- on what has kept him motivated over the last few years. Hottovy has been in the Sox system since being drafted in 2004, spending parts of the last six seasons in Double-A Portland, and having Tommy John surgery in 2008.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.