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National

  • Giants win third MLB title in five seasons

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Bruce Bochy is crazy superstitious. It's a little-known fact about the unflappable San Francisco Giants manager.
    Mere mention of anything about a dynasty during the World Series made him uncomfortable. He felt equally uneasy when his name got linked to the best skippers of all-time — those Hall of Famers he well could join someday.
    Bochy doesn't have to worry about a jinx now. After winning its third championship in five seasons, the new label for his team looks as if it will stick.
    "Dynasty" blared the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday.
    The Giants closed it out with a 3-2 win in Game 7 at Kansas City on Wednesday night, sealed by Series MVP Madison Bumgarner's five shutout innings as a reliever this time.
    "A lot has to go right. First off, it starts with the talent," Bochy said. "I mean, you need that, which we have. Then you have to deal with a lot of things maybe during the season. Every manager says, 'Hey, we're fine, we have a good chance to get there if we stay healthy.' But that doesn't always happen."
    In a remarkable every-other-year pattern, San Francisco somehow finds its best form in even years. With new faces and old ones, with castoffs and misfits and some key midseason acquisitions.

  • Royals fans fired up for Game 7 tonight

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A couple hundred fans stood behind the Royals dugout for more than a half-hour after the final out, screaming and waving white rally towels.
    Bring on Game 7!
    Yordano Ventura, a 23-year-old rookie pitching with a heavy heart and the initials of late St. Louis outfielder Oscar Taveras on his cap, allowed three hits over seven stifling innings. Kansas City's batters broke open the game with a seven-run second and battered the San Francisco Giants 10-0 Tuesday night to tie the World Series at three games apiece.
    "This is what we all prepared for. This is why we play the game," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
    As bouncers rolled by infielders and bloops dropped in front of outfielders, the raucous roar at Kauffman Stadium swelled with every hit in the second and then got louder the rest of the night. Lorenzo Cain looped a two-run single — one of eight Royals to get hits in the seven-run burst — and Hosmer chopped a two-run double over shortstop.
    "Guys stepped up in a big way tonight," Cain said.
    Jeremy Guthrie starts Wednesday night for Kansas City and Tim Hudson for San Francisco in a rematch of Game 3, won by Kansas City 3-2. Hudson, 39, will become the oldest Game 7 starter in Series history.

  • Giants on the cusp of another crown

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 2-foot-tall image of deer in multicolored neon with a bulls-eye on its tail is affixed to a wall in the Kansas City Royals locker room. It hangs between the stalls of Aaron Crow and Tim Collins, and has a “W’’ underneath a crown.
    Pitcher James Shields ordered it custom made, and after wins veterans select a “King of the Game” to flip the switch that lights up the so-called “Texas Heart Shot” while a smoke machine perched atop a refrigerator fills the room with a fog more befitting a night club than a clubhouse.
    Trailing 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, the Royals hope to light up that sign two more times this week. But if they do come back to win their first title in 29 years, it’s unlikely there will be time for their usual clubhouse ceremony given the champagne-fueled chaos.
    “I doubt it. It’s going to be crazy around here if we win both games,” outfielder Lorenzo Cain said Monday.
    Kansas City turns to a 23-year-old rookie to save its season, but not just any 23-year-old rookie: the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in the major leagues.

  • Bumgarner silences Royals to open Series

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — By the time Madison Bumgarner took the mound to throw his first pitch, the San Francisco Giants already held a three-run lead.
    It might as well have been 100 with the way MadBum and this orange-and-black bunch play in the World Series.
    Bumgarner carried a shutout into the seventh inning, Hunter Pence homered early and the Giants showed off their October poise, putting a sudden stop to the Kansas City Royals' perfect postseason roll by romping 7-1 in the Series opener Tuesday night.
    "They've obviously been on a great run. You don't get here without that," Bumgarner said. "I think our team is concentrating on what they need to do, not what the Royals are doing."
    From the get-go, the Giants simply did everything right to win their seventh straight World Series game. There's a reason they're trying for their third title in five years.
    "I can't say I'm surprised by these guys," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
    The Royals, meanwhile, looked nothing like the fresh team that had become baseball's darlings by starting the playoffs with eight wins in a row — back on the field after a five-day layoff, their pitching, hitting and fielding all deserted them.

  • Did Royals, Giants get rested or rusty?

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Gordon took a big rip at a batting-practice fastball, fouled it off badly into the cage, and ducked when the carom nearly hit him in the head.
    Gordon let out a huge laugh, and so did a bunch of his Kansas City Royals teammates watching Monday’s workout.
    “I can’t believe that just happened, dude,” pitcher James Shields razzed.
    It’ll be more frustrating than funny if those are the same awkward swings the Royals and San Francisco Giants take once the World Series begins.
    Going into Game 1 on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium, both teams will deal with a familiar issue this deep in the postseason: Does an extended layoff translate into rest or rust?
    Buster Posey and the Giants zipped through the playoffs, and now will try for their third title in five years. Lorenzo Cain and the Royals zoomed along, reaching the Series for the first time since 1985.
    And then, they all got some time off. Almost an eternity, by October standards.
    The Royals went 8-0 in the AL playoffs, giving them five idle days before Shields starts the opener. San Francisco went 8-2 on the NL side and had four days to relax before Madison Bumgarner pitches.

  • Giants' Ishikawa hits walk-off home run

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After three years away with four different teams, Travis Ishikawa landed himself a second chance with San Francisco right where he so wanted to be.
    And with one sweet swing, he sent the Giants back to the World Series.
    It was the Shot That Shook the Bay.
    For all the questions about San Francisco’s failures to clear the fences and weird ways they’re winning during their latest special October, the Giants got back to the World Series with the home run. A trio of longballs, in fact.
    Ishikawa made good on the big stage only a few months removed from the minors, hitting the first homer to end an NL Championship Series on a three-run drive that lifted San Francisco to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
    “It’s gratifying,” Ishikawa said. “If there’s an organization I’d want to do it for, it would be this one.”
    These every-other-year Giants will face the Royals in an all wild-card World Series.
    A journeyman who began the season with Pittsburgh, Ishikawa connected for the first game-ending home run that sent the Giants into the World Series since perhaps the most famous drive in baseball history — Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in a 1951 playoff.

  • Royals sweep Orioles to advance

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — When the final out was made on another improbable night, and the Kansas City Royals were headed back to the World Series, Ned Yost stood in the dugout and watched.
    He watched as a bunch of young players he’s nurtured for years celebrated. He watched as veterans and journeymen and baseball vagabonds piled onto the infield. And he watched as a fan base that has so often criticized him relished a moment 29 years in the making.
    “These kids, from the minute you saw them, you knew they were going to be special,” Yost said. “Their goal was to get here and win a championship, and today they accomplished that.”
    Led by a dynamic defense, an opportunistic offense and one of the best bullpens in the game, the Royals swept aside the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night. With another tight win, 2-1, the Royals captured their first the American League championship since 1985.
    “It’s hard to explain,” said outfielder Lorenzo Cain, whose clutch hits and dramatic grabs earned him the series MVP award. “We’re clicking at the right moment right now.”

  • Kirk has longest outing of preseason Tuesday

    With only a little over two weeks before the start of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2014-15 season, Alex Kirk got a long, hard look Tuesday by his team.
    In the Cavaliers’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks, their third straight victory in the preseason, Kirk played for 21-plus minutes and finished with 8 points, hitting 2 of 6 shots from the floor, and had 3 rebounds. That game was in Cleveland and was Kirk’s longest appearance for the Cavaliers in the preseason so far.
    Kirk, of course, is a 2010 graduate of Los Alamos High School. Following his standout career with the Hilltoppers, he had a solid career at the University of New Mexico, where he played for 3-plus years.
    Over the summer, Kirk went undrafted, but was signed by the Cavaliers to a free agent deal.
    The career prospects of an undrafted rookie free agent can often be dicey at best, but for those trying to make Cleveland’s squad this season, it may be doubly so.
    Cleveland was one of the most active teams in the offseason. The Cavaliers picked up two huge new players, LeBron James and Kevin Love, who got some hefty contracts.
    James, of course, is considered the best player by many in the NBA and is a four-time league MVP. He was originally drafted by Cleveland but left the team in a controversial free agent move in 2010 to join Miami.

  • List of NFL star players with injuries is long

    The NFL’s injury epidemic began even before any preseason games were played, with Sean Lee and Kiko Alonso going down.
    Since then, big-name players (RG3, Robert Mathis, Knowshon Moreno, Sam Bradford, B.J. Raji, DeAngelo Hall, Chris Long, Ike Taylor) have been sidelined, and entire units such as Atlanta and Philadelphia’s offensive lines and Carolina’s backfield have been ravaged.
    What gives? ACLs, Achilles tendons and shoulders, among other things.
    Consider what has happened to the Vikings, who lost quarterback Matt Cassel (broken foot), and right guard Brandon Fusco (torn pectoral muscle) for the season. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia surgery) will miss about six weeks.
    That almost makes linebacker Chad Greenway’s hand and rib problems from which he will soon return seem tame.
    “I never envisioned that, but it’s a part of football,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after all of those injuries occurred in one game. “Last year in Cincinnati we lost our best defensive tackle, our best corner, one of our best linebackers, a very good defensive end. Things happen in the NFL, so this is a survival of the fittest game, it’s always a marathon.”

  • Wildcats upset No. 2 Ducks

    EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The look on Marcus Mariota's face was unmistakable: He was stunned.
    Oregon's star quarterback lingered on the field late Thursday night following his team's 31-24 loss to Arizona, shaking hands with the Wildcats after they upset the heavily favored Ducks for the second consecutive season.
    Later, he shouldered the blame for a loss that left No. 2 Oregon with a tough hill to climb if it wants an invite to college football's first postseason playoff.
    And he credited the unranked Wildcats, who were 24-point underdogs.
    "They're undefeated," he said. "It's obviously a testament to our conference. If you're not prepared each week, if you're not ready to play, you'll lose."
    Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost told reporters after the game that Mariota was not 100 percent after he was sacked seven times in the Ducks' 38-31 victory at Washington State in their previous game Sept. 20.
    True freshman Nick Wilson ran for two touchdowns and caught a scoring pass from quarterback Anu Solomon to help the Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) open the season with five straight victories for the first time since 1998.