Britain rocks Olympic opener

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Britain rocks Olympic opener

By John Leicester
AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) -- The queen and James Bond gave the London Olympics a royal entrance like no other Friday in an opening ceremony that rolled to the rock of the Beatles, the Stones and The Who. And the creative genius of Danny Boyle spliced it all together. Brilliant. Cheeky, too. The highlight of the Oscar-winning director's 42 million show was pure movie magic, using trickery to make it seem that Britain's beloved 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II had parachuted into the stadium with the nation's most famous spy. A short film showed 007 driving up to Buckingham Palace in a black London cab and, pursued by her majesty's royal dogs -- Monty, Willow and Holly, playing themselves -- meeting the queen, who played herself. "Good evening, Mr. Bond," she said. They were shown flying in a helicopter over London landmarks and a waving statue of Winston Churchill -- the queen in a salmon-colored gown, Bond dashing as ever in a black tuxedo -- to the stadium and then leaping out into the inky night. At the same moment, real skydivers appeared in the skies over the stadium throbbing to the James Bond soundtrack. And moments after that, the monarch appeared in person, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip. Organizers said it was thought to be the first time the monarch has acted on film. "The queen made herself more accessible than ever before," Boyle said. In the stadium, Elizabeth stood solemnly while a children's choir serenaded her with "God Save the Queen," and members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force raised the Union Jack. Much of the opening ceremony was an encyclopedic review of British music history, from a 1918 Broadway standard adopted by the West Ham soccer team to the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" to "Bohemian Rhapsody," by still another Queen. The evening started with fighter jets streaming red, white and blue smoke and roaring over the stadium, packed with a buzzing crowd of 60,000 people, at 8:12 p.m. -- or 20:12 in the 24-hour time observed by Britons. An explosion of fireworks against the London skyline and Paul McCartney leading a singalong were to wrap up the three-hour opening ceremony masterminded by one of Britain's most successful filmmakers. Boyle, the director of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Trainspotting," had a ball with his favored medium, mixing filmed passages with live action in the stadium to hypnotic effect, with 15,000 volunteers taking part in the show. Actor Rowan Atkinson as "Mr. Bean" provided laughs, shown dreaming that he was appearing in "Chariots of Fire," the inspiring story of a Scotsman and an Englishman at the 1924 Paris Games. There was a high-speed flyover of the Thames, the river that winds like a vein through London and was the gateway for the city's rise over the centuries as a great global hub of trade and industry. Headlong rushes of movie images took spectators on wondrous, heart-racing voyages through everything British: a cricket match, the London Tube and the roaring, abundant seas that buffet and protect this island nation. Boyle turned the stadium into a throbbing juke box, with a nonstop rock and pop homage to cool Britannia that ensured the show never caught its breath. The throbbing soundtrack included the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" and a snippet of its version of "God Save the Queen" -- an anti-establishment punk anthem once banned by the BBC. There were The Who's "My Generation" and other tracks too numerous to mention, but not to dance to. Opening the ceremony, children popped balloons with each number from 10 to 1, leading a countdown that climaxed with Bradley Wiggins, the newly crowned Tour de France champion. Wearing his race-winner's yellow jersey, Wiggins rang a 23-ton Olympic Bell from the same London foundry that made Big Ben and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. Its thunderous chime was a nod to the British tradition of pealing bells to celebrate the end of war and the crowning of kings and queens, and now for the opening of a 17-day festival of sports. The show then shifted to a portrayal of idyllic rural Britain -- a place of meadows, farms, sport on village greens, picnics and Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne's bear who has delighted generations of British children tucked warmly in bed. But the British ideal -- to quote poet William Blake, of "England's green and pleasant land" -- then took a darker, grittier turn. The set was literally torn asunder, the hedgerows and farm fences carried away, as Boyle shifted to the industrial transformation that revolutionized Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, the foundation for an empire that reshaped world history. Belching chimneys rose where only moments earlier sheep had trod. The Industrial Revolution also produced terrifying weapons, and Boyle built a moment of hush into his show to honor those killed in war. "This is not specific to a country. This is across all countries, and the fallen from all countries are celebrated and remembered," he explained to reporters ahead of the ceremony. "Because, obviously, one of the penalties of this incredible force of change that happened in a hundred years was the industrialization of war, and the fallen," he said. "You know, millions fell." Olympic organizers separately rejected calls for a moment of silence for 11 Israeli athletes and coaches slain by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Two of the Israelis' widows appealed to audience members to stand in silence when International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge rose to speak later at Friday's ceremony. The Israeli culture and sport minister planned to do just that. The parade of nations featured most of the roughly 10,500 athletes -- some planned to stay away to save their strength for competition -- marching behind the flags of the 204 nations taking part. Greece had the lead, as the spiritual home of the games, and Team Great Britain was last, as host. Prince William and his wife, Kate, joined in the thunderous applause that greeted the British team, which marched to the David Bowie track "Heroes." A helicopter showered the athletes and stadium with 7 billion tiny pieces of paper -- one for each person on Earth. Both Bahrain and Brunei featured female flagbearers in what has been called the Olympics' Year of the Woman. For the first time at the games, each national delegation includes women, and a record 45 percent of the athletes are women. Three Saudi women marching behind the men in their delegation flashed victory signs with their fingers. "This is a major boost for gender equality," said the International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge. These are his last games as head of the IOC. He steps down in 2013 after completing the maximum two terms. Rogge honored the "great, sports-loving country" of Britain as "the birthplace of modern sport," and he appealed to the thousands of athletes assembled before him for fair play. "Character counts far more than medals. Reject doping. Respect your opponents. Remember that you are all role models. If you do that, you will inspire a generation," Rogge said. The queen declared the games open. Last month, the nation put on a festive Diamond Jubilee -- a small test run for the games -- to mark her 60 years on the throne, a reign that began shortly after London's last Olympics, in 1948. Former world heavyweight champion and 1960 Rome Olympic gold medalist Muhammad Ali was cheered when he appeared briefly with his wife, Lonnie, before the Olympic flag was unfurled. The Olympic cauldron was to be lit with a flame that was kindled May 10, at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in Greece, from a reflection of the sun's rays off a mirror. Since then, 8,000 torchbearers, mostly unheralded Britons, have carried the flame on a 70-day, 8,000-mile journey from toe to tip of the British Isles, whipping up enthusiasm for a 14 billion Olympics taking place during a severe recession. The identity of the last torchbearer, the one to light the cauldron, was kept secret -- remarkable given the intense scrutiny at what have been called the first social media Olympics. Speculation focused on Roger Bannister, the first man to run a four-minute mile, in 1954, and on rower Steve Redgrave, among others. The show's lighter moments included puppets drawn from British children's literature -- Captain Hook from "Peter Pan," Cruella de Vil from "101 Dalmations" and Lord Voldemort from J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, as well as Mary Poppins. Their appearance had a serious message, too -- the importance of literacy. "If you can read and write, you're free, or you can fight for your freedom," Boyle said. Boyle's challenge was daunting: To be as memorable as Beijing's incredible, money-no-object opening ceremony of 2008, the costliest in Olympic history. "Beijing is something that, in a way, was great to follow," Boyle said. "You can't get bigger than Beijing, you know? So that, in a way, kind of liberated us. We thought, 'Great, OK, good, we'll try and do something different.'" For the last time as president of the IOC, Rogge was to watch the Olympic flag being raised. He will step down in 2013 after completing the maximum two terms. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, planned to attend the ceremony with his wife, Ann. Romney caused a stir in Britain by suggesting earlier this week that the country had "disconcerting" problems preparing for the games. Other political leaders from around the world, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, and a sprinkling of European and celebrity royalty were also attending.

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Scherzer dominant as Nationals edge Phillies 3-2

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USA TODAY Sports

Scherzer dominant as Nationals edge Phillies 3-2

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Max Scherzer didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and he was dominant through eight as the Washington Nationals continued their mastery of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.

Scherzer (15-7) allowed three hits and struck out 11 while walking one. He was perfect through the first four innings, striking out five consecutive batters -- all swinging -- between the second and third innings.

Ryan Howard, who got the start despite being 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against Scherzer coming in, hit an opposite-field two-run home run in the seventh inning to break up the shutout and pull the Phillies within 3-2.

But Scherzer closed the door from there, striking out three more in the seventh and eighth en route to his 15th win of the season.

Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 37th save, getting a strikeout and inducing a game-ending double play after issuing a leadoff walk.

Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera collected the only other hits for the Phillies, who have lost six of eight to fall 12 games below .500. They have dropped their last eight games to Washington, which matches the team record for consecutive losses vs. the Nationals/Expos franchise.

Scherzer, who pitched two no-hitters last season, didn't allow a runner to reach base until Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp walked with one out in the fifth. Galvis ripped a double to right-field to lead off the sixth to break up Scherzer's no-hit bid, but was picked off second base by Scherzer to end the scoring threat.

Scherzer has allowed just five hits in his last two starts after pitching a two-hit, eight-inning gem vs. Baltimore on Thursday. He's taken a no-hitter into the sixth in nine of his 61 all-time starts with the Nationals.

The Washington ace also had a sacrifice-bunt RBI in the fourth after Ryan Zimmerman walked and Danny Espinosa ripped a single. The inning ended when Espinoza was thrown out at the plate on a dart from Phillies right fielder Aaron Altherr with Espinoza colliding with Rupp on the play.

The Nationals staked Scherzer to an early lead in the first inning. With two outs and nobody on, Daniel Murphy doubled before scoring on a double by Bryce Harper, his 19th RBI in the last 19 games. Wilson Ramos brought Harper home with an RBI single to put the Nats ahead 2-0.

Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff (9-13), who walked just six batters in his last eight starts coming in, issued three walks and allowed five hits and three earned runs through six innings.

Scherzer's double-digit strikeout game was the 12th of the season, setting a Nationals record. He improved his career record to 7-1 against the Phillies, including a 6-0 mark since he joined the Nats in 2015.

The Nationals, who opened their six-game road trip with a 4-0 victory over the Phillies on Monday, are 7-1 at Citizens Bank Park this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: Peter Bourjois missed his second straight game after getting hit in the left wrist by a pitch Sunday.

UP NEXT

The Phillies and Nationals wrap up their three-game series Wednesday night with Philadelphia LHP Adam Morgan (1-8, 6.50) opposing LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-9, 4.25).

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Wieters two-run HR propels Orioles past Blue Jays

Wieters two-run HR propels Orioles past Blue Jays

BALTIMORE — Matt Wieters slammed an eighth inning home run to right to break a 3-3 tie, and the Orioles had an exciting win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. 

Thanks to Wieters’ heroics, the Orioles had a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays before 16,083 at Oriole Park. 

RELATED: Orioles great headed to Maryland Hall of Fame

Jonathan Schoop walked against Jason Grilli (4-2) with two outs and then Wieters hit his 12th home run, and the Orioles had a 5-3 lead.

Brad Brach (8-2) worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his 39th consecutive save. 

With the win, the Orioles (72-60) moved back to within three games of the Blue Jays (75-57) in the American League East.

Ubaldo Jimenez lasted one-third of an inning when he last started against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 12. J.A. Happ, a leading contender for the Cy Young Award, started against Jimenez, and it looked like a mismatch. 

Jimenez walked two of his first three batters, Russell Martin hit into a double play to end the first. 

Toronto scored a run in the second when Michael Saunders doubled and scored on Kevin Pillar’s two-out single. 

Jimenez then retired 12 of the next 13 hitters, and his only baserunner, Pillar, who singled with one out in the fifth was quickly erased when Devon Travis hit into a double play. 

Happ gave up a hit in each of the first four innings. In the fifth, Steve Pearce homered to left field with one out. It was Pearce’s 13th home run, and third since returning to the Orioles on Aug. 1. It was his fifth home run in 28 at-bats against Happ. 

Pedro Alvarez, who was batting second for the first time since July 2, 2010, walked, and Manny Machado hit a home run estimated at 438 feet into the Orioles bullpen for a 3-1 lead. 

Martin started the seventh with a single, and after Troy Tulowitzki flied to right, Saunders hit his 21st home run to tie the score at 3. It was Saunders’ fourth home run in 19 at-bats against Jimenez, who gave up three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. 

Happ allowed three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

NOTES: Machado is the youngest Oriole to hit 100 home runs. Eddie Murray was the previous youngest to 100. … Aaron Sanchez (12-2, 2.99) faces Yovani Gallardo (4-6, 5.69) on Wednesday night. 
 

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Former Terp Shaun Hill could be in line to start after Teddy Bridgewater injury

Former Terp Shaun Hill could be in line to start after Teddy Bridgewater injury

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee along with a completely torn ACL and "other structural damage," the team announced on Tuesday evening. 

With the injury almost undoubtedly ending Bridgewater's season, the football question begins to arise. Who will play quarterback in Minnesota? The answer could be former Maryland Terrapin.

Shaun Hill, a veteran journeyman, could be the next in line, barring a move by Minnesota to acquire another quarterback. 

MORE TERPS: 4-STAR DEMATHA OFFENSIVE LINEMAN PLEDGES TO MARYLAND

As currently constituted, Hill is on the roster along with former Wisconsin QB Joel Stave and former Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke.

Hill, 36, came in for the injured Bridgewater last season against St. Louis after the quarterback left the game with a concussion. Minnesota would win, 21-18, in overtime.

Hill has played for four teams during his NFL career -- the Vikings, 49ers, Rams, and Lions. He has thrown for more than 8,000 total yards and has a career passer rating of 85.2.

Before turning pro, he helped Maryland to the 2001 ACC title as a senior. The Terrapins would reach the 2002 Orange Bowl and end the season ranked No. 10 overall.