Rory McIlroy takes home another trophy

Rory McIlroy takes home another trophy

From Comcast SportsNetNORTON, Mass. (AP) -- Rory McIlroy got the start he wanted Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, erasing a three-shot deficit in just five holes. The finish was hardly a masterpiece, except for the part when golf's No. 1 player posed with the trophy.Boy Wonder didn't make it easy on himself on Labor Day at the TPC Boston. He tore up the turf on a tee shot that traveled 170 yards, and that was the only fairway he hit over the last five holes.He had to make a 6-foot putt to save par from a bunker, and a 5-foot putt to save bogey after a pitch sailed from one side of the green to the other. And he had to wait as Louis Oosthuizen's birdie putt to force a playoff slid below the hole."I had a couple of wobbles coming in, but I obviously did enough and I'm very excited to get a victory," McIlroy said.That's all anyone will remember.On a leaderboard packed with some of the biggest names in golf -- McIlroy, Oosthuizen, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson -- the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland took a giant leap toward establishing himself as the best in the game.With four birdies in six holes at the start, and limiting the damage from his mistakes at the end, McIlroy closed with a 4-under 67 for a one-shot victory over Oosthuizen, joining Woods as the only three-time winners this year on the PGA Tour.McIlroy goes to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup. And with one of his wins being the PGA Championship, that might be enough for his peers to vote him PGA Tour player of the year. He also has a comfortable gap in the world ranking, and could be tough to catch the rest of the year unless Woods were to win the next two FedEx Cup events."He's not No. 1 in the world for nothing," Oosthuizen said. "He's a great young talent, a lot of majors left for him to win. He's such a cool kid on the course. It's great playing with him. He makes tough shots look really easy sometimes, especially long irons."I don't think the back nine he hit the ball that great after what he did on the front nine, but he did what he had to do."Woods made an early charge to get back in the hunt, though he never got closer than three shots until a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th gave him a 66. He finished in third place, two shots behind, and earned enough money to become the first player to surpass 100 million in PGA Tour earnings.Woods attributed that to higher purses, though he's responsible for those."I think we got some interest in the game of golf," Woods said. "A lot more youth, that's for sure."One of those kids -- McIlroy -- keeps winning. The Honda Classic in March. The record eight-shot win in the PGA Championship. And now a FedEx Cup playoff event in Boston."Three is a great number," McIlroy said. "I'd like to make it four -- or five -- after the FedEx Cup."Phil Mickelson also had a 66 and tied for fourth, along with Dustin Johnson, who had a 70 and likely played his way onto the Ryder Cup team. Brandt Snedeker made a strong case for a captain's pick with a 65-67 weekend to finish sixth.Davis Love III will announce his four picks Tuesday morning in New York.McIlroy had a three-shot lead with six holes to play, and only a clutch bogey putt on the 17th hole kept him from losing all of his lead.Oosthuizen, who had to cope with pain in his right shoulder earlier in the round, came back with two birdies on the back to get within one shot. McIlroy hit a chip over the 17th green into more rough, and it looked as if he would struggle to make bogey.Oosthuizen, however, missed the green from 140 yards in the fairway, chipped poorly to 10 feet and missed his par putt, and McIlroy calmly sank his 5-foot bogey putt to stay one shot ahead."The 17th hole cost me," Oosthuizen said.McIlroy finished 20-under 264.It was the second time this year that Oosthuizen, who won the British Open by seven shots at St. Andrews two years ago, failed to win after leading going into the final round. McIlroy made an early charge with three straight birdies, but the turning point came on the fifth hole when Oosthuizen felt pain in his shoulder on a tee shot that sailed into the trees and led to double bogey.The pain went away on the back, which the South African attributed to an adrenaline rush.McIlroy and Oosthuizen turned it into a two-man race, with Woods lurking until he couldn't convert enough putts. In the end, neither could Oosthuizen. He missed from just inside 10 feet for par on the 17th and from 12 feet on the 18th."I probably made all my putts yesterday," Oosthuizen said.There was other drama at the Deutsche Bank Championship, though it was not nearly as compelling as the top of the leaderboard.Charley Hoffman went from the first page of the leaderboard to an unimaginable collapse until he steadied himself at the end. Hoffman, who was 13 under after a birdie on the eighth hole, played his next nine holes in 8-over par, including a quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 11th. He came to the 18th needing a par to finish among the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and advance to the third playoff event next week in Indianapolis.He went over the green in two, barely chipped onto the putting surface, and then ran his putt 12 feet by the hole. He made the putt for par, and moves on."I didn't expect to be playing next week," Hoffman said. "Shooting 42 on the back nine, I don't think I deserved to play next week. But I guess I've got another chance."Others who advanced included Dicky Pride, who birdied his last two holes to get the 70th spot by one stroke over Jonas Blixt; and Chris Kirk, who stumbled at the start only to birdie four of his last five holes.Oosthuizen had a three-shot lead at the start of the final round, though he was never expecting an easy time. McIlroy rallied to cut a six-shot deficit in half on the back nine of the third round to give himself a chance, another example why he is No. 1 in the world.Sure enough, McIlroy came out firing with three straight birdies, starting with a two-putt from the fringe on the par-5 second.The fifth hole changed everything.Oosthuizen reached for his shoulder after a horrific snap hook off the tee. The ball dove into the woods and landed in the middle of shoulder-high bushes, leaving him no option but to take a penalty drop out of the hazard. He laid up short of the creek and two-putted for double bogey. They were tied, because McIlroy's tee shot found a clump of native grass on the edge of a bunker, and he had to chip out short of the creek and made bogey.Oosthuizen, though, was clearly hurting. He couldn't get through his swing on the next tee shot, which sailed into the bunker and kept him from attacking the pin. That's what McIlroy did, hitting 9-iron into 3 feet for birdie and his first lead. He never gave it back.

Orioles lose their longest game of 2016 in 13 innings

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Orioles lose their longest game of 2016 in 13 innings

Winner: Feliz (2-1)
Loser:   Bundy (0-1)

WHAT WENT WRONG: Dylan Bundy allowed a leadoff triple to Tony Kemp in the bottom of the 13th. After two intentional walks were issued to load the bases, Carlos Correa singled to center to win it for Houston. 

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Chris Tillman had won five straight, but added to his string of quality starts by allowing just two runs on three hits in seven innings. He’s thrown seven consecutive quality starts. 

GOING DEEP: The Orioles’ two runs were home runs. Pedro Alvarez hit his third in the fifth inning. Manny Machado slammed his 13th in the sixth. Both were hit off Astros starter Doug Fister. 

GOING LONG: The Orioles played their longest game of the season. They haven’t played past the 13th inning since Sept. 20, 2013 when they lost in 18 at Tampa Bay. It was their first four hour game of 2016. 

LOTS OF K’S: The Orioles struck out 19 times in 13 innings. 

LEAVING THEM ON: The Orioles twice left the bases loaded. In the second, Ryan Flaherty struck out, and in the ninth, Joey Rickard fanned. They left 11 runners on base. 

HOME RUNS AND TILLMAN: Luis Valbuena’s two run home run off Tillman was just the third he’s allowed in 11 starts, but the second in his last two games. 

THERE HE GOES: Matt Wieters stole his first base since May 26, 2013 in the ninth inning. He has seven stolen bases in his career. 

YOU’RE OUT: Houston’s Colby Rasmus, who visited with manager Buck Showalter in the winter of 2014 about joining the Orioles was ejected by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth for arguing balls and strikes in the sixth inning. 

UP NEXT: Tyler Wilson (2-2, 3.68) faces Collin McHugh (4-4, 5.13) on Wednesday night at 8:10 p.m. 

 

Harvey struggling, Murphy thriving as Nats-Mets rivalry heats up

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Harvey struggling, Murphy thriving as Nats-Mets rivalry heats up

The NL East division will not be decided in the month of May, but the contrast in fortunes for the Nats and Mets was dramatic on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Yes, the Nats only lead the Mets by 1 1/2 games in the division after homering them to death in a 7-4 series-tying victory. But they beat them once again with a huge contribution from ex-Met Daniel Murphy and once again at the expense of beleaguered super hero Matt Harvey.

From the moment Murphy left the Mets to sign a three-year deal with the Nationals, it became part of the fabric of one of baseball's best contemporary rivalries. And the way he's played not just overall this season, but in head-to-head matchups with the Mets, has only stoked that fire.

Murphy went 2-for-4 with his seventh homer of the year on Tuesday night and now has two homers in four at-bats against Harvey. He has two RBI in each of his last three games against his former team and has quickly become a pest for the organization he spent 10 distinguished years with.

Harvey, on the other hand, has allowed 11 earned runs combined in his last two starts, both against the Nationals. He is in the midst of a shocking downfall and the Nats are playing a hands-on role.

Only four times did a Nationals hitter swing and miss at a pitch Harvey threw on Tuesday. That matched a season-low. The three homers he surrendered matched a career-high. This is all just one start after the Nats scored nine runs (6 ER) on Harvey, which set a new career mark.

“His velocity started out good," manager Dusty Baker said. "He was 95, 96 miles per hour, then his velocity dropped to 92, 93. His slider wasn’t as sharp as it usually is. You gotta get them when they’re down.”

Murphy, on the other hand, is carrying over the power surge the Mets themselves witnessed last fall. After hitting seven homers in 14 postseason games, Murphy has seven in 45 outings this season. That puts him on pace for 25 homers, nearly double his career-best of 14 set just last year.

Having spent five years around Harvey in New York, Murphy has a unique perspective of his former teammate now facing him from the other side.

"It's tough to tell," Murphy said. "I have all the confidence in the world that he's gonna throw the ball well... I hope it's not against us, or me personally. But we know how good he is, we saw it all year last year. And again, as a pitcher or a hitter, we're never as far away as we think."

Murphy isn't the only player on the Nats who wishes Harvey well, despite his presence in the NL East.

"I know he’s still going to be their go-to guy coming down the stretch and coming down the stretch these guys are going to be right there," center fielder Ben Revere said. 

"Fastball seems the same. He’s throwing strikes. It’s baseball. We’ve been getting the key knocks. Nothing we can do about it. Just goes to show that every pitcher in the big leagues is going to have some rough stretches."

"His stuff is electric. To me he's still the same pitcher that comes after you," third baseman Anthony Rendon said. "Like anybody else, you go through a rough patch, and I'm pretty sure he'll find his way out like every other good pitcher does."

Murphy's two hits on Tuesday - the second against reliever Antonio Bastardo - gave him his 23rd multi-hit game of the season. That means more than half of his games this year have featured multiple hits. He's now batting an MLB-best .392. Only one batter (Yoenis Cespedes) on the Mets is hitting better than .283 at this point in the season.

“I've seen some pretty good hitters, George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor," Baker said. "[Murphy] hasn’t had a down time the entire year. He’s concentrating. He’s at a very high concentration level. When he’s getting his pitch he’s not missing many. Murph’s been the acquisition of the year in baseball. I’m just glad that we have him.”

Harvey's matchups with the Nats over his last two starts have put his career at a momentary crossroads. After his last outing, Tuesday's start was in question. The Mets ultimately decided to keep him in the rotation, but what about his next start? Will he take the mound?

His previous outing was so bad it convinced Mets fans - who booed him at home five days ago - to organize a social media campaign to bus droves of New Yorkers down to D.C. for Tuesday's game. About a hundred of them gathered in right field and were heard loudly before the game and through the first several innings with chants in support of Harvey.

By the fifth inning there were chants of 'Harrrr-veyyy' coming from the crowd, but not from Mets fans. Nationals fans turned the tables and made for yet another embarrassing moment for the Dark Knight of Gotham.

Harvey, for what it's worth, declined to speak to reporters after his latest disaster. Not facing the New York media who are ready to pounce all over you? That may feel good for a night, but it won't go over well in the coming days. Might be wise to avoid the tabloids, Matt.

Strasburg notches another win as Nats rough up Harvey again

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USA TODAY Sports

Strasburg notches another win as Nats rough up Harvey again

Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 7-4 victory over the Mets on Tuesday night: 

How it happened: With both Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey looking sharp through the game's first three innings, this looked every bit like the pitchers duel we were expecting to see last week when the two aces faced off in New York. 

But like last Thursday's game, the Nats eventually pounced on Harvey and ended his night earlier than he would have liked. Their home run barrage started in the fourth inning, when Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon delivered back-to-back solo shots to give Washington a 2-1 lead. The next inning, after Bryce Harper hit a sac fly to make it 3-1, Daniel Murphy (who else?) delivered the big blow with a a two-run shot to give the Nats a 5-1 cushion and essentially yank Harvey from the game. 

After the Mets gone a run back in the seventh, Ben Revere hit his first home run as a member of the Nats to extend the lead to 6-2. The long ball parade continued in the eighth as Wilson Ramos got into the act with a solo shot. 

What it means: The Nats were able to bounce back after Monday night's blowout loss. At 28-18, they're 1 1/2 games up on the Mets for first place in the NL East. While it's clear that these are the two best teams in the division, there's plenty of season left before it can be determined which club is truly superior.  

Strasburg extends winning streak: It's pretty simple at this point: if Strasburg takes the mound, the Nats win. That's been the case now for 14 consecutive starts — extending a franchise record. Once again, Strasburg was solid against the Mets, allowing two earned runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. His 11 strikeouts on the night marked the fifth time this season that he has registered double digit punch outs in a start. Strasburg is now 8-0 on the year with a 2.79 ERA and 86 strikeouts. Not too shabby. 

Nats rough up Harvey again: For the second time in less than a week, Washington's offense put up a few crooked numbers on the scoreboard to chase Harvey early in the game. Including Tuesday's outing, the Mets struggling ace has allowed 14 runs on 16 hits over 7 2/3 innings against the Nats in two starts. Ouch. If Harvey winds up temporarily removed from New York's rotation, Mets fans can thank their division rivals from D.C. 

Murphy keeps hurting his old club: With yet another solid performance, the Nats second baseman might be making the Mets wish they would have kept him around a little while longer. In five games against his former team, Murphy is hitting 8-for-21 (.380) with two home runs — both coming off Harvey — and 6 RBI. 

Up next: The rubber match in this series will be a matinee tilt on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. The Nats will send Tanner Roark (3-3, 2.89 ERA) to oppose Mets rookie Steven Matz (6-1, 2.81 ERA).