Mystics fall to surging Sparks

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Mystics fall to surging Sparks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver scored 18 points each as the Los Angeles Sparks snapped a three-game skid with a 96-68 victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday night. Former Mystics star Alana Beard added 16 points for the Sparks (20-9), who swept the two-game season series against Washington. Los Angeles, which has already clinched a playoff berth and remains in second place in the Western Conference, finishes its five-game road trip Sunday against New York. Monique Curry scored 16 points for the Mystics (5-23), who lost their season-high seventh straight. Jasmine Thomas added 15 points for Washington, which was outscored 197-138 in its two losses to Los Angeles. The Sparks outrebounded the Mystics 39-29 and shot 62 percent from the floor (39 of 63) compared to the Mystics' 36 percent (25 of 69). Los Angeles led by 19 in the second quarter before settling for a 54-39 halftime lead. A 15-2 run stretched it to 34-20 early in the second, DeLisha Milton-Jones' corner 3-pointer later pushed it to 45-30, and Toliver hit back-to-back jumpers to make it 51-32. Mystics guard Shannon Bobbitt hit a 38-foot bank shot at the halftime buzzer. It was more of the same in the second half, with the lead growing to 83-56 early in the fourth quarter. Beard, making her first visit to the Verizon Center since signing with the Sparks in the offseason, received a loud ovation from the crowd in pregame introductions. The four-time WNBA All Star, selected by the Mystics in the first round of the 2004 draft, played six seasons in Washington before foot and ankle injuries forced her to miss the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons.

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How Robert Kelley took the lead in Redskins backup RB race

How Robert Kelley took the lead in Redskins backup RB race

FEDEX FIELD -- The Redskins got what they wanted in the running game against the Bills on Friday. But perhaps they didn’t get it from the expected source.

It was Robert Kelley, not fellow rookie Keith Marshall, who ran the ball consistently well in the absence of injured starter Matt Jones. Kelly had 12 carries for 51 yards. His longest run was nine yards indicating that he kept on grinding out years and not piling up a lot of them in one or two pops.

“I thought he ran hard,” said head coach Jay Gruden. Protected the football, had a couple of good blitz pickups that I saw. I have to make sure I look at the film and see how he did in protection overall. But for the most part I’m happy with the way he played.”

MORE REDSKINS: RECAPPING WASHINGTON'S WIN OVER BUFFALO

Unfortunately for Marshall, he did not get the time with the with the first offense that he was expected to get. He had one carry for three yards. On that attempt he suffered a sprained elbow and left the game. He did not return.

It’s possible that both Marshall and Kelley will make the 53-man roster as Jones’ backups. But if only one of them makes it, Kelley has to be the one. So far in the preseason he has 22 carries for 99 yards, an average of 4.5 per carry. Marshall has 16 carries for 28 yards, a 1.8-yard average.

Yes, they have been playing with different blockers in front of them and against defenses of varying qualities. But the difference in production is stark and if Jay Gruden meant what he said a few weeks ago when he stated that preseason games matter a lot when it comes to shaping the 53-man roster it’s hard to make any case for Marshall making it over Kelley.

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Several players injured in win over Bills

Several players injured in win over Bills

The Redskins had plenty of players leave their preseason game against the Bills early but it doesn’t appear that any of the injuries are too serious.

Two players will undergo MRI’s, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Ryan Kerrigan, who left with a groin strain, and RB Keith Marshall, who has an elbow strain, both will get MRI’s on Saturday.

According to Brian McNally of 106.7 The Fan, Kerrigan said that he came into the game with soreness in his groin, felt it tighten up in the early going, and decided to call it a night.

Also leaving the game early were OT Morgan Moses, who has a sprained ankle, and CB Quinton Dunbar, with a shin bruise. Gruden said both are day-to-day.

The injured players have plenty of time to heal up. Players at the lower end of the depth chart will play the fourth and final preseason game in Tampa Bay next Thursday. The front-line players will have until the Redskins open the regular season against the Steelers on September 12 to heal up.

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Gonzalez on earning career win No. 100 : 'I’m just happy it came'

Gonzalez on earning career win No. 100 : 'I’m just happy it came'

Gio Gonzalez isn’t the type to harp on his accomplishments. After quality outings, he typically deflects praise to his Nationals teammates in postgame interviews when asked to describe his personal performance.

But as much as he tends to downplay, earning his career 100th win in Friday's victory over the Colorado Rockies clearly meant something to him. 

“I’m just happy it came,” Gonzalez said. “I finally showed up and I’m happy I did it here with this organization. Oakland gave me an opportunity and Washington helped me continue that opportunity and I couldn’t be happier to do it with these colors and represent the Washington Nationals.”

The feat came after two no-decisions in his previous two starts, so the third time proved to be the charm. After the game, he had a gathering of family and friends waiting outside the Nats’ clubhouse to congratulate him, some holding gold “100” balloons and others wearing hats featuring the oft-used Twitter emoji of the same number.

“I'm sure it was [on his mind],” manager Dusty Baker said. “…He didn’t want to come out of this game. He was going to get it eventually and we needed it.”

The 30-year-old left hander accomplished the milestone thanks to six innings of two-run ball on just 85 pitches against the hard-hitting Rockies lineup. Gonzalez displayed a lot of what his skipper wanted to see from him: a low pitch count, avoiding the big inning and, as he did later in the game, deliver shutdown frames immediately after the Nats offense scores.

“He threw great tonight," added Bryce Harper. Kept a very good Rockies lineup off balance and did what he needed to do. Stuck with his approach and threw like Gio knows how. Huge for him, that hundredth win. Couldn't be happier for him and his family.”

Historic achievement aside, Gonzalez has quietly turned his season around after a rough patch. In his last nine outings, he’s 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA over 50 2/3 innings. His resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time, as he’s charged with stabilizing the back-end of a rotation that’s in flux due to injuries to Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross.

“That's the key to his success,” Baker said. “Not getting runners on base or not walking people and he had a very good game tonight, excellent game. His last couple games, few games have been good. I'm just glad we were able to get him his 100th victory.”