Olympic break over, Mystics face Fever

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Olympic break over, Mystics face Fever

After a month-long hiatus for the summer Olympics, the Washington Mystics and the rest of the WNBA returns to action this week with the locals playing at Indiana on Thursday. Depending on one's point of view, the break for the Mystics (4-14) was either: Much needed so the players and coaches could analyze and ponder how best to fix the woes of the first half, one that included three losing streaks of at least four games. Or...Poorly timed seeing as the Mystics closed the first half with a rousing 70-53 win at New York, their largest margin of victory on the season.Sure, you can point to the latter position with some legitimacy, but the overall ills during those initial 18 games cannot be denied. Slow starts were a repeat offender; Washington did not own a lead at the end of the first quarter until the 13th game of the season. Spotty point guard play certainly did not help generate consistent early offense.The one constant on offense and on the boardsremains forward Crystal Langhorne, who topped the team in points (16.6) and matched Michelle Snow with a team-high 6.7 rebounds. The former University of Maryland star combined with DC native Monique Currie for 40 points in the victory over New York and tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Mystics stunning 67-66 win over the Fever (10-7) on June 15.Overall the Mystics offense has been stagnant and simply lacking, averaging a league-low 69 points per game. Currie (10.6) is the only other playing averaging double figures, Matee Ajavon (9.2) is averaging nearly five points a game fewer than she did last season, sinking only 32 percent of her shots. The real issue for coach Trudi Lacey's squad offensively comes with those directing traffic. Free agent signee Dominque Canty went from starting point guardto waived after only five games. Second-year guard and former first-round pick Jasmine Thomas is still transitioning into a floor leader role and the growing pains are evident at times.In-season pick-up Shannon Bobbitt became a 5-foot-3 sparkplug for a while, but she failed to tally a single point in four of her last five games. Natasha Lacy also received time, but nothing stuck. Even if the losses continue to mount, letting Thomas and 2012 first-rounder Natalie Novosel take control of the backcourt at some point could be Lacey's best path.Indiana, led by Olympic Gold medalist and small forward Tamika Catchings, ended the first half in second place behindEastern Conference leading Connecticut. Catchings paces the Fever in points (18.2), rebounds (7.4) and steals (2.0), though the do-everything star missed 10 of 14 shots in the June loss to the Mystics. The two sides square off three times over the final five-plus weeks of the regular season including twice in Indiana where the Fever are 6-3.Meanwhile the Mystics lost seven of eight road games with the win at New York representing the only triumph away from the Verizon Center. Seeing as they open the second half playing six of eight on the road, the Mystics better hope they remembered that winning formula.

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Nationals fall to Padres as four starters sit on the bench

Nationals fall to Padres as four starters sit on the bench

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Schimpf hit a two-run homer and the San Diego Padres broke out the bats, beating the Washington Nationals 5-3 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

The Padres had only one run and six hits with 31 strikeouts in back-to-back losses in games started by Washington's Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to begin the series. San Diego bounced back by matching its season high with 14 hits, with 12 coming off starter Joe Ross (2-1).

NL home run leader Bryce Harper was among four starters out of the lineup for Washington. The game was delayed 1 hour, 20 minutes by rain.

RELATED: HARPER AMONG 4 NATS' STARTERS OUT VS. PADRES SUNDAY

Four relievers, including Kirby Yates (1-0), pitched 4 2-3 hitless innings following starter Jhoulys Chacin's latest bumpy road appearance. Brandon Maurer worked the ninth for his sixth save.

Chase d'Arnaud had a two-run single and double for the Padres. Franchy Cordero singled in the third for his first major league hit and later doubled.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Matt Wieters also did not start for the Nationals. All three entered as pinch hitters, but were retired. Washington opens a nine-game, 10-day road trip Monday afternoon in San Francisco.

Adam Lind drove in two runs. His RBI double in the fifth off Chacin pulled Washington closer at 5-3.

Chacin surrendered three runs on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. He also had two singles and an RBI.

Ross, who allowed five in four innings plus three batters in the fifth, certainly had two tough acts to follow. Strasburg struck out a career-high 15 in Saturday's 3-0 win after Scherzer fanned 13 in Friday's 5-1 series-opening victory.

San Diego doubled the amount it scored in consecutive losses after just four batters. Following a two-out walk to Wil Myers, Schimpf hit his 13th homer of the season and second in the series.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres: RHP Carter Capps (Tommy John surgery) remains on track to face hitters this week, manager Andy Green said.

Nationals: Murphy missed the previous two games due to illness, Chris Speier said Saturday. Speier, serving as acting manager with Dusty Baker away this weekend to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in California, did not meet with the media before Sunday's game.

UP NEXT

Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 4.50 ERA) faces the Cubs at home on Monday.

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (4-2, 4.32) opens a three-game road series against Giants LHP Matt Moore (2-5, 5.28)

More Nationals: NATIONALS PLAYERS VISIT LOCAL LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAMS

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Astros hand Orioles 7th straight loss

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USA Today Sports

Astros hand Orioles 7th straight loss

HOUSTON -- George Springer homered during a six-run second inning, sending Lance McCullers and the Houston Astros over Baltimore 8-4 Sunday for the Orioles' season-worst seventh straight loss.

Springer connected for the second straight game, helping the Astros overcome a 3-0 deficit against Alec Asher (1-3).

McCullers (6-1) allowed five hits and three runs -- two earned -- in six innings. He struck out eight in his fourth straight win.

McCullers' streak of 22 scoreless innings ended when Schoop hit a two-run homer in the first.

Schoop drove in three runs and Mark Trumbo added a solo homer for the Orioles, who have been outscored 38-17 during their skid.

Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run double with one out in the Houston second inning and scored on a double by Yuli Gurriel to tie it at 3.

Springer for his 11th homer with two outs. Asher watched the ball sail over him and put his hands on his knees and shook his head as Springer rounded the bases.

Josh Reddick followed with a triple and scored on a single by Jose Altuve to push the lead to 6-3. Asher finally got the third out when Carlos Correa hit a grounder in his second at-bat of the inning.

Asher gave up six hits in two innings in his first start since replacing struggling right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation. Jimenez, who had a 7.17 ERA in nine games entering Sunday, allowed five hits and two runs in six innings after Asher's early exit.

Up 2-0, the Orioles the bases with one out in the second on a single by Hyun Soo Kim and two errors. Schoop's single with two outs pushed the lead to 3-0 before McCullers retired Manny Machado to limit the damage.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: CF Adam Jones was out of the lineup for a second straight game because of a sore hip. But manager Buck Showalter said he was feeling better and that he expects him to return on Monday.

Astros: Put RHP Charlie Morton on the 10-day disabled list with a strained muscle in the right side of his back and manager A.J. Hinch said there is no timetable for his return. Mike Fiers, who was moved into the bullpen on Saturday in favor of Brad Peacock, will return to the rotation to make Morton's scheduled start on Tuesday at Minnesota.

UP NEXT

Orioles: Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA) is scheduled to start for Baltimore on Monday in the opener of a series against the Yankees. He allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings of a 2-0 loss to the Twins in his last start.

Astros: Brad Peacock (2-0, 0.87) will make his second start of the season on Monday when Houston opens a three-game series at Minnesota. Peacock allowed one hit and no runs while striking out eight in 4 1/3 innings of his last start when he filled in when Dallas Keuchel missed one start with a pinched nerve in his neck.