Rangers tag Braden with five, A's lose 9-2

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Rangers tag Braden with five, A's lose 9-2

March 9, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) The Texas Rangers keep stretching out Neftali Feliz, just in case.The AL Rookie of the Year struck out four in three scoreless innings Wednesday as the Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 9-2.Feliz posted 40 saves last year, then came to camp trying to win a spot in the Texas rotation. Earlier this week, he said he'd prefer to stay in his closer role."Your heart's got to be in what you're going to do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If your heart isn't in it, we'll have to make that decision down the line."Feliz took over in the sixth inning and allowed one hit and walked two. He threw 53 pitches, 30 for strikes, and showed off a sharp slider to add to his curveball and 100-plus MPH fastball.Feliz was a lifelong starter until his move to the bullpen as a late-season callup to the bullpen in 2009. No matter what his role, pitching coach Mike Maddux said the extended repertoire can only be of benefit."When you always have the almighty equalizer in your back pocket, you can use your other stuff and protect it," Maddux said.Feliz started to tire in eighth, walking the first two hitters he faced. But he finished in impressive fashion, striking out Josh Horton and Jai Miller to close out his day."One of the things he showed last year," Maddux said, "is he may be a youngster but he's a man."Maddux has asked somewhat rhetorically whether it's better to have such an effective pitcher for 70 innings or 200-plus. At the same time, he conceded Wednesday that "you're only as good as your bullpen.""It all sounds great right now but come the regular season and we've got a lead after 8 12, then let's go win it. He doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to be perfect as a closer. You just have to be pretty good and you'll have the advantage," he said.As Feliz and the Rangers mull his ultimate fate, one of his would-be competitors for a spot in the rotation, Derek Holland, posted a stellar outing in his second start.The left-hander gave up two hits and faced only one hitter over the minimum in his three-inning stint, striking out four."I need to show that I belong in that rotation," Holland said. "I don't want anything else. I'm trying to get that starting rotation spot. I need to make a couple of statements and today was one."Oakland starter Dallas Braden allowed four runs and four hits before recording his first out, though he settled down in the final two innings to finish with five runs - three earned.Braden, 11-14 with a 3.50 ERA in 30 starts last year, said his approach will certainly be different once the season begins."If it's that way in April, then we have a problem."David DeJesus and Landon Powell each hit their first home runs of the spring for the Athletics.NOTES: A's OF Ryan Sweeney made his spring debut and got two hits. ... Michael Young and Yorvit Torrealba each had RBI doubles in the Rangers' fix-run first. ... Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler singled to lead off the game and extend his hitting streak to seven games. ... Rangers RHP Brandon Webb threw 62 pitches in his first live batting practice session of the spring. ... Oakland 1B Daric Barton didn't make the trip with a bruised calf but is expected to play Thursday. ... Oakland RHP Craig Breslow is day-to-day with a strained left hamstring and will not pitch on Thursday as originally scheduled.

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win

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SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings aren’t done fighting yet. In front of their home crowd, they pulled off their second consecutive shocker, this time dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies in dramatic fashion by the final of 91-90.

Darren Collison battled Mike Conley Jr. all night long at the point guard position. After scoring 19 against the Clippers on Sunday, Collison hit the Grizzlies for 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting and added a team-high seven assists. His free throw with 5.7 seconds remaining proved to be the game winner.

Rookie Buddy Hield continued his hot shooting, scoring 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. The 23-year-old shooting guard is quickly establishing himself as a big time scoring option for the Kings moving forward.

Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. 7-footer Kosta Koufos found success against his former team, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks before fouling out late.

Ty Lawson led the second unit with 10 points, while Anthony Tolliver went 4-of-7 from the field for nine points.

Conley Jr. received the biggest contract in NBA history during the offseason and he showed why Monday against the Kings. The veteran point guard dropped in 22 points and dished out nine assists as the Grizzlies fell to 40-34 on the season.

35-year-old big man Zach Randolph went to work in the post. The 16-year NBA vet dropped in 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, schooling the Kings frontline with the left-handed flip early in the game.

Brandan Wright came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and Troy Daniels added 10 points.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Collison is heating up. Over his last two games, the veteran guard has scored 42 points on 16-for-24 shooting and kept his team in the ballgame.

TURNING POINT:
Despite leading by eight on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, Sacramento couldn’t close the door on the Grizzlies. Collison drew a foul with 5.7 remaining and his team trailing by one. He knocked down both freebies and Randolph missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help the Kings improve to 29-45 on the season.   

INJURY UPDATE:
Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter and Tyreke Evans sat for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings are back at it Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center when the Utah Jazz roll through Sacramento. Following the matchup with Utah, the Kings travel to New Orleans to face former King DeMarcus Cousins on Friday evening.

 

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

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SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

TIP-INS:
Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT:
Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.