Stanford efficient, tops UCLA 45-19

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Stanford efficient, tops UCLA 45-19

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STANFORD -- Andrew Luck sprinted down the right sideline, reached out with his right hand and tiptoed the sideline with his left foot to complete an acrobatic one-handed catch before tumbling to the ground.Not exactly the Heisman Trophy pose.Maybe better.Luck threw for 227 yards and three touchdowns and padded his Heisman resume with the spectacular one-handed catch, keeping sixth-ranked Stanford perfect with a 45-19 victory over UCLA on Saturday night."There's about five positions the guy can play," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We kind of like what he does at quarterback."Luck completed 23 of 27 passes and had the Cardinal (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) in cruise control to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 12 games. Shaw even allowed Luck to go up to the line of scrimmage in a hurry-up offense at one point and call his own plays.No script. No questions. Just Luck."He called better plays than me," Shaw said.Stepfan Taylor ran for 112 yards and two scores and Coby Fleener caught two touchdown passes in front of a rare sellout crowd of 50,360 at Stanford Stadium.Richard Brehaut threw for 202 yards and had two touchdown passes to Joseph Fauria for the Bruins (2-2, 1-1), who had a better showing than a 35-0 loss to Stanford at the Rose Bowl last season but still exposed the gap between the California schools."We're going to look at film and kick ourselves on so many things we left out there against a very good defense," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said.The Bruins' Pistol offense flexed its muscles marching down to the goal line on the game's opening drive. But the strong start hit a a wall when David Parry stuffed Brehaut on a quarterback sneak just inches from the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, leaving Luck the length of the field on his first drive.No problem.The strong-armed and quick-footed quarterback added another highlight for Heisman voters to consider this season.Luck handed the ball off to Tyler Gaffney and sprinted out to the right side between the cornerbacks and safeties. Gaffney ran left and flipped the ball to Drew Terrell on a reverse, and the receiver threw to Luck along the far sideline.Luck made a one-handed catch and tiptoed the sideline with his left foot for a 13-yard reception that officials initially ruled incomplete. After a review, Luck had only the second reception of his career and first since a loss at Arizona on Oct. 17, 2009."I'm sure it was incomplete at the next level," said Luck, the projected No. 1 overall pick in April's NFL draft. "Glad we're playing with the one-foot in rule."The one-handed catch might not have even been the most impressive on the drive.Coby Fleener snatched a one-handed, 18-yard touchdown pass from Luck to put the Cardinal ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter. That capped a 16-play, 99-yard drive that spanned more than 8 minutes and actually gained 119 total yards because of penalties."I knew I had to one-up him," Fleener joked.Every time the Bruins started to threaten, they imploded with mistakes.Chase Thomas jarred the ball loose from Brehaut on UCLA's next possession. After a 15-yard personal foul penalty, Stanford only had to go 28 yards for another score, ending with Taylor's 2-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.The Bruins finally found their rhythm just before halftime. Brehaut showed poise in the pocket and connected with Fauria on a 12-yard TD catch with 8 seconds remaining to trim Stanford's lead to 17-7.Any hope UCLA had for a second-half comeback ended in a hurry.Taylor Embree fumbled a punt return late in the third quarter when Ty Montgomery popped the ball loose and recovered it. The Cardinal took over and punched it in the end zone again on Gaffney's 16-yard run out of a wildcat formation to go ahead 31-13.The Bruins defense also picked the worst week of the season to be short-handed. Starting cornerback Sheldon Price and backup safeties Dalton Hilliard and Alex Mascarenas were held out with injuries.The Cardinal had a key member sidelined, too.Stanford linebackers spread eye black liberally across their faces to honor the signature look by leading tackler Shayne Skov, who's out for the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee in the previous game at Arizona. Jarek Lancaster and A.J. Tarpley split time in Skov's place.Not that the injuries would have likely changed the outcome."Yeah," Brehaut said, "that's the best team we've played as far as physicality and getting after us."

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

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Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

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