Tagged in: victory

Shohei Ohtani launches 31st home run in victory, tying Hideki Matsui’s record for most in MLB season by a Japanese-born player

Shohei Ohtani hit his major-league-leading 31st homer of the season for the Los Angeles Angels, tying Hideki Matsui’s record for the most homers in a Major League Baseball season by a Japanese-born player.

Ohtani crushed a 459-foot solo shot off Baltimore’s Thomas Eshelman in the third inning Sunday, clearing the ficus trees behind the center-field fence.

Ohtani finished 1-for-4 as the Angels won 6-5. Juan Lagares doubled to deep center in the ninth inning, scoring two runs as Los Angeles rallied past the Orioles.

With his 14th homer in the past 17 games, the Halos’ two-way sensation tied the MLB homer record for Japanese-born players set by Matsui in 2004. Matsui needed 159 matches to hit his 31 homers for the Yankees, while Ohtani has done it in just 81 games for the Angels while also making 12 starts on the mound.

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“I’m really excited to be at the same level with somebody I looked up to since I was young,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “However, it’s still the first half, so like I’ve said before, I want to continue to build up one hit at a time.”

Ohtani also extended his own major league record for the most homers in a campaign with at least 10 games pitched.

With his 29th and 30th home runs on Friday, Ohtani tied and passed Babe Ruth’s record of 29, set in 1919.

Ohtani passed Mike Trout on Friday for the most homers in Angels history before the All-Star break. He is also the first player in American League history to record 30 homers and 10 stolen bases in his team’s first 81 games of a season.

Ohtani was voted to his first major league All-Star team last week. Ohtani’s next mound start is Tuesday night versus Boston. It will be his final pitching performance before the All-Star Game in Denver.

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Slater hits late 2-run homer, Giants beat Diamondbacks 6-5

San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler opted to have Austin Slater to pinch hit for Alex Dickerson to lead off the fifth inning.

Slater ended up grounding out, but he made up for it with a big blast at a crucial moment.

Slater hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning, Mike Yastrzemski also had a two-run shot and the Giants rallied to defeat the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 on Saturday night.

“We depend on Slater and I thought that was an important enough at-bat to get him into the game,” Kapler said. ”Obviously, he got the biggest hit of the night for us.”

The Giants hit three homers to end a season-long four-game losing streak in an 11-4 victory Friday and again took the Diamondbacks down with the long ball.

Arizona went up 5-4 on David Peralta’s bloop single in the fifth inning, but Slater fouled off a couple of good pitches from Ryan Buchter (0-2) before hitting a 463-foot homer to center.

San Francisco has scored 214 of its 405 runs (52.8%) of its runs this season on homers.

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Dominic Leone (2-0) struck out two in the seventh inning and Jake McGee worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances, improving the Giants to a majors-best 52-30. San Francisco overcame a season-high three errors and Thairo Estrada getting picked off first in the eighth.

“I don’t think we played our crisp brand of baseball defensively or on the bases,” Kapler stated. “We weren’t at our best and are going to need to be better than that.”

Nick Ahmed hit a two-run homer to help Arizona rally from an early four-run deficit, but the bullpen had another letdown.

The last-place Diamondbacks have lost six of seven.

“We fell down four runs, fought back and tied it, and took the lead,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We just got clipped. We just have to do a better job on the mound.”

Diamondbacks starter Jake Faria permitted a run in four innings versus St. Louis on June 28 in his first big league start since 2018. The right-hander escaped a jam in the first inning against the Giants, but couldn’t wriggle out of trouble in the third.

San Francisco wore red caps as part of Major League Baseball’s Fourth of July promotion, a glaring change from the Giants’ usual black.

Yastrzemski hit his 12th homer, a two-run shot, followed by Brandon Crawford’s run-scoring triple and Donovan Solano’s RBI single.

“He was OK,” Lovullo said of Faria. “I think the line score was little worse than what it was. He attacked the zone, had real good spin on his secondary pitches and he competed.

Giants starter Sammy Long couldn’t hold the lead.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Christian Walker each had run-scoring singles in the third inning, and Ahmed tied it at 4 with a two-run homer just over the wall in right in the fourth.

“I was just trying to stay through the middle of the field and got just enough of the barrel on it,” Ahmed said.

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Phoenix Suns take 3-1 series lead, inspired to get Chris Paul first trip to NBA Finals

Just one victory away from the NBA Finals, Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul said he will not allow himself to consider quite yet what it will be like to compete on basketball’s biggest stage for the first time in his 16-year career.

“Not until the job is done. Not until the job is done,” Paul said after the Suns’ gritty 84-80 win over the LA Clippers on Saturday to go up 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. “We can talk about all that then, but right now, it’s just laser focus.

“Three wins don’t win the series, so right now, we did what we came here to do. We wanted to get one of these, and now we got to stay focused and be ready to go back to our crowd.”

Paul, of course, has been here before. In 2018, his Houston Rockets were up 3-2 in the Western Conference finals versus the Golden State Warriors, before the defending champions stormed back to win the final two games, with Paul hobbled by a hamstring injury.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Paul said, looking back on the disappointment from three years ago. “Don’t dwell on things, you always remember, but I’m here now, excited about this opportunity, and all I can worry about right now is Game 5.”

Paul guided Phoenix to its victory in Game 4, playing all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, when he scored seven of his 18 points and dished out two of his seven assists, despite struggling to shoot the ball.

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Paul was 1-for-7 from the field in the fourth — and just 6-for-22 for the game — though he did go 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the closing period.

“I was mad I missed [midrange shots] that could have put us up by five or seven, but it’s so crazy when I went to the free throw line I thought about my son,” Paul, 36, said of his trip to the stripe with 3.9 seconds remaining, and the Suns up by two, when he split the pair of attempts. “I talk to my son all the time about the importance of shooting free throws.

“I seriously went to the free throw line and I was like, ‘How the hell I’m going to tell him to stay poised if I don’t do it my damn self?'”

It would appear Paul’s son is learning from his dad just fine, judging by how Paul’s younger teammates rave about the example he is setting for them.

Deandre Ayton, who lived up to his “DominAyton” nickname with 19 points, 22 rebounds, four blocks and three assists in Game 4, exuded praise for the man who is 14 years his senior.

“I love CP, man,” said Ayton, 22. “That’s really the only teammate that really pushed me. Like big-bro-type push.

“I think he was the best thing that happened to my career. I can say that every day.”

Ayton said he would like to repay Paul’s investment in him by helping Phoenix to at least one more win this postseason so Paul can finally get a taste of the Finals.

“I’m going to try my best,” Ayton said. “I’m going to try my best. … I know how it is as an older player and being in the league and stuff like that. So, when you have an opportunity like this, you can’t take it for granted. And he let us know. He let us know, and we know the task at hand.”

Devin Booker, who ditched the face mask protecting his broken nose to score a team-high 25 points before fouling out, said that he grew up watching Paul.

“I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and I’ve learned so much from him this year, and I always talk about off the court how he carries himself, and he’s just a true professional at every level at all times,” Booker, 24, said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a man, not even as a basketball player, just understanding how bad he wants this and how much time he’s put into it … 16 years, that’s a long time.

“We know how bad he wants it. … We definitely have his back.”

Suns coach Monty Williams, who coached Paul in the playoffs when they were both with New Orleans a decade ago, gave him a compliment of the highest order when asked how he feels about Paul controlling the action down the stretch.

“He’s not afraid of those moments,” Williams said. “It’s all about winning for Chris.” One more win. One more win and Paul will experience winning in a way he never has before.

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Nuggets eliminate Trail Blazers in Game 6 with 126-115 win

Nikola Jokic had 36 points and the Denver Nuggets eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in six matches with a 126-115 triumph Thursday night.

Michael Porter Jr. added 26 points, including 22 in the opening quarter, for the third-seeded Nuggets. They await the outcome of the first-round series between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.

Denver advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season.

Damian Lillard finished with 28 points and 13 assists for the sixth-seeded Blazers. They led by 14 points in the third quarter but couldn’t stave off elimination. Monte Morris hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close Denver to 101-98 heading into the last period. Jokic hit a 3-pointer to put Denver ahead 108-106 and Denver stretched it to 117-108 on Austin Rivers’ 3 with 3:52 left.

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Portland tired to catch up, getting to 121-115 on CJ McCollum’s layup, but Aaron Gordon hit a 3-pointer that all but sealed it for Denver with less than a minute to go.

The Nuggets took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 147-140 double overtime victory in Denver on Tuesday night.

It spoiled Lillard’s epic playoff performance: He had 55 points, including 12 3-pointers, and 10 assists. It was the most 3-pointers ever in a playoff game.

The Blazers needed big man Jusuf Nurkic to stay out of foul trouble. Tasked with defending Jokic, he fouled out in three of the first five matches.

Nurkic didn’t have a foul in the first half, but then had four quick fouls in the third quarter and had to head to the bench.

Porter had six 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, tying an NBA playoff record for most 3s a quarter. Lillard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 68-61 lead at the half. He raised his arms to encourage the crowd as he headed off the floor.

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Naomi Osaka fined $15K for not speaking to French Open media, could face tourney default for avoiding press

Naomi Osaka has been fined $15,000 after skipping her required news conference following her first-round victory at the French Open on Sunday and could face stiffer punishment, including default from the tournament, if she continues to avoid speaking to the media.

In a joint statement from the four Grand Slam tournaments, the organizations said they had written to Osaka after she revealed she would not be participating in her media obligations during the fortnight and reminded her of the consequences stated in the 2021 rulebook should she opt out.

The four tournaments, which also involve Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, said there would be further and greater consequences if she continues to decline her media obligations.

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“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.),” the statement read.

The Slams said the decision was a matter of fairness.

“We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement,” read the statement.

“As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honor their commitments.”

The organizations called the engagement of players with the media a “core element of the Grand Slam regulations” and an essential part of the sport’s continued growth.

The statement also referenced Osaka’s citing of her mental health in her decision to not speak with the media and said it was a priority of the tournaments. The second-seeded Osaka defeated Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday.

She participated in an on-court interview following the victory and called her game on clay a “work in progress.”

She will face Ana Bogdan on Tuesday in the second round.

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Rangers snap 6-game skid with 5-2 win over Yankees and Cole

Adolis Garcia and Willie Calhoun homered as the Texas Rangers ended a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night, denying Gerrit Cole’s bid to become the American League’s first six-game winner.

Cole (5-2) permitted season highs of five runs and seven hits, getting pulled after Garcia led off the sixth with a sharp single on the right-hander’s 89th pitch.

Cole struck out seven, but also issued two free passes after walking none over his previous five starts.Garcia’s 11th homer was an opposite-field shot leading off the second, and was the first of three consecutive extra-base hits. 

David Dahl and Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with back-to-back doubles that made it 2-1 and put Texas ahead to stay. Garcia stole home, part of a double steal with two outs in the sixth after Cole exited, for a 5-1 lead.

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The Rangers, coming off their first winless road trip of at least six games since 1991, hadn’t won since their previous home game, May 9 versus Seattle when they reached .500 for the second time this season.

Jordan Lyles (2-3) struck out six in six innings for his first win in eight starts since winning his season debut April 4. Three of the first four Yankees batters had singles, and Gio Urshela’s run-scoring hit put them ahead 1-0. But they got only one other runner past first base against the Texas right-hander.

Ian Kennedy worked a perfect ninth for his AL-leading 11th save in 11 chances.

Luke Voit’s first homer of the season was a solo shot in the Yankees’ eighth.

Calhoun, who had a double leading off the first, hit his fifth homer to open the fifth.

Cole’s franchise record-matching streak of 12 consecutive starts allowing two earned runs or less ended, keeping him tied with Whitey Ford (1963) and Chad Green (2017-19).

Cole also snapped a run of five starts in a row going at least six innings and not walking a batter, one off the team record David Wells set 18 years ago. Cole’s span of 41 2/3 innings without a walk since April 12 ended when Joey Gallo reached with one out in the third.

The ball got past catcher Kyle Higashioka, and Gallo took off and rounded first base before tripping and then having to scamper back to the bag to avoid an embarrassing out.

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Rafael Nadal wins 10th Italian Open title with victory over longtime rival Novak Djokovic

Rafa Nadal warmed up for the French Open with a battling 7-5 1-6 6-3 victory over world number one Novak Djokovic as the Spaniard claimed a record-extending 10th Italian Open title in Rome on Sunday in the latest chapter of their rivalry.

After a mid-match wobble, Nadal turned up the heat in the decisive moments of his 57th meeting with top seed Djokovic – the pair’s ninth in Rome – to secure the triumph over the defending champion in two hours and 49 minutes.

“I was lucky in some moments, especially against (Denis) Shapovalov,” Nadal said, referring to the round of 16 match he won in a tiebreak in the decider.

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“And then I think I played a good tournament, I have been playing better and better, finding my rhythm on clay. I had a very positive week and I’m very happy.

“It’s amazing to have this trophy in my hands for the 10th time. It’s something impossible to imagine but it happened so I’m super happy and can’t thank my team enough.”

Nadal broke to go ahead 6-5 in a tight opening set and staved off a late comeback attempt from Djokovic to take the early advantage in the contest with a searing inside-out forehand that caught the Serbian off guard.

But Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in their previous meeting in the Roland Garros final last year, pounced in the second set to race ahead 5-1 as the Spaniard’s intensity dropped and quickly leveled the match at one set apiece.

Second seed Nadal then saved two break points at 2-2 in the decider and fired an emphatic shot down the line to hold, before switching gears to complete the win and match Djokovic’s record of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles.

Nadal will now target a 14th French Open crown when the claycourt Grand Slam starts on May 30.

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Bulls complete sweep of Hornets in LaVine’s return, 120-99

For one night, the Chicago Bulls looked like a playoff-worthy team.

The return of Zach LaVine to the floor certainly had something to do with the Bulls’ inspired effort, which ended a four-game skid.

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 14 rebounds, LaVine had 13 points after missing 11 matches due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and the Bulls swept the season series from the Charlotte Hornets with a 120-99 victory on Thursday night.

“It definitely opened up some things for us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine’s return.

Said Vucevic: “We’re happy to have him back. We played a great game and that helped motivating us and getting us ready to play knowing he was back. So hopefully we will continue to play that way.”

Chicago is a long shot to make the postseason, still 3 1/2 games behind Washington for the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Bulls have six games left; the Wizards have five. LaVine said he felt “really tired” after the long layoff and wanted to make sure he didn’t try to do too much.

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“I told (my teammates), don’t expect me to try to go get 40 (points) the first night,” LaVine said.

LaVine averaged more than 30 points in his five previous games before being sidelined, but mostly deferred to his teammates in the first three quarters, attempting six shots. But he started to show his scoring ability with back-to-back jump shots to start the fourth quarter before Donovan took him out after 27 minutes of action.

“I thought there was a lot more opportunities for him to shoot the ball, and to try to go score and attack,” Donovan said.

“But with him being out three weeks and the respect he has for his teammates, and I think he just tried to fit in and take the shots that were there and not try to force things.”

P.J. Washington, who missed Charlotte’s last game for the birth of his child, had 24 points on six 3-pointers. 

Malik Monk added 20 points off the bench for the Hornets, who played without Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham.

Charlotte could have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament had it won.

But Vucevic would have none of it. He returned after missing two games with right adductor tightness and dominated. Looking fresh, he made 12 of 24 shots from the field and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, helping opening things up for his teammates.

“I think they just played harder than us every time we played them,” Washington said. “For us, it’s just about defense at the end of the day. We have to stop teams from getting offensive rebounds and easy second-chance points.”

The Bulls, who beat the Hornets by 13 and 17 points in the two previous meetings, jumped out to a 48-33 lead this time.

It appeared Charlotte might make a game of it after hitting 8 of 13 3-point attempts in the second quarter to cut the lead to five, but the Bulls extended their lead to 22 entering the fourth quarter.

“We’ve struggled with Chicago all year,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Give them credit. For whatever reason, the matchup does not fit our group.”

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Basilashvili claims fifth ATP Tile at Munich Open

Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili claimed the fifth ATP Tour title of his career and the second in 2021 with a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory over Jan-Lennard Struff after 86 minutes at the BMW Open in Munich. Basilashvili did not a set in five matches this week. 

Basilashvili won eight of the first nine points and broke Struff in the first game. The match was suspended by rain, when Basilashvili was leading 4-2.

The Georgian player never looked back and dropped just three service games to close out the first set after 35 minutes.  Struff did not convert one break point in the sixth game of the second set, which went on serve en route to the tie-break.

Both players went on serve in the tie-break until the ninth point, when Basilashvili earned the decisive mini-break at 4-4 when Struff hit a backhand into the net.

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Basilashvili sealed the 14th match of his campaign on his second match point with a forehand winner.

Basilashvili has already won a title on German clay in Hamburg in 2019.

Earlier this year he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha and beat Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the quarter finals of the Sardegna Open in Cagliari. 

“It wasn’t easy and I was super tight at the end. It was very difficult. It’s never easy to play against Jan. He is a very big fighter and serves well. I am super happy. It seems like German conditions suit me. This is my fifth ATP Tour title and i twill give me confidence for the upcoming season”, said Basilashvili. 

Struff, who was playing in his ATP Tour final, was bidding to become the seventh different German champion at the ATP 250 in Munich after Jurgen Fassbender in 1974, Rolf Gehring in 1980, Michael Stich in 1990, Phillip Kohlschreiber in 2007, 2012 and 2016, Tommy Haas in 2013 and Alexander Zverev in 2017 and 2018. 

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Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova

Simona Halep returned from injury to begin her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and it was only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

“Starting the clay-court season makes me very happy and motivated, extra motivated actually,” Halep said in a post-match news conference.

“I missed playing matches. I had a few weeks without an official match and it was kind of tough when I started the match, but my mind was strong enough just to give focus on what I have to play. So, I did it great and today it was a great match.

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“I was a little bit nervous before the match because I played twice against her and she beat me every time.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her victory over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point.

Halep will play Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals after the Russian upset eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-1, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina came through a tougher test as she defeats three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3. Svitolina was 3-1 down in the tiebreaker before winning six of the next seven points, and she didn’t face a break point in the second set. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian will face Petra Kvitova in the quarters.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit, who eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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