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Browns' Thomas rips former teammate Peyton Hillis

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Browns' Thomas rips former teammate Peyton Hillis

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas once blocked and did all he could to protect Peyton Hillis from harm.

On Wednesday, he steamrolled his former teammate.

With Hillis coming to Cleveland this week as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Thomas unloaded on the bruising running back, saying he didn't always play hard and accused Hillis of putting his contract situation ahead of the team.

Thomas felt it was selfish behavior.

``It was a terrible distraction,'' Thomas said following practice. ``He crippled our offense. We were struggling to find anybody who could carry the ball after all the injuries we had. To have Peyton going through a contract dispute and basically refusing to play, it was a big distraction. But more than anything, he was our starting running back that was a good player who was going to help us be a successful offense.

``When he's not there and you don't have anybody to turn to, it makes it hard to win. And that's the distraction, it's not being successful.''

Hillis was the toast of Cleveland in 2011. He rushed for 1,177 yards, scored 11 touchdowns and endeared himself to Browns fans with his bull-in-a-china-shop running style. Following the season, Hillis was selected to have his likeness on the cover of the popular Madden video game, a choice that seemed to trigger his undoing.

He wanted a long-term contract with the Browns, and took his campaign public. From the start, his season unraveled as greed seemed to consume him.

``He was everything people knew about him - hard-working, blue-collar, tough, would do anything for anybody on the team,'' Thomas said. ``All he cared about was winning, and then all of a sudden the next year, all he cared about was trying to get his new contract.''

Hillis sat out Cleveland's third game with strep throat on the advice of his agent, Kennard McGuire. He missed several other games with a hamstring injury, and while he was rehabbing one week, Hillis left the team and missed a treatment to get married in Arkansas. There were other issues, including when Hillis skipped a Halloween charity event for kids - an absence he blamed on a miscommunication.

It was a soap opera.

And to Thomas, it never seemed to end.

``It was kind of one weird thing after another more than anything,'' Thomas said. ``We have guys getting married during the season and it's not a big deal. When you're injured (Thomas used his fingers to make quotations in the air) and you should be getting treatment, to go do your own thing repeatedly was just disrespectful more than anything to his teammates.

``I don't think people would have acted the same way if they were in that situation.''

Thomas was one of several veterans who intervened during the season and encouraged Hillis to clean up his act. Thomas said Hillis made things hard on himself, and in turn, on everyone else.

``You see a lot of guys in contract disputes, like Matt Forte,'' Thomas said. ``His solution was `I'm going to go out and prove they have to have me and they can't play without me.' The frustrating thing to a lot of teammates was you would try to talk to him and you try to tell him `That's not the right way to do it if you want to get your big contract.' He just wouldn't listen to anybody.

``People who thought they were very close friends with him, he wouldn't listen to anybody. He thought he knew the right way to do it and it ended up not being the right way and hurting everybody. Not just himself. It was a tough situation.''

Hillis never did get that long-term contract with the Browns, who decided to let him hit the free-agent market. He signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs during the offseason. He has rushed for 193 yards on 59 carries with one TD so far this season.

Thomas said he couldn't imagine Hillis still being around.

``I think it was better for both sides (he left),'' Thomas said. ``At that point, the situation with him here was toxic and he didn't want to be here and players didn't want him here. It was better for a fresh start.''

Browns coach Pat Shurmur refused to address the turbulence caused by Hillis last season.

``I'm going to talk about Peyton Hillis the 2012 version,'' Shurmur said. ``I'd be happy to answer any questions there. No, I won't put it into words.''

Hillis gained just 19 yards on 12 attempts last week when the Chiefs beat Carolina 27-21 one day after linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend at their Kansas City home then drove with a handgun to Arrowhead Stadium, where he shot himself in front of Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.

Thomas was asked if Hillis might come to Cleveland looking to settle a grudge.

``"He might,'' Thomas said. ``I guess I haven't watched their offense, so I don't really know what his role is. I'm sure he'll probably want to come in here and prove they made a mistake by not re-signing him. It will be interesting to see how many opportunities they give him.''

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NOTES: Browns S Usama Young practiced for the first time since sustaining a concussion against Pittsburgh on Nov. 25. He missed Sunday's game at Oakland. ... Browns RB Trent Richardson said if he had a Heisman vote he would give it to Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. ``I like him and I like the way he plays football,'' said Richardson, who was on the sideline when Manziel upset Alabama, Richardson's alma mater. Richardson is also close friends with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, another Heisman finalist.

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.

STREAKY

Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.

UP NEXT

Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

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