Orioles

Gasquet tops Davydenko, wins Qatar Open

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Gasquet tops Davydenko, wins Qatar Open

DOHA, Qatar (AP) Richard Gasquet won the Qatar Open for his eight career title on Saturday, coming from a set down to beat Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Having pulled out of the Sydney tournament because of elbow trouble, Gasquet said he will be ready for the Australian Open. The win in Qatar will give him a much-needed boost.

``I'm really happy with the way I won,'' he said. ``I'm confident. When you're winning a tournament like that, it's perfect. I played a lot, so for sure I will be ready for Melbourne.''

Davydenko, who struggled with injuries last season, called for the trainer early in the third set for treatment on his hip. In the end, Davydenko blamed his conditioning for the defeat.

``He beat me physically,'' he said. ``He runs very well.''

Davydenko led 3-0 in the first set against the 10th-ranked Gasquet, hitting a slew of forehand and backhand winners that kept Gasquet well beyond the baseline and helped neutralize his net play.

In the second set, the 44th-ranked Davydenko saved three break points early and broke Gasquet for 3-2 and had two break chances to go up 4-2. But Gasquet saved them to close to 4-3 and broke to tie it. The set went to a tiebreak and Gasquet outplayed a clearly fatigued Davydenko, who started racking up the unforced errors and losing control of his serve.

In the opening game of the third, Davydenko received about 10 minutes of hip treatment, but was no match for Gasquet. Davydenko broke back to make it 5-3 but the Frenchman broke for a third time when the Russian hit a backhand into the net - his 57th unforced error of the match.

``It's a big success for me,'' Gasquet told the crowd, which included French expatriates. ``I fought a lot because it was very tough and we were both tired. He is so talented and he plays so fast. It was tough for my game, but I managed to win. A lot of good players have won here, Federer, Murray.''

Davydenko said the turning point came down to the second set when he failed to convert the two break points that would have put him up 5-2.

``It was maybe was the time where I can say I can win the match,'' Davydenko said. ``But, you know, it's the game. I start to be tired a little bit in the beginning of the second set. Was not so easy. For sure I was thinking 4-3 for me, I can do 5-3 ... But I know I already have no power for tiebreak.''

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Orioles catcher Bryan Holaday finishes game as pitcher as Orioles blown out by Nationals 15-3

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Orioles catcher Bryan Holaday finishes game as pitcher as Orioles blown out by Nationals 15-3

After six straight wins led by their offense, the Orioles seemed due for an off night. And they finished it off with catcher Bryan Holaday on the mound.

Holaday was the 17th position player in Orioles history to pitch in a game, and the last since Stevie Wilkerson recorded a save last year against the Angels. But he only entered the game when the score was out of hand. 

The Orioles suffered a blowout loss in the first game of a three-game set against the Nationals on Friday at Camden Yards in a 15-3 loss, the first loss where the team was never in the game in a few weeks. 

Holaday’s finish wasn’t the only unique part of Friday’s game, as Keegan Akin made his major league debut. Akin threw three innings, allowed two hits and three earned runs with one home run allowed. He was sent to the team’s alternate training site at Double-A Bowie after the game.

“I thought he threw the ball really well,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Akin’s debut. “I was really encouraged by how he threw the ball. Really nice life to his fastball, good tempo, he flashed some decent breaking balls. He went out and attacked hitters and I was really impressed with him making his debut tonight and facing a lot of tough hitters for the Washington Nationals and he did a nice job.”

As was a problem throughout the night, however, the Orioles didn’t play good defense. They were credited with just one error, but the defense was more shoddy than that would suggest.

Starting pitcher Tommy Milone threw four innings, allowed nine hits and six runs — but three were unearned as the Orioles fell behind in the second inning and never came back. The Nationals scored in six of their nine offensive innings, including a six run outburst in the eighth inning.

The offense wasn’t much help, as they recorded just six hits compared to the Nationals 19 in a disappointing performance across the board. Anthony Santander slugged a home run in the first inning off Stephen Strasburg, who left with an injury in the inning, but the Orioles were quiet the rest of the night in a dominating defeat.

“I just didn’t think we played well defensively,” Hyde said. “I think we’ve been pretty good for the most part, especially in the infield. Tonight just wasn’t our best night defensively. We just didn’t play very well. So we just chalk this up, try to put this one behind us.”

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Brent Johnson calls for rookie Vitek Vanecek to replace Braden Holtby in goal for struggling Capitals

Brent Johnson calls for rookie Vitek Vanecek to replace Braden Holtby in goal for struggling Capitals

After the 5-2 Game 2 loss to the New York Islanders Friday night in a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series, Rob Carlin asked the Caps Postgame Live crew how they would fix Washington's error-ridden performances seen in the first round so far. 

Brent Johnson knows the pressures that comes with playing in net during the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn't mean he'll sympathize with the end results. As a goaltender for the Capitals for four seasons in the mid-2000s, Johnson has vast experience with the ups and downs that come with the position. But he had a pretty radical answer to Carlin's question: Bench veteran goalie Braden Holtby, the man who helped Washington win a Stanley Cup in 2018, for a rookie who has never played in a regular-season NHL game: Vitek Vanecek. 

"I know how they can shake it up. I know how they can shake it up. Right?" Johnson said. "Vitek Vanecek. Right there. That’s it. Hey. You know what? Bold decision. Bold decision. Do something bold. You never know. I’ve seen it happen in the playoffs thus far."

To call for Washington's veteran netminder to take a seat on the bench for a rookie who hasn't even played in the NHL yet is more than bold. Johnson's proclamation left Carlin yelling "Whoa!" and fellow panelist Al Koken saying he didn't know how to top that one. Alan May simply smiled and shook his head. 

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The Capitals wouldn't be in this position at all had rookie Ilya Samsonov never gotten injured during the long NHL break back home in Russia in an off-ice incident. The 23-year-old had a breakout season for Washington to get in the rotation in what's been an up-and-down year for Holtby. Samsonov had a .913 save percentage and won 16 of his 26 games in net this season. Vanecek, on the other hand, just got called up for the postseason after playing all season for the AHL's Hersey Bears.  

Nonetheless, the Caps have to figure out something to get a spark going for Game 3 against the Isles at noon Sunday. Johnson's solution was by far the most radical suggested, but everyone agreed changes needed to be made or the season could end far sooner than anyone anticipated. 

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