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Giants offensive line keeps Eli standing, scoring

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Giants offensive line keeps Eli standing, scoring

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Opposing defenses are not only having a tough time stopping Eli Manning this season, they are barely touching the New York Giants quarterback,

The two-time Super Bowl MVP has been sacked a league-low five times through the first six games of the season, and he's been hit only 11 times - total.

Even more impressive heading into Sunday's game against Washington (3-3) is this: The offensive line has not allowed Manning to be sacked in the last three games.

Manning can't explain the recent run, but he is not complaining.

``They're playing great,'' Manning said. ``We're running the ball well, the pass protection has been good, and the receivers have been getting open.

``It's been pretty smooth, and hopefully, we keep it that way.''

One of the rarest sights in the past three weeks came in the first quarter of New York's 26-3 win over San Francisco Sunday. Manning dropped back to pass and was drilled by linebacker Ahmad Brooks after letting the ball go. It would be the 49ers' only hit on him.

Backup quarterback David Carr, who got sacked an NFL-record 76 times in his rookie season with the expansion Houston Texans in 2002, said Manning helps his line keep him clean as much as any quarterback in the league. He studies opposing defenses, knows where the ball needs to go and makes them pay with big plays when they try to put too much pressure on him.

``The biggest thing that stands out about him, and it's hard to notice, (is) after he throws the ball,'' Carr said. ``If he gets hit, he looks at the number: `Who hit me?' It catalogues and registers in his brain. `Where was that protection? Where were we weak a little bit? Maybe it's not that guys' fault. Where was that breakdown and how can I get rid of the ball faster?'''

The line - ever shuffling - deserves credit, as well. The interior hasn't changed with Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee at the guards and David Baas at center. But the tackles have changed since the Super Bowl. David Diehl, who started the season at left guard, finished at left tackle after Will Beatty was injured. Kareem McKenzie played the right side.

McKenzie was not re-signed in the offseason and Diehl switched from the left tackle to right. That allowed Beatty (eye), who started at left tackle for the first 10 games before being sidelined, to return on the left side.

However, the season did not open that way. Beatty was bothered by back spasms most of training camp and free-agent signee Sean Locklear started for him. Diehl injured his right meniscus in the second game and missed the next three games. That forced Locklear to move to right tackle, where he had played for almost all of his nine seasons, and for Beatty to play left tackle.

The lineup has gotten better with each week and one has to wonder whether Diehl will have a starting job now that he is healthy again.

``We've been playing together now for a little while,'' Boothe said. ``I think last year, not having the offseason and a shorter preseason for those of us that signed contracts in August, I think it could make life difficult. It was kind of going uphill.

``But we got better as the season went on last year and I feel that's just been a growth from there to this year. We're all comfortable playing next to each other.''

The tight ends and running backs have helped as well, particularly halfback Ahmad Bradshaw, who has picking up blitzes with the best of them.

``We work hard on to notice it before it happens and we take pride,'' Bradshaw said. ``I love the contact, so I'm always willing to meet the linebackers in the hole and cut down the big guys, but we take pride in protecting Eli because he's a great quarterback and he can do a lot of things with great protection.''

Manning's statistics reflect that. His 1,772 yards passing is second in the league behind New England's Tom Brady. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.

``I think it's a good combination,'' Snee said. ``We have done a pretty good job of holding our blocks and he's done a good job of getting rid of the ball. The running backs and tight ends have done a good job of chipping, and that's a big part of everyone's pass protection these days. But I'm going to say the same thing I said when things were bad. We're not going to get too excited.

``We're just going to keep working.''

The good news for the offensive linemen is that they get to practice every day against some of the league's top pass rushers - defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

``They're an outstanding team,'' Umenyiora said. ``They play very well together and obviously they've practiced against some of the best defensive players in the game.''

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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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