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Munchak looking for boost in Titans' offense

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Munchak looking for boost in Titans' offense

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Mike Munchak has made his biggest move yet as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.

He has put Tennessee's offense - and possibly his future - in the hands of 32-year-old quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains.

Munchak fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer on Monday night and gave the job to an assistant who will call his first NFL plays Sunday when the Titans host the Texans (10-1).

His motivation is pretty simple.

Owner Bud Adams put everyone in the franchise on notice last month, even Munchak, who has worked for this team 30 years as a player, assistant coach and now head coach. Munchak, with 2013 the last season of his contract, said their jobs are all on the line with a 4-7 record.

``This is just something we're hoping is a fix to something that was going on,'' Munchak said Wednesday. ``Hopefully it'll lead to helping us play a lot better the next five weeks. Things go well, I hope we're all back. I think it's something we can all work out. We'll see.''

The Titans boasted during the preseason about all the playmakers they had on offense - from running back Chris Johnson to Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright at receiver and tight end Jared Cook. Instead, they've been inconsistent from game to game and series to series. Munchak had enough after the Titans had to settle for five field goal attempts in losing 24-19 last weekend at Jacksonville.

Johnson and the run game rebounded from a start that had Tennessee ranked last in the NFL after five weeks and now ranks 19th. Johnson is sixth in the NFL with 942 yards and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. But with Jake Locker hurting his non-throwing shoulder Sept. 30 and missing five straight starts, the passing game is 20th with time of possession 30th in the league.

Munchak said they'd been frustrated most of this season and the high expectations didn't help. The struggles in Jacksonville made him realize he had no reason to wait any longer needing to try and win the final five games. The decision was all his, though he discussed the move with the general manager and the chief operating officer before calling Adams.

``If it doesn't work, then I'm the one that made these decisions,'' Munchak said.

The Titans sounded pretty happy with the change in coordinators from the 63-year-old Palmer to someone who hasn't even been alive as long as the man he replaced had spent coaching.

Locker, who will make his seventh career start Sunday, called the change a different style.

``Coach Palmer was more of a run and shoot, there's a lot of different options,'' Locker said. ``That's not as much a part of what coach Loggains does offensively, so I think there's some differences there in that. Again, you can't go in and change everything with a week's time to get ready for an NFL game.''

His teammates weren't as cautious about the changes.

Asked if he could see nuances already with Loggains having less than 48 hours to put together his first game plan, Cook smiled widely and called the differences ``pretty awesome.'' He said the scheme is similar to what the late Mike Heimerdinger ran as coordinator here between 2008 and 2010.

``It has a lot of Dinger in it, which is pretty cool,'' Cook said. ``This is going to be another different story on Sunday. That's when we're really going to see what's up and see what kind of plays are going to be called. Right now it's pretty cool.''

Wright, who leads NFL rookies and is the team leader with 48 catches, said there might have been issues previously with the options receivers had in their routes.

``I think everybody will notice a difference come Sunday, so we'll just have to wait and see,'' Wright said.

Houston coach Gary Kubiak was friends with Heimerdinger, who died in September 2011. Kubiak said Heimerdinger thought the world of Loggains, who had worked with Vince Young and Kerry Collins to Matt Hasselbeck and Locker.

``Obviously Mike does too, to give him this opportunity,'' Kubiak said.

Loggains also worked under Norm Chow and spent his first season in the NFL in Dallas when Bill Parcells and Sean Payton were with the Cowboys. Munchak said Loggains, a native of Arkansas and former quarterback in college for the Razorbacks, is an energetic ``football junkie'' who studies the game.

And Munchak is not worried about Loggains making his debut Sunday calling plays from the sideline.

``Everyone has got to have a first time,'' Munchak said.

NOTES: LB Colin McCarthy did not practice Wednesday after developing concussion symptoms after last week's loss. Munchak said the injury could not be pinned on any specific play, and now they have to wait and see if the linebacker can be cleared before Sunday's game. ... S Al Afalava (ankle) practiced fully after being hurt Nov. 4. DE Derrick Morgan (knee) did not practice but could return Thursday.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter:http://twitter.com/teresamwalker

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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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