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No. 22 Miss. St. trying to recover from 2 losses

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No. 22 Miss. St. trying to recover from 2 losses

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) It's been a sobering two weeks for Mississippi State's football team.

Consecutive lopsided losses to Alabama and Texas A&M have erased most of the momentum from an impressive 7-0 start to the season. Now the No. 22 Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) must recover quickly and get ready for a night game at Tiger Stadium against No. 9 LSU (7-2, 3-2).

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said there won't be major changes to personnel or the playbook going into the LSU game, but the Bulldogs must execute better on both sides of the ball.

``If you're a student of the game and study the game it is simple - you see a minor breakdown here and a minor breakdown there,'' Mullen said. ``When you make a mistake against quality teams it costs you.''

Alabama and Texas A&M are certainly quality teams. So is LSU. Mississippi State's status is less certain.

The Bulldogs have won three SEC games against Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee, but those programs are a combined 0-18 in conference play.

Now that Mississippi State is playing tougher competition, it's been exposed on both sides of the ball. Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said he counted ``close to 30 missed tackles'' in last weekend's loss to Texas A&M.

That was one major reason Aggies' quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for 311 yards and rushed for 129 yards as Texas A&M built a 31-0 lead on the way to an easy 38-13 victory.

The Bulldogs will undoubtedly work on the physical breakdowns that caused Manziel's big game. But the Bulldogs also must manage the emotional disappointment of almost certainly falling out of the SEC Western Division race.

It's doubtful the Tigers will be in a forgiving mood in Death Valley this weekend.

History isn't on Mississippi State's side. The Bulldogs have lost 12 in a row to LSU and haven't won in Baton Rouge since 1991.

Mullen said he expects the Bulldogs to be ready for Saturday's challenge - both mentally and physically. He said learning to deal with quick turnarounds is part of life in the SEC.

``A lot of leagues, there are one or two big games a year,'' Mullen said. ``In this league every week seems to be that way. So it is not just the mental part of having to be up for such a big game every single week, but also the physical toll it takes from playing top national teams week in and week out on your body. You have to respond. Especially this point of the season, you have to have great mental and physical toughness to get through and win these football games.''

LSU can relate to Mississippi State's recent disappointments. The Tigers are coming off a crushing 21-17 loss to Alabama on Saturday.

``Both of us are 7-2,'' LSU coach Les Miles said. ``They are coming off two losses. We're sick to our stomach. It's two teams with a lot to play for.''

And Mississippi State has a lot to fix.

LaDarius Perkins was leading the SEC in rushing two weeks ago with nearly 100 yards per game, but after gaining just 38 yards against Alabama and 42 against Texas A&M, he's dropped to third in the league.

Tyler Russell threw an interception against both Texas A&M and Alabama after throwing just one in the first seven games combined.

And Mississippi State's defense - once among the best in the league - surrendered 693 total yards to Texas A&M.

Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning echoed Mullen's diagnoses: There isn't one major problem, but several minor issues are adding up to losses.

``You can't hide,'' Koenning said. ``You're starting to get in the meat of your schedule. You've got to do exactly what you're supposed to do. In these games, the small things are magnified.''

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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We can’t stop staring at these Bowie Baysox commemorative moon landing jerseys

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Twitter/@BowieBaysox

We can’t stop staring at these Bowie Baysox commemorative moon landing jerseys

One of the coolest things about Minor League Baseball is the creativity that comes with it.

The stadiums. The ice cream deals. The interesting mascots. And most importantly, the uniforms.

The Bowie Baysox, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, released special uniforms they will be wearing on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing.

And, oh wow, are they something. Take a look.

On the front of the uniform, you can see the image of where lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the lunar surface of the moon. On the back, a satellite view of the moon is pictured, with the player's number on top of it. Both the number and the cursive "Baysox" on the front are filled in with the American flag.

If you're looking for some to do on Saturday, go support the Baysox and their Moon Landing uniforms. If only there was a jersey giveaway.

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Bullpen struggles plague Nationals in loss to Orioles

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Bullpen struggles plague Nationals in loss to Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Juan Soto sat on the ground against the left-field wall, his head in his hands in the bottom of the eighth. Washington's outfielder had just reached for a long shot from Baltimore's Trey Mancini, but the ball was just out of Soto's reach and Mancini notched his 19th homer of the year, a two-run knock that gave the Orioles a 6-2 lead. 

Soto's body language symbolized more than just his frustration from the one play. By the end of the game -- the start of which was delayed 92 minutes after an onslaught of rain made Camden Yards look like a blizzard had blown into town -- the Orioles outscored the Nationals 9-2, almost the opposite of Washington's 8-1 win Tuesday.

Both teams were sluggish out of the box; a one-run ball game until the seventh, when Baltimore tore the game wide open. Washington put across its two sole runs in the third and fifth, both RBIs from Adam Eaton (he knocked in Soto on a sacrifice fly on the third, and Trea Turner on a double in the fifth). 

The Orioles briefly tied the game in the fourth, but it wasn't until the seventh when Baltimore broke down Washington's bullpen and put up two consecutive multi-run innings. 

Though Washington starter Erick Fedde, who was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg earlier Wednesday, put in six solid innings on the mound and only allowed on run on five hits in his 66 pitches, the Nationals' bullpen struggled to thwart the Orioles' comeback seventh and eighth innings.   

Since the outing was Fedde's first since he was recalled, Washington manager Davey Martinez didn't want to stretch him since he'd had two weeks off. 

"He got us through the sixth inning," Martinez said. "We had [Wander Suero] ready to go, but [Fedde] did well."

Suero, Tony Sipp and Javy Guerra combined for the seventh inning, contributing an out apiece. Suero got off to a rough start, however, and the first two batters he faced reached base. In his outing he gave up three earned runs on three hits and one walk.

After the game Suero explained that he received some bad personal news prior to the game, so he wasn't necessarily in the right mindset.

Sipp faced only two batters before he was done on the mound (he walked one and gave up a sacrifice fly to Rio Ruiz). So, when Guerra entered with two outs and two runners on, the Nationals were in desperate need of that elusive third out. 

Guerra induced a groundout to end the seventh, but couldn't carry that momentum into the eighth. To start the penultimate inning, Guerra gave up that two-run shot to left field that left Soto with his head hanging between his knees. 

Washington stuck with Guerra after those two runs crossed the plate, but as the right-hander struggled to record even one out, Martinez made the call and brought in Matt Grace to complete the inning. Three more runs crossed in the half, putting Baltimore ahead 9-2.

Now, the Nationals head to Atlanta to face the NL East-leading Braves for a four-game set. Washington is 6 1/2 games back of Atlanta, though the Nationals are the top wild-card standings in the National League.

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