No. 23 Rutgers hopes to be a distraction vs. Army

No. 23 Rutgers hopes to be a distraction vs. Army

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) If this had been an ordinary week, No. 23 Rutgers would simply be looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season.

But this hasn't been an ordinary week - or two - in New Jersey. And so while the Scarlet Knights (7-1) certainly want to get on the field and win again, no question, they also want to provide a little distraction from Superstorm Sandy for their state.

They'll get a chance to do both against Army (2-7) at High Point Solutions Stadium Saturday.

``A lot of things have happened that we're not used to, that we're not accustomed to hearing about,'' Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene said. ``They say adversity builds character in you as a person.''

A 35-23 loss to Kent State two weeks ago preceded the superstorm by two days, and then this week, as Rutgers prepared for the Black Knights, a Nor'easter dumped more than a foot of snow in the region.

``I know some of the guys have some more serious stuff going on at home,'' Scarlet Knights defensive tackle Scott Vallone said. ``But getting into the groove of the week and getting into the routine of a game week will allow us to get focused.''

This will be the sixth straight season that Rutgers and Army have met in non-conference play, and the Scarlet Knights will look for their ninth straight win against the Black Knights, who are coming off an impressive win over Air Force.

The key to the game will be Army's triple option offense. The Black Knights lead the nation in rushing (375.4 yards) and they will be facing a defense that is ranked No. 4 nation against the run, giving up 88.5 yards and only four touchdowns rushing this season.

``I think everybody knows how accomplished Rutgers is,'' Army coach Rich Ellerson said. ``They're having a great season. That slight advantage that we have because of what we do is mitigated by the fact that they had two weeks to prepare for us.''

Army quarterback Trent Steelman and running back Raymond Maples are the biggest threats. Steelman has rushed for more than 100 yards the past two games, and he is 89 yards shy of posting the 16th 1,000-yard season in school history.

Maples is 93 yards shy of becoming only the third Army player to have rushed for at least 1,000 yards in two or more seasons.

``It's a different scheme of defense that we have to play when we see an option attack,'' Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. ``But we've been playing this defense against this offense for a number of years now. I know the players who have done it before, they really take pride in their ability to change gears for a week and get this game plan mastered as best we can.''

While the return of senior linebacker Nate Combs helped the Black Knights against Air Force, Rutgers has more skill overall. Running back Jawan Jamison is averaging 107.8 yards, 21st best in the nation, and sophomore receiver Brandon Coleman has a career average of almost 21 yards per catch. What's more, eight of his 12 touchdown catches have covered 30 yards or more.

The big question mark this week is how Scarlet Knights sophomore quarterback Gary Nova responds after throwing six interceptions in the loss to Kent State.

``Frankly, we don't match up especially well with them,'' Ellerson said. ``I'm thinking about our guys on the defensive side of the ball. Rutgers has a nightmare of a running back who has made some really good defenses look bad. They also have some guys at receiver who are hard to cover and are hard to tackle if they catch it.''

The key will be for the Black Knights to force turnovers.

``We know what they do,'' Nova said. ``We know they're going to come out here and fight. And we just have to be prepared and come out and execute a lot better than I did (vs. Kent State).''

Army has lost 11 straight games away from West Point, and 14 straight vs. Big East competition. It hasn't upset a ranked team since knocking off Air Force in 1972. However, last week's win over the Falcons will certainly help the spirits.

``There's no doubt that everybody is a little bit lighter in their step,'' he said. ``Throughout the season, I'm really proud of the way our guys have come to work refocused.''

Rutgers is looking for its sixth eight-win season in seven years. But more importantly, there is a three-way race raging on top of the Big East with Cincinnati and Louisville.

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.


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.


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.