Redskins

Pekovic leads Timberwolves over Nuggets 108-105

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Pekovic leads Timberwolves over Nuggets 108-105

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Kevin Love spent the morning backpedaling and Nikola Pekovic spent the evening plowing full steam ahead.

Pekovic had 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves used a big advantage at the free throw line to overcome Love's shooting struggles in a 108-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Love finished with eight points on 3-for-17 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds on a day he had to explain to Minnesota's owner and his teammates some critical comments he made about the franchise.

The Timberwolves shot under 40 percent for much of the game, but made 30 of 37 from the free throw line. The Nuggets were just 14 of 24 at the line.

Kenneth Faried had 26 points and 14 rebounds for the road-weary Nuggets, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game.

JJ Barea had 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 points for Minnesota.

The Wolves led by 11 with less than two minutes to play, but the Nuggets pulled within three and had the ball with 34 seconds to play. Ty Lawson's 3-pointer at the buzzer was short, and the Wolves breathed a sigh of relief.

Lawson had 17 points and 11 assists, and Danilo Gallinari scored 24 for Denver.

Love met with reporters after shootaround to explain some harsh comments he made about the organization to Yahoo! Sports. Love vowed not to discuss his disappointment at not getting a five-year deal from here on out and said he was generally pleased with the direction the franchise was headed.

He addressed the situation with teammates and owner Glen Taylor before the game - then played like a guy with other things on his mind. He missed his first six shots and couldn't contain Faried's boundless energy on the defensive end.

Faried has gone through peaks and valleys this season and entered the night with 22 points total in his previous four games. The Manimal got off to a ferocious start on Wednesday night, scoring 14 points and grabbing five boards in the first quarter alone. He gobbled up rebounds then blew the doors off the Minnesota big men in transition for easy buckets.

That it was coming on the second night of a back-to-back against a Wolves team that had the previous four days off was even more impressive. Then again, the Nuggets have been hardened by a grueling schedule to open this season. They've played just nine of their first 23 games at home and were finishing up a five-game road trip.

``I don't know what George Karl did to Commissioner Stern to deserve this schedule,'' Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.

The last time these two teams met, the Timberwolves sprang quite a surprise on Karl and the Nuggets. Love made his season debut on that night, which came more than a week before anyone expected. His activation wasn't known until about an hour before game time, and Karl wondered if the Wolves might throw Ricky Rubio out there on Wednesday night for his first game of the season.

Karl said he received a text earlier Wednesday that ``guaranteed'' Rubio would not be playing that night. ``That made me even more suspicious,'' he said. Rubio did not play. He's expected to play Saturday night against Dallas.

NOTES: Gallinari entered the night shooting 28 percent from 3-point range. He was 4 for 5 on Wednesday night. ... Timberwolves G/F Josh Howard missed the game because of an illness. ... Wolves SG Malcolm Lee left the game just before halftime with a hyperextended right knee and did not return.

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.