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Saints end Falcons unbeaten run with 31-27 win

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Saints end Falcons unbeaten run with 31-27 win

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Roddy White and the Atlanta Falcons came up just short in their bid to stay unbeaten.

Not that White was about to give the rival Saints too much credit after New Orleans pulled out a dramatic 31-27 upset of previously unbeaten Atlanta on Sunday.

``It's not like they came out here and won a game,'' White said. ``I think we kind of gave it to them. ... We play them in three weeks and we'll be ready.''

White's comments weren't the only potential bulletin board material for the rematch on Nov. 29 in Atlanta.

Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton, who left the Falcons after last season in free agency, dismissed the notion that New Orleans and Atlanta had a genuine ``rivalry'' because the Saints have won 11 of the past 13 meetings.

``The team out on the field today was the reason why I came to the Saints,'' said Lofton, who joined New Orleans only to see his former team get off to its best start in franchise history. ``We're finally starting to come together.''

While the Saints (4-5) were celebrating their fourth victory in five games after a 0-4 start, the Falcons (8-1) walked out of the Superdome ruing their failure to get the 1 yard they needed to take a lead inside the last 2 minutes.

``It's very frustrating,'' said Falcons coach Mike Smith, who is 2-7 against the Saints and 49-15 against the rest of the NFL in his four-plus regular seasons as Atlanta coach.

``We were close. ... This will be something we will learn from.''

The Falcons struggled to cover dynamic young tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught seven passes for a career-best 146 yards and two touchdowns.

Then veteran New Orleans cornerback Jabari Greer, who had been beaten deep twice earlier in the game, came through with a diving, touchdown-saving pass breakup on a late fourth-down pass intended for White.

``I was kind of depressed before that play,'' Greer said. ``I saw my name on the waiver wire. ... Being able to go out there and make a play for our team and be able to celebrate after everything that happened and just to win that way, it's a gift.''

Matt Ryan was 34 of 52 for a career-best 411 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The game was there for him to win when his 9-yard pass to Harry Douglas gave Atlanta a second-and-goal at the 1.

But Ryan could not connect on a second-down pass for tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Saints stuffed Michael Turner for a 1-yard loss on third down, and then came Greer's play.

``I could have put that ball in a better spot - a little higher and more in front of him to give him a chance to catch it,'' Ryan said. ``We've always played them tough and haven't had the outcomes we wanted.''

Both Graham and the veteran Gonzalez were superb. Their performances marked the first time in NFL history that two tight ends had at least 120 yards receiving and two TD catches in the same game.

``Tony, he kind of paved the way for me,'' said Graham, who like Gonzalez had a college basketball background. ``It seemed like every drive I'm kind of going up against the things that he did the last drive.''

Gonzalez finished with 11 catches for 122 yards and two scores for Atlanta, becoming the first tight end to catch 100 touchdown passes.

Drew Brees threw for 298 yards and three TDs as the Saints won for the fourth time in five games, keeping alive hope of getting back into the wild-card race after a 0-4 start. The Saints can even their record with a win at Oakland next weekend.

``That's something we feel like we're capable of and we envisioned being able to do that, because we know the type of team we have,'' Brees said. ``We knew we dug ourselves a hole. We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we also knew we have the right type of people.''

``No one is going to go around crying or panicking or anything like that,'' Gonzalez said. ``We're a good team. Our confidence hasn't changed.''

Although the Saints came in allowing a league-worst 176.5 yards rushing per game, they held Atlanta to 46 yards on the ground.

New Orleans rushed for 148 yards, highlighted by Chris Ivory's career-long 56-yard scoring run that gave the Saints a spark after Atlanta had a 10-0 lead.

The Saints' largest lead was 28-17 on Brees' scoring strike to Marques Colston, the 55th TD of Colston's career, tying Deuce McAllister for first in Saints history. The touchdown capped an 81-yard drive which started with rookie Corey White's interception.

The Falcons pulled to 28-27 on Gonzalez's second TD and Matt Bryant's field goal, but Graham' 46-yard grab set up Garrett Hartley's field goal that gave the Saints a late four-point lead and set the stage for a tense last few minutes.

Notes: Ivory's 56-yard run was the longest from scrimmage by a Saint since Oct. 8, 2006, when McAllister ran 57 yards vs. Tampa Bay. ... Brees has passed for touchdowns in 52 straight games, extending an NFL record he set earlier this season. ... Julio Jones missed much of the first half after an undisclosed leg injury, but returned in the second half. ... Gonzalez has 101 career TDs, one of only eight players with 100 or more.

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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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