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South Carolina's Lattimore entering NFL draft

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South Carolina's Lattimore entering NFL draft

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Injured South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is finished with college football. How long it takes the Gamecocks junior to make his NFL debut is anyone's guess.

Lattimore announced Wednesday he was giving up his final season to enter the NFL draft. He was considered a can't-miss, first-round talent after his first two seasons. However, a horrifying right knee injury in October has dropped his draft stock and it is unclear when Lattimore might return to action.

Lattimore dislocated his knee and damaged three of four ligaments when he was tackled against Tennessee. Doctors say surgery on his knee was successful and Lattimore easily walked into his first gathering with media since the injury.

He came into this season off ligament surgery to his left knee, an injury that cost him the final six games of the 2011 season.

Despite his injuries, Lattimore said, ``I wouldn't change a thing.''

He and Dr. Jeffrey Guy said it would take 12-to-15 months to recover, meaning it is unlikely Lattimore would play anywhere during the 2013 season. Guy, among the team that operated on Lattimore, said Lattimore's prognosis for full recovery was good.

Lattimore finished his career as the Gamecocks' all-time leader with 41 overall touchdowns and 38 rushing scores in 29 games.

Still, even draft experts are puzzled about Lattimore's prospects next April.

``I just put wild card next to his name,'' ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said on a media conference call Tuesday.

Lattimore had told Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier before a student rally of support in October that the player hoped to return to the field for the Gamecocks. About a month ago, Lattimore talked with his family and decided entering the NFL draft was the better choice.

Lattimore said he received encouraging support from two NFL stars who successfully came back from knee surgery - running backs Frank Gore and Willis McGahee - but declined to go into details about the conversations. Lattimore remained composed as he thanked Spurrier, teammates and university officials.

``This has easily been the best three years of my life,'' he said.

Lattimore rushed for 662 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, both team highs.

He had been South Carolina's primary offensive force the past three seasons, starting from the time he stepped on campus as a freshman in 2010. He gained 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns to help the Gamecocks to a Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title that fall.

Lattimore was on his way to eclipsing those marks when he was hurt in an October game at Mississippi State. Following surgery, Lattimore plunged himself into rehab and returned in time for summer workouts with his teammates.

He showed few effects from that injury this season. Lattimore had three games with at least 100 yards rushing and appeared headed for a fourth against the Vols when he was hurt again.

His left leg flopped to the turf and Lattimore struggled to contain his emotions in a silent Williams-Brice Stadium. Players from both teams surrounded him as doctors and trainers worked on the knee, praying and offering best wishes.

Two days later, South Carolina held a rally on campus to celebrate Lattimore's 21st birthday and wish him well in his recovery. Lattimore did not attend, but Spurrier told the crowd he gotten a message from the running back to tell them, ``I'll be back.''

On Nov. 10 against Arkansas, the school unveiled Lattimore's name and touchdown record on the facing of one of the stadium's spiral ramps. Lattimore had a taped message to fans on the stadium's large video board, saying he felt fine and was ``working to get back to football.''

Lattimore ends his college career as South Carolina's sixth-leading rushed with 2,677 yards and had 11 games with 100 yards or more. He also finishes with 74 catches for 767 yards and three touchdown catches.

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

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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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