Cubs turn it around. Use wind to advantage to even up series with D-Backs

 

Not quite sure if he’s on one of his binges, Alfonso Soriano will say this: he’s comfortable. And a comfortable Soriano is a dangerous Soriano.Booed earlier in the game, he was hearing cheers on Friday after hitting a three-run homer to lead the Cubs past the Arizona Diamondbacks, 11-5, after they got pounded the previous day.His shot was one of four by the Northsiders on a warm afternoon with the wind blowing out. Kosuke Fukudome, Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd add solo drives to help the Cubs shake off a 13-5 beating by the Diamondbacks on Thursday and stop a three-game skid.The big blow came from Soriano, who’s 18 for 51 over his last 16 games after collecting two hits. His three-run drive off Rodrigo Lopez (1-1) capped a four-run sixth that put the Cubs ahead 6-4 and made a winner of Randy Wells (3-0). The Cubs broke it open with three in the seventh, getting two bases-loaded walks, after Chris Snyder led off the top half with a homer.Ryan Theriot and Fukudome started the sixth with singles, and with one out, Lopez and first baseman Adam LaRoche collided as Aramis Ramirez’s pop fly dropped. Lopez was credited with the error, although the ball might have ticked LaRoche’s glove.That loaded the bases for Tyler Colvin, who drove in Theriot with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a one-run game. Soriano, who had doubled in his previous at-bat, drove the next pitch out to left-center for his third homer to make it 6-4, clapping his hands and pumping his fists as he rounded first.He’s starting to hit more like the old Soriano than an old Soriano, with a .292 average after batting .241 a year ago.As for that dropped pop that set up the rally? Lopez blamed himself for getting in the way, saying he “got a little anxious to catch it” because Snyder — the catcher — didn’t see it.LaRoche, however, had it in sight and thought the ball might have hit his glove.Snyder chased Wells with his homer in the seventh — his fourth overall and second in two games — but the Cubs put this one away in the bottom half.Derrek Lee’s bases-loaded single to a diving shortstop Stephen Drew against Blaine Boyer drove in Soto, who led off with a walk, to make it 7-5. Boyer then walked Ramirez to force in another run and former Cub Aaron Heilman walked Soriano with two outs, making it 9-5. Carlos Zambrano worked the eighth before Soto and Byrd added back-to-back homers off Kevin Mulvey in the bottom half. And Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth.Wells allowed eight hits and five runs while striking out a season-high eight in his second straight start without a walk.Lopez gave up six runs in six innings and faced the minimum 10 batters before Fukudome drove his fifth homer — and second in two days — about 10 rows into the right-field bleachers.That came after the Diamondbacks scored three in the top of the fourth, on RBI doubles by Mark Reynolds and Cole Gillespie along with a run-scoring single by Gerardo Parra.

NOTES—LaRoche made a diving backhanded stop to rob Mike Fontenot leading off the third. …Lou Piniella wasn’t too concerned about Ted Lilly after he allowed six runs in five innings and was throwing in the mid-80s on Thursday. That came after he threw six shutout innings in his first start after offseason shoulder surgery. “He’s going to add three or four miles an hour to his fastball,” Piniella said. “Yesterday, the problem with Lilly was he got the ball up and the wind was blowing out.” … Theriot has a 10-game hitting streak.

Cubs clobbered by D-Backs in windy Wrigley

 
Someone who paid good money to watch Thursday’s mess,commented to me that “It was horrible!” as I was heading to the Clubhouses after the Arizona Diamondbacks blew away the Cubs 13-5. My only response was “No, horrible is allot more fun!”. After three innings in which Ted Lilly was strong in this his second start of the season, things fell apart. The D-Backs had two big innings,including a five-run top of the fourth against Lilly(1-1)and it got much worse later. The Cubs took a very short lived 1-0 lead on Ian Kennedy in the bottom of the third when Mike Fontenot was hit by a pitch,and one out later was bunted to third by Lilly.Ryan Theriot singled up the middle to score his good pal. Then,after Lilly has cruised through the first three frames, the trouble started with lead off walks to Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds-which on a day in which the wind was whipping out over 30 MPH, it was not a good idea. Adam LaRoche,who’s Dad Dave pitched out the Cub bullpen in 1974, drilled a three run homer to left-center. Cole Gillespie doubled to left an out later and he trotted home when eighth place batter Chris Snyder deposited one well into the LF Bleachers. La Roche got to Lilly for another homer-this time a solo shot in the 5th. Kennedy(1-1)proceeded to shut the Cubs down over the next four innings.By the 7th inning,Lilly was already gone and the D-Backs scored a ‘touchdown and extra point’ against Jeff Gray(2 runs)and James Russell(5 big ones,but just one was earned). LaRoche doubled in a run,giving him five for the day. After an error on Aramis Ramirez, Gillespie and Snyder each singled in a run, Kennedy lifted a sac fly to Kosuke Fukudome in RF, and lead off batter Kelly Johnson capped the onslaught with a three run homer to right field, his 9th. The Cubs chased in the bottom of the 8th when they loaded the bases and Fukudome ripped a meaningless grand slam to LF and the scoring was done for the day.
 
NOTES—The Cubs have dropped three in a row after they had won four straight through Monday…..Theriot extended his hitting streak to nine games…..The slam for Fukudome was his first in the Majors and the Cubs 292nd in team history…..The Cubs will send Randy Wells(2-0)against Arizona’s Rodrigo Lopez(1-0)Friday afternoon at 1:20pm…..Attendance was 36,850, but no more than 10,000 were still in the stands by the ninth inning.
 
LES
 

 

Konerko hit two, Sox take advantage of walks, avoid Ranger sweep.

ARLINGTON—Paul Konerko hit two home runs after the White Sox took advantage of a wild pitch, two errors and two walks to go ahead in a 7-5 victory Thursday over the Texas Rangers to avoid a three-game sweep.Konerko leads the majors with 10 homers after hitting a solo drive in the eighth and a two-run shot in the ninth. He also drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.Rangers starter Scott Feldman pitched into the seventh with a two-run lead, but was gone after an error and a walk against the first two batters. Darren O’Day (0-1) gave up an RBI single to A.J. Pierzynski and a walk to load the bases before Dustin Nippert threw a wild pitch that allowed the White Sox to score the tying and go-ahead runs.Konerko led off the eighth just clearing the 14-foot wall in left field to make it 5-3. His blast the following inning went to the back of the Rangers bullpen in right-center and proved to be the difference after Texas scored twice in the bottom of the ninth off closer Bobby Jenks, making his first appearance since Sunday in non-save situation.Only one of the three runs allowed by Gavin Floyd (1-2) were earned. The White Sox right-hander struck out five with no walks over seven innings to end a five-game road losing streak.Feldman, a 17-game winner last season, had failed to get past the fourth inning in either of his last two starts. But the right-hander had a 3-1 lead and was facing the bottom part of the Sox lineup to start the seventh.Alex Rios reached when rookie first baseman Justin Smoak dropped a throw for an error, then Mark Kotsay walked. O’Day pitched for the first time in a week after back stiffness. After getting Juan Pierre on an infield popout that had White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen dropping his head in frustration, O’Day loaded the bases with a walk to slumping Gordon Beckham.Nippert then threw a breaking ball that bounced away from the plate. Kotsay scored from third and when catcher Max Ramirez made an errant throw wide of Nippert covering the plate, Pierzynski rounded third and came home to make it 4-3.Beckham was in a 4-for-34 slide before a leadoff double in the fourth. He advanced on a grounder and scored on Konerko’s deep fly ball to right.Josh Hamilton had three hits for the Rangers, who wrapped up a 4-3 homestand.Smoak, the switch-hitter playing his seventh major league game, pulled a pitch into the second deck of seats in right field in the fourth for his first major league home run. The 402-foot blast put the Rangers up 3-1, and he added an RBI double in the ninth.Texas went ahead with two unearned runs in the third after Julio Borbon tripled into the left-center field gap.Joaquin Arias hit a grounder down the third base line that chased Borbon back to the bag. But Mark Teahen threw the ball wide of first base, allowing Borbon to score and Arias to go to second before Hamilton’s RBI double.

NOTES—It was Konerko’s 25th career multihomer game. … The wind was blowing at 27 mph with gusts to 40 mph. … It was Rangers manager Ron Washington’s 58th birthday. … 3B Michael Young is the only Rangers player to start every game this season after SS Elvis Andrus got his first day off. … Young had one of the shortest groundouts possible. He had a check swing in the fifth, and the ball rolled just in front of the plate. Pierzynski picked it up and tagged Young, who hadn’t even gotten out of the batter’s box.

Remembering Lee Elia’s Wrigley Tirade

  

 Les with LEE ELIA(“And Print It!”)on April 29,2008 at Harry Caray’s Downtown to ‘honor’ the 25th anniversary of the famous TIRADE HEARD ROUND THE WORLD.

by Les Grobstein 

On Friday April 29,the Cubs hosted the Dodgers before a small crowd and entered the game 5-13. Most reporters who were there were planning to talk to local guy,Rookie Mike Marshall from Buffalo Grove who was making his Wrigley Field debut(he was also dating Belinda Carlisle of the Go Go’s at that time). The Cubs led by a run even though Marshall homered in that game. Lee Smith,who often came in for save tries earlier than the ninth inning, came on and gave up the tying run,and then the go ahead tally for LA by uncorking a wild pitch. That run held up and the Dodgers won.

After the game, most media members went to the Dodgers Clubhouse to talk with Marshall and of course Tommy Lasorda. For some reason, I decided to go to the Cubs side and see what Manager Lee Elia had to say. The only others in Elia’s office at the time were the three beat writers, Robert Marcus of the Tribune, Joel Behrig of the Sun Times and Don Friske of the Daily Herald. We entered the old Clubhouse in the left field corner and the only sound you could hear was that of hair dryers. Elia called us in and seemed very calm. He simply said “Hi fellas”. Once the four of us were in there, I started rolling tape and said “Another tough one”. He calmly nodded and then started with the now famous “WE’RE MIRED IN A LITTLE DIFFICULTY. WE’VE GOT ALL THOSE SO CALL F***** FANS,WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BEHIND YOU, RIPPING EVERY F***** THING YOU DO! I KNOW ONE F***** THING, I HOPE WE GET F***** HOTTER THAN S***, JUST TO STUFF OF UP THE 3000 F***** PEOPLE WHO SHOW UP EVERY F**** DAY. BECAUSE IF THERE THE REAL CHICAGO F**** FANS, THEY CAN KISS MY F***** A**, RIGHT DOWNTOWN, AND PRINT IT! THEY’RE REALLY REALLY BEHIND YOU AROUND HERE, MY F***** A**! AND IT’S NOBODY’S FAULT HERE,BECAUSE YOU GUYS HAVE WRITTEN GOOD.”

After he paused for a moment, I checked my cassette recorder to make sure it was indeed rolling,while the print guys were writing stuff down as fast as they could.

WHAT THE F*** AM I SUPPOSED TO DO, WATCH MY F***** PLAYERS GET DESTROYED EVERY SAY, AND BE QUIET ABOUT IT, FOR THE F***** NICKLE AND DIME PEOPLE THAT SHOW UP? THE MOTHER F****** DON’T EVEN WORK! THAT’S WHY THEY’RE OUT AT THE F***** GAME! THEY OUGHT TO GO OUT AND GET A F***** JOB AND FIND OUT WHAT’S IT’S LIKE TO WORK FOR A F***** LIVING! 85% OF THE F***** WORLD’S WORKING, THE OTHER 15 COME OUT HERE! A F***** PLAYGROUND FOR THE C*** S*****! RIP THEM MOTHER F*****, RIP THEM COUNRTY C*** S*****, LIKE THE F***** PLAYERS! YOU’VE GOT GUYS BUSTING THEIR F***** A** AND THEM F***** PEOPLE BOO! AND THAT’S THE CUBS? MY F***** A**!!! THEY TALK ABOUT THE GREAT F***** SUPPORT THAT THE PLAYERS GET AROUND HERE. I HAVEN’T SEEN IT THIS F***** YEAR!

By this time, DAVID SCHUSTER(now of course with the Score, then with Sportsphone), RICH KING(then with WBBM-AM), and MARK GIANGRECCO with his NBC-5 crew(he was with Channel 5 at that time)all arrived and at first had no idea what they were getting into.

Everyone LIKED Lee Elia, he was a good guy,and I knew he was burying himself. I also knew I had way more than enough tape and wanted to get out of there, so I interuppted him with a simple “See you tomorrow.” He nodded, smiled and said “OK!” Before I could head out, Lee started up again and continued for another three of so minutes. More reporters started arriving,but I headed out. I got outside and the first guy I saw was legendary AP Writer JOE MOOSHIL(whom I also did some work for in the late 70’s and the 80’s). Joe was obviously in a hurry since he was on deadline, but I stopped him right in the left field corner and said, “Joe, I know you are in a hurry,but you have to listen to this.”

And I proceed to play it for him. His eyes started to roll and after about four minutes, he said “Oh my god” ottered a few explites,then said he would hear the rest upstairs. I had about an hour until my 4:55pm Sportscast with TOMMY EDWARDS(now the Bulls P.A.Announcer). As I was about to enter the old Press Box(which then was on the level where today the Luxury Boxes are), who were exiting the Press Box? HARRY CARAY,VINCE LLOYD and LOU BOUDREAU. I stopped them and said “Guys, I’m sure you are all in a hurry to get out of here,but I think you should hear this.” They stopped and I played it for them. Vince had a cigar the size of a treetrunk in his mouth and as the tape played, he rolled that stogie around as if he was Poppeye the Sailor Man. Harry was just stunned. Vince looked at Boudreau and said “GEEZOUS LOU, HE’S GONNA GET HIS A** FIRED!” Lou then uttered his signature “Ah this is true good kid!” They all headed out and I went into the press box, grabbed my phone and called the WLS newsroom

I had been told that morning that our engineers were going to be too busy to receive tape and so I would have to do my sportscasts without sound that afternoon. BUT things of course changed. I talked to Renee Tondelli, our engineer(Union restrictions back then prohibbed anyone from playing their own tape live on the air, an IBEW engineer had to take it in and edit it for air play). Renee told me that I should know they could not take any tape in on this day. I politly told here to just be quiet, and roll tape, that I would be responsible. She said “OK,but this BETTER be good”. I repeated to here to “Just Roll!” After about the first two minutes, I hit the pause button, she gat back on the line and said “OH MY GOD!” I asked here how long it would take to edit it for air play. She said it was about two hours of work. By that time we had about twenty minutes until air play. She did miracle work and got the first minute or so bleeped out for air play, and we played it with Tommy Edwards. The FM side also received it for use with STEVE DAHL and GARRY MEIER. You know what hit the fan after that! Our phone, and those at the Cubs offices at Wrigley,lit up!

After I aired it, Cubs Public Relations Director Bob Ibach(a good friend to this day)came into the press box and said to me that he needed a favor.I asked him what that would be(knowing full well what he was about to ask me). He said “I need to borrow your tape”. I responded, “What, to play it for Dallas(Green, the GM)?” He nodded yes. My first response was “Hell no, I’m not about to get the guy fired!” Then Friske,who was also back upstairs,said I should indeed get them the tape so they could have Elia apologize. Had this festered overnight, he would have to be terminated in the morning. I thought for a second, then told Bob “OK, but don’t try to confiscate the tape,since it’s already been dupicated.” Bob said he would never do that, but I responded ‘No,but your f***** boss would!”.

Bob played the tape for Green,who nearly flipped out. He called the Clubhouse looking for Elia who had gone to his car to leave and umpire his daughter’s softball game,but since he forgot his keys,he went back inside. THAT is when Green called,and by shear luck caught Lee before he departed for good. Keep in mind that cellphones did not hit the market for two more years. Green told Elia to get up to the GM’s office. He said he was late for his daughter’s game. Green responded that that if he(Elia)did not get upstairs fast, he should plan on cleaning out his office Saturday Morning,because he would be gone.

Other media types who had not covered this game,started making a bee-line to Wrigley to cover a 6:30pm newsconference so Elia could apologize.

He kept his job for a while,and the Cubs got hot.

The next day,the Cubs bombed the hottest pitcher in baseball Fernando Valenzuela. But many fans showed up with signs such as ‘Hey Lee, I HAVE a job and still come the the games!”. Another had a sign that said “Elia, You’re Fired, AND PRINT IT!”.

He kept his job until August when the team nose dived again, and Green finnally had to fire his good friend.

Green and others tried to blame me, in fact to this day Dallas has not gotten over being pissed at me.He told me I should have put the tape in my pocket and not aired it. Well excuse me! The print guys were going to put it in the Saturday morning papers(remember, no internet exsisted back then either),and it was my job to get this on the air-so I did.

Elia and I are on great terms to this day. Yes he was also mad for a while,but he came to town two years ago for the 25th Anniversary News Conference at Harry Caray’s downtown.

Lee also had prostate Cancer about 12 years ago and beat it. I made my mind up at the time that I would not air the “tirade” until I found out he was out of danger and was cured.

One other note: Again, no cell,phones or internet, BUT we got confirmation that the TIRADE HEARD ROUND THE WORLD had reached every Continent on Earth except Antarctica, but then it was also confirmed that a Naval Submarine near the South Pole had also received a transmission of the tirade. AND PRINT IT!

LES

Sox rally against Texas comes up a bit short

ARLINGTON—Josh Hamilton’s two-run homer keyed a five-run first, former Cub Rich Harden pitched six innings despite more control problems, and the Texas Rangers held on to beat the White Sox 6-5 on Wednesday night.Harden (1-1) allowed three runs and four hits after lasting less than five innings due to wildness in three of his first four starts. This time he hit two batters and walked five, giving him 23 walks in his five starts.The White Sox could not capitalize until Carlos Quentin ended a 2-for-37 slide with a three-run homer off Harden in the sixth that reduced the deficit to 5-3. The Rangers signed Harden as a free agent in December to take over one of the top two spots in their rotation, but Harden’s once-dynamic fastball has been less than imposing so far.Neftali Feliz allowed RBI singles in the ninth to A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez before retiring Juan Pierre on a groundout for his third save in four chances.Jake Peavy (0-2) was in trouble early as Hamilton’s 430-foot blast got the Rangers rolling in the first. One out later, Peavy walked three straight.Two scored on Joaquin Arias’ single, and Julio Borbon followed with an RBI single to make it 5-0.But Peavy got untracked, retiring 16 of the next 18 from the first through the sixth.Peavy gave up six runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and five walks.Michael Young hit a ground-rule double off Peavy in the seventh, and Young later scored on David Murphy’s double off reliever Randy Williams to stretch Texas’ lead to 6-3.White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen left slumping second baseman Gordon Beckham out of his starting lineup for the third time in 21 games this season.Beckham’s second major league season is off to a 15-for-73 start with four hits in his last 33 at bats.

NOTES—Peavy allowed seven runs and seven hits with seven walks over 4 1/3 innings in his previous start, a 10-2 loss to Tampa Bay last Thursday. … Guillen said Beckham would be back in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale against Texas. … Before the game the Rangers reinstated RHP Tommy Hunter from the 15-day disabled list and assigned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Hunter, who has been on the DL since April 4 with a left oblique strain, threw two perfect innings in an extended spring training game Wednesday in Surprise, Ariz., and will throw in the bullpen Friday in Arizona before reporting to Oklahoma City. … Peavy threw 41 pitches in the first as the Rangers sent 10 to the plate. … Harden was the beneficiary of three double plays.

Cubs still not hitting in clutch, lose to Nationals 3-2,and drop two of three

Luis Atilano fits right in with the rest of the Washington Nationals. Little was expected from the rookie right-hander, either.An eighth-year minor leaguer who was promoted only because Jason Marquis got hurt, Atilano has won both of his starts for the Nationals, pitching six quality innings each time.He worked out of trouble repeatedly Wednesday, allowing two runs on six singles and three walks in a 3-2 victory over the Cubs.Atilano’s pitching has helped Washington to a 12-10 record, the franchise’s best start since relocating from Montreal in 2005. A winning April is guaranteed — and that’s a big deal for a team that lost 103 games last season and 102 the year before that.The Nationals even survived a week without injured star Ryan Zimmerman, who is expected back for the club’s next game Friday.Atilano, who turns 25 in two weeks, pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fifth by retiring Marlon Byrd on an infield fly and Mike Fontenot on a grounder. After Fontenot’s out, Atilano pumped his fist to celebrate.Brian Bruney, Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps each pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Capps earned his major league-leading 10th save in 10 attempts. Washington’s bullpen has a 0.77 ERA in its last eight games.Ryan Dempster (2-1) lost for the first time in eight career decisions against the Nationals-Expos franchise. He allowed only four hits and one walk in eight innings but each hit factored in the scoring: solo homers by Dunn and Adam Kennedy and second-inning singles by Roger Bernadina and Wil Nieves.It was 2-2 in the fourth when Dunn put Dempster’s 3-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers. Dunn has 41 homers in 409 career at-bats against the Cubs.Twelve of the Cubs 22 games have been decided by two runs or fewer.This is in part due to the Cubs poor situational hitting,and this game was no exception. The Cubs are 4-8 in those games — a big reason they have a 10-12 record. They also are 1-9 when scoring three or fewer runs. Lou Piniella was upset the Cubs stranded 11 runners, and he got testy when asked if he considered having Fontenot bunt after Byrd led off the eighth with a double against Clippard.

“Bunting what? With a left-handed hitter up, you want to bunt? What kind of baseball do you play?” Piniella asked George Castle. “How about getting him in? Or getting him over by swinging? How about that?”

Fontenot popped out and Clippard didn’t allow any more hits.All five Cubs starters have sub-3.00 ERAs but the team still is having trouble winning. Nevertheless, Dempster refused to blame the hitters.Aramis Ramirez had a sacrifice fly, but he is batting .155. And No. 3 hitter Derrek Lee has a .203 average.

NOTES—Byrd lost Atilano’s fifth-inning fly in the sun but still managed to make a no-look, behind-the-back catch while falling to his knees….Ryan Theriot had two singles and drove in the other Cub run. He is batting .487 during an eight-game hitting streak, with multiple hits in seven of those games…..The Nationals are 6-2 in games caught by Nieves…..Kennedy was in a 2-for-20 slump before his first homer this season.

Bears send Payne to Rams for 2011 undetermined draft pick

LAKE FOREST—The Bears have traded safety Kevin Payne to the St. Louis Rams for an undisclosed 2011 draft pick.A fifth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2007, Payne started 22 of 32 games in three seasons and had 195 tackles with four interceptions.The move Wednesday comes one day after the Bears made a trade with Carolina for safety Chris Harris, whom they had dealt to the Panthers less than three years ago.

Bulls season ends as Cavs advance

 
CLEVELAND—LeBron James pulled his right arm tightly to his chest, unable to do anything but grimace as the final seconds expired on Cleveland’s series-clinching win.The Bulls were finally out of the way. But for the Cavaliers, moving on in the NBA playoffs wasn’t pain free.James, playing despite an injured right elbow that went numb and forced him to shoot a free throw left-handed in the closing seconds, just missed a triple-double as the Cavs advanced to a playoff date with Boston by beating the Bulls 96-94 in Game 5 on Tuesday night in perhaps Vinny Del Negro’s final game as Bulls coach.James scored 19 points — 16 in the second half — and added 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Cavs finally saddled the stubborn Bulls to win the series 4-1. Unable to lift his right arm, James hoisted and missed a free throw left-handed with 7.8 seconds left and the Cavs only ahead by four.James doesn’t know when he injured the elbow, which he said bothered him the entire second half. He revealed after the game that he underwent an MRI and X-rays two days ago.Antawn Jamison scored 25 points for Cleveland, which will face the Celtics, reuniting teams that don’t like each other and who played a testy seven-game series in 2008.Game 1 is Saturday.Derrick Rose scored 31 points and Luol Deng 26 for Chicago, which had several shots roll in and out in the final minutes. Given little chance against the league’s top team during the regular season, the Bulls gave the top-seeded Cavaliers all they could handle. Delonte West had 16 points and Shaquille O’Neal 14 while racking up fouls against the Bulls big men. The Cavs were intent on closing out the series at home but they couldn’t shake the Bulls, who were trying to send the series back to Chicago for Game 6. When Jamison buried a 3-pointer with 3:30 left, Cleveland was up 93-84, and for the first time all night Cavaliers fans finally started thinking about a matchup with the Celtics, who eliminated Miami earlier.The Bulls, though, had other plans. Deng hit a jumper and two free throws before Rose, who made Cleveland defenders look silly all series, made four straight from the line to pull the Bulls within 93-92 with 1:32 remaining. Two free throws by James then gave Cleveland a three-point lead with 1:11 left. Rose then tried a short shot in the lane that went halfway down before spinning out. Cleveland’s Mo Williams, who shot a dismal 2 for 13, then missed a baseline runner but the ball went out of bounds off Joakim Noah. The Bulls did get the ball back on a steal, but Rose forced up an awkward left-handed layup over Anderson Varejao that was short. James grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made his first attempt to make it 96-92, but with his elbow causing him pain, he tried his second shot left-handed and it was way off the mark. Down four, the Bulls got a layin by Deng just before the buzzer. James, who wore a sleeve on his right arm for the second straight game, refused to address his injury before the game.So were the Bulls, who fought until the end to prolong their season — and for Del Negro. The Bulls, which had to win down the stretch to earn the No. 8 seed, entered the playoffs amid controversy surrounding its coach. Del Negro reportedly got into a physical confrontation with vice president of basketball operations John Paxson last month, an incident the team downplayed but could have long-term effects.Rose said he would hate to see his coach fired.Rose said it would be hard to imagine the Bulls firing their coach after making the playoffs. Cleveland’s plan in the fourth quarter was to force the ball inside to O’Neal and let the Big Diesel power his way to the basket. O’Neal drew two fouls in a five-second span on Brad Miller, who was doing all he could to keep the 325-pounder out of the lane. Del Negro and the Bulls assistants protested the second foul and Miller had to be grabbed by his teammates before he got called for a technical. One minute later, O’Neal got Noah to reach in and commit his fourth foul. The Cavs immediately went into O’Neal again, and this time he spun on Noah and dunked on the Bulls’ outspoken center, sending the nervous, sellout crowd into a momentary frenzy.

NOTES—O’Neal pulled a pro wrestling move in the third quarter, dropping all 325 pounds on top of Noah while scrambling for a loose ball…..Rose was guarding James when Cleveland’s star pulled up and drained his buzzer-beating 40-foot jumper in Game 4. James flicked his wrist like it was a 15-footer. “He’s one of the only ones who can do that,” Rose said. “I can’t. I can’t even shoot a 3. I still haven’t hit a shot like that yet.”….James was excited that Varejao finished third in voting for NBA Sixth Man of the Year. “He’s a big key to our team and it’s great when a guy gets noticed and credit for what he does,” James said.

Hernandez slows Cub bats, ends 4 game winning string

Livan Hernandez isn’t quite ready to declare this a career rebirth, no matter how dominant he’s looking in the early going. He was at it again on a chilly Tuesday night, pitching six-hit ball into the eighth inning to lead the Washington Nationals over the Cubs 3-1.Matt Capps allowed a two-out single to Geovany Soto in the ninth before striking out pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin for his major league leading ninth save in as many chances. That snapped the Cubs’ four-game win streak. Gorzelanny lasted seven innings in his longest start this season, allowing two runs and five hits. He settled down after a rough first but is still seeking his first win even though his ERA is just 2.45.With the gametime temperature at 43, the Nationals quickly warmed up and took the lead.They got triples from two of the first three batters, with Nyjer Morgan driving one to left-center leading off and scoring on a single by Desmond. Guzman then knocked a low slider over center fielder Byrd’s head for another triple that made it 2-0.The Cubs cut it to 2-1 in the second on back-to-back singles by Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot that put runners on first and third before Soto’s RBI forceout. But the Cubs got little else against Hernandez, whose ERA is at 0.87.The Nationals backed him with several highlight reel defensive plays on Tuesday, robbing Lee three times.Third baseman Alberto Gonzalez dove to his left to snag Lee’s liner in the first. In the third, it was Desmond taking away a hit when the shortstop made a diving stop on a grounder toward the middle and, from his stomach, flipped to Guzman at second to force Fukudome. Then, in the sixth, Josh Willingham reached up for a nice running catch on Lee’s liner to left.

NOTES—Nationals C Ivan Rodriguez was back in the lineup after being scratched Monday because of lower back tightness. … Ryan Zimmerman was out of the lineup for the sixth straight game with right hamstring soreness and probably won’t start until this weekend’s series at Florida. … New Bears running back Chester Taylor threw out the ceremonial first pitch and delivered an off-key rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning that might have made Harry Caray cringe.

Rangers snap Sox three game streak 4-2

ARLINGTON—Texas catcher Matt Treanor had a solo home run and a two-run double for his first extra-base hits of the season and former reliever C.J. Wilson had another solid start for the Rangers in a 4-2 victory against the White Sox on Tuesday night.Treanor’s big game came hours after the Rangers optioned Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden, the two catchers on their season-opening roster, to Triple-A Oklahoma City.Wilson (2-1) gave up two runs over six innings, striking out Donny Lucy to end the sixth with the bases loaded after going to a 3-0 count and then having Lucy foul off three full-count pitches before finally swinging and missing.Dustin Nippert worked two scoreless innings before Frank Francisco had a perfect ninth for his first save in three chances.Francisco lost his closer job after blowing two save chances the first week of the season. Hard-throwing Neftali Feliz, who took over as the closer, was unavailable after pitching the previous two games, and giving up back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning of a loss to Detroit on Monday night.Mark Buehrle (2-3) lost his third consecutive start, allowing four runs over seven innings.Carlos Quentin snapped a 1-for-34 slide with an infield RBI single in the fifth for the Sox, who were coming off a three-game sweep of Seattle.Treanor put the Rangers ahead to stay with a solo home run in the second, the ball barely clearing the 14-foot wall in left field. His double made 3-0 in the fourth after Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero had back-to-back singles and Buehrle threw a wild pitch.Treanor, the husband of two-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, was acquired by the Rangers from Milwaukee during spring training. He was called up April 9 from Oklahoma City when Saltalmacchia went on the disabled list because of upper back stiffness.It was the sixth start in nine games for Treanor, who played for Florida from 2004-08 and started four games for Detroit last season. Max Ramirez, recalled Tuesday from Oklahoma City, is the other Rangers catcher.The Rangers activated Saltalamacchia from the disabled list Tuesday and optioned him to Oklahoma City, where he had already appeared in six games on a rehabilitation assignment. Teagarden was hitting only .037 (1 for 27) with 17 strikeouts in 10 games.Wilson, who before the season hadn’t started since his 2005 rookie season when he was coming off Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, has already had two starts without allowing runs. The left-hander had thrown 6 2-3 scoreless innings in his previous start Thursday night at Boston, and has a 1.75 ERA through four starts.After the White Sox loaded the bases in the sixth on a hit batsman, a single and a walk, Alexei Ramirez had an RBI single. Wilson then finally got Lucy out on his 104th pitch of the game. He struck out five and walked three.Rangers rookie first baseman Justin Smoak got his first major league RBI with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
NOTES—Bench coach Jackie Moore’s jersey was hanging in the Rangers dugout. Moore is away from the team after the death of his 52-year-old daughter Sunday. … Wilson had thrown 25 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings at Rangers Ballpark, dating back to last July 21, before the fourth inning. … White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko had homered in three consecutive games before Tuesday