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Suddenly United looked a more confident attacking unit,
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SAN DIEGO -- With the San Francisco Giants getting hot, the Arizona Diamondbacks know they have to keep winning. Joe Saunders took a five-hitter into the ninth inning, Paul Goldschmidt drove in three runs and the Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres 5-1 Sunday to cut the magic number to five for their first NL West title since 2007. Arizona maintained a five-game lead over second-place San Francisco with nine games remaining, stopping a three-game losing streak. The Diamondbacks open a nine-game homestand Monday against Pittsburgh, then host the Giants for a three-game series next weekend. "When you go on a little stretch and you get a little antsy like that, you start to press a little bit," Saunders said. "You just need to relax. When you relax, things come easier to you. I think thats what happened. They didnt try to do to much and we just played our game." San Francisco kept the pressure on the Diamondbacks with its eighth straight win, 12-5 at Colorado. "Its been a couple of days, so its a good feeling," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "Every victory at this point of the season is great. The Giants have been playing great and are on a big winning streak. We needed to match that and take care of our own business." Saunders (12-12) wanted to make sure he did his job at Petco Park, where he has pitched his best games this season. The lefty limited last-place San Diego to an unearned run and seven hits in 8 2-3 innings, improving to 3-1 with a 1.47 earned-run average against the Padres this year. He threw his only complete game this season in a 6-1 win at San Diego on July 26. "I came in this morning and decided I need to go out there and throw my A game," Saunders said. "We got some clutch hits down the stretch. Were grinding it out. It was a good win for us." After Saunders allowed two-out singles by Kyle Blanks and Alberto Gonzalez in the ninth, J.J. Putz struck out pinch-hitter Nick Hundley for his 41st save in 45 chances. Goldschmidt led the Arizona offence, which managed just three runs during the losing streak. Goldschmidt had three hits, including a leadoff homer in the sixth that put the Diamondbacks ahead for good at 2-1. "We just couldnt get to Joe Saunders," Padres manager Bud Black said. "His assortment of fastballs in, fastballs down and away. We just couldnt get enough balls squared against him." Aaron Harang (13-7) allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings. He has lost four of his last five starts despite a 3.19 ERA in that span. Cameron Maybin had a leadoff single in the third, stole second, took third on Miguel Monteros throwing error from behind the plate and scored on Jason Bartletts groundout. Monteros 17th homer tied the score leading off the fourth. Goldschmidt put the Diamondbacks ahead 2-1 with a leadoff homer in the sixth. "It was just a first-pitch fastball up and away," Goldschmidt said. "He likes to get ahead with fastballs, so I was looking for it." Goldschmidt combined with Aaron Hill for RBI singles in the seventh against Brad Brach and added a sacrifice fly against Erik Hamren in the eighth. NOTES: Arizona was 11-7 against San Diego, which is 23-43 against the NL West. ... RHP Ian Kennedy (19-4, 2.99 ERA) will attempt to become the NLs first 20-game winner this season Monday when he faces Pittsburgh RHP Jeff Karstens (9-8, 3.45). ... San Diego LHP Corey Luebke (5-9, 3.27) will start the opener of a three-game series, the clubs final road games, at Colorado against RHP Kevin Millwood (3-2, 3.6Cool.
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. - Adam Scott didnt have to look as far down the leaderboard to find players who suddenly are a real threat to win at Bay Hill.
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. Bjoerndalen, who had failed to win any major race for two years before Sochi, writes in a Facebook entry that he is "full of energy and inspiration" after winning the 10-kilometre sprint and mixed relay at last months Olympics.
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. Toews was drilled by Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik with 6:30 remaining in the second period on Sunday night. The two were going for a loose puck.
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. Olivieri, at city hall to help kick off ticket sales for the Aug. 5-24 event to be held in four Canadian cities, said Wednesday that Canada has a new generation of talent on the rise that can make its name just as Sinclair did at the same event in 2002 in Edmonton.
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. -- Tyreke Evans is still making the adjustment from point guard to small forward for the Sacramento Kings.LONDON -- Wayne Rooney scored for the first time in two months with a strike of the quality that justifies his lucrative new Manchester United contract as the floundering English Premier League champions won 2-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday. The striker volleyed in Uniteds second, shortly after Robin Van Persies second-half penalty, a day after ending the uncertainty over his United future by signing a new deal that could earn him more than $140 million until 2019. Such a contract would seem to be beyond the reach of Palace, whose fans appeared to throw coins at Rooney, who flicked them back in their direction. "Its been more or less agreed for a month now and it was just the fine details that needed sorting," said Rooney, who pushed unsuccessfully to leave United last year. "I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible and thankfully its behind me and I can concentrate on my football." United needs Rooney, with just 12 goals this season having missed much of January through injury, to be more prolific for it to have any chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season. Although United ended a three-game winless run and climbed to sixth, David Moyes side was eight points from Liverpool in the fourth Champions League place having played an extra game. And this was a victory against a Palace side that might have sprung from the bottom in recent months with a recovery but was still only two points above the relegation zone. "We moved the ball well, maybe could have created more chances but overall we were in control of the game and once we got one goal we knew wed get another and see the game out," Rooney said. Looking at the team sheet, this is not a United side that should have taken until midway through the second half to score, or be in such a lowly position. The forward line in south London saw Rooney working in tandem with Van Persie and January signing Juan Mata. Uniteds teenage midfield dynamo, Adnan Jaanuzaj, did put the ball in the net early on but it was ruled out because he appeared to control a pass from Van Persie with his arm.dddddddddddd. And as United struggled in front of goal initially, goalkeeper David de Gea was called into action to block Marouane Chamakhs header. Uniteds Marouane Fellaini, starting his first game since December following wrist and groin injuries, squandered a good chance when he missed the target with the net in sight. It was a dangerous start to the second half by Palace, with De Gea tipping over when under pressure from Glenn Murrays corner, and saving low from Jason Puncheon after Ince sliced over. United looked unable to score, but the breakthrough came after Chamakh, the forward who was back in defence, tripped left back Patrice Evra. From the spot, Van Persie sent Julian Speroni the wrong way to make it 12 goals for the season in the 62nd minute. Suddenly United looked a more confident attacking unit, with Mata setting up Fellaini for a low shot that was saved. But Palace also came close to levelling, with Mile Jedinak playing in Cameron Jerome who fought off defenders to force De Gea into a low diving save with almost his first touch since coming off the bench. Uniteds anxieties were eased by Rooney scoring his first goal since Dec. 26, powering the ball in after Evras cross bobbled over to him, unmarked, in a prime central position. "Sometimes when Wayne has not got time to think, he does things naturally," Moyes said. "He has natural talent and the technique and ability to get his weight behind the ball and strike it cleanly. He works really hard for the team and some of his passing was fantastic." It left Moyes relieved that he prevented Rooney from defecting to a rival. "He would have been too difficult to replace," Moyes said. "There arent enough top players out there that you can get cheaply or easily. Waynes one of them, one of the top players." ' ' '
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Suddenly United looked a more confident attacking unit,
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