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Edwin Encarnacion was just trying to hit a sacrifice fly. He ended up giving the Blue Jays a whole lot more.

Encarnacion hit his seventh career grand slam and added a solo homer as the Blue Jays handed the slumping Texas Rangers their season-high sixth straight loss, 12-2

Friday night.

“Every time he steps in the box, he’s got a chance to go deep,” manager John Gibbons said.

Encarnacion had three hits and narrowly missed a third home run in his final at-bat, flying out to the warning track in left against Rangers infielder Adam Rosales.

Russell Martin and Danny Valencia each hit solo homers for the Blue Jays, who improved to 17-7 in June and boosted their ML-leading run total to 417.

Mark Buehrle (8-4) pitched seven innings to win his third straight decision, improving to 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA in five June starts. Buehrle allowed two runs and five


“When you get 10-plus runs scored for you, it makes it a lot easier,” Buehrle said.

Encarnacion gave the Blue Jays all the runs Buehrle would need with a first inning blast to center off Nick Martinez (5-4), then went deep off Ross Detwiler in the

seventh. It was Encarnacion’s 20th multihomer game.

“Very exciting moment for me and the team,” Encarnacion said of his grand slam, the second of the season for the Blue Jays.

Encarnacion’s slam marked the ML-leading 29th time Toronto has scored four or more runs in an inning.

“We’ve been doing that all year,” Gibbons said. “It’s not easy. We’ve been making it look easy, but it’s not that easy.”

Toronto has won 11 of the past 14 meetings with Texas, including eight of 12 at home.

Prince Fielder hit his 300th career homer, joining father Cecil in the 300-home run club and giving baseball its second father-son duo to reach the plateau. Bobby

Bonds (332) and career leader Barry Bonds (762) are the only other father and son to reach the 300-homer mark.

“That’s pretty good company,” Fielder said.

It’s the longest losing streak for Texas since an eight-game slide from Aug. 30-Sept. 6, 2014. The Rangers (37-37) fell to .500 for the first time since May 30, when

they were 25-25.

“We need to figure out what we can do better,” manager Jeff Banister said.

Martinez allowed nine runs, eight earned, and nine hits in six innings. He has won just once in his past six starts.

“I fell behind a lot of guys,” Martinez said.

Rosales became the ninth position player to pitch for the Rangers when he came on in the eighth. The last to do it was J.P. Arencibia, who pitched against Tampa Bay on

Aug. 13, 2014.

“I just threw all straight balls,” Rosales said. “I didn’t try to put anything on them. I tried one in warm ups but that wasn’t going to happen. I don’t have the

control with the off-speed.”


The last time Toronto led 4-0 four batters into a game was July 8, 2012. In that game, Colby Rasmus and Encarnacion both hit two-run homers.


Fielder went 2 for 4 with a double and leads the majors with 31 multihit games.


Rangers: RHP Matt Harrison (back surgery) threw a 35 pitch bullpen session in front of manager Jeff Banister and pitching coach Mike Maddux. Harrison is set to throw

another session on Sunday.

Blue Jays: Toronto activated 2B Devon Travis (left shoulder) off the 15-day DL and optioned INF Munenori Kawasaki to Triple-A.


Rangers: RHP Yovani Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in his past six starts, lowering his ERA from 4.26 to 2.98 in that span. Gallardo has not allowed a run in his past

15 innings.

Blue Jays: Toronto selected LHP Matt Boyd from Triple-A Buffalo to make his MLB debut Saturday. Boyd went 7-2 with a 1.26 ERA in 14 starts at Double-A and Triple-A

this season. He’ll start in place of RHP Aaron Sanchez (strained back muscle). RHP Rob Rasmussen was optioned to Buffalo.

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Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: ‘Guys are buying in’

Pittsburgh Steelers’ organized team activities were by many accounts a success, in large part due to the fact that the entire team was in attendance for multiple sessions.

The Steelers had no contract disputes or injuries or players deciding to skip all of OTAs for whatever reason, something that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says is a good sign.

“I think that’s the cool part is that everybody was there,” Roethlisberger said as he joined the Cook and Poni Show on 93-7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Monday. “That’s hard to find on teams. (For) a lot of guys, it’s voluntary. I think that shows something from our guys that everybody wanted to be there at every practice. Obviously there were guys that had whatever, but everybody was there, everybody gave it all because that’s what it’s going to take — it’s going to take all of us every single play, every single game. Guys are buying in.

“I thought it was good. I’ve been to a lot of these OTAs now, so it’s not quite as important for me, but it is to get on the page with some young guys and get Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon — get those guys working and just try and keep clicking because we’ve got a tough schedule this year. If we can stay healthy, we feel like we’ve got a pretty good team.”

Roethlisberger is also excited about the fact that the Steelers offense brings every key player back from last season.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been on a team that’s had as an offense less turnover. That’s the thing about the NFL — there’s so much turnover every year,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s great to have everybody back because it felt like we literally hit the ground and just kept going. We didn’t take any steps back. We could just keep it moving, and I think that gives us a chance to be even better this year because we’re working together and we can just keep going. Everyone knows everybody; that offensive line is jelling. To me, they’re the best line in the NFL because they know each other, they play well off each other, and they have each other’s back and my back.”

The Steelers are now off for around a month before checking back in for training camp on July 25. Roethlisberger plans on getting some rest in during that time.

“It’s a balance of resting but still doing some stuff,” Roethlisberger said. “I won’t throw a football. I’ll let my arm rest. I’ll still run and work out a little bit, but for me it’s about getting myself rested and ready to go.”

93-7 The Fan was broadcasting from Roethlisberger’s charity golf outing, which benefits The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.

“It means a lot that you guys are here and that people come out to support the foundation because we feel it’s a great cause and we love giving back to the community,” Roethlisberger said.

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Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis fighting for his job

The seconded longest tenured coach currently in the NFL may be out of a job when the 2015 season comes to a close. For 12 years, Marvin Lewis has coached the Cincinnati Bengals, making them a consistent playoff team and creating a unit that is one of the toughest during the regular season. While bringing a team to the NFL playoffs for four straight years makes any general manager and team owner happy, Lewis has been given one of the most talented rosters in the NFL and hasn’t come away with a single postseason victory.

When Lewis was hired to coach the Bengals in 2003, Lewis brought a change of leadership and philosophy that the organization adapted to and thrived under. After breaking a six season loosing streak, Lewis created a winning franchise that brought NFL interest back to Cincinnati. The Bengals who were once the joke of the NFL now had a leader to follow and a mentality of winning. Now known as a players coach, Lewis built the Bengals by rewarding his impact performers with lucrative contracts and finding talent through the draft. In free agency, players have stated that they come to Cincinnati because they want to play for Lewis and be coached by one of the best in the NFL. While it seams as though any team would want Marvin Lewis as their head coach, one significant blemish on his outstanding resume is his playoff record of 0 wins and 6 loses.

Lewis’s incremental progress throughout the years has lead to greater expectations and an opinion that each year is the Bengals year for a Super Bowl win. While the expectations rise, the final mediocre product has stayed the same. Fans who once were once excited at the idea of making a playoff appearance have now grown frustrated at the lack of postseason success. This frustration has been felt by a Bengals organization that has had its own hopes of ending seasons with diamond rings on their fingers and Lombardi trophies displayed on their desks. Through the growing unrest, the Bengals have continued  to dominate the regular season and fall flat in the postseason. Teams that the Bengals should have beaten have somehow defeated them causing fingers to be pointed and questions to be raised.

While ownership hasn’t made a statement about Lewis and his future with Bengals, it is assumed that if 2015 is a repeat of the last four seasons, Lewis will be out the door and on the NFL buyers market. Lewis will have another talented roster to work with this season and will once again be given a good chance at moving into the postseason. The only way this year can be considered a success for Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals is if the team manages to win a playoff game and stay competitive throughout the postseason. If Lewis once again comes up short of a playoff victory, the offseason in Cincinnati will bring a lot of change to the stagnant organization.

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NBA finals: Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Bogut knows what’s needed in game four

Andrew Bogut says he is disappointed with his play in the NBA finals and plans to become more aggressive.

The Golden State Warriors centre was almost a non-factor in Tuesday’s game three win by the Cleveland Cavaliers, with fellow Australian Matthew Dellavedova becoming the NBA’s new sensation.

“Not great,” is how Bogut, ahead of Friday’s game four, assessed his performance in the finals.

Dellavedova was inspirational for the Cavaliers in game three and was so physically spent after the 96-91 win he had to be hospitalised for cramping and exhaustion.

The win gave Cleveland a 2-1 series lead and they are just two victories from taking the championship.

Dellavedova said early Thursday he is recovered and is not expecting to have his court time reduced in game four.

Bogut had a quiet game with four points, six rebounds and one blocked shot in 17 minutes on Tuesday.

“I haven’t played well so I’m looking to come out and play hard and let the chips fall where they may,” Bogut, who plans to shoot more and dribble toward the basket instead of focusing on passing, said.

The Melbourne-born centre said he needed to do more to allow the Warriors’ shooting tandem of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to get easier shots.

Dellavedova and his Cavalier teammates, Bogut said, have done a great job in blitzing Curry but the Warriors know what they have to do.

They were able to free up Curry in the final quarter, which led to erasing a 20-point deficit and almost scoring a victory.

“They blitz Steph first and foremost and then they pre-rotate early so you have to make a decision and usually it is swinging the ball to the weak side corner which we did later in the game,” Bogut said.

“Earlier in the game we didn’t get it going.

“We’d end up kicking the ball out, the shot clock was down to eight or seven seconds and we put a lot of pressure on Steph and Klay to create a shot for us.”

Bogut’s playing time has also diminished as both teams went to smaller line-ups, with Bogut and the Cavaliers’ big man Timofey Mozgov sitting in the closing minutes.

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Rangers-Athletics Preview

Sonny Gray has won three straight starts and pitched 23 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers.

Texas is 4-0 in division games with Nick Martinez on the mound.

Runs could be at a premium Tuesday night when Gray seeks to help the Oakland Athletics end a three-game slide as they host Martinez and the Rangers.

Gray (7-2, 1.65 ERA) brings baseball’s lowest ERA into the opener of this three-game set. That figure is at 0.86 during a three-start win streak capped by Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Detroit after he pitched eight scoreless innings.

“We think we’ve got a good chance to win when he’s on the mound, and that’s been true since he got here,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It says a lot to see the kind of confidence he gives you when he’s out there.”

Gray is 6-2 with a 1.54 ERA in eight career starts against Texas, including his scoreless run that includes 14 2-3 innings in two 2015 wins in which he has scattered three hits. He walked a career-high seven over 6 2-3 innings the last time he faced the Rangers in a 7-1 victory May 3.

AL batting leader Prince Fielder, who has a .356 average, is 1 for 11 versus Gray. Elvis Andrus is 5 for 24 in this matchup, Leonys Martin is 2 for 24 and Robinson Chirinos 1 for 13.

Tuesday will mark the first time Gray will face top Rangers prospect Joey Gallo, who is 7 for 24 with two homers and 13 strikeouts.

The AL’s worst team could have a tough time versus Martinez (4-2, 2.89), who is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four division starts. He is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two against Oakland (23-36).

Martinez has dropped consecutive outings after giving up a season-high seven runs in a season-low 3 1-3 innings in Wednesday’s 9-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Josh Reddick is 5 for 9 against the right-hander while Eric Sogard is hitless in nine at-bats.

Stephen Vogt is 7 for 17 with eight RBIs and Reddick 6 for 12 with eight in the season series for Oakland, which has taken four of seven matchups. Fielder is 11 for 26 to lead Texas.

The Rangers (30-27) have won 14 of 18, though they failed to complete a three-game sweep Sunday after a 4-3 loss at Kansas City spoiled their rally from three runs down.

”It’s tough to sweep a series, especially against a team like that,” manager Jeff Banister said. ”After the first couple of innings we continued to battle. We battled back and put runs on the board and got back in the game.”

Oakland was swept over the weekend in Boston, blowing a four-run lead by allowing seven in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 7-4 defeat.

“Today it looked like certainly early on and deeper into the game, we felt like we had a nice win to go home on and a 4-2 road trip but not much we can do about it now,” Melvin said.

A’s rookie center fielder Billy Burns is batting .346 over a 12-game hitting streak.

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Saints linebacker Junior Galette mulling surgery for pectoral injury

The New Orleans Saints’ top pass-rusher from last season, Junior Galette, is mulling surgery after suffering a pectoral injury, according to Fox Sports.

Typical recovery time for pectoral surgeries is around six months, which could put Galette’s season in jeopardy. Teammate John Jenkins returned in August from a pectoral surgery last year, although he had his earlier in the offseason.

Losing Galette for a significant amount of time would be a tough loss for a New Orleans defense that is trying to rebound from a dreadful 31st-place ranking in yards allowed last year.

Galette led the team with 10 sacks last season after having 12 sacks in 2013 from his hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position.

The one saving grace for the Saints is that they did load up on the outside linebacker position this offseason, signing veteran Anthony Spencer in free agency and drafting Hau’oli Kikaha in the second round out of Washington.

Both Spencer and Kikaha spent time with the Saints’ first-string defense during Thursday’s OTA practice, in which the Saints installed a heavy dose of nickel defense packages.

Veteran Parys Haralson and second-year pro Kasim Edebali also rotated into the mix at times.

It’s unclear exactly when or how Galette’s injury occurred, but it happened sometime in the past week. He participated in practice during last Thursday’s session that was open to the media.

Then he was standing and watching from the sideline during this Thursday’s session — the first that was open to the media this week.

Coach Sean Payton was not asked about Galette’s ailment specifically because Payton generally declines to get into any injury specifics at this time of year, when injury reports aren’t required.

This has been a turbulent past nine months for the 27-year-old Galette.

Last September he was selected as a team captain for the first time and signed a four-year, $41.5 million contract extension.

But then he battled inconsistency on the field along with the rest of the Saints defense last year and was criticized both inside and outside the locker room when he derisively insisted the Saints’ current defensive players were better than the ones from their Super Bowl roster.

Then in January, Galette was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against a female houseguest who refused to leave, although charges were later dropped. A civil suit is still pending.

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Rangers winners again with big-hitting Prince, Hamilton home

The Rangers capped a magnificent month with Hamilton’s game-ending two-run, two-out double as a pinch-hitter after starting May with a loss for a 7-15 record that was the worst in the American League.

”Felt like in April, we had water in the gas tank,” first-year manager Jeff Banister said. ”Stopped the car, it kept running … when you went to start it and push on the gas it (sputtered). We had to get a tuneup, and we had some guys that really have found that rhythm.”

At 26-25 to open June, the Rangers are above .500 for the first time since being 31-30 last June 6 in a season that ended with an AL-worst 95 losses.

Credit the offense for the turnaround from April, along with some shuffling in the bullpen.

Texas hit a majors-worst .210 the first month, and scored only 75 runs.

The Rangers scored more than twice as many runs in May, when .359 hitter Fielder started going deep again (nine homers after only one before that), Shin-Soo Choo batted .295 for the month (after .096 to start the season), rookie Delino DeShields had an AL-high 10 stolen bases and Hamilton rejoined the team a week ago.

”Talent-wise, we have such amazing guys, and we’re just going to get better,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. ”We have to maintain what we’ve got right now, and just build on it.”

The Rangers, with Monday off to start June after only one off day in May, have won 19 of their last 29 games and four series in a row. They took three of four games from Boston over the weekend for their first series win at home.

Hamilton, who homered twice Saturday and didn’t start Sunday for the first time in his seven games since getting back, delivered the game-winner in a 4-3 win to wrap up his first home series for Texas since 2012.

”You never know what can happen, and that’s what Ranger baseball is all about,” Hamilton said on the field postgame, after he and Fox Sports Southwest field reporter Emily Jones were doused by the contents of two water coolers.

In the clubhouse a few minutes later, Hamilton said he was reminded of ”some good times for the Rangers.”

Hamilton was the 2010 AL MVP, a five-time All-Star and part of their only two World Series appearances with Texas from 2008-12 before leaving in free agency to the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels. He was traded back to the Rangers on April 27, four weeks before his season debut.

”Whether or not it’s coming back to a place of comfort where he’s had success, he looks more sure of himself,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Sunday’s game. ”I don’t know that I saw the same type of swings at any time that he was elsewhere. … He looks to be playing with a lot more confidence.”

After World Series closer Neftali Feliz gave up three runs in the ninth inning of a 10-8 loss May 16, Banister said the next day there were no longer any set roles in a much-maligned bullpen. Since then, Shawn Tolleson has pitched in game-ending situations and converted all six of his save chances.

”Early on, we had some starts that we didn’t take advantage of,” Banister said. ”We have the capability of taking advantage of some of the starts we’re getting now.”

For at least the next two weeks, though, the Rangers will be without Adrian Beltre. The third baseman sprained and cut his left thumb sliding into a base Sunday. Texas called up top prospect Joey Gallo, who is hitting .314 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in 34 games for Frisco. All nine of his homers have come in the past 23 games.