Friday, September 26, 2008

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Oregon State beats top-ranked USC 27-21

It had been 41 years since Oregon State knocked off a No. 1 team.

Freshman Jacquizz Rodgers helped the Beavers pull off another stunner—and Southern California was the victim again.

Rodgers ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and Oregon State built a 21-point first-half lead before capitalizing on a late turnover and upsetting the Trojans 27-21 on Thursday night.

Beavers fans, clad in orange, rushed the field when the clock ran out after the 25-point underdogs shook up college football with a victory over the team that was expected to roll right through its conference straight to the national championship game.

“I think we made a statement, like we can come out and beat anybody on any given day. It’s not always the best team that wins on a day. It’s who plays hard,” Rodgers said.

The Beavers (2-2, 1-1 Pacific-10) also upset USC at Reser Stadium in 2006, when the Trojans were ranked third. The team’s lone victory over a No. 1 team came in 1967, when Oregon State beat the O.J. Simpson-led Trojans 3-0.

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez’s pass was intercepted by safety Greg Laybourn on the 30 with less than 3 minutes to play. Laybourn ran the ball back 28 yards to put Oregon State on the 2, and Rodgers ran in the final 2 yards to make it 27-14.

Fans carried Laybourn on their shoulders after the game.

Sanchez hit Patrick Turner with a 14-yard scoring pass with 1:19 left, but time ran out on the Trojans (2-1, 0-1).

“I’m beside myself,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “They didn’t hide what they were doing, they just did it. We couldn’t stop it. We couldn’t tackle.”

Rodgers’ rushing yards were the most by a Trojans opponent since Vince Young ran for 200 for Texas in the BCS national championship game in 2006.

Rodgers’ brother James had six catches for 36 yards and two scores for Oregon State. Lyle Moevao completed 18 of 26 passes for 167 yards and two scores.

“They came out and competed,” Oregon State coach Mike Riley said of his team. “We were respectful, but not in awe.”

USC tailback Joe McKnight rushed for just 10 yards against the Beavers, after gaining 105 yards in the Trojans’ 35-3 victory over Ohio State.

Sanchez completed 18 of 29 passes for 227 yards and three scores, with the one crucial interception.

“Not our sharpest tonight—everybody, every position. There’s not need to point fingers,” Sanchez said. “I’m as guilty as anyone else. I threw an interception—costly late in the game.”

McKnight took the loss upon himself.

“I didn’t make the plays. Fumbled the ball, Dropped a pass,” he said. “You can’t blame anybody else but me.”

The game opened with drama, as USC safety Taylor Mays was called for a personal foul on James Rodgers on an 8-yard touchdown reception.

Carroll asked that the score be reviewed, because it did not look as if the ball had crossed the line. The touchdown stood, giving the Beavers a 7-0 lead.

The Beavers more than held their own through the first half, with the Trojans appearing confused about how to handle Jacquizz Rodgers, who is just 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds. He somehow pushed through USC’s defensive line for a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.

His big brother saw the end zone again before halftime. Moevao’s pass was nearly intercepted by USC cornerback Kevin Thomas, but the ball was tipped into the hands of James Rodgers to make it 21-0.

USC answered on its first series of the second half with Sanchez’s 26-yard scoring pass to Ronald Johnson.

Sanchez found wide-open receiver Damien Williams, who sprinted down the sideline—and narrowly avoided Laybourn’s efforts to push him out of bounds— to narrow it to 21-14 with 2:56 left in the third quarter.

The Beavers squandered a chance to add to the lead midway through the fourth when they tried for a field goal, but Sean Sehnem’s 41-yard attempt was blocked.

The Beavers opened this season with two losses, at Stanford and Penn State, before returning home for a victory over Hawaii.

Despite their struggles, the Beavers had seen steady growth on offense and the emergence of Jacquizz Rodgers, who went into the game against the Trojans as the nation’s leading freshman rusher with 87.7 yards per game.

“For whatever reason we just couldn’t tackle him,” Carroll said. “We’d hit him in the backfield and he’d keep bouncing. Him hiding behind the line of scrimmage was very effective. We had troubles with it all day.”

USC had shown little vulnerability in victories at Virginia and then at home against then-No. 5 Buckeyes. But Carroll noted earlier in the week that the familiarity of Pac-10 play posed a danger.

The Beavers certainly seemed to have the Trojans figured out, holding them to 313 yards total offense. Stafon Johnson was USC’s leading rusher with 48 yards. Williams had six catches for 94 yards.

“The reality of the Pac-10 is obvious,” Carroll said after the game.

USC was without cornerback Shareece Wright, who will miss several games due to a hairline vertebra fracture suffered in the Ohio State game.

Carroll had said Wright was being disciplined after being charged with felony resisting a police officer earlier this month, but would have played against Oregon State had he been cleared medically.

USC has lost three of its last four games in Corvallis.

Struggling Mets Combine To Form Carlos Voltron

Facing the Cubs in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the desperate Mets sprinted out to the field Tuesday, launched themselves high into the air above Shea Stadium, and combined their bodies to form a 400-foot tall fielding robot called Carlos Voltron.
Mets Robot

According to eyewitnesses, before the Mets players completed the complicated procedure, in which they fused their physical selves and combined their talents to form the 20,000-ton robot, manager Jerry Manuel called the team to the dugout, where he commanded them to prepare their interlock systems for activation, connect the appropriate dyna-therms, charge up the infra-cells to full capacity, engage the mega-thrusters, and give it their best out there.

"After losing eight of our last 12 games, forming Carlos Voltron is our only hope to save our playoff chances," Manuel said. "We really need power this late in the season, and the 2.5 million pounds of thrust in Voltron's solid-fuel boosters should give us the lift we need."

Leaving behind blue and orange vapor trails as they soared across the sky, the Mets were reportedly surrounded by a crackling electrical field as they folded their limbs into their bodies to ready themselves for assembly and to protect the team's home record.

Although Manuel said he had to settle an argument over who got to be the robot's head, his final lineup was David Wright and José Reyes forming the legs, Ramón Castro and Ryan Church making the feet, Nick Evans and Johan Santana completing the arms, Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo joining to create the torso, and Carlos Beltrán forming the head.

While Cubs batters had taken early advantage of the Mets pitchers on Monday, the towering spectacle of Carlos Voltron proved to be an imposing presence on the mound, as the force of his foot slamming into the ground after the windup of his first pitch knocked the batter and umpire into the third row of the stands. In addition, the seismic energy unleashed by Carlos Voltron's follow-through created several deep cracks in the foundation of Shea Stadium, and accompanying atmospheric disturbances caused a 747 in a holding pattern over nearby La Guardia airport to plunge from the sky.

"In the second inning I had to have him take some heat off those pitches or he was going to kill somebody," said Manuel, adding that he clocked the first pitch at 85,000 mph. "After what happened to poor Alfonso Soriano, I told him let them hit a few balls."

"We might face this team in the playoffs," continued Manuel. "I'd hate to see what would happen to us if the Cubs unleashed the Robeast from their bullpen."

With his fast first step and an exceptionally long stride that carries the giant robot from the mound to the center field wall in one step, Carlos Voltron put on an amazing fielding display in the fifth inning when he robbed Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramírez of a 500-foot shot by plucking it out of the air between the robotic index finger and thumb of his leonine hand.

Although the Mets' fielding skills were excellent, they were not without flaws. Cubs manager Lou Piniella came out to the field to protest several times, complaining that his base runners injured themselves in the 10-foot deep trenches left behind from Carlos Voltron scooping up ground balls. Piniella also expressed frustration over his players suffering from collapsed rib cages, ruptured organs, and decapitations every time Voltron tagged them out.

Carlos Voltron's solid and consistent defensive play was only upstaged in the fans' eyes by his powerful hitting, with those in attendance claiming they suffered bad sunburns from the glare caused by the robot forming his blazing bat. Stepping up to the plate, he made almost perfect contact with the first pitch, belting the ball out of Shea and into the next solar system.

"That big guy they have at the heart of their lineup really has potential," Piniella said. "Little stiff, needs to fix that stance some, and could probably use some work on the throwing mechanics, but really, you get the feeling he's going to be good."

"I wonder how long they have him signed for," added Piniella. "Might be a risk with him shutting down for 20 minutes after getting gravel from the warning track in his guidance apparatus. Ah, what am I thinking? We already have Kerry Wood. We don't need another robot."

Meanwhile, defending a comfortable 600-0 lead in the top of ninth, the Mets decided to rest up Carlos Voltron by moving him to the outfield and replacing him with reliever Aaron Heilman, who lost the lead and eventually the game after giving up 618 runs to close the inning.

Hot Dogs Prompt Evacuations At Phillies Ballpark

The discovery of several hot dogs in packages outside Citizens Bank Park brought the bomb squad out and forced the temporary evacuation of the stadium Wednesday evening.

According to police, Pattison Street between Darien and 11th Streets was shutdown as officials investigated the discovery of several suspicious packages near a ticket office.

Fans inside the stadium were evacuated, but players remained on the field during the incident.

Bomb squad members further investigated the packages and determined they were simply several hot dogs in foil wrappers. Sadly, the wieners were detonated as a precaution.

The stadium was reopened at about 5:20 p.m.

"It was clear from when we looked at it at first glance and when you looked at the debris afterwards, there was packaging and duct tape; I don't see many hot dogs sold here with duct tape," Phillies VP of Operations Michael Stiles said. "We just did what we felt was appropriate."

The Phillies take on the Atlanta Braves at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

Yankees to miss playoffs for 1st time since 1995

The New York Yankees will miss the postseason for the first time since starting their run in 1995. Mike Mussina pitched five shutout innings to earn his 19th win, Jason Giambi homered and the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 on Tuesday night.

It wasn't enough to keep New York's slim postseason hopes alive as Boston beat Cleveland 5-4 minutes before the Yankees win. The Red Sox win clinched at least the AL wild-card and eliminated the Yankees from postseason contention.

New York shortstop Derek Jeter didn't start because of a sore left hand, but came on as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. This will be the first October that the Yankees missed the playoffs in 13 years — a remarkable run, which included four World Series titles.

The Atlanta Braves still hold the big league record by reaching 14 straight postseasons. No one team in the majors has currently made the playoffs more than two years in a row.

Mussina (19-9), who also won 19 games with Baltimore in 1995 and 1996, will try for a career-high 20th victory when he faces Boston at Fenway Park on Sunday in the final game of the regular season.

With his 269th career victory, Mussina moved past Jim Palmer into 33rd place on baseball's career list. Mussina has the most wins of any pitcher never to have a 20-win season.

The right-hander allowed four hits, walked none and struck out six.

Marco Scutaro hit a one-out double off Mussina in the first, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

Mussina was struck on the right elbow by Travis Snider's line drive single in the third, with the ball ricocheting into foul territory between home plate and third base. Trainer Gene Monahan and manager Joe Girardi came out to check on Mussina, who declared himself fine after two practice pitches, then ended the inning with a 4-6-3 double play.

Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 38th save in 39 opportunities.

Blue Jays right-hander Jesse Litsch (12-9) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out a career-high eight.

New York opened the scoring in the second when Giambi singled, went to third on Xavier Nady's double and scored on Robinson Cano's grounder.

Giambi hit a one-out solo drive to right center in the fourth, his 32nd.

The Yankees made it 3-0 in the seventh when Cano doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Gregg Zaun's passed ball.

Toronto scored a run in the seventh on Scott Rolen's RBI single, but Joba Chamberlain ended the threat by striking out Gregg Zaun and Snider

Notes: New York OF Hideki Matsui underwent left knee surgery Monday and is expected to be ready in time for spring training. ... Blue Jays LHP David Purcey will not pitch again this season because the team doesn't want to overwork the rookie, a first-round pick in 2004. ... The Blue Jays have reached a two-year deal to move their Triple-A club to Las Vegas following 31 years in Syracuse.