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But once you win the division

  • 30 Apr
    WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper returned to the lineup, but neither his bat nor spot starter A.J. Cole helped the Washington Nationals in their pursuit of home-field advantage opening the playoffs.Christian Yelich homered and Dee Gordons infield single in the sixth inning scored the go-ahead run as the Miami Marlins beat the NL East champion Nationals 6-4 on Friday night.The game began following a 1 hour, 43 minute rain delay. The series opener came a day after a memorial service in Florida for Jose Fernandez. The Marlins ace died in a boating accident Sunday.Washington entered its final series of the season with a two-game lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers for home field advantage in the NL Division Series. Los Angeles played at San Francisco on Friday night.Harper went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts in his return to the Nationals lineup after sitting out the previous four days with a left thumb injury.He was rusty, Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of the right fielder. Weve got to get that rust off him before we start the playoffs.Harper said of his plate appearances, I felt great. My swing felt great.Anthony Rendon and Stephen Drew hit back-to-back home runs for Washington in a four-run fourth after Miami scored twice in the top of the inning for a 4-0 lead.Miami used five relievers including Mike Dunn (6-1). A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth for his 40th save.Sammy Solis (2-4) allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings for Washington.The Nationals honored Fernandez with a pregame video montage, by placing his No. 16 behind the pitchers mound and his jersey in their dugout. A mutual tipping of the caps across the field between players from both teams occurred as well.Nice touch by the Nationals, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the mound gesture. It seems like everyone has that feel for Jose. The way he carried himself and the fun that he had was really what you loved so much about him, that little kid, and that part is what seems like has taken hold on a lot of people around baseball and a lot of people around the country.Neither starting pitcher went beyond four innings and both allowed four runs. Two runs off Cole, the first of eight pitchers for Washington, were unearned.Cole, who lasted three innings, is awaiting appeal of his five-game suspension for throwing behind Pittsburghs Jung Ho Kang on Sunday.Miamis Andrew Cashner unraveled in the fourth, allowing five hits and one walk. Jose Lobotons RBI double and Trea Turners run-scoring single in the fourth tied the game 4-4.Over the final five innings, the Nationals went 0 for 15 with 10 strikeouts and one walk.Left fielder Jayson Werth left as a precaution in the seventh inning with back tightness. He anticipates playing Saturday.Were playing for home-field advantage, which is important. But once you win the division, theres that exhale and sigh of relief, Werth said. Theres a balance there and you err on the side of caution.Yelich drove in two runs. Justin Bour had a double and two RBI singles and he scored on the hustling Gordons single off Oliver Perez.Rendon became the sixth National with at least 20 home runs this season. The 1965 Milwaukee Braves, 2003 Atlanta Braves and 2016 St. Louis Cardinals, who reached the mark later Friday, are the only other NL teams in history with six 20-plus homers.HEARTFELT MESSAGEThe Arizona Diamondbacks occupied the visitors locker room this week before Miami arrived. When the Marlins arrived, they found a touching note on a dry erase board regarding the loss of Fernandez. Dee Gordon had the most important HR of the year. Good luck fellas. Were (sic) praying for you. RIP. JF 16 -- DBacks.BABY ON BOARDNationals OF Chris Heisey is away from the team as he returned home for the birth of his second child. He is the second player on the team to leave for this reason in recent weeks. This team is a baby-making team, Baker cracked. Heisey is expected back in Washington on Saturday.TRAINERS ROOMMarlins: Mattingly said LHP Adam Conley, who came off the DL on Monday to throw three shutout innings, will be available the last two days of the season. Conley missed more than six weeks with a finger injury.Nationals: 2B Daniel Murphy (glute muscle), who last began a game on Sept. 17, isnt expected back in the starting lineup until Game 1 of the NLDS.UP NEXTMarlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 5.02) is set to face Nationals RHP Tanner Roark (15-10, 2.86), who needs a win to set a career-high. Air Max Saldi Italia . While hell be dialed in to that tournament on a course he loves, you can forgive him if his eyes glance down the calendar just a bit, towards April. Air Max Outlet Scontate . The native of Mont-Tremblant, Que., captured a World Cup downhill event Saturday, his second this year and fifth career victory on the circuit. .ca looks back at the stories and moments that made the year memorable. Air Max Scontate Italia . - Connor McDavid scored 53 seconds into overtime as the Erie Otters came from behind to defeat the visiting Guelph Storm 4-3 on Saturday in Ontario Hockey League action. Air Max Outlet Italia .C. -- Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said after all of these years in the NBA hes still amazed at some of the things LeBron James does. The NFL, through its foundation, has pledged a minimum of $300,000 to aid in international and domestic relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew.The NFL Foundations contributions will support relief organizations such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and UNICEF. A total of $100,000 will go to the Salvation Army and UNICEF to support relief efforts and assist victims in impacted areas of the Caribbean, including Haiti and the Bahamas. An additional $100,000 will go to the American Red Cross to aid in relief and recovery efforts in impacted areas of the United States.Also, the foundation will help restore youth and high school football programs in impacted areas of the Southeast. Together with USA Football, the NFL will replace damaged or lost equipment and uniforms, as well as address other needs, spending at least $100,000.Six NFL teams have pledged to support Hurricane Matthew relief efforts, as well: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Jacksonville, Miami and Washington.---BAD LOSS: Losing a bet anytime is painful. Having to pay up by wearing gear from a college rival is much worse, at least according to Tennessee Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo .The Texas alum bet with teammate DeMarco Murray on last weeks Red River Showdown and lost big when Oklahoma beat Orakpos Longhorns 45-40. Orakpo showed up Monday wearing a Sooners hoodie.I fought it hard, but Im a man of my word, Orakpo said. Im going to pay my bets and I got to wear this trash, but Ill burn it when Im done after the week.Betting on college games is very popular in NFL locker rooms, with friendly wagers made almost weekly. Orakpo said many players simply wager with money, which is easily dismissed.We kind of wanted to make it sink in a little further with hoodie for the week for that particular team, and obviously you know what the outcome was, Orakpo said.Adding to the pain, Orakpo said he knows a photo of him in the Oklahoma hoodie will make the rounds, particularly back home in Texas. A native of Houston, Orakpo said he never considered attending Oklahoma.Im a man of my word. I pay my debts, and Ill burn it when Im done, Orakpo said. BRADY: Tom Brady not only got a win in his first game back from his four-game Deflategate suspension, he earned offensive player of the week honors in the AFC with his 406-yard, three-touchdown performance.The Patriots quarterback also was No. 1 elsewhere: Bradys jersey became the top seller this week, according to DICKs Sporting Goods Jersey Report.Bradys popularity also moved New England to the top spot in overall jersey sales. One of his favorite targets, tight end Rob Gronkowski, came in sixth, according to DICKs.Brady outdid Steelers running back LeVeon Bell who served a three-game suspension to start the season. Pittsburgh hhas won twice since Bell returned and he is at No.dddddddddddd 16 in jersey sales, an improvement of 40 spots from when he was suspended.Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was the only rookie in the top 30, landing fifth overall.---RODGERS ON PRESCOTT: Aaron Rodgers waited for three years behind Brett Favre in Green Bay, and figures Dak Prescott will soon be in a similar position behind Tony Romo even though the Dallas rookie has the Cowboys at 4-1 without their injured 10-year starter.From Rodgers point of view, its first a matter of Prescott accepting the economics.You have to understand that the team has a lot invested in the guy in front of you most of the time, and youre going to get an opportunity, said Rodgers, a two-time MVP. Youve just got to be patient.Even with Prescott on the verge of an NFL record for pass attempts without an interception to start a career (second at 155 behind Tom Bradys 162), Rodgers says the 23-year-old former Mississippi State standout will have to accept that it may soon be his team -- just not now.Maybe soon, maybe in a couple of years, Rodgers said. Hes doing nothing but helping himself right now the way hes shown those guys his leadership style and his play and his consistency.Prescott sounds as if he never had to adjust his thinking in the first place.This is Tonys team, he said. I knew that going into the situation. I think everybody knew that. Im just trying to do the best I can to give my team a chance to win week in and week out.---POLYNESIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Former NFL players Riki Ellison, Chris Naeole, Maa Tanuvasa and ex-CFL player Junior Ah You have been selected for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fames Class of 2017.Ellison has Maori ancestry, Naeole has Hawaiian, Tanuvasa and Ah You Samoan.Also selected as a contributor is John Manumaleuna (Samoan ancestry), whose foundation seeks to use the unique perspective of Samoan and Polynesian cultures to promote education and a healthy lifestyle through sports.The class of 2017 has won five Super Bowls, two Grey Cups and a college football national championship, says former NFL offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu, the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame co-founder and chairman. They represent the very best of our Polynesian people.The class of 2017 will be honored during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame enshrinements Jan. 21-22 in Hawaii. Inductees will also be recognized at the inaugural Polynesian Bowl, a senior high school all-star game featuring players of Polynesian heritage and other ancestries.---AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Teresa M. Walker, and Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas contributed.---AP NFL website: and ' ' '