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  • 17 June 2019
    MOSCOW -- The Kontinental Hockey League, widely considered the worlds strongest hockey competition outside the NHL, is considering cutting teams because of financial pressure.A recession in Russia, where the KHL is based, and the low price of oil have hurt the fortunes of the Russian state-owned companies and regional governments that fund most teams, pushing several deeply into debt.League president Dmitry Chernyshenko said the KHL board is set to discuss an optimization of the number of clubs taking part, in comments Monday to state agency R-Sport.I think its possible that the league could contract if the board takes that decision, Chernyshenko said.The move occurs months after a significant expansion with the addition of a team in China, a market also being targeted by the NHL for future merchandising growth. However, the Chinese team, split between Beijing and Shanghai, has struggled to attract fans, with attendances of below 1,000 at some games at the Shanghai arena.The KHL features 29 teams across eight countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, though most are based in Russia and even the non-Russian teams tend to rely heavily on Russian state funds to meet their wage bills.Last week, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov accused Russian regional governments in financial difficulties of being irresponsible by continuing to finance sports teams. HOUSTON -- Ian Desmond keeps coming up with big hits for the Texas Rangers.Sunday was no different.Desmond hit a tiebreaking single in the 11th inning and the Rangers got past Houston 5-3, beating the Astros for the 11th time in 13 meetings this season.For a guy like Desmond, whos had some challenges here lately but had been so big for us all year long in those type of situations to come up with the big hit for us was a great day for him, Texas manager Jeff Banister said.Texas took two of three in the weekend series and extended its AL West lead to 7 1/2 games over the Astros.This is the type of game good teams need to win, Banister said. This is a group of guys that are going to continue fighting. Theyre engaged. We came out on the top of it today. Things worked out for us today.Houston went 2-5 on its and has lost eight of its last 10 games.Anytime I leave this podium after a loss I hate it, Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. I dont care what teams on the other side, I dont care what division theyre in, what league theyre in and how the loss happened.Clearly games against the Rangers matter when theyre ahead of us, they matter when theyre behind us, theyre in our division. So Im not naive, I know that those games are going to be magnified. You get into August and were in a playoff race, these games get a little heightened awareness, he said.After Shin-Soo Choo led off the 11th with a double, Desmond followed with a single against Chris Devenski (0-4).Desmond is tied for the major league lead with Houstons Carlos Correa with seven go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning or later this season.I just want to make sure I feel good in those situations, and I have, Desmond said.Rougned Odor later hit an RBI double.We were 5-for-21 with runners in scoring position, Banister said. In those types of situations these guys are up there trying to put the best at-bat they can together. We got a little anxious in some of the at-bats and then hit some balls fairly well. We needed that big one and Desmond was able to come through.Matt Bush (5-2) pitched the 10th, then strucck out George Springer with runners on the corners in the 11th.ddddddddddddTexas starter Yu Darvish pitched seven shutout innings, striking out eight and giving up five hits.Darvish said through a translator the outing was the best he has felt since coming off the 15-day disabled list July 16.Alex Bregman hit an RBI double, and Jose Altuve followed with an RBI single off Jeremy Jeffress to cut the Rangers lead to 3-2 in the eighth.Tony Kemp tied it in the ninth with a single off Sam Dyson that scored pinch-runner Carlos Gomez, who slid around Jonathan Lucroys tag.Lucroy put the Rangers ahead with an RBI double in the fifth. Jurickson Profar hit a two-run double off Ken Giles to extend the lead to 3-0 in the eighth.Kemp had three hits after coming on as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.Joe Musgrove allowed one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out six in his first major league start. The right-hander threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts in relief in his debut Tuesday.TRAINERS ROOMRangers: OF Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup after leaving Saturdays game with a left quad contusion. He pinch-hit in the 10th and flied out to leave the bases loaded.Astros: OF Colby Rasmus was put on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a cyst in his right ear.Its been bothering him for a while, Hinch said. Clearly, there are some things going on there that we need to look into further. Kemp was recalled from Triple-A Fresno. ... INF Luis Valbuena (right hamstring strain) is progressing slowly and hasnt done any baseball activities, Hinch said.UP NEXTRangers: LHP Cole Hamels (12-3) will start the first of a two-game series in Colorado on Monday. Hamels is second in the AL in ERA at 2.89 and has the lowest road ERA in the AL at 1.90 in 12 road starts.Astros: RHP Collin McHugh (7-8) starts the first of four games in Minnesota on Monday. McHugh allowed a season-high three home runs in his last outing Wednesday against Toronto. ' ' '