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Hand, Mathis send Marlins to 2-0 win over Astros

Brad Hand pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning and Jeff Mathis hit a two-run double for the Miami Marlins in their 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

Hand (2-2) struck out four and walked two in a career-high 7 1/3 innings to earn his second straight win. Donovan Solano and Giancarlo Stanton each had two hits for the Marlins, who won their fifth in sixth games.

Miami was able to get to Dallas Keuchel (9-7) in the seventh.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia reached on an error by center fielder Enrique Hernandez. Adeiny Hechavarria hit an infield single with two outs before Mathis drove in both runners with a double.

Bryan Morris got two outs in the eighth, and Steve Cishek pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save. (more…)

Rangers use record 31st pitcher, beat A’s 4-1

Jerome Williams pitched six solid innings while becoming the team-record 31st pitcher used this season by the Texas Rangers, and they beat AL West-leading Oakland 4-1 on Friday night.

Elvis Andrus had a triple among his two hits and scored twice for the Rangers, who had lost their seven previous home games in July and were coming off a 2-5 road trip out of the All-Star break.

Neftali Feliz, back in the closer role after Joakim Soria was traded to Detroit earlier this week, worked a scoreless ninth while giving up a hit and a walk for his first regular-season save since 2011. His last opportunity, before moving to the rotation and then getting hurt, was a blown save in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against St. Louis.

The Athletics still have the best record in the majors at 63-39, and they have a 22 1-2-game division lead over last-place Texas, which has won only six of its last 33 games.

Williams (2-4) allowed one run while striking out four without a walk. The 32-year-old right-hander was released by Houston earlier this month and signed to a minor league deal with the Rangers two weeks ago.

Texas purchased Williams’ contract from Triple-A Round Rock as planned Friday to start in place of Nick Tepesch, who pitched in relief in the Rangers’ 14-inning loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. Tepesch is scheduled to start Saturday night. (more…)

Sources: Longhorns kick four more off team

By Max Olson | ESPN.com

Texas football coach Charlie Strong has kicked at least six players off the team since becoming coach, in addition to suspending two Longhorns players Thursday after they were arrested on charges of sexual assault.

Safety Josh Turner, running back Jalen Overstreet and defensive back Chevoski Collins have been dismissed from the program for violating team rules, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Friday.

Senior running back Joe Bergeron was also dismissed from the program, according to Orangebloods.com and multiple media outlets Friday.

Texas has yet to officially acknowledge any of the dismissals.

Turner was a projected starter, a senior safety who played in 37 games and started five, including three in 2013. He had an interception in Texas’ first spring game under Strong.

Overstreet, a sophomore, rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns as a reserve last season after moving from quarterback to running back. Collins redshirted as a freshman and was a backup at safety. Orangebloods.com initially reported the dismissal of Overstreet and Collins. (more…)

Sources: Dez, Dallas not close on deal

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys have had several discussions with the agent for receiver Dez Bryant about a lucrative, long-term extension, but the sides are not close to a deal as the team opens training camp, according to multiple sources.

Bryant believes he has earned the right to be among the highest-paid receivers in the league, but he understands he likely will have to wait to cash in with a new contract. Coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, Bryant is entering the final year of his rookie deal and is due to make $1.78 million this season.

“It feels good to know that things are being talked about, but I’m going to let it take care of itself,” Bryant told ESPNDallas.com after the Cowboys’ first practice of camp Thursday. “I feel like as long as I take care of business on that field, the rest will be taken care of.”

The Cowboys have a history of giving extensions to core players before their contracts expire. However, several of those contracts did not work out favorably for them, including rich deals for receivers Roy Williams and Miles Austin. (more…)

Cowboys’ McClain convicted, already appeals

A judge Friday convicted Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in his Alabama hometown and imposed an 18-day jail term that could interrupt the player’s bid to restart his career.

Municipal Judge Billy Cook convicted McClain on the misdemeanor counts after a non-jury trial that lasted about three hours. McClain was accused of yelling an obscenity at police trying to arrest him during a disturbance in a crowded city park in 2013.

McClain won’t have to report for his jail sentence until after an appeal is complete in state court. Cook also ordered McClain to pay $1,572 in fines and court costs. It’s unclear how long an appeal might take.

The judge signed a document stating McClain, 25, was free to leave the state while challenging the conviction.

“My attitude is I think I ran into the only person in the entire state of Alabama that would convict Rolando McClain based on this evidence,” defense attorney Harvey Steinberg said. “Unfortunately, it happened to be the judge.”

The former Alabama Crimson Tide star maintained his innocence and said police arrested the wrong person. He’s been arrested three times in Decatur since 2011. (more…)

Stephen Jones: Romo rest ‘precautionary’

By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

Follow reporter Todd Archer’s live updates from training camp in Oxnard, California.
Preseason Live
With the Cowboys going through their second workout of training camp, Romo spent the bulk of the workout off the field. He was not in uniform and left the field after the pre-practice warmup was finished. Brandon Weeden took the first-team snaps.

Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys want to be mindful of Romo’s back injury in back-to-back workouts and standing around can cause issues. The Cowboys will have their first padded practice Saturday, and Romo and club officials said he will take the team snaps during the afternoon session.

“It’s just purely precautionary,” Jones said. “I think Tony knows that we’re getting ready to get into the competitive part of practices [Saturday] and he just decided he wanted to make sure he was rolling and ready and wanted to not push it here. He’s been going pretty good between all the conditioning and running and getting himself back into shape. Having a big two or three days here he just wanted to take [Friday] to rest up a little bit and get ready. He doesn’t want to miss anything that’s competitive and everybody agreed that was a good idea.”

Strong offseason fueling Brandon Weeden

By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas – Brandon Weeden’s bid to be the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback in 2014 got a lot easier when the club decided to release Kyle Orton.

Barring something unforeseen, Weeden, who signed a two-year deal in the offseason, will be Tony Romo’s backup. But Weeden does not look at the move as “weight off my shoulders.”

“Given the situation Kyle has been in in previous years in Dallas, he’s been the backup quarterback, so I think if he was there it would be one more obstacle I would have to kind of hurdle,” Weeden said. “But at the same time I can’t really get wrapped up in putting all of my attention on that. I need to do what I did in the [organized team activities] and continue to play well and get better. I think hopefully things will work out that way regardless.”

The Cowboys felt confident enough to jettison Orton, who skipped the entire offseason program and minicamp, in part because of what Weeden did in the spring. With Romo recovering from back surgery and being kept out of competitive drills and Orton missing, Weeden took all of the first-team snaps.

“I think the reps I got in the OTAs were kind of irreplaceable,” Weeden said. “If I was in a situation where God forbid something happened to Tony and I’m asked to play, those are the guys I’m going to battle with, so those reps I got were invaluable. I know I won’t get many of those in [training] camp, but fortunately I had 12 practices where I was able to get out with those guys. Now it’s, ‘Let’s get to work.’ I’m ready to get to California and get things rolling.”

Orton had the same benefit last year of taking all of the offseason snaps in 2013 as Romo recovered from surgery to remove a cyst from his back. When Romo hurt his back in Week 16 against the Washington Redskins, he was able to step into the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles and play well. He completed 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but a late turnover sealed the Cowboys’ loss.

“[Gavin] Escobar and [Jason] Witten are two totally different players. Dez [Bryant] and Terrance [Williams] are two totally different players,” Weeden said. “You kind of learn what certain guys’ strengths are and little nuances of what they do. That’s the thing more than anything. You kind of get a feel for what Dez likes on fades and all that stuff a certain way where Terrance might like it another way. You’ve got to learn what each guy likes. When you’re with so many new guys it takes time. You always want more time, but it’s nice to have the reps I did get there to get a head start.”