Sunday, September 30, 2012

Exclusive: Key set available for $150 on eBay provides an all-access pass to NYC

Taken from the New York Post

This man has the keys to the city — and he’s selling them for a measly 150 bucks.

If the wrong person buys a set, we could all be in trouble.

Retired New Jersey locksmith Daniel Ferraris, 69, is hawking what he calls a “firemen’s key ring” — and what a terrorist might call a dream come true.

The set consists of five keys that would allow control of virtually any elevator in the city, could knock out power to municipal buildings and skyscrapers, darken city streets, open subway gates and some firehouse doors and provide full access to 1 World Trade Center and other construction sites.

Ferraris sold an undercover New York Post reporter the key-collection ring after posting his wares on eBay under the user name “thesixlever.”

Total cost: $149.95. 

He agreed to hand them off at his home in Union City, just minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel, saying the keys “probably still work, but don’t try to use them.” He asked no questions.

Most of the keys did, in fact, work.

Three of the five are standard issue for members of the FDNY, and the set had a metal dog tag that was embossed with an FDNY lieutenant’s shield number, 6896.

The keys include the all-purpose “1620,” a master firefighter key that with one turn could trap thousands of people in a skyscraper by sending all the elevators to the lobby and out of service, according to two FDNY sources. And it works for buildings across the city.

That key also allows one to open locked subway entrances, gain entry to many firehouses and get into boxes at construction jobs that house additional keys to all areas of the site.

The ring sold to The New York Post has two keys used by official city electricians that would allow access to street lamps, along with the basement circuit-breaker boxes of just about any large building.

The sale of the newer of the two, a Yale 47 key, prompted concern from the city Department of Transportation.

“That key belongs on the key rings of our city electricians, not on the auction block,” an agency official said.

Former FDNY and NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir also sounded the alarm.

“These keys are issued to firefighters for emergency situations,” he said. “Just anyone having them is very dangerous.”

The sale outraged a former member of the FDNY.

“With all the anti-terrorism activities, with all the protection that the NYPD is trying to provide, it’s astounding that you could get hold of this type of thing,” he said.

He walked The New York Post through a couple of nightmare scenarios that would be possible with the help of such keys.

“Think about the people at Occupy Wall Street who hate the NYPD, hate the establishment. They would love to have a set. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk in and disable Chase’s elevators?” he said.

Or, he said, “I could open the master box at construction sites, which hold the keys and the building plans. Once you get inside, you can steal, vandalize or conduct terrorist activities.”

He said eBay and other online auction sites should stop such sales.

It’s unclear how many more such keys Ferraris has for sale.

But he continues to offer the FDNY elevator key, the master electrical-panel key and two traffic-signal keys on eBay.

He advertises the Yale 2642 key as a “City Wide MASTER key” and claims, “I also have some items NOT permitted for listing on eBay.”

He wrongly stated in the ad that “All items are OBSOLETE and have Not been in use in years.”

The former FDNY member said hawkers typically use the term “obsolete” to skirt eBay rules.

“It’s a security loophole that should have been closed long, long ago,” he said.

Officials at eBay did not return a call seeking comment.

Ferraris told The New York Post he has long collected FDNY keys from various sources — but he wouldn’t reveal how he obtained the five keys sold to a reporter.

“I get them from different places. I was a locksmith for many years, and I go to shows and get some from collectors,” he said.

He claimed the unauthorized items he mentioned in his ad were antique padlocks used by the New York City transit system, including a heart-shaped New York Rail Transit lock.

“For whatever reason, eBay doesn’t let you sell those items,” he said.

He did not return messages from The New York Post informing him that he had sold the keys to a reporter — or that merely having them could be illegal.

The NYPD says buying or selling official keys could be a crime — possession of burglar’s tools, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.

“It depends on the situation,” said an official at One Police Plaza.

“Are the keys stolen? If you use them, that could be possession of burglar’s tools, but you have to have intent to commit a crime. Just opening something with a key could be considered trespassing.

But the real crime would be if you gain access to an area where you’re not supposed to be. That could be burglary.”

FDNY officials initially seemed to shrug off The New York Post’s findings.

After looking at photos of the keys The New York Post bought and being given a description, FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer said the department had “no way of knowing if those keys work, or what exactly they are meant to be used for.”

He did not comment on the fact that the department’s internal keys are being sold to the highest bidder and possibly exposing the city to a terror threat — and that they may have belonged to a current or former officer, Lieutenant 6896.

But later, another FDNY spokesman told The New York Post that the department is investigating.

“We don’t have anyone by that badge number,” he said.

Democratic National Committee predicts Romney will win first debate vs. Obama

It's a further lowering of expectations ahead of the first debate in Denver next week. Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse tells Fox News he thinks Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will win.

Woodhouse says the way the DNC sees it, challengers win the first debate when they are up against incumbents.

"Mitt Romney has had a lot more time to debate, the president has not debated in the past four years in terms, of a campaign debate. I think the president will hold his own, but he's not known for sound bites. And these are 60 second, 90 second responses."

Woodhouse says Democrats are "trying to be realistic about expectations" because the president is "lucky to be able to devote three consecutive hours to debate preparation."

Woodhouse also paints Romney as a good debater and gives him credit for "dispatching Newt Gingrich" who Woodhouse considers a pretty good debater.

Woodhouse said he wants to see Obama "talk from his heart about where the country was and where he wants to take the country."

He's looking to see the president connect with Americans during the debate, the way Woodhouse thinks Obama was able to do in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention.

The first debate will focus on the economy, and Woodhouse wants specifics from Romney on his economic plans.

"It's going to be interesting to see if Mitt Romney will bring more than just zingers to get under the president's skin," he said. "It would be nice if he came with some substance for example like his tax plan or his plan to voucher-size Medicare."

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicted Romney will do "extraordinarily well" in Wednesday night's debate.

Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," Christie conceded that it's been a "tough couple of weeks" for Romney in his campaign and there's no way to "sugarcoat" that.

But, Christie predicted after the first debate, "this whole race is going to be turned upside down."

Every time Romney was backed into a corner during the GOP nomination fight, he "came out with a great debate performance because that's where he shines," Christie added.

With AP and Fox News

Exclusive: 'Rebecca' Broadway musical cancelled due to lack of financing

From the New York Post

Manderley has been torched.

"Rebecca," the foundering $12 million Broadway musical slated to open next month at the Broadhurst, has been cancelled due to lack of financing, theater sources said today.

The cancellation caps a bizarre -- and still unfolding tale -- of a beleaguered Broadway producer, a mysterious investor whose identity and death have yet to be confirmed and a collection of A-list Broadway talent, including Tony Award-winning director Michael Blakemore, whose lives and careers have been thrown into limbo.

The beleaguered producer -- Ben Sprecher -- was forced last week to postpone the show after he claimed his biggest investor, Paul Abrams, died from malaria after a trip to Africa. But Abrams' death -- and existence -- were never confirmed. Sprecher himself said he never met Abrams nor had a single conversation with him despite the fact Abrams had agreed to write a check for $4.5 million.
Sprecher said Abrams was a prominent business man in Johannesberg, South Africa but theater people who looked for evidence of his existence there came up with nothing, sources say.

Sprecher spent last week scrambling to raise money from other investors but it appears he was unable to put a deal together. Yesterday morning panicked cast members began hearing rumors that "Rebecca" was off. There is no official word yet from the production but The New York Post has learned that the show will not open this season.

Blakemore and composer Michael Koontz flew in from Europe expecting to begin rehearsals on Monday, sources say. They've been working on the show, which is based on Daphne Du Maurier's classic gothic novel, for more than a year. Cast members passed up other jobs because they had faith that Sprecher, who kept them in the loop via e-mail, would be able to shore up the production.

Sprecher, who at one point owned several Off Broadway theaters, has a reputation for being a tough and unforgiving landlord. His predicament this past week has riveted the Broadway community, and a fair number of producers and agents who've done battle with him were having a good chuckle over their lunches at Sardi's.

A veteran producer, sizing up the behind-the-scenes turmoil of "Rebecca," said: "I have never seen anything like this. And I don't think its over. It's the best show in town!"

16-year-old pizza delivery boy says he 'raped' woman because he was 'feeling horny'

A baby-faced pizza-delivery boy confessed to savagely raping a woman in her Upper West Side apartment while her young daughter slept next to her in bed – because he was “feeling horny,” court papers state.

Cesar Lucas, 16, of The Bronx, allegedly prowled the 35-year-old victim’s West 61st Street building after delivering a pie to another person on her floor at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, police said.

Lucas admitted he snuck into the woman’s apartment without permission, “but that he went in because he was feeling horny and that he took advantage of her,” prosecutors said.

“I want him put away. I want the world to know he raped me while my 7-year-old was asleep next to me,” the distraught woman said tearfully during an interview in her apartment. “He violated us, it’s disgusting — roaming around apartments looking to hurt people while you’re working.”

Law-enforcement sources said he tried a few doorknobs until he found the victim’s door unlocked — and went inside.

“My daughter and I sleep in the same bed and I was raped while she was sleeping next to me,” the victim said, bursting into tears.

“He covered my mouth and told me to be quiet. He said ‘sshhh.’ I kicked him and I pushed him. He was a little guy.”

The suspect eventually fled, taking the woman’s iPhone and $20 from her daughter’s wallet, the victim said.

“I’m so angry, He just f--ked up everything,” she said. “How dare he come into my room. He was looking around my apartment — how scary.”

The victim was shaken by the horrific ordeal.

“I’m scared. I want to sleep with a chain on and I’m going to keep the door locked,” she said. “I’m embarrassed. I don’t want to go downstairs. I don’t want to leave the apartment. Everyone is talking.”

Cops arrested Lucas after finding him at work at New York Sal’s Pizza on Tenth Avenue between 48th and 49th streets — which is owned by his father, authorities said.

He had worked at the shop part-time on weekend nights for about a year, said a co-worker, adding, “He’s a good kid.”

But the victim wasn’t buying it. “These a--holes are going to say he’s a good kid? I want that pizzeria to pay,” she fumed.

Lucas was charged with rape and burglary.

He looked disheveled in a ragged white T-shirt, keeping his head down as cops hauled him from the 20th Precinct station house on Saturday.

He was held without bail at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The woman was treated at Roosevelt Hospital.

Her brave daughter stayed home Saturday to comfort her shaken mother.

“She keeps hugging me. She stayed home from dance class today,” the woman said. “She wanted to be with me.”

The victim’s mother was grateful her daughter wasn’t killed. “It was so scary,” she said.

The super of Lucas’ Creston Avenue apartment in Fordham Heights said he sees the teen leave for Grace Dodge Career and Technical Education HS every school day.

“He’s a very good kid to me,” he said. “I never see him hanging out with the usual riffraff on the block. He always says hello and shakes my hand.”

Lucas has lived in a two-bedroom apartment with his parents, two brothers and three sisters for about five years, the super said.

“I’m shocked, but in this life anything is possible,” he said. “It can be like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Last month, cops found Lucas with a 39-year-old woman’s credit cards and driver’s license after they cuffed him for jumping a turnstile.

He was charged with burglary, criminal possession of stolen credit cards and theft of service.

Braves set record, win 23rd straight Medlen start

ATLANTA -- When the Braves put Kris Medlen in their starting rotation at the end of July, they were pretty certain his days in the bullpen were complete. But they did not necessarily anticipate the record-setting run of perfection that he has extended over the past two months.
 Medlen began preparing for the postseason with a strong six-inning effort that put him in the Major League record books and helped the Braves celebrate Chipper Jones' final regular-season home game with a 6-2 win over the Mets on Sunday.  The Braves have now won each of the past 23 games started by Medlen dating back to May 29, 2010. This breaks the Major League record previously shared by the Yankees with Whitey Ford (1950-53) and the Giants with Carl Hubbell (1936-37). Now the Braves are simply hoping that this formula of success carries over into the postseason. If they do not realize the miraculous conclusion needed to win the National League East, they will send Medlen to the mound to start the one-game playoff to determine which of the NL's two Wild Card entrants advances to the Division Series. The Braves have won 12 of their past 15 games and concluded September with a 19-8 record. This comes one year after they went 9-19 in September and squandered their comfortable lead in the Wild Card standings. Medlen limited the Mets to an unearned run and three hits while completing just six innings in his final regular-season performance. He went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in the 11 starts that he made after being transformed from reliever to starter at the end of July. Medlen has gone 14-0 with a 2.38 ERA during the 23 starts that have encompassed his record-setting streak. This was certainly not the sharpest outing Medlen has had this season. But it was still quite effective. He surrendered a double to Daniel Murphy before stranding a pair of runners in the first inning. The only run he surrendered came courtesy of his inability to catch first baseman Freddie Freeman's feed to first base on Justin Turner's two-out grounder in the third inning.  David Ross gave Medlen all of the support he would need with a three-run home run off Mets starter Jenrry Mejia in the second inning. Jones opened the inning with a walk and advanced to third base on Freeman's double.  Making his first appearance since jamming his left thumb on Sept. 22, Michael Bourn opened the fifth inning with a double and scored when Jason Heyward collected a double of his own off Mejia. Andrelton Simmons' one-out triple keyed a two-run sixth inning that allowed the Braves to cruise toward yet another win with Medlen on the mound. The last time they lost a game that he started was an extra-innings contest in Pittsburgh on May 22, 2010.
Jones drew a pair of walks and delighted the home crowd with a single in the third inning. That proved to be his only hit during this emotion-filled weekend that concluded with the crowd chanting, "Thank You Chipper."

Mets drop finale after Mejia's early struggles

ATLANTA -- In the final act of his nearly two-decade torment of the Mets, Chipper Jones managed to steal the last laugh as well.
  Jones made three strong defensive plays Sunday in his final regular-season game at Turner Field, helping the Braves drop the Mets to a 6-2 defeat. It was rookie starter Jenrry Mejia who thrust the Mets in an early hole, but it was Jones who ensured they would stay there. Aiming to hand Kris Medlen his first loss as a starting pitcher in more than two years, the Mets instead scored their only run on Freddie Freeman's throwing error in the third. Otherwise, Medlen was sharp, allowing just three hits in six innings and relying on his defense for the rest. After receiving a loud pregame ovation, Jones contributed immediately, falling to the ground to glove Ruben Tejada's sharp grounder in the first. Jones then made a diving stop to rob Ike Davis of a hit later in the inning, and swooped to the ground to barehand Mejia's swinging bunt in the third. Jones also walked and scored in the second inning, singled in the third and -- after a raucous standing ovation for his final regular-season plate appearance at Turner Field -- drew another walk in the seventh. He entered the game riding an 0-for-21 slump against the Mets, which hardly erased memories of what he had done against them throughout his 19-year career. In 244 career games against the Mets, the third baseman hit .309 with 49 home runs, 159 RBIs and 168 runs scored. In part because of his successes in Queens over the years, he named his youngest son Shea. It was, in short, Chipper's day in Atlanta. And it was decidedly not Mejia's. The rookie walked the leadoff man in each of his first two innings, then coughed up a three-run homer to backup catcher David Ross in the second. Though Mejia settled down slightly from there, the pair of doubles he served up to Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward in the fifth inning resulted in another run.
In his final appearance of the season, the starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter lasted five innings, giving up four runs on six hits and striking out three.

Sanchez struggles, Jets turn it over four times in rout by 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are everything Rex Ryan wishes his New York Jets were.

San Francisco used a solid running game, a smothering defense, a little bit of the wildcat-style offense and even blocked a punt to cruise to a 34-0 victory Sunday.

That’s exactly the type of team the Jets coach was hoping to build. Instead, Ryan had to watch it from the other sideline as the 49ers ran for more than 200 yards and Carlos Rogers returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown.

Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick — on a wildcat-style option — all ran for scores as the 49ers (3-1) bounced back from a disappointing loss last week at Minnesota. Rather than head back to the West Coast after that defeat, coach Jim Harbaugh chose to have his team stay in eastern Ohio and practice at Youngstown State all week.

It apparently helped, just as it did last season when the 49ers did the same thing.

San Francisco won in Cincinnati last year, stayed on the road and then rallied from a 20-0 deficit to stun the Eagles 24-23 in Philadelphia. The 49ers wound up going to the NFC championship that season, and if they play anything like they did against the Jets, they could very well find themselves advancing deep into the postseason again.

It was San Francisco’s first shutout since beating the St. Louis Rams 26-0 last December.

Meanwhile, the Jets (2-2) couldn’t get anything going on offense and lost top wide receiver Santonio Holmes to what appeared to be a serious foot injury. It was the first time New York was shut out since losing 9-0 to Green Bay on Oct. 31, 2010, and the Jets’ biggest shutout home loss since falling 37-0 to Buffalo in 1989.

If Holmes misses significant time, the Jets would be without their two biggest playmakers after All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was likely lost for the season with a torn ligament in his left knee last week at Miami.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Holmes caught a pass from Mark Sanchez for 4 yards, but his left leg appeared to go out on him. The ball flew out of his hands, and Rogers picked it up and returned it for a score.

A replay review confirmed that Holmes had fumbled. Trainers helped him off, and he was not putting any weight on the leg. Holmes was then was carted to the locker room.

Ryan said Friday that the Jets would wait to put Revis on injured reserve until he has surgery in a few weeks, keeping him available in case New York goes to the Super Bowl.

If the Jets play like this the rest of the way, getting to the playoffs will be a tall task.

Alex Smith was efficient, going 12 of 21 for 143 yards and no touchdowns, but more importantly, no interceptions. The 49ers rolled up 245 yards on the ground.

“I’ve never given up that many yards in my life,” an angry Ryan said after the game.

Sanchez had another poor game for the Jets, going 13 of 29 for 103 yards and an interception. New York also finished with just 45 yards rushing.

The wildcat-style offense worked early — but for the 49ers and not Tim Tebow and the Jets.

Kaepernick put the 49ers up 7-0 early in the second quarter, taking a direct snap and running untouched off left end for a 7-yard touchdown. Kaepernick also had a 17-yard run earlier in the game.

On the Jets’ next possession, Tebow threw his first pass with New York, a short throw over the middle to tight end Dedrick Epps, who was upended immediately by Dashon Goldson as the ball came loose. Rogers recovered it, and the fumble call was upheld by video review. Epps injured his right knee on the play.

With just over a minute left in the first half, the 49ers were aggressive despite starting the drive at their 26. A 23-yard catch by Vernon Davis on first down got things rolling, and San Francisco ended the half on David Akers’ 36-yard field goal.

Boos and some chants of “Tee-boww! Tee-boww!” rang out as the Jets went three-and-out for the second straight possession in the second half.

Blue Jays miss chance to drop Yanks in East

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays wasted a strong effort by starter Henderson Alvarez and blew a four-run lead in a 9-6 loss to the Yankees in front of 31,418 at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
  Toronto appeared poised to take three of four from the first-place Yankees but walked away with a split. New York entered the contest tied with the Baltimore Orioles atop the American League East, and with the O's 6-3 win over the Red Sox earlier on Sunday, the divisional hierarchy remains unchanged entering Monday. The Blue Jays were up, 5-2, heading into the seventh inning but allowed three runs in the frame and another two in the eighth to erase the lead.  A second wild pitch issued by a Blue Jays pitcher on the day, a sacrifice fly and an RBI double by Robinson Cano allowed the Yankees to tie it before they took the lead in the eighth on a sac fly by Eduardo Nunez off reliever Brandon Lyon. Derek Jeter added an RBI single to put the Yankees up, 7-5, and Curtis Granderson all but put the game away with a two-run single in the ninth to complete the scoring for New York. Alvarez did his job and left with Toronto ahead, 5-2, after six innings. The only runs Alvarez allowed came on a solo homer by Eric Chavez to leadoff the third and a wild pitch in the fifth that scored Cano. Alvarez entered the start with the highest ground-ball rate in the AL and did a good job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone, recording 11 groundouts against just one flyout. Alvarez, who turned in his fourth quality start in his last five outings, walked none and struck out four, throwing 87 pitches. The Blue Jays jumped ahead in the first inning with a pair of runs, one coming on an RBI double by Yunel Escobar and the second on a sac fly by Adam Lind.  Toronto remained ahead, 2-1, until tacking on three more in the fifth inning. Brett Lawrie hit a towering two-run homer -- his 11th of the season -- off Yankees starter Phil Hughes on a 1-1 pitch. The drive landed in the upper deck in left field and put Toronto up, 4-1.  Moises Sierra added an RBI single later in the inning to cash Escobar and give the Blue Jays a four-run lead, chasing Hughes from the game.  Hughes lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits and was charged with all five runs. But the Blue Jays were unable to solve a collection of Yankees relievers, who worked 4 1/3 sharp innings after Hughes departed.
Toronto will finish its season with three games against the Twins at Rogers Centre starting on Monday night.

Rally keeps Yanks locked in tie atop East

TORONTO -- Down late in seemingly another must-win game, the Yankees completed one of their most stirring comebacks of the season, defeating the Blue Jays 9-6, in a crucial contest on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
  New York trailed by four runs through five innings but fought all the way back, tying the game with three runs in the seventh before Eduardo Nunez's sacrifice fly gave the Yankees the lead in the eighth. Derek Jeter followed by punching a run-scoring single off Toronto reliever Brandon Lyon, driving home Brett Gardner with an important insurance run as the Yankees retained their share of first place with the Orioles, who defeated the Red Sox, 6-3, in Baltimore. A comeback win by the Angels in Arlington kept New York from clinching a postseason berth, but the Yankees may not need to wait long to celebrate that occasion, with Texas and Anaheim set to complete their day-night doubleheader on Sunday night. Curtis Granderson all but sealed the win with a two-run single in the ninth inning that cashed his 99th and 100th RBIs of the season. Boone Logan picked up the win in relief as the Yankees overcame a rough start by Phil Hughes, who permitted five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, becoming the fourth straight New York hurler to turn in a start of fewer than six innings. Hughes surrendered two runs in a loud first inning, including a Yunel Escobar RBI double, and he hung a slider to Brett Lawrie that was mashed for a two-run homer, part of a three-run fifth inning that appeared crushing at the time. Moises Sierra and Adam Lind also notched RBIs off Hughes, who walked two and struck out four in a 93-pitch outing, one that was assisted by a terrific Ichiro Suzuki catch to rob Edwin Encarnacion of extra bases in the third inning. Derek Lowe restored order with 1 2/3 scoreless innings, but the Yankees were handcuffed by Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez, who pumped fastball after fastball to the New York lineup and emerged largely unscathed, permitting just two runs over six innings. Eric Chavez woke up the Yankees' offense with a third-inning solo homer, and Robinson Cano scored on a fifth-inning wild pitch, but New York's lineup didn't really start to click until Alvarez's 87-pitch workload was complete. New York tied the game in the seventh off three Toronto pitchers, as Ichiro popped a sacrifice fly and Alex Rodriguez worked a key walk on a full-count pitch. Cano laced a run-scoring double, and Aaron Loup uncorked a wild pitch, allowing A-Rod to slide home with the tying run. Nick Swisher nearly tied the game moments later with a hard shot to shortstop, but Yunel Escobar speared the drive with a lunging grab and tossed to third, doubling off Cano.
The late surge helped the Yankees avoid falling out of first place in the AL East for the first time since June 10, with just three games remaining on the regular-season schedule.

Lindsay Lohan allegedly assaulted by man who took cell-phone photos of her partying

Another weekend, another Lindsay Lohan fracas.

The troubled starlet was allegedly assaulted by a man she'd been partying with in Manhattan early this morning, after she confronted him over his taking cell phone pictures of her, sources told The New York Post.

Lohan was partying with several pals, including a man she's just met at 1 Oak, at the W Hotel on Park Avenue South before the group headed up to a room after last call.

Cop sources said Lohan became enraged after noticing that new-found party pal Chris LaBella, 26, of Los Angeles was snapping cell-phone shots of her as she partied into the wee hours.

Lohan snatched the phone out of LaBella's hand, and the two tussled on a bed before the starlet ran and locked herself in a bathroom, with LaBella — described as a friend of a friend — chasing her, sources said.

TMZ is reporting Lohan was horrified to discover LaBella he had taken over 50 photos and videos and had been emailing them to friends.

Lohan eventually came out of the bathroom and LaBella gave chase again, and then allegedly began choking the addled actress in hotel stairwell of the 15th floor room before Lohan managed to call cops.

LaBella then tried to leave, but Lohan pulled fire alarm so he couldn't take the elevator down, sources said. LaBella tried to escape but was eventually collared and arrested by cops arriving on the scene. He remains in custody at the 13th police precinct.

LaBella told cops he wants to file a complaint against Lohan, claiming she stole his phone
Lindsay's dad, Michael Lohan, also claimed LaBella tried to choke his daughter.

"The guy apparently grabbed her by the throat," Lohan said. "He came up from behind and choked her."

Lohan was not injured in cell phone smackdown and declined medical treatment, sources said. Her mother, Dina Lohan, told The Post in a text message that her daughter wasn't physically hurt but remains rattled.

"She is home with me safe, very shaken up!" Dina Lohan said.

Fewer than two weeks ago, Lohan was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after a Manhattan cook says he was "run over'' by the drunken star in her SUV, although video later showed that at worst, he was grazed and the car was moving slowly at the time.

She has denied being drunk or striking him and has vowed to sue him.

The actress also has been battling health problems.

Last week, she was rushed to Mount Sinai hospital with a serious lung infection. She was treated with antibiotics and released.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bullpen stingy as Blue Jays rally to top Yanks

TORONTO -- Adeiny Hechavarria broke open a tied game in the sixth inning and Shawn Hill worked three hitless innings of emergency relief to earn the victory and help the Blue Jays drop the Yankees, 3-2, at Rogers Centre on Saturday.
  With the game tied at 2 in the sixth, Hechavarria stepped to the plate with two outs and two runners on to face Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain. Hechavarria drove a 1-1 fastball the other way and off the wall in right to cash Yunel Escobar, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead.  The Blue Jays, embracing the spolier role, prevented the Yankees from inching closer to a postseason berth. New York entered the game with its magic number to reach the playoffs at two. Toronto wasted an opportunity to break the game open further on the play. Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki fielded the ball and fired to first baseman Nick Swisher, who promptly threw to Alex Rodriguez at third base to nail Yan Gomes. Gomes, who took too big of a turn and couldn't get back in time, blew past the stop sign held up by third-base coach Brian Butterfield. By the time Gomes noticed, he was too far around the bag and was unsuccessful in making a headfirst slide back to the bag. Hechavarria's RBI double gave Toronto its first lead of the game after the club was forced to play catch-up following a rough first inning from starter Ricky Romero, who exited with left knee discomfort after three innings. Romero put the Blue Jays in an early hole, allowing a pair of hits, a walk, a sacrifice fly, a single and another sac fly to begin the game before striking out Andruw Jones to end the inning. Romero may have been lucky to escape the frame trailing just 2-0, but he was picked up in the bottom half of the inning.  With one out and nobody on, Rajai Davis sent a 3-2 offering from Yankees starter Andy Pettitte over the fence in left field for his eighth homer of the season to cut the deficit in half.  Romero looked shaky throughout his start and worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the third inning, marking the premature end of his final start of the season. The lefty injured himself during an at-bat with Jones in the third and didn't return. Davis tied the score at 2 in the fifth with an infield single that scored Jeff Mathis and marked Davis' seventh consecutive at-bat with a hit, one short of the franchise record. In his next at-bat, Davis struck out. Hill, a native of Canada making his first appearance of the season, entered for Romero in the fourth and pitched three hitless innings without surrendering a run to earn the victory -- his first since Sept. 23, 2010.
A win over the Yankees on Sunday would give the Blue Jays their first series victory since they swept Boston from Sept. 7-9.

AL East lead cut as Yanks lose grip in Toronto

TORONTO -- Adeiny Hechavarria launched a run-scoring double off Joba Chamberlain for the go-ahead hit as the Blue Jays again embraced their role as September spoilers, sending the Yankees to a costly 3-2 defeat on Saturday at Rogers Centre.
  The Yankees shouldn't be absolved of blame in the effort; they had the leadoff man on base in six innings but were limited to just two sacrifice flies in the contest, wasting another solid start by left-hander Andy Pettitte. Casey Janssen pitched the ninth inning for the save as New York's lead over the second-place Orioles in the American League East dipped to just a half-game with the loss. Baltimore is scheduled to play the Red Sox at Camden Yards on Saturday evening. Pettitte navigated 5 1/3 innings in his third start since returning from the disabled list, surrendering five hits and his first runs since being activated, as Rajai Davis homered and collected a pair of RBIs for Toronto. Davis mashed a solo homer off Pettitte in the first inning, sending it into the left-field bullpen, before the Blue Jays tied the game at 2 against the veteran in the fifth inning.  Jeff Mathis launched a leadoff double to deep center field and scored on Davis' two-out infield single, which rolled to third baseman Alex Rodriguez but left enough time for Davis to beat the throw to first base. Toronto took the lead in the sixth inning after two great defensive plays by the Yankees, including a terrific running grab by Curtis Granderson on Mathis' deep fly ball to center field. But Hechavarria greeted Chamberlain by ripping a run-scoring double off the right-field wall, with the inning ending as Yan Gomes was caught rounding third base. Toronto hasn't impressed with its fundamentals in this series, but the Yankees also had their own share of miscues on the basepaths. Ichiro Suzuki was picked off on a steal attempt in the seventh inning, and pinch-runner Brett Gardner was called out attempting to steal second in the eighth.  New York also missed plenty of opportunities as Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero turned in a wobbly three-inning start before leaving with left knee discomfort.  The Yankees settled for sacrifice flies from Robinson Cano and Granderson in the first inning and were then unable to capitalize on a bases-loaded, none-out opportunity in the third inning, with the threat ending as Eduardo Nunez lined out hard to second base.
Romero allowed six hits and two walks but permitted just two runs, yielding to Shawn Hill, who silenced the Yankees with three innings of no-hit relief.

16-year-old pizza delivery boy 'raped' woman after dropping off pie

A 16-year-old pizza delivery boy was busted today after he allegedly broke into a woman’s apartment and savagely raped her, police said.

Cesar Lucas of the Bronx delivered a pie from New York Sal's Pizza on 10th Avenue to an apartment in a large building near the corner of Amsterdam Avenue around 12:30 a.m.

After making the delivery, Lucas broke into the home of the 35-year-old victim, who lives on the same floor, police sources said.
Lucas allegedly put his hands over his victim's mouth so she couldn’t scream.

After Lucas raped her, the woman fought with her attacker and he fled, cops said.

The woman had been sleeping, and the door to her apartment was slightly ajar, police sources said.

Cops arrested Lucas after finding him at Sal’s, nearby on 10th Avenue.

Lucas had worked at the shop part-time on weekend nights for about a year, said a coworker, adding, “He’s a good kid.”

Police charged Lucas with rape and burglary, and he was waiting to be arraigned on Saturday afternoon.

The woman was treated at Roosevelt Hospital.

This isn’t Lucas’ first time breaking into an apartment while delivering pizza.

Last month, cops found him with a 39-year-old woman’s credit cards and driver’s license after they cuffed him for jumping a turnstile.

He was charged with burglary, criminal possession of stolen credit cards and theft of service.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jets keeping Revis off IR in case they make it to Super Bowl

Wanting to take the chance on the possibility that Darrelle Revis might recover in time for Super Bowl XLVII – and wanting to take the chance that the Jets will be playing in it – coach Rex Ryan said Friday that the team is not necessarily going to place its superstar on season-ending injured reserve.

Revis tore his ACL last Sunday in Miami, and it's believed he’s finished for the year.

“Let’s just have him go through surgery. Let’s see what happens when he goes through surgery,” Ryan said. “Because if there’s that 0.0002 percent of chance that he could play in a Super Bowl or something, why would you take that option away from him? I think that obviously [we’re] not gonna put him out there if he’s at risk or anything else but. . . .“

The recovery time is typically 6-9 months for such an injury, and the Super Bowl is Feb. 3 -- a little over four months away.

Ryan added that the Jets “don’t think we need to rush into this decision right now.” The coach thinks Revis will undergo surgery on the ACL “within probably the next couple of weeks.” At that point, the team will re-assess.

This is a medically surprising revelation from Ryan, and as he acknowledged, the team will be playing a man short if it doesn’t put Revis on IR – “and that’s fine,” Ryan said. Still, Ryan might be saying this to try to get his team to keep believing and not feel the season is finished with Revis out.

“Let’s just put it this way. My thought is that if you’re fortunate enough to make it to that big game and he’s fortunate enough to be healthy, I know our fans would want him playing,” Ryan said. “Just like I would want him playing.”

Driver charged after car slams into SI house, injuring mom and daughter

A Staten Island man was charged with drunken driving after allegedly plowing through his neighbor’s home this morning trapping a mom and her young daughter, police said.

Charles Trainor, 22, lost control of his 2010 Hyundai Elantra about 4:10 a.m. today when he was heading north on Lee Avenue in Tottenville, police said. The man, who lives two blocks from the crash, was charged this morning with vehicular assault and operating while intoxicated, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
FDNY responders rescued Lisa Roman, 40, and Leonora Roman, 5, after they were pinned by the Elantra in their home on Arthur Kill Road home, authorities said.

Melissa Roman, 17, said she was sleeping with her 15-year-old sister in the bedroom, while her mom and little sister were asleep on a couch in the kitchen.

“We were all sleeping. All of a sudden we woke up to a boom!” said Melissa. “We were trying to call
out to my sister, because she wasn’t responding. I was trying to pull my mother out.... [she] was more than halfway under the car. All you could see were her head and shoulders. We thought it was a nightmare!”

Responders pulled out the two after about 20 minutes, and they were rushed to Staten Island University North Hospital, authorities said.

“They were totally under the car. The mom was speaking, the daughter wasn’t,” said one firefighter who helped rescue the two. “The car was at least halfway in when we pulled up. I went to the outside,
and cut open the side of the house…we lifted the car.”

Their father, Leocadio Roman, 55, rushed to the hospital after he got a disturbing early morning phone call. “My daughter was saying, ‘Daddy, a car went through the house!’ I went crazy. I fell down the stairs running,” he said, distraught.

“I went through every red light I could to get to the hospital. I’d never think my little one would be in that condition, and my wife, too.”

The Romans had recently separated and were living apart at the time of the crash.

The mom suffered bad burns to her back, while the child’s arm was burnt, and her bones were broken underneath her eye, according to the family.

Police sources said the woman also suffered fractures to her face and leg. She was in critical but stable condition, and her daughter is stable, authorities said.

“All I really care about is them surviving,” Melissa said. “I don’t care about anything else.”

Bizarrely, another car crashed through this same house 10 years ago.

A drunk driver on a monster truck smashed through the home’s front door, kitchen and stopped mere feet away from the home’s occupant, a retired firefighter recounted. The resident wasn’t injured.
Landlord Al Calascione, 48, said the driver was boozed-up in the first crash.

Neighbor Ashley Montaovo, 22, was outraged about the crash.

“Their mom was stuck, she was asking where her daughter was,” she said. “I heard yelling, ‘where’s my daughter? Is my baby okay?’ It’s ridiculous that an innocent child was hurt.”

Father of Lacoste marketer murdered by boyfriend says he'll never forget her dead face

The image of his murdered daughter's face -- frozen in terror -- will never leave him, a Connecticut lawyer wants a Manhattan judge to know.

Lynde Coit, a Cornell-educated lawyer from Greenwich, brought his raw grief to open court today in hopes that the jealous, monstrous boyfriend who butchered his daughter dead in the Lower East Side last year will never see the light of day.

"When I identified Sarah's body in the basement of the morgue," he told the judge, "her injuries -- the look on her face, the terror, will haunt me for the rest of my life and haunt the rest of her family," the father testified, his voice choking with emotion.

Sarah Coit was just 23 years old, and working her big-city dream job in marketing for Lacoste, when her boyfriend and admitted murderer, Raul Barrera, 33, brought months of broken bones, black eyes, and kicked-down doors to a climax, stabbing her some 30 times in her apartment.

Lynde Coit had traveled to the city expecting to face his daughter over a brunch table at San Marzano, her favorite neighborhood pizza restaurant.

The face he saw instead, at the city morgue, was criss-crossed by gashes. Her perfect teeth were bared in a grimace, according to autopsy photos that will be shown in court later in the hearing. The tip of one of her kitchen knives had broken off into her skull.

"Love you," the father testified of his final text to his daughter, sent as he prepared to set out for the city.

"She had already been dead for eight hours, unknown to him," the prosecutor told the judge.

Barrera, who pleaded guilty four days ago in hopes of a sentencing break, had ended the woman's life with "breathtaking viciousness," prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers, who will decide the slaughterer's fate.

"There were so many soul-shattering screams that half-a-dozen New Yorkers got out of their beds at 2:30 in the morning," Bogdanos said. These neighbors roamed their hallways, calling, "Where are you? Where are you?"

"Help! Help me!" Sarah kept screaming, according to witness testimony.

Because of the way sound echoed in the walk-up, tenement apartments that line the block, neighbors thought her screams were coming from the building next door to hers, at 61 Clinton Street.

It was 35 minutes after her first screams when an officer finally knocked on her apartment door as part of a canvasing of 63 Clinton Street. "Are you OK?" asked the cop.

"A voice called back weakly, 'No,'" the prosecutor told the judge. "Can you come to the door," the officer asked. Again weakly came the response, "No," the last word Sarah ever spoke.

"Sarah Coit was still alive in a puddle of blood," the prosecutor told the judge of that moment, as
cops broke down her door.

One of Barerra's stab wounds had partially eviscerated her.

The floor was littered with spent knives -- bent and broken knives now on the prosecution table, in
five cardboard evidence boxes, for the duration of the several-day-long hearing.

Barrera can be sentenced to anywhere from the mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in prison to the maximum allowed by law, 25 to life in prison. The judge will set his sentence based on testimony by prosecution witnesses and defense witnesses. The DA's office has an additional reason for pursuing a hearing -- making a record of the heinousness of the murder that can be used against Barrera at any future appellate and parole proceedings.

Defense lawyer Paul Feinman is expected to argue that Barerra deserves a cut in time because of mental health issues.

Barerra has only a minor, misdemeanor assault in his criminal history. Additionally, a woman with whom he'd had a child had called the cops on him several times, but never pressed charges.

"Domestic violence is not just a criminal justice issue, it's a national health crisis," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters after sitting in on the father's testimony.

"Enforcement alone is not going to be the answer -- we need prevention and outreach," he said. His office is collaborating on a multi-agency "Family Justice Center" that would offer victims counseling and social services in addition to the opportunity to meet with prosecutors, he said.

There were 92 domestic violence-related homicides city-wide last year, he said.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bronx teen admitted he shot mother in sleep, beat her with bat: court records

A cold-blooded Bronx teen admitted he shot his mother while she slept – then beat her with bat as she tried to rise, according to court records.

Dee “Darwin” Jackson, 16, made the chilling admission to a police detective on Wednesday, just hours after the remains of his mom, Tihesha Savage, 34, were discovered in a dumpster across the street from the family’s home.

The reason: Arguments over his late night outs, sources said. According to a criminal complaint, Jackson said his mother was asleep when he shot her in the head.

“After I fired, I saw her body twitch, she tried to get up and then I started hitting her in the head with a wooden bat numerous times,” the complaint reads.

His 7-year-old sister, Ashley, was home at the time but did not witness the murder.

Jackson was arraigned in Bronx Supreme Court today and charged with second degree murder, manslaughter, and possession of a weapon. He was held without bail.

Dickey K's 13 on way to 20th victory

NEW YORK -- R.A. Dickey walked slowly off the field following his 111th pitch, the last of his seventh inning. An electric Citi Field crowd -- the hungriest, if not the rowdiest, in years -- serenaded him, but Dickey did not acknowledge them. None of his teammates offered a handshake when he returned to the dugout. Near the bat rack, a conference took place.
  Finally, after a span of minutes that seemed like hours, Dickey emerged with his bat. The crowd went ballistic. Such was the scene Thursday at Citi, where Dickey became the league's second 20-game winner amidst the type of jubilant atmosphere that so rarely surfaces here. The Mets beat the Pirates, 6-5, on the strength of their knuckleballer's pitching and David Wright's tie-breaking three-run homer. If Dickey was not the National League Cy Young favorite before Thursday's game, he certainly is now. "I don't know if I've ever experienced something like that before," Dickey said. "Maybe I never will again."
In beating the Pirates, Dickey became the Mets' first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990, and the sixth man in franchise history to achieve the feat. He also solidified his standing as the Cy Young frontrunner, striking out a career-high 13 Pirates over 7 2/3 innings of three-run ball.

And it almost did not happen. Due in part to some shaky defense -- both Scott Hairston and Wright were unable to make difficult plays in the second inning -- the Pirates took an early two-run lead. Ike Davis quickly homered to pull the Mets back within one, but former teammate Rod Barajas' two early RBIs kept Dickey in a hole.
 The march back began in the bottom of the fourth, when Hairston singled home Daniel Murphy to draw the Mets back within one. The Mets quickly tied the game an inning later, when Andres Torres drew a leadoff walk, Ruben Tejada singled and Murphy drove him home. That brought up Wright, who -- one day after breaking Ed Kranepool's franchise hits record -- chased Pirates starter Kevin Correia with a three-run shot into the visitors' bullpen. "It was the least that we could do," Wright said of the comeback, "for a guy that has picked us up a number of times." Given a second chance at victory, Dickey did not falter. The knuckleballer retired eight straight batters during one middle-innings stretch, including a run of five consecutive strikeouts. Then, following the bat-rack conference in which manager Terry Collins implored him to feed off the energetic crowd, Dickey struck out two more batters before ending his afternoon on a walk to Travis Snider -- his 128th pitch. "This was about R.A. today," said Collins, who agreed to shuffle the rotation in order to smooth Dickey's path to 20. "It was about him and his connection with the fans, his connection with the city." Perhaps never has that connection been stronger than it was Thursday. After Wright hit his home run to put the Mets ahead, fans asked for and received a curtain call. When Dickey retired the side in order in the sixth inning, those above the first-base dugout chanted his name. They even saluted Snider when he robbed Mike Baxter of a homer with a self-described "amazing" leaping catch in the second. And, of course, fans serenaded Dickey as he walked off the mound in the top of the eighth, tipping his cap to the 31,506 in attendance. Twice when attempting to describe the afternoon, Collins used the word "cool." Dickey said that he wanted to "suck the marrow out of every second," knowing how rarely in a lifetime these moments occur. Added catcher Josh Thole, who has been with Dickey since his return to the Majors in 2010: "You could tell this was a big day for him." If the Mets have their way, they will soon ink Dickey to the type of long-term contract extension that will pave the way for bigger days to come -- though at 37 years old, Dickey knows he must appreciate these coolest of moments when they occur. As for his Cy Young chances, it can only help that Dickey is the first man to win 20 games for a losing team since Roger Clemens in 1997. And yet the knuckleballer's story has never entirely been about numbers. There has always been an anecdotal element to him, given the self-admitted failures of his early career, the challenges of his personal life and the quirks of his signature pitch. Dickey is an everyman, which is why fans have embraced him. In the wake of his 20th victory, he recalled running the streets of his Nashville neighborhood late at night in 2005, visualizing what it would feel like to be a consistent big league pitcher. He never thought about 20 wins, nor All-Star selections, nor Cy Young awards -- even if this season may net him all three. He dreamed only of growing from a "craftsman" to an "artist," perhaps even one day becoming "supernaturally good." Even now, as an accomplished ace, Dickey speaks in ideals.
"He's willing to sacrifice everything to be great," Collins said. "I'm so happy for him I can't tell you. In the midst of a tough situation with the way we didn't play very well in the second half, this certainly makes the end of the season very bright."

Snider makes unforgettable catch in loss vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- The fans came to see R.A. Dickey. They left buzzing about Travis Snider.

In fact, it is rather safe to say that what most of the 31,506 in Citi Field for the Mets' 6-5 victory over the Pirates will most remember about the game is not Dickey's 20th win but Snider's second-inning catch.

Of course, calling Snider's leaping, soaring theft a "catch" is like calling the Mona Lisa a "sketch."

"It's amazing," Snider said about the feeling of coming down with Mike Baxter's ball in a one-run game. "Doing it in a situation like that -- we all heard the crowd, they were pretty electric, knowing those guys were playing for something -- made it pretty special."

Those Mets guys were playing for Dickey, and not even Snider could deprive him of his 20th, as he sent the Pirates closer toward their own 20th -- consecutive losing seasons, that is. Pittsburgh is 76-80 with six games on its season-closing homestand to go.

The Bucs had a late injury added to their insult, as Andrew McCutchen had to leave the game after bruising his left knee on a diving catch attempt in the seventh. McCutchen charged in for Daniel Murphy's sinking liner, but his lunge resulted only in the ball short-hopping into his glove.

McCutchen recovered in time to throw to second for a force of Ruben Tejada, but stayed down on the ground as trainer Todd Tomczyk, trailed by manager Clint Hurdle, came out to check on him. Minutes later, the three men walked off the field together.

"Doesn't feel good, but it's all right," McCutchen said after the game. "I hit the ground pretty hard -- it was like hitting your knee into a brick wall. That's a hard field.

"But it'll be fine," added McCutchen, who hoped not to have to miss Friday night's opener of a three-game series in PNC Park against the National League Central champion Reds.

Dickey spent most of the afternoon frustrating the Pittsburgh batters, against whom he reached a personal strikeout high for the second time in four months.

On May 22, Dickey whiffed a career-high 11 batters in PNC Park. Since, he'd topped that with 13 in an Interleague game against Baltimore. On Thursday, he matched that 13 before being removed with two outs in the eighth following his 128th pitch.

The 37-year-old knuckleball specialist had to rebound on the backs of his offense, after falling behind 2-0 in the second on Rod Barajas' RBI double and Jordy Mercer's run-scoring infield single, then 3-1 on Barajas' solo homer in the fourth.

Kevin Correia could hold off only so long what felt like Dickey's destiny on a cool, overcast closing day in Citi Field.

"We were hitting him pretty good. If I'd pitched halfway decent, we would've had a great shot at getting him," Correia said. "My location wasn't great today. I was missing in spots normally I don't. I yanked quite a few pitches.

"I don't know why. I just wasn't locating as I've been throwing recently. It's sad; normally I can pick some positive out of a start. Today, there wasn't any."

Ike Davis' second-inning homer got the Mets on the board, they rallied to within 3-2 on Scott Hairston's RBI single in the fourth and broke on top with a four-run fifth-inning surge. Murphy singled for the tying run before David Wright's three-run homer dramatically turned the tables in Dickey's favor.

Given Dickey's quest, you'd have thought nothing or no one could trump him. But Snider managed it, in one brilliant moment of flight.

Two batters after Davis' homer in the second, Baxter drilled a 2-2 pitch considerably over the wall in the right-field corner. Except, Snider got to the spot where the ball was destined to clear, leaped -- and snow-coned it in his glove, easily three, four feet above the wall.

Maybe the most stunned person in the park was the man who hit the long fly.
 "It was one of the greatest catches I've ever seen. Snider literally climbed the wall. He kept rising. It was unbelievable -- a great play," Baxter said. "Incredible. Absolutely incredible. I was just running, I didn't even know that I got called out and I had to watch the replay. Absolutely incredible catch by Snider. I don't know how he did it, but it's one of the best I've ever seen." "Man, I didn't think he had a chance," said Correia, who indeed dropped his head disconsolately as the ball jumped off Baxter's bat -- much in the way he would two innings later, on Wright's swing. "Unbelievable. The best I've seen this year, and the best I've ever had on the mound.
"So I guess it could've been worse. They could've had one more run."

That wall is eight-feet high. Snider is six-foot even. So we are talking about some serious hang time.

"I definitely couldn't jump that high," said Snider, who used the chain links on the fence to propel upwards. "I've tried that on padded walls, and I've been unsuccessful. Everything just kinda came together on the one play."
 Snider's powers went only so far. The Pirates are still looking at a losing record, barring a remarkable finish against two playoff teams.
As Hurdle said, "We've played this out as far as we could. Gotta win 'em out now."

If you are going to make a highlight -- no, a time-capsule -- catch, there is no better place for it than New York, where fame is fanned quickly.

Snider didn't have to wait long for the first flames of that celebrity. Or, at all.

Before the next pitch, he stood in right field and looked over his right shoulder at the giant video board, already replaying the dazzler.

"I didn't know what to think," Snider recalled of his immediate reaction. "I was in a daze. I was happy to be able to contribute defensively, and pick some guys up in a situation like that."

Dickey becomes first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Viola in 1990

R.A. Dickey was so close yet so far from 20 wins, faltering from fatigue and fuming he had failed to seize the moment.

“About the fourth or fifth inning I felt exasperated. I was not myself today for the most part,” he said.

“And then I’d come out for an at-bat and I would hear this kind of growing surge, and it really was neat. I mean I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced something like that before. Maybe I never will again. Although I wasn’t distracted from the moment, how could you not be motivated to go out there and give the fans and, well, your teammates and yourself all that you have?” he said.

Absorbing the energy from 31,506 fans at the final home game of another sorry Mets season, Dickey summoned his strength and concentration. David Wright boosted him into the lead with a tiebreaking three-run homer, and Dickey led New York over Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 Thursday to become the first knuckleballer in more than three decades to win 20 games.

“It’s like a big exhale,” Dickey said.

Throwing his hard knuckler at up to 78 mph, Dickey (20-6) allowed three runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings, tying his career high with 13 strikeouts and walking two.

With New York winding up its fourth straight losing season, he capped a trinity of highlights that began with the first Mets no-hitter by Johan Santana in June and continued with Wright setting the team career hits record on Wednesday.

“This was about R.A. today,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “It was about him. It was about his connection with the fans, the connection with the city. And so I said use that.”

Quite a turnaround from 2010, when Dickey began the season at Triple-A Buffalo and had to prove he belonged in the majors. And from last year, when he was 8-13.

The 37-year-old had never won more than 11 games in any previous season is just 61-56 in his big league career.

“I was the picture of mediocrity by my own admission,” he said.

But in the late stages of his career, he has mastered the knuckler — a pitch that has flummoxed most
of those who have tried and must survive on fastballs.

“I think everybody here today would have taken one swing where they thought they were going to crush one and they swung right throw it,” Pirates outfielder Travis Snider said.

Dickey had never set a numerical goal for his pitching.

“It’s just much more for me if I can really harness the moment and suck the marrow out of every second, then I’ve done what I want to do and I can be satisfied,” he said.

Dickey became the first 20-game winner for the pitching-proud Mets since Frank Viola in 1990 and the first knuckleballer to accomplish the feat since Houston’s Joe Niekro in 1980, according to STATS LLC. Viola also reached 20 with a win over the Pirates.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hockey Mom Madam Anna Gristina takes plea deal

The Hockey Mom Madam has copped a plea.

Anna Gristina today pleaded guilty to a single count of promoting prostitution in exchange for six months in prison — which will essentially amount to time served.

“Your honor, I would gratefully like to accept the plea,” Gristina told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan — as prosecutors admitted they didn’t have much of a case against her — outside of a straight-forward pandering case.

Prosecutor Charles Linehan told Merchan they were unable to find any evidence to substantiate Gristina’s claims — caught on wiretaps as long as four years ago — that she had connections and protection from law enforcement.

“Over the years, the defendant made numerous claims that she had connections and influence in any number of city, state and federal agencies, including the NYPD, the FBI, the DA’s office, the governor’s office and Customs, among others,’’ Linehan said.

“We have spent time investigating the defendant’s claim, and we have not found evidence to support any of those claims.

“We are left with a straightforward promoting-prostitution case — a defendant who ran a brothel for many years and who profited from the sex trade, that is all.’’

The judge signed off on the deal — but not before lambasting the madam mom for bringing her 9-year-old son to court previously and today.

“I have to say, I am actually not pleased with some of Ms. Gristina’s conduct during ... this case,’’ Merchan said. “ I am not happy that Ms. Gristina’s young child is in the courtroom today. I think that is very poor judgment.’’

Gristina had faced a maximum of up to seven years prison if convicted at a trial that had been scheduled for next month — during which she would have been confronted with incriminating testimony from a bevy of three of her gorgeous alleged former escort-service workers.

Sources have told The New York Post that the risk was strong that she would have received that maximum sentence if convicted.

Her plea deprives New York of what promised to be a sensational trial, offering salacious details and a rare glimpse into what the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office described as a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring catering to some of the richest men in the world.

Gristina had until now steadfastly maintained she ran nothing more than a high-end matchmaking service, hooking up wealthy clients with beautiful single women.

She had previously refused to entertain a plea deal, saying she preferred to roll the dice with a jury trial. But in recent weeks, Gristina had been wavering, as prosecutors pushed her to rat out just one man, whom she will not identify.

She never ID’d the man for them.

The sole charge against Gristina was that she and accused fellow madam Jaynie Mae Baker brokered a two-hooker sex show for an undercover cop posing as a client. Her lawyer, Norman Pattis has called it, “a $2,000 peep show for a cop on the taxpayer’s dime.”

It is still not clear whether the Scotland-born Gristina would face deportation under the plea deal. Deportation had been a near certainty if she had gone to trial and lost.

Gristina was arrested in February to much fanfare, with prosecutors claiming she ran the big-bucks hooker ring out of an Upper East Side apartment.

They claimed that a five-year probe by the DA’s public corruption unit turned up hundreds of hours of wiretaps and that the well-connected Gristina laundered millions of dollars while boasting of her ties to top officials and law enforcement. They said she also had minors involved in her operation.

But as the months dragged on, the case seemed to lose steam.

No high-placed pals were identified or arrested — despite investigators’ early demands that Gristina give information on alleged clients that included a real-estate tycoon with connections to a pro sports team, a socially and politically connected developer and a prominent international banker, among others.

Gristina has never been indicted for laundering those alleged millions, despite five-plus years of cooperation by her accused money launderer, Jonas Gayer and a raid on the downtown office of Manhattan lawyer and business associate David Jaroslawicz.

Alleged co-madam Baker and accused hookers Katherine DeVries and Mhariangela “Moz” Bottone cut deals early on and stayed out of jail.

Gristina had spent four months on Rikers Island, with Merchan refusing repeated applications to lower her sky-high $2 million bail. She was finally freed in June after an appeals court granted a bail reduction.

NFL using fired Lingerie Football League refs, NJ pol wants replacements banned

That’s it!

The NFL replacement referee debacle, and that is the only word you can use to describe it, has finally reached the point of no return after a blown call cost the Green Bay Packers a win against the Seattle Seahawks in a nationally televised game on Monday night.

On the final play of the game, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson hurled a pass into the endzone with the Seahawks trailing 12-7. Wide receiver Golden Tate went up for the jump ball along with Packers defensive backs Sam Shields and M.D. Jennings, with Jennings coming down with what appeared to be an interception.
While one referee ruled that Tate came down with the ball and signaled for a touchdown, giving Seattle the eventual 14-12 win. The other official signaled for the clock to stop, which normally serves as a prelude for a touchback call.

Following the call, the response has been monumental.

A report surfaced on Tuesday morning, just hours after the blown call, that the NFL hired some of their replacement officials after they were fired from the Lingerie Football League.

"Due to several on-field incompetent officiating we chose to part ways with a couple of crews which apparently are now officiating in the NFL," the league said in a report by sports blog Deadspin. "We have a lot of respect for our officials but we felt the officiating was not in line with our expectations."
Monday’s call prompted the LFL to make a statement about the NFL’s subs.

"We have not made public comment to date because we felt it was not our place to do so. However in light of tonight's event, we felt it was only fair that NFL fans knew the truth as to who are officiating these games," the LFL stated.

The situation has become so high-profile and messy that even President Obama has commented on the referee lockout.

"NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon. -bo," Obama tweeted.

In addition to President Obama weighing in, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney announced Tuesday that he is drafting a bill to ban the replacements in the state, where the Giants and Jets play their home games.

Sweeney said that the current state of the officiating is “making a mockery of the sport” and that he expects the bill to be introduced sometime next week.

Woman defaces 'anti-jihad' ad in Times Square station

Cops busted a lone protester -- angry with subway ads equating enemies of Israel as “savages” -- as she spray-painted over one of the controversial signs today.

A New York Post camera crew captured the bizarre conflict between suspect Mona Eltahawy, 45, and a woman defending the ads.

“Mona, do you think you have the right to do this?” said Pamela Hall, holding a mounted camera as she tried to block the barrage of spray paint.
“I do actually,” Eltahawy calmly responded. “I think this is freedom of expression, just as this is freedom of expression.”

Hall then thrusts herself between Eltahawy’s spray paint and the poster.

Eltahawy -- an activist who has appeared on MSNBC and CNN -- engaged her in an odd cat-and-mouse dance, spraying pink every time she had an opening.

“What right do you have to violate free speech,” Hall pleaded.

“I’m not violating it. I’m making an expression on free speech,” an increasingly agitated Eltahawy shot back.

“You do not have the right!” Hall said.

“I do actually and I’m doing it right now and you should get out of the way! Do you want paint on yourself,” Eltahawy shot ack

As the poster defender bobbed and weaved to get in the paint’s way, Eltahawy mocked: “That’s right, defend racism.”

Finally an MTA police officer and an NYPD cop came to scene and arrested Eltahawy.

“This is non-violent protest, see this America!” she said as cops cuffed her. “I’m an Egyptian-American and I refuse hate.”

The MTA was forced to install the controversial ad campaign by court order.

The 46- by 30-inch ads are plastered in 10 Manhattan stations, including busy Grand Central and Times Square Stations.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a pro-Israel group spearheaded by activist Pamela Geller, paid $6,000 for the ad space.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pirates looking up at .500 as they head to Citi Field

If finishing the season above .500 is still a priority for the Pirates, they need to take care of business in four games against the Mets this week.

After that series, the Bucs close the season with three against Cincinnati and three against Atlanta.

The Reds have already clinched the National League Central, while the Braves are in control of the first NL Wild Card spot.

On Monday, Pittsburgh will send young right-hander Kyle McPherson to the hill to face the Mets' Jenrry Mejia, a fellow righty. The first pitch at Citi Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

McPherson, who made his Major League debut on Aug. 20, has put together a 2.25 ERA over eight appearances, which includes a start his last time out. Facing the Brewers, McPherson (0-1) surrendered two runs and issued two strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.

"I thought he was very resilient. He showed poise and battled very well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "His fastball was a little bit up early, but he settled down, and the change and curve both got better as the game went on."

As for Mejia (0-1), he has struggled in three outings this season, having given up six runs in six innings. Five of those runs came in a brutal start in Milwaukee, where the righty walked five batters and gave up six hits in just three innings of work.

"The one thing I want to make sure Jenrry understands is that we know he throws hard, we know he's got a great arm, but he's got to get comfortable enough so that his command's good," Mets manager Terry Collins said about the pitcher, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. "I know he's trying to show everybody that he's back being healthy again, but I don't need him to throw 97 [mph]. I need him to make pitches."

New York completed a sweep of Miami on Sunday, finishing off the Fish with a walk-off single by Ruben Tejada in the bottom of the ninth inning. Still, though, the Mets have lost 11 of their last 15 games.

Pittsburgh also won on Sunday, scoring eight runs on 18 hits to avoid a sweep in Houston and halt a five-game losing streak. The Pirates must finish 7-3 to reach 82 wins.

Pirates: 'Survivor' mode to blame for collapse
Many opinions surround Pittsburgh's late-season collapse, and team general manager Neal Huntington offered his own Sunday afternoon.

"We define players in one of three categories, and one of them is 'survivor.' A survivor is someone who cares about surviving, about staying in the big leagues," Huntington said. "We've had some guys fall back into survivor mode these last two months."

Pittsburgh has a 5-17 record over its last 22 games. After reaching 16 games over .500 on Aug. 8, the Pirates' record has worsened to 75-77.

"It isn't a selfish mindset, so to speak," Huntington continued. "But you see men on first-and-second and nobody out, and instead of making sure to get the runner over, you try to hit a three-run homer. Instead of trying to continue an inning, we're going to get the big hit.

"It's well-intended, but when you get outside of your game and try to do too much -- the age-old excuse -- you start to get yourself in trouble. Instead of trusting the teammates behind you, instead of trusting that they'll be able to rally ... 'I'm gonna try to hit the 11-run home run'."

Mets: Wright closing in on franchise hits record
David Wright's first-inning home run on Sunday brought the third baseman to within three hits of tying Ed Kranepool's all-time franchise hits record of 1,418. On the season, Wright is batting .304 with 19 homers and 84 RBIs.
  • In six games against Pittsburgh, with which he won the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year award and was selected to two All-Star games, Jason Bay is batting .143 (3-for-21) with two RBIs.

Worth Noting
  • The Mets took two games out of three at PNC Park from May 21-23.
  • The Pirates haven't won the season series against New York since 2004, when they came out on top in five of six meetings. Dating back to that year, the Mets are 33-26 against Pittsburgh.

Jets' Revis has torn ACL, expected to miss season

The Jets got the news they were dreading on Monday when an MRI exam confirmed that Darrelle Revis has a torn ACL and is likely lost for the season.

Coach Rex Ryan confirmed the news during his Monday press conference, a day after the Jets beat the Dolphins 23-20 in Miami. Saying he just heard about the severity of injury “five minutes ago,”
Ryan would not rule out Revis for the year yet. But it is extremely unlikely the team’s best player would return this season and could soon be put on injured reserve to free up a roster spot. Ryan said he wanted to talk to Revis before making the decision, though.

“I look at it this way, this is a team game and as a team we have to step it up,” Ryan said. "Our guys will respond. We certainly have to accept the challenge and we are going to come out and compete, we may have to do it a little differently, but we are going to give it our best shot.

“Is it a major blow when you lose a player like Darrelle Revis? Of course, absolutely. But this is a football team and I think we showed that yesterday, too. There were plenty of times to get down in that game, but we kept fighting and stayed together. And that’s why we found a way to win. It’s going to take everything we have, pulling together like we are, keep competing and we’ll see what happens at the end of the day.”

On Sunday, Revis’ leg buckled as he tried to avoid an oncoming block while chasing a short pass from Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to running back Daniel Thomas with 3:54 left in the third.

Revis — who missed last week’s loss at Pittsburgh after suffering the first concussion of his football career in Week 1 — was able to get to the sidelines, but he had to be taken to the locker room on a golf cart and was not with his teammates after the game.

“Everyone has to step up, and that’s it. . . . We just have to pick it up, and maybe we play some opponents differently,” Ryan said. “There’s different ways to skin a cat. You can’t just take away their receiver with one guy, but we’ll find a way.”

Kyle Wilson, a first-round pick in 2010, will move up and start alongside Antonio Cromartie.

“We drafted him to be a No. 2 corner and that’s what he’s going to be,” Ryan said of Wilson. “And I am confident in Kyle and then we have two young tough players in Isaiah Trufant and Ellis Lankster that are going to have to step it up.

The victory in Miami did improve the Jets to 2-1 and move them to first place in the AFC East, but they will be tested with a difficult schedule ahead that they must now face without Revis.

“That’s the horrible thing that came out of the game,” Ryan said of Revis’ injury. “Obviously the good thing is that we found a way to win.”

Ryan said seven players on the Jets have returned from torn ACLs and resumed successful NFL careers.

“It’s certainly a big disappointment. I know the way Darrelle is, this is a guy that is competitive as it gets. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s going to come back strong from it,” Ryan said.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Panda cub born last week at National Zoo dies

WASHINGTON — The giant panda cub born a week ago at the National Zoo in Washington has died, and it was not immediately known why the animal died, zoo officials said Sunday.

Zoo officials said in a press release that the cub was found dead Sunday morning after panda keepers heard sounds of distress from its mother, Mei Xiang.

Staffers were able to retrieve the cub about an hour later. The cub appeared to be in good condition, and there were no outward signs of trauma or infection.

The cub had been a surprise at the zoo. Fourteen-year-old Mei Xiang had five failed pregnancies before giving birth, and only one panda cub has survived at the zoo in the past.

Panda cubs are born about the size of a stick of butter and are delicate infants. Panda mothers are about 1,000 times heavier than their cubs, which are born with their eyes closed. The delicate cubs have died in the past when accidentally crushed by mom. That happened in two different zoos in China in 2009 and 2010 when mothers killed their young while attempting to nurse.

The zoo's first panda couple, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, arrived from China in 1972 and had five cubs during the 1980s, but none lived more than a few days. One of the cubs was stillborn, two others died of pneumonia within a day, another died from lack of oxygen after birth, and the final cub died of an infection after four days.

Panda experts have said the first weeks of life are critical for the panda cubs as mothers have to make sure they stay warm and get enough to eat.

"It's kind of a nerve-racking period for the folks that are monitoring mom and cub," Rebecca Snyder, the curator of mammals at Atlanta's zoo, said last week. Atlanta is one of only two other American zoos to have had cubs.

Atlanta has had three cubs, and the San Diego zoo has had six, including a cub born this year. A panda couple in Memphis has yet to have a cub, despite several tries. No other U.S. zoos have pandas.

The cub had not yet been named in accordance with Chinese tradition — it was to receive a name after 100 days on Dec. 24. Had the cub survived until then, it would have been roughly the size of a loaf of bread and weighed around 10 pounds.

Kuroda off his game as Yanks drop series finale

NEW YORK -- The mood in the Yankees' clubhouse after this 5-4 loss on Sunday was light-hearted and jovial, with laughter drowning out the clicking of camera phones. Music blasted through the sound system, a rarity even after wins, as rookies dressed in "Star Wars" costumes and left Yankee Stadium to the movie's theme song, departing for a seven-game road trip with 10 games to play and a one-game lead in the American League East on the Orioles, even after dropping their series finale against Oakland.
  There was no finger pointing, either, although there were plenty of complaints from the home dugout during the three-hour, 45-minute game. Twice Yankees lingered at home plate, letting home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook know they were upset with his strike zone. And manager Joe Girardi bounded up the dugout stairs in the second inning to speak to first-base umpire Larry Vanover, who called Josh Donaldson safe on a play at first base that many of the 43,867 at Yankee Stadium disagreed with. Two batters later, Donaldson touched home on a Cliff Pennington homer. "That's one run, and we lost by one run," Girardi said. "To me, I always say that that's the hardest play for me to see -- the bang-bang play -- but I thought he was out by about a step. I didn't even think it was close. [Vanover] thought he beat it. I never saw the replay, but I heard the reaction of the crowd, and that usually tells you what the replay says. It's unfortunate." The Yankees needed length from starter Hiroki Kuroda after their wins took 10 innings Friday and 14 innings Saturday, but when the right-hander departed with a man on in the sixth inning Sunday, they had neither relief for their bullpen nor a lead.  Pennington's home run -- on a slider Kuroda said he missed up and over the plate -- gave the A's a 3-0 lead, and although New York scored four runs in the fourth to go ahead by a run, the advantage was brief, with Kuroda surrendering two more runs the next two innings. "He's keeping us in the game, that's the bottom line," Girardi said. "We had some chances, we just weren't able to come through." The Yankees' most consistent starter struggled from the outset, surrendering a single to Stephen Drew to lead off the game, then allowing him to score on a wild pitch. Kuroda's 5 2/3 innings marked the first time since July 6 in Boston that he did not complete at least six innings, as he routinely pitched into the seventh and beyond before September hit. Kuroda's September ERA rose to 6.75 in four starts, although the Yankees won two of those. He threw two wild pitches and walked three batters -- the first time he walked more than two batters in a start since June 19. "I was trying to hit those corners and was missing the plate," Kuroda said. He did not receive any help from his defense, as one of the five runs he allowed was unearned due to an Eduardo Nunez error. The 25-year-old, who was sent to the Minor Leagues earlier this season to work exclusively at shortstop and improve his defense, made two errors as he started in place of Derek Jeter, who insists he is OK to play the field but still has Girardi managing his workload with a bone bruise in his left ankle.  Nunez got away with one, as reliever David Phelps -- who was dressed as Princess Leia postgame -- stranded Yoenis Cespedes in the seventh, when Nunez bobbled a ground ball and allowed the Oakland rookie to reach base. But his sixth-inning throwing error proved costly, putting Donaldson on second base and setting up a Pennington single that ended Kuroda's day. "I know I have to keep practicing my defense," Nunez said. "Everybody knows that, and I know that. I have to keep practicing and keep working to get better and play at this level." New York had opportunities to erase the mistake, stranding nine men on base and scoring its only runs in a fourth inning that saw Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer and Raul Ibanez sneak an RBI double just inside right-field line, kicking up chalk as it disappeared in the corner. An inning later they had two men on with one out, but Swisher struck out looking, then turned and stood inches away from Estabrook, pointing to where he thought strike 3 arrived off the plate. And Curtis Granderson struck out swinging to end the threat. "There were some pitches that I didn't particularly like, but you can say that every day," Girardi said. Alex Rodriguez was the first Yankee to argue an Estabrook call, lingering at home plate in the first inning after a low called third strike. It was the first of three strikeouts in an 0-for-5 day for Rodriguez, with the boos becoming increasingly volatile with each trip back to the dugout. But he had the crowd on its feet in the ninth, when he connected with a Grant Balfour fastball that the right-field fence somehow held, part of a 1-2-3 frame that the Yankees quickly moved over, eased with the knowledge that Baltimore already lost.
"I knew he didn't get it good, but I [also] knew that he's strong enough," Balfour said. "He doesn't have to hit a ball perfect to get it out. Especially down that right-field line. It's got to be one of the shortest porches in the game."

A's ride Pennington's bat to win against Yankees

NEW YORK -- The A's needed this win, even if they don't want to admit it.
  Manager Bob Melvin has constantly stressed that every game carries a profound meaning, but Sunday's circumstances meant something more. The A's came into their series finale against New York needing a positive result to even out the scales after two demoralizing losses. Oakland had dropped two straight games in extra innings, and Saturday's loss was especially galling because the A's took a four-run lead in the 13th inning and then lost. Sunday represented redemption and a chance to gain some momentum heading into a series with first-place Texas. How did the A's respond? Oakland took an early lead and overcame a Yankees comeback in the middle innings. The action was close all the way to the end, and the A's -- backed by a standout game from Cliff Pennington -- went on to take a 5-4 win and a momentary reprieve from pressure. "A couple of dramatic games certainly make the next game seem like it's a little more important," said Melvin. "We had the same situation in Detroit. It seemed like we lost the first couple then came back to win the last game. But rarely do you lose games like you did last night. Coming back from something like that and scoring early in the game showed some fight right away. "It was a big game. Each and every game will be big, but probably at this point in time of the year, that was our biggest win." The A's went into Sunday's series finale holding the second American League Wild Card spot and controlling their own postseason destiny. But they had also lost five of their last six games, and a meeting with the first-place Rangers loomed on the horizon.  Pennington proved to be the difference by notching a two-run home run in the second inning and coming back later to score the tying run in the fifth and drive home the go-ahead run. Pennington singled in a run in the sixth inning, and the A's never trailed for the rest of the game. "Losing two games in extra innings is tough. Especially when those games mean so much," said Pennington. "Today's game was really still just another game, but at the same time it was definitely a big one. We needed to get out of here with this one to get some momentum going into Texas." Oakland (86-66) took control early on Sunday, using a wild pitch to score in the first inning and Pennington's homer over the right-field fence in the second to notch a 3-0 lead. But the Yankees (88-64) battled back, notching four runs in the fourth inning against Oakland rookie A.J. Griffin. Nick Swisher accounted for two of those runs with a homer to right field, and Raul Ibanez doubled in a run later in the fourth. New York's final run scored on a groundout to second base. Griffin pitched into the fifth inning, but he left with two men on base and his team trailing by a run. "He just ran into a little bit of a tough spot," said Melvin. "They're always going to work the count and get the pitch count up, foul some balls off like they did for him. We're a little reluctant to let these guys go more than 105 pitches, so at that point in time they just worked him a little to get him out of the game." Pennington singled against Hiroki Kuroda in the fifth inning, then he moved to second base on a walk and to third on a wild pitch before scoring the tying run on a single by Yoenis Cespedes. Pennington came up big again in the sixth, when he singled home Josh Donaldson with two outs. But with the memory of Saturday's game fresh in their minds, a one-run lead wouldn't seem safe. And sure enough, the ninth inning brought drama in the form of a long fly ball from Alex Rodriguez that lingered in the air and finally came down in Josh Reddick's glove on the warning track. Closer Grant Balfour -- who has now successfully converted 13 straight save opportunities -- crouched on the grass as he watched the ball fly toward the right-field fence. He wasn't able to relax until Reddick did a little hop in front of the wall and caught the ball cleanly. "The way things went for us in this series, you never know," said Balfour. "I knew he didn't get it good. But I [also] knew that he's strong enough. He doesn't have to hit a ball perfect to get it out. Especially down that right-field line. It's got to be one of the shortest porches in the game." The A's are 2 1/2 games up on the Angels, their closest competitor for the last Wild Card, and seven of their remaining 10 games will be against Texas, the leaders in the AL West. Oakland can catch the Rangers, but it will take some focus and some luck. "We played tough," said Balfour of the series. "As much as we only won one out of three here, I honestly felt we could've won all the games here. We honestly do, and we feel good about that. It didn't work out, and there's a couple things here and there that we did wrong, and it cost us the games.
"But I don't think we can hang our heads too low. It could've easily been the other way around and we'd be sitting here with a different story. We've got a good lead and we've got to keep playing like that. We can't play with our backs to the wall. We've got to play free-and-easy baseball and enjoy it."

Iran threatens attack on US bases in event of war with Israel

TEHRAN, Iran — A senior commander in Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard warned that Iran will target U.S. bases in the region in the event of war with Israel, raising the prospect of a broader conflict that would force other countries to get involved, Iranian state television reported Sunday.

The comments by Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Guard's aerospace division, came amid tension over Iran's nuclear program and Israel's suggestion that it might unilaterally strike Iranian nuclear facilities to scuttle what the United States and its allies believe are efforts to build a bomb. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Hajizadeh said no Israeli attack can happen without the support of its most important ally, the United States, making all U.S. military bases a legitimate target.

"For this reason, we will enter a confrontation with both parties and will definitely be at war with American bases should a war break out," Hajizadeh said in remarks that were posted on the website of Iran's state Al-Alam TV. U.S. facilities in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan would be targeted, he said.

"There will be no neutral country in the region," Hajizadeh said. "To us, these bases are equal to U.S. soil."

The U.S. Fifth fleet is based in Bahrain and the U.S. has a heavy military presence in Afghanistan.

The Iranian warning appears an attempt to reinforce the potential wider consequences of an attack by Israel. The message is not only intended for Washington, but to its Gulf Arab allies that are fearful of a regional conflict that could disrupt oil shipment and cripple business hubs in places such as Dubai and Qatar's capital Doha.

It also comes during a major show of naval power in the Gulf by U.S.-led forces taking part in military exercises, including mine-sweeping drills. The U.S. Navy claims the maneuvers are not directly aimed at Iran, but the West and its regional allies have made clear they would react against attempts by Tehran to carry out threats to try to close critical Gulf oil shipping lanes in retaliation for tighter sanctions.

Despite Israeli hints of a military strike, Iran's military commanders believe Israel is unlikely to take unilateral action against Iran. The Guard's top commander, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said last week that Iran believes the United States won't attack Iran because its military bases in the Middle East are within the range of Iran's missiles.

Iran has also warned that oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz will be in jeopardy if a war breaks out between Iran and the United States. Iranian officials had previously threatened to close the waterway, the route for a fifth of the world's oil, if there is war.

Israel believes that any attack on Iran would likely unleash retaliation in the form of Iranian missiles as well as rocket attacks by Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas on its northern and southern borders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says international diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions against Iran have failed to deter its nuclear ambitions, and he has urged President Barack Obama to declare "red lines" that would trigger an American attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, coupling his appeals with veiled threats of an Israeli attack.

Obama has rejected these calls, saying diplomacy and U.S.-led sanctions must be given more time and that Iran will never be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. American officials have pressed Israel not to attack Iran unilaterally, a move that could set off regional mayhem just ahead of the November election.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is currently in New York to attend the annual U.N. General Assembly and could seek to use his speech and meetings later this week to highlight the possible risks — including sharply higher oil prices — if military action is taken.

Marlins unable to capitalize on opportunities

NEW YORK -- All weekend, the Marlins allowed opportunities to slip away. It occurred again, at an inopportune time, on Sunday afternoon.
  A passed ball in the ninth inning set the Mets up for some walk-off heroics. Ruben Tejada's bases-loaded single off Ryan Webb lifted the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Marlins in front of 26,923 at Citi Field. The Mets completed a three-game sweep, and have won seven straight in the season series. "The more mistakes you make, you put yourself in a worse position," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's the way I look at it. The more mistakes, more errors, more chances they get, more pitches we throw. We have to get better about that."  Already playing with a shorthanded lineup, the Marlins are without a number of their regulars -- including All-Star Giancarlo Stanton (left intercostal strain) and Justin Ruggiano (right shoulder). The Marlins have dropped four straight, and six of seven. They're off on Monday before facing the Braves for three games at Turner Field. Veteran Greg Dobbs says the team has to regroup and move forward. "You have to constantly improve on the mistakes you make, both physically and mentally," Dobbs said. "And you've got to, as quickly as you can, learn from it, and then put it behind you -- because we've got a series at Atlanta to play. You can't dwell on anything. "You need to learn from it. You need to analyze what you're doing. Are you doing the most you can? Are you preparing the best you can? Are you executing the best you can? If you are, and if all of us are, then we'll turn it around. But you have to have that mentality." Scott Hairston, who hurt the Marlins with home runs on Friday and Saturday, got the game-winning rally going with a single. A passed ball by rookie catcher Rob Brantly moved Hairston into scoring position. After Andres Torres walked, pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin tapped to shortstop. Miami got the force at second, but Valdespin avoided being doubled-up at first for the final out. Valdespin being safe by a half-step was enough of an opening for the Mets to capitalize. "That's what we do," Guillen said. "This game's about inches." After Valdespin took second on defensive indifference, pinch-hitter Fred Lewis was walked intentionally to load the bases. Tejada ended it with his single to left-center. Starter Ricky Nolasco enjoyed a strong outing, giving up two runs with five strikeouts over seven innings. But the right-hander was not involved in the decision. Neither was Mets right-hander Chris Young, who allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings. The Marlins entered the series needing to take at least two of three to move into fourth place ahead of New York in the National League East. But it was the Mets who were able to make Miami's climb out of last place more difficult with nine games remaining. "We needed to bounce back after the tough series against Philly," Young said. "I know Miami's down a little bit, missing two of their big bats in Stanton and Ruggiano. But it was nice to get back on track for us and win some games at home." In the fifth inning, the Marlins were able to erase a two-run deficit, scoring twice -- with one run being unearned. Successive singles by Brantly and Gil Velazquez put runners on first and second with no outs.  Nolasco executed a sacrifice bunt, and Bryan Petersen's sacrifice fly to center made it, 2-1. Gorkys Hernandez worked a walk, putting runners on the corners with two outs. The Marlins tied it by using their speed. Hernandez broke for second, and on the steal attempt, catcher Kelly Shoppach's throw sailed into center field. The error allowed Velazquez to trot home with the tying run. Through the years, David Wright has certainly done his share of damage against the Marlins. The Mets' slugger has especially posted big numbers against Nolasco. In the first inning, Wright struck again. After Daniel Murphy doubled, Wright smacked a two-run homer to left-center. It was his 19th blast of the season. Wright now has six career homers off Nolasco, his most against any pitcher. But after the homer, Nolasco was impressive.
"I was just trying to keep those guys off balance," the Marlins right-hander said. "That's a really good lineup. A lot of those guys are tough outs -- tough battles they gave me. It was tough pitching down, 2-0. You can't change some things. You gotta really go out there and mix it up. You can't go out there throwing first-pitch fastballs like when you've got a big lead."