Sunday, May 5, 2013

US Senator Charles Schumer slams 'stomach-churning' 3D-printable guns

It's an apocalyptic prospect that has gun-control advocates running for cover.

While lawmakers argue the merits of waiting periods and background checks, a non-profit libertarian group said it has manufactured a plastic gun -- with a three-dimensional copy machine.

“Everyone’s seen the movie ‘In The Line of Fire,’ where one of the great bad guys, [played by] John Malkovich, labored at making a gun out of plastic and wood so it could get through metal detectors and he could assassinate the president,” US Senator Charles Schumer said yesterday.

“But that was only a movie, and just this week, it has become reality. We’re facing a situation where anyone -- a felon, a terrorist -- can open a gun factory in their garage and the weapons they make will be undetectable. It’s stomach-churning.”

Schumer said he is pushing legislation that would extend an existing ban on undetectable weapons to specifically any gun, magazine or firearm component that would not be detectable by walk-through metal detectors.

Schumer’s announcement comes on the heels of Texas-based non-profit Defense Distributed’s announcement that it successful used a 3D printer to create a fully functional firearm.

The company said on its Web site that it would upload the plans for the gun on the Internet this week after it runs a few more tests.

The company said it manufactured the hard-plastic handgun it calls “The Liberator” using a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys.

Although this is one of the more expensive 3D printers, Schumer said a gun-maker can get similar results with printers that cost as little as $1,000.

A spokesman for Defense Distributed could not be reached for comment.

The gun is made of 16 pieces of plastic and is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.

The company did use metal for one of the components so that the gun could comply with existing laws banning the sale and possession of undetectable firearms.

But Schumer and other critics pointed out that the metal piece could easily be replaced with another piece of plastic.

Schumer said the 3D printing technology has many practical applications, particularly in the health-care industry.

Yanks rally after Pettitte exits, but fall to A's

NEW YORK -- Though Andy Pettitte admits he is searching, Joe Girardi is refusing to find reason for alarm.

"I think two starts is way too little a number of starts to make a big deal out of it," said the Yankees' manager. "If it goes on for a month, then obviously there is some concern.

"If he was 26 or 32, we don't even ask the question. Because [he's 40], we ask the question."

Just three starts ago, against Tampa Bay, Pettitte, a 248-game winner, says he had the best cutter he could remember in years. After giving up 11 runs in his last two outings, including four in five innings in Sunday's 5-4 loss to the A's, he wants to know where his bread-and-butter pitch has gone.

"It's going sideways," Pettitte said. "Last time [9-1 Yankees loss to Houston], it was backing up. I love the battle, I would just like to have a little bit of an idea where the ball is going.

"Everything has been great in my [bullpen sessions]. But something is going on in the games. I can feel my release point floating around. You just know from the feel of your fingers, the ball is just not coming off right. It has been a long line time since I haven't had a feel for my pitches."

Two fastballs over the plate -- to Luke Montz in the third and Yoenis Cespedes in the fifth -- were crushed for home runs to left field on Sunday, putting the Yankees in a 4-1 hole in the fifth inning.

"The one to Cespedes, I think it was a pretty good pitch, but when you can't get the cutter in, they can hang over the plate for the fastball," said Pettitte.

The Yankees got Pettitte off the hook in the sixth, when Ichiro Suzuki's double chased home Vernon Wells, and Lyle Overbay dropped a single in front of Cespedes to score Travis Hafner and Suzuki.

Preston Claiborne pitched two scoreless innings in his first Major League appearance to turn the game over to Boone Logan in the eighth with the game even.

That lasted one batter, until Josh Donaldson crushed a 1-1 fastball from Logan into the mezzanine to put Oakland back in front before the A's bullpen buckled down to survive Yankees threats in the final two innings.

In the eighth, with runners on first and second and one out, Ryan Cook struck out Jayson Nix and got Overbay to fly to just short of the right-center-field warning track. In the ninth, Brett Gardner singled with two outs and went to second on Grant Balfour's wild pitch to Robinson Cano before the A's decided to walk Cano, putting the winning run on base.

"I hated having to do it," said Balfour of issuing the walk. "I get two outs and a guy gets a single on a broken bat and, all of a sudden, there's a ball in the dirt and a base open.

"You got a guy that swings the bat pretty good and you got to put him on. You want to face everyone. You want to get everyone out."

Balfour settled for the last guy instead, blowing a 2-2 fastball past Wells to end the drama.

"Those are the moments you love to be in," said Wells. "Everything was set up for another memorable Yankee Stadium moment, and I didn't come through that time.

"He won that battle. I'm sure there will be plenty more."

Girardi says the same about Pettitte, who pitched to a 2.87 ERA in 2012, a season abbreviated by injury. In three starts, the last two especially troublesome, his ERA has grown from a 2.01 to 4.06
"I'm not going to judge someone on two starts," the manager said.

But one of the best pitchers of his era clearly is befuddled.

"I had no command of my fastball and I wasn't able to hit with my offspeed stuff when I wanted to," Pettitte said. "The other stuff is kind of floating around, and my cutter is non-existent right now.

"When I do throw a good one and then try again, and it's a bad pitch, it's hard to trust it again. I have
to figure this out, hopefully pretty quick."

Donaldson's homer leads A's past Yankees

NEW YORK -- With Sunday's 5-4 victory over the Yankees, which secured Oakland's first series win in the Bronx since August 2011, the A's improved upon their already astounding winning ledger with Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup.

When that happens, the A's are 13-4 this year, and 95-50 overall, since Cespedes arrived in Oakland.

"My mom tells me that when I'm in the lineup," Cespedes said through his translator, "the team wins more games."

Moms really do know best.

Cespedes, who had mom Estela Milanes in the stands on Sunday afternoon, was one of three A's players to hit a home run, the long ball ultimately making up for the team's woes with runners in scoring position, situations that resulted in an 0-for-9 showing.

But long balls from Cespedes and Luke Montz that helped the club to an early three-run lead were nearly deemed irrelevant when the Yankees came back to tie the A's in the sixth. It was Josh Donaldson's second-deck solo shot off Boone Logan in the eighth that untied the game and proved to be the difference.

Homers aside, closer Grant Balfour kind of stole the show with an eventful ninth.

Balfour picked up two quick outs before Brett Gardner reached first on a broken-bat single to bring up Robinson Cano, who took a strike and watched Gardner advance to second on Balfour's ensuing wild pitch. The count at 1-1, manager Bob Melvin opted to intentionally walk Cano, 4-for-12 lifetime against Balfour.

Vernon Wells, who just so happened to carry with him an even better history (6-for-12) against the right-hander, was up next. Balfour, aware of this, was upset, but he pitched on and struck out Wells on six pitches.

"I hate having to do that," Balfour said of the walk. "You got a guy that swings the bat pretty good and you got to put him on. You want to face everyone. You want to get everyone out.

"[Wells] is a good hitter. He's had plenty of success in his career. Just trying to make it difficult on him, make good pitches. At first there, I was trying to get him to hit a ground ball. When I got later in the count, I'm looking to punch him out."

"Trust me," Melvin said, "I know it's 6-for-12 with two homers sitting right behind [Cano], but in this ballpark and the way Cano's swinging, it was a better option for me. It wasn't an easy decision but one I felt like I had to make."

The strikeout secured Balfour's 23rd consecutive save dating back to a year ago Sunday, a span during which the righty has allowed just two earned runs with 27 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings.

Said Wells: "He won that battle. I'm sure there will be plenty more. Those are the moments you love to be in, everything was set up for another memorable Yankee Stadium moment, and I didn't come through that time."

Oakland left five men on base over the first three innings with lefty Andy Pettitte on the mound, drawing three walks in that time and upping his pitch count but failing to capitalize on multiple scoring chances, their only run over that span the result of a Cano throwing error in the third.

Following Montz's homer in the fourth, Cespedes launched a two-run shot to left field in the fifth to give starter Dan Straily, pitching in place of an injured Brett Anderson, a three-run lead that Jerry Blevins squandered in the sixth, when Lyle Overbay tagged him for a two-run, game-tying bloop single.

But Donaldson saved the day with his third home run of the season, his first since April 12. Montz had waited much longer for his, though.

The 29-year-old's fourth-inning leadoff shot off Pettitte was his first in the Majors since 2008, when Montz played in 10 games with the Nationals before returning to the Minors for more than four years in advance of this past Wednesday's callup.

Montz also collected a double in the second, giving him three hits since his promotion -- the same number he posted in 21 at-bats during his brief September '08 stay with Washington.

"It's been quite some time," Montz said. "2008 seems like a long time ago, but it felt like my first one today. Being at Yankee Stadium against a guy like Andy Pettitte, big game, big win, it makes it that much more special."

"We got contributions across the board today in different ways," Melvin said. "Sometimes it takes a whole group to win a ballgame, and today, that was the case."

Bride-to-be, four friends die in horrific limousine fire during bachelorette party

SAN FRANCISCO — A limousine taking nine women to a bachelorette party erupted in flames, killing five of the passengers, including the bride-to-be, authorities and the mother of one of the survivors said Sunday.

The limo caught fire at around 10 p.m. Saturday on one of the busiest bridges on San Francisco Bay, California Highway Patrol officer Art Montiel told The Associated Press.

Five of the women were trapped, but the four other women managed to get out after the vehicle came to a stop on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, the patrol said.
Rosita Guardiano told the San Francisco Chronicle that the woman for whom the bachelorette party was being thrown was to be married next month. Guardiano said her daughter was one of the survivors.

Investigators haven't determined what sparked the fire, but the patrol said the white stretch limo became engulfed in flames after smoke started coming out of the rear of the vehicle.

A photo taken by a witness and broadcast on KTVU-TV showed flames shooting from the back.

Aerial video shot after the incident showed about one-third of the back half of the limousine had been scorched by the fire. Its taillights and bumper were gone and it appeared to be resting on its rims, but the remainder of the vehicle didn't appear to be damaged.

The driver of the limo — 46-year-old Orville Brown of San Jose — was the only person to escape unhurt.

It wasn't clear how he managed to escape without injury. Investigators Sunday afternoon were still seeking witnesses, the CHP said.

"Four people got out, as far as what was going on inside, I don't know," CHP officer Jeremy Lofstrom said Sunday. CHP investigators Sunday afternoon were still seeking witnesses to the incident.

All five women were pronounced dead at the scene. Autopsies were being conducted, San Mateo County Supervising Deputy Coroner Michelle Rippy said.

The company that operated the limo was identified as Limo Stop, which offers service through limousines, vans and SUVS.

A telephone message left at the company seeking comment by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned. Attempts to reach the driver were also unsuccessful.

Guardiano said her daughter — 42-year-old Mary Grace Guardiano of Alameda — was being treated for smoke inhalation.

The three other women who escaped the fire, Jasmine Desguia, 34, of San Jose; Nelia Arrellano, 36, of Oakland; and Amalia Loyola, 48, of San Leandro, were taken to hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns, the patrol said.

Desguia and Loyola were listed in critical condition, said Joy Alexiou, a spokeswoman for Valley Medical Center. The condition of Arrellano, who was taken to another hospital, was not known.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Warren Buffett tells Berkshire Hathaway shareholders at annual meeting that company won't change after him

OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire Warren Buffett says he spends plenty of time thinking about the future of his company after he is gone.

But the 82-year-old investor told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders Saturday that he's confident that the conglomerate will continue to thrive.

Buffett says the leaders of Berkshire's roughly 80 subsidiaries and all the operating companies would reject a leader that tried to change the way the Omaha-based company works.

Buffett leads Berkshire with a tiny staff of roughly two dozen at its headquarters, and he largely lets the CEOs of all Berkshire's subsidiaries make all the operating decisions.

Buffett says Berkshire's board knows who it would pick as CEO if he died tonight, but the top candidates could change over time.

Buffett has no plans to retire.

Before facing questions from a crowd of more than 30,000, Buffett started Saturday being mobbed by fans at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting.

Shareholders again treated the 82-year-old investor like a rock star.

Admirers held their cell phones and iPads in the air as they surrounded Buffett in the meeting's 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall. A pack of security guards created a buffer around Buffett as he visited displays selling Berkshire's See's Candy, explaining BNSF railroad's virtues and highlighting some of the company's other 80-plus subsidiaries.

Andy Paullin, drove to Omaha from Milwaukee, Wis., on Friday for attend the meeting and learn from Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, just as he has done nearly every year since 2007.

"It's exciting to be here and listen to these guys," he said. "I can't believe more people aren't interested."

At the See's booth, Buffett got a lesson in making hand-dipped bonbons. Then See's manufacturing manager Steve Powell got Buffett to autograph his white uniform coat, demonstrating that employees are nearly as excited about meeting Buffett as shareholders.

"He was right there. Why not? It's Mr. Buffett," said Powell, explaining why he asked for the autograph. "He's wonderful."

Powell said he'll probably frame the coat and display it at work when he returns to California.

The Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting began humbly in 1982 with a crowd of 15 in an insurance company cafeteria. It has been growing steadily just as the company's stock price rose to become the most-expensive in the U.S., reaching $162,904 for a Class A share on Friday.

Buffett will sit on stage with his 89-year-old business partner, Munger, to answer questions from shareholders, journalists and financial analysts for six hours.

Amaury Fernandez and his best friend Rick Cabrera traveled to the meeting from Miami because Fernandez is interested in investing and admires Buffett and Munger.

"They are two of the most remarkable men I've ever learned about," Fernandez said. "We don't know how much longer these gentlemen are going to be alive."

Jim Weber, CEO of Berkshire's Brooks Running company, said he has been reading Buffett's annual letters to shareholders since the 1980s — long before Brooks became part of Berkshire. Weber had even attended four Berkshire annual meetings before Brooks was acquired in 2006 along with Russell Athletic.

"If you're in the business world, it's a bucket list item. There's no other annual meeting like it," Weber said.

'Shoplift' mom 'frames' 6-year-old son

A Bronx mom allegedly took her 6-year-old son on a shoplifting trip, threatened a deli clerk with a stun gun — and then blamed the boy for the whole thing, authorities said.

Yvette Ray, 23, was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court last night on robbery, weapons and child endangerment charges.

Surveillance footage viewed by The New York Post shows Ray’s son walking into a Brooklyn deli with a crutch and grabbing a pack of Goldfish crackers.

His mom swipes a drink bottle, then threatens the clerk with a stun gun.

Sources said she later told cops “my son passed the Goldfish crackers to me.”

FOX Game of the Week: Eyeing elusive win, Strasburg faces tough Bucs club

Stephen Strasburg has his health. Now he just needs some good fortune.

Strasburg gave Nationals fans a scare in his last outing, Monday at Atlanta, shaking his right arm on the mound. But it turned out to be nothing serious, just some minor forearm irritation that won't prevent the righty from making his start on Saturday afternoon against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Strasburg will face Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke, looking to pull the Nationals even in the three-game series after the Pirates notched a 3-1 win on Friday night.

Washington's ace comes in riding a five-start winless streak. In his last four outings, he is 0-3 despite a 2.52 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 25 innings. The Nationals haven't helped, scoring 1.8 runs per Strasburg start, with a high of three.

Strasburg has faced some struggles early in games and with his efficiency, but his overall results have been strong. In that last start, he held the Braves to two runs over six innings, despite walking four.

"I think he pitched well," said catcher Kurt Suzuki. "Command probably wasn't where he'd like. He was able to get out of a couple of jams, but it was a tough one. His fastball command wasn't where he would want it but, overall, the results were pretty good."

One prominent task for Strasburg will be containing Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who has torched the Nationals in his career. McCutchen has a 16-game hitting streak and a lifetime .456 average against them, with 11 home runs, including one on Friday. He is only 1-for-5 against Strasburg, however.

Washington also has to deal with Locke, who comes in with 13 straight scoreless innings over his past two starts. The 25-year-old lefty had a 5.17 ERA before the streak, during which he has held the opposition to five hits and four walks, while striking out 10.

"Something had to change execution-wise," Locke said after his last outing. "Just getting ahead of guys, and let them put it into play somewhere and let the defense work."

Nationals: Zimmerman returns
  • Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was activated from the disabled list before Friday's game, with Anthony Rendon optioned back to Double-A Harrisburg. Zimmerman hadn't played since April 17 due to a strained left hamstring.
Following a one-game rehab stint with Class A Potomac, Zimmerman went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on Friday to drop his season average to .211.
  • Right fielder Jayson Werth was out of the lineup on Friday and is expected to miss the rest of the series. Werth, who has played once since Monday, is dealing with a tight left hamstring.
  • Left fielder Bryce Harper is 2-for-20 over his past six games. A sixth-inning single on Friday snapped an 0-for-14 skid.

Pirates: Lineup to welcome back Snider
  • Right fielder Travis Snider is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday, his first start since April 26. He has been dealing with tightness in his right side, although he has appeared in three games off the bench during that time.
Snider is hitting .347 with a .439 on-base percentage in 14 starts and has hit safely in 11 of his past 12.
  • The Pirates called up 41-year-old Jose Contreras from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. The right-hander made six Minor League appearances in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and will pitch out of the bullpen.
"The only thing that drives me is wanting to win," Contreras said through an interpreter. "I'll do anything they want me to. I'll be the bat boy. This bullpen has already been doing very well, but there's no pressure on me. I want to contribute to the good job they're already doing."

Worth noting
  • No Nationals player has ever faced Locke.
  • Strasburg made his only start at PNC Park last year, striking out 13 and giving up one earned run in six innings. Before that, his only outing against the Pirates was his Major League debut on June 8, 2010, when he piled up 14 K's in seven innings.

Girl, 13, foils Coney Island rape

A 13-year-old Brooklyn girl outsmarted a scissors-wielding sicko who was hellbent on raping her, police said.

They encountered each other in her Coney Island building’s elevator at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and rode to the basement, the girl told investigators.

He pulled out the scissors, threatened her, forced her out of the elevator and pounced on her, she said.
But she kept her cool.

“She has a chain on,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “She takes it, throws it on the ground to
distract him, and is then able to run and get away.”

The girl was not injured.
Cops released this sketch yesterday and said the man looked to be in his 30s and was dressed all in black.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS (5477).

FOX Game of the Week: Pair of aces slated to square off for Cards, Brewers

At some point, these trends have to change, right?

That's certainly what the Brewers are hoping as they continue their four-game series with the Cardinals on Saturday at Miller Park.

First, the pitcher Milwaukee faces Saturday, Adam Wainwright, has been downright dirty against the Brew Crew. The Cardinals right-hander has the lowest career ERA (1.93) and most complete games (three) against the Brewers among active pitchers.

And, if you think those numbers are just historical, think again: Wainwright tossed a four-hit shutout against Milwaukee on April 13, tying a career high with 12 punch outs.

The good news, at least in theory, is that Milwaukee counter with its ace, Yovani Gallardo, on the mound. The bad news is, against the Cardinals, Gallardo is the anti-Wainwright.

Gallardo is 1-10 with a 6.84 ERA in 15 career starts against St. Louis, including picking up the loss to the Cardinals and Wainwright on April 13 when he surrendered six runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings.

One plus for Milwaukee, however, is that Gallardo seems to have found his groove as of late, tossing three straight quality starts and posting a 2.29 ERA.

Cardinals: Pair of streaksCatcher Yadier Molina has a five-game hitting streak during which he's batting .500, while right fielder Carlos Beltran also has a hitting streak of four games, in which he's batting .333.
  • Reliever Trevor Rosenthal leads all Major League relievers with 23 strikeouts.
Brewers: Ramirez's return lengthens lineup
Milwaukee finally got its cleanup hitter back Friday, as third baseman Aramis Ramirez returned and went 2-for-3. Second baseman Rickie Weeks and catcher Jonathan Lucroy filled in well while Ramirez was shelved, the third baseman said.

"They did a great job," Ramirez said before making his return. "We started 2-8, and now we're a game over .500. We're playing pretty good lately, and hopefully we can keep that up."

Manager Ron Roenicke was excited for Ramirez's comeback because it allows guys such as Weeks and Lucroy to get back into spots where they're more comfortable.
  • Because the Brewers have a pair of off-days in the span of four days next week, fifth starter Hiram Burgos will be available out of the bullpen.
  • Outfielder Carlos Gomez is batting .492 in his last 18 games, including hitting .486 with three home runs during a 10-game hitting streak.

Worth noting
  • Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday has three career homers against Gallardo, while Molina has two.
  • The Cardinals are 4-1 against Milwaukee this season.
  • The Brewers are 12-6 in their last 18 games.

Costco fighting Tiffany ring suit

It’s a battle of the blue box vs. the beige.

Costco is fighting back against Tiffany’s multimillion-dollar trademark suit over the discount warehouse club’s sale of cut-rate “Tiffany” engagement rings.

In a countersuit, Costco claims that its use of “Tiffany” is a “generic” reference to the setting on solitaire rings in which a single gemstone is mounted on multiple, slender prongs.

Costco also notes that its rings are “unbranded” and come packaged in “plain beige outer gift boxes” — which bear no resemblance to Tiffany’s instantly recognizable blue boxes.
During an hour of spirited arguments yesterday in Manhattan federal court, a Costco lawyer told the judge that both sides have “wildly differing perceptions of what the issues are.”

Lawyer James Dabney maintained that “Tiffany is an eponymous name,” saying: “It’s like Phillips screwdriver, it’s like Murphy bed, it’s like Ferris wheel.”

Tiffany lawyer Jeffrey Mitchell countered that the jeweler’s name was an extremely valuable and famous trademark that’s been “validated by courts in many, many cases.”

“If you ask 100 people on the street, ‘What does Tiffany mean?’ they’re not going to say the setting,” lawyer Jeffrey Mitchell said.

“They’re going to say the jewelry or the jewelry stores.”

Mitchell also said of Costco’s offerings: “The ring itself mimics the brand,” and he maintained that there would be no need for a trial over the trademarked Tiffany name.

“If it is not generic — and I dare say it is not — then what are we talking about?” he asked.

But Dabney insisted there was “an actual dispute” over the validity of Tiffany’s trademark and suggested that the jeweler had altered its Web site to indicate that the word “Tiffany” in “Tiffany setting” is trademarked.

“For them to come in and bluster and say there’s no dispute about what the word means will be contradicted by evidence that they were aware of this and they never acted until recently,” he said.

Dabney also blasted Tiffany for using “fighting words to describe what Costco did” when it filed suit on Valentine’s Day accusing Costco of selling “counterfeit” rings.

After noting an apparent “lack of desire” to mediate the case, Judge Laura Taylor Swain ordered both sides to conduct settlement talks with a magistrate judge.

FOX Game of the Week: Veteran pitcher Garcia focused in return to Majors

Ready to prove all of the doubters wrong, Orioles right-hander Freddy Garcia will make his first Major League start this season on Saturday against the Angels in Anaheim.

The 36-year-old Garcia still believes he has what it takes to compete.

"They always say that about you," said Garcia, who signed a Minor League deal with Baltimore after he was released by the San Diego Padres this spring. "I really don't care because I always put up numbers, and that's all you can really do is keep putting up numbers. … I really don't care what people say. I just go out there and do my job."

Taking Zach Britton's spot in Baltimore's rotation after he was demoted, Garcia is ready to help a team that had to lean heavily on its bullpen in the first month of the season.

"Hopefully it's me [who takes advantage of the opportunity]," Garcia said. "And hopefully I pitch the way I know I can pitch and I can help the team win games and throw innings."

His promotion comes at the perfect time for the Orioles, as Garcia owns a career 16-3 mark with a 2.66 ERA in 28 games against the Angels, including an 8-1 record with a 3.18 ERA in 16 starts in Anaheim.

Meanwhile, Tommy Hanson will be on the hill for the Angels, looking for his third win this season.
He allowed just two runs on five hits in six innings of work on Monday, but took a no-decision in a 19-inning thriller against the A's in a 10-8 loss.

Hanson, who has tossed two straight quality starts, is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two career starts against the Orioles.

Orioles: Machado finding timing at plate
  • Third baseman Manny Machado attributes much of his recent success at the plate to simplifying things and trusting his abilities.
The 20-year-old infielder has hit safely in 18 of 23 games, while batting .340 (33-for-97) with 11 multi-hit games, 11 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 17 RBIs.

Machado, who will be 21 in July, is the only Orioles player under 21 to have a hitting streak as long as 11 games.

"There's such a thing as over-coach or manage early on," manager Buck Showalter said. "I just tried to leave him alone and just let him seek his level. I said a few things here and there."

Angels: Callaspo returns to lineup
  • Prior to Friday's game against the Orioles, the Angels activated third baseman Alberto Callaspo from the disabled list. He joins shortstop Erick Aybar, who was activated earlier in the week.
"Finally we are back and we're going to give 100 percent to the team," Callaspo said.

To make room for Callaspo -- who has been on the disabled list with a right calf strain since April 19 -- infielder Andrew Romine was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

Callaspo hit seventh in Friday's lineup and finished the game going 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.

Worth noting
  • Angels reliever Mark Lowe is eligible to come off of the disabled list Sunday but expects to make one more Minor League appearance. Lowe pitched two innings for Class A Inland Empire on Thursday night and plans to throw another two innings on Sunday.
  • Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold made his first start this season at leadoff on Friday night against the Angels and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Airport gun nut’s blind rage

A blind NRA member from New Mexico was busted at Newark Airport with a handgun in his checked luggage — but the weapon was only discovered because he tried to get 10 bullets past the security screeners.

Raymond Whitehead, 53, was traveling with his two grown kids and his wife when TSA screeners spotted the hollow point ammo in his bag around 10 a.m. Tuesday at the American Airlines terminal.

Port Authority cops then found the .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver and seven illegal knives in his checked luggage, and he was arrested.

Whitehead claims police allowed him to bang into walls and denied him a lawyer or food for 10 hours. He is vowing to sue.

A Port Authority Police official said he was not mistreated.

The carpenter said he took the gun with him because he was traveling to a “strange place” and wanted to be able to protect his family and property.

Despite his blindness, Whitehead legally owns two guns in Santa Fe — and says he’s willing to blast anyone who invades his home.

“In my opinion, what happened to me was unconscionable and unforgivable,” said Whitehead., who lost all sight 11 years ago due to a degenerative eye disease.

Whitehead said he has flown “at least a dozen times” in recent years with a gun in his checked suitcase without a problem.

Whitehead was released on $15,000 bail, but faces a raft of weapons charges.

Teheran looks to continue improving facing Mets

Showing vast improvement in his last two starts, Braves right-hander Julio Teheran will take the hill on Saturday against the Mets at Turner Field hoping to keep it going.

After allowing 13 runs in his first three starts this season, Teheran has dazzled with his fastball and breaking ball in his last two contests, holding the Rockies and Nationals to just three runs.

While the right-hander allowed 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings to Washington on Monday, only one was an extra-base hit and many of the singles found holes in the infield. He also finished the game with five strikeouts and just one walk.

"He's a kid that we're watching him grow right in front of our eyes," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I said that last year about [Mike] Minor and two years before that it was [Brandon] Beachy."

Meanwhile, Jon Niese gets the nod for the Mets looking to keep up his stellar statistics against the

Niese dominated the Braves last season, going 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts and holding them to a .175 average.

The left-hander had some of that same magic on Sunday against the Phillies, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. However, he took his second loss of the season in a 5-1 defeat.

While Niese is 2-2 on the season with a 3.31 ERA, he's managed to toss four quality starts in six outings.

Mets: Cowgill optioned
Trying to shake up their anemic offense, New York optioned struggling outfielder Collin Cowgill to Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday and promoted Andrew Brown.

After hitting a grand slam on Opening Day, Cowgill hit just .130 in 18 games. He had not recorded an extra-base hit since April 6 and made a game-changing mistake on defense that led to an extra-innings loss Monday in Miami.

"Maybe one of the worst things that could have happened was to have him walk right out and hit a homer on Opening Day," manager Terry Collins said. "As I told him, I just thought he was over-swinging. When he got on base, he was dangerous. He just wasn't getting on."

Brown has been heating up with Las Vegas, hitting .367 with two home runs in 25 games, with an .882 OPS against left-handed pitchers. He went 0-for-3 in Friday's 7-5 win over the Braves with a strikeout.

Braves: Heyward expected to take swings on Saturday
Outfielder Jason Heyward is expected to begin taking dry swings with a bat on Saturday, his first baseball activity since having an appendectomy on April 22.

If all goes well, he could begin hitting off a tee, playing catch and jogging as early as Monday. His progress from there will depend on how his body reacts to different challenges.

"As far as the end of May, I'd be disappointed if I had to wait that long," Heyward said. "I want to be back sooner rather than later."

Worth noting
  • The Mets and Major League Baseball announced Friday that they will host private screenings of the movie "42" for New York City teenagers involved in YMCA programs. Screenings will take place May 6 at UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas in Queens and May 13 at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn, with each showing accommodating 300 teens.
  • Braves starter Brandon Beachy is scheduled to throw two more live batting practice sessions. If all goes well, he could begin a Minor League rehab assignment late next week or the early portion of the following week. There is a chance he could return to the Atlanta rotation in the middle of June.

Knicks head into second round with win over Celtics; first time since 2000

BOSTON — Two days after dressing for a funeral, the Knicks finally buried the Celtics Friday night despite a fourth quarter when The Green rose from the grave.

The Knicks survived a scary 20-0 fourth-quarter run in the span of 3:35 to slide into the second round to face the Pacers, capturing their first playoff series in 13 years.

“It’s a big relief for myself, the team and the city to take that next step, which is getting out of the first round,’’ Carmelo Anthony said after last night’s series-clinching 88-80 victory in Game 6. “It’s something I looked forward to since I got to New York.’’

In spectacular fashion, the Knicks nearly blew a 26-point fourth quarter lead, letting Boston get all the way to within four points with 3:32 left. TD Garden was never louder. But a big ending by Anthony allowed the Knicks to hold on. Game 1 against the Pacers is set for tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at the Garden.

“It’s a very deep breath we’re taking right now,’’ J.R. Smith said.

“Those guys over there are warriors,’’ Raymond Felton said in salute of the Celtics.

“It’s just one step,’’ coach Mike Woodson said. “I’m looking at the big picture. We made a major step, but we have a long way to go and we’re on to the next step.’’

Anthony drilled a backbreaking 3-pointer with 1:42 left, jacking the lead back up to 84-75. Anthony finished with 21 points on 7-of-23 shooting, but scored seven big points in the final 3:50 to silence the deafening noise. His 3-pointer broke a streak in which had missed 19 straight from downtown.

“He’s shot 3-pointers well all year, but he had missed [19 straight],’’ Woodson said. “But he made the biggest one of the series. That’s what I look at.’’

The Knicks staged the Celtics’ funeral a game later than planned, after wearing all black to the Game 5 loss on Wednesday.

“We got to clear our head and think Indiana,’’ said Pablo Prigioni, who had a big night with 14 points. “What we did here is done.’’

In building their 26-point lead, it was not only about Anthony as much as a team bonding together, making sure it didn’t become the first ever to blow a 3-0 lead.

The Knicks’ defensive energy was spectacular and four of their five starters marched into double-figure scoring. Iman Shumpert (17 points), who had a late steal to stem the Celtics’ tide, and Prigioni had terrific games. Tyson Chandler missed double figures by one point — finishing with nine points and 12 rebounds. After a slow start, Smith came on late to finish with 13 points, and Felton had 11.

After Avery Bradley intercepted an Anthony pass and scored on a layup, it was 79-75 with 3:32 left.

Anthony came down and nailed a huge jumper to make it 81-75. Then his backbreaking 3-pointer stopped his skid.

“It didn’t feel real,’’ Shumpert said of the Boston surge. “We did a good job of giving ourselves a good cushion. I didn’t think they could get that far into the lead.’’

Before tip-off, the arena scoreboard showed an inspirational montage of 2004 Red Sox highlights and then snippets of Kenyon Martin and Anthony entering Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in their funeral-black garb with undertaker music playing.

The Boston fans loved it, but the Knicks seemed fired up from the start and took a 21-5 lead with a frenetic display on both ends.

Prigioni got hot from the perimeter, making three of six baskets in playing the entire first period. Anthony said he went into the game as a “decoy’’ at the start because, “Boston thought I’d come out guns blazing, and that’s how we built the lead.’’

The Knicks took a 39-27 lead at halftime after holding the Celtics to 10 first-quarter points.

“It was an ugly series,’’ said Woodson, whose team didn’t score more than 90 points in any of the six games. “Neither team could score or get loose.’’

Anthony scored on a 3-point play in the final seconds of the first half to up the lead up to 12, faking Brandon Bass on a pullup and drawing contract. He finished the half with 14 points, two assists and five rebounds.

Nevertheless, he finished the series shooting 38.1 percent and was stretching his injured left shoulder through parts of the game.

“I’ll be fine come [Sunday],’’ Anthony said.

Colon to face former mates in Bronx matinee

Bartolo Colon will look to give Oakland's bullpen some more rest against his former team on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, one day after A.J. Griffin tossed seven-plus shutout innings in a 2-0 A's win. Before Griffin's outing, Oakland starters managed to go just 6-11 with a 5.87 ERA over their prior 22 games.

"[The starters] don't take any satisfaction in knowing we're having to cover four innings a game sometimes with the bullpen," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They have the ability to be better, and they will be."

Colon took a no-decision in his last start, against the Orioles on Sunday, allowing five runs on nine hits in six innings of work. Walking just one batter over his first five starts, Colon leads the Majors with the fewest walks per nine innings (0.28) and the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (20.0).

However, Colon is 4-6 with a 6.23 ERA in 15 career appearances against the Yankees, his highest ERA against any American League team.

Facing Colon will be Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes, who is still looking for his first win of the season.

In his last start, against the Blue Jays on Sunday, Hughes took a no-decision, allowing just two runs on seven hits in six innings of work. It marked his third straight quality start since beginning the season with two straight losses.

The right-hander walked just one in the game and also struck out a season-high nine batters. Six of those strikeouts came in the first 12 batters he faced.

It marked another strong start for Hughes at Yankee Stadium, as the righty is 7-2 with a 3.20 ERA in his last 12 starts in the Bronx.

A's: Rosales bats in the leadoff spot
With Coco Crisp on the disabled list, Melvin had to shuffle his lineup for Friday's game against the Yankees. That meant giving Adam Rosales his first career start in the leadoff spot.

That proved to be the right move, with Rosales sending the first pitch he saw from CC Sabathia over the left-field wall for his first home run of the season. He finished the game going 2-for-5.

"Someone had to hit there," Melvin said before the game. "He's excited about it. We'll see where we go. That just shows you what we miss when Coco's not there. That's one of the no-brainers, as far as the lineup goes, when Coco is there, that he will lead off. At this point, we're just trying to mix and match on a particular day."

Yankees: Robertson works with Wounded WarriorsThe Yankees announced on Friday that reliever David Robertson will be the team spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project, representing the organization in outreach efforts and participating in visits to Yankee Stadium.

"It's such a great cause. It's such a worthy thing to do," Robertson said. "These guys are out there on the front lines risking their lives.

"You can bring them hope, but the best thing is that you can spread the word. You can put the word out there that these guys are here and they need help getting eased back into their lives."

On Friday, the Yankees hosted approximately 25 members of the organization, all of whom were wounded while serving in the armed forces.

Worth noting
  • The A's have a Major League-leading 142 walks this season.
  • When leading after seven innings, the A's are a perfect 14-0 this season.
  • The Yankees are 16-7 since April 7, after starting the season 1-4.

Owner of Kentucky Derby horse Verrazano bonded with fiancee over racy joke

This is a rare breed of love.

The gal who inspired a name for one of today’s Kentucky Derby horses says its New Jersey-based owner won her heart with a racy joke.

Meghan Ehmann, 31, met fiancĂ© Kevin Scatuorchio, 31 — who owns prized colt Verrazano — two years ago at a horse race in California, where she asked him a dumb question, she told The New York Post.

“I didn’t know the first thing about a horse. So I said to him, ‘When you get a minute, can you tell me the difference between a filly and a colt?” she said.

He responded, “Yeah, I have a minute to tell you: One has a penis . . . and one doesn’t.”

She liked his straight-forward style — and his Yankee cap.

She liked it even more when Scatuorchio, a Red Bank resident, sent her a photo of the Verrazano Bridge to encourage her before she ran the New York City Marathon in 2010.

Ehmann later framed the photo and gave it to Scatuorchio, prompting him to name the horse after the bridge.

Verrazano, an undefeated 3-year-old, had 12-1 odds and was ranked fifth yesterday evening. But Ehmann, who says she’s since become a “horse-racing connoisseur,” said she and her soon-to-be hubby have high hopes.

The couple watched the races at Churchill Downs yesterday, joking around to shake off some pre-race jitters.

“It should be interesting to see what’s more nerve-wracking — this or the altar!” Scatuorchio joked.
“In all seriousness . . . I think she’s one-of-a-kind, and I’m blessed to have her in my life.”

Meanwhile, folks back at home said they were rooting for both the horse and the lovebirds.

“I think this is a beautiful story — so romantic!” said Charlie Michaels, 72, who lives right in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge in Bay Ridge.

“If Verrazano wins, it would be so incredible — such a great story for Brooklyn,” said Michaels, who was at Kelly’s Tavern to watch the races.

Other New York City bars, like The Bell House and Stone Rose Lounge, plan to show their New York pride by throwing Derby-theme bashes, complete with mint juleps and big hats.

As for the lovebirds, they’ll get married in June. They’ll have their wedding guests sign a framed copy of the bridge.

Braves unable to put away Mets, fall in 10 innings

ATLANTA -- What had the makings of being a jubilant comeback victory for the Braves instead turned into a demoralizing loss, marred by home runs hit off their top two relievers and Jordan Walden's inability to put the Mets away in the 10th inning.

Ruben Tejada's two-out single off Walden proved to be the crushing blow for the Braves as they wasted Mike Minor's strong start and Evan Gattis' go-ahead eighth-inning home run in Friday night's 7-5 10-inning loss to the Mets at Turner Field.

"We've been good so far this year until tonight," said Braves closer Craig Kimbrel after taking his second blown save in a span of three appearances. "Our offense went out there and they did what they had to do. They scored when we needed to score. We just weren't able to hold it down. We kind of let this one slip away. It's a tough one."

This certainly ranks as one of the most frustrating losses of the year for the Braves, who have lost 10 of 14 since beginning the season with a 13-2 record. They squandered two leads after the start of the eighth inning and then saw the Mets produce their decisive rally after Walden retired the first two batters in the 10th inning.

"Usually when you give our guys a lead, they're going to shut it down," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But they ended up getting four runs against our bullpen from the eighth inning on. That doesn't usually happen against our guys."

Mike Minor spotted the Mets a three-run lead courtesy of John Buck's two-run homer in the first and Lucas Duda's leadoff homer in the second inning. But Minor retired the final 18 batters he faced and the Braves claimed their first lead of the night when Andrelton Simmons beat out a potential inning-ending double play in the seventh.

Carrying a one-run lead into the eighth is usually enough for the Braves, whose bullpen entered the game leading the Majors with a 1.94 ERA. Minor had thrown just 90 pitches when Gonzalez opted to pinch-hit for him in the seventh with the hope his team would produce a lead Eric O'Flaherty and Kimbrel would preserve.

This plan was squandered when Marlon Byrd opened the eighth inning with an opposite-field home run off O'Flaherty, who had not allowed a homer in 52 appearances dating back to June 7. The resulting damage was erased when Evan Gattis hit Brandon Lyon's first pitch of the night over the center-field wall with one out in the eighth.

But instead of serving as a game-winner, Gattis' solo home run simply set the stage for David Wright to deliver his own heroics by belting Kimbrel's 97-mph fastball deep into the center-field seats.

Wright's game-tying solo shot in the ninth was the first homer the Braves' closer had surrendered in 25 appearances dating back to Aug. 31.

"He's definitely a guy you can't make a mistake to, especially up in the zone with a fastball," Kimbrel said. "He hit that good. You can't make mistakes to him and I did. That was the difference in the ballgame."

Actually, the difference came in the 10th inning, when Walden issued Jordany Valdespin a two-out walk after getting ahead with a 1-2 count. Mets closer Bobby Parnell came to the plate simply to show bunt while Valdespin successfully stole second base. Had Valdespin's attempt been unsuccessful, Parnell would have been available to pitch the bottom half of the inning.

With Valdespin on second base, Walden got ahead of pinch-hitter Mike Baxter with an 0-2 count and then hit him with a 2-2 slider. This set the stage for Tejada, whose go-ahead single to center came on an 0-2 slider. Daniel Murphy added an insurance run with an RBI single on an 0-2 pitch from Luis Avilan.

"I just couldn't put them away," Walden said.

Walden's thoughts actually served as the theme of the night for the Braves, who were unable to take advantage of Jordan Schafer's career-high four walks and B.J. Upton's first multihit performance since April 18.

When Mets starter Shaun Marcum exited with one out in the game-tying, three-run fifth, it appeared the Braves would be able to at least outlast the Mets, whose bullpen entered the game ranked 28th in the Majors with a 4.68 ERA.

But after taking a lead in the seventh and another in the eighth courtesy of Gattis' seventh homer, the
Braves simply extended the struggles they have endured since going through the season's first 15 games as baseball's hottest team.

"It was a roller coaster really," Gonzalez said. "You forget about how well Mike Minor pitched because of what happened in the last [three] innings."

Valdespin sparks Mets to win over Braves in extras

ATLANTA -- Criticize Jordany Valdespin for his supposed lack of maturity; malign him for his eccentricity. Condemn him for his lack of discipline if you must.

Then put all that aside and realize that, if nothing else, Valdespin sure knows how to make things interesting.

Valdespin's walk and stolen base in the 10th inning Friday allowed the Mets to steal a wild, 7-5 win over the Braves, erasing one-run deficits in the eighth and ninth innings. Two days after Valdespin hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead home run against the Marlins, the image of him belly-flopping onto home plate
at Turner Field will stick with his teammates for some time.

"He's exciting," manager Terry Collins said with a wry smile, a few minutes after Ruben Tejada drove home Valdespin with the winning run. "He plays with a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm, especially when it's crunch time. You're going to get things that you don't expect sometimes."

Most of Friday's unexpected plot points took place with two outs. Laying off four pitches nowhere near the strike zone, Valdespin drew a pinch-hit, six-pitch walk against Jordan Walden to put the potential go-ahead run on base. But with his bullpen short and the possibility of more free baseball looming in front of him, Collins sent closer Bobby Parnell to the plate with plans for Valdespin to steal on the first pitch.

Had the stolen-base attempt been unsuccessful, Parnell simply would have returned to the mound for the bottom of the 10th. But after Valdespin successfully swiped the bag, jumping up and gleefully pointing at umpire Angel Hernandez, Collins called on Mike Baxter to pinch-hit.

The rest of the inning was vintage Valdespin. After Walden hit Baxter with a pitch, Valdespin raced all the way home from second base in a misguided attempt to score on a dead ball. Then he tried to steal third base with two outs, but the pitch was fouled away.

When Tejada finally dumped a single into center field, Valdespin once again sprinted home. Though there was no play at the plate, he face-planted onto the dirt in one last bit of showmanship.

"We don't win the game just hitting homers," Valdespin said. "We win the game taking a walk, base hit, being aggressive on the bases like I did tonight. That's my game."

It was a situation that Collins knew his team was fortunate to face. Twice, the Mets homered to erase late deficits against the league's top-ranked bullpen, leading to the knotted score in the 10th. After Scott Atchison allowed a go-ahead single in the bottom of the seventh inning, Marlon Byrd greeted Eric O'Flaherty with a game-tying homer in the eighth. Brandon Lyon was next to cough up the lead, serving up Evan Gattis' solo homer in the eighth. But again the Mets answered, this time when David Wright redirected a Craig Kimbrel fastball over the wall in center in the ninth.

"You try to get to that bullpen as best you can, and a lot of times you're unsuccessful at doing it," Wright said of the Braves, who entered the game with a league-best 1.94 ERA in relief. "They're one of the best of the game, and arguably the best in the game pitching the ninth. Anytime you get the opportunity to win a close game late against these guys, you've got to take advantage of it."

Added Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez: "That usually doesn't happen against our guys."

Still, the Mets nearly found a way to lose when Lyon returned for the ninth and served up a leadoff double to Ramiro Pena. Following a sacrifice bunt, Parnell entered and coaxed a popup and a groundout to strand the winning run on third.

"I felt like I threw some pretty good pitches," Parnell said. "It was a good outcome."

Mets starter Shaun Marcum pitched only into the fifth inning, needing LaTroy Hawkins' help to wriggle out of his final jam. The three runs that Marcum allowed undid the early work of New York's offense, which jumped on Mike Minor with John Buck's two-run homer in the first inning and Lucas Duda's solo shot in the second.

Duda's homer was the last hit that Minor allowed. The Braves' starter retired 18 in a row from the second through seventh innings, giving way to a pinch-hitter with his streak intact.

Only after Minor departed did the visitors begin their late push, from Byrd's home run to Wright's shot off Kimbrel to Valdespin's adventure around the bases. The Mets added an insurance run on Daniel Murphy's RBI single and, with Parnell already out of the game, Jeurys Familia recorded the final three outs for his first career save.

The result was what Collins called his team's best win of the season.

"I think it was," the manager said. "To come in here and have the lead, lose it, then come back twice -- it's pretty special. That was a big win for us."

Vaccaro: Knicks can finally exhale after win

Written by NY Post columnist Mike Vaccaro

BOSTON — As the buzzards started to swarm, as the lead started to melt, as it seemed the scoreboard clock at TD Garden had started to malfunction, that’s when all the talk about ghosts and goblins and gnomes seemed finally, at last, less a fairy tale than an understatement.

The lead had been 26, and if Mike Woodson were a student of irony he would have been close to sitting down, folding his legs, and lighting up a victory cigar. Except in a heartbeat, the lead was 19. And in an eyeblink, it was 10. And in the amount of time it takes to gobble a full sleeve of antacid tablets, it was four.

“They made a hell of a run,” Woodson said.

And as the Celtics were making that run, you had to squint hard to make certain there were only five of them on the floor, that they hadn’t been joined by Hondo and Cooz, by Larry Legend and the Chief and a couple of quick-handed leprechauns. You had to cover your ears, because the inside of the arena suddenly sounded like the inside of a jet engine, just about as loud as sports is allowed to get.

This wasn’t just a run anymore. It was magic, black-ops magic, the kind that can make you want to swear off sports forever. The score had been Knicks 75, Celtics 49, with 9 1/2 minutes to go.

Now it was 79-75, and only six minutes had bled off the clock, and Carmelo Anthony’s pocket had just been picked leading to an Avery Bradley lay-up, and honestly, Clapton could have been playing “Layla” in the seat next to you, his amp sitting on top of your knees, and you wouldn’t have heard a note.

“We were trying to hang on,” Boston’s Doc Rivers would say. “Trying to believe. Trying very hard to believe.”

There were believers aplenty all around them, 18,624, none of whom had abandoned the cause because, at the least, they wanted to salute these Celtics who’d tried to climb the 0-3 hill and were now trying to prowl an even steeper mountain. The Knicks were rattled. The Knicks were staggering.
The Knicks looked terrified.

But the Knicks had one thing on their side: They still had the lead, however tenuous it felt, however much it seemed like the scoreboard was lying.

“In the playoffs,” Tyson Chandler would say, “you’re going to face more than a few moments of truth. And how you respond to them tells you all about how far you’re going to go.”

And that is why this column isn’t sweaty with poisoned darts aimed at the Knicks; let’s be very honest: it’s probably why you’re still reading. Because you know by now that the Celtics never got any closer than four, or else you would’ve gone straight for the crossword puzzle this morning.

Because you know that Anthony answered his giveaway with a 13-foot pull-up jumper 22 seconds later that may well have been the most important basket of his NBA career and, 90 seconds after that, with a 3-pointer that snapped a personal 0-for-19 drought from downtown and essentially pulled the plug on the run, the game, and the series.

Because you know the Knicks prevailed, survived, endured, persisted, and thanks to this 88-80 victory will greet the Indiana Pacers tomorrow in the Eastern Conference semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

“It was tough, it was a struggle,” Anthony said. “They made it tough on us.”

“Those guys,” Ray Felton said, shaking his head, “are warriors. And they showed why today.”

But you know something? The Knicks showed something, too. We have no idea what the next few weeks hold for them, but it will probably not hurt as they face the Pacers, and whomever else, that they had to fend off the doubt that allowing the Celtics back into this series surely brought. There will come a time when they see a big lead vaporize — because in the playoffs, they always do — and know that when they had to put a halt to one of the craziest runs you’ll ever see, they could.

They did.

“We succeeded as a team,” said Anthony, “and that means something.”

Said Chandler: “It’s a small step. But also a giant step.”

They can exhale now, and so can you. They survived. They advanced. They get another game tomorrow at the Garden, a new foe, a new challenge. The leprechaun, at last, has been shooed away.

CC hangs tough, but outdueled by A's Griffin

NEW YORK -- The Yankees trailed immediately on Friday when CC Sabathia's left hand fired its first fastball, yet the night's biggest pyrotechnics might have been the verbal sparks between the ace and the home-plate umpire.

Athletics right-hander A.J. Griffin took his early lead and held it deep into the night against a baffled Bombers lineup, hurling shutout ball into the eighth inning as Oakland defeated the Yankees, 2-0, at Yankee Stadium.

Sabathia held Oakland to two runs in six innings, and he couldn't be too upset about that -- even after Adam Rosales' leadoff home run. But Sabathia was irked about a third-inning exchange with plate umpire Jordan Baker, whom Sabathia said had barked toward the mound.

"I can't be yelled at," Sabathia said. "I'm a grown man, and I didn't say nothing to him and he came from behind the plate, so, of course, I was animated."

The exchange came after Sabathia permitted a single to second baseman Jed Lowrie. Sabathia thought he had struck out Lowrie on a 2-2 pitch and shouted after the hit, and Baker apparently believed that Sabathia was complaining in the umpire's direction.

"It was just kind of a miscommunication," Yankees catcher Chris Stewart said. "CC was mad at himself. The umpire thought he was talking to him. It was overblown. It wasn't a situation, it just kind of looked like it."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to the mound to calm down his ace, Stewart tried to smooth things over with Baker, and a fuming Sabathia chomped on his glove before regrouping to escape the inning, recording one of his six strikeouts.

"When I was younger, I dealt with a lot, worrying about umpire's calls and things like that," Sabathia said. "As I've gotten older, I make it a point not to even look down on a check swing or anything like that. Just take that element out of the game."

Sabathia only permitted one run the rest of the way, when Derek Norris drove home Yoenis Cespedes with a sixth-inning single on a 3-0 pitch, but his night was done after that frame because the patient Athletics had battled to kick Sabathia's pitch count up to 118.

"He only gave up two runs, and he gave up one before he got an out, so after the first hitter he gave up one," Girardi said. "They fouled some pitches off. They got in some long counts, which made him throw a lot of pitches in the sixth inning, but I thought he threw OK."

Sabathia was helped in the sixth twice by the arm of Ichiro Suzuki, who picked up an outfield assist on a Josh Donaldson single off the top of the right-field wall and also made a strong throw home that pinned Norris at third on a Nate Freiman single.

But it wasn't enough to save the Yanks from their second loss in the last eight games, spoiling Girardi's 1,000th game as a big league manager as he watched Griffin scatter six hits over seven-plus scoreless frames.

"A.J. pitched great," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "It doesn't really matter what else goes on when you get seven shutout innings from your starter in this ballpark and you've got a fresh bullpen behind you. He was terrific."

The Yankees' chances against Griffin were scarce in the efficient effort, as they had two runners on base just once -- in the third inning -- and Griffin needed just nine pitches to navigate the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

"He's got that real slow curveball, and that fastball has decent velocity on it, but it looks harder than it is because he's throwing that slow curveball at us," Stewart said of Griffin.

Adam Warren kept the game close after Sabathia's exit with three innings of scoreless relief, but a big hit proved elusive for the Yankees, who have enjoyed their share of thunder lately but finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Brett Gardner chased Griffin with a daring bunt single on a 3-2 pitch to open the eighth, but Sean Doolittle recorded five outs in relief, including a double play on Vernon Wells to end the eighth.

Grant Balfour struck out Eduardo Nunez in the ninth to pick up a one-out save.

"I think that's baseball. You're not going to be able to get them every night," Wells said. "I think you just want guys to try to have good at-bats. Sometimes the outcome is out of your hands, but [it's] just guys continuing to keep the same approach. We'll continue doing that day in and day out."

Griffin handles Yanks in outdueling CC in NY

NEW YORK -- -- This was nothing out of the norm, at least not for A.J. Griffin.

But it was an entertaining sight, nonetheless -- a bulky 6-foot-5 pitcher, his cap controlling his long blonde hair, serenading teammate Yoenis Cespedes in three different languages while playing his guitar just three hours before he would take the mound at Yankee Stadium.

"I'm pretty sure that wouldn't fly anywhere else," said teammate Sean Doolittle, smiling.

Unlike most pitchers, this Southern California native has never been known to seclude himself from the outside world on days he starts, instead actively chatting up -- in this case, singing to -- anyone within earshot. Friday was no different, and Griffin was seemingly better for it.

The A's right-hander proceeded to twirl seven-plus shutout innings against the Yankees, allowing six hits with one walk and four strikeouts to outpitch CC Sabathia and guide his club to a 2-0 series-opening victory in New York, marking Oakland's fourth win in its last five tries.

"Maybe I should start playing before every game," Griffin joked.

"It's just a good way to clear your mind before you play," he continued. "The thing that I don't want to happen is for people to think that I don't care. I obviously care. That's just kind of how I do it. I like to not be too serious before I go out there, because I have to be serious for hopefully seven or eight innings when I do go out there. It's just a good way to enjoy my time at the ballpark before I have to go out there and do my work."

Griffin's pregame antics are very much supported in what's perhaps baseball's most loose clubhouse, where anything goes amongst a cast of unique characters.

"I'm in the right organization," Griffin said to much laughter.

"It absolutely works for him," Doolittle said. "He stays true to himself … no matter how much grief we give him. We respect that, as long as he keeps doing what he's doing."

Doolittle, who lived with Griffin in Sacramento for some time last year, insists the quirky right-hander has actually "tightened it considerably since his days in [Double-A] Midland and Sacramento."

"You guys are kind of seeing the toned down, G-rated version, if you will," Doolittle said.
Oh, really?

"There was a lot of dancing involved before," he responded.

"Oh, much more dancing," Griffin concurred.

Perhaps he now saves it for postgame celebrations, like the one he enjoyed Friday. Having allowed a combined 11 runs over his previous two starts, Griffin threw a total of 98 pitches in his seven shutout frames, lowering his ERA from 4.65 to 3.79.

His teammates managed just two runs against Sabathia over his six innings of work, but it proved more than enough.

Adam Rosales made good on his first career start in the leadoff spot by launching the first pitch he saw from Sabathia over the left-field wall, his first home run of the season giving his team a quick lead.

"My goal was to get on base," Rosales said. "Just saw that first pitch, jumped on it and it jumped off my bat and went out of the park.

"I got to lead off in Double-A, and throughout the whole season, that was my approach. The first or second pitch was going to be the best pitch I might see the whole game. … I didn't see too many fastballs after that. He started throwing me more changeups."

Catcher Derek Norris was responsible for extending Oakland's advantage to two runs, driving in Cespedes with an RBI single in the sixth, and after Griffin allowed a leadoff bunt single to Brett Gardner in the eighth, he was pulled in favor of Doolittle.

The lefty compiled five outs before yielding to closer Grant Balfour, who nailed down the final out for his fourth save of the season and his 22nd consecutive save dating back to last May.

But it was Griffin, rightfully, who received most of the credit for Oakland's second shutout of the season.

"A.J. pitched great," manager Bob Melvin said. "It doesn't really matter what else goes on when you get seven shutout innings from your starter in this ballpark, and you've got a fresh bullpen behind you. He was terrific."

Radical Islamic files found on Boston bomber's wife's computer: report

Radical Islamic materials and an al Qaeda magazine were found on the computer of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow — and there was explosive residue throughout their house, it was revealed yesterday.

The files found on Katherine Russell’s hard drive are part of an investigation into whether the woman — who claimed to be in the dark on her husband’s terrorist activities — was aware of his plan to set off the two bombs, The Washington Post reported.

It wasn’t clear whether the files belonged to Russell, 24, or her husband, 26.

The explosive residue was found on the kitchen sink and table and in the bathtub at their home in Cambridge, Mass., a source told CNN.

The surviving bomber, Tsarnaev’s brother, Dzhokhar, told investigators they built the bombs in Tamerlan’s basement.

Officials said female DNA and fingerprints on a piece of pressure cooker found in the explosive debris did not match Russell’s.

Authorities yesterday were also searching a wooded area of Dartmouth, Mass., as part of the investigation, while Tsarnaev family members made burial arrangements for Tamerlan.

His death certificate lists “gunshot wounds of torso and extremities” and “blunt trauma to head and torso” as the cause of death, according to Peter Stefan, owner of the funeral home in Worcester that has Tamerlan’s body.

Stefan said he doesn’t have an issue with burying the bombing suspect.

“Go back to the time when Lee Harvey Oswald died. Somebody buried him,” he told CBS Boston.

“Timothy McVeigh, somebody handled that. Jeffery Dahmer, somebody handled that. Ted Bundy, somebody handled that. I mean, we bury the dead.

“Can I control what the circumstances around their death? No. Can I pick and choose? No.”

Also yesterday, posters in support of Dzhokhar sprung up on walls in Chechnya, the BBC reported.

The posters declare the terror suspect “not guilty” and ask for donations to pay his medical and legal bills. Pro-Tsarnaev leaflets have also spotted in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek.

With AP