Back from blister, Syndergaard pitches Mets past Marlins 5-2

Noah Syndergaard made a blistering return to the mound, overpowering the Miami Marlins for much of the night in the New York Mets‘ 5-2 win Sunday that finished their opening homestand.

Forced from Monday’s season opener against Atlanta by a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand after six scoreless innings, the right-hander was given an extra day of rest. He walked none and struck out nine, including five of his first six batters, as the Marlins struggled to make hard contact early.

Syndergaard (1-0) allowed two runs — one earned — and five hits in seven innings to improve to 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 27 innings against Miami.

Edinson Volquez (0-1), pitching at Citi Field for the first time since starting the World Series clincher for Kansas City in 2015, allowed three runs in a first inning prolonged by catcher J.T. Realmuto’s error. Volquez later gave up solo homers to Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto, who was making his first start this season.

Given a 3-0 lead in the first, Syndergaard gave up a two-run double in the third to Dee Gordon after left fielder Yoenis Cespedes misplayed Miguel Rojas’ fly ball for an error. Still trailing by a run, the Marlins put runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth when Syndergaard struck out Gordon on a high slider.

Rene Rivera, starting in place of regular Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud, threw out Gordon trying to steal third base in the third, then ended the inning by cutting down Realmuto trying to swipe second. Syndergaard allowed a major league-high 48 stolen bases last year.

Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was hitless in three at-bats against Syndergaard, dropping to 0 for 11 against him. Fernando Salas pitched a perfect eighth and Addison Reed got three straight outs for his first save, completing the five-hitter.

New York put runners at second and third with one out in the first when Bruce grounded to first baseman Justin Bour, who threw home in plenty of time to hang up Asdrubal Cabrera, who stopped about two-thirds of the way down the line. But Realmuto took his eyes off the ball and it ricocheted off his glove for an error as Cabrera came home. Neil Walker blooped an RBI single into left, and Volquez forced in a run with a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Conforto.

Bruce homered to center in the fifth and Conforto hit a 430-foot drive in the sixth that landed in the seats in front of the Shea Bridge behind the bullpens in right-center.

New York, which avoided a three-game sweep, began the day 29th in the majors in batting average at .192, ahead of only Seattle.

SLUMPING AT THE TOP

New York leadoff hitter Jose Reyes was hitless in four at-bats and is off to a 1-for-23 (.043) start. “It’s tough to play in the cold weather,” he said. “It’s not because of the weather, because everybody here played before in the cold weather. No excuse.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Marlins SS Adeiny Hechavarria was put on the 10-day DL because of a strained left oblique muscle sustained during batting practice before Saturday’s game. SS J.T. Riddle, who has not played in the major leagues, was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.

UP NEXT

Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (0-1) starts Miami’s home opener Tuesday against Atlanta, which goes with RHP Bartolo Colon.

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom, who allowed two hits in six shutout innings against the Braves on Wednesday, starts at Philadelphia on Monday in the Mets’ road opener. RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1) is slated to pitch for the Phillies.

———

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

India, China navies stop suspected Somali pirate attack on merchant vessel

By Aditya Kalra| DELHI

DELHI A Chinese navy ship supported by an Indian navy helicopter thwarted an attack by suspected Somali pirates on a Tuvalu-flagged merchant ship, India’s defense ministry said on Sunday.

The ship, known as OS 35, was reported to be under attack on Saturday.

The Indian defense ministry said four of its navy ships in the vicinity responded to a distress signal from the ship and reached the bulk carrier early on Sunday.

It said the crew had taken refuge in the ship’s strong room, know as the citadel, once they learnt they were under attack in line with established safe shipping operating procedures.

“An Indian Navy helicopter undertook aerial reconnaissance of the merchant vessel at night, and at sunrise … (to) ascertain the location of pirates, if still on board,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

“Subsequently … a boarding party from the nearby Chinese Navy ship went on board the merchant ship, while the Indian Naval helicopter provided air cover for the operation.”

China’s defense ministry said in a statement a Chinese navy frigate on patrol in the area responded to the distress call from the ship, which it said had been hijacked by pirates. A helicopter conducted surveillance of the ship before 16 navy special forces soldiers were sent aboard to rescue the sailors.

It did not mention the Indian involvement.

The Indian defense ministry said all the 19 Filipino crew of the ship were safe and the captain of the ship thanked the Indian navy for their response and for providing air cover.

John Steed of aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy told Reuters the ship was sailing under navy escort to its next port.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which coordinates shipping in the Gulf of Aden area, said on its website the pirates had used a skiff to approach the vessel.

The attempted hijacking comes days after pirates seized an Indian dhow that was on route to Bossaso from Dubai.

Experts said some ship owners were becoming lax after a long period of calm, and that some were using a route known as the Socotra Gap, between Somalia and Socotra Island, to save time and cost regardless of the piracy risks.

At their peak in 2011, pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau, and took hundreds of hostages.

Their actions cost the world economy $7 billion and earned the pirates some $160 million in ransoms, according to the bureau.

China’s defense ministry said Chinese navy ships had helped patrol the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters since 2008, responding to several pirate attacks and conducting a small number of rescues.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in London, George Obulutsa in Nairobi, and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Jane Merriman and Paul Tait)

Schwartzel sizzles, Scott sputters at Masters

By Rory Carroll| AUGUSTA, Georgia

AUGUSTA, Georgia Two former U.S. Masters champions saw their fortunes diverge on Sunday as 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel rallied to finish third while 2013 victor Adam Scott slipped to a tie for ninth.

South African Schwartzel, 32, said he was proud of his Sunday performance as he reeled off six birdies to just two bogeys, but said he was ultimately too far behind to catch champion Sergio Garcia and runner-up Justin Rose.

“Sergio and Justin, they’re really playing well now,” Schwartzel told reporters after a final-round 68 left him three strokes behind Garcia and Rose, who decided the title in a sudden-death playoff.

After starting the day just three shots back of co-leaders Garcia and Rose and one ahead of Schwartzel, Scott was unable to get it going on Sunday, with four bogeys overshadowing his three birdies.

“I was looking for something special today and it wasn’t even close in all areas,” Australia’s Scott told reporters.

A missed short putt on the third hole threw his momentum off and he said he was never able to get back on track.

“I was fighting and it’s hard to feel comfortable all the time out there, especially on a Sunday. So, it wasn’t going my way,” he said.

The 36-year-old Scott, who has managed just one top-10 on the PGA Tour this season, tipped his cap to Garcia, who finally ended his majors drought in his 75th try by donning the Green Jacket on Sunday.

“It’s almost a more well‑earned major than Phil Mickelson’s first, (and) was quite a lot longer than anyone would have imagined for him,” he said.

(Editing by Larry Fine)

Garcia beats Rose to claim Masters Green Jacket

By Steve Keating| AUGUSTA, Georgia

AUGUSTA, Georgia Spain’s Sergio Garcia ended nearly two decades of major disappointment when he beat England’s Justin Rose in a playoff to win the U.S. Masters on Sunday, donning the Green Jacket on what would have been the 60th birthday of his hero, the late Seve Ballesteros.

After 73 majors, four heartbreaking runner-up finishes and years of self doubt, Garcia finally delivered the long awaited title when his 12-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole dropped into the cup at the par-four 18th, triggering a massive cheer from a gallery that had been on the edge of their seats.

Deadlocked after nine holes, the two friends and rivals produced an enthralling back nine showdown worthy of any Masters champion in what became a head-to-head battle.

Garcia and Rose both carded 69 to finish tied on nine-under-par 279 at the end of regulation and send the year’s first major to a playoff when both missed birdie putts and settled for pars at the 72nd hole.

It marked the first Masters playoff since Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera to become the first Australian to wear the Green Jacket in 2013 at Augusta National.

All the omens had seemed in place for a Spanish victory with Garcia starting the day perched atop the leaderboard alongside Rose on Ballesteros’s 60th birthday.

Ballesteros, the Spanish talisman who died of brain cancer in 2011, inspired a generation of golfers in his country, winning Green Jacket twice in 1980 and 1983.

Garcia becomes the third Spaniard to wear the Green Jacket, joining Jose Maria Olazabal, who also triumphed twice at Augusta, in 1994 and 1999.

“It is amazing. To do it on his (Ballesteros’s) 60th birthday and to join him and Jose Maria Olazabal, my two idols in golf, it is something amazing,” said Garcia before accepting the Green Jacket from last year’s winner Danny Willett in Butler Cabin.

“Jose Maria texted on Thursday saying how much he believed in me and to believe in myself.

“Everybody has been great. My whole family, my fiancée.”

Garcia, who has been plagued by self doubt when it came to majors, once said he did not have what it takes to be a major champion but demonstrated on Sunday during an enthralling rollercoaster battle with Rose that he does indeed possess the tools, demeanor and determination of a champion.

(Editing by Andrew Both)

American big guns Spieth, Fowler fail to fire

By Ed Osmond| AUGUSTA, Georgia

AUGUSTA, Georgia Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler were supposed to lead the American charge in the final round of the Masters but the U.S. pair fluffed their lines while Sergio Garcia delivered a storybook ending to the first major of the year.

As Garcia and Justin Rose slugged it out in an all-European duel for the Green Jacket, Spieth shot an error-strewn 75 and Fowler an ugly 76, extending his wait for a first major title.

Both Americans finished tied for 11th on one under par, eight shots behind Garcia, who beat Rose in a playoff.

Spieth, who finished second, first and second in his first three Masters, was not unhappy with the way he played despite dropping seven shots over the opening 14 holes.

“I struck the ball well,” he told reporters. “Distance control is so key here and I was two yards into the rough so many times today and it makes a huge difference on controlling the distance out of the rough.”

The 12th hole proved problematic once again for the 23-year-old, who came to grief in spectacular fashion at the same hole while leading the tournament in the final round last year with a quadruple-bogey. He suffered a double bogey at the tricky par three on Sunday.

Spieth, who had birdies on three of his last four holes, was just happy to finish under par.

“I’m really happy with the way that we finished off this round to get back to red,” he said.

“I didn’t feel like I had been doing much wrong and I just look up and it just wasn’t landing where I thought it would.”

Spieth did regret the negative impact his performance had on world number eight Fowler, who had started the day just one shot off the lead.

“I feel bad I went so downhill while Rickie was still in it, because it is tough when you don’t see a ball go in the hole,” he said.

“I was his biggest cheerleader, just being really good friends with Rickie. It was tough.”

Fowler, 28, was still in contention at five under at the turn but five bogeys on the back nine scuppered his chances.

“I played nicely on the front. And hit a good shot into 10, which I rarely do. But every time I chipped it close I missed the putt or I didn’t chip it close enough and I’d still miss the putt,” said Fowler.

“It would have been nice to swing a little better, like I have been but that was a little off. I didn’t just hit the ball up and down or make the putts I needed to.”

Matt Kuchar was the highest finishing American, tied for fourth, followed by Kevin Chappell in joint seventh and Ryan Moore in a share of ninth place.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Sergio Garcia wins the Masters, ends drought at the majors

Sergio Garcia tugged the lapel of his green jacket with both hands, proud of his prize and how he earned it.

His hopes were fading Sunday in the Masters — two shots behind with six holes to play — when his tee shot bounced off a tree and into an azalea bush, the kind of bad luck he had come to expect in the majors. Instead of pouting, he figured out how to make par.

Five feet away from winning, his birdie putt peeled off to the right. Usually resigned to fail, Garcia proved to be more resilient than ever.

He was a new man with a new title: Masters champion.

Major champion.

“It’s been an amazing week,” Garcia said, “and I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”

After nearly two decades of heartache in the tournaments that define careers, Garcia finally showed the mettle to win a major. He overcame a two-shot deficit against Justin Rose and won on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

No one ever played more majors as a pro (70) before winning one for the first time.

Garcia got rid of the demons and the doubts with two big moments on the par 5s — one a par, the other an eagle — in closing with a 3-under 69. It was never easy until the end, when Rose sent his drive into the trees on the 18th hole in the playoff, punched out and failed to save par from 15 feet.

That gave the 37-year-old Spaniard two putts from 12 feet for the victory, and his putt swirled into the cup for a birdie.

He crouched in disbelief, both fists clenched and shaking, and he shouted above the loudest roar of the day.

Rose, who also closed with a 69, graciously patted Garcia’s cheek before they embraced. Rose then tapped Garcia on the heart, which turned out to be a lot bigger than anyone realized.

“Ser-gee-oh! Ser-gee-oh!” the delirious gallery chanted to Garcia. He turned with his arms to his side, blew a kiss to the crowd and then crouched again and slammed his fist into the turf of the green.

All that Spanish passion was on display, raw as ever, this time sheer joy.

“Justin wasn’t making it easy. He was playing extremely well,” Garcia said. “But I knew what I was capable of doing, and I believe that I could do it.”

Garcia became the third Spaniard in a green jacket, winning on what would have been the 60th birthday of the late Seve Ballesteros. And it was Jose Maria Olazabal, who won the Masters in 1994 and 1999, who sent him a text on the eve of the Masters telling Garcia to believe and “to not let things get to me like I’ve done in the past.”

He didn’t get down after missing a 6-foot putt on the 16th hole to fall out of the lead, or missing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have won in regulation.

His chin was up. He battled to the end.

“If there’s anyone to lose to, it’s Sergio. He deserves it,” Rose said. “He’s had his fair share of heartbreak.”

This was shaping up as another, especially after Garcia watched a three-shot lead disappear as quickly as it took Rose to run off three straight birdies on the front nine.

Tied going to the back nine, Garcia immediately fell two shots behind with wild shots into the pine straw bed under the trees. Rose was poised to deliver a knockout on the par-5 13th when Garcia went left beyond the creek and into the bush. He had to take a penalty shot to get out and hit his third shot 89 yards short of the green. Rose was just over the back of the green in two, in position to turn a two-shot lead into four.

Everyone figured this was coming, right?

Garcia himself had said, in a moment of self-pity, that he didn’t have what it takes to win a major. Four times he was runner-up. This was his third time playing in the final group. But right when it looked to be over, momentum shifted to Garcia.

He hit wedge to 7 feet and escaped with par. Rose rolled his chip down to 5 feet and missed the birdie putt. The lead stayed at two shots, and the game was on.

Garcia birdied the 14th to get within one. His 8-iron into the par-5 15th — “One of the best shots I hit all week,” he said — landed inches in front of the hole and nicked the pin, and he holed the 14-foot eagle putt to tie for the lead.

Rose took the lead with an 8-foot birdie on the 16th and gave it back by missing a 7-foot par putt on the 18th.

Not since 1998 have the last two players on the course gone to the 18th tied for the lead, and both had their chances to win. Rose’s approach hit off the side of the bunker and kicked onto the green, stopping 7 feet away. Garcia answered with a wedge that covered the flag and settled 5 feet away.

Both missed.

The playoff didn’t last long. Rose was in trouble from the start with a tee shot that sailed right, leaving him blocked by a Magnolia tree. He chipped out under the tree, hit his third shot to 15 feet and missed the par putt.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel birdied the 18th for a 68 to finish third. Matt Kuchar made a hole-in-one on the 16th that gave him hope but not for very long. He tied for fourth with Thomas Pieters, who ran off four birdies on the back nine.

Jordan Spieth, starting the final round only two shots behind, put another tee shot into the water on No. 12 long after it mattered. He had to birdie three of his last four holes for a 75. Also an afterthought was Rickie Fowler, who started one shot behind and shot 76.

All that mattered was Garcia and Rose, who delivered a final hour as compelling as any at the Masters and a champion who began to wonder if he would ever win a major.

Garcia says he has learned to accept bad bounces. He realized he has a “beautiful life” even if he never won a major.

“If it, for whatever reason, didn’t happen, my life is still going to go on. It’s not going to be a disaster,” Garcia said.

And then smiling, he added, “But it happened.”

Canes’ Bickell gets SO goal before retiring due to MS

Bryan Bickell scored in the shootout of his final game before retiring because of multiple sclerosis, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 Sunday in the season finale for both teams.

During a stoppage in the first period, fans and players from both teams gave Bickell a standing ovation and stick tap. The 31-year-old three-time Stanley Cup champion was diagnosed with MS in November but returned to hockey in February.

His shootout goal was the first of his career in his second attempt and set up Brock McGinn’s winner on the final shot of Carolina’s season. McGinn also scored twice in regulation.

It was an emotional night for Bickell, who had his wife and daughter watching from the stands. It was an otherwise meaningless game between two teams who fell short of preseason expectations to reach the playoffs.

Sebastian Aho sent the game into overtime when he scored a power-play goal with 5:10 remaining in regulation.

Eddie Lack stopped 41 shots for the Hurricanes, who finished the season 36-31-15.

Dale Weise scored a pair of goals and Wayne Simmonds netted his team-high 31st for the Flyers. Rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz stopped 32 shots. The Flyers finished the season with a 39-33-10 record.

The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs eight straight seasons, including the last three under head coach Bill Peters.

The Flyers have missed the playoffs three times in their last five years. Philadelphia reached the postseason last year under first-year coach Dave Hakstol but was eliminated in the first round by the Washington Capitals.

McGinn put Carolina up 5:42 into the first, and Weise tied it 8:46 into the second.

The teams then alternated goals in the third period, with McGinn and Weise again scoring in succession before Simmonds’ go-ahead goal with 7:55 left and Aho’s tying tally.

NOTES: Rookie C Mike Vecchione, signed by the Flyers on March 31 after becoming a Hobey Baker finalist at Union College, played in his second NHL game and first in Philadelphia. … Jakub Voracek finished the season as the Flyers’ point leader with 61 (20 goals, 41 assists). Jeff Skinner led the Hurricanes with 63 points (37 goals, 26 assists).

Otis Nixon: Former MLB outfielder reported missing, Georgia police say

Police in suburban Atlanta asked the public for help Sunday in locating former major league outfielder Otis Nixon.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the Woodstock Police Department said Nixon, 58, was last seen leaving his home to play golf Saturday morning, but never arrived.

The statement said Nixon was driving a gray 2011 Range Rover with Georgia license plate number CFP9010. He was wearing a black, long-sleeved shirt, black sweatpants, a black baseball cap and black Adidas shoes.

A North Carolina native, Nixon played all or part of 17 Major League Baseball seasons with nine different teams. He retired after the 1999 season, which he spent with the Atlanta Braves, with 1,379 hits and a .270 career batting average. He also had 620 stolen bases.

Nixon battled problems with drug addiction throughout his career and was arrested in 2013 on a charge of crack cocaine possesion.

Click for more from Fox5Atlanta.com.

New York regulator wants other states to model cyber laws after its rules

By Suzanne Barlyn| DENVER

DENVER A group of U.S. state insurance regulators should use New York’s sweeping cyber security rules as a model for how insurers must protect their networks from hackers and when they must disclose cyber events, New York’s financial regulator said on Sunday.

“We believe the best way for industry to focus on the threat of cyber security is to have a consistent framework,” said Maria Vullo, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services at a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in Denver. “The New York regulation is a road map with rules of the road.”

Vullo made the remarks to a task force of state insurance commissioners who have been wrestling with developing a uniform cyber security law that all states can choose to adopt for insurers.

New York’s cyber security rules took effect on March 1.

They followed a series of high-profile data breaches that resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars to U.S. companies, including Target Corp , Home Depot Inc and Anthem Inc .

The rules lay out steps that New York banks and insurers must take to protect their networks and customer data from hackers and disclose cyber events to state regulators.

Firms, for example, must scrutinize security at third-party vendors that provide them goods and services. They must also perform risk assessments in order to design a cyber security program particular to them. Covered entities must annually certify compliance.

Institutions subject to the regulation include state-chartered banks, as well as foreign banks licensed to operate in the state, along with insurers that do business in New York.

The NAIC task force is about to develop its fourth draft of a proposed model cyber security law since forming in 2015. Insurance commissioners have been unable to reach a consensus on several points, including standards for circumstances in which insurers must notify customers of a breach.

Model laws, which cover a variety of subjects, typically lead to more uniformity among states. But they first must be finalized and approved by organizations developing them before being considered by state lawmakers.

The task force is aiming to develop another draft by May 9.

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Kerber denied again by Pavlyuchenkova in Monterrey final

Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova did it again, winning her fourth Abierto GNP Seguros title by beating top-seeded world number one Angelique Kerber 6-4 2-6 6-1 in Monterrey, Mexico on Sunday.

Germany’s Kerber, who lost the Monterrey final to Pavlyuchenkova in 2013, was denied her first tournament title of the year in a see-saw victory by the Russian in stifling heat.

“I’m really overwhelmed and don’t think I realised that I just won my fourth Monterrey trophy,” second seed Pavlyuchenkova told reporters. “It’s very special and it’s a special place in my heart.

“Playing against the number one player in the world is already very special because everyone wants to compete against the number one. You don’t get so many chances to do it, so it was one opportunity for me today. Beating her feels amazing.”

Pavlyuchenkova seized the early advantage in the match, taking the only break of the first set on her third set point.

Kerber won a long third game to break serve in the second set and rode that momentum to level the match.

Pavyluchenkova, who reached quarters at both the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open this year, raced to a 5-0 lead in the final set and served out to claim her ninth career title in just under two hours.

The Russian was the clear aggressor, cracking 49 winners to 31 unforced errors while Kerber registered only 14 outright winners in the final.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Andrew Both)