iStock/Thinkstock(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- The Tampa Bay Rays designated reliever Grant Balfour for assignment on Saturday night. The move was made following the Rays’ 9-0 loss to the New York Yankees, in which the right-hander allowed three runs, one hit and three walks in 2-3 innings of work.
Tampa Bay signed Balfour as a free agent on Jan. 23, 2014. Last season, he posted a record of 2-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 65 appearances. It was his second stint with the Rays, having previously played for them from 2007-2010.
To take Balfour’s spot on the roster, the Rays selected the contract of right-hander Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Rockets guard James Harden had 24 points and 11 assists as Houston defeated the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, 118-108 to take Game 1 of their Western Conference first round series.
In 39 minutes of action, Harden was 4-of-11 from the field and 15-of-17 from the charity stripe. Guard Corey Brewer scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter while forward Trevor Ariza contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Trailing 55-54 with 30 seconds remaining in the first half, Houston scored five unanswered points to go into locker room with a 59-55 lead. They would never trail after that.
Forward Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 24 points and center Tyson Chandler had 11 points and 18 rebounds.
Both teams had seven players score in double figures.
Photos.com/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Giants starting pitcher Chris Heston (2-1) allowed one earned run over 7 2-3 innings of work as San Francisco (4-9) took care of the Arizona Diamondbacks (6-6) on Saturday night, 4-1.
Heston gave up five hits and one walk while striking out six. Closer Santiago Casilla picked up his fourth save of the year, pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
The Giants jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single from Second Baseman Joe Panik. Shortstop Brandon Crawford blasted a two-run home run in the fourth to give San Francisco a 4-1 lead.
Diamondback starter Rubby De La Rosa (2-1) allowed three-earned runs on nine hits over 6 2-3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Christian Ammann/iStock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Vladimir Tarasenko recorded his first career playoff hat trick to lead the St. Louis Blues past the Minnesota Wild 4-1 Saturday, evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
Tarasenko, who led the team in points and goals during the regular season, didn't have a shot on goal in the team's Game 1 loss.
"We need him to rise up," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "For us to have success, our best players have to be significant, and that was a big step today.
"We needed more of that and we got it."
Jake Allen made 24 saves and became the first rookie goalie to win a playoff game for the Blues since 1990.
St. Louis jumped to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period with Tarasenko scoring both goals.
The Wild got within one at the beginning of the third period when Marco Scandella scored on a slap shot.
St. Louis put the game out of reach with 1:58 remaining when Patrik Berglund created a turnover and then beat Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk.
The series now shifts to Minnesota. Game 3 will be played Monday night at 8 p.m. ET.
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning proved in their playoff game Saturday, why they were the highest scoring team in the NHL during the regular season.
Tyler Johnson scored two of the Lightning's five goals in Tampa Bay's 5-1 dismantling of the Detroit Red Wings. The win evens the best-of-seven playoff series at a game apiece.
Johnson started the scoring just a little over three minutes into the game when he beat Red Wings 23-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek on a power play.
The second period was all Lightning as they netted three more goals, the final coming from Johnson with 38 seconds remaining in the period to put Tampa up 4-0.
Mrazek was pulled after the second period but Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock was not disappointed in his young goaltender.
"I think Pete played pretty good. We gave up some slam dunks to them," Babcock said. "You've got to give your goalie a chance. You can't make those defensive mistakes and then think your goalie's going to make those saves. If you give him a chance to battle, he'll battle."
The series now shifts to Detroit. Game 3 is Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena at 7 p.m. ET.
Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Stephen Curry scored 34 to help the Golden State Warriors ground the New Orleans Pelicans 106-99, in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday.
The top seeded Warriors led by 25 late in the third quarter, but the Pelicans stormed back, cutting the deficit to four with nine seconds remaining before Golden State iced the game at the free throw line.
"It's good for us to have to deal with the feeling in the building (Oracle Arena), especially as a favorite, when a team starts to come back," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. "You have to feel that. That's all part of it."
Anthony Davis had 35 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks in what was the first playoff game of his career.
"I think the whole team was nervous," Davis said. "This is our first time as a unit in the playoffs, and our pace was good. We were moving fast, but our minds were moving fast as well."
Pelicans point guard Tyreke Evans left the game in the first half with a knee injury. Evans is set to have an MRI, and his status for the rest of the series is not known.
Klay Thompson scored 21 points and Draymond Green added 15 along with 12 boards, seven assists, three steals, and two blocks in the win.
The two teams will take to the court again Monday, in Oakland. Game 2 is set to tip-off at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision(TORONTO) -- Paul Pierce scored five of his 20 points in overtime, Nene had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and the Washington Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 93-86 on Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Pierce hit a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game, to begin the extra session, further tormenting a Raptors team he eliminated with Brooklyn in last year's playoffs. Pierce previously mocked the Raptors this week by saying, "I don't feel they have the 'it' that makes you worried," in an interview with ESPN. That prompted Raptors GM Masai Ujiri to vulgarly respond to Pierce's comments before the game.
Bradley Beal scored 16, while John Wall and Kevin Seraphin each had 10 for the Wizards.
Amir Johnson scored 18 points and DeMar DeRozan had 15 for the Raptors, who have yet to win the opening game of a first-round series in seven postseason appearances.
(NEW YORK) -- Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan is taking aim at his former team, in particular second year tight end Jace Amaro.
This is the second time Ryan has had harsh words towards Amaro in an interview with Kim Jones on WFAN in New York.
The kid's got some talent," Ryan told WFAN on Saturday. "I'm just going to leave it at that. I just know one thing: He totally misspoke, and talk about accountable—he's going to be accountable when he go to play him. He's going to be accountable for his comments.
"It's not the truth. That kid's a little... he's going to get... we'll see what happens."
The comment that initially caught the attention of Ryan's ire was:
"He's not really playing around with everyone being late," Amaro said of Bowles. "We had an issue with that last year. Guys just weren't accountable last year as much as they could be. I think that's the biggest thing. [Bowles is] making sure everyone's gonna be 100 percent in or he's not going to be on the team."
Amaro was not the only member of the Jets to intimate similar comments. During last season linebacker Demario Davis at one point remarked, "I don't see a lot of guys putting a lot of effort into film study." Rookie safety Calvin Pryor missed several meetings and was benched at several points during the season.
Amaro's comments were in reference to quarterback Geno Smith arriving late to the team hotel before a road game in San Diego last season. Smith started the game the next day.