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MLB NOTEBOOK: Cabrera launches fake website to fabricate defense of positive drug test

Melky Cabrera is serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Melky Cabrera is serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

NEW YORK — An associate of San Francisco Giants All-Star Melky Cabrera purchased a website and attempted to create evidence to support a claim that the outfielder inadvertently took the substance that caused his positive drug test, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.

Baseball officials uncovered the scheme as Cabrera prepared his case to challenge the test. Cabrera’s grievance then was dropped, and Major League Baseball announced a 50-game suspension Wednesday.

A team of six-to-seven investigators from MLB spent several weeks working to uncover the plan, a baseball official familiar with the probe said Sunday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because MLB didn’t authorize anyone to discuss the matter publicly.

It’s the first such case MLB has had and officials hope that uncovering the scheme will discourage similar attempts.

The person said baseball had referred the case to federal investigators.

A second baseball official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said additional discipline against Cabrera was unlikely.

Cabrera, MVP of the All-Star game last month, tested positive for testosterone, MLB said.

The person said Juan Nunez, who works with Cabrera’s agents, purchased an existing website and attempted to alter it in a manner that would allow Cabrera to claim the positive test was caused by a substance obtained through the website. The News reported Nunez paid $10,000 for the website.

“If you create a new website, you would know when the website was created,” the baseball official said. “At least they were smart enough to buy an existing website.”

The baseball official said MLB investigators were able to use their forensic resources to trace the website back to Nunez.

Cabrera is represented by brothers Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, a sports management company based in Brooklyn. The Levinsons, who did not respond to messages Sunday, told the Daily News that Nunez was a “paid consultant” of their agency. Seth Levinson told the News the Levinson brothers had no “knowledge or dealings with anyone at anytime associated with the website.”

The News quoted Nunez as saying he was “accepting responsibility” and the Levinson brothers were not involved.

The second baseball official intends to ask the Major League Baseball Players Association, which regulates agents, to follow up on the situation at ACES.

Cabrera was enjoying the best season of his big league career, helping the Giants contend for a postseason berth. He was hitting .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs, but will miss the rest of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, if the Giants advance that far.

A former member of the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals, Cabrera is eligible for free agency after the World Series.


Alvarez HR in 19th inning sends Pirates past Cards

ST. LOUIS — Even Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez was starting to lose focus in the later stages of the Pirates’ 6-3, 19-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.

“I was getting a little stagnant out there,” he said. “It’s one of those things where it’s mind over matter. You’ve just got to fight and keep that desire going.”

Alvarez played a big role in ending the marathon with his 23rd homer of the season. The drive broke a 3-3 tie as the Pirates won the longest game in the majors this season.

It took 6 hours, 7 minutes to finish, trying the longest contest by time, matching a game between Baltimore and Boston on May 6.

Both teams scored a run in the 17th, and each club used eight pitchers.

Alvarez slammed the go-ahead homer off Barret Browning (1-3). Andrew McCutchen added a two-run single later in the inning.

Wandy Rodriguez (8-12), who was set to start for the Pirates on Monday night at San Diego, got the win with two scoreless innings of relief. It was his first win as a reliever in 232 major league appearances.

“That was a backyard tug-of-war,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “We kept playing defense, we kept pitching. At the end of the day, we finally got some separation in the 19th inning.

About 9,000 fans from the original crowd of 43,412 stayed until the end.

Each team had played a marathon in recent years. St. Louis went 20 innings against the Mets on April 17, 2010, and Pittsburgh played 19 innings at Atlanta on July 26, 2011.

The Pirates improved to 4-0 in extra innings this season. They moved two games ahead of St. Louis in the race for the last wild card spot in the NL. The Cardinals have lost three of four overall.

“It was a battle all around on both sides,” McCutchen said. “They came to play and we were just able to get the win.

It feels good.”

Alvarez picked on a slider from Browning and drove it 408 feet.

“It felt good out of my hand,” Browning said. “It just stayed up. It don’t think I’ve ever been this disappointed. I just didn’t do my job.”

Both teams ran out of position players after the 18th inning.

Garrett Jones gave Pittsburgh a short-lived 3-2 lead with a bases-loaded infield single in the 17th. He drove in pitcher James McDonald, who singled as a pinch-hitter, the first of his career.

“It was just luck,” McDonald said. “You know how hard pinch hitting is? So it was pretty much luck.”

But St. Louis came right back to tie it on a sacrifice fly by Tony Cruz that brought in pinch-runner Ryan Jackson. Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker began the 17th inning with singles.

St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia, sidelined for 64 days with a strain in his pitching shoulder, struck out a career-high 10 and did not allow an earned run in an eight-inning, 107-pitch stint. He gave up five hits, two unearned runs and did not walk a batter.

Pittsburgh had a pair of hits in the 16th but Molina threw out Jose Tabata trying to steal and reliever Joe Kelly induced McCutchen to ground out to end the inning.

Reliever Edward Mujica got Neil Walker to ground into a double play to end the 11th. Kelly allowed four hits and one run in 5 2-3 innings of his first relief appearance.

Carlos Beltran put St. Louis in front with a two-run double in the fourth, and also stole three bases, tying a career high. Beltran leads the NL with 85 RBIs.

“Twenty innings or nine innings, a loss is a loss,” Beltran said. “We had the opportunities. It just didn’t happen.”

Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens gave up two runs and two hits over seven innings. He struck four and walked one.

The Pirates scored twice in the sixth to tie it on a pair of infield singles and Garcia’s throwing error. Clint Barmes reached on an infield hit and Garcia mishandled a bunt attempt by Karstens. Josh Harrison drove in Barmes with a sacrifice fly and McCutchen followed with an infield single.

Chris Resop led the Pirates’ bullpen effort with three scoreless innings. Kevin Correia and Jared Hughes added two scoreless innings each.

Hurdle said he has yet to select a starting pitcher to replace Rodriguez on Monday.

“I’ll come up with something tomorrow,” he said.