Redbirds avoid sweep...Ninth-inning magic at Fenway...Indians, Royals, Braves keep streaking
UNDATED (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals have cut into Pittsburgh's lead in the NL Central by avoiding their first sweep of at least five games since 1916.
Allen Craig, Jon Jay and Tony Cruz drove in two runs apiece as the Cardinals ripped the Bucs 13-0. Jay also scored three times, while Cruz collected three of the Redbirds' 17 hits.
Joe Kelly limited the Pirates to three hits in six innings and left the game with a 5-0 lead. The Cardinals later strung together an eight-run seventh to put the game out of reach.
The outcome leaves the Pirates with a 1 ½-game lead over the Cards in the NL Central. St. Louis entered the series with a 2 ½-game lead.
Boston staged a terrific ninth-inning rally to keep sole possession of first place in the American League East. Daniel Nava (NAH'-vah) hit a RBI single to cap a six-run ninth that allowed the Red Sox to turn a 7-2 deficit into an 8-7 win over Seattle. Shane Victorino also singled home a run in the ninth and finished with three RBIs to help the Red Sox earn their third straight win.
Steven Wright tossed three shutout innings of relief as the Red Sox moved a game ahead of Tampa Bay and stayed 5 ½ games ahead of Baltimore.
The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 to stretch their lead in the NL West to 3 ½ games over Arizona. Yasiel Puig (YAH'-see-ul pweeg) hit a long homer and scored twice to help the Dodgers overcome first-inning homers by Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo. Hanley Ramirez and Jerry Hairston each drove in two runs as the Dodgers improved to 11-2 since the All-Star break.
Also in the majors, The Cleveland Indians made it eight straight wins by completing a four-game sweep of the White Sox, 6-1. Ryan Raburn homered twice and had four RBIs to support Justin Masterson, who's 13-7 after limiting Chicago to a run over 6 2/3 innings. The Indians trail the Tigers by two games and are a half-game ahead of Baltimore for the final American League wild-card berth.
The Orioles kept pace with Cleveland and pulled within 4 ½ games of AL East-leading Boston by doubling up Houston 6-3. Bud Norris limited the Astros to four hits and two runs in six innings just a day after the Birds got him from Houston. Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 39th homer to reach the 100-RBI mark for the season.
The Royals remain 4 ½ games behind Cleveland following their ninth consecutive win, a 7-2 decision over Minnesota. Billy Butler had two hits and two RBIs, while Justin Maxwell had a hit and a ribbie one day after being acquired from Houston.
Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer and J.B Shuck had three RBIs as the Angels disposed of Toronto 8-2. Losing pitcher Josh Johnson was tagged for six earned runs and 10 hits in just 2 1/3 innings, leaving him 1-8 with a 6.60 ERA.
Justin Upton homered twice and had five RBIs in Atlanta's eighth straight win, an 11-2 pounding of Colorado. Jason Heyward added a two-run blast and scored three times to back Julio Teheran, who struck out 11 in five innings and went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.
Yu Darvish needed just seven innings to strike out 14 batters in the Rangers' 7-1 win over Arizona. A.J. Pierzynski (peer-ZIHN'-skee), Mitch Moreland and David Murphy homered to support Darvish, who's 10-5 following his major league-leading eighth double-digit strikeout game of the year.
Alex Arias and pinch-hitter Roger Kieschnick (KEESH'-nihk) hit RBI singles in the ninth inning to lift San Francisco over Philadelphia 2-1, the Phillies' 10th loss in 11 games. Sergio Romo escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to save it for Matt Cain, who allowed a run and six hits in eight innings.
Miami scored three times off Matt Harvey with two out in the sixth inning of a 3-0 shutout of the New York Mets. Logan Morrison opened the scoring with an RBI single before Donovan Solano added a two-run single later in the sixth. Tom Kohler scattered five hits and five walks in six innings before the Marlins' bullpen finished a combined six-hitter.
A-Rod's rehab proceeds; could suspension be coming?
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez played in a simulated game, probably the last step before the New York Yankees send him on a second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment — if he's not suspended first.
The Yankees shortstop is trying to get back in the line-up after suffering a quad injury on July 21.
Rodriguez could be in position to return to the major leagues this weekend at San Diego or during a series at the Chicago White Sox that starts Monday. But it appears Major League Baseball will suspend the three-time MVP in coming days for ties to Biogenesis of America, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Looming playoffs could force an end to negotiations in baseball's latest drug scandal as pressure builds to impose penalties so stars can still make the postseason.
Monday appears to be the deadline for Alex Rodriguez and 13 others to accept suspensions for their ties to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. While A-Rod is expected to get a lengthy ban, a penalty starting that day would allow Texas All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz to return for October.
A person familiar with the process tells The Associated Press that Major League Baseball is prepared to issue two simultaneous announcements no later than Monday. One would list players who accept suspensions; the other would name those disciplined without deals, but who could challenge penalties before an arbitrator.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Closer Brad Lidge has retired as a member of the Phillies, five years after helping them win the World Series.
He spent four years with Philadelphia from 2008-11, saving 100 games in that span. He was 41 for 41 in the regular season and 7 for 7 in the postseason when the Phillies won the second World Series title in franchise history.
Lidge last pitched in the majors for Washington last June.
Berkman, Pujols eye returns before end of season...Diamondbacks shelve Montero
UNDATED (AP) — Texas Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman says he's going to keep on playing and will do everything to help his team make the playoffs. The 37-year-old Berkman is on the disabled list with left hip inflammation and having issues with his surgically repaired right knee. He had been pondering his playing future for several days, and midseason retirement had been a distinct possibility.
Meanwhile, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (POO'-hohlz) says he wants to return from his partially torn plantar fascia when he is healthy, no matter where his struggling club sits in the standings.
Pujols said Thursday his injured left foot is feeling much better after a few days of rest, and he won't need surgery.
And the Arizona Diamondbacks have put catcher Miguel Montero on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain. He had missed three games before landing on the DL.
Rizzo gets extension, extended title
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has signed a new contract and been given the title of President of Baseball Operations.
Rizzo was hired by the Nationals as an assistant GM in 2006, and was promoted to general manager in 2009. The team won last year's National League East title but was bounced in the division series and currently languishes third in the division at 52-56.
Ripken's offer reward
BALTIMORE (AP) — The family of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is offering a $100,000 reward to help find the person who kidnapped the former Orioles star's mother last year. The offer came a little more than a year after Vi Ripken was taken at gunpoint from her home and held captive for 24 hours. She was returned unharmed. No one has been arrested in the abduction.
Cooper to get sensitivity training
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles are setting up Riley Cooper with sensitivity training after the wide receiver was caught on video making a racial slur. Cooper apologized profusely Wednesday after a video of him using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert last month surfaced on the Internet. The Eagles immediately fined him.
Goodell satisfied with Haslam
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he's satisfied with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's handling of the federal investigation into fraud at his family-owned business, adding that the league has no plans to intervene at this time. Goodell, who was at Browns training camp Thursday to launch a youth football initiative on safety, says Haslam is a "man of great integrity."
Haslam's company, Pilot Flying J, had its headquarters raided in April by the FBI and IRS as part of a fraud investigation.
Love, backup tackle, suspended
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Another drug suspension in the NFL. Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle DeMarcus Love has been suspended without pay for four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Love can still practice this month and play in exhibition games, but once the regular season starts he must be away from his team through Sept. 29, when the Vikings play Pittsburgh in London. Love might not make the team, though. He has never played in a regular season NFL game.
He was inactive for all 16 games in 2011, his rookie season after being drafted in the sixth round out of Arkansas. Last year, he was on injured reserve.
GOLF-WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN
Park aims for golfing history
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Inbee Park has begun her pursuit of an unprecedented fourth straight major with a 3-under 69 that left her three shots back through the opening round of the Women's British Open.
She made six birdies in 10 holes to get her name atop the leaderboard at St. Andrews. That included five putts of 15 feet or longer. But the 25-year-old South Korean began missing fairways, and she took double bogey from a pot bunker in front of the 16th green.
Morgan Pressel (PREH'sehl) and Sweden's Camilla Lennarth share the lead at 6-under 66.
Park is trying to become the first golfer to win four professional majors in one season.
Simpson leads; Tiger in the hunt
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Webb Simpson's 6-under 64 is good for the first-round lead of the Bridgestone Invitational.
The 2012 U.S. Open champion had six birdies in an eight-hole span to get the upper hand on seven-time Bridgestone winner Tiger Woods. That gives Simpson a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson, with Woods among four players at minus-4
Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore and Chris Wood share third with Woods.
Phil Mickelson had a 72 in his return from winning the British Open two weeks ago at Muirfield.
Ullrich favors return of Armstrong titles
BERLIN (AP) — Former cycling star Jan Ullrich (yahn OOL'-rik) says Lance Armstrong should have his seven Tour de France victories reinstated because of the prevalence of doping at the time.
Ullrich made his comments to the Sport Bild magazine.
Armstrong acknowledged in January that he doped for all seven of his Tour wins and was subsequently stripped of the titles.
Ullrich has admitted that he received blood treatments during his competitive days. He was stripped of third place in the 2005 Tour and banned for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in February 2012.
Last month, a French inquiry uncovered proof Ullrich used EPO when he finished second in the 1998 Tour.
Russia to enforce gay activism law
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says a new law cracking down on gay rights activism will be enforced during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Mutko's statement follows assurances from the International Olympic Committee that neither athletes nor visitors to the games would be subject to discrimination under the law.
The contentious law imposes hefty fines on those providing information about the gay community to minors or holding gay pride rallies.
Mutko says the law wasn't designed to punish anyone for being gay or lesbian. He says athletes would be punished only for propaganda, a word that remains ambiguous under the new law.