The men in stripes are back
UNDATED (AP) — Ravens fans had two reasons to cheer Thursday night. The second was a 23-16 win over the Browns that came down to the final play. The first was the return of the regular officials, who received an ovation just before kickoff.
Gene Steratore's (STEHR'-ah-tohrz) officiating crew was the first to work an NFL game since the league ended its lockout late Wednesday night and reached a tentative contract agreement with the referees' union. M&T Bank Stadium erupted in cheers after Steratore brought the captains of the Browns and Ravens together for the coin toss, turned on his microphone and said, "Good evening men. It's good to be back."
Joe Flacco was sharp for the Ravens, completing 28 of 46 for 356 yards. He also threw for a touchdown and ran for another as Baltimore improved to 3-1 with its ninth straight win over Cleveland.
Cary Williams returned an interception 63 yards for a score near the end of the third quarter to give the Ravens a 13-point lead.
The Browns had a chance to tie the game until rookie Brandon Weeden sailed a throw out of the end zone with no time left, one play before the Ravens were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on fourth-and-10.
The game ended about 24 hours after the league and the officials' union reached a tentative eight-year agreement, halting the three-month lockout.
Commissioner Roger Goodell (guh-DEHL') apologized to the fans for putting them through this but added it was necessary to get the kind of deal the league needs for the future. Goodell also played down how much Monday's Green Bay-Seattle game played into the final agreement, saying the pressure had been on both sides already.
Falcons LB apologizes for arrest
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham has apologized publicly for his arrest on obstruction of justice charges.
Abraham was arrested Monday night when Atlanta police and firefighters were trying to calm a woman who was threatening to jump from a midtown building window.
The four-time Pro Bowl pick was charged with two misdemeanors.
Pats cut Winslow
UNDATED (AP) — The New England Patriots have released tight end Kellen Winslow after just one game.
The eight-year veteran was cut after catching one pass for 12 yards in last Sunday night's 31-30 loss to Baltimore. The Patriots signed him after tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered a right ankle injury the previous week. Hernandez missed that game and did not practice Wednesday and Thursday.
Ahmad Bradshaw is ready to return as the New York Giants top running back after being sidelined for a game by an inflamed disk in his neck. The Giants say they intend to start Bradshaw but plan to have him split time with Andre Brown, who rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns in last Thursday's win at Carolina.
Dickey gets No. 20 and the Reds and Tigers win
UNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays are doing a terrific job as spoilers in the American League East race.
Fresh off a four-game split of second-place Baltimore, the Jays have opened a four-game series with the division-leading Yankees by trouncing New York 6-0. The outcome leaves the Yankees and Orioles separated by just one game with six remaining.
Brandon Morrow allowed four hits in seven innings to lower his ERA to 3.09. Brett Lawrie opened the scoring with a two-run homer before Edwin Encarnacion added a two-run double and three RBIs.
The Rangers and Tigers were able to pad their division leads.
Texas is four games ahead of second-place Oakland in the West following a 9-7 win over the Athletics. Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff homer before Mike Napoli capped the Rangers' five-run first with a two-run blast. Matt Harrison allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings to become the Rangers' first 18-game winner since Kenny Rogers in 2004.
The White Sox are two games behind Detroit after Evan Longoria homered in the ninth inning of Tampa Bay's 3-2 win at Chicago. The White Sox wasted a nice outing by Jake Peavy, who held the Rays to two runs and only four hits in 7 1/3 innings.
The Tigers blew a 4-0 lead before Alex Avila's RBI grounder in the bottom of the ninth gave Detroit a 5-4 triumph over Kansas City. Doug Fister set an AL record by striking out nine straight batters but had to settle for a no-decision after yielding two runs and five hits over 7 2/3 innings.
The Angels remain two games behind the A's in the battle for the final AL wild-card slot. John Jaso (JAY'-soh) hit a two-run homer and an RBI double as the Mariners whipped the Halos 9-4 in Anaheim. Los Angeles had won five straight and an AL-best 16 of 23 this month.
Over to the National League, where R.A. Dickey made a strong statement for the National League Cy Young award this afternoon by becoming the majors' second 20-game winner.
Dickey allowed three runs over 7 2/3 innings and tied a career high with 13 strikeouts as the New York Mets downed Pittsburgh 6-5. David Wright's tiebreaking, three-run homer helped Dickey become the first knuckleballer since Joe Niekro in 1980 to win 20 games in a season.
Dickey leads the league with 222 strikeouts and is second to Washington's Gio Gonzalez in victories. His 2.69 ERA is just one-hundredth of a point higher than NL-leader Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.
Gio Gonzalez picked up his 21st victory in Washington's 7-3 win at Philadelphia, which reduced the Nationals' magic number for clinching the NL East to three over Atlanta. Michael Morse homered twice and Bryce Harper smacked his 21st round-tripper to support Gonzalez, who allowed three runs in six innings.
The Braves were 6-2 winners against Miami as Tommy Hanson allowed one earned run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings for his first victory since July. Dan Uggla (UHG'-luh) and Andrelton Simmons hit RBI doubles to spark a four-run fourth before left fielder Bryan Peterson dropped a line drive to bring home two more runs.
In other NL play, A.J. Ellis and Luis Cruz drove in two runs apiece as the Dodgers beat San Diego 8-4 to pull within three games of St. Louis for the second wild-card berth with six games remaining. Chris Capuano pitched into the sixth inning, limiting the Padres to a run and five hits.
The Brewers were one out from boosting their sagging playoff hopes before John Axford blew a 1-0 lead and lost 2-1 at Cincinnati. Todd Frazier tied the game with a homer and Dioner Navarro followed with a game-winning triple that dropped the Brewers four games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild-card berth with six games remaining.
Homers by Jordan Pacheco and DJ LeMahieu led Colorado to a 7-5 triumph over the Chicago Cubs. Pacheco, Wilin Rosario and Chris Nelson each had two of the Rockies' 12 hits.
San Francisco won its final home game of the regular season as Hunter Pence and Marco Scouter each hit two-run homers in the second inning of a 7-3 win against Arizona. Barry Zito won his fourth straight start and sixth consecutive decision, allowing three runs in six innings to improve to 14-8.
A bad Acta
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians have fired manager Manny Acta and replaced him with bench coach Sandy Alomar on an interim basis with six games left in the season.
Acta was 214-266 in nearly three seasons with the Indians, who are just 21-50 in the second half this season. He had one season left on his contract.
New skipper for Houston
HOUSTON (AP) — Washingon Nationals third base coach Bo Porter will become the Houston Astros' manager once the postseason ends. The Astros have named him as their skipper for the 2013 season, their first as an American League club.
Porter replaces Brad Mills who was fired last month.
Skipper wants to return
DENVER (AP) — Jim Tracy says he wants to return as manager of the Colorado Rockies next season even though the team is on pace for the worst record in franchise history.
Tracy said he hopes to have conversations in the coming weeks that will lead to him fulfilling his contract that runs through next season.
Tracy took over as manager 46 games into the 2009 team and went 74-42 and led the Rockies to the NL wild card. But injuries and a shaky pitching staff this season put the Rockies at 62-94.
Giants say no thanks to Cabrera
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was eligible to return to the active roster for the National League championship series if the team got that far. Instead, manager Bruce Bochy (BOH'-chee) says the Giants will go with the 25 players they have.
Cabrera received a 50-game suspension for failing a performance-enhancing drug test, a few weeks after being named the All-Star game MVP. His suspension was to include the Giants' first five playoff games and will spill into next season if the team is eliminated in three or four games.
Huskies rally to beat Cardinal
UNDATED (AP) — Stanford can expect to slide in the AP college football poll next Monday.
Kasen Williams took a quick screen pass from Keith Price and raced 35 yards for the go-ahead score with 4:53 left as Washington rallied to beat the eighth-ranked Cardinal 17-13. The Huskies trailed 13-3 until running back Bishop Sankey ran for a 61-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
It was Washington's first win over a Top 10 ranked opponent since its upset of then-No. 3 USC back in 2009.
Entire pre-season cancelled
NEW YORK (AP) — NHL season ticket holders won't have to pay for exhibition games next month. The league has canceled the rest of the preseason, just a day before negotiations were set to resume in an effort to end the lockout. Negotiators are expected to spend tomorrow working on secondary economic issues as opposed to the core of the dispute, which is how to split more than $3 billion in annual revenue.
The NHL had already called off all the exhibition games scheduled in September. The regular season is supposed to begin on Oct. 11.
Nice gesture by the Marlins
MIAMI (AP) — Adam Greenberg made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs seven years ago. It lasted one plate appearance, and he hasn't been in the majors since.
Greenberg was hit on the head by the first pitch thrown his way leading to what was eventually diagnosed as vertigo.
Well, Greenberg will finally get a second big league plate appearance as the Miami Marlins say they will sign Greenberg to a one-day contract effective Oct. 2, and play him that day against the New York Mets.
Greenberg will donate his one-day salary to the Marlins' foundation, which will donate to the Sports Legacy Institute, a group that furthers the study of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and others.