Tigers clinch...Rays, Indians, Rangers win...Cards widen gap
UNDATED (AP) — The American League division champions are finally set, but there remains a fierce, three-team scramble for the AL's two wild-card berths.
The Detroit Tigers are the AL Central champs for the third straight year, clinching the division with a 1-0 shutout of the Twins in Minnesota. Max Scherzer is 21-3 after holding the Twins to two hits while striking out 10 in seven innings. Neither team scored after Austin Jackson tripled and scored on Torii Hunter's single just two batters into the game.
Tampa Bay moved another step closer to winning a wild-card berth and stayed a game ahead of the Indians by thumping the New York Yankees 8-3. Evan Longoria went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and a solo shot, while David DeJesus added a solo blast and two RBIs. David Price gave up two runs in seven innings to help the Rays eliminate the Yanks from the wild-card race.
Cleveland has maintained a one-game lead over Texas for the second AL wild-card berth with a 7-2 victory over Chicago. Nick Swisher smacked a two-run homer and Asdrubal (as-DROO'-bul) Cabrera added a two-run single in the Indians' team-record 14th consecutive win over the White Sox. Rookie Danny Salazar struck out eight and limited Chicago to a pair of runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Rangers kept pace with Cleveland. Martin (mahr-TEEN') Perez struck out eight and allowed three runs over seven innings of a 7-3 triumph over Houston. Leonys Martin (lee-OH'-nihs mahr-TEEN') put Texas ahead to stay with a three-run double in the fourth before Ian Kinsler added an RBI single and a solo shot.
The St. Louis Cardinals have reduced their magic number for winning the National League Central to one over Pittsburgh while also eliminating Cincinnati from the division race.
Rookie Shelby Miller picked up his 15th victory and Yadier Molina (YAH'-dee-ay moh-LEE'-nah) hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning of the Cardinals' 4-1 win against Washington. Miller held the Nationals to a run and four hits in six innings to help the Redbirds complete a three-game sweep.
Matt Adams homered for the Cards, who now lead their division by three games over Pittsburgh with three games remaining for both teams.
The Pirates lost ground by falling to the Cubs 4-2 in Chicago. The game was tied 1-1 until Darnell McDonald launched a three-run homer in the sixth inning, allowing the Cubs to avoid a three-game sweep.
The Bucs still own a one-game lead over Cincinnati for the first NL wild-card berth.
The Reds fell 1-0 to the New York Mets in the rubber match of their three-game set. Daisuke Matsuzaka (DYS'-kay maht-soo-ZAH'-kah) scattered four hits in 7 2/3 innings, leaving him 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his last four starts. Eric Young singled home the game's lone run to highlight the Mets' four-hit attack.
The Cardinals also own the National League's best record by a half-game after Atlanta lost 4-0 to Milwaukee. Kyle Lohse (lohsh) needed just 89 pitches to complete a two-hitter.
Carlos Gomez put the Brewers ahead with a solo homer in the first inning and was ejected before he ever crossed home plate. Gomez stood at the plate and watched the flight of the ball before starting to run toward first. He got into shouting matches with first baseman Freddie Freeman and pitcher Paul Maholm (mah-HAH'-luhm) before he was met by catcher Brian McCann halfway between home and third. McCann and Gomez screamed at each other and had to be separated as players spilled out of the dugouts and bullpens. Gomez, Freeman and backup catcher Gerald Laird were tossed from the game.
Also in the majors, Oakland was a 3-1 loser to the Angels as Jered Weaver held the Athletics to five hits over seven innings. Josh Hamilton had two RBIs for Los Angeles, which damaged Oakland's shot at gaining home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
The Red Sox clobbered Colorado 15-5 to take a two-game lead over the A's for the top seed in the AL playoffs. Will Middlebrooks led Boston's assault with a grand slam and a three-run homer to finish with a career-high seven RBIs. Shane Victorino added a three-run homer, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (sahl-tah-lah-MAH'-kee-uh) went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Tony Abreu hit a bases-loaded triple and had four RBIs in San Francisco's 6-4 verdict over the Dodgers. Pablo Sandoval belted a two-run homer and Barry Zito kept Los Angeles to one earned run and four hits in five innings. Matt Kemp had three hits and two RBIs for the Dodgers, who are two games down in the loss column as they try to earn home-field advantage for the NL division series.
Kansas City eliminated itself from the AL wild-card race as Hisashi Iwakuma (hih-SAH'-shee ih-wah-KOO'-mah) struck out nine and scattered four hits in eight innings of Seattle's 6-0 shutout of the Royals. Mike Zunino hit a couple of solo homers, Michael Saunders added a solo shot and Kyle Seager doubled home a pair to help Iwakuma get his 14th win.
Ryan Flaherty hit a pair of two-run homers and Baltimore's bullpen allowed two runs over five innings of a 9-5 rout of Toronto. Steve Pearce and Jonathan Schoop added solo homers for the Orioles, who were eliminated from postseason contention the previous night.
Adeiny Hechavarria (ah-DAY'-nee ehch-eh-vah-REE'-ah) hit a two-run triple and had three RBIs in Miami's 3-2 win over Philadelphia. Placido Polanco (PLAH'-sih-doh poh-LAHN'-koh) had three of the Marlins' six hits and scored once.
Pinch-hitter Chris Robinson hit a three-run homer and Chase Headley had three RBIs in San Diego's 12-2 romp over Arizona. Chris Denorfia was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored to back Ian Kennedy, who held his old team to two runs and six hits in seven innings.
Ethier iffy for LDS
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier (EE'-thee-ur) returned to Southern California on Wednesday to have his troublesome left ankle re-examined.
The team isn't sure whether he will be available for the NL division series starting next week.
Ethier missed his 10th game with the injury Wednesday. He is batting .272 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs for the NL West champions.
PAN PACIFIC OPEN
Venus Williams advances in Tokyo
TOKYO (AP) — Venus Williams beat Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Pan Pacific Open.
Playing in the Tokyo tournament for the first time since 2009, Williams broke Bouchard with a forehand down the line to go up 5-2 in the third set and held on to win the match that lasted 3 hours, 2 minutes at Ariake Colosseum.
Williams will face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Petra Kvitova (kuh-VIHT'-oh-vuh) in the semis.
Kvitova of the Czech Republic defeated Madison Keys of the United States, 6-2, 6-2 while Kuznetsova of Russia beat Sorana Cirstea Romania, 7-6 (3), 6-1.
Ponder confident of playing
UNDATED (AP) — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder expects to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in London despite a rib injury. Ponder emerged from the Vikings first practice in the U.K. on Wednesday confident that he will play at Wembley Stadium. He was injured in the Vikings loss to Cleveland Sunday.
Backup quarterback Matt Cassell also took snaps on Wednesday, and he is ready to step in if Ponder is unavailable to play.
In other NFL news;
— Winless Tampa Bay has named rookie Mike Glennon to start at quarterback against Arizona Sunday replacing Josh Freeman. The move comes just two days after coach Greg Schiano (shee-AHN'-oh) insisted that Freeman would remain the starter because he gave the team the best chance of winning. Freeman has completed just 45.7 percent of his passes this season.
— Brian Hoyer will get his second straight start at quarterback for Cleveland when the Browns take on Cincinnati. He led Cleveland to a comeback win over Minnesota last week while filling in for Brandon Weeden who is still recovering from a sprained right thumb.
— Detroit running back Reggie Bush says he will play against the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears on Sunday, a week after missing a game with a banged up knee.
— Cardinals rookie linebacker Alex Okafor is done for the season after tearing a biceps in Sunday's loss to New Orleans.
Easley done for season
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 20 Florida will be without defensive tackle Dominique Easley for the remainder of the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus in his right knee during practice on a soggy field Tuesday.
Losing Easley is a significant setback for a defense that leads the Southeastern Conference in just about every major category, including scoring, rushing and passing.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-AIR FORCE/AWINI
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Air Force quarterback Jaleel Awini has been suspended from the Falcons football team.
The Academy says Awini "is no longer a cadet in good standing and is not allowed to represent the Academy in any outside activities, effective immediately."
There was no indication of what got Awini in trouble.
Thunder unsure of Westbrook's status for opening night
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The timetable for All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook's return from a knee injury remains uncertain as Oklahoma City opens training camp.
General manager Sam Presti says it would be "irresponsible" of him to say when Westbrook would be fully cleared medically, but didn't dispute the notion that Westbrook could miss the season opener Oct. 30 at Utah.
Westbrook tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee during Game 2 of the first-round NBA playoff series. Westbrook had surgery April 27.
NBA-2015 ALL-STAR-NEW YORK
Knicks, Nets to host All-Star events
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City has been selected to host the NBA All-Star weekend in 2015, with the game played at Madison Square Garden and the slam dunk contest and other skills events held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The league has been working with the Knicks and Nets for months on the plan to split the events.
The league last split sites for its midseason showcase in 2010, when the Saturday events were in the Dallas Mavericks' arena and the game was held at the Cowboys' stadium.
Pacers lock up George
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana has announced a six-year contract extension with All-Star forward Paul George.
The 6-foot-7 George agreed to the deal Tuesday. George called the decision to stay in Indiana an easy one.
The 23-year-old averaged career highs with 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season. He was a third team All-NBA selection, a second team all-defensive selection and was named the NBA's Most Improved Player.
Oracle team wins America's Cup
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Oracle Team USA has completed one of the great comebacks in sailing history with a win over Emirates Team New Zealand to win the America's Cup. The U.S. team had to win eight straight races to claim the Cup and it did just that with skipper Jimmy Spithill leading the way. The victory retains the oldest trophy in international sports in the United States.
All but defeated a week ago, the 34-year-old Australian and his international crew twice rallied from seven-point deficits to win 9-8. Owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, Oracle Team USA was docked two points for illegally modifying boats in warmup regattas and had to win 11 races to keep the Cup.
How big a win was this?
In sailing terms, it was the equivalent of the Boston Red Sox sweeping the final four games of the 2004 ALCS over the New York Yankees, the only 3-0 comeback in major league history. It's also comparable to the Philadelphia Flyers overcoming a 0-3 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins in the 2010 NHL playoffs
Sabres rookie out with broken jaw
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo rookie forward Corey Tropp is out indefinitely after breaking his jaw during a fight that sparked a melee in a preseason game at Toronto last weekend.
Coach Ron Rolston says that Tropp is expected to miss at least five weeks after having surgery to repair the jaw. Tropp also sustained a concussion.
The brawl led to 211 penalty minutes and three ejections.