Birds oust Rangers...Cards extend season
UNDATED (AP) — Baseball's first-ever, one-game wild-card series were truly for the Birds. Both the Orioles and Cardinals came away with victories on Friday to advance to the major league division series.
Baltimore has ended the Rangers' two-year reign as American League champions while reaching the division series for the first time in 15 years. Joe Saunders combined with three relievers on an nine-hitter as the O's earned a 5-1 win at Texas. Saunders allowed a first-inning run and just six hits over 5 2/3s.
Nate McLouth drove in two runs to lead Baltimore's offense. He singled home a run in the seventh and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to cap the scoring.
Roberto Andino delivered a pinch-hit double and scored twice for the Orioles, who will host the New York Yankees in the first and second games of their ALDS.
Orioles closer Jim Johnson loaded the bases with two out in the ninth before getting David Murphy to fly out to left.
The loss completes a late-season collapse for the Rangers, who held a five-game lead in the AL West with nine games to play before they were relegated to the wild-card game. Losing pitcher Yu Darvish pitched well enough to win on most nights, allowing two earned runs and five hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. But the offense was held silent as Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre (BEHL'-tray) both went 0-for-4 while batting in the third and fourth spots in the Rangers' lineup.
St. Louis continues to be a team that just won't go away easily.
The Cardinals now have won five straight postseason elimination games after taking advantage of three infield errors to win their wild-card playoff game against the Braves in Atlanta. The Redbirds scored four unearned runs while taking a 6-2 lead in a 6-3 victory that puts them in the division series against Washington.
The Cardinals rallied after David Ross launched a two-run homer to put Atlanta ahead 2-0 in the second inning. Chipper Jones threw away a potential double-play grounder to set up the Cardinals' three-run fourth. Fielding miscues by second baseman Dan Uggla (UHG'-luh) and shortstop Andrelton Simmons led to a two-run seventh put the Cards ahead 6-2.
Another pivotal play occurred with the Cardinals leading 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth. The Braves had runners on first and second with one out when Simmons hit a popup to left field. The ball fell between left fielder Matt Holiday and shortstop Pete Kozma, but left field umpire Sam Holbrook called for the infield fly rule as the ball was making its descent. Simmons was called out, and the Braves eventually loaded the bases before Michael Bourn struck out to end the threat.
Fans threw bottles and other debris on the field following Holbrook's call, which cost the Braves a baserunner and an out. The game was delayed 19 minutes while workers cleared the garbage along the fences and the foul lines. The Braves protested the game to no avail.
Holliday hit a solo homer and winning pitcher Kyle Lohse (lohsh) allowed two runs and six hits while striking out six in 5 2/3 innings. Jason Motte (maht) worked out of the bases-loaded jam in the eighth before stranding two runners in the ninth to get the save.
Kris Medlen suffered the loss despite allowing just two earned runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings. It marked the first time in 24 games since 2010 that Atlanta has lost a game started by Medlen.
It was a tough day for Jones, who went 1-for-5 and contributed to a pair of unearned runs in his final major league game. Jones was 0-for-4 until he beat out an infield grounder with two out in the ninth.
Also in the majors on Friday, Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp had surgery on his left shoulder and should be ready for opening day. Kemp batted .303, with 23 home runs and 69 RBIs this season.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona was in Cleveland interviewing for the vacancy on the Indians' bench.
Francona led Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta (eye-uh-NET'-uh) has agreed to a three-year contract rather than opt for free agency. Iannetta provided solid defense and hit .240 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 79 games, providing an offensive upgrade over the Angels' three 2011 catchers.
Two sides in NHL labor dispute get together
TORONTO (AP) — The NHL and the players' association have quietly resumed collective bargaining talks and expect to be in contact again in the upcoming days. The sides hadn't been expected to get together before next week.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met today with union head Donald Fehr and special counsel Steve Fehr in the NHLPA office in Toronto on the 20th day of the NHL lockout.
Daly tells The Associated Press, "We are supposed to touch base over the weekend."
NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon says any discussions this weekend won't be in person.
This marks the first negotiating session since talks broke off Tuesday in New York, where the sides had met four times in five days to discuss issues other than core economics.
Blues part ways with team president John Davidson
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Blues and John Davidson have announced that they have agreed to part ways.
Davidson has agreed to a buyout of the remaining three years of his contract after serving as the team's president of operations since 2006.
The team went from 30th in the NHL in Davidson's first season to finishing with the second-most points in the league last season before bowing out in the second round of the playoffs.
DJ Williams suspended for 3 more games
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos will be without linebacker D.J. Williams until mid-November after the NFL added three games to his suspension today.
Williams was punished for violating the league's policy and program for substances of abuse following his conviction in August of driving while ability impaired.
He already was serving a six-game suspension to start the season for violating the league's banned-substances policy after the NFL said he supplied a "non-human" urine sample during an offseason drug test.
Williams, the team's leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, won't be eligible to return to the Broncos until Nov. 12.
All together now
UNDATED (AP) — The Steelers will be at full strength on Sunday for the first time this season.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall, linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu practiced all week and all are listed as probable to face the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mendenhall and Harrison will make their season debuts. Polamalu will play for the first time since a season-opening loss in Denver.
Elsewhere around the NFL:
— Dolphins cornerback Richard Marshall has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Cincinnati with a back injury. That further hampers Miami's already weak secondary.
— The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed receiver/return specialist Micheal Spurlock. He has played in 46 games during stints with Arizona, Tampa Bay, San Francisco and San Diego.
Vikings LB Greenway fined $21,000
NEW YORK (AP) — Linebackers Chad Greenway of Minnesota and Brandon Spikes of New England were fined $21,000 by the NFL on Friday for unnecessary roughness in games last weekend.
Greenway struck Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in the head and neck area in last Sunday's victory over Detroit. He apologized to Johnson afterward.
Spikes used an illegal blindside block during an interception return, hitting Bills tight end Scott Chandler, who left the game with a head injury. No penalty was called.
Buffalo DT Kyle Williams was fined $15,750 for roughing the passer, hitting Tom Brady below the knee area. Williams intends to appeal the fine, questioning what he did wrong when attempting to make a tackle while Brady still had the ball.
Also fined Friday were Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji, Titans tackle Dave Stewart and Cardinals placekicker Jay Feely, all docked $7,875 for unnecessary roughness.
Blixt stays hot
LAS VEGAS (AP) — There's a tie for the lead at the midway point of the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas.
Jonas Blixt fired his second consecutive 7-under 64 to pull even with Brendon de Jonge, who followed a 62 with a 66 on Friday. Blixt would have had the outright lead if he hadn't double-bogeyed the par-3 17th.
Ryan Moore is one stroke back and two ahead of Tim Herron and Daniel Summerhays.
Cochran holding narrow advantage
CARY, N.C. (AP) — Russ Cochran is the first round leader at the Champions Tour event in North Carolina. The left-hander opened play at the SAS Championship with a 6-under-par 66.
Fred Funk heads up a quartet of golfers just a shot back with 36 holes to play.
Sharapova, Tsonga advance to finals in Beijing
BEIJING (AP) — Maria Sharapova has advanced to the China Open final, beating seventh-seeded Li Na 6-4, 6-0.
The No. 2-seeded Sharapova has won three clay court titles this season, including the French Open.
It took Sharapova 68-minutes to secure the first set, then she needed only 33 minutes to take the second set while winning 25 of the 34 points played.
In the men's draw, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France moved into the final when Feliciano Lopez retired from their semifinal with a left wrist injury.
Stewart signs sponsor
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — NASCAR champion Tony Stewart has signed Bass Pro Shops as his primary sponsor for 2013.
The popular outdoor retailer is committing to 18 races as the lead sponsor for Stewart. The driver already has an 11-race commitment from Mobil 1.
Stock car racing's second-tier series won't visit Canada next year
UNDATED (AP)— NASCAR's Nationwide Series will not race in Montreal next season after the promoter pulled the plug on the six-year relationship.
NASCAR says it wanted to return to the Circuit Gilles Villeneueve (zheels VIHL-eh-noov) but could not work out a sanctioning agreement.
NASCAR hopes to still race in Canada next season, possibly with the Truck Series.