The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Sports Sat, 30 Jul 2016 08:00:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Red Sox turn to Porcello for much-needed win Sat, 30 Jul 2016 05:04:55 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rick Porcello pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game since 2014, Xander Bogaerts homered and drove in three runs, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 on Friday night.

Porcello (14-2) struck out three in winning his sixth straight start – also for the first time since 2014 – and eighth consecutive decision. He became the majors’ fourth 14-game winner, joining Baltimore’s Chris Tillman, the Chicago White Sox’s Chris Sale and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg.

Porcello hasn’t lost since May 17 and he’s pitched five or more innings in 29 straight starts dating back to last Aug. 26.

Jackie Bradley Jr. also homered to help Boston end a four-game losing streak.

Tim Lincecum (3-4) continued to struggle in his comeback attempt, giving up four earned runs and five hits with four walks. He was removed after giving up Bradley’s homer leading off the sixth.

The loss ended the Angels season-high seven-game home winning streak.

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Major League roundup: Blue Jays top Orioles Sat, 30 Jul 2016 03:58:29 +0000 TORONTO — Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki each hit solo home runs in the first inning, Marco Estrada snapped a four-start winless streak and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Friday night.

Encarnacion reached base three times and scored twice as the Blue Jays won the opener of a three-game series between the top two teams in the AL East, cutting Baltimore’s division lead to half a game. The Orioles have lost four straight.

Estrada (6-4) allowed four runs – three earned – and five hits in six innings.

INDIANS 5, ATHLETICS 3: Abraham Almonte scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in Cleveland’s four-run seventh as the Indians rallied to a win at home.

Cleveland erased a 3-1 deficit after being held to four hits through six innings. Jason Kipnis’ bases-loaded single tied it.

TIGERS 14, ASTROS 6: Tyler Collins and Justin Upton each hit a three-run homer to lead host Detroit to its fourth straight win.

James McCann added a solo shot in the eighth and Cameron Maybin had three hits and scored three times for the Tigers.

RANGERS 8, ROYALS 3: Rougned Odor homered twice, A.J. Griffin pitched into the sixth and Texas won at home.

Jurickson Profar homered and scored three runs for the Rangers.

RAYS 5, YANKEES 1: Jake Odorizzi pitched masterfully into the seventh, Logan Forsythe and Corey Dickerson hit solo homers in the first, and host Tampa Bay cooled off the surging Yankees.

Odorizzi (5-5) struck out five and allowed six hits over 62/3 innings.


CARDINALS 11, MARLINS 6: Tommy Pham homered and drove in three runs, leading St. Louis to a win at Miami.

Kolten Wong had three hits and drove in two runs and Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a two-run homer for the Cardinals.

BRAVES 2, PHILLIES 1: Tyrell Jenkins earned his first career victory after struggling for three starts, pitching six innings in Atlanta’s win at home.

ROCKIES 6, METS 1: Tyler Chatwood kept winning on the road, Carlos Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs and Colorado won at New York for its fourth straight victory.

Chatwood (10-6) improved to 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA away from Denver.

BREWERS 3, PIRATES 1: Junior Guerra limited Pittsburgh to four hits over 82/3 strong innings, Chris Carter hit a two-run home run and Milwaukee won at home.

Guerra’s scoreless streak was snapped at 20 innings.


CUBS 12, MARINERS 1: Jon Lester recovered from a rut of bad starts, pitching six shutout innings that led host Chicago to its third straight win.

Jason Heyward and David Ross homered as the NL Central leaders improved to 9-5 since the All-Star break following a 1-9 slump.

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Major League notebook: Marlins get Cashner from Padres Sat, 30 Jul 2016 03:48:47 +0000 MIAMI — The Miami Marlins acquired the pitching reinforcements they sought in a trade that cost them four players, including two minor leaguers.

Right-handers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea were sent to Miami by the San Diego Padres in a seven-player deal Friday.

The Marlins, eager to shore up their rotation for a playoff push, also will receive pitching prospect Tayron Guerrero for right-handers Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps and two minor leaguers, pitching prospect Luis Castillo and first baseman Josh Naylor.

Cashner is 4-7 this year with a 4.76 ERA in 16 starts, and has a career record of 30-49 with a 3.73 ERA in seven seasons. Rea, who is in his second major league season, is 5-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 19 games this year.

The prize in the deal for the Padres might be Naylor, 19, a left-handed power hitter taken by the Marlins in the first round of the 2015 draft.

YANKEES: Alex Rodriguez expects to get some playing time at first base during the final two months of the regular season, giving Manager Joe Girardi more flexibility off the bench.

The 41-year-old Rodriguez is hitting just .206 with nine homers in 58 games as a designated hitter and pinch-hitter.

ANGELS: Garrett Richards won’t pitch again this season because of a tear in his right elbow.

Richards last pitched on May 1 and was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral five days later. Manager Mike Scioscia said Friday that Richards was done for the year.

ORIOLES: Baltimore signed former Reds right-hander Logan Ondrusek, who has returned from playing in Japan. The 31-year-old Ondrusek went 21-11 with a 3.89 ERA and two saves in 281 games with Cincinnati from 2010 to 2014.

METS: Outfielder Juan Lagares went on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to miss six weeks because of a sprained left thumb that needs surgery. Lagares first hurt his thumb on June 4.

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Olympic notebook: U.S. men breeze in exhibition Sat, 30 Jul 2016 03:41:52 +0000 CHICAGO — Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, DeMarcus Cousins powered a dominant performance in the paint, and the United States pulled away from Venezuela for an ugly 80-45 exhibition victory Friday night.

Coming off three straight flashy victories in Las Vegas and California, the United States shot 42.4 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers in by far its worst offensive performance of its five-city tour in preparation for next week’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the Americans used their superior athleticism to limit Venezuela to 24 percent shooting and owned the interior with a 54-29 rebounding advantage.

Returning to Chicago for the first time with the U.S. national team, Jimmy Butler of the Bulls had four points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes in his first start with Team USA.

Butler had one of the few electric plays for the U.S. when he ran out on the break and dunked Kyle Lowry’s tip pass in the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan also had a vicious dunk off a lob from Kevin Durant, and DeMar DeRozan added a windmill jam in the final minutes.

Klay Thompson also scored 13 points, and Cousins finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. Durant had nine points of 3-of-9 shooting.

DIANA TAURASI scored 14 points and Elena Delle Donne added 12 to help the U.S. women’s basketball team beat Canada 83-43 in an exhibition game at Bridgeport, Connecticut.

While the Canadians will be searching for their first medal, the U.S. will seek an unprecedented sixth consecutive gold at the Olympics. The Americans have one more exhibition game Sunday against Australia, which beat France 76-67 on Friday night. The top two teams in the world will play at Madison Square Garden. Canada will face France.

LESS THAN a week before the opening of the Olympics, IOC leaders will meet in Rio de Janeiro this weekend to review the final preparations for the games and deal with the fallout from the doping scandal that led to the exclusion of more than 100 Russian athletes.

The International Olympic Committee’s ruling executive board opens a two-day meeting Saturday, its last formal gathering before next Friday night’s opening ceremony.

SO THE PLUMBING and electricity in the athletes’ village took several days to fix. Who cares? But no Pokemon Go? That’s an outrage! Since debuting this month, the game has spread like wildfire, launching in more than 30 countries or territories, but not Brazil.

“I wish I could run around in the (athletes’) village catching Pokemon,” New Zealand soccer player Anna Green said. “I just can’t get it on the phone. It’s fine but it would have been something fun to do.” What will she do instead? “Train,” she replied.

AUSTRALIAM TEAM members were forced to evacuate their lodgings at the Olympics after a small fire in a basement parking area caused smoke to fill the stairwells.

About 100 athletes and officials were evacuated from their building in the sprawling athletes’ village. They returned about 20 minutes later.

U.S. RUNNER Allyson Felix said she expects to be close to 100 percent when the 400-meter qualifying begins Aug. 13.

Felix, who hurt her right ankle during training this spring, was at less than 100 percent earlier this month when she ran in the trials.

SOUTH KOREAN gymnast Lee Go-im will miss the Olympics after fracturing her left arm during training.

The Korean Olympic Committee said the 15-year-old suffered the injury while practicing her vault routine Thursday night and is scheduled to return to South Korea for surgery.

THE U.S. ADDED long jumper Michael Hartfield to its team after Marquis Dendy withdrew with a leg injury.

Hartfield finished fifth at the U.S. Olympic trials earlier this month and was next in line for a spot because he reached an Olympic qualifying standard earlier in the year.

ALL OF RUSSIA’S weightlifters were banned from the Olympics for doping in what the international federation called “extremely shocking” results that brought the sport into “disrepute.”

The eight competition spots have been offered to other countries.

BRAZIL’S FEDERAL government severed its contract with a security firm that was supposed to operate X-ray machines during the Olympics.

Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said the Artel company didn’t deliver the 3,400 workers who were supposed to perform the task. They will be replaced by retired policemen who are still to be trained.

FRENCH PRESIDENT Francois Hollande is flying to Brazil next week to help support Paris with its Olympic bid.

Hollande will be in Rio on Thursday, where he will meet with members of the Paris 2024 bid committee and have lunch with French athletes in the Olympic village.

THREE-TIME OLYMPIC canoeing champion Katalin Kovacs of Hungary is retiring after failing to qualify for the Rio Games.

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Sports Digest: Parade plan set for Dumoulin, Stanley Cup Sat, 30 Jul 2016 03:33:39 +0000 HOCKEY

Biddeford parade plan set for Dumoulin, Stanley Cup

Public plans have been announced for Biddeford native Brian Dumoulin’s day with the Stanley Cup after Dumoulin helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the 2016 NHL championship.

A parade of the Stanley Cup will start at Biddeford High at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, and end at Biddeford Ice Arena. The cup will be at the arena for viewing and photographs from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN: Mirim Lee followed her opening 10-under 62 with a 71, leaving her a stroke ahead after two rounds at tree-lined Woburn Golf Club in England.

A day after tying the tournament record and falling a stroke shy of the major championship mark, the 25-year-old South Korean player had three birdies and two bogeys to reach 11-under 133.


TWILIGHT LEAGUE: Kip Richard hit a two-run double and finished with two hits and three RBI, Owen Kimmel went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and one RBI, and Aero beat Edge 5-0 at South Portland.

Alex Tobey gave up three hits and struck out six in six innings to earn the win.

Robbie Hamilton hit a pair of solo home runs to lead Patriot Insurance (9-10) to an 8-3 win over On Target (10-9-1) at Deering Oaks.

Mitchell Caron had two hits, including a homer, and scored two runs for On Target.

NECBL: Jordan Powell scored on Sam Stauble’s infield single in the 13th inning to lift the Mainers (25-15) to a 9-8 win over the North Adams SteepleCats (22-19) at Sanford.

The Mainers scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to erase an 8-2 deficit, tying the game on an RBI double by Shaine Hughes.

EMPIRE LEAGUE: Chris Ray hit a tying single and Brandon Cooksey scored the winning run on an error as the Surge (27-27) scored twice in the eighth to rally for a 6-5 win over the Watertown Bucks (31-20) at Old Orchard Beach.

Jacob Fabry went 3 for 3 with two walks for the Surge.


WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: The University of Maine announced that former assistant coach Jhasmin Player is returning to the staff as the director of player development and community relations.

Player, a 2009 graduate of Baylor, spent three seasons as an assistant with the Black Bears before leaving to play professionally in Poland.


ROGERS CUP: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic beat fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych 7-6 (6), 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in Toronto. He will face Gael Monfils, who beat Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4.

Stan Wawrinka plays Kei Nishikori in the other semifinal.

Angelique Kerber put concerns about her elbow to rest in the women’s event at Montreal, reaching the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over unseeded Daria Kasatkina.

Kerber will face Simona Halep, a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 winner over Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Madison Keys and Kristina Kucova also advanced.

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Yankee Ford stays alive in Legion tournament Sat, 30 Jul 2016 03:10:22 +0000 AUGUSTA — Matt Riggle and Henry Curran had four hits apiece and Riggle also drove in three runs as Yankee Ford beat Wells 10-4 in an elimination game Friday at the American Legion baseball state tournament.

The South Portland-based team scored five runs in the first two innings and earned a matchup at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Coffee News of Bangor, the last remaining undefeated team in the double-elimination tournament.

Sam Troiano added three hits, three runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases for Yankee Ford (21-2), which needs to win three games over the next two days to capture the championship.

Griffin Kelly started on the mound for Yankee Ford and was perfect through three innings before being relieved by Nate Ingalls. Ingalls gave up two runs over 42/3 innings.

Liam Bell finished with two hits for Wells.

Earlier in the day, Yankee Ford was knocked into the losers’ bracket when it lost 9-4 to Rogers Post of Auburn in the completion of a game suspended Thursday.

Drew Lashua homered for Rogers, and Lew Jensen had three hits and three RBI.

Riggle and Ben Conti each had two hits for Yankee Ford. Conti also drew a bases-loaded walk.

COFFEE NEWS 14, ROGERS POST 3: Coffee News took advantage of 12 walks – including five in the first inning – in a winners’ bracket game that ended in the seventh inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.

The two-time defending state champions (21-5) jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first inning. The only hits in the inning were a two-run single by Ryan Brookings and an RBI single by Drew Hillier.

Nick Cowperthwaite added a two-run double as Coffee News tacked on four runs in the fourth.

Coffee News is assured of a spot in Sunday’s championship round, even it loses Saturday against Yankee Ford.

SKOWHEGAN 9, PASTIME 4: Cody Laweryson struck out 13 in seven innings and hit a bases-loaded triple, helping Skowhegan (18-11) beat Pastime of Lewiston (22-2) in an elimination game.

Skowhegan advances to another elimination game Saturday against Rogers Post.

Home-plate umpire Kevin Joyce ejected the game’s second batter, Pastime catcher Brock Belanger, after he complained about a called third strike. In the ensuing argument, Mark Belanger, an assistant coach for Pastime, was also thrown out.

Laweryson pitched two innings Thursday before being lifted by Coach Roger Stinson after Skowhegan built a 14-0 lead against Fayette-Staples. Stinson wavered between starting Laweryson or Dustin Crawford, but went with Laweryson after talking to him while both pitchers warmed up.

Laweryson, a UMaine recruit, struck out the side in the first two innings and fanned four more in the third and fourth, spotting his fastball while also catching two batters looking at sharp-breaking curves.

Every batter in the Skowhegan lineup had at least one hit. Laweryson’s triple came in the third inning, when Skowhegan opened a 5-0 lead.

Base hits by Mike Berry and Evan Bess put runners at second and third, and Berry scored on a safety squeeze by Adam Turcotte. A walk to Ryan Emery loaded the bases for Laweryson, who smacked a screaming line drive to right-center. Center fielder Hunter Landry took a step in then slipped and fell, and the ball sailed over his head.

Skowhegan added a run in the fourth and two in the fifth, with Brendan Curran, Will Stinson and Chase Malloy each picking up an RBI.

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Sea Dogs rout Mets Sat, 30 Jul 2016 02:22:35 +0000 BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — When the Portland Sea Dogs rolled into Binghamton for a seven-run victory Thursday night, they were just getting started.

The Sea Dogs began their trip by scoring the first 18 runs of their series with the Mets.

Binghamton eventually broke through but never threatened the Sea Dogs, who won 11-3 on Friday night.

Ryan Court had four hits and drove in four runs, and the Sea Dogs had six players with at least two hits.

Aneury Tavarez joined Court with four hits. Jake Romanski matched him in producing a three-run homer among four RBI.

Court doubled and scored the game’s first run in the second inning. His three-run homer made it 5-0 in the third.

After driving in another run with a single in the fifth, Court scored on Romanski’s three-run homer for an 11-0 lead.

Tavarez went 4 for 5 with a triple, double, two runs and an RBI. Romanski finished with two hits and a sacrifice fly. He also threw out both runners that tried to steal against him.

The Sea Dogs scored in each inning from the second through the sixth and totaled 18 hits.

Cole Sturgeon, Yoan Moncada and Nate Freiman each added two hits.

Sturgeon had a sacrifice to help manufacture the game’s first run before it became clear that one-run strategies would not matter. He also scored a run.

Freiman went 2 for 5 with a triple, two runs and an RBI. He’s hit .330 for the last 29 games to raise his average from .231 to .280. In the first two games of the series he has five hits, three for extra bases, driving in four runs.

Manager Carlos Febles said Thursday night that the 6-foot-8 Freiman has brought more than a big bat to the team since being signed out of the independent Atlantic League.

“He brings a lot to the table,” Febles said. “He brings experience. He brings leadership.

“He’s a very good player. It’s been a pleasure to have a guy who brings out that to a young team. He’s always willing to help a young guy.”

Now Freiman is helping himself, too.

After playing 116 games for the Oakland A’s in 2013-2014, Freiman spent 2015 in Triple-A. He was traded this spring, then released from Triple-A Syracuse in the first month of the season.

Freiman immediately signed on with Long Island in the Atlantic League.

“I really didn’t want to sit around and wait all season for a job to open,” Freiman said. “I went to (indepenent) ball pretty much immediately and I was extremely fortunate that the Red Sox signed me out of the Atlantic League.

“I’m extremely grateful and proud to be here.”

Freiman is batting behind highly regarded prospect Andrew Benintendi, who leads all Red Sox minor leaguers in RBI. Benintendi was 1 for 4 and drove in the team’s last run Friday.

The series continues with a 7:05 game Saturday and a 1:05 game Sunday.

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PGA notebook: Mickelson rallies, makes cut Sat, 30 Jul 2016 02:20:08 +0000 SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Phil Mickelson walked off the first green with a disgusted look on his face, as if he’d thrown away any shot at making the cut in the PGA Championship.

A 7 on the opening par-4 hole will do that to you.

“I think in the history of the PGA Championship, that’s the worst start of any player’s round,” Mickelson said. “I’d have to look that up.”

The five-time major winner set about steadying himself, writing the triple bogey on the scorecard and leaving it behind. With four birdies the rest of the way and only a slip-up on 16, Mickelson managed an even-par 70 to advance to the weekend.

“I was able to fight back and be patient from there on out, start to make a birdie here or there,” he said.

As usual, Lefty’s gallery was massive – he played with defending champion Jason Day, who is tied for third at 7-under, and Rory McIlroy, who bogeyed the relatively easy par-5 18th to miss the cut. Those thousands of fans were as stunned with the way Mickelson began as he was.

After a 1-over 71 on Thursday, the PGA winner when the tournament last was held at Baltusrol in 2005 hit his drive so far left on No. 1 that its first bounce was on Shunpike Road. It appeared to hang a left on Baltusrol Drive, possibly on its way to the Hudson River.

Playing a provisional on the 478-yard hole, Mickelson messed up again, the ball landing far from the fairway, nestling near a path. His next shot almost landed in the backyard of a home adjoining the golf course.

He needed two shots to reach the green, then, thankfully, he one-putted for a 7.

“Just a total mental block on that first hole,” he said. “And I don’t even know what to say. It was just horrific.”

Mickelson began his comeback with a birdie on No. 3, got another on the 8th and one more on No. 11. A bogey on the par-3 16th jeopardized his standing, but he made sure he would make the weekend with a birdie on the finishing hole.

“I’m having a difficult time right now managing my expectations, because I know how well I’m playing,” he said, “and I’m so result oriented that I’m not playing very relaxed, free golf like I did at the British, like I did in the preparation here. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to go out and not worry about the score and just play a good round, because I’ve been hitting a lot of good shots. I’m trying to force the issue because I know you’ve got to get hot out here.”

Unlike Mickelson, McIlroy couldn’t respond, though he came close. The two-time major champion came off an opening 74 and needed to post a good number to remain in the tournament. He made his first birdie of the tourney on No. 4 and also birdied 6, but bogeyed the ninth. After a birdie on 11, he was in position to stick around, but he bogeyed 13.

McIlroy came to the only two par-5s on Baltusrol at 3 over; the cut would be plus 2. He birdied the more difficult 17th, then fell apart after hitting his second shot into the deep rough behind 18. Two wasted shots led to a 6 – and an early exit.

“I thought I needed to make 4,” on 18, he said, “so that’s what I was trying to do. It was a tough lie. I hit the first one as hard as I really could considering how close the pin was to the edge of the green.”

He felt most betrayed by his putter.

“I think if you had given anyone else in this field my tee shots this week, they would have been up near the top of the leaderboard,” McIlroy said. “It just shows you how bad I was around the greens. Tee to green was good, but it was just pathetic when I got onto the green.”

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NFL notebook: Griffin trying to revive career in Cleveland Sat, 30 Jul 2016 02:03:21 +0000 BEREA, Ohio — Trying to revive a once soaring career that crashed badly in Washington, quarterback Robert Griffin III believes he has a leg up – two of them actually – over the competition to win Cleveland’s starting job.

As the Browns prepared to open training camp Friday under first-year coach Hue Jackson, Griffin gave his assessment of the QB field.

“There’s only one of us that runs 4.3,” he joked, noting his blazing time in the 40-yard dash. “They like to race me a lot.”

Cleveland’s other quarterbacks may not catch him. They won’t have time.

Griffin is expected to beat out veterans Josh McCown and Austin Davis and rookie Cody Kessler and become Cleveland’s 25th starting quarterback since 1999.

Griffin signed a two-year contract in March with the Browns, who are eager to see if the 26-year-old can recapture the magic he showed while electrifying the NFL as a rookie in 2012. While that was only four years ago, it seems like ages, and even Griffin isn’t entirely sure if he can get back to being the player he once was.

Hours before his first practice, Griffin was asked how to get his game back to its jaw-dropping rookie level.

“I just think you have fun,” he said. “It’s a kid’s game that we get to play for a king’s ransom. At the end of the day, you know what you’re doing. You’ve done your studying, you worked hard, you’ve run, you’ve lifted, all those things. Now you’ve just got to come out here and have fun. I think that’s the beauty of the game, the more fun you have the easier it is for you to play freely and go out and make plays.”

TITANS: Tennessee agreed to terms with seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson.

The 6-foot-3 Johnson ranks eighth in NFL history with 1,053 receptions and ninth in yards receiving (14,100), leading active players in those categories.

BILLS: Receiver Sammy Watkins won’t be ready for the start of training camp because of a surgically repaired left foot, though General Manager Doug Whaley said all signs indicate the starter is on track to play in Buffalo’s season opener.

Watkins had screws inserted into his foot to repair a stress fracture in April, and was one of 10 players – including starting defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus – placed on various inactive lists after the Bills held a conditioning session at their camp facility in suburban Rochester, New York.

JETS: The team is taking things slowly with Darrelle Revis’ surgically repaired wrist.

The star cornerback is uncertain when he might fully practice during training camp after being injured early last season. Revis played through a torn ligament in his right wrist that required surgery in March.

LIONS: Darius Slay signed a four-year extension worth about $50 million, a deal that lasts through the 2020 season. The 25-year-old cornerback was heading into the fourth and final season of his rookie contract.

DOLPHINS: Defensive end Dion Jordan has been reinstated by the NFL on a conditional basis after sitting out last season for his latest violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

COWBOYS: Damien Wilson can be added to the list of freak accidents in the offseason for Dallas after the second-year linebacker injured an eye in a paintball accident.

Executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones said the incident happened about a week before the Cowboys reported for training camp in California.

Wilson is joined on the non-football injury list by running back Darren McFadden, who broke his right elbow during Memorial Day weekend trying to save his cellphone when he dropped it.

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Scarborough wins Little League state title Sat, 30 Jul 2016 01:49:56 +0000 ORRINGTON — Scarborough completed its unbeaten run through the Little League state tournament for 11- and 12-year-old baseball players Friday with a 14-0 victory against Biddeford.

Sam Clark pitched a one-hitter to run his record to 6-1 in tournament play for Scarborough, which hit four home runs to finish the six-team, double-elimination tournament with a 4-0 record.

The game ended after four innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. Scarborough outscored its four opponents in the tournament 58-10 with three games ending by the mercy rule.

It was the 12th consecutive win for Scarborough, which began tournament play with a 5-2 loss to Portland American in the districts.

“One of the reasons, I think, that really motivated them after that first loss is it’s not just about winning with them,” Scarborough Manager Corey Frink said. “They want to continue to play baseball with each other, and the only way to do that is to win.”

“Most of us have been together three years and we just didn’t want to break that bond too soon,” third baseman Ryan Gambradella said. “We wanted to keep playing.”

Two years ago, Scarborough won the Little League state tournament for 9- and 10 year-olds, then went 1-3 in the New England regional in Cranston, Rhode Island. Last summer it won the Little League state championship for 10- and 11-year-olds.

“Losing that game created a perfect storm,” Frink said. “From that point on it’s been tunnel vision for them. They’ve really focused.”

Scarborough will play the Vermont state champion at 1 p.m. Aug. 7 in Bristol, Connecticut, in the first game of the six-team New England regional. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

“(Scarborough) hit the baseball as good as any team we’ve seen this year,” said Biddeford Manager Marcus Crowell. “Certainly their pitcher was spot on today. He didn’t throw many balls and he was really challenging our hitters. He kept our guys off the basepaths.”

Clark, a hard-throwing right-hander, was unhittable for the first 32/3 innings. He allowed just two balls to be hit out of the infield while striking out six and walking two.

Pinch-hitter Nick Littlefield broke up the no-hitter when he beat out a bunt for a single with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.

Scarborough took a 3-0 lead in the first inning when T.J. Liponis belted a homer after Joseph Townsend and Nic Frink reached on errors.

In the second inning, Jack Simonton and Nic Frink slammed two-run homers for a 7-0 lead.

Scarborough added six runs in the top of the fourth to complete the scoring.

After Clark hit a two-run homer, Scarborough loaded the bases on a walk, and singles by Gambradella and Cade Sullivan. The runs scored on two fielders’ choices, a passed ball and a single by Nic Frink.

“Give credit to Scarborough for staying in the winners’ bracket and winning this game today,” Crowell said.

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Auto racing notebook: Truex wins pole position at Pocono Sat, 30 Jul 2016 00:42:29 +0000 LONG POND, Pa. — Martin Truex Jr. has one of his four career Sprint Cup wins at Pocono Raceway.

He added his 10th career pole, too.

Truex extended Toyota’s recent romp with a lap of 179.244 mph to win the pole Friday.

Truex and Carl Edwards made it a 1-2 Toyota front row. Edwards just missed the top spot for Joe Gibbs Racing with a lap of 178.873, and he thought his No. 19 Toyota might have had enough to best Truex’s chart-topping speed.

“That must have felt really good because mine was great,” Edwards said.

Toyota has 10 wins this season and nine in the last 15 races, highlighted by consecutive wins by JGR drivers Matt Kenseth at New Hampshire and Kyle Busch last weekend at the Brickyard.

“It’s a really neat time to be driving a Toyota for Joe Gibbs,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, we can keep this rolling.”

Truex won his third pole of the season in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota and the 10th of his career. His win this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway might have been the most dominant performance by any Toyota driver in years.

Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman completed the top five.

Driving for Richard Childress Racing, Menard posted the surprise performance of the day. Menard has just two top-10 finishes all season and showed no signs of developing into a threat for making the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

But a crew chief switch might make the difference.

Menard topped the lone practice chart in his first race weekend with crew chief Danny Stockman. RCR dumped Justin Alexander for Stockman for Menard’s stretch run.

Stockman has won two Xfinity Series championships during his seven years at RCR and he and Menard worked together in that series, including a win last year at Road America.

Menard made Sprint Cup’s championship chase last year but stands 23rd with just six races left in the regular season.

NASCAR SUSPENDED the crew chief for Kevin Harvick for an improperly installed lug nut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rodney Childers will not appeal the suspension or his $20,000 fine. He will miss Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway.

Childers is the fifth crew chief suspended over a lug nut rule instituted by NASCAR earlier this season. The rule was put in place because teams were not applying all five lug nuts properly, in an effort to have faster pit stops.

Other penalties issued Wednesday by NASCAR were written warnings for twice failing prerace inspection to the teams of Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard and Matt DiBenedetto.

Written warnings also were given to the teams of Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola for twice failing template inspection before prequalifying.

XFINITY: Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler are guaranteed spots in the Xfinity Chase – as long as they start each of next nine races.

The rest of the series contenders need at least one win to ensure a playoff berth, which is why Saturday’s stand-alone race in Iowa is so big for all of them.

Brad Keselowski is the only Sprint Cup regular in the field, so there might not be a better chance for a winless driver to grab a victory that would all but lock up a Chase bid. There are nine Xfinity drivers who would earn a playoff spot with a win at Iowa Speedway.

“Definitely with not a lot of Cup guys in the field … it’s an even better opportunity for us. We’ve got a bunch of new guys and new cars. But we still have the last race winner here (Sam Hornish Jr.),” Richard Childress Racing driver Ty Dillon said. “It looks like it could be a good weekend for us to go out and notch that first win.”

Dillon is among the drivers who can vastly improve their playoff chances even if they don’t win. He’s third in the point standings, just 50 behind Suarez, the leader.

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Tight end a position of strength for Patriots Sat, 30 Jul 2016 00:42:27 +0000 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Typically, only friends are allowed to refer to each other by their nicknames.

If that’s true, Gronk and Marty are quickly on their way to becoming bros.

Outside of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski has easily been the most indispensable player on the New England Patriots offense, celebrated equally for his brute athleticism and one-of-a-kind personality.

But that success has come at the expense of his body at times the past few seasons as teams have keyed on Brady’s favorite target.

Enter Martellus Bennett, who is still learning about life in New England since being acquired in a March trade with Chicago. At 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, he may be the only guy in the NFL that can match Gronk’s size (6-6, 265), skill set and freewheeling style.

Bennett arrived at training camp in the final year of the four-year, $20 million contract he signed with the Bears in 2013. He is looking for fresh start after becoming frustrated by management’s unwillingness to extend him in Chicago, where he made the Pro Bowl in 2014.

With a year to prove himself on a perennial contender, the 29-year-old said Friday that his short time with the Patriots has helped to re-energize him after he missed five games last season with a rib injury.

“I really haven’t had that much football in a long time,” Bennett said. “It’s like when you break up and finally get back together with the girl you love in the first place. So it’s been great to be back out there.”

He’s having just as much fun with his new teammates – Gronkowski, in particular.

The pair has been exchanging both moves and jokes on the field since minicamp, and has been seen over the first two training camp practices working individually with Brady in drills to try to develop some chemistry.

“The primary focus is just getting everyone on the same page,” Gronkowski said. “I’ve been doing it with (Brady) for seven years now, so we kind of have the same chemistry right when we hit the field. I know where he’s going to usually put it. I know that he knows where I’m going to be, but obviously my rookie year I didn’t know that and as Marty is being kind of a rookie here, it’s cool to see everyone work together, help each other out, and just go over and get some extra work.”

Bennett is leaning on some of his past associations with big-time pass catchers to guide his latest transition.

“That’s really exciting because I was fortunate to play with Brandon Marshall for a long time, and I learned my game from him,” he said. “Now to be with another great player like Rob – he does so many different things well. When you watch tape you know he’s really good, but when you’re right there next to him you’re like, ‘Man this guy is really good.'”

The pair’s combined bravado is already showing itself at times.

During a drill Friday, Bennett leaped to catch a pass over Patrick Chung, and then placed the ball at Chung’s feet.

A few plays later, after Gronkowski had jawed a bit with the defense following a catch in the end zone, Dont’a Hightower slung the football at him as he jogged away.

“That’s just football. That’s just what it is,” Bennett said.

]]> 0, 29 Jul 2016 21:38:25 +0000
Post 16 stays alive in state tournament Fri, 29 Jul 2016 22:28:39 +0000 AUGUSTA — An elimination game between Skowhegan and Pastime Club of Lewiston at the state American Legion baseball tournament began with a controversial ejection of a Pastime player and coach, but the final result revolved around Skowhegan pitcher Cody Laweryson and his hard-hitting teammates.

Laweryson struck out 13 in seven innings of work and contributed a three-run triple among Skowhegan’s 11 hits en route to a 9-4 victory.

Skowhegan, 2-1 in the double-elimination and 18-11 overall, faces Rogers Post of Auburn at 11 a.m. today at Morton Field. Zone 2 champion Pastime finishes at 22-2 after entering the tournament unbeaten.

Home plate umpire Kevin Joyce ejected the game’s second batter, Pastime catcher Brock Belanger, after he complained about a called third strike. In the ensuing argument, Mark Belanger, an assistant coach for Pastime, was also thrown out of the game. Pastime head coach Jake Brown addressed both issues following the game.

“We didn’t lose the game because of the umpires,” Brown said. “We lost because they got some hits … and they had a really good pitcher on the mound and we couldn’t get hits.”

Brown added he thought Brock Belanger’s ejection was premature.

“High school sports is in a scary situation right now,” he said. “These umpires have absolutely no accountability. … To toss a kid out for saying ‘Jesus,’ and him admitting to that, that’s a scary situation because you’re going to toss out a lot of kids.”

Laweryson pitched two innings Thursday before being lifted by head coach Roger Stinson with his team in front 14-0. Stinson wavered between starting Laweryson or Dustin Crawford, but went with Laweryson after talking to him while both pitchers warmed up prior to the game.

“You could see it in his face,” Stinson said. “He wanted the ball.”

Laweryson struck out the side in the first two innings and fanned four more in innings three and four, spotting his fastball while also catching two batters looking at sharp-breaking curves.

“I was attacking hitters, that’s what I always like to do,” Laweryson said. “I don’t like to walk guys. Just attack the zone and let my fielders make plays.”

As was the case in another elimination game Thursday, every batter in the Skowhegan lineup had at least one hit.

“We had a talk after our first game here (an 11-3 loss),” Stinson said. “We talked about not coming out flat. We need to attack the pitcher, not wait. … Now we are spanking the baseball.”

The team got to Pastime starter Lucas Francis for five runs in the third inning. Base hits by Mike Berry and Evan Bess put runners at second and third, and Berry scored on a safety squeeze by Adam Turcotte. A walk to Ryan Emery loaded the bases for Laweryson, who delivered a screaming line drive to right center. Center fielder Hunter Landry took a step in then slipped and fell as he tracked the liner, and the ball sailed over his head for a three-run triple.

“He’s a great center fielder,” Brown said. “I think he’s one of the best center fielders in the state. That was hit very, very hard. There’s nothing you could do with that.”

Skowhegan added a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth with Brendan Curran, Will Stinson and Chase Malloy picking up RBIs. Laweryson, who is headed to the University of Maine this fall on a baseball scholarship, crusied into the sixth before encountering any trouble. Evan Cox opened the inning with a base hit and recent Monmouth Academy graduate Gage Cote beat out a bunt. After two were out, Austin Wing delivered a two-run single and Kyle Bourget singled home a third run.

“I think I might have relaxed a little too much,” Laweryson “I was throwing a lot of fastballs, I wasn’t really mixing it up. But they started squaring me up in that inning.”

Laweryon got the side in order in the seventh, including a pair of strikeouts, before giving way to Emery for the final two innings. In addition to fanning 13, he allowed six singles, hit a batter and didn’t walk anyone. He’s still eligible to pitch three innings in the tournament, but Stinson pointed out he has two starting pitchers he hasn’t used yet.

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No criminal violations found during investigation of Schilling’s 38 Studios Fri, 29 Jul 2016 20:20:36 +0000 SCITUATE, R.I. – An investigation into former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s failed video game company, 38 Studios, has resulted in no criminal violations.

Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven G. O’Donnell and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced the results of the yearslong investigation Friday.

They say there are “no provable criminal violations” of state law. Nearly 150 people were interviewed and thousands of documents reviewed.

O’Donnell says a bad deal doesn’t always equate to an indictment.

The former ballplayer’s company relocated to Rhode Island from Massachusetts in 2010 in exchange for a $75 million state loan guarantee. It later went bankrupt, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

The state’s economic development agency sued Schilling and others who aided the deal to try to recoup the money.

]]> 0, 29 Jul 2016 16:44:05 +0000
Streb shoots 63, joins Walker in lead at PGA Championship Fri, 29 Jul 2016 19:48:10 +0000 SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Robert Streb became the latest player to shoot 63 in a major, and hardly anyone noticed in a PGA Championship with endless action across Baltusrol on Friday.

Streb was on the far end of the rain-soaked course when he hit 6-iron into 20 feet on his last hole, the par-3 ninth, and made the putt to become the 28th player with a 63 in a major. It was the third round of 63 in a major in the last 16 days, following Phil Mickelson (first round) and Henrik Stenson (fourth round) at the British Open.

“Happy to join the club that seems to be ever growing,” Streb said.

Equally thrilling was to be tied for the lead with Jimmy Walker, who shot a 4-under 66.

They were at 131, matching the 36-hole record at the PGA Championship first set in 1983 by Hal Sutton at Riviera and last done by Jason Dufner in 2013 at Oak Hill.

Streb badly missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole, and he was determined to at least give himself a chance on the ninth. He knew was at stake, and so did the small gallery that gathered around the ninth green.

“It was pretty noisy for the 15 people that were out there,” he said.

Most of the crowd was at the par-5 closing holes at Baltusrol, and there was no shortage of entertainment.

In a summer of scoring records at the majors, Walker looked as though he would set the 36-hole mark when he was at 10 under with two par 5s remaining. But he hit into the hospitality area well left of the 17th and scrambled for par, and then his tee shot narrowly missed its mark and found the water on the 18th, leading to bogey.

Even so, he was tied at the halfway point of a major.

“It’s going to be a new experience, and it will be fun,” Walker said. “You still have to go perform. Doesn’t matter what tournament it is.”

Defending champion Jason Day dropped to even par with a double bogey on No. 7, and that appeared to wake up the world’s No. 1 player. Day went on a tear with seven birdies over his next eight holes, two of them from 18 feet, one of them from 35 feet.

Suddenly, he was on the verge of a shot at 63 until he hooked his tee shot to the base of the hospitality area on the 17th, and pushed a driving iron into the right rough on the 18th. He settled for pars at both for a 65.

Day was right where he wanted to be, three shots behind going into the weekend, his name high on the leaderboard for everyone to see. At stake is a chance to join Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back PGA champions since the stroke-play era began in 1958.

Day was joined at 7-under 133 by Emiliano Grillo, the talented young Argentine who worked hard on his putting at Baltusrol and watched it pay off. Grillo got this afternoon of birdies going by making five of them in a seven-hole stretch on the back nine until he cooled on the front and had to settle for a 67.

This is new territory for him, too.

Just like Walker and Streb, he has never even contended in a major.

“I’ve never been in this situation, and I’m not afraid of it,” Grillo said. “I’m going to go out and enjoy it.”

By the end of the day, it was easy to overlook a familiar figure – Stenson, the British Open champion who made eagle on the 18th at the turn and polished off another 67. He was only four shots behind in his bid to match Ben Hogan as the only players to win two straight majors at age 40.

Mickelson made the cut, and that might have been the most entertaining of all.

He began his round with a tee shot so far left that it sailed off the property, bounced along Shunpike Road and caromed to the left down Baltusrol Way. Wherever it finished, it was out-of-bounds, and Mickelson had to scramble for a triple bogey. He spent the rest of the day battling to get back, and he delivered on the 18th with a birdie to post a 70.

“I think in the history of the PGA Championship, that’s the worst start of any player’s round. I’d have to look it up,” Mickelson said.

No need to. Someone pointed out that Nicolas Colsaerts piped two over the fence and made 8.

“I’m having a difficult time right now managing my expectations, because I know how well I’m playing and I’m so result-oriented that I’m not playing very relaxed, free golf like I did at the British, like I did in the preparation here,” Mickelson said.

A dozen players were separated by five shots going into the weekend, a group that included Martin Kaymer (69), Patrick Reed (65) and Brooks Koepka (67) at 135, and even Rickie Fowler getting into the act with a birdie-eagle finish for a 68 to get within five shots.

Jordan Spieth was finally back in the mix, at least on the fringes, after a hot start that led to a 67. He was in the group six shots behind.

The biggest surprise was Streb, who became the fourth player with a 63 at Baltusrol. Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf each had 63 in the opening round of the 1980 U.S. Open, and Thomas Bjorn shot 63 in the third round in the 2005 PGA Championship.

Streb hasn’t had a top 10 on the PGA Tour since he tied for 10th in the PGA Championship last year. He found something in his swing a few weeks ago, birdied the last four holes a week ago Friday in the Canadian Open just to make the cut, and grabbed a sliver of history at Baltusrol.

]]> 0, 29 Jul 2016 22:37:55 +0000
Foulke provides relief for Sea Dogs relievers Fri, 29 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Several times this season, Portland Sea Dogs relief pitchers have gathered in their elevated bullpen beyond the right-field fence to listen to Foulke tales.

Twelve years after Keith Foulke closed out the historic 2004 World Series for the Boston Red Sox, he’s back in the organization as a player-development consultant.

“Actually I think I’m a mentor or advisor or something like that,” Foulke said. “It’s a brand-new position that’s really never been done.”

Foulke spoke from a shaded picnic table at Hadlock Field during the Sea Dogs’ series earlier this week against Trenton. During games he sits in the bullpen with Portland’s relief corps, which currently numbers seven.

“He’s a good sounding board for guys who have questions about certain situations, certain pitches, counts, how to attack hitters,” said Portland pitching coach Kevin Walker, who remains in the dugout during games. “There’s just a lot of things you can bounce off a guy who’s got a ton of experience.”

Foulke had an 11-year career in the big leagues. He began as a starter with the Giants, was involved in trades to the White Sox and A’s, became an All-Star in 2003 and signed with the Red Sox prior to 2004, when he played a pivotal role in their American League Championship Series comeback against the New York Yankees and subsequent World Series sweep of St. Louis.

Knee problems limited Foulke’s effectiveness in two more years with the Red Sox. After elbow surgery he returned to pitch for Oakland in 2008 and ended his career after a 2009 season with the independent Newark (New Jersey) Bears.

In March, he returned to the Red Sox after discussing an advisory role with the team president, Dave Dombrowski.

“He had pretty much the same idea,” Foulke said. “When you think about it, it’s the one group of players that doesn’t have a roving instructor.”

Foulke, who has three sons and makes his home in Phoenix, drops in on the two highest rungs of Boston’s minor league ladder, Portland and Pawtucket. This week’s visit to Maine was his second of July. He arrived Sunday, remained through Wednesday and plans to return in late August.

“I definitely have tried to tap into some of the knowledge he has,” said Ty Buttrey, who has nine starts and 13 relief appearances. “He’s been through it and he can help us out in so many different ways. He’ll help you with your daily routine, help you to become a better overall pitcher.”

Buttrey asked Foulke for assistance with a mechanical issue, trying to resolve Buttrey’s tendency to pull his glove toward first base instead of staying in line with the plate.

“I’ll pull off, miss my spots a little bit,” Buttrey said. “It’s affected my breaking ball a little bit.”

Buttrey has other questions.

“I always ask him, ‘how many times did you throw back-to-back days?’ ” he said. “Because in the minor leagues, relievers generally don’t throw back-to-back days.”

Indeed, Foulke pitched in 11 of Boston’s 14 postseason games in 2004, including all four against St. Louis. After falling into a 3-0 hole against the Yankees, the Red Sox leaned on Foulke for five innings and 100 pitches over three days to remain alive.

“It’s not that your arm is hurting or not, it’s just that you give the team everything you can,” Foulke told Buttrey. “You have to be ready whenever they need you. If you’re a little tight that day, then spend some extra time to get hot, to get ready, stretch your arm out a little more. Obviously there’s a difference between being a little tight and being hurt. … But as long as you’re ready to go, it’s all out.”

Foulke speaks to the group and to pitchers individually. He arrives early for batting practice and pregame work.

“Some guys, we talk a lot more mental stuff,” he said. “Some guys, we talk a lot more physical stuff. We talk about life. Sometimes you have to talk about stuff that occurs off the field to help you on the field.”

Much of the conversation involves success and failure and how to deal with each. Foulke had plenty of both.

“If I can use my failures to help them proceed smoothly in life, that’s one of my real goals,” he said. “Try to keep them from making the mistakes I made, on and off the field.”

Every Portland reliever knows how it feels to descend the bullpen stairs and jog to the mound at Hadlock. What they dream about is making a similar trip at Fenway Park.

“You’re going to go out there and you’re going to be overwhelmed; you’re going to be scared,” Foulke said. “But it will be one of the greatest things ever to happen to you.”

]]> 0, 28 Jul 2016 21:49:51 +0000
Ramirez’s 9th-inning throwing error gives Angels stunning 2-1 win over Red Sox Fri, 29 Jul 2016 05:28:26 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hanley Ramirez fielded the grounder to first and saw Mike Trout steamrolling toward home. Ramirez rushed his throw just enough to send it sailing — and to hand a victory to the Los Angeles Angels.

Ramirez’s throwing error to the plate on Daniel Nava’s bases-loaded grounder allowed two runs to score, and the Angels walked off with a stunning 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

The Angels rallied in the ninth against Boston closer Brad Ziegler (2-5), loading the bases with one out on singles by Trout, Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons.

Pinch-hitter Nava then poked a potential game-ending grounder to first, but Ramirez’s throw went flying past catcher Sandy Leon to the backstop, allowing Trout and pinch-runner Ji-Man Choi to end Boston’s season-high fourth straight loss.

“We just gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game,” Trout said. “(Nava) put the ball in play, and he made the defense make a play.”

Or not, in the case of Ramirez, who grimly accepted responsibility.

“That can’t happen,” Ramirez said. “I know better, and I know when I’ve got Trout on third and a ground ball, but still I’ve got to make that one. I kind of threw it and started running before I threw it.”

Ramirez’s years of defensive misadventures are the stuff of nightmares for fans of the nearby Dodgers and the Red Sox.

“That’s a routine play that Hanley has made many times over,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t execute defensively tonight as a club. … Knowing the speed of Trout, he burned his throw at first base, and that was that.”

Ramirez’s woes were set up by another shaky ninth from Ziegler, who lost for the second straight day and blew his third save of the season. The closer gave up a ninth-inning homer by Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera on Wednesday.

“It didn’t work out, but there’s a lot of other things you can point to that went wrong,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler and Ramirez wasted eight innings of seven-hit ball from David Price. The $217 million left-hander outdueled Jered Weaver, who pitched six-hit ball into the sixth inning, but was resigned to another hard-luck loss.

“I kept battling against a guy that was doing his thing,” Weaver said. “He made some good pitches, but the boys never stopped. They kept grinding, and we were able to pull it out there in the ninth. It was awesome.”

David Ortiz reached base three times as the Red Sox opened an 11-game West Coast road trip with another heartbreaker for their sixth loss in seven games.

Cam Bedrosian (2-0) pitched the ninth for Los Angeles.

Boston scored in the third when Leon singled, scampered to third on Brock Holt’s single and came home on Mookie Betts’ fly to left.


Price has been inconsistent over the past six weeks, mixing a handful of strong starts with rocky outings. He followed up eight shutout innings against Tampa Bay before the All-Star break by allowing 22 hits in 11 1/3 innings over his past two starts.

He was back in form against the struggling Angels, limiting them to seven singles and one walk while striking out six. With the tying run on first in the eighth, Price struck out Kole Calhoun with a 94-mph fastball on his 109th and final pitch.


The Angels paid an entertaining tribute to the retiring Ortiz before the game. A few Los Angeles players and coaches wore sunglasses, gold chains and backward caps while presenting Ortiz with a painting of himself. Ortiz and Pujols shared a long hug and then stood together in center field for the national anthem.


Red Sox: Ortiz will get a rest day this weekend against one of the Angels’ two left-handed starters, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.

Angels: Manager Mike Scioscia believes infielder Cliff Pennington will be ready to come off the disabled list Sunday as scheduled. He has played only three games since May 12 while struggling with a hamstring injury.


Red Sox: Rick Porcello (13-2, 3.57 ERA) is in outstanding form with five consecutive winning starts as he tries to become the fourth 14-game winner in the majors.

Angels: Tim Lincecum (2-4, 8.70 ERA) is still struggling mightily in his comeback season. He gave up eight runs and seven hits while getting just four outs against Houston last weekend.

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Major league roundup: Sale returns but gets outpitched by Lackey Fri, 29 Jul 2016 03:35:53 +0000 CHICAGO — Chris Sale returned from his jersey-trashing suspension and threw six effective innings, but John Lackey had a better night and Aroldis Chapman got the final four outs to save the Cubs’ 3-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago’s rivalry series Thursday night.

Sale (14-4) was greeted with smiles and hugs from his teammates following a five-day ban for tearing up 1976-style uniforms he didn’t want to wear before his previous scheduled start. He had command issues, but worked out of trouble while allowing two runs and six hits.

Lackey (8-7) allowed one run in six innings for his first win since June 8. Chapman, in his second appearance since being acquired from the Yankees, struck out two and consistently hit 102 mph in his first save for his new team.


TWINS 6, ORIOLES 2: Rookie Max Kepler continued his midseason surge with a game-tying home run among two hits and two RBI as Minnesota rallied to win at home.

The teams were squeezing in a makeup game from a May 9 postponement with Minnesota in the middle of a homestand and Baltimore heading for a weekend series at Toronto.

RANGERS 3, ROYALS 2: Mitch Moreland’s second home run of the game broke a tie in the eighth inning and Cole Hamels earned his 12th win of the season as Texas won at home.

Hamels (12-2) allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings, matching his longest start of the season. His 123 pitches were 10 more than his previous high for the year.


CARDINALS 5, MARLINS 4: Aledmys Diaz homered, doubled and drove in three runs against childhood pal Jose Fernandez, helping St. Louis to a win at Miami.

Fernandez gave up five runs in five innings and fell to 26-2 at Marlins Park.

Miami’s Dee Gordon, the 2015 NL batting and stolen bases champion, returned from an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test and went 0 for 4. Ichiro Suzuki doubled as a pinch hitter in the seventh for Miami and needs two hits for 3,000.

Diaz and Matt Holliday homered in the third inning against Fernandez (12-5), who had never previously given up more than one homer in a home game. His only other loss at Marlins Park came on Opening Day this year against Detroit.

Michael Wacha (6-7) allowed three runs in six innings, and three relievers completed an eight-hitter.

ROCKIES 2, METS 1: Steady closer Jeurys Familia stumbled for a second straight game, allowing two runs in the ninth inning as Colorado earned its seventh win in eight games.

Less than 24 hours after Familia’s streak of 52 consecutive regular-season saves was snapped, the right-hander entered in the top of the ninth with a 1-0 lead, and couldn’t hold it.

Dealing with a rare early start to open a series because of a camp day at Citi Field, neither offense was able to do much against starters Jacob deGrom and Tyler Anderson.

DeGrom allowed only one runner to reach second base over seven innings of scoreless ball for the Mets.

BREWERS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 4: Hernan Perez hit a two-run homer, singled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth as Milwaukee won at home.

Perez, who started at shortstop for the benched Jonathan Villar, crushed Robbie Ray’s first pitch 458 feet off the facing of the scoreboard in center for a two-run homer in the third.

PHILLIES 7, BRAVES 5: Aaron Altherr and Maikel Franco homered, and Aaron Nola won for the first time in eight starts as Philadelphia won at Atlanta.

Altherr returned to the lineup after missing the first 103 games of the season with a broken left wrist. He went 3 for 4 with two RBI.

Braves starter Matt Wisler (4-11) gave up three homers and has allowed eight homers in his past four starts.

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Major league notebook: Hamilton improved after surgery, will be ready for spring training Fri, 29 Jul 2016 03:20:35 +0000 DALLAS — Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton says he is feeling no pain seven weeks after extensive surgery on his left knee.

Hamilton said Thursday he feels good but knows he still has healing to do and needs to go “through the process of rehabilitation.” The 35-year-old outfielder fully expects to be with the Rangers when they get to spring training in Arizona before next season.

During surgery June 8 in Houston, Hamilton’s anterior cruciate ligament was reconstructed. Dr. Walt Lowe also repaired meniscus and lateral cartilage in the knee.

That was Hamilton’s third surgery on the knee since September, along with cortisone shots and a platelet-rich plasma injection.

CARDINALS: Right-hander Lance Lynn, who underwent Tommy John surgery in November, threw to hitters again Thursday and the team hasn’t ruled out his return this season.

ROYALS: Reliever Luke Hochevar was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The Royals said the right-hander has symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. That is a condition when blood vessels or nerves between the collarbone and first rib become compressed, and can cause pain in the shoulder and neck.

Hochevar is 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 40 appearances this season.

WHITE SOX: Second baseman Brett Lawrie (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 22 while infielder Carlos Sanchez was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to fill in. Also, left-hander Carlos Rodon (sprained left wrist) threw a side session that went well, Manager Robin Ventura said. He could possibly start Sunday against the Twins.

GIANTS-TWINS: San Francisco acquired All-Star infielder Eduardo Nunez from Minnesota in exchange for minor league pitcher Adalberto Mejia. Nunez was batting .300 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI this season for the Twins, and was leading the American League with 26 steals at the time of the trade.

ANGELS: Major League Baseball denied the team’s formal protest of a loss at Kansas City on Wednesday night. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia protested Kansas City’s 7-5 victory, claiming the Royals’ Raul Mondesi ran inside the line on a bunt single in the seventh inning. The play led to a throwing error and two runners scoring, and Scioscia claimed Mondesi was illegally on the grass when pitcher Matt Shoemaker made his errant throw to first.

]]> 0 Thu, 28 Jul 2016 23:24:00 +0000
MLS All-Stars fall to English soccer power Fri, 29 Jul 2016 03:19:10 +0000 SAN JOSE, Calif. — Didier Drogba hardly felt like celebrating his goal given the MLS All-Stars missed multiple late scoring chances that cost them their all-star game Thursday night against Premier League power Arsenal.

Chuba Akpom scored the deciding goal in the 87th minute from close range on a nice cross from the left side by Nacho Monreal, and Arsenal topped the MLS All-Stars, 2-1.

Once Arsenal’s young substitutes got going after entering midway through the second half, the opportunities came.

Moments before halftime, Drogba, who plays for Montreal, scored on his third try following two deflections in one quick sequence for MLS to make it 1-1.

“The goal that I score and we lose, it doesn’t count. … It’s a bit disappointing for me,” Drogba said. “Once again, I hate losing.”

Drogba’s first attempt ricocheted off goalkeeper Petr Cech, then the next off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before he converted with a shot to the right upper corner of the net in the second minute of stoppage time of the first half. Giovani dos Santos jumped on Drogba’s back afterward.

Joel Campbell scored on a penalty kick in the 11th minute for Arsenal following Jelle Van Damme’s yellow card.

Campbell converted the penalty kick with his left-footed shot to the left of a diving goalkeeper Andre Blake of the Philadelphia Union.

There was a scare for the MLS team in the 22nd minute, when Kellyn Acosta of Dallas collided with Francis Coquelin. A trainer came out as Acosta grabbed at his right ankle but he got to his feet and stayed in the game.

Blake stopped a free kick in the sixth minute for the MLS, which regularly pushed into its offensive half.

San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski received a roaring ovation when he entered to play on his home field in the 73rd minute, when Clint Dempsey of Seattle also came into the match.

“This is the most talented MLS team we’ve put together,” said MLS Coach Dominic Kinnear, also the Earthquakes coach. “I would have loved to have won the game and made this experience a little more positive.”

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Skowhegan ousts Saco team in American Legion state tourney Fri, 29 Jul 2016 03:05:40 +0000 AUGUSTA — Skowhegan Coach Roger Stinson vowed his team’s offense would appear Thursday after being shut down the day before in the American Legion baseball state tournament.

He was right.

Skowhegan scored 11 runs in the third inning and went on to a 14-2 victory against Fayette-Staples of Saco in a seven-inning elimination game at McGuire Field.

“That’s a lot more like it,” Stinson said after his team totaled 13 hits. “Everybody was swinging the bats. It worked out from the beginning.”

Skowhegan (17-11) will face Pastime of Lewiston in another elimination game at 10 a.m. Friday.

Ryan Emery went 3 for 5 with two RBI and three runs. Evan Bess and Will Stinson each drove in two and scored twice, and Chase Malloy and Cody Laweryson had two hits apiece.

Everyone in the starting lineup got at least one hit.

“We had a really rough game (Wednesday). None of us were hitting,” Emery said.

“I think today we came more prepared and more ready to play.”

The offense allowed Stinson to pull his ace, Laweryson, off the mound after two innings and 23 pitches so he pitch again Friday.

Skowhegan’s first seven batters reached against Fayette-Staples starter Zachary Ham. An error, and RBI singles by Emery and Laweryson brought in three runs.

“It was very important (to set the tone early) after coming out flat yesterday,” Stinson said. “The boys knew that this was do-or-die.”

“Usually, our game is playing small-ball. We get guys at first and second and nobody out, it’s almost a no-brainer that we’re going to bunt,” Laweryson said.

“But we had everybody hitting today, so we let our guys swing the bat.”

In the third, Skowhegan sent 15 batters to the plate, scoring 11 runs on seven hits, all singles, and three walks, plus three Fayette-Staples errors.

“We just got so far behind, we just couldn’t catch up,” Fayette-Staples assistant coach James Searle-Belanger said.

Emery, who had two hits and scored twice in the inning, got the rally started with a leadoff single. Two-run singles by Stinson and Bess and RBI singles from Emery, Malloy and Mike Berry kept the inning going.

WELLS 10, COASTAL LANDSCAPE 0: Cam Cousins hit a two-run single as part of a five-run third inning and Wells (18-4) beat Coastal Landscape of Portland in an elimination game at Augusta.

Cousins finished with three RBI, and Ryan Coughlan had three hits. Cody Cousins pitched six shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out four to pick up the win.

COFFEE NEWS 12, PASTIME 0: Coffee News of Bangor (20-5) handed Pastime of Lewiston its first loss in the double-elimination tournament, winning in eight innings at Augusta.

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Sports Digest: Lee takes 3-stroke lead in Women’s British Open Fri, 29 Jul 2016 03:03:57 +0000 GOLF

Lee takes 3-stroke lead in Women’s British Open

Mirim Lee shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday to match the Women’s British Open record and open a three-stroke lead in the major championship at tree-lined Woburn Golf Club.

Three weeks after shooting a 64 in the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open, the 25-year-old South Korean player made the last of her 10 birdies on the par-3 17th and closed with a par.

Lee fell a stroke short of the LPGA Tour major record of 61 set by Hyo Joo Kim in the first round of the 2014 Evian Championship.

Minea Blomqvist shot a 62 in the third round of the 2004 Women’s British Open at Sunningdale, and Lorena Ochoa had a 62 in first round of the 2006 Kraft Nabisco. Lee also matched her official LPGA Tour career low set in the second round of the 2014 LPGA Taiwan.

“I’ve shot 11 under before,” Lee said. “It was back in, I think, second round of LPGA Q-School, final stage. Just so happens my caddie at the time (John Kileen) was my caddie today.”

Ariya Jutanugarn was second after a bogey-free 65.


ROGERS CUP: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia, beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4. Also at Toronto, Milos Raonic advanced to the quarterfinals by routing American qualifier Jared Donaldson 6-2, 6-3.

Second-seeded Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland beat 16th-seeded Jack Sock of the United States 7-6 (3), 6-2; third-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan topped Rajeev Ram of the United States, 6-3, 6-4; South Africa’s Kevin Anderson edged 12th-seeded Bernard Tomic of Australia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov beat Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 7-5.

Venus Williams tumbled out in the third round, falling 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 to 10th-seeded Madison Keys at Montreal.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1.


NBA: Richard Jefferson’s planned retirement didn’t last long. The valuable veteran forward, who played a critical role in Cleveland winning an NBA championship this season, re-signed with the Cavaliers.

The Washington Wizards re-signed reserve guard Marcus Thornton.

General Manager Ernie Grunfeld announced the move Thursday, calling Thornton “a proven veteran who gives us experience and scoring off the bench and will add depth at the two-guard position.”

Thornton averaged 8.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 14 games with the Wizards last season after signing as a free agent March 9 when he was waived by the Houston Rockets.

The National Basketball Players Association’s player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service.


NHL: The Minnesota Wild and defenseman Matt Dumba agreed to a two-year, $5.1 million contract. Dumba, 22, had 10 goals, 16 assists, 83 hits and 56 blocked shots in 81 regular-season games in 2015-16.

The Arizona Coyotes locked up two of their best young defenseman, signing Connor Murphy to a six-year contract and Michael Stone to a one-year deal.


FORMULA ONE: Frontal cockpit protection will not be introduced for Formula One cars before the 2018 season, to allow for more testing.

While drivers generally don’t like the look of the system, which puts a see-through capsule around their cockpits, they appreciate the improved safety.

The apparatus is designed to prevent flying objects from hitting drivers’ heads and would provide added protection when cars overturn or when they land on each other.

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Local baseball: Biddeford reaches Little League state final Fri, 29 Jul 2016 02:51:06 +0000 ORRINGTON — Biddeford advanced to the championship game of the Little League state tournament Thursday with a 4-3 win that eliminated Lewiston.

Biddeford will bring a 3-1 tournament record into a game against Scarborough, which is 3-0, at 5:30 p.m. Friday. A Scarborough loss would force a winner-take-all game at noon Saturday with the winner advancing to the regionals.


WINNIPAUSKEE 10, SANFORD 1: Todd Czinege and Michael Landestoy each had two hits for the Mainers (24-15) in a loss to the Muskrats (17-22) at Laconia, New Hampshire.

Czinege scored Sanford’s run in the sixth inning on a wild pitch.


SULLIVAN 8, OLD ORCHARD BEACH 6: Luc Pomales hit a solo home run and went 3 for 4 for the Surge (26-27) in a loss to the Explorers (25-25) at Old Orchard Beach.

Pomales had three RBI, and Sean Washington went 2 for 4, including a solo homer in the fourth for Old Orchard.

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Olympic notebook: Organizers say sabotage possible in athletes’ rooms Fri, 29 Jul 2016 02:38:24 +0000 RIO DE JANEIRO — Sabotage by unhappy workers may have caused water and gas leaks, blocked toilets and electrical faults that slowed teams from moving into the athletes’ village, Rio Olympic organizers said Thursday.

“We are considering isolated cases, but we haven’t seen enough to say it was an organized sabotage thing,” Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said. He said the most likely cause was what he called “organizational problems.”

All 31 buildings at the massive compound for 18,000 athletes and staff were due to be ready at the end of Thursday, with the games opening in just over a week. Andrada said about 400 of the 3,600 rooms in the complex had defects.

South America’s first games have been plagued by problems, including the Zika virus, severe water pollution, security worries and slow ticket sales. But the slipshod construction is the first problem directly touching many teams and athletes.

Australia refused to check in at Sunday’s official opening, setting off public complaints by at least a dozen teams. Those complaints ranged from water dripping from ceilings and walls, the smell of gas, electrical shorts and stopped-up toilet bowls – or no toilet bowls at all.

Andrada described a “wild scramble” last weekend to find 650 plumbers and electricians.

“Imagine, this was on a weekend in Rio,” he said. “We called literally all the construction companies. We literally called every plumber in town.”

Rio is a relaxed beach town, where informal dress is normal and the work schedule is negotiable.

“One U.S. official told me the workers were unprepared, working with water on the floor, working with electricity and wearing no protection; wearing flip-flops,” Andrada said. “But that’s how we live here. Guys work with flip-flops. But the guys are technicians and know how to work.”

Protests have continued to roil the lead-up to the Olympics. On Wednesday night, government employees angry over delayed salary payments took to the streets in Angra dos Reis, near Rio de Janeiro, and confronted the procession carrying one of the Olympic torches.

Chaotic scenes caught on amateur video show a crowd of young people appearing to steal the torch from the procession and then extinguishing it. Local news reports said the Brazilian military eventually disbanded the protests, using tear gas and rubber bullets, and in return were showered with rocks and bricks by the crowd. One child was reportedly injured. The relay was temporarily halted.

Outpourings of anger have plagued Brazil of late, and that anger has taken the form of a series of attempts to steal or extinguish the Olympic torch, with fire extinguishers and buckets of water. Other times the torch bearers have simply foiled themselves by slipping or tripping.

Many in Brazil and around the world have raised questions about hosting expensive sports tournaments in countries with depressed economies and widespread poverty. Stadiums and accommodation for athletes and visitors are built at great cost, and often are left unused after the Games. Proponents argue that the influx of money for the Games spurs the development of public infrastructure, and hosting the Games should be a matter of pride.

BRAZILIAN FEDERAL police said they arrested a 28-year-old Brazilian-Lebanese man suspected of ties to terrorism.

The lawyer for Chaer Kalaun said his client only posted messages on social media and never intended to attack the Olympics. Police didn’t describe possible charges.

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Panthers focus on the future Fri, 29 Jul 2016 01:45:12 +0000 SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Ron Rivera is a student of history, which is why he has been quick to address the elephant in the Carolina Panthers locker room.

The two-time NFL Coach of the Year reminded players that the last team to return to a Super Bowl after losing it the previous season was the 1993-94 Buffalo Bills. The road ahead will be difficult, but he wants to avoid being another NFL statistic.

“We know we are the hunted,” Rivera said.

The Panthers took the field Thursday for the start of training camp with their focus on bucking that 23-year NFL trend. It would seem they have the personnel to do it.

Back is league MVP Cam Newton. So is Kelvin Benjamin, the team’s No. 1 receiver who missed Carolina’s franchise-record 17-win season with a torn ACL. The Panthers defense, which led the NFL in takeaways last season, is mostly intact with the exception of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman. The entire coaching staff is returning, too.

“The talk all offseason has been, ‘Hey, how do we get back?,'” Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “It’s been 20-something years and believe me, we’ve heard all of that forever now. But if there has ever been a group of guys who can do it, it’s this group. Just because of what they’re made of physically and intellectually and the character that we have inside.”

Marv Levy, who coached the Bills to four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s, said having players with high character was essential to overcoming adversity.

“Ability without character is nothing,” Levy said.

The day after Buffalo’s crushing loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl 25 (when kicker Scott Norwood’s potential game-winning field goal sailed wide right), Levy posted a poem his mother once read to him on a message board outside of the team’s meeting room in Orchard Park, New York. The poem, written by an unknown author, read:

“Fight on, my men,” Sir Andrew said.

“A little I’m hurt but not yet slain.

I’ll just lie down and bleed a while,

And then I’ll rise and fight again.”

Levy’s players asked for copies of the poem, and it became a source of inspiration and pride for the Bills over the next three seasons.

Nearly 25 years later, Levy can’t explain why it has been so tough for Super Bowl losing teams to get back to the big game. He said free agency might be one issue.

“There is no hard and fast formula,” Levy said. “But I think one of the big factors is you have to have players with tremendous character – and part of that is resiliency. You have to have guys who aren’t going to give up. We were blessed to have that.”

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Sea Dogs storm past Mets, 7-0 Fri, 29 Jul 2016 01:44:50 +0000 BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Nate Freiman and Jalen Beeks made sure the Portland Sea Dogs got their trip off to a fast start Thursday night.

Freiman doubled twice and drove in three runs in the first three innings, and Beeks pitched five scoreless innings to lead the Sea Dogs to a 7-0 victory against the Binghamton Mets.

“It’s nice to win the first game,” said Freiman, who had hits in his first three at-bats. “I’m just trying to get good at-bats.

“We’re getting into the part of the season where you’re starting to see guys multiple times.”

The Sea Dogs had trouble with Binghamton starter Tyler Pill in the past.

Pill, who won his last five starts, was 4-0 for his career against the Sea Dogs, including a victory Saturday in Portland in his last start, which made him the winningest pitcher in team history.

The Sea Dogs put their knowledge of Pill (8-9) to immediate use Thursday.

Freiman drove in three runs and scored another as Portland opened a 4-0 lead in the third inning.

Freiman, with a career 116 major league games, has heated up recently after being released by Triple-A Syracuse, then spending time in an independent league in April and May.

Beeks (2-2) took advantage of Freiman’s fast start, going five innings and allowing two hits. He threw 57 of 90 pitches for strikes, walking two and striking out three.

“He’s been more consistent,” Manager Carlos Febles said of Beeks, who is 2-0 with a 2.52 earned-run average in his last four starts. “He’s been more aggressive. He’s always had the stuff, just sometimes he gets behind in the count and doesn’t know how to get out of it. That was not the case tonight.”

Beeks got help from Jake Drehoff, who allowed three hits in three innings, and Taylor Grover, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for Portland.

“I’ve had a lot of long innings, a lot of long counts,” said Beeks, 23, who has made just seven Double-A starts. “I’ve got to get guys out more efficiently.

“I only walked two guys so it’s not the walks. I’m not having trouble throwing strikes; I’m just having trouble putting guys away.”

Beeks has had less trouble lately. His only difficulty Thursday came when Binghamton loaded the bases in the second, in part because a batter reached on a passed ball on a strikeout.

The Sea Dogs got plenty of production from the top half of the order.

Aneury Tavarez and Mauricio Dubon started the game with back-to-back singles and came in to score. Tavarez then drove in a run when his sixth-inning chopper to first base got through for a double.

Andrew Benintendi went 2 for 4 and scored twice from the third spot in the order before being lifted for a pinch hitter.

While Benintendi was increasing his average to .325 for the past 11 games, Yoan Moncada, the Sea Dogs’ other prized prospect, had the night off.

Febles said Moncada, who is 4 for 33 (.121) with 16 strikeouts in his last eight games, will return Friday for the second game of the four-game series.

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College football: National semifinal dates are switched Fri, 29 Jul 2016 01:20:48 +0000 The College Football Playoff abandoned a plan to play most of its semifinals on New Year’s Eves after television ratings tumbled last year, moving the dates of future games to ensure they will be played on a weekend or a holiday.

The changes will start with the 2018 season. The TV ratings for last year’s semifinal games played on Thursday, Dec. 31, dropped 36 percent from the semifinals played the season before on New Year’s Day.

This season’s semifinals are still set for Saturday, Dec. 31. Next season’s playoff is scheduled to be back on Jan. 1. In 2018, the games initially scheduled to be played on New Year’s Eve now will be played Saturday, Dec. 29.

The 2019 games will move to Saturday, Dec. 28.

The other seasons affected by the change are 2024, when the semifinals will be moved to Saturday, Dec. 28, and 2025, when the games will be played on Saturday, Dec. 27.

EAST CAROLINA is conducting a campaign on its social media platforms to tout the reasons it deserves strong consideration for becoming a part of the Big 12 Conference. Last week, Big 12 presidents directed Commissioner Bob Bowlsby to study expansion.

Fellow American Athletic Conference schools Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida, Connecticut and Tulane also are in the discussion if the 10-team Big 12 does decide to expand.

THE NCAA football oversight committee recommended Division I programs hold only one “live-contact” practice per week.

The current guidelines, which are not enforceable rules, allow two live practices per week. The new guidelines will take effect this season.

Live practices are defined as those that involve tackling to the ground and full-speed blocking, and can occur in full or half pads. Live contact doesn’t include thudding, when players aren’t taken to the ground.

JON STEINBRECHER, the Mid-American Conference commissioner, is calling for limits on when and where football satellite camps can be held.

Steinbrecher suggested a 15-day window to hold the camps and a requirement they take place on the ground of another four-year college. Satellite camps have become a big issue over the past year. The Southeastern Conference wanted them banned, with some coaches arguing it was just a way for programs to recruit.

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Garoppolo’s work to replace Brady begins Fri, 29 Jul 2016 00:47:31 +0000 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo spent the first two years of his NFL career firmly in the background of the Tom Brady show, a role as the understudy least likely to be used.

If he needed any reminder of that status, he got it Thursday when he was greeted by cheers as he walked onto the field for his third NFL training camp. Only the applause was directed at the guy he will replace for the first month of the season.

“Brady! Brady! Brady!” fans bellowed as Garoppolo and his teammates trotted onto the field.

There was a fleeting moment last season when the spot Garoppolo now finds himself in nearly played itself out.

Brady had just launched a legal challenge of a four-game suspension handed down by the league for what it said was his role in a scheme to illegally deflate footballs used in the 2015 AFC championship game.

Garoppolo arrived at camp prepared to step in as the starter, though that evaporated a week before the regular season when the NFL’s punishment was overturned in court. Brady was allowed to play while his case continued to wind through the courts.

A year later the final gavel sounded on Deflategate when a federal court reinstated the four-game suspension and Brady reluctantly accepted his ban.

It meant that this time Garoppolo walked onto the field knowing that barring a major development over the next month, he will make his first NFL regular-season start when the Patriots open at Arizona on Sept. 11.

As dizzying as the last year-plus has been, Garoppolo said he’s embracing the excitement of the moment.

“That’s why we play the game,” he said. “We play to get out there and get your opportunity, and when it comes you’ve got to be ready for it.”

To most Patriots fans, the 24-year-old is still largely a mystery.

Garoppolo has appeared in 11 games over his first two years, completing 20 passes with one touchdown. It’s probably why the packed bleachers at Thursday’s practice erupted when he channeled his inner Brady during a drill by threading a pass in the back of the end zone to Rob Gronkowski.

His former college coach at Eastern Illinois, Dino Babers, compared Garoppolo’s release to that of Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

While he certainly wasn’t rooting for Brady to be sidelined, Garoppolo recognizes what is immediately ahead.

“It’s a great opportunity. You gotta go out there, take advantage of it,” Garoppolo said. “You don’t get many opportunities in this league. You might only get one, so you gotta make the best of it.”

Gronkowski said the only thing Coach Bill Belichick has said about the quarterback situation is Garoppolo would start the first four games and Brady would take over after that. Gronkowski said that clarity has helped avoid any uncertainty.

“We’re super confident in whoever’s in there and that’s what practice is for, that’s what training camp is for, for everyone to get on the same page,” he said.

For now, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said the plan in camp is to make sure all three quarterbacks get plenty of reps, with now specified first- or second-team designations. That was the case Thursday with both Brady and Garoppolo taking snaps with likely starters.

Belichick said he wants all three quarterbacks on the roster to be game-ready, including rookie Jacoby Brissett.

“I think we have a good situation,” Belichick said. “We have three players we want to work with. Look, in some other years I’ve seen teams that probably don’t feel like they have anybody, or maybe they have one. … We’ll just see how it plays out.”

While it could be just a byproduct of the role he’s now in, Garoppolo found a more than normal gaggle of autograph seekers and people wearing his No. 10 jersey as he left the field Thursday. It’s a big change for a fan base that once had trouble pronouncing or spelling his name.

Will this new spotlight help with that?

“It’s a tough one,” Garoppolo said, “so we’ll see.”

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NFL notebook: Broncos turn focus to a new season Fri, 29 Jul 2016 00:38:31 +0000 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Shortly after the Denver Broncos began training camp Thursday with Jay Z’s “On To The Next One” blaring over the loudspeakers, their safeties and cornerbacks donned actual blinders.

“It’s about focusing on one thing at a time and focusing on what you’re supposed to be focused on,” safety T.J. Ward said. “You’re supposed to be reading the quarterback and supposed to have your eyes on the receiver. Just training your eyes.”

Defensive backs coach Joe Woods wanted his guys to see what was in front of them and not be distracted by anything in the periphery.

It was an especially timely initiative given Coach Gary Kubiak’s opening-of-camp message to put the Super Bowl behind them and focus solely on what lies ahead.

“I told them we’re not defending anything; we’re chasing the next one,” Kubiak said.

STEELERS: Halfback Le’Veon Bell said he was notified in March by the NFL that he failed a drug test but declined to say what his appeal of a four-game suspension is based upon.

That appeal, Coach Mike Tomlin said, won’t take place until the second week of August. While Bell apologized for being a distraction as the Steelers reported for training camp Thursday, he declined to get into specifics.

JETS: New York made the re-signing of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick official, announcing the move less than 10 minutes before the start of the team’s first practice.

Fitzpatrick and the Jets agreed to a one-year deal worth $12 million guaranteed Wednesday night. The Jets tweeted out a picture of Fitzpatrick signing his deal, and the quarterback fully participated in practice.

WASHINGTON: Rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.

Washington put Doctson on the PUP list with an Achilles injury that first occurred at rookie minicamp in May. Doctson returned during organized team activities but left soon after when he aggravated the problem.

LIONS: Detroit signed wide receiver Anquan Boldin to bolster depth at a position depleted by the retirement of Calvin Johnson.

JAGUARS: Running back Denard Robinson insists he wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car and rolled through a red light and into a retention pond this month.

Robinson was cited for careless driving a week after the July 3 incident.

Rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey practiced for the first time since tearing cartilage in his right knee.

BROWNS: Linebacker Armonty Bryant pleaded guilty to attempted drug possession.

Bryant was sentenced to 68 days of probation in a Cuyahoga, Ohio, County court and fined $1,000. A three-month jail sentence was suspended.

VIKINGS: Minnesota gave Coach Mike Zimmer a contract extension as he opens his third training camp with the team.

General Manager Rick Spielman declined to disclose the terms of the deal.

FALCONS: Wide receiver Julio Jones was pulled from practice with what Coach Dan Quinn described as a “little tweak.”

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Walker a surprise leader at PGA Championship Thu, 28 Jul 2016 17:31:23 +0000 SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — A drab year for Jimmy Walker took a turn for the worse two weeks ago at the British Open, when he stayed in what was dubbed the “frat house” at Royal Troon with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

Walker was the only one to miss the cut.

He still stayed the weekend. He just stayed away from the golf course and his clubs. How does one kill time in such a small Scottish town?

“When the first guy comes back and he’s ready for a cocktail, you have one,” Walker said.

Thursday, in the PGA Championship, the drinks were on Walker.

In the final major of the year, Walker finally got enough putts to fall at Baltusrol that he matched his low score in a major with a 5-under 65 and wound up leading a major for the first time in his career.

Just like that a stale year came to life.

Walker had a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Martin Kaymer, Emiliano Grillo and Ross Fisher.

And for Henrik Stenson, a great year might get even better. Coming off his record performance at the British Open, the Swede had three birdies on the back nine as the sweltering heat gave way to dark clouds and 20 mph gusts. That gave him a 67, leaving him two shots behind. Stenson is trying to join Ben Hogan in 1953 as the only players to win back-to-back majors at age 40.

“It’s going to be a great season for me,” Stenson said. “But at the same time I want to give myself a chance to try to make it the best season.”

It wasn’t the best of times for Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy.

Johnson, the U.S. Open champion with a chance to go to No. 1 in the world, was in the trees, in the water and couldn’t get out of a bunker. He managed only one birdie in a round of 77 that wasn’t enough to beat 15 of the club pros at Baltusrol.

He wasn’t alone in his misery. McIlroy took 35 putts and didn’t make a single birdie in his round of 74 that left him so frustrated that he returned late in the day with only his putter.

Walker’s year has been so mediocre that he’s finished within five shots of the winner only once this year, at Torrey Pines. He’s on the verge of falling out of the top 50 in the world ranking and hasn’t given as much thought to the Ryder Cup with qualifying a month away from ending.

“I feel like all year it’s just been real stale and stagnant,” Walker said. “It’s just ebbs and flows of golf. Just haven’t been scoring. … It’s frustrating. I would have loved to have had a better year than I’ve had so far to this point, but I know there’s always time to play well at the end of the year.”

Baltusrol allowed for good scoring. Twenty players were at 68 or better, a list that included defending champion Jason Day.

Day played in the morning group with McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, and was the only player without much stress. Mickelson, just 11 days after that magnificent duel with Stenson at Royal Troon, was 4 over through 11 holes when he rallied with three birdies late in his round to salvage a 71.

“It’s not the start I wanted. It’s not indicative of how I’m playing,” he said. “But I’m back to where tomorrow, if I play the way I’ve been playing, I should be OK.”

Jordan Spieth only regretted one hole, the par-4 seventh, when he lost his ball so far to the right he had to chip back into thick rough and wound up three-putting for a double bogey. That was his lone mistake. He rolled in big putts on the 15th for par, 16th for birdie and closed with a two-putt birdie to get back to even-par 70.

Grillo had a chance to at least join Walker in the lead when he was at 4 under with the final two holes par 5s. He made par on both.

Fisher made birdie on the two closing par 5s for his 66. Kaymer started his afternoon round on the back nine and kept it together with two pars, including a 35-yard bunker shot on No. 8 to within 3 feet.

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Major league roundup: Cards win, Familia’s streak ends Thu, 28 Jul 2016 03:45:26 +0000 NEW YORK — Yadier Molina and pinch-hitter Kolten Wong each stroked an RBI double in the ninth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended Jeurys Familia’s streak of 52 straight saves in rallying past the New York Mets 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer off Adam Wainwright to cap a three-run comeback in the seventh that gave the Mets a 4-3 lead. But then Familia, who hadn’t blown a regular-season save opportunity since July 30 last year, faltered.

Jedd Gyorko drew a one-out walk in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Randal Grichuk. Molina hit the next pitch to deep center field, and Grichuk scored standing up to tie it.

Molina was thrown out at third by Familia (2-2) on pinch-hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker’s comebacker, but Hazelbaker stole second and scored when Wong lined a double just inside the left-field line.

REDS 2, GIANTS 1: Jay Bruce homered in his career-high fifth straight game, connecting off Madison Bumgarner in a win at San Francisco.

MARLINS 11, PHILLIES 1: Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer, his 22nd, in the first inning to lead a 16-hit attack in Miami’s victory at home. Don Kelly, who began the game 1 for 22 this season, went 3 for 5 with two triples, two RBI and two runs scored to raise his average from .045 to .148.

The Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki did not play and remained at 2,997 career hits.


ATHLETICS 6, RANGERS 4: Khris Davis homered twice and Coco Crisp also went deep as visiting Oakland beat AL West-leading Texas.

ASTROS 4, YANKEES 1: Lance McCullers struck out 10 in six solid innings and Colby Rasmus broke out of an 0-for-29 slump with a two-run homer in a win at Houston.


NATIONALS 4, INDIANS 1: Stephen Strasburg (14-1) shut down Cleveland for seven innings and bounced back from his only loss this season with a win at Cleveland.

PADRES 8, BLUE JAYS 4: Adam Rosales hit a two-run home run, Alex Dickerson and Brett Wallace each hit solo shots as San Diego avoided a three-game sweep at Toronto.

San Diego extended its club-record streak with at least one home run to 25 games.

ROCKIES 3, ORIOLES 1: Nick Hundley broke up Dylan Bundy’s no-hit bid with a sixth-inning homer, and Colorado used a strong pitching performance by Jon Gray to win at Baltimore.

RAYS 3, DODGERS 1: Matt Moore pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning, Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer and Tampa Bay won at Dodger Stadium for the first time.

PIRATES 10, MARINERS 1: Gerrit Cole pitched a three-hitter for his first career complete game and slumping Andrew McCutchen had a three-run home run among his three hits as Pittsburgh rolled at home.

CUBS 8, WHITE SOX 1: Javier Baez hit a tie-breaking two-run homer deep into Wrigley’s Field’s left-field bleachers in the seventh and Addison Russell added a grand slam homer in a five-run eighth.


WHITE SOX: Chicago put second baseman Brett Lawrie on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 22, and recalled infielder Carlos Sanchez from Triple-A Charlotte.

ROCKIES: Colorado reinstated left-hander Chris Rusin from the 15-day disabled list. He will take the spot of right-handed reliever Jason Motte, who was put on the 15-day DL with a right rotator cuff strain.

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Local baseball/softball: Maine softball team ousted Thu, 28 Jul 2016 02:54:21 +0000 WORCESTER, Mass. — Shaker Valley, the Maine champion from the Limerick-Waterboro area, was eliminated from the Senior League East Regional softball tournament Wednesday with a 12-3 loss to Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Mackenzie Freyermuth went 3 for 4 with a walk and two runs to pace a 15-hit offense for Meadville (4-1) against Shaker Valley (2-3) in the elimination game.

The game remained scoreless until the third inning when Meadville scored four runs.

After giving up three more runs in the fourth, Shaker Valley responded with a pair of runs in the fifth on a two-run triple by Zoey DeAngelis to score Hannah Dill and Sara Woodward. Lacey Bean added a solo homer in the sixth for Shaker Valley.


EDGE ACADEMY 6, ON TARGET 2: Mike Muise hit a two-run double and Seth Dobieski added an RBI single to spark a five-run first inning for Edge Academy (8-9-1) against On Target (10-8-1) at South Portland.

On Target scored two runs in the third on RBI singles by Tyler Buckley and Kyle Reichert.

AERO 8, PATRIOT 1: Connor MacDowell hit a two-run double in a five-run fourth as Aero (10-7-2) moved into first by beating Patriot (8-10) at Portland.

Owen Kimmel gave Aero the lead with a solo homer in the first inning. Shawn Murphy added an RBI double in the fourth.


MAINERS 4, NIGHTHAWKS 3: Nelson Mompierre drove in the winning run with a pinch single with two outs in the eighth as Sanford (24-14) rallied at home against Upper Valley (16-23).

The Mainers erased a 3-1 deficit with a three-run eighth, tying the game on a two-out two-run single by Christopher Gaetano.


EXPLORERS 9, SURGE 4: Gevon Jackson went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and two runs to pace visiting Sullivan (24-25) over Old Orchard Beach (26-26). Luc Pomales, Bryan White and Sean Washington finished with two hits apiece for the Surge.

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Sports Digest: Bettman again draws criticism on concussions Thu, 28 Jul 2016 02:53:17 +0000 HOCKEY

Bettman again draws criticism on concussions

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s reluctance to link hits to the head in hockey with a degenerative brain disease found in several deceased former players has reached Congress.

League lawyers filed Bettman’s letter to Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal with U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who’s presiding over a class-action concussion lawsuit against the NHL.

Bettman angered many former players last year with comments following the death of former NHL defenseman Steve Montador at age 35. Montador suffered from CTE, a diagnosis that can only be made after death.

In writing to Blumenthal, Bettman maintained a dismissive stance on the issue.


ROGERS CUP: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic survived a scare to beat Gilles Muller 7-5, 7-6 (3) at Toronto, his final event before the Rio Olympics.

Third-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan downed American Dennis Novikov 6-4, 7-5; and fourth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada beat Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun, 6-3, 6-3.

Venus Williams opened play at Montreal with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Barbora Strycova. Williams will face Madison Keys in the third round. Keys beat fellow American Madison Brengle, 6-4, 6-3.

Also, fourth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat Monica Niculescu 6-1, 7-5; seventh-seeded Roberta Vinci topped Camila Giorgi 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; and Kristina Kucova beat eighth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.


NBA: Dirk Nowitzki signed his contract with Dallas, and a person with knowledge of the deal said it’s worth more than the original agreement.

The 38-year-old star who has spent all of his 18 seasons with the Mavericks signed a two-year, $50 million contract – $10 million more than the deal struck before contracts could be signed.

Nowitzki will be the highest-paid Dallas player at $25 million in 2016-17.


DAYTONA 500: The Daytona 500 is moving back to its traditional weekend in 2018.

The Daytona 500 had been held on Presidents Day weekend from 1968 to 2011. But NASCAR officials tweaked the date beginning in 2012, anticipating changes to the NFL schedule that could have put the Super Bowl on the same weekend as NASCAR’s season opener.

Now, with the NFL unlikely to expand its schedule anytime soon, NASCAR’s biggest race is moving back to its original calendar spot.

OBITUARY: Sam Wheeler, a renowned land speed motorcycle racer, is dead after the high-performance bike he was testing at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats fish-tailed, went airborne and crashed at 200 mph. He was 72.

Wheeler, an engineer from Arcadia, California, was known as an innovator and pioneer in the sport.

He spent more than two decades building, fine-tuning and racing a motorcycle on which he reached speeds exceeding 300 mph.

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Olympic notebook: Putin says IOC ban discriminates against Russia Thu, 28 Jul 2016 02:36:33 +0000 MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin hit out at “discrimination” against the country’s banned track and field athletes at a Kremlin send-off ceremony Wednesday for its depleted Olympic team.

Fencers, triathletes and table tennis players became the latest team of Russians to be cleared to compete in the Olympics by the governing bodies of their sports ahead of the Moscow ceremony, but the IAAF rejected a bid by the bulk of the track and field team to be reinstated.

More than 100 Russians from the 387-strong Olympic team have been banned from going to Rio de Janeiro.

“We can’t accept indiscriminate disqualification of our athletes with an absolutely clean doping history,” Putin said. “We cannot and will not accept what in fact is pure discrimination.”

Putin said the athletes banned from the Olympics were victims of a campaign to present Russian sports in a bad light. He spoke with a two-time Olympic pole vaulting champion, Yelena Isinbayeva, the most high-profile of the 67 track and field athletes banned from the games, standing beside him.

BELINDA BENCIC said on Twitter that she is pulling out of the Olympics, another blow to a Swiss tennis team that also lost Roger Federer this week.

Bencic, who is No. 16 in the WTA rankings, said she’s “not completely ready” to compete although her injured left wrist has healed.

The wrist problem forced the 19-year-old Bencic to quit during her second-round match at Wimbledon on June 30.

ANDERSON VAREJAO, a center for the Golden State Warriors, will miss the Olympics for Brazil because of a herniated disc in his lower back.

Varejao should be ready for training camp but won’t be healthy enough to play in the Olympics. Varejao recently experienced back pain while training with the Brazilian national team and returned to California to be examined.

Varejao averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 22 games after signing with the Warriors on Feb. 22. He re-signed with the team earlier this month.

A NEAR-DIPLOMATIC incident, as Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes termed it, came to an end when the Australian delegation said it’s now happy with its rooms at Rio’s Olympic Athletes Village.

The Australian delegation gave the mayor a tiny “boxing kangaroo” doll as the sign of a truce. The 700-member delegation refused to check in three days earlier because of water and gas leaks, electrical shorts, malfunctioning toilets and general filth.

The unfinished village, built at a cost of about $1.5 billion, marks the first organizational crisis of South America’s first Olympics. Attention now shifts to dozens of venues, which will be filling up in the next few days with thousands of athletes hoping to practice. Problems here could make village problems seem small.

THE IOC’S new Olympic Channel will be launched next month following the closing ceremony, going live Aug. 21.

The channel is designed to promote Olympics sports between each games and engage with young audiences. It will provide a mix of live sports coverage, historic Olympic footage from the IOC’s archives, news programming and a platform for Olympic bid cities.

The project, the brainchild of the IOC president, Thomas Bach, was approved by the full IOC in December 2014.

NBC, THE NETWORK that paid about $1.2 billion to broadcast the Olympics, is so keen to maximize the audience for Rio’s opening ceremony that it lobbied – unsuccessfully – to change the spectacle’s official language from Brazil’s native Portuguese to English.

In the traditional Parade of Nations, teams enter the arena in alphabetical order. Switching the languages would have put the United States’s 555 athletes near the back, giving American audiences a reason to watch the full broadcast. As it is, the team will enter somewhere in the middle because in Portuguese, the delegation is known as Estados Unidos.

IOC rules require that the official language of the opening ceremony has to be that of the host country.

THE TOKYO 2020 organizing committee president, Yoshiro Mori, acknowledged at an executive board meeting this week that the cost of building seven temporary venues for the Olympics surged to an estimated $2.6 billion, up from an initial estimate of $690 million.

Mori said the original figures were the result of sloppy calculations that he blamed on the Tokyo metropolitan government and Japanese Olympic Committee.

THE INTERNATIONAL Weightlifting Federation said 11 more weightlifters, including six silver and bronze medalists, tested positive in retests of samples from the 2012 London Olympics.

The IWF said in a statement that all 11 athletes, including four Russians, were provisionally suspended until their cases are closed.

BRAZIL’S SUSPENDED president, Dilma Rousseff, said she’ll skip the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

In a series of messages on Twitter, Rousseff said she’ll miss the event at which she was once expected to have a leading role.

IN AN INNOVATIVE move that may not please purists of taekwondo, the sport’s governing body will allow competitors to wear color on their uniforms at the Olympics.

Aside from their protective gear, fighters typically wear an all-white uniform. But the governing body unveiled designs of 20 national Olympic committee’s trousers, featuring national flags and colors.

Tina Charles scored 17 points and Maya Moore added 13 to help the U.S. women’s basketball team beat France 84-62 in an exhibition game at Newark, Delaware.

The game was a rematch of the 2012 London Olympics gold medal game that the Americans won, 86-50. This time the U.S. took a half to get going, which wasn’t a total surprise as the Americans have had little training since getting together for the first time as a full team Saturday in Los Angeles.

The U.S. only led by one at the half, but used a 9-2 spurt to start the third quarter spearheaded by Charles and Moore to create some space. The Americans extended the lead to 63-46 after three quarters. France couldn’t get within 15 the rest of the way.

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NFL notebook: Fitzpatrick, Jets agree to a $12-million deal Thu, 28 Jul 2016 02:32:34 +0000 After months of stalled contract negotiations, the Jets finally got their man: 34-year-old free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Almost seven months after the veteran quarterback ended his breakout 2015 season, he and the Jets agreed to a one-year deal worth $12 million on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

News of Fitzpatrick’s return was a welcome relief for fans and for an organization that had made it clear in January that it wanted to reunite with the 12-year pro. However, the two sides had long been at odds over money.

Early in free agency, sources indicted the Jets’ initial offer was about $7 million or $8 million a year – well below the going rate for NFL starting quarterbacks ($18 million) and what Fitzpatrick had expected.

Following his trade from Houston in March 2015, the career journeyman assumed the No. 1 job (after Geno Smith was injured in training camp) and helped transform a 4-12 club into a team eyeing a playoff berth. With Fitzpatrick leading their revamped offense, the Jets finished 10-6 last season, one win shy of the final AFC wild-card spot.

Fitzpatrick threw a career-high 31 touchdowns, a Jets franchise record, and 3,905 passing yards.

Though he and the Jets had refused to budge on compensation until Wednesday, the Jets had long been considered Fitzpatrick’s likely landing spot.

The team signed running back Bernard Pierce and waived running back Zac Stacy, who failed his physical after missing the last half of last season with a broken left ankle.

RAMS: Los Angeles released quarterback Nick Foles after failing to find a trade destination for the disgruntled veteran.

Foles hasn’t been around the Rams since they traded up to choose California quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick in the draft this spring. The veteran skipped offseason workouts while Los Angeles attempted to trade him.

COWBOYS: Defensive end Randy Gregory is facing a longer suspension over another violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, and owner Jerry Jones says he doesn’t expect to see the troubled player at training camp in California.

With Gregory already suspended for the first four games this season, Jones said Wednesday that the Cowboys haven’t heard from the league about a possible 10-game ban for another failed drug test.

A day after reports that Gregory was in rehab, Jones acknowledged that the former Nebraska standout was undergoing treatment.

CARDINALS: Arizona signed linebacker Donald Butler and released linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, two days before their first training camp practice.

The terms of Butler’s contract weren’t disclosed.

The 6-foot-1, 242-pound inside linebacker spent six seasons with San Diego after being drafted in the third round out of Washington in 2010. He had 54 tackles, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, a half-sack and five tackles for loss in 16 games – nine starts – last season.

BRONCOS: General Manager John Elway declared the Denver’ quarterback competition wide open.

Coach Gary Kubiak said he’ll split snaps between Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, beginning – but not set – in that order.

There are also unknowns on defense such as when star cornerback Aqib Talib and pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware will be cleared to practice. Both are starting out on the non-football injury list, Ware after aggravating a bad back in the offseason and Talib after suffering a gunshot wound to his right leg.

RAVENS: A little more than eight months after being helped off the field at M&T Bank Stadium after suffering the first significant injury of his NFL career – torn ACL and MCL – quarterback Joe Flacco will step back on the practice field Thursday for the first time when the team opens camp in Owings Mills.

He plans to wear a protective brace both in practice and games throughout the season.

Asked if the toughest part of his comeback would be physical or mental, Flacco, 31, was as decisive as Coach John Harbaugh hopes the eight-year veteran will be when the team opens the 2016 season Sept. 11 at home against the Bills.

“I think it’ll be mentally,” Flacco told reporters. “I haven’t played since November, I haven’t really played football. I haven’t gotten any offseason reps. I think the biggest thing will be getting out there and getting my vision back and slowing things down at a good pace that I want them to be at.”

Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that Mike Wallace did not pass the team’s conditioning test, which he’ll need to do before he’s permitted to practice with the team.

Wallace could get another opportunity to pass the test on Thursday. The Ravens signed Wallace to a two-year, $11.5 million contract in March.

PANTHERS: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short said he won’t hold out while awaiting a new contract from Carolina.

Short reported to training camp on time Wednesday, the same day the Panthers announced they gave safety Kurt Coleman a three-year extension that runs through the 2019 season. Short said he’ll play this season under his current deal if he doesn’t receive a contract extension.

TOM COUGHLIN will join the NFL’s football operations staff, a person with knowledge of the agreement tells The Associated Press.

The two-time Super Bowl-winning coach will work closely with Troy Vincent and with the NFL’s game-related committees in an advisory role.

Coughlin won 170 games in his 20 years as an NFL head coach, with Super Bowl wins in 2007 and 2011.

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American Legion state tournament: Yankee Ford dominates Thu, 28 Jul 2016 02:30:54 +0000 AUGUSTA — A tender arm kept Yankee Ford starting pitcher Marshall Peterson off the mound for a couple of weeks before the American Legion baseball state tournament.

Peterson returned for the South Portland-based team’s tournament opener and stymied Skowhegan for nearly six innings Wednesday in an 11-3 victory at McGuire Field.

Skowhegan (16-11), the Zone 1 runner-up, will face Fayette-Staples of Saco in an elimination game at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at McGuire Field. Yankee Ford (20-1) will face Rogers Post of Auburn at 4 p.m. at Morton Field.

Ryan Emery had two hits, including a double and a run, for Skowhegan, which also got two hits from Brendan Curran. Nate Ingalls went 3 for 5 with four RBI for Yankee Ford.

Peterson tossed 52/3 hitless innings and led 6-1 before Cody Laweryson drove a clean single inside the third-base line. Peterson allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits, two walks and a hit batter, striking out four in 62/3 innings.

“I haven’t been throwing for two weeks so I was getting my arm loose again,” Peterson said. “I was feeling good. It felt like my arm was back to normal.”

“We came out a little flat,” Skowhegan Coach Roger Stinson said. “I thought we were going to pick up where we left off last weekend at the zone tournament but we just didn’t do it.”

By contrast, the top of Yankee Ford’s lineup – Sam Troiano, Ingalls, Ben Conti and Drew Abramson – combined to go 8 for 15 with four walks, five runs and eight driven in against three Skowhegan pitchers, including starter Isaiah Vigue.

“We thought they were going to throw (the University of Maine-bound Laweryson), so we were looking forward to facing him,” South Portland co-coach Andrew Wood said. “Troiano leads the game off with a triple and with his speed, he can definitely make some stuff happen. And Ingalls behind him is batting over .450 for us this year. Having those two guys who are both leadoff batters (Troiano for South Portland High, Ingalls for Cape Elizabeth) sets the table, and then we’ve got the big bats behind them.”

Ingalls’ groundout scored Troiano. Conti then singled and took an extra base when the left fielder bobbled the ball. Abramson followed with another single to left to make it 2-0.

Yankee Ford committed four errors in the first two innings but Peterson, who had one of the errors with a wild pickoff throw to first, limited the damage to one run on Dustin Crawford’s squeeze that scored Will Stinson.

“We weren’t able to put a lot of runners on to play the small-ball and the ball we like to play,” Stinson said. “(Peterson) was throwing the low, outside pitch and we’ve got some guys that try to pull when they should just go with the pitch. That had our number for a little bit.”

Stinson said Laweryson will start Thursday’s game in hopes of extending Skowhegan’s season.

COFFEE NEWS 3, COASTAL LANDSCAPE 2: Peter Kemble pitched a four-hitter and scored the go-ahead run on a double by Andrew Hillier in the eighth inning as Coffee News of Bangor rallied past Coastal Landscape of Portland at Augusta.

PASTIME 9, WELLS 5: Kyle Bourget pitched a complete game and Pastime of Lewiston broke a 4-4 tie with a two-run sixth inning to beat Wells at Augusta.

ROGERS POST 7, FAYETTE-STAPLES 6: Rogers Post of Auburn scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning to erase a 5-4 deficit and held off Fayette-Staples of Saco at Augusta.

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PGA Championship: Athletic golfers racking up low scores Thu, 28 Jul 2016 01:54:55 +0000 SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — When Henrik Stenson’s putt gently toppled into the cup on the final hole of the British Open two weeks ago, there was more significance to it than the closing 63 that earned the Swede his first major triumph.

Stenson finished the tournament at Royal Troon at a remarkable 20-under par, with Phil Mickelson being the only player to get within 14 shots of him.

His score tied for the lowest in relation to par in the history of majors. The first to get there? Jason Day in taking his first major in the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Four months before that, Jordan Spieth shot 18 under to capture his first Masters, tying the Augusta record set by Tiger Woods in 1997. Don’t these guys know majors are supposed to be hard?

And now they begin the 98th PGA Championship on Thursday at Baltusrol Golf Club, which has been a haven for record-breakers, even if they pale by today’s standards.

In the 1967 U.S. Open here, Jack Nicklaus’ famous 1-iron to the 18th green helped him shoot 275 and break by one Ben Hogan’s tournament scoring record. Thirteen years later, Nicklaus beat his own mark by scoring 8-under 272 at Baltusrol. Lee Janzen came to New Jersey in 1993 and tied Nicklaus.

Mickelson’s winning score here in the 2005 PGA was 4 under, which seems like a laughably easy target now. Heck, Dustin Johnson shot 4 under (including his Sunday penalty stroke) at brutal Oakmont to win this year’s U.S. Open.

It seems as if there is now a sizable handful of players who can go absurdly low, rather than the one guy who wore red shirts every Sunday. Maybe there are just more like Woods now, in both skill and mentality.

Some are reaching territory Woods never touched.

“I think Tiger was so good, I think if he needed to get to those numbers, he probably could have,” four-time major winner Rory McIlroy said. “But he did enough. He did what he needed to do. Do I feel like I’m playing five or 10 Tigers out there? No. I feel like that would be disrespectful toward Tiger.

“But the fields are deeper and so many guys have chances to win tournaments. I feel like technology has definitely brought fields closer together. Guys are able to hit out there as long as they need to now, and it’s a matter of just doing it when it counts.”

McIlroy has two blowout major victories of his own, winning the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA by eight shots each.

The length at which players are driving the ball plays a big role in the scores. Johnson, McIlroy and Day all average more than 300 yards in driving. On the back nine at Baltusrol, the par-4 hole yardages are 460, 431, 451, 430 and 453. That puts a short club into their hand on every approach to the green.

“The guys are just younger and stronger and fitter and faster, and they are just long out there,” Day said. “So just the competition is really, really tough right now.

“When I first came out in 2006,” he said, “I remember some of the cut lines were plus-one, plus-two, and now most of the cut lines are under par.”

There clearly has been a change in mentality of how much respect is afforded any golf course. For a player to simply go out and ease his way into a major, thinking par is a reasonable score early on, is to possibly get buried.

After Speith made a record 28 birdies in his 2015 Masters win, he also captured the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Since then he has a fourth and two seconds in majors, but the last two he’s been far from contention: 37th in this year’s U.S. Open and 30th in the British Open.

“Improvements in technology I think is certainly a part of it,” Spieth said of the low scoring in majors. “I think part of it is also seeing those scores shot gives a belief to everybody else that, hey, I know this is a major … but you know what, guys are shooting 18-, 19-, 20-under in these tournaments.

“Maybe that’s what it takes. Maybe your expectations of that week are set differently, which could eventually inspire better play.”

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Patriots need their backup QB to step up Wed, 27 Jul 2016 23:32:02 +0000 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Coach Bill Belichick acknowledged Wednesday that Jimmy Garoppolo will have to start the first four games of the season at quarterback and said the top priority of training camp would be to get the former backup ready.

“We have finally some definition with Tom’s situation,” Belichick said of Tom Brady before declining to comment further on the Deflategate scandal that engulfed the NFL and one of its most successful franchises for 18 months.

“Tom will return as the starting quarterback when he comes back, but in the meantime we have to prioritize the first part of our schedule and that will be to get Jimmy ready to go.”

Brady was suspended four games, and the team was docked $1 million and two draft picks for what the league said was a scheme to illegally deflate the footballs used in the 2015 AFC championship game.

Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion, was supposed to sit out the first four games last season, but appeals dragged it out through this summer.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Brady this month, and the quarterback said he wouldn’t pursue an unlikely appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. Belichick said he didn’t change what he was doing to track the ups and downs of the saga.

“Really, I never dealt with it until I would say the decision has been made that looks like, ‘This is what it’s going to be,’ ” he said.

“It’s been in some version of litigation, appeal, appeal depending on how the litigation goes. It’s been in the same place for a year and a half, basically. There’s definition to it now. We’ll move forward based on that definition.”

Moving forward means Garoppolo will need to start against Arizona on Sept. 11, then again against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills. Belichick refused to say how he would split up the reps in practice so both Brady and Garoppolo can get the needed work in.

“We’ll find out,” he said.

Brady is allowed to practice with the team during training camp and play in any preseason games. During the suspension he won’t be allowed any contact with team officials or to work out with teammates.

Special teams captain Matthew Slater said having Brady around during camp will be helpful.

“We’re definitely thankful that he’s around now, and I think he brings so much to the table,” he said. “There’s so much that we can learn from having him around.”

Safety Devin McCourty said Brady’s absence won’t change how the team plays defense.

“Even when you play with the greatest quarterback, we don’t go out there saying, ‘We only have to play OK because Tom is here,’ ” McCourty said.

“We want to be a dominating defense no matter what the situation is and no matter who is out there on offense. We always kind of take the mentality and attitude that we have to go out there and play defense no matter if the offense is scoring touchdowns.”

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Cabrera homer lifts Tigers over Red Sox Wed, 27 Jul 2016 21:01:33 +0000 BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox are limping into a tough West Coast trip after their worst series this season.

Miguel Cabrera hit a tie-breaking home run in the ninth inning Wednesday that bounced off the top of the wall and into Boston’s bullpen, lifting the Detroit Tigers to a 4-3 victory against the Red Sox for a three-game sweep.

The Red Sox were the last major league team to be swept in a series of any length this season. They lost five of their final six on a nine-game homestand, going 4-5 during the stay.

They open an 11-game trip, starting Thursday night with the first of four against the Los Angeles Angels.

“Our ability to go out and put up a complete game is important to head out on the road where we know things are going to be more difficult, just being away from Fenway Park,” Manager John Farrell said before the game.

Boston rallied to tie it in the eighth on Mookie Betts’ RBI triple. Cabrera hit his 21st homer off Brad Ziegler (0-1).

“Unfortunately we’re one swing of the bat difference,” Farrell said.

Ziegler was surprised the ball carried out.

“I just kind of watched it in the air, it looked like it just kept getting farther and farther away,” he said. “I was, ‘What in the world?’ I didn’t think he hit it that good.”

After the Angels, Boston has four games in Seattle and three against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia hit solo homers for the Red Sox.

Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed three runs and nine hits in 51/3 innings.

“I thought he threw the ball well against a quality right-handed hitting lineup,” Farrell said.

James McCann also hit a solo homer, and Victor Martinez had four singles, a walk and drove in two runs for Detroit, which has won 5 of 7.

Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer had another solid start, giving up three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 72/3 innings.

Bruce Rondon (4-2) got one out for the win. Justin Wilson got the final three outs for his first major league save because closer Francisco Rodriguez was unavailable after working the past two days.

Manager Brad Ausmus said Rodriguez was away from the club “tending to a personal issue.” He expects him back Friday.

In the seventh, Fulmer gave up a solo homer to Bogaerts leading off and took a high-hop grounder from Jackie Bradley Jr. off the top of the right shoulder, but stayed in.

The Red Sox chased him in the eighth, tying it on Betts’ triple when center fielder Tyler Collins took a bad route before missing a diving attempt.

McCann made it 3-1 in the sixth, hitting a drive above the Green Monster seats.

NOTES: Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel had a bullpen session. Farrell said he’ll have a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Pawtucket. After that it’s uncertain if he’ll be activated right away. “It could be as few as one,” Farrell said. “It will be dependent physically on how Craig feels.” … Catcher Ryan Hanigan was still only available on an emergency basis after being scratched Tuesday with flu-like symptoms. … First baseman Hanley Ramirez had the day off.

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Creech wins second straight women’s amateur title Wed, 27 Jul 2016 19:51:17 +0000 ORONO — Staci Creech has been playing competitive golf long enough to know not to worry about blips. It’s golf. They happen.

So when young Bailey Plourde cut Creech’s seven-stroke lead to one with eight holes left Wednesday in the final round of the Maine Women’s Amateur golf championships, Creech didn’t worry.

“I was just thinking, ‘Stay patient and hit one shot at a time,’ ” said Creech, who played at the University of North Carolina. “If you have a bad stretch you just have to keep plugging away and see what happens.”

What happened was Creech regained her stroke to pull away for her second straight women’s amateur title, winning by 11 shots on a sweltering day at the Penobscot Valley Country Club.

“It feels great,” said the 43-year-old Creech, who lives in Veazie and plays out of Bangor Municipal. “It’s hard to defend sometimes because the target’s on you. And especially being so close to home, a lot more people were interested. It feels great that I was able to get it done.”

Creech, who won by seven strokes a year ago, finished with a 2-over 75 for a three-round total of 215. She was the lone golfer to finish under par. Plourde, a 16-year-old from Newcastle who is entering her senior year at Lincoln Academy, was second with a 226 after a 10-over 83, including a disastrous 14th hole that turned the match around.

Stephanie Rodrigue was third at 233, shooting the only sub-par round Wednesday, a 1-under 72. Lori Frost, the third member of the final group, was fourth at 235.

Plourde, who entered the day three strokes back, recovered from early struggles to make it a match again. Creech bogeyed four consecutive holes and Plourde pulled within one stroke with birdies on nine and 10.

Creech got a stroke back when she parred 12 and Plourde bogeyed the hole, her putt for par breaking right at the last second.

Creech then birdied the par-5 13th, missing an eagle when her putt lipped out. And Plourde bogeyed it, her second shot landing in a bunker – an omen for things to come.

Creech parred the par-3 14th hole but Plourde shot a 9. Her tee shot went into the sand on the left. Her shot out of the trap flew over the green and out of bounds into the woods for a one-stroke penalty. She went back to the bunker and again overshot the green, landing in a sand bunker on the right side.

Her next shot got out of the bunker but only onto the rough sloping down toward the bunker. She got on the green with her next shot, then three-putted, her next-to-last shot rimming out. When it was over, she had to be consoled by her father, Bob, who was her caddie. That gave Creech an insurmountable 10-stroke lead with four holes to play.

“I honestly don’t know what happened,” said Plourde of that fateful 14th hole. “I wasn’t really on my game totally the entire round and just crumbled, I guess. I don’t know.”

Both Creech and Frost – who play Penobscot Valley occasionally – said the 14th is treacherous for its bunkers.

“The sand traps there are just unforgiving,” said Frost, who also shot a 10 over on Wednesday. “She got, just, flustered.”

Plourde added that although she had been playing well, her bogey on 13 – which dropped her four strokes back – was still on her mind when she teed off on No. 14.

“I thought I was on a roll,” she said. “I don’t know. Something went wrong. I didn’t stay focused out of (13). I said, ‘Geez, I’m out of it.’ I shouldn’t have. I should have kept focused but I didn’t …Learning curve.”

Creech said she knows Plourde’s pain. “We all have had holes like that,” she said. “She’ll learn. She’s got a bright future.”

Plourde, while disappointed with that one hole, was pleased with her overall performance. Last year she was fourth in the women’s amateur, the year before third. “It’s not too bad,” she said. “My best finish.”

Creech, meanwhile, showed why she’s the state’s best. She didn’t get flustered, continually hit the ball down the middle of the fairway and stayed out of trouble.

“She’s a great competitor,” said Frost. “She’s just a pleasure to watch.”

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Thunder pound away again, beat Sea Dogs 10-6 Wed, 27 Jul 2016 19:34:17 +0000 For the second time in less than 24 hours, a lopsided Portland Sea Dogs loss hinged on an unusual fielding play.

On Tuesday night, Trenton second baseman Cito Culver caught a hard throw with his bare hand and turned a double play as the energized Thunder saw a tie game morph into an 11-run rout.

On Wednesday afternoon, Culver’s shallow fly squirted out of the glove of Portland right fielder Rainel Rosario to spark a two-run rally that gave Trenton the lead for good in what turned out to be a 10-6 series-clinching victory.

A sun-baked crowd of 7,368 – many of them youngsters clad in color-coordinated summer camp T-shirts – saw the Sea Dogs rally from four runs down to take an early 6-5 lead.

“I like the way the guys fought back after being down,” said Portland Manager Carlos Febles. “You should feel pretty good about your club.”

Six players hit safely in the five-run third inning, knocking out Trenton starter Daniel Camarena.

Andrew Benintendi stroked a two-run double. Nate Freiman followed with a double. Ryan Court singled home a run. Jake Romanski doubled to put the Sea Dogs up 6-5.

But Trenton reliever Travis Hissong (1-0) quieted the offense with an effective slider and didn’t allow another hit over the next three innings. Caleb Smith and Tyler Jones followed for another three innings of one-hit relief.

Portland starter Teddy Stankiewicz recovered from a rough third inning in which Dustin Fowler’s three-run homer capped a five-run uprising by facing just three batters in each of the other four innings he pitched.

“Performance-wise I felt really good,” Stankiewicz said. “I started off great and then in the third inning, I got a couple guys on base and threw a hanging curveball. (Fowler) hit it well and got a home run off me. After that I just battled and located well.”

The game started to unravel for Portland when Culver reached on the error to open the sixth. Dante Bichette Jr. lined reliever Ty Buttrey’s next pitch for a double in the gap between Rosario and Benintendi in center. A grounder to Court at third erased Culver on a throw home, but Trenton tied the score when Michael O’Neill grounded a single through the box that barely eluded Buttrey. The go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-6.

Trenton added another run in the seventh and two in the ninth on Culver’s second home run of the season.

“As soon as that ball was dropped, I didn’t let it bother me,” said Buttrey (0-9, 4.82). “I moved on to the next hitter. But I left the ball up and (Bichette) put a good swing on it.”

The seventh inning could have been worse. It started with a walk, a throwing error by Buttrey on a potential double- play comebacker and a single to load the bases. But on Bichette’s subsequent liner to center, Benintendi held up his glove as if to make a catch, fielded the ball on one hop and threw to second for a force.

“That was awesome,” Febles said. “They could have had bases loaded, nobody out. Now it’s first and third and we get a double play to end the inning.”

The only other Sea Dogs highlight in the late going was Court’s third hit of the game, a one-out double in the eighth.

“When things go bad, it’s easy to sit there and blame the other guys,” Buttrey said. “But the way baseball is, you can’t do that. I have to go out here and execute pitches, and I missed a lot of opportunities to do that today.”

NOTES: Trenton was 6 of 13 with runners in scoring position. … The Thunder collected 31 hits and 25 runs after dropping the rain-shortened opener at Hadlock, 5-2. “At home it’s a real tough place to hit,” Bichette said of the ballpark in New Jersey. “Big field. Wind blows in. So when we come on the road, we usually hit really well.” … The Sea Dogs left for a four-game series at Binghamton. They host Erie and Akron on Aug. 2-7. … Buttrey, who has started nine games and relieved in 13, tries to be philosophical about his 0-9 record. “It definitely bothers me,” he said. “At the same time this is the minor leagues. This is development. I never sit there and dwell on my 0-9 record. … I know next year I’m going to be way better than I am this year. As negative as it is, you have to find positive in something so bad.”

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Ben True to race at Beach to Beacon Wed, 27 Jul 2016 17:23:20 +0000 Ben True, the North Yarmouth native who fell short in his attempt to earn a berth at the Rio Olympics, will compete Aug. 6 in the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, race organizers announced Wednesday.

True, 30, ran in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials earlier this month. He finished third in his last Beach to Beacon appearance in 2014.

True, a Greely High grad who lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, placed fifth in the 5,000 meters and 11th in the 10,000 at the trials. The top three runners in each event earned spots.

Bangor native Riley Masters also will be among the professional runners at the starting line in Cape Elizabeth. Masters, 26, also competed in the 5,000 meters at the Olympic trials, placing 16th. He was ninth at last year’s Beach to Beacon.

Eric Jenkins, a New Hampshire native who won the American category in 2015, will return to defend his title. The field also includes former U.S. Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Abdi Abdirahman. Jenkins was fourth in the 5,000 meters at the Olympic trials.

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Bolt confident he can defend his gold medals in Rio Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 LONDON — Whatever controversy is raging in the Olympic world there’s one constant: Usain Bolt’s bravado and self-confidence.

It’s what is expected from the world’s fastest man and greatest showman.

“I know the sport needs me to win – and come out on top,” Bolt asserts, assessing the damage caused by the Russian doping scandal that has divided sports leaders.

As for his pursuit of a treble Olympic next month, Bolt adamantly responds: “I’m not going to lose one of the golds, for sure.”

In his last lengthy media appointment before heading to Rio de Janeiro, Bolt spent around two hours over a Jamaican lunch last week in London, discussing his Olympic challenge prospects and the challenges of life.

Bolt’s preparations for the defense of his Olympic titles (100, 200 and 4×100-meter relay) have been far from smooth, with a hamstring injury forcing him out of the Jamaican trials.

“I always have little doubts in my mind,” Bolt said. “But I’m focused and ready to go.”

Bolt expects Rio to be his last Olympics, but he still dangles the possibility of a trip to Tokyo.

“My coach always says ‘Usain you can always go on to the 2020 Olympics if you want,'” Bolt said. “So this is why he tells me to stop talking about retirement and just take it a year at a time.”

The power of athletics in attracting big audiences would be more difficult without its global superstar.

“People always say to me, ‘Usain when you leave the sport, the sport is going to go down,'” Bolt said. “But I’m not going to look at it like that. There are a lot of athletes stepping up.”

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Major league roundup: Indians win with three-run ninth Wed, 27 Jul 2016 03:45:58 +0000 CLEVELAND — Francisco Lindor pushed an RBI single through a drawn-in infield with one out in the ninth inning Tuesday night, and the Cleveland Indians rallied for three runs in their final at-bat to stun the Washington Nationals 7-6 in a matchup of two first-place teams with sights on October.

Down two runs and three outs from their losing streak reaching a season-high four games, the Indians rallied against Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-4), who didn’t get an out before he was pulled by Manager Dusty Baker.

With the bases loaded, Lindor fisted his base hit into right field and danced his way up the first-base line as the Indians celebrated an improbable victory.

Bryan Shaw (2-4) got two outs in the ninth and picked up the win as Cleveland won its first home game since July 10.

ROCKIES 6, ORIOLES 3: Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story had two RBI apiece in a four-run third inning, and visiting Colorado beat Chris Tillman to end Baltimore’s five-game winning streak.

Seeking to become the first 15-game winner in the majors, Tillman (14-3) gave up six runs and nine hits in five innings. He allowed a combined four runs over 28 innings in his previous four starts.

WHITE SOX 3, CUBS 0: James Shields allowed four singles in 72/3 innings and Adam Eaton homered as the White Sox beat the visiting Cubs at Chicago.

Shields (5-12) struck out five and continued an impressive turnaround from a terrible first three starts after being acquired from San Diego last month. Nate Jones finished the eighth and David Robertson worked the ninth for his 24th save in the White Sox’s fourth straight win.

MARINERS 7, PIRATES 4: Felix Hernandez settled down after a shaky start and picked up his first victory in more than two months as Seattle won at Pittsburgh.

Hernandez (5-4) gave up four runs, all in the first two innings, and struck out three in six innings in his first win since May 21. Steve Cishek worked a perfect ninth for his 24th save.

BRAVES 2, TWINS 0: Lucas Harrell pitched six innings, Adonis Garcia homered and Atlanta won at Minneapolis in a matchup of the worst teams in the majors.

This untimely meeting came nearly 25 years after the Twins beat the Braves in a World Series that’s often been mentioned among the most dramatic in history. The 1991 anniversary celebration was marked by Gene Larkin, who had the winning hit in the 11th inning of Game 7, throwing the first pitch.

BLUE JAYS 7, PADRES 6: Devon Travis scored the winning run on a wild pitch, and Toronto rallied for three runs in the 12th inning at home. Matt Kemp of the Padres hit a two-run homer in the top of the 12th.


METS, CARDINALS SPLIT: Bartolo Colon pitched three-hit ball for seven sharp innings and New York overcame another home run by Jedd Gyorko to win at home for a doubleheader split.

Gyorko homered in both ends and has connected seven times in nine games. His two-run shot helped St. Louis win the opener, 3-2.

MARLINS 5, PHILLIES 0: Tom Koehler pitched six innings of three-hit ball, helping Miami win at home.


YANKEES 6, ASTROS 3: CC Sabathia allowed two runs in 62/3 innings to help New York at Houston.

ANGELS 13, ROYALS 0: Tyler Skaggs pitched seven innings in his first big league start in two years and Yunel Escobar went 5 for 5 to help Los Angeles win at Kansas City, Missouri.

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Tigers sink knuckleballer Wright, top Red Sox Wed, 27 Jul 2016 03:12:10 +0000 Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run home run, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Tyler Collins each had a pair of RBIs and the Detroit Tigers roughed up knuckleballer Steven Wright to beat the Boston Red Sox 9-8 on Tuesday night.

With the game tied in the sixth, Collins drew a bases-loaded two-out walk, which allowed Justin Upton to score the deciding run.

On a night when both starting pitchers struggled to string together outs, Detroit and Boston combined for 22 hits. Alex Wilson (1-0) got the victory, and Francisco Rodriguez closed for his 29th save.

David Ortiz had a three-run home run, but Boston’s offense didn’t have enough to offset a rare poor outing by Wright, who gave up nine hits and eight runs over 4 2/3 innings. Wright was leading the AL in ERA entering Tuesday.

Robbie Ross Jr. (1-2) got the loss.

Detroit scored early for the second straight night, this time taking the lead on Cabrera’s 20th homer of the season.

That was followed by RBI singles from Collins and Jose Iglesias in the second inning that made it 4-0.

Detroit starter Mike Pelfrey was solid the first time through the order but lost some of his early command the second time around.

It started in the third when Boston nearly erased Detroit’s lead with one big swing by Ortiz. With Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts aboard, Ortiz connected on a 3-2 pitch from Pelfrey to drive his 25th of the season over the right-field wall.

The Red Sox took the lead back an inning later on an RBI groundout by Brock Holt and RBI double by Betts.

The Tigers continued to get hits against Wright, and went back up 8-5 thanks a four-run fifth inning.

Boston kept chipping away and used Jackie Bradley Jr.’s home run and RBIs by Dustin Pedroia and Bogaerts to tie it in the sixth.


Tigers: OF J.D. Martinez, who has been sidelined since June 17 (non-displaced right elbow fracture) began his rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday night. … LHP Daniel Norris (right oblique strain) will have his next rehab start in Double-A Erie on Thursday. He has been on the disabled list since July 5.

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said LF/C Blake Swihart (left ankle sprain) is “ramping up activities” but because of some residual discomfort is not yet ready for a rehab assignment. The next seven to 10 days will be pivotal for him to determine his next step, Farrell said.


Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer (9-2, 2.41 ERA) makes his 16th start of the year in Wednesday’s series finale. It will be his first career start against the Red Sox. He is coming off a no-decision in his last start Friday against the White Sox, in which he surrendered five runs in five innings.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.70) will make his third start since being recalled from the DL on July 16. He made his lone appearance against Detroit last season, allowing just one run and three hits over seven innings.

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Sports Digest: Biddeford gets eliminated from softball Little League tourney Wed, 27 Jul 2016 03:11:19 +0000 Dominique Rinaldi hit a two-run triple to push Sayville Little League of New York into a five-run, first-inning lead on the way to a 6-4 win over Maine champion Biddeford in a Little League East Regional elimination game Tuesday at Breen Field in Bristol, Connecticut.

Biddeford scored on a sacrifice fly by Charlotte Donovan in the third inning, an RBI single by Anna Lavigne in the fourth inning and a two-run single by Lavigne in the sixth inning.

Laura Perreault also had a pair of hits for Biddeford.

SENIOR LEAGUE: Elizabeth Duanys drove in five runs in leading Jack Barry Little League, the host team, to a pool-play 15-4 victory over Maine representative Shaker Valley in the East Regional in Worcester, Massachusetts.


NECBL: Christopher Gaetano belted a three-run homer in the first inning and Zach Jancarski lined an RBI single in the second as the Sanford Mainers (23-14) beat the Swamp Bats 10-3 in Keene, New Hampshire.

 The Mainers’ Blaise Whitman was named NECBL Pitcher of the Week. Whitman, pitching out of the bullpen, worked six innings over two appearances with five strikeouts and a 0.50 WHIP. He allowed one walk and two hits, and also earned the win in a 3-0 victory against Winnipesaukee.

EMPIRE LEAGUE: Edwin Rolon and Nate Coranado stroked RBI singles as the Sullivan Explorers (23-23) broke a 6-6 tie with two runs in the eighth inning against the Surge (26-25) for an 8-6 win at Old Orchard Beach.

Brandon Cooksey led Old Orchard with two runs and two RBI on a pair of hits.

LITTLE LEAGUE: Scarborough, 3-0 in the tournament, advanced to the championship round of the state 11-12 doubled-elimination tournament with a 19-7 winners’ bracket victory over Biddeford in Orrington.

Biddeford (2-1) plays Lewiston (2-1), a 9-3 elimination game victor over Medomak Valley, in Thursday’s elimination game for the right to meet Scarborough in Friday’s championhsip round.


WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Brittany Gaetano, head coach at Drew University since 2010 and a former assistant at Amherst College, is the new head coach of the Colby College women’s basketball program. She starts on Monday.

Colby finished 15-11 last year and made the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals. The Mules return 11 players, but lost three starters to graduation.


NHL: The Nashville Predators signed restricted free-agent defenseman Petter Granberg to a two-year contract.

 The New York Rangers signed defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy, a third-round pick in 2015, on an entry-level contract.

 The Detroit Red Wings avoided arbitration and signed defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a $30 million, six-year contract.


MLS: The Seattle Sounders and Coach Sigi Schmid are parting ways after eight years.

Longtime Sounders assistant Brian Schmetzer is immediately taking over as interim head coach.

A two-time MLS Coach of the Year and a National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, Schmid has amassed 228 regular-season victories to rank first in MLS history. Schmid’s 26 postseason wins in MLS put him behind only LA’s Bruce Arena (30).

– From staff and news services

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Trenton uses eight-run inning to crush Sea Dogs Wed, 27 Jul 2016 02:30:34 +0000 It only seemed appropriate on Harry Potter Night at Hadlock Field that a bit of wizardry overshadowed all the offensive pyrotechnics of a 15-4 victory by the Trenton Thunder over the Sea Dogs.

Forget the 27 hits and four home runs. The play of the night ended the fifth inning when Trenton second baseman Cito Culver turned a double play without using his glove.

With the score tied at 1 and a runner on first base, Thunder shortstop Tyler Wade ranged to his right to field a hard grounder in the hole. He quickly zinged a throw toward second with Culver covering.

“I went to reach for it with my glove,” said Culver, a 2010 first-round pick of the Yankees. “Well, with both hands, because I usually turn double plays with my hands together, but I kind of ran out of glove. My (right) hand was a little bit further, so it just went right into my hand.”

Potter could not have done better corralling a golden snitch.

Without hesitating, Culver relayed the baseball to first to complete the double play, then ran off the field into an electric Trenton dugout.

“I threw that hard,” Wade said. “It was a little wide. I thought he was going to take it with his glove. Then I saw him barehand it. That was an amazing play. I felt like that sparked a rally for us the next inning, gave us a little life and things went on from there.”

Portland's Nate Freiman slides into third base ahead of a tag attempt by Trenton third baseman Miguel Andujar for a triple.   John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Portland’s Nate Freiman slides into third base ahead of a tag attempt by Trenton third baseman Miguel Andujar for a triple. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

A little life? The next six Trenton batters hit safely. Culver himself delivered a two-run double to put the Thunder ahead for good 3-1 and came up again later in the inning to drive in two more runs with a single. In all, Trenton scored eight runs and sent 13 men to the plate in the sixth against Sea Dogs relievers Taylor Grover (1-3) and Williams Jerez.

“I don’t know how he caught it,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said of Culver’s wizardry. “That’s something I’ve never seen before. It was kind of fun to watch.”

The Sea Dogs had their moments. Andrew Benintendi, starting in left field for only the third time, produced two outfield assists and made a tough catch in what little foul territory there is adjacent to the visiting bullpen.

Benintendi first cut down Trenton’s Kyle Higashioka trying to stretch a leadoff single. After Mike Ford singled to center, Mark Payton hit a shallow fly in the gap. Benintendi raced over, reached across his body and gloved the ball at his shoe tops.

Looking up, Benintendi saw Ford remaining at second base, believing the ball had struck turf before leather. A long, easy throw to first base completed the double play, and brought Trenton Manager Bobby Mitchell out to argue in vain.

Benintendi also had two of Portland’s nine hits, raising his average to .281. The other top Red Sox prospect, Yoan Moncada, hit his eighth home run. Cole Sturgeon also homered for the Sea Dogs and Nate Freiman contributed a triple and a run-scoring single.

Coming off the disabled list and pitching for the first time in more than a month, Mike McCarthy started the game and delivered four scoreless innings. He faced only three batters over the minimum and had considerable help in the field.

In addition to Benintendi, catcher Danny Bethea threw out a would-be base stealer. But after Culver’s defense turned the game around, it was all Thunder.

Dante Bichette Jr. and Payton each homered. Wade, Ford and Lane Adams each had three hits as Trenton feasted on four Portland relievers for 14 of the team’s 18 hits. Portland pitchers also walked nine.

“It was definitely a lifter for us,” Culver said. “That’s all I try to do, is help my team as much as I can, make plays when I can, get hits when I can.”

So, did it sting?

Culver shook his head.

“I was pumped,” he said with a grin. “I didn’t feel anything.”

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 6,364. … To make room for McCarthy, the Sea Dogs placed right-hander Jacob Dahlstrand on the disabled list, retroactive to July 22. “He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery,” said pitching coach Kevin Walker. “It’s been a long road for him. This is a thing we do for all our starters, give them a little break during the season.”

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Major league notebook: Upton traded from Padres to Blue Jays Wed, 27 Jul 2016 01:13:18 +0000 TORONTO — Outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. was already in Toronto with the San Diego Padres when they traded him across the diamond to the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

But joining his new team was a lot more complicated than walking down the hall.

The Blue Jays acquired Upton and cash from the Padres for minor league right-hander Hansel Rodriguez.

Upton couldn’t join Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins for an early afternoon press conference because he was at the nearest border crossing, in Buffalo, New York, being cleared to re-enter Canada.

When he arrived with the Padres on Sunday night, Upton was treated as a visitor. As a member of the Blue Jays, he needs a work visa to enter Canada.

WHITE SOX: Manager Robin Ventura insists he can work with pitcher Chris Sale despite Sale’s critical comments about him.

Sale is serving a five-day, unpaid ban after destroying throwback uniforms the team was supposed to wear for his start Saturday. Sale told in a story published Monday that he doesn’t regret standing up for what he believed and said Ventura should have stood up for his players.

Ventura shook off the comments and supported General Manager Rick Hahn’s decision to send Sale home after the incident.

CUBS: Closer Aroldis Chapman joined the team, arriving to a mixed reaction in Chicago and saying he couldn’t remember what management told him about off-field expectations and behavior.

After Chapman’s awkward introductory news conference, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, insisted Chapman understands what the Cubs expect of him after an offseason domestic violence incident.

When the Cubs announced the trade Monday with the New York Yankees, the team released a statement from its chairman, Tom Ricketts, saying they were aware of Chapman’s 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy and had spoken with Chapman.

NATIONALS: Washington reinstated first baseman Ryan Zimmerman from the disabled list after he missed 13 games because of a strained left rib cage.

Zimmerman recently completed a rehab assignment at Class A Potomac, where he batted .417 (5 for 12) with a homer and five RBI. Zimmerman was batting only .221 with 12 homers and 38 RBI for Washington when he got hurt.

MARLINS: Second baseman Dee Gordon will be eligible for reinstatement from his 80-game suspension Thursday.

Gordon, last year’s National League batting champion, was suspended for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.

CARDINALS: St. Louis put reliever Trevor Rosenthal on the 15-day disabled list because of inflammation in his right shoulder.

Manager Mike Matheny said Rosenthal recently mentioned he wanted to get checked for a possible problem. The former closer is undergoing tests that might show why he suddenly became so ineffective.

A 75-YEAR-OLD WOMAN was taken to a Cleveland hospital after being hit in the face with a foul ball by Daniel Murphy of Washington.

Muir West was sitting down the right-field line – and may have been blinded by the sun – when she was struck by the hard shot from Murphy in the first inning of the Indians’ game at Progressive Field. Fans sitting in her section immediately called for security and medical personnel.

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NFL notebook: Falcons cut return specialist Hester Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:52:22 +0000 FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Star return specialist Devin Hester was released by the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday following an injury-shortened 2015 season.

The 33-year-old Hester is a three-time All-Pro who set an NFL record with 20 career returns for touchdowns. He began his career with the Chicago Bears before signing a three-year, $9 million deal with Atlanta before the 2014 season.

A turf toe injury knocked out most of his season in 2015. He had 269 total return yards during the last five games of the year. He had surgery in January, preventing him from full participation in offseason workouts.

GM Thomas Dimitroff said the decision to release Hester – two days before the first practice of training camp – was about more than the toe injury.

“He passed his physical,” Dimitroff said. “It was a football decision for us at the very end. Not to be evasive about it, we wish him all the luck.”

LIONS: Anquan Boldin is joining the Lions, according to messages on the free-agent receiver’s Twitter account.

Boldin tweeted that he’s excited to reunite with Detroit Coach Jim Caldwell, and he hopes he can help the Lions reach the postseason. Boldin played the past three seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, but prior to that he was with Baltimore for three seasons. In Boldin’s final season with the Ravens, they won the Super Bowl with Caldwell as offensive coordinator.

BROWNS: Wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was reinstated on a conditional basis by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, has a quadriceps injury that will keep him out of training camp for at least two weeks.

PACKERS: As his teammates opened practice, Jordy Nelson, Green Bay’s talented receiver, said a minor issue with his left knee contributed to a delay in his long-awaited return. He will have to wait a little longer to return to practice after having missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Titans: The Titans agreed to a contract with offensive lineman Will Campbell.

HALL OF FAME: Pro Football Hall of Fame coaches John Madden and Marv Levy are among the presenters chosen to welcome the eight-person Class of 2016 at the induction ceremonies on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.

Madden will speak on behalf of the late quarterback Ken Stabler, who played for Madden with the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s. The quarterback died in 2015 at the age of 69.

Levy will be the presenter for offensive lineman Dick Stanfel, who died last year at 87.

The others inductees, and their presenters: Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. (daughter, Lisa DeBartolo), Tony Dungy (Donnie Shell), Brett Favre (wife, Deanna Favre), Kevin Green (Dom Capers), Marvin Harrison (Jim Irsay), and Orlando Pace (son, Justin Pace).

WASHINGTON: Linebacker Junior Galette tore his right Achilles tendon and is out for the season.

Galette missed last season with a torn left Achilles tendon. This latest injury came while preparing for camp.

COLTS: Defensive lineman Arthur Jones blames himself for the failed drug test that led to a four-game suspension.

After arriving at camp, Jones told reporters he had not checked the ingredients of a supplement he was taking or check the supplement with the league office.

Jones was suspended Friday for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.

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NBA notebook: Stoudemire decides to retire as a Knick Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:38:19 +0000 NEW YORK — Amar’e Stoudemire’s greatest NBA success was in Phoenix, where as Steve Nash’s pick-and-roll partner he was one of the NBA’s most fearsome finishers.

But he chose to leave the league as a member of the Knicks, the franchise that was mired in a lengthy playoff drought before he signed in 2010 and revitalized the franchise.

Stoudemire retired Tuesday after signing a contract with the Knicks with much less fanfare than the $100 million deal he inked six years ago to halt the team’s downward spiral.

“Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple,” he said in a statement. “Once a Knick, Always a Knick.”

Stoudemire, 33, was a six-time All-Star, but battled knee injuries after his sensational first season in New York, when he became the first Knicks player to be voted an All-Star starter since Patrick Ewing in 1997.

TRAIL BLAZERS: Portland agreed to a four-year deal with restricted free agent Maurice Harkless.

The Blazers acquired Harkless in a trade with the Orlando Magic and he averaged 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 78 games last season. He filled a key role late in the regular season when Meyers Leonard injured his shoulder, and averaged 12 points over the final 11 games.

Wizards: Washington re-signed shooting guard Bradley Beal, a 23-year-old restricted free agent.

The No. 3 overall draft pick in 2012, he averaged a career-high 17.4 points in his fourth season, pairing with John Wall to form one of the NBA’s most dynamic young backcourts.

CAVALIERS: Coach Tyronn Lue was rewarded for the greatest run by a Cleveland team in more than a half-century.

Lue was given a multiyear contract extension with the Cavaliers, who promoted him halfway through a season that ended with a historic comeback and NBA championship.

A former assistant, Lue took over when David Blatt was fired in January and led the Cavs to an unexpected title, the city’s first pro sports team to win it all since the Browns in 1964.

Terms of Lue’s extension were not immediately disclosed.

HEAT: Shooting guard Dion Waiters signed a $5.93 million, two-year contract and he’ll compete for a starting job as Dwyane Wade’s replacement.

Waiters was one of the top free agents left on the market. He became an unrestricted free agent when Oklahoma City rescinded a $6.8 million qualifying offer. The second year of his Miami deal includes a player option.

Wade, a 12-time All-Star, signed a $47 million, two-year deal with Chicago.

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