Local Sports

Mt. Zion to Rely on Returning Skill Players in 2019

Mt. Zion will return a group of skill position players that were underclassmen in 2018, part of a team that jumped to 5A and finished 6-4.

 

Head Coach Patrick Etherton calls the jump to 5A a good experience for the team. With a lot of their skill players returning, they do have some voids to fill on their offensive line.

 

 

As week 1 approaches, Coach Etherton says he wants to see consistency from his team. The return of their skill positions has allowed them to add to what they did last year and he says they are much farther ahead now than they were last year.

 

 

The Braves start the season with non-conference road matchups at Highland and Dunlap with their home opener against Charleston. Mt. Zion finishes their regular season with three of their final four games at home, and their lone road game at Lincoln. 

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Cubs Outslug Giants

Kris Bryant hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Cubs a 12-11 comeback victory over the San Francisco Giants in a wild, back-and-forth game Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.

 

Nicholas Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber also connected for Chicago, which has won four straight. The Cubs moved back into first place in the NL Central by a half-game over St. Louis, which lost to Milwaukee in a rain-shortened game.

 

Evan Longoria, Mike Yastrzemski, Stephen Vogt and Kevin Pillar homered for San Francisco, which has dropped three in a row.

 

Castellanos led off the eighth with an infield single to set the stage for Bryant, who stroked a 1-1 pitch from Reyes Moronta (3-7) into the left field bleachers.

 

Brandon Kintzler (3-2) pitched a scoreless inning and Craig Kimbrel worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 11th save.

 

Chicago led 6-2 heading into the fifth on Wednesday. This time, Yu Darvish coughed up the lead himself.

 

After retiring 12 straight batters, he gave up a double to Brandon Crawford with one out in the fifth. One out later, Yastrzemski homered to make it 6-4.

 

Darvish allowed seven runs (six earned) and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He had eight strikeouts and walked none for a career-high fifth straight start.

 

Jeff Samardzija (9-9, 3.54 ERA) faces his former team in the finale of the three-game series Thursday afternoon. Samardzija is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in three starts against Chicago. RHP Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 3.37) pitches for the Cubs.

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Brewers Down Cardinals in Rain Shortened Game

Mike Moustakas homered and Keston Hiura drove in a pair of runs to lead the reeling Brewers to just their third win in the last nine, 5-3 over the Cardinals on Wednesday night.

 

The game was stopped after 7 1/2 innings and made official following a rain delay of 66 minutes.

 

Milwaukee broke a six-game losing streak against the Cardinals, who were knocked out of first place in the NL Central - falling one-half game behind the Cubs. Chicago beat San Francisco 12-11.

 

The Brewers are in third, 3 1/2 behind the Cubs.

 

Milwaukee lost four of the first five in the six-game trip including the opening two of the three-game set to the Cardinals.

 

Adrian Houser (6-5) gave up three runs - one earned - and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. 

 

Junior Guerra got the last out in the bottom of the seventh and earned his third save.

 

Moustakas, who also walked three times, hit a three-run homer in the first off Adam Wainwright (9-9) to highlight a four-run outburst. Hiura had run-scoring hits in the first and fourth innings for a 5-0 lead.

 

Wainwright gave up five runs and eight hits over five innings.

 

St. Louis capitalized on a pair of errors to climb to 5-2 in the fifth. Yadier Molina's double brought the Cardinals to 5-3 in the sixth.

 

Miles Mikolas (7-13) squares off against Colorado RHP German Marquez (12-5, 4.71 ERA) on Thursday in the first of a four-game set in St. Louis. Mikolas is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in four career appearances vs the Rockies.

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Former Bears First Rounder Released by Cardinals

Kevin White is again a free agent, and for the second time in 2019. 

 

The former first-round pick spent his entirety of his four-year rookie contract with the Chicago Bears, but never remotely came to proving his value as a seventh-overall selection. 

 

The 27-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 with the hopes of finally making an impact at the professional level, but that dream has ended before it truly got started.

 

White has been released by the Cardinals, and with two preseason games remaining. Now rehabbed from the hamstring injury, White's career continues muddling through the dark fog of injury.

 

The former first-team All-Big 12 wide receiver missed his entire rookie year with the Bears due to a fractured leg that required surgical insertion of a steel rod, and the same leg was again fractured after playing in only four games in 2016 -- landing him on injured reserve and ending his sophomore season. 

 

In 2017, he fractured a shoulder blade in the season opener, and landed on injured reserve for a third time in three seasons. 

The Bears chose to decline White's fifth-year option for 2019, and allowed him to play out his contract -- one that saw him total just five starts with zero touchdowns.

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Heyworth's Derek Logue Looking For Progress in Year Two

 Now that he has a year under his belt in Heyworth, second-year coach Derek Logue is looking optimistically on his second year.

 

Coach Logue is now more comfortable with the kids and he feels they are more comfortable with him which is allowing them to expand on what they did last year.

 

 

Coach Logue says his team this year should be athletic. Even upfront, they have some speed and athleticism.

 

 

Heyworth was just 1-8 last year but Coach Logue says one thing that has stood out since he arrived in Heyworth is the commitment to getting better by their kids. They'll open the season on the road at El-Paso Gridley and then at Monmouth United before their home opener against the defending Class 2A state champions, GCMS. 

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Illinois Names Michigan Grad Transfer Peters Starting QB

Former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters has been named the starter for the season opener Aug. 31 at home against Akron.

 

Peters, a graduate transfer, is a former Mr. Football in Indiana who played 10 games with four starts at Michigan, passing for 680 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 58 of 110 passes in his first two seasons, including a career-high 20 completions for 186 yards in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.

 

He beat out freshman Isaiah Williams, sophomore Matt Robinson and redshirt freshman Coran Taylor for the starting job.

 

Peters transferred to Illinois this summer with two years of eligibility remaining.

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Cardinals Pull Away From Brewers

Dexter Fowler hit a bases-loaded double and drove in four runs, leading the St. Louis Cardinals past the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4 on Tuesday night in the second game of the series between NL Central contenders.

 

Tyler Webb (1-1) earned his first major-league victory with one-third inning of work in his 79th career game. He struck out pitch-hitter Ben Gamel on four pitches. Six Cardinals combined to throw 170 pitches in the game.

 

The Cardinals have won nine of their last 11 games, while the Brewers have lost six of their last eight. St. Louis remained in first place by a half-game over the Chicago Cubs, who beat San Francisco 5-3. Third-place Milwaukee is four games back.

 

St. Louis broke the game open with a four-run sixth against three Milwaukee relievers. Jeremy Jeffress (3-4) loaded the bases. Alex Claudio came in and struck out Kolten Wong. Junior Guerra entered and walked Harrison Bader, who was recalled earlier in the day. After striking out pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter, Fowler hit a 3-2 pitch into short left field that fell between three Brewers for a double and a 5-2 lead.

 

Wong hit a two-run single in the seventh, making it 7-2. The Cardinals added two more runs when Fowler and Tommy Edman drew bases-loaded walks.

 

Wacha struck out five, allowing three hits and a walk in throwing 73 pitches.

 

Adrian Houser (5-5, 3.76) Houser is 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in three career games against St. Louis. His April 22 start this season in St. Louis resulted in a 13-5 in which Houser went four innings, allowing five runs on nine hits, including two home runs.

 

Adam Wainwright (9-8, 4.33) has nine career home victories over the Brewers are his most against any opponent and his 16 wins overall against Milwaukee are tied for tied for first (with Cubs) for his most wins against any opponent.

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Cubs Top Giants

Cole Hamels pitched six innings for his first win in two months, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

 

Anthony Rizzo homered twice for Chicago, and Nicholas Castellanos also went deep. Jonathan Lucroy contributed a key run-scoring single after Chicago won a replay challenge.

 

The Cubs (67-58) earned their third straight win and stayed a half-game back of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which posted a 9-4 win over Milwaukee.

 

Hamels (7-4) permitted three runs and five hits in his first win since June 12 at Colorado. The left-hander went 0-2 with a 6.12 ERA in his previous six starts, including a shaky performance at Philadelphia last week.

 

San Francisco dropped to 3-2 on a nine-game trip. Austin Slater hit a two-run homer for the Giants (63-63), and Kevin Pillar added a solo drive.

 

Kyle Ryan and Rowan Wick each got three outs before Craig Kimbrel finished for his 10th save in 12 chances. It was Kimbrel's first save opportunity since he returned Sunday after being sidelined by right knee inflammation.

 

Rizzo went 3 for 3 and scored three times in his first multihomer game this season. Castellanos hit his seventh homer in 18 games since he was acquired in a July 31 trade with Detroit.

 

Right-handers Dereck Rodriguez and Yu Darvish pitch Wednesday night. 

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Twins Crush White Sox

Nelson Cruz homered and drove in three runs on four hits in his second game back from a wrist injury, yet another powerful performance at the plate by the 39-year-old for the Twins in a 14-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

 

Max Kepler hit a two-run homer to stay one ahead of Cruz for the team lead, starting pitcher Michael Pineda (9-5) stayed strong for seven innings, and the Twins raised their lead on Cleveland in the AL Central race to three games. That's the biggest it's been in two weeks.

 

Jose Abreu, whose three-run home run the game before lifted the White Sox to a 6-4 win, took Pineda deep for a two-run shot after Tim Anderson's RBI double for a 3-0 lead in the third. Anderson homered in the sixth inning, too, but the damage against Reynaldo Lopez (7-11) was already done by then.

 

Cruz tied the game with his home run in the fourth. Then he drilled a two-run double off the wall in right field with the bases loaded in the fifth, and Eddie Rosario followed with a two-run single for a 7-3 lead. Lopez has allowed 27 homers in 26 starts this year, a career-high.

 

Jorge Polanco hit a two-run homer in a seven-run eighth, one of six extra-base hits in the inning alone and 10 in the game for the Twins, who lead the major leagues in home runs and are third in doubles. The Twins have at least one extra-base hit in 80 straight games, their fourth-longest streak in team history.

 

Abreu has 28 homers and 94 RBIs, zeroing in on becoming the fourth White Sox player with at least four seasons of 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs. Frank Thomas had eight, Paul Konerko five and Magglio Ordonez four.

 

White Sox RHP Lucas Giolito (13-6, 3.41 ERA) and Twins RHP Jake Odorizzi (13-5, 3.50 ERA) each take the mound on Wednesday afternoon for the series finale in a matchup of All-Stars.

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Former Big Leaguers Linked to Drug Ring

Authorities in the Dominican Republic have arrested former MLB pitcher Octavio Dotel and cited ex-infielder Luis Castillo for their alleged links to a drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring, officials said Tuesday.

 

Dominican Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said police are also actively pursuing the alleged leader of the ring, César Emilio Peralta, also known as “César the Abuser.” Castillo - not the current Cincinnati Reds’ pitcher - has not yet been arrested.

 

He said Peralta created a complicated system of companies to hide the origins of his assets, using members of his family and social circles, “including two sports figures in the Dominican Republic.”

Rodríguez said the U.S. government and police agencies participated in the investigation.

 

Dominican officials say a 1,050-kilogram shipment of drugs heading from South America to Puerto Rico was one of several seizures attributed to this ring.

 

On his Instagram account, Castillo denied any ties to drugs.

 

Castillo was a three-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves and was a member of the 2003 Florida Marlins team that won the World Series.

 

There was no immediate comment from Dotel, who set a record for playing on more MLB teams than any other player. The teams were: the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros and New York Mets. Right-hander Edwin Jackson broke Dotel’s mark earlier this season by playing for his 14th franchise.

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Clemson Sophomore Phenom Trevor Lawrence Headlines AP All-Americans

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence headlines The Associated Press preseason All-America team, and he has two teammates from the top-ranked Tigers with him on the first team.

 

Lawrence, the first freshman to quarterback to lead a team to a national championship in more than 30 years, was joined on the first-team offense by Clemson running back Travis Etienne in the list released Tuesday and presented by Regions Bank. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons was a first-team selection on defense. Clemson and No. 2 Alabama tied for the most first-team selections with three.

Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, an All-American last season, was selected to the preseason first team, along with defensive lineman Raekwon Davis and linebacker Dylan Moses.

 

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, was selected to the second team.

 

Led by Alabama, the Southeastern Conference placed eight players on the first team, one more than the Big Ten.

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Argenta-Oreana Football Looking to Build on Success of Years Past

The Argenta-Oreana football program is looking to build on an appearance in the Class 2A playoff semifinals as they enter 2019.

 

Head Coach Steve Kirk says his team has a lot to replace upfront but doesn't view that as a negative. The Bombers have had a lot of competition to find those replacements.

 

 

As the Bombers get closer to game action next Friday night, Coach Kirk wants his team to continue to improve. He says to find that progress, they do a lot of studying of individuals during practices and that shows them a lot.

 

 

The Bombers open the season at home against Arcola. Coach Kirk says that is going to be a great challenge for them right out of the gate as he feels Arcola may be one of the top teams in the new Lincoln Prairie Conference. 

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Top Rated Illini Prospect, Beason, Out For Season

Illinois freshman defensive back Marquez Beason is out for the season with a knee injury.

 

Coach Lovie Smith announced Monday that Beason would have surgery after getting hurt in practice last week. Beason was a consensus four-star recruit from Duncanville, Texas, and the Illini’s top-rated high school recruit in 10 years.

 

Smith said Beason had been one of the highlights of early practices.

 

Beason was the No. 91 overall recruit in the nation by ESPN, No. 108 by 247Sports and No. 108 by Rivals when he signed his letter of intent in December. The Under Armour All-American led Duncanville to a 14-1 record and state runner-up finish in Texas’ largest high school division.

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Cardinals Blank Brewers

Hudson and two relievers combined on a one-hit shutout as the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 Monday night in a series opener between NL Central contenders.

 

Yasmani Grandal's ground-rule double with two outs in the eighth inning off Giovanny Gallegos was Milwaukee's only hit. Hudson was lifted with two outs in the seventh after throwing 111 pitches, and Andrew Miller got four outs for his fifth save.

 

Paul DeJong homered for St. Louis, which increased its division lead to a half-game over the idle Chicago Cubs. Third-place Milwaukee is three games back.

 

Hudson (12-6) matched a career high with seven strikeouts and walked four - including his final batter, Eric Thames. Gallegos retired Ben Gamel on a grounder to end the inning.

 

Orlando Arcia reached on an error by DeJong at shortstop to begin the eighth before Gallegos got two outs. Grandal then hooked a 1-2 slider just inside the right field line, and the ball bounced into the stands.

 

Miller relieved and, after an intentional walk to Christian Yelich, got Mike Moustakas to ground out with the bases loaded.

 

Miller then closed it out in the ninth.

 

Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.81 ERA) is 3-4 with a 3.21 ERA in 10 career starts against St. Louis. But he is 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts at Busch Stadium.

 

Michael Wacha (6-6, 5.44) is one of three pitchers to have a perfect career winning percentage against Milwaukee with 10 or more starts. He is 6-0 and has held the Brewers to two or fewer runs in each of his last four starts against them.

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Sox Down Twins

Jose Abreu hit a towering three-run homer in Chicago's four-run second inning, helping Ivan Nova and the White Sox beat the Twins 6-4 on Monday night.

 

Minnesota returned home after a 5-1 road trip helped re-establish its control of the AL Central. But the loss to Chicago trimmed the Twins' advantage in the division to two games over idle Cleveland.

 

Nova (9-9) allowed 10 hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings, with both runs scoring among Minnesota's first three batters of the game.

 

Nova improved to 5-0 with a 0.85 ERA in his last six starts. Alex Colome worked a rocky ninth for his 24th save in 25 chances.

 

Jorge Polanco hit his 18th homer for Minnesota, which leads the league with 241 homers and has an extra-base hit in 79 straight games, the fourth-longest streak in team history.

 

Gibson (11-6) surrendered five runs in 6 2/3 innings.

 

Eddie Rosario hit an RBI single in the ninth, but Colome struck out Miguel Sano with two runners on to end the game.

 

Reynaldo Lopez (7-10, 5.29 ERA) will start Tuesday evening, looking to keep his strong run intact. Lopez owns a 2.91 ERA (14 earned runs in 43 1/3 innings) in seven starts since the All-Star break.

 

Michael Pineda (8-5, 4.20 ERA) will make his second start since coming off the injured list after being sidelined by a right triceps strain. Pineda gave up three runs in five innings last week against Texas.

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Clemson No. 1 in AP Preseason Poll

For the first time, the defending national champion Tigers are No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 presented by Regions Bank. The Tigers won the program’s second national title in three seasons behind freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in January. Clemson now can claim equal standing with Alabama at the top of the sport.

 

The Crimson Tide, coming off a 44-16 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship, is No. 2. Clemson received 52 first-place votes and Alabama received the other 10 from the media. Clemson snaps a record-tying string of three straight years in which Alabama was preseason No. 1.

Georgia, Alabama’s Southeastern Conference rival, is No. 3, followed by No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Ohio State.

 

Clemson and Alabama have split the last four national championships, played in the last four playoffs and are poised to make it five straight. This will be the third time since 2016 the Tigers and Tide have started the season Nos. 1 and 2 in the Top 25. 

 

Ohio State is ranked in the preseason for the 31st consecutive season (1989-2019), the third best all-time streak behind only Penn State (34 years, 1968-2002) and Nebraska (33 years, 1970-2002). The Buckeyes have been ranked in 66 of 70 preseason polls, most of any school. The Buckeyes were unranked in 1966-67, 1979 and 1988.

 

No. 12 Texas A&M and South Carolina will each play the preseason top three.

 

No. 22 Syracuse is in the preseason Top 25 for the first time since 1998 when the Orange were No. 17.

 

No. 16 Auburn faces No. 11 Oregon at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. It’s the only Week 1 game with two ranked teams. 

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Lincoln Football Looking For Continued Growth

Lincoln High School is hoping bringing back experience all over the field is going to translate into some success for a long-struggling program.

 

Head Coach Matt Silkowski says his team has guys with significant varsity football experience all over the field and as the season approaches, they've done some re-shuffling in places but he feels good about where his guys are at.

 

 

Bringing back their quarterback, Coach Silkowski says their run-first offense can be opened up if need be and he has plenty of guys he has confidence in to make plays.

 

 

Hear Coach Silkowski on the WHOW Morning show this morning at 9:30 am.

 

Lincoln is in their third year in the Apollo Conference. They'll open the season hosting non-conference opponent Limestone. The Railers will play at home four of the final six weeks of the season. 

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Cardinals Down Reds

Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer, Tommy Edman added a solo shot among his three hits and the Cardinals held off the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 to split a strange four-game series in which they totaled two runs in their two losses and 23 in a pair of wins.

 

Jack Flaherty's scoreless streak was snapped at 23 innings, but he allowed only one run in five frames as St. Louis remained just ahead of the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central.

 

Carlos Martinez gave up three straight hits and two runs to open the ninth but hung on for his 14th save, striking out Eugenio Suarez to end it. Suarez homered early but also committed a costly error at third base and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the seventh.

 

Reds rookie Aristides Aquino went 0 for 2 with two walks after hitting 10 home runs in his previous 11 games.

 

Left-hander Alex Wood made his fifth start for the Reds after spending the first four months of the season on the injured list with a lower back problem. Wood (1-2) gave up eight hits and five runs - four earned - in five innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.

 

Dakota Hudson (11-6) pitches Monday night at home against the Brewers in a matchup of NL Central contenders. Milwaukee has roughed up Hudson for 15 hits and 10 runs - nine earned - in eight innings over two starts this season.

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Cubs Roll Pirates

Jose Quintana pitched seven crisp innings, Rizzo hit a two-run homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1 on Sunday night in the MLB Little League Classic.

 

Quintana (11-7) allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked none. The left-hander improved to 7-0 in nine starts since his last loss June 22.

 

Nicholas Castellanos and Jason Heyward also connected as Chicago earned its second straight win since consecutive heartbreaking losses to the Phillies and Pirates.

 

The Cubs took two of three in the unusual weekend set and remain in a virtual tie with St. Louis for the top spot in the NL Central. It was the first road series win for Chicago since May 17-19 against Washington.

 

Starling Marte had three hits for Pittsburgh, including his 21st homer in the ninth against Craig Kimbrel.

 

Kimbrel, who was activated from the 10-day injured list before the game, got the first two outs in the ninth in his first game since Aug. 3. He gave up Marte's homer and hit Cole Tucker before striking out two.

 

Following an off day, LHP Cole Hamels (6-4, 3.69 ERA) starts Tuesday against San Francisco after allowing a season-high eight runs Aug. 14 at Philadelphia.

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Angels Power Past Sox

Canning had perhaps the best start of his career, going seven innings and allowing just one run, and Anthony Bemboom hit his first homer in the majors to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 9-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

 

Shohei Ohtani, Kole Calhoun and Matt Thaiss also homered to back Canning (5-6), who went seven innings for only the second time.

 

Ohtani hit his first home run since July 27 and just his second since the All-Star break. He has a nine-game hit streak, the longest of his young career.

 

The Angels have won four of five, including three of the four games in the weekend series.

 

Canning struck out eight and walked one while mixing his slider, curveball, changeup and fastball.

 

Thaiss hit a three-run homer in the second inning off White Sox starter Dylan Cease (2-6). He was 3 for 4 with a career-high four RBIs and one run scored.

 

Eloy Jimenez homered and tripled for the White Sox.

 

Cease allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings. He struck out six, walked one and hit one.

Ivan Nova (8-9, 4.51 ERA) is 4-0 with a 0.49 ERA over his last five starts (since July 22), the best ERA in the majors during that stretch. He'll start Monday at Minnesota.

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Former Bears RB Cedric Benson Dies in Motorcycle Accident

ormer NFL running back Cedric Benson, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history, has died in a motorcycle accident in Texas. He was 36.

 

Benson’s attorney, Sam Bassett, said Austin law enforcement told him that Benson was killed in the wreck Saturday night. He had no details about the accident.

 

Benson was a key player in the Longhorns’ resurgence under coach Mack Brown, who said Sunday that Benson’s death has left him grief-stricken.

 

Benson was one of the top high school recruits out of the West Texas town of Midland. According to Texas Football magazine, he is eighth on the career rushing list for Texas high schools. He led Midland Lee to three straight state championships, the only three in school history, from 1998-2000.

 

Benson played at Texas from 2001-2004 and his 5,540 yards ranks second at the university and ninth in NCAA history. He scored 64 career touchdowns with the Longhorns and won the Doak Walker award, given to the nation’s top running back, in 2004.

 

He was the only player in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons and was inducted into the university’s Hall of Honor in 2014.

 

Benson was drafted No. 4 overall by the Bears in 2005 and helped Chicago reach the playoffs the following season. He had his finest years with Cincinnati from 2008-11, taking over as the featured back on a team that made the playoffs twice but lost in the first round each time.

 

Benson ran for a career-high 1,251 yards while leading a playoff push in 2009, the first of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He also led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2011, when Andy Dalton and A.J. Green arrived as rookies.

 

Benson played one season with Green Bay, where he started the first five games in 2012 before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc fracture in Indianapolis on Oct. 17.

 

Benson finished his NFL career with 6,017 yards rushing and 33 total touchdowns.

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Justin Thomas Holds Off Patrick Cantlay for BMW Championship

In a span of three holes around the turn at Medinah, Justin Thomas' six-shot lead shrunk to two.

 

Thomas answered with two clutch wedge shots, two big putts and sailed to a 4-under 68 to secure a three-shot victory at the BMW Championship over Patrick Cantlay, who gave him a battle to the end with a 65.

 

His first victory since the World Golf Championship at Firestone last year moved him to the top of the FedEx Cup going into the Tour Championship, where he will start the tournament at 10-under par with a two-shot lead under the new scoring format as the final 30 players chase a $15 million first prize.

 

Cantlay, who made four straight birdies around the turn, secured the No. 2 position and will start at 8 under. Brooks Koepka will be 7 under, a staggered start all the way down to even par for the final five players.

 

The Championship field will not include Masters champion Tiger Woods, the defending champion.

Woods was a long shot going into the final round to crack the top 30, and he closed with a 72. East Lake was his first victory in five years, capping his return from four back surgeries, a special moment replaced some six months later by his Masters victory.

 

Hideki Matsuyama took the 36-hole lead with a 63 until falling back with a 73. He responded with another 63 to finish alone in third, making him one of three players who moved into the top 30 to reach East Lake. The other was Jason Kokrak, but only after J.T. Poston made bogey on his final hole.

 

The final day to earn the eight automatic spots on the Presidents Cup changed nothing for either team.

 

Bryson DeChambeau held onto the final spot for the Americans when Tony Finau, who needed to finish alone in third, closed with a 69 and finished fourth. Jason Day failed to work his way into an automatic spot for the International side.

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Hamlin Holds Off DiBenedetto At Bristol

Denny Hamlin has raced to his fourth victory of the season by holding off Matt DiBenedetto at Bristol Motor Speedway.

 

DiBenedetto finished a career-best second just days after learning Leavine Family Racing would not bring him back for a second season. A win would have earned him an automatic berth into the playoffs.

 

Instead, Hamlin chased him down in the closing laps to spoil the upset.

 

Hamlin won from the pole and overcame early damage to his Toyota and a loose wheel to win at Bristol for the second time in his career.

 

Busch cycled into the lead by not pitting under caution right before the final push to end the stage.

It was a rough stage for Hamlin, who started from the pole but had contact with Jimmie Johnson while leading, then later developed a loose wheel that forced an unscheduled stop. He was 18th at the end of the second stage.

 

Playoff contender Aric Almirola hit the wall and damaged his Ford when he developed a tire rub. He had to stop to repair the damage and later wrecked again.

 

Clint Bowyer also took a brief hit in his playoff push when he was turned by Reed Sorenson after passing Sorenson but not leaving enough room before dipping below the lapped the car. The spin happened inches in front of teammate Daniel Suarez but the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers did not make contact.

 

During the pit stop brought out by Bowyer’s spin, Kevin Harvick’s transmission broke in what was a rocky sequence of events for the SHR cars.

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Reds Edge Cardinals

Sonny Gray struck out 10 while pitching five scoreless innings, and the Reds held off the St. Louis Cardinals for a 2-1 victory Thursday night.

 

St. Louis had won five in a row to move into a virtual tie with Chicago for the NL Central lead. The Cubs had a chance to move in front again, but they lost 7-5 at Philadelphia on Bryce Harper's game-ending grand slam.

 

The Cardinals wasted a prime scoring opportunity in the third when Paul Goldschmidt struck out looking with the bases loaded and two out. Gray, Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias combined for a two-hitter.

 

Iglesias surrendered Kolten Wong's check-swing RBI double in the ninth before retiring pinch-hitter Matt Wieters on a fly ball to center to finish his 24th save.

 

Nick Senzel and Eugenio Suarez each drove in a run for Cincinnati, which stopped a four-game slide.

 

Dexter Fowler had St. Louis' first hit, a two-out single in the fifth. Gray then struck out Matt Carpenter to extend his scoreless streak to a career-high 18 innings.

 

Adam Wainwright (8-8) allowed nine hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start against Cincinnati on July 19, a 12-11 St. Louis win.

 

Luis Castillo (11-4) has allowed seven hits and two runs over 12 innings in two starts against St. Louis this season. Cincinnati won both games.

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Phillies Slam Cubs

Bryce Harper blasted a grand slam with one out in the ninth inning, capping a six-run rally that sent the Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs 7-5 Thursday night for a three-game sweep.

 

Cubs starter Yu Darvish struck out 10, silencing Philadelphia's bats for seven innings a night after the Phillies scored 11 runs in former manager Charlie Manuel's debut as hitting coach.

 

But the Phillies rallied against Chicago's bullpen and moved within one game of the Cubs for the second wild-card spot in the NL.

 

Pinch-hitter Brad Miller chased Rowan Wick with an RBI single in the ninth that cut it to 5-2 and Roman Quinn greeted Pedro Strop with an RBI single to make it a two-run game. Strop (2-5) hit Rhys Hoskins to load the bases with one out.

 

Derek Holland entered to face Harper and got ahead 0-2 in the count. Harper fouled off a 2-2 pitch before launching his 25th homer way out to right.

 

Harper has seven homers and 15 RBIs in the last 12 games.

 

Ranger Suarez (4-1) tossed two scoreless innings to earn the win.

 

Anthony Rizzo, batting leadoff after the original lineup had him in his usual cleanup spot, gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the third when he hit his 22nd homer.

 

Ian Happ led off the fourth with a triple and scored on David Bote's double. Albert Almora Jr. hit an RBI single with two outs, went to second on the throw home and advanced to third on shortstop Jean Segura's fielding error. Rizzo's single made it 4-0.

 

Kyle Schwarber slammed his 100th career homer and team-high 28th this season into the bushes in center field to put the Cubs ahead 5-0 in the fifth.

 

Corey Dickerson hit an RBI single with two outs in the eighth off Wick, but right fielder Nicholas Castellanos threw out Hoskins trying to score from second on the play to end the inning.

Drew Smyly gave up five runs in five innings. 

 

Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 4.38 ERA) faces the Pirates in the start of a three game series that will conclude a 10-game road trip.

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