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Cardinals Blank Royals

Austin Gomber threw six innings of four-hit ball in a crucial spot start against Kansas City on Tuesday night. And with Dylan Carlson and the rest of Gomber's offense providing support, the Cardinals rolled to a 5-0 victory that gave them the slightest of cushions in the race for a playoff spot.

 

Gomber (1-1), who dealt with biceps tendinitis throughout last season, wound up striking out three without a walk while blanking an opponent for the 11th time in 13 appearances. He also won for the first time since Sept. 18, 2018, at Atlanta.

 

The Cardinals, who trail the Chicago Cubs by 3 1/2 games in the NL Central, improved to 27-25 by evening their series with their cross-state rivals. They also built the slightest of cushion in the race for the No. 2 spot in the division after Milwaukee (28-28) eked out a win over Cincinnati (27-27) earlier in the evening.

 

Brad Miller, Tommy Edman and Kolten Wong also drove in runs for the Cardinals.

 

Meanwhile, Royals starter Brady Singer watched the 14-inning scoreless streak that he carried into the game go away, along with his command. He walked two in the first inning, then walked the first two batters of the second, when Carlson's double brought them home. Wong made it 3-0 later in the inning.

 

Singer (3-5) wound up walking five in three-plus innings, throwing just 44 of 81 pitches for strikes.

Carlos Martinez (0-1, 2.37 ERA) tries to rebound from a rough outing in Pittsburgh when he allowed five runs but just one earned over 3 2/3 innings, when he faces Royals LHP Danny Duffy (3-4, 5.01 ERA) on Wednesday night.

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Pirates Edge Cubs

The Chicago Cubs clinched a playoff spot under rookie manager David Ross, returning to the postseason after a one-year absence despite losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Tuesday night on a walk-off home run by Jacob Stallings.

 

The Cubs began the day with a 4 1/2-game lead over St. Louis and Cincinnati in the division standings and a magic number of four to clinch the title. Chicago missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014.

 

Stallings connected with one out in the ninth inning off Andrew Chafin (1-2) to help the Pirates end their five-game losing streak and win for the just second time in 15 games. It was Stallings' third home run of the season and the third game-ending hit of his career.

 

Chafin got the final out of the eighth and first of the ninth before Stallings sent a 2-2 pitch down the left field line and into the bleachers. The Pirates' shouts of joy echoed over throughout the empty ballpark.

 

Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer in the eighth inning had pulled the Cubs into a tie at 2-all.

Richard Rodriguez (3-2) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.

 

Chicago's Jose Quintana was activated from the injured list and made his first start of the season. The left-hander went two innings and gave up one run and one hit with one strikeout.

 

Pittsburgh starter Steven Brault pitched seven shutout innings. He threw a two-hitter to beat the Cardinals in his previous start last Thursday.

 

Kyle Hendricks (6-4, 2.93) will start Wednesday night in the third game of the four-game series. He has allowed just seven walks in 73 2/3 innings this season.

 

Trevor Williams (1-8, 6.70) has lost five straight decisions since getting his lone win Aug. 13 at Cincinnati.

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Indians Outlast White Sox

Jose Ramirez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning, giving Cleveland a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox that clinched a postseason berth Tuesday night.

 

Ramirez's drive to right off Jose Ruiz scored Cesar Hernandez and Francisco Lindor, setting off a wild celebration at home plate as the Indians reached the postseason for the fourth time in five years.

 

Lindor had pulled Cleveland within one on a two-out double that plated Roberto Perez, who began the inning on second base. After Matt Foster (5-1) walked Hernandez, Ruiz entered and gave up the game-ending drive.

 

AL Central-leading Chicago lost for the fourth time in five games, creating a log jam at the top of the division. Minnesota is a half-game back in second, and Cleveland trails by three games.

 

Aces Lucas Giolito of the White Sox and Shane Bieber of the Indians face off Wednesday.

 

Chicago grabbed a 3-1 lead with two runs in the top of the 10th against Phil Maton (3-3). Adam Engel hit an RBI triple and scored on Nick Madrigal's single.

 

Earlier in the inning, White Sox manager Rick Renteria and shortstop Tim Anderson were ejected by umpire Angel Hernandez after Luis Robert looked at a called third strike.

 

Hernandez hit a solo shot in the first and Chicago tied it in the sixth when Jose Abreu connected off Adam Plutko, sending a drive to right-center for his 19th homer.

 

Abreu leads the AL with 56 RBIs and 74 hits. He is second in homers and third with a .332 batting average. Fellow MVP candidate Anderson went 1 for 4, dropping his average to .353, while Ramirez has 12 home runs and 26 RBIs in his last 24 games.

 

White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez worked five innings, allowing three hits and striking out three. Closer Alex Colome worked a perfect ninth before experiencing back spasms that prevented him from continuing in extra innings.

 

Right-hander Cal Quantrill gave up one hit in four scoreless innings for the Indians, becoming the ninth Canadian-born pitcher to start for the franchise.

 

Lucas Giolito (4-3, 3.53 ERA) has not logged a decision in two starts against Cleveland this season, posting a 1.38 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 13 innings. Giolito is expected to start Chicago's first postseason game.

Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.74 ERA) makes his 12th and final start of the r

egular season. The 2019 All-Star Game MVP leads the AL in wins, ERA and strikeouts with 112. Bieber is widely considered the Cy Young Award favorite.

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Bulls Tab Billy Donovan as Next Head Coach

The Chicago Bulls struck it big Tuesday, hiring Billy Donovan and landing one of the top candidates on the market to lead a rebuilding team with an overhauled front office.

 

The 55-year-old Donovan spent the past five seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He replaces Jim Boylen, who was fired after the Bulls finished 22-43 and were one of the eight teams that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World.

 

In a statement, Donovan thanked ownership and said he’s looking forward to working with new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.

 

The Bulls came into the season with their sights set on a playoff spot. They were 11th in the Eastern Conference when play was stopped in March and decided they needed new leadership.

 

Chicago hired Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations in April out of Denver’s front office and shifted John Paxson into an advisory role. The Bulls also brought in general manager Marc Eversley to replace the fired Gar Forman, and they let Boylen go last month.

 

Donovan went 243-157 as coach of the Thunder and reached the playoffs each year. He was a finalist for Coach of the Year this season after his team outperformed expectations and pushed the Houston Rockets to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. But with his contract expiring, the Thunder announced two weeks ago he would not return, saying it was a mutual decision.

 

Before his time with the Thunder, Donovan coached for 19 seasons at the University of Florida, winning two NCAA titles.

 

The Bulls are counting on Donovan to give them a lift after the team missed the postseason for the fourth time in five years.

 

On the court, the Bulls are led by Zach LaVine, who averaged 25.5 points this season, and Lauri Markkanen, who took a step back. The 7-footer from Finland missed 15 games with a pelvic injury and his scoring and rebounding numbers dropped.

 

Chicago hosted the All-Star game but didn’t have a player selected. That hammered home just how far the Bulls have fallen.

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Clinton Football Coach: We Are Prepared for Any Scenario

Yesterday, Minnesota became the latest state to bring back banned high school sports, including football.

 

Clinton Football Coach Chris Ridgeway says his team is ready for any scenario although he does not believe the actions of other states, specifically Minnesota and Michigan in recent weeks, will have any impact on the decisions of Illinois.

 

 

Illinois remains one of the few states in the country not allowing high school football to be played. Governor JB Pritzker last week indicated the weekend rallies would not impact his decision to now allow high school football, volleyball and other close contact sports to be played. 

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Monticello Football Coach Discusses Football's Importance to Kids Futures

As the battle over high school sports continues, a central Illinois hall of fame football coach has countless examples of how football has empowered young men to attend college and achieve the success they otherwise may not have.

 

Monticello football coach Cully Welter has won state titles at two different Illinois schools and is a hall of fame coach with 231 career victories. He has countless examples of young athletes who have been able to use football as a means to greater success they otherwise may not have achieved.

 

 

Rallies were held in Springfield and Chicago over the weekend with hundreds of parents, student-athletes, and coaches seeking to get a reversal of the ban on high school football, volleyball,

and soccer among others in Illinois. 

 

Yesterday, Minnesota became the latest state with such a ban to reverse course and allow high school athletics.

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Gov. Pritizker Still Skeptical on Allowing High School Sports

NFL and Big Ten teams are testing players everyday for coronavirus. Would a widespread testing plan be a way for Illinois’ high school teams to get back to action? 

 

Governor JB Pritzker says even though the state continues to test more and more people each week he’s suspect to the idea that high school teams should be back on the field even if you could test kids more.

 

 

Illinois surpassed five million completed COVID-19 tests this past weekend.

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Denny Hamlin, Michael Jordan Team Up to Start New NASCAR Team

Denny Hamlin has joined Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan to form a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at NASCAR’s top level.

 

The partnership was announced Monday night in coordinated social media posts by Jordan and Hamlin, with Wallace adding his own comment. The posts showed a picture of Jordan alongside a firesuit-clad Hamlin in a motorhome at a race track.

 

Jordan becomes the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own race car in 495 races from 1961 to 1973. Scott’s 1964 victory at the Jacksonville 200 is the only win by a Black driver in Cup history.

 

The NBA great, who earlier this year pledged $100 million over 10 years for initiatives combating systemic racism, said the move into NASCAR is another step toward racial equality.

 

Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 winner and a top contender for this year’s Cup title, will be part of a single-car Toyota entry aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin has raced his entire career for Gibbs, a Hall of Fame NFL coach.

Wallace is the only Black driver in the Cup Series and this season used his platform to push for racial equality. The 27-year-old successfully urged NASCAR to ban the display of the Confederate flag at its events.

Wallace is winless in 105 Cup starts over four seasons, but he has six career victories in the Truck Series. He’s been hampered by mid-level equipment driving the No. 43 for Hall of Famer Richard Petty and, until this summer, the team struggled to land sponsorship.

 

There’s been speculation for months that Hamlin was organizing some sort of ownership group as he expects NASCAR’s business model to become more favorable for team owners when the “Next Gen” car is released in 2022. NASCAR rules prohibit a current driver from owning a team and driving for another, but Hamlin works around the policy with Jordan as the principal owner.

 

Jordan dabbled in racing before with Michael Jordan Motorsports. He owned an AMA Superbike team and had one win in 10 years. Jordan has twice traveled to the NASCAR season finale to watch Hamlin race for the championship. Hamlin, who’s 39, is still seeking his first title.

 

Wallace has cobbled together about $18 million in sponsorship deals since he made racial equality his platform.

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Cubs Blank Pirates

Kyle Schwarber responded to a very public benching by first-year manager David Ross by doubling twice and driving in two insurance runs with a shot to the gap in right-center field in the eighth inning to push the Cubs past the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0 on Monday night.

 

Ross pulled Schwarber early in a loss to Minnesota on Sunday for misplaying a ball in the outfield. Schwarber insists he took the benching in stride. 

 

Jon Lester (3-2) struck out one and walked one in six efficient innings to pick up his first win since Aug. 11. Lester retired the first nine batters he faced and kept the lowest-scoring team in the majors in check. Only two of Pittsburgh's four hits left the infield, and the Pirates managed to get to third base just once while losing for the 13th time in 14 games.

 

Javy Baez drove in a run with a surprise bunt and Victor Caratini added an RBI double for the Cubs.

It wasn't all good news for Chicago. Third baseman Kris Bryant's injury-plagued 2020 took another turn when he left in the bottom of the third with what the team called right lower oblique tightness.

 

The three-time All-Star and 2016 NL MVP spent time on the injured list earlier this season with a sprained ring finger on his left hand while also dealing with a wrist problem. Bryant has appeared in just 32 of Chicago's 54 games.

 

Pittsburgh rookie starter J.T. Brubaker (1-3) pitched 6 2/3 solid innings to bolster his bid for a shot at the starting rotation in 2021. Brubaker allowed two runs on four hits with a walk and a career-high nine strikeouts. While Brubaker demurred when asked if he thinks he is in the mix to join the rotation next season, the 26-year-old believes he's shown he can be effective.

 

The Pirates have scored two runs or less seven times during their current 1-13 skid. Their .215 batting average is next to last in the National League and their run total (190) is last in the majors.

 

Jose Quintana will make his first start in nearly a year on Tuesday. The 31-year-old lefty has spent most of the season on the injured list with multiple health issues.

 

Steven Brault (1-3, 4.04 ERA) will try to back up his two-hit gem last Thursday against St. Louis. Brault has struggled against the Cubs, going 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in 15 appearances.

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Royals Down Cardinals

Maikel Franco hit the go-ahead single off Adam Wainwright with two outs in the sixth inning, and the Kansas City bullpen shut down the Cardinals from the fourth inning on, allowing the Royals to rally for a 4-1 victory on Monday night.

 

Wainwright wound up allowing three runs on six hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings.

 

The Cardinals fell 4 1/2 games back of the Cubs in the NL Central and, more importantly, into a tie with Cincinnati for the division's second guaranteed playoff spot. The Reds beat the Brewers earlier in the night.

 

Alex Gordon and Jorge Soler also drove in runs for the Royals, who returned for their final homestand after getting swept in Milwaukee, and were starting off with a playoff contender in the Cardinals that had won four straight games.

 

It didn't matter to Carlos Hernandez, making his second career start, and a stout Kansas City bullpen. Hernandez allowed one run over 3 2/3 innings before giving way to Jake Newberry, Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont (2-1) and Jesse Hahn. They combined to allow one hit - a two-out single by Paul Goldschmidt - without a walk over the next 4 1/3 innings.

 

Greg Holland worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his sixth save.

 

The Cardinals activated OF Dexter Fowler and RHP Giovanny Gallegos from the injured list before the game. 

 

The Royals reinstated Soler from the injured list before the game and optioned infielder Kelvin Gutierrez to their alternate training site. Soler was hitting .235 with eight homers and 22 RBIs before hurting his oblique on Sept. 5.

 

Brady Singer (3-4, 4.14 ERA) tries to build on a 14-inning scoreless streak covering his last two starts when the Royals continue their series against St. Louis. It is the sixth-longest active streak in the majors. The Cardinals go with LHP Austin Gomber (0-1, 2.37) , who pitched in relief of injured starter Dakota Hudson on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

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Indians Get By White Sox

Carlos Santana's two-run homer snapped a fifth-inning tie and Jose Ramirez homered again as Cleveland moved closer to clinching a postseason spot - and slowed Chicago's push for the AL Central title - with a 7-4 win over the White Sox on Monday night.

 

The Indians, who missed the playoffs a year ago, cut their magic number to one. They could have locked up one of the AL's eight postseason spots, but Seattle beat Houston 6-1 to prolong Cleveland's wait.

 

By winning the series opener, Cleveland improved to 5-2 this season against the White Sox, who are on the verge of winning their first division crown since 2008. It's possible the rivals could meet again next week in the playoffs depending on how the final days of the regular season unfold.

 

After the White Sox tied it with four runs in the fifth against Aaron Civale (4-5), Santana came to the plate in the bottom half batting just .189 after striking out in his two previous at-bats.

 

But with Ramirez on first after a one-out walk, Santana pulled a 2-1 sinker from Jace Fry (0-1) over the left-field wall and into the empty bleachers. Franmil Reyes hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to put Cleveland up 7-4.

 

Nick Wittgren struck out the side in the seventh and James Karinchak worked the eighth before Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 14 tries. He struck out slugger Jose Abreu for the final out with two runners on.

 

White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected for arguing a called third strike to James McCann by plate umpire Dan Bellino.

 

The Indians will start reliever Cal Quantrill in the second game of the series against Reynaldo Lopez. Cleveland is also moving Zach Plesac's start back to Wednesday.

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Bears Hold Off Giants

Mitchell Trubisky threw two touchdown passes and the Bears hung on to beat the Giants 17-13 on Sunday.

 

The Bears (2-0) chewed up New York early on, grabbing a 17-0 halftime lead, and withstood a big push a week after rallying from 17 down at Detroit for their first season-opening win in seven years.

 

The Giants (0-2) refused to go quietly even though they lost RB Saquon Barkley to a right knee injury on the opening play of the second quarter.

 

Limited to 6 yards on 15 attempts against Pittsburgh on Monday night, Barkley came up clutching his right knee when he was dragged down by Jackson at the end of a run. The 2018 offensive rookie of the year was taken for X-rays after being helped to the sideline and will be examined further on Monday.

 

New York's Dion Lewis made it a seven-point game when he plowed in from the 1 in the opening minute of the fourth.

 

James Bradberry then intercepted Trubisky when he ripped the ball out of Allen Robinson's hands, leading to a 37-yard field goal by Graham Gano that cut it to 17-13 with 7:43 remaining.

 

The Bears caught a break on fourth down at the New York 36 with just under four minutes left. New York's Blake Martinez deflected a pass intended for Jimmy Graham, and the ball ricocheted to tackle Bobby Massie for a first down. Cairo Santos missed wide left on a 50-yard field goal attempt, giving New York the ball on the 40 with 2:02 remaining.

 

The Giants drove to the 10 before Golden Tate got called for pushing off against Eddie Jackson near the goal line on an incomplete pass as time expired.

 

Trubisky completed 18 of 28 passes for 190 yards. He threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.

 

He hit David Montgomery for a 28-yard touchdown on the game's opening possession and added a 15-yarder to Darnell Mooney in the closing seconds of the first half to give the Bears a 17-0 lead.

 

Montgomery ran for 82 yards. Robert Quinn had a strip sack in the first quarter that led to a field goal in his Bears debut after missing the opener with an ankle injury. Khalil Mack had his first sack of the season and recovered a fumble. And Chicago held New York to 295 yards after giving up 426 last week.

 

Second-year QB Daniel Jones threw for 241 yards and an interception.

The Bears visit Atlanta next Sunday.

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Packers Blow By Lowly Lions

Aaron Jones rushed for a career-high 168 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 75-yard breakaway, as the Green Bay Packers rallied from an early 11-point deficit to beat the Detroit Lions 42-21 on Sunday.

 

After his first touchdown of the day, a 7-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers, Jones did a different kind of Lambeau Leap. He jumped atop a green tarpaulin that covered the first several rows of the stands; the pandemic didn't allow for any spectators.

 

Jones also had a team-high 68 yards receiving on four catches as the Packers (2-0) won their home opener for an eighth consecutive year and improved to 8-0 against NFC North foes during coach Matt LaFleur's tenure. Jones had a 14-yard touchdown run to go along with his 75-yarder.

 

Rodgers was 18 of 30 for 240 yards with touchdown passes to Jones and Robert Tonyan.

 

One week after blowing a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears, the Lions (0-2) allowed an 11-point advantage to vanish by halftime. Detroit allowed 31 straight points to turn a 14-3 lead into a 34-14 deficit.

 

Green Bay took the lead for good 17-14 on Rodgers' 11-yard pass to Tonyan with 14 seconds left in the second quarter. Jones then raced through a hole on the right side and scored on the Packers' first play from scrimmage in the second half.

 

Jones' 75-yard burst was the longest touchdown run by a Packer since Ahman Green had a 90-yarder against Dallas in 2004.

 

The Packers extended the lead to 31-14 later in the third quarter when Rashan Gary pressured Matthew Stafford into throwing an interception that Chandon Sullivan returned for a 7-yard touchdown.

 

The Packers travel to New Orleans for a Sunday night game.

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Flaherty Leads Redbirds Over Pirates

Yadier Molina hit a two-run homer and Jack Flaherty struck out 11 as the St. Louis Cardinals kept their hold on a postseason spot with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

 

Molina's home run to the bleachers in left field came in the seventh inning off Derek Holland and extended St. Louis' winning streak to a season-high four games. The Cardinals had been shut out by Joe Musgrove over the first six innings.

 

Flaherty (4-2) allowed only one run and two hits in six innings while walking two. It was his ninth career double-digit strikeout game.

 

The Cardinals (26-24) hold a one-game lead on Cincinnati (27-27) and Milwaukee (26-26) for second place in the NL Central with one week left in the regular season. The top two finishers in each division gain berths in the expanded postseason during this pandemic-affected season.

 

Musgrove also had 11 strikeouts - a career high -- in six innings but remained winless in seven starts this season. He gave up three hits and one walk.

 

That came a day after Pirates rookie Mitch Keller pitched six shutout innings.

 

Matt Carpenter singled in the St. Louis seventh off Holland (1-3) and Molina hit his fourth homer of the year.

A night earlier, Molina left the game after being on the left wrist by a pitch. The nine-time All-Star was also hit in nearly the same spot Tuesday by a swing while behind the plate.

 

Pittsburgh scored its run in the fourth inning. Bryan Reynolds hit a leadoff double, moved to third on Adam Frazier's sacrifice bunt and scored on Colin Moran's sacrifice fly.

 

By pitching Sunday, Andrew Miller's $12 million option for next season vested. He is the final guaranteed season of the two-year, $25 million contract he signed I free agency.

 

The Cardinals open a three-game series against the Royals at Kansas City on Monday night. Adam Wainwright (5-1, 2.87 ERA) faces rookie RHP Carlos Hernandez (0-0, 3.86 ERA).

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Reds Cool Off White Sox

Mike Moustakas hit a two-run single as Cincinnati scored five times in the fourth inning on just one hit, and the Reds took advantage of wild Chicago White Sox pitching for a 7-3 win Sunday.

 

Aristides Aquino hit a two-run homer as the surging Reds stayed in contention for a playoff spot, taking two out of three from the the AL Central leaders for their seventh win in eight games.

 

Cincinnati broke away by turning six walks, a hit batter and Moustakas' single into a big inning. The playoff-bound White Sox issued a season-high 11 walks and hit three batters overall.

 

Chicago starter Dylan Cease (5-3) was pulled after walking the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth. At that point, he hadn't allowed a run or hit, but had walked a career-worst seven and struck out five.

 

Two runs scored on infield outs and another came home on a bases-loaded walk before the left-handed hitting Moustakas singled off lefty reliever Ross Detwiler for Cincinnati's first hit.

 

The White Sox scored on back-to-back RBI singles by Nick Madrigal and Jose Abreu in the fifth.

Aquino answered with an upper-deck drive to left. He celebrated his second homer with his trademark right arm flex as he rounded third.

 

Reds starter Michael Lorenzen struck out a career-high eight in 4 2-3 innings. He allowed two runs on two hits and two walks.

 

Lucas Sims (3-0) pitched 2 1-3 innings to get the win. He struck out the top three batters in Chicago's lineup, including Abreu in an 11-pitch at bat to end the seventh, after walking the first two batters.

 

Former Reds star Edwin Encarnacion lined an opposite-field homer into the right field seats for his 10th homer of the season in the eighth.

 

Joey Votto's three walks boosted him past Pete Rose for the franchise career walks record with 1,211.

 

Tim Anderson left the game with cramping in his left hamstring one pitch into his seventh inning at-bat.

 

Dane Dunning (2-0) makes his first career appearance against Cleveland on Monday.

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Twins Blank Cubs

Max Kepler homered, Jose Berrios threw six shutout innings to outduel Yu Darvish and the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 on Sunday night.

 

Kepler had three hits and Josh Donaldson added two for the Twins, who took two of three from the NL Central-leading Cubs.

 

After winning the AL Central last year, Minnesota clinched its second straight postseason berth on Saturday and trails the Chicago White Sox by two games in the division.

 

The Cubs scored just two runs in the series and maintain a 3 1/2-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central. Chicago had won five of six.

 

The Cubs loaded the bases in the ninth on a passed ball, a hit batter and a walk against Sergio Romo, who struck out Nico Hoerner to end the game.

 

Darvish (7-3), an NL Cy Young candidate, allowed a season-high four runs and nine hits in his quest to become the NL's first eight-game winner. He struck out nine and walked one, ending a streak of nine consecutive quality starts. Darvish was 5-2 with a 2.16 ERA in his previous eight starts at Wrigley.

 

Jon Lester (2-2, 4.91) takes the mound Monday to open a four-game series at Pittsburgh. He is 0-2 with a 6.82 ERA in his last seven starts. The Pirates will start RHP JT Brubaker (1-2, 4.79).

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DeChambeau Powers Way to First Major

Bryson DeChambeau rolled in a 7-foot par putt and thrust his powerful arms in the air when he capped off a 3-under 67 at Winged Foot - historically the toughest of all U.S. Opens. - and a course that didn’t allow another round under par. 

 

Two shots behind Matthew Wolff at the start of a chilly September afternoon, he caught him in four holes, passed him in five and pulled away along the back nine.

 

With his extra 40 pounds of muscle and mass, he wanted to pound it into submission with his driver, even if his errant shots were buried in deep grass.

 

That’s how he plays the game. And for skeptics who said that wouldn’t work in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, just look at that shiny silver trophy he kissed, and the record score he posted Sunday in a six-shot victory.

 

This victory was as much about validating his out-of-the-box approach to the royal and ancient game.

 

Part of the course’s fame is the “Massacre of Winged Foot” in 1974 when the winning score was 7-over par.

 

Wolff, trying to become the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win the U.S. Open in his debut, closed with a 75. He made a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 ninth to stay within one shot.

 

That was his only hole under par. Wolff finished at even-par 280, a score that would have won four of the previous five U.S. Opens at Winged Foot.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf for three months, leading to the U.S. Open being postponed from June to September. It also gave DeChambeau more time to execute his plan of swinging faster and harder, stretching the limits. He added 40 pounds through intense workout and a diet of 6,000 calories a day.

 

His work ethnic borders on insanity, and the eve of the final round was no exception. Unhappy with how he played Saturday, hitting only three fairways, DeChambeau had the lights turned on so he could stay on the range well past 8 p.m., pounding driver, searching for the right swing.

 

Temperatures were in the 40s. He was in a short-sleeve shirt.

 

Louis Oosthuizen birdied the 18th to finish alone in third.

 

In six U.S. Opens at Winged Foot among 894 competitors, DeChambeau is only the third to finish a tournament under par. His 6-under 274 was the lowest score, and no one saw it coming this week.

 

Wolff, the 21-year-old Californian who can drive it past DeChambeau with a lower flight and more roll in the fairway, gave him a good run in his quest to become the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923.

 

The U.S. Open was still up for grabs for a fleeting moment around the turn. DeChambeau and Wolff each got out of position on the eighth hole and made bogey. DeChambeau was at 3 under, one shot ahead of Wolff. Ahead of them, Oosthuizen and Xander Schauffele were lurking at even par.

 

DeChambeau and Wolff blasted drives down the fairway on the par-5 ninth. DeChambeau rolled in a 40-foot eagle putt with perfect pace. Wolff, who had pitching wedge for his second shot, matched his eagle with a 10-foot putt.

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More Shakeups in College Football Rankings

A week before Big Ten teams become eligible again for The Associated Press college football poll, No. 25 Marshall is ranked for the first time since 2014 and Miami jumped to No. 12 after a conference road victory.

 

Clemson remained a nearly unanimous No. 1 in the AP Top 25 on Sunday after another light week in college football. The Tigers received 59 of 61 first-place votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters. The rest of the top 10 was basically unchanged. No. 2 Alabama received one first-place vote. Oklahoma was No. 3, followed by Georgia, Florida and LSU at No. 6. The defending champion Tigers also received a first-place vote.

 

Notre Dame is seventh. Auburn and Texas are now tied for eighth and Texas A&M is No. 10.

 

A season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic cranks up next week. The Southeastern Conference, which has eight teams ranked, kicks off. The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 have full slates of games.

 

The Big Ten set a fall schedule Saturday, but it won’t kick off until the weekend of Oct. 24. Voters will still be allowed to include Big Ten teams on their ballots starting next week. There were seven Big Ten teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, including Ohio State at No. 2.

 

Miami moved up five spots after beating ACC rival Louisville on the road. The Cardinals hung on to a ranking, slipping six spots to No. 24.

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Hamlin Holds Off Kyle Busch To Take Bristol Night Race

Kevin Harvick steamrolled his way into the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs in a championship that is clearly his to lose.

 

Harvick held off a charging Kyle Busch over the final 40 laps Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway for his career-best and Cup Series-high ninth victory of the season. He did it in front of a sold-out crowd of 30,000 spectators, the most Bristol was allowed to admit and the largest crowd since March.

 

Harvick took the lead from Busch and denied Busch his first victory of the season. Busch furiously tried to catch him as the two weaved their way through lapped traffic, but Harvick held firm in the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

 

Only six cars finished on the lead lap in a tepid event at the 0.533-mile bullring revered for bumping and banging. Track officials sold all 30,000 tickets allowed — making Bristol one of the largest sporting events since the pandemic — and the spectators crowded the fence as Harvick celebrated his second win of the playoffs.

 

Harvick also won the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway to open the playoffs. He’s ninth on NASCAR’s career list with 58 Cup victories.

 

Busch, who failed inspection twice before the race and drove from the back of the field to lead in his Toyota, was disappointed to finish second. Busch took aim at Joey Logano, who failed to move out of the way as Harvick and Busch battled for the lead — “he’s nobody’s friend for a reason” — as well as younger drivers Garrett Smithley and Joey Gase.

 

The first elimination race of the playoffs knocked William Byron, Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto from title contention. All four were below the cutline at the start of the race and failed to produce a finish strong enough to get them into the next round.

 

Blaney, who was ranked as high as second in the standings earlier this season, simply had a third consecutive below-average race. He finished 13th.

 

The second round of the playoffs begin next Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the opener of the most challenging three-race series. The playoffs go from Las Vegas to Talladega Superspeedway and then end at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the combination road course and oval.

 

Denny Hamlin, considered the closest challenger to Harvick this year, closed out a sub-par opening round of the playoffs with a 21st-place finish. His Toyota also failed pre-race inspection and Hamlin started at the back, but he’s been unable through three playoff races to crack the top 10.

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IHSA Supports Weekend Rally Efforts, Though Not Involved

With coaches, players, and fans set to hold a rally in Springfield and Chicago this weekend to bring back high school sports, the top leader of the IHSA says he supports the movement.

 

IHSA Executive Director and Cambridge native Craig Anderson says he thinks the protest with supporters at the Thompson Center and the State Capitol will demonstrate why Gov. Pritzker needs to bring back sports.

 

 

On Tuesday, Gov. Pritzker doubled-down on his choice of no high school sports, saying he has no plans to change his mind. Only two states, Illinois and Minnesota, are the only Midwest states who have no plan to play high school football this fall.

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White Sox Roll Twins, Clinch Playoff Birth

Eloy Jimenez's tiebreaking double capped a two-run, seventh-inning rally in a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins for the Chicago White Sox Thursday clinching a postseason berth for the first time since 2008.

 

Jose Abreu homered and drove in two runs and Edwin Encarnacion also homered for Chicago, which won three of four in the series.

 

Chicago trailed 3-2 in the seventh when Abreu, who leds the major leagues with 51 RBIs, beat out an infield hit on a slow grounder to shortstop that drove in Jarrod Dyson from third base.

 

Jimenez, who had struck out in his three previous at-bats, followed with a double that drove in pinch-runner Yolmer Sanchez.

 

Byron Buxton homered twice, giving him seven in his last nine games and 12 this season. Josh Donaldson also went deep for Minnesota, whose lead for home-field advantage in the first round was cut to one game over the New York Yankees.

 

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning after a strike was called on a checked swing on a 2-0 pitch. After manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, Donaldson homered on the next offering and kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it after rounding the bases.

 

Codi Heuer (3-0) pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, and Alex Colome got four outs for his 12th save in 13 chances.

 

Jonathan Stiever (0-0, 2.45 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Cincinnati.

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Pirates Shutdown Cardinals

Steven Brault pitched a two-hitter for his first career complete game, Gregory Polanco hit a three-run homer and the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped an eight-game skid with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

 

St. Louis dropped to third place in the NL Central, 6 1/2 games behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs and one back of the Cincinnati Reds. The top two finishers in each division advance to the expanded playoffs this year, along with two wild-card teams.

 

Brault retired his final 16 batters. He struck out eight, walked two and threw 110 pitches.

 

Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson left after two innings because of right elbow tightness. Hudson, who allowed one hit and walked two, has a 2.77 ERA in eight starts.

 

X-rays were negative, but Hudson will undergo imaging tests Friday.

 

Trevor Williams (1-7, 6.35 ERA) and Chad Kuhl (1-2, 5.50 ERA) are the scheduled starters. Williams is tied for the major league lead in losses with Arizona's Luke Weaver.

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Packers Open Home Schedule Hosting Lions

The Packers swept their two regular-season meetings with the Lions last year despite never leading either game until Mason Crosby made a game-winning field goal as time expired. They meet again Sunday in Green Bay's home opener.

 

The Lions are trying to bounce back after blowing a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 27-23 loss to Chicago last week.

 

That marked Detroit's 10th consecutive defeat, a skid that began last November.

 

Green Bay went 9-1 last year in games decided by eight points or fewer before opening this season with a 43-34 victory at Minnesota.

 

Aaron Rodgers threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns without an interception against the Vikings. Davante Adams caught 14 passes to tie Don Hutson's 78-year-old franchise single-game record.

 

The Packers lost starting right guard Lane Taylor to a season-ending knee injury against Minnesota.

 

Right tackle Billy Turner sat out the Vikings game with a knee problem, and his status for Sunday's game is uncertain.

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Bears Host Giants Sunday

The Bears aim to win back-to-back games to start a season for the first time in seven years and deny the Giants their first victory under new coach Joe Judge when New York visits Soldier Field on Sunday.

 

Chicago rallied from 17 points down behind three fourth-quarter touchdown throws by Mitchell Trubisky and hung on for a 27-23 victory at Detroit last week. The Giants lost 26-16 to Pittsburgh on Monday night.

 

Saquon Barkley got swarmed by the Steelers and was held to 6 yards on 15 carries in one of his worst games since he was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2018. He'll try to get going against a top 10 defense that got picked apart at times last week.

 

The Bears were 2 of 11 on third downs in the opener, failed on all six in the first half and missed their first seven in all. They finally broke through late in the third quarter, when Anthony Miller caught an 18-yarder to keep a touchdown drive going.

 

At 18%, Chicago tied San Francisco for the worst rate in the NFL.

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Justin Thomas Tames Wing Foot, Round 1 Leader at US Open

Justin Thomas led the way with six birdies and only one bogey from a bad lie in the bunker, finishing with a 25-foot birdie putt that he barely touched for a 5-under 65 at the U.S. Open from Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY. 

 

It was the lowest score in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which is hosting the Open for the sixth time dating to 1929. And it was worth only a one-shot lead over Patrick Reed, University of Illinois alum Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Matthew Wolff, the 21-year-old Californian making his U.S. Open debut.

 

Rory McIlroy, who has been struggling to get off to a decent start in the majors, opened with a 67 and tried to contain his disappointment it wasn’t lower. He had a pair of three-putts that held him back, one on the 329-yard sixth where he hit driver onto the middle of the green and had to settle for par.

 

McIlroy was among those two shots behind on a scoreboard filled with red numbers, an unusual site for Winged Foot. In the previous five U.S. Opens, a total of 17 players were under par after the first round. On Thursday, there were 21.

 

Patrick Reed and Will Zalatoris made a hole-in-one on No. 7, and Zalatoris somehow missed another ace on No. 13. Spanish amateur Eduard Rousand holed out for eagle from the first fairway with his second shot in his U.S. Open debut. Louis Oosthuizen holed out for eagle on second fairway.

 

Tiger Woods was in five bunkers through five holes and then appeared to steady himself with three straight birdies around the turn to get under par, but only briefly. He made three bogeys coming in, still had a chance to post a reasonable score and then let it get away.

 

From short of the steep shelf fronting the 18th green, he flubbed a flop shot, pitched the next one about 8 feet beyond the pin and missed the putt to take double bogey for a 73.

 

Colin Morikawa, who shot 40 on the back nine for a 76.

 

Pieters and Wolff dropped only one shot along the way while playing in the afternoon when the greens became a little more difficult because of all the foot traffic. 

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