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National

  • Giants' Ishikawa hits walk-off home run

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After three years away with four different teams, Travis Ishikawa landed himself a second chance with San Francisco right where he so wanted to be.
    And with one sweet swing, he sent the Giants back to the World Series.
    It was the Shot That Shook the Bay.
    For all the questions about San Francisco’s failures to clear the fences and weird ways they’re winning during their latest special October, the Giants got back to the World Series with the home run. A trio of longballs, in fact.
    Ishikawa made good on the big stage only a few months removed from the minors, hitting the first homer to end an NL Championship Series on a three-run drive that lifted San Francisco to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
    “It’s gratifying,” Ishikawa said. “If there’s an organization I’d want to do it for, it would be this one.”
    These every-other-year Giants will face the Royals in an all wild-card World Series.
    A journeyman who began the season with Pittsburgh, Ishikawa connected for the first game-ending home run that sent the Giants into the World Series since perhaps the most famous drive in baseball history — Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in a 1951 playoff.

  • Royals sweep Orioles to advance

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — When the final out was made on another improbable night, and the Kansas City Royals were headed back to the World Series, Ned Yost stood in the dugout and watched.
    He watched as a bunch of young players he’s nurtured for years celebrated. He watched as veterans and journeymen and baseball vagabonds piled onto the infield. And he watched as a fan base that has so often criticized him relished a moment 29 years in the making.
    “These kids, from the minute you saw them, you knew they were going to be special,” Yost said. “Their goal was to get here and win a championship, and today they accomplished that.”
    Led by a dynamic defense, an opportunistic offense and one of the best bullpens in the game, the Royals swept aside the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night. With another tight win, 2-1, the Royals captured their first the American League championship since 1985.
    “It’s hard to explain,” said outfielder Lorenzo Cain, whose clutch hits and dramatic grabs earned him the series MVP award. “We’re clicking at the right moment right now.”

  • Kirk has longest outing of preseason Tuesday

    With only a little over two weeks before the start of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2014-15 season, Alex Kirk got a long, hard look Tuesday by his team.
    In the Cavaliers’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks, their third straight victory in the preseason, Kirk played for 21-plus minutes and finished with 8 points, hitting 2 of 6 shots from the floor, and had 3 rebounds. That game was in Cleveland and was Kirk’s longest appearance for the Cavaliers in the preseason so far.
    Kirk, of course, is a 2010 graduate of Los Alamos High School. Following his standout career with the Hilltoppers, he had a solid career at the University of New Mexico, where he played for 3-plus years.
    Over the summer, Kirk went undrafted, but was signed by the Cavaliers to a free agent deal.
    The career prospects of an undrafted rookie free agent can often be dicey at best, but for those trying to make Cleveland’s squad this season, it may be doubly so.
    Cleveland was one of the most active teams in the offseason. The Cavaliers picked up two huge new players, LeBron James and Kevin Love, who got some hefty contracts.
    James, of course, is considered the best player by many in the NBA and is a four-time league MVP. He was originally drafted by Cleveland but left the team in a controversial free agent move in 2010 to join Miami.

  • List of NFL star players with injuries is long

    The NFL’s injury epidemic began even before any preseason games were played, with Sean Lee and Kiko Alonso going down.
    Since then, big-name players (RG3, Robert Mathis, Knowshon Moreno, Sam Bradford, B.J. Raji, DeAngelo Hall, Chris Long, Ike Taylor) have been sidelined, and entire units such as Atlanta and Philadelphia’s offensive lines and Carolina’s backfield have been ravaged.
    What gives? ACLs, Achilles tendons and shoulders, among other things.
    Consider what has happened to the Vikings, who lost quarterback Matt Cassel (broken foot), and right guard Brandon Fusco (torn pectoral muscle) for the season. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia surgery) will miss about six weeks.
    That almost makes linebacker Chad Greenway’s hand and rib problems from which he will soon return seem tame.
    “I never envisioned that, but it’s a part of football,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after all of those injuries occurred in one game. “Last year in Cincinnati we lost our best defensive tackle, our best corner, one of our best linebackers, a very good defensive end. Things happen in the NFL, so this is a survival of the fittest game, it’s always a marathon.”

  • Wildcats upset No. 2 Ducks

    EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The look on Marcus Mariota's face was unmistakable: He was stunned.
    Oregon's star quarterback lingered on the field late Thursday night following his team's 31-24 loss to Arizona, shaking hands with the Wildcats after they upset the heavily favored Ducks for the second consecutive season.
    Later, he shouldered the blame for a loss that left No. 2 Oregon with a tough hill to climb if it wants an invite to college football's first postseason playoff.
    And he credited the unranked Wildcats, who were 24-point underdogs.
    "They're undefeated," he said. "It's obviously a testament to our conference. If you're not prepared each week, if you're not ready to play, you'll lose."
    Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost told reporters after the game that Mariota was not 100 percent after he was sacked seven times in the Ducks' 38-31 victory at Washington State in their previous game Sept. 20.
    True freshman Nick Wilson ran for two touchdowns and caught a scoring pass from quarterback Anu Solomon to help the Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) open the season with five straight victories for the first time since 1998.

  • Giants power past Bucs in wild-card game

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brandon Crawford figured the San Francisco Giants needed one run, maybe two, the way ace Madison Bumgarner was dealing.
    A grand slam provided all that and more, silencing a revved-up crowd and propelling San Francisco into the meat of the playoffs. Streaking in May and slumping in September, the Giants are back to their old resilient selves in October.
    Hey, it’s what they do this time of year.
    Crawford’s slam off Edinson Volquez in the fourth inning led the Giants to an 8-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild-card game Wednesday night, sending San Francisco on to Washington for the best-of-five Division Series starting Friday.
    “We thrive in these situations,” Crawford said. “I don’t know what it is. We just keep fighting no matter what the circumstance.”
    The Giants won their eighth consecutive postseason game and seventh straight with their season on the line, a streak that dates back to their run to a World Series title in 2012. While much work remains before they can start thinking about the franchise’s eighth championship, there was certainly a familiar feeling at PNC Park as San Francisco dismantled the Pirates.

  • Several teams passed up on Jeter

    NEW YORK (AP) — The 17-year-old kid from Kalamazoo drew all sorts of raves.
    He was a "young colt" with a "perfect SS body" and was a "top student" who planned to study medicine at the University of Michigan, too.
    "This guy is special," one big league scout even wrote.
    But, could anyone back then have projected that Derek Jeter the high schooler would someday become Derek Jeter the future Hall of Famer?
    Now 40, Jeter is set to retire after this weekend. A five-time World Series champion and sixth on the career hits list, he spent two decades as the shortstop for the New York Yankees.
    Five big league teams bypassed Jeter in baseball's amateur draft in 1992 before New York selected him with the No. 6 pick. A year earlier, Yankees scout Dick Grouch had first spotted Jeter after his junior year.
    "It was one of those serendipitous events," Grouch recalled last week. "I was going to cover a tournament on the other side of the state, and I knew they were having this talent identification camp at Mount Morris High School, so I stopped just to get a glance as to what was transpiring."
    This time, there was indeed something worth seeing.

  • Peng pulls off another U.S. Open upset

    NEW YORK (AP) — Peng Shuai beat another seeded player at the U.S. Open to reach her second straight Grand Slam round of 16.

    Two days after upsetting fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, Peng defeated 28th-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3 on Friday. The Chinese veteran had gone two years without making it past the second round at a major tournament before her Wimbledon run this summer. But she didn't meet any seeded players in the first three rounds there before losing to eventual champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets.

    This time, Peng, ranked 39th, will face 14th-seeded Lucie Safarova or 22nd-seeded Alize Cornet to try to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

    Ninth-seeded Jelena Jankovic also advanced by routing Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-0. The 96th-ranked Larsson had upset Sloane Stephens in the second round.

    The 31-year-old Vinci had made the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open the last two years but lost in the opening round at the first three major tournaments of 2014.

    With third-ranked Li Na sidelined by a knee injury, Peng's success is giving the fans in China something to cheer.

    On the men's side, 20th-seeded Gael Monfils beat Alejandro Gonzalez 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round.

  • Sharapova survives after losing set one

    NEW YORK (AP) — A year ago at this time, Maria Sharapova was sitting out the U.S. Open, getting checked by doctors and having tests on the surgically repaired right shoulder that has troubled her off and on.
    On Wednesday, Sharapova found herself down by a set and facing a break point early in the second at Flushing Meadows, bothered by the whipping wind, her own off-target strokes and an opponent who wasn’t backing down.
    As dusk fell and the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights came on, Sharapova came through the way she so often does in the crucible of a third set, beating 95th-ranked Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the tournament.
    Sharapova won in part because of her big shots, yes, but also because she had more in the tank when it mattered.
    “Overall I felt like in the end I was in much better shape than she was, and I could have played another few sets,” Sharapova said. “Mentally that helped me a lot.”
    It helped that Dulgheru had played one set over the past five weeks because of inflammation in her right wrist, which was operated on in May 2013 and flared up recently.
    Dulgheru, though, pointed to Sharapova’s grit as a key factor, too.

  • No U.S. Open for Nadal

    Reigning champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of the U.S. Open because of an injury for the second time in three years Monday, leaving Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer as the men to beat at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.
    Nadal announced his withdrawal, blamed on a bad right wrist, one week before play begins at Flushing Meadows.
    “I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things,” a posting on Nadal’s Facebook page read. “Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”
    The second-ranked Nadal plays left-handed, but he uses a two-handed backhand.
    The 14-time major champion was hurt July 29 while practicing on his home island of Mallorca ahead of the North American hard-court circuit. The next day, Nadal announced he needed to wear a cast on his wrist for two to three weeks and would be sitting out tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati.
    The 28-year-old Spaniard also said at that time he expected to return for the U.S. Open.