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National

  • The AP Top 25 College Football Poll

    The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Oct. 26, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

  • Obstruction call gives Cardinals 5-4 win in Game 3

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Cardinals rushed to the plate to congratulate Allen Craig. The Red Sox stormed home to argue with the umpires.

    The fans, well, they seemed too startled to know what to do. Who'd ever seen an obstruction call to end a World Series game?

    No one.

    In perhaps the wildest finish imaginable, the rare ruling against third baseman Will Middlebrooks allowed Craig to score with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and lifted St. Louis over Boston 5-4 Saturday night for a 2-1 edge.

    A walk-off win? More like a trip-off.

    "I'm in shock right now," St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina said.

    So was most everyone at Busch Stadium after the mad-cap play.

    "Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

    After an umpire's call was the crux of Game 1 and a poor Boston throw to third base decided Game 2, the key play on this night combined both elements.

    Molina singled with one out in the ninth off losing pitcher Brandon Workman. Craig, just back from a sprained foot, pinch-hit and lined Koji Uehara's first pitch into left field for a double that put runners on second and third.

  • Cardinals Top Red Sox 4-2, Tie World Series 1-1
  • Giants get into win column vs. Vikings

     EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — For the first time this season, the New York Giants are going to be able to watch the videotapes of a game and have something to smile about.

    Winning has its benefits, even after six straight losses to open a season.

    Eli Manning threw a go-ahead touchdown to Rueben Randle in a rare mistake-free performance and the Giants shut down Adrian Peterson and forced three crucial second-half turnovers in posting a 23-7 victory over struggling Minnesota Vikings (1-5) on Monday night.

    The win ended the Giants' worst start since a franchise-record 0-9 beginning in 1976, and it gave Tom Coughlin's team a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.

    "We needed to get one on the board," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I told (general manager) Jerry Reese that I think we have a shovel to start digging our way out of this hole. Hopefully, tonight is something we can build off. It's still a long way to climb out of this hole. But this was something that we could get the ball rolling."

    While the game wasn't perfect, the Giants did enough to win and avoided most of the mistakes that led to their disastrous start.

  • Red Sox beat Tigers 5-2 to advance to World Series

    BOSTON (AP) — When Shane Victorino signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in the offseason, they were coming off a last-place finish that was their worst in almost half a century. They had fired their manager for the second year in a row.

    He believed they could turn it around.

    And quickly.

    Victorino brought the Red Sox one big step closer to completing their comeback, sending them to the World Series with a seventh-inning grand slam that gave Boston a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the AL championship series Saturday night.

    The Red Sox will open the Series on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they swept in 2004 to end their 86-year title drought. The Cardinals won the NL pennant on Friday night by eliminating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

    "It's one of those moments you live for," Victorino said as he wandered around the Fenway Park infield while Red Sox fans serenaded him with his theme song, Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," and its chorus, "Don't worry about a thing, 'Cause every little thing is gonna be all right."

  • Red Sox win, take 3-2 edge

    DETROIT (AP) — Mike Napoli provided the power and the Boston bullpen stymied Miguel Cabrera.
    Twice in three games, that formula has worked for the Red Sox, and now they’re one win from reaching the World Series.
    Napoli opened the scoring with another big long ball, Junichi Tazawa again bested Cabrera in a crucial spot and the Red Sox edged the Detroit Tigers 4-3 Thursday night.
    Boston returns to Fenway Park with a 3-2 lead in the AL championship series. The Red Sox can win the American League pennant Saturday, when the Tigers’ Max Scherzer faces Boston’s Clay Buchholz in Game 6.
    Four of the five games in the ALCS so far have been decided by one run.
    “There’s probably a reason I don’t have any hair,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “It’s stressful.”
    Cabrera was thrown out at the plate in the first inning, halting an early Detroit rally, and he hit into a double play against Tazawa with runners at the corners in the seventh. The Tigers scored a run on the grounder, but it was a trade-off the Red Sox were willing to make.

  • Lackey, Red Sox blank Tigers

     DETROIT (AP) — Once again this October, one run was enough.

    The Boston Red Sox scored it — and now they lead an AL championship series that seemed to be slipping away last weekend.

    John Lackey edged Justin Verlander in the latest duel of these pitching-rich playoffs, and Boston's bullpen shut down Detroit's big boppers with the game on the line to lift the Red Sox over the Tigers 1-0 Tuesday for a 2-1 advantage in the ALCS.

    Mike Napoli homered off Verlander in the seventh inning, and Detroit's best chance to rally fell short in the eighth when Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder struck out with runners at the corners.

    "This game had the feel it was going to be won or lost on one pitch," Boston reliever Craig Breslow said. "Lackey kept us in the game. Every inning where he was able to throw up a zero gave us a lift."

    Despite three straight gems by their starters, the Tigers suddenly trail in a best-of-seven series they initially appeared to control. Game 4 is Wednesday night at Comerica Park, with Jake Peavy scheduled to start for the Red Sox against Doug Fister.

    Peavy set the tone Tuesday during a pregame news conference, when he sounded miffed that so much of the attention was focused on Verlander before Game 3.

  • Cards within a game of closing out NLCS

     LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Cardinals have been this close to the World Series before, and they don't want to blow it this time.

    St. Louis got home runs from Matt Holliday and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson — the first of the NL championship series — and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Tuesday night for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff.

    The Cardinals have lost the NLCS both times they owned such a commanding lead, most recently last season when they dropped three in a row to San Francisco, the eventual World Series winner.

    "That's something that we thought last year — up 3-1 and all we have to do is win one more and we're there," closer Trevor Rosenthal said. "But that didn't work out, so we've just got to keep the same approach."

    With a quick turnaround for Game 5 Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles, the Dodgers will try to forget the loss, and hope the Cardinals remember their recent past failures.

    "We get into a Game 7, those things (losing a 3-1 lead) will creep into their heads over there," Dodgers infielder Adrian Gonzalez said. "Our goal is definitely to push this to a Game 7."

    Joe Kelly will start Game 5 for the Cardinals, looking to clinch their 19th pennant.

  • Dodgers get back into NLCS with win

     LOS ANGELES (AP) — Led by a pair of precocious rookies, the Los Angeles Dodgers got themselves right back into the NL championship series.

    Hyun-Jin Ryu outpitched Adam Wainwright with seven innings of three-hit ball, and Yasiel Puig celebrated twice on his RBI triple that helped Los Angeles beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 Monday night in Game 3.

    Adrian Gonzalez's RBI double ended a 1-for-17 drought for the Dodgers with runners in scoring position. An ailing Hanley Ramirez added a run-scoring hit as Los Angeles handed Wainwright his first postseason loss and trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

    "The playoffs are one-day momentum swings," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Right now I feel like we've kind of grabbed it."

    Puig's youthful exuberance, which energized the Dodgers as they surged from last place to first during a torrid midseason stretch, was on full display in the fourth inning.

    The 22-year-old Cuban defector was so excited when he connected that he raised his arms immediately and stood in the batter's box to watch the flight of the ball toward right field, clearly thinking it was going out of the park.

  • Cards are in the NLCS

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Adam Wainwright sprinted to the mound for the ninth inning, sending a message that he had plenty left. He pretended not to notice when the bullpen got busy, and he avoided eye contact with manager Mike Matheny.
    Without saying a word, the St. Louis Cardinals ace told them all to stand down, he had this one.
    “To pitch a game like that was one of the highlights of my baseball life, no doubt,” Wainwright said after throwing a complete game to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Wednesday night and put the Cardinals in the NL championship series for the third straight season.
    “These are the moments that starting pitchers live for.”
    David Freese’s two-run homer in the second inning off rookie Gerrit Cole was all Wainwright needed. The right-hander also had won Game 1 and allowed one run in 16 innings in two dominant outings against the Pirates.
    The Cardinals are 8-1 when facing postseason elimination the last three years, and they get to stay at home to open the championship series against the well-rested Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

    “It’s going to be a blast,” Freese said. “It’s going to be fun, St. Louis and L.A. going at it.”