July 22, 2014

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Portugal rescues 2-2 draw with US at World Cup
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:08 PM

Associated Press

 

MANAUS, Brazil — They were less than 30 seconds away. The Americans were about to romp into the round of 16 at the World Cup, about to walk off with their first come-from-behind win at soccer’s showcase. About to advance with a game to spare. About to win consecutive World Cup games for the first time since 1930.

But they wilted in the Amazon heat and humidity.

Cristiano Ronaldo set up Varela for a late equalizer on a hot and humid night in the jungle Sunday to give Portugal a 2-2 draw with the United States and hope for a spot in the second round of the World Cup.

Ronaldo, who has been playing despite a left knee injury, sent in a cross in the fifth minute of stoppage time and Varela scored with a diving header in the last seconds of the match.

“We had one foot in the door,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said.

Nani had scored first for Portugal, shooting past a sprawling Howard in the fifth minute on Geoff Cameron’s wayward clearance, but the Americans responded in the second half as Portugal seemed to wilt in the stifling heat.

Jermaine Jones made it 1-1 with a curling shot in the 64th minute after a cross from Graham Zusi made its way through the Portugal defense.

Clint Dempsey, playing with a broken nose, then put the Americans ahead in the 81st. The United States captain used his stomach to direct the ball into the net from a cross by Zusi.

A screaming, pro-American majority in the crowd of 40,123 was ready to party late into the steamy night.

Then Varela beat Cameron to the cross, deflating the red, white and blue-clad fans.

The last-second draw denied the Americans a spot in the second round but it kept Portugal alive in the tournament.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed, but at the end of the day you’ve got to look at the positives: We got a point,” American captain Clint Dempsey said. “We put in a good performance. I thought we played better than the last game. I thought we moved the ball better. I thought we created more chances. Just unlucky.

The United States now has four points in Group G, the same as Germany, but the Germans have a better goal difference. Both Portugal and Ghana have one point. The Americans will face Germany on Thursday in Recife, while Portugal takes on Ghana at the same time in Brasilia.

Now the Americans may need at least a point Thursday to advance to the knockout stage. They could advance with a loss, depending on the result of the Portugal-Ghana game that will be played simultaneously.

“Now we have to go out and beat Germany; that’s what we have to do,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “We have to play Germany, we have one less day to recover, we played in the Amazon, they played on a place with less travel. We have to do it the tough way.”

It was all Portugal for much of the first half, with Ronaldo in the starting lineup but getting less involved as the match progressed. The Americans, however, started to get more and more chances and even had a shot from Michael Bradley cleared off the line by Ricardo Costa in the 55th.

The heat in the Amazon rainforest, however, seemed to slow the Portuguese as the match wore on.

In the 39th minute, referee Nestor Pitana on Argentina called for a cooling break, the first such decision to be taken at the World Cup.

At the start of the match, FIFA listed the temperature at 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) with 66-percent humidity. FIFA uses the “Wet Bulb Globe Temperature” to determine when official cooling breaks should be added and says the WGBT must be above 32 degrees C (90 degrees F) for them to be considered.

The breaks are supposed to occur in the 30th and 75th minutes.

Dempsey’s goal was his fourth at a World Cup and second at this year’s tournament. Jones scored his third goal for the United States national team and first in almost two years.

Just like four years ago, the Americans relied on a late push. But they couldn’t sustain it.

Now it’s onto Recife. Nothing is decided.

They could move on. Or after all this, they could be sent home.

“It was unfortunate,” Klinsmann added, “An amazing game, amazing performance by our guys. Nothing more that you can ask for.”

 
Michelle Wie holds on to win US Women’s Open
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:07 PM

Associated Press

 

PINEHURST, N.C. — Michelle Wie finally delivered a performance worthy of the hype that has been heaped on her since she was a teenager.

Wie bounced back from a late mistake at Pinehurst No. 2 to bury a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, sending the 24-year-old from Hawaii to her first major championship Sunday, a 2-shot victory over Stacy Lewis in the U.S. Women’s Open.

Wie closed with an even-par 70 and covered her mouth with her hand before thrusting both arms in the air.

Lewis, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, made her work for it. She made eight birdies to match the best score of the tournament with a 66, then was on the practice range preparing for a playoff when her caddie told her Wie had made the sharp-breaking birdie putt on the 17th.

Lewis returned to the 18th green to hug the winner after other players doused Wie with champagne.

What a journey for Wie, who now has four career victories — all in North America, the first on the U.S. mainland — and moved to the top of the LPGA money list after winning the biggest event in women’s golf.

She has been one of the biggest stars in women’s golf since she was 13 and played in the final group of a major. Her popularity soared along with criticism when she competed against the men on the PGA Tour while still in high school and talked about wanting to play in the Masters.

That seems like a lifetime ago. The 6-foot Wie is all grown up, a Stanford graduate, popular among pros of both genders and now a major champion.

“Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening,” Wie said.

 
Carl Edwards races to 1st career road course win
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:06 PM

Associated Press

 

SONOMA, Calif. — Carl Edwards has never been known for his road racing skills — to the point team owner Jack Roush had to send him testing in a 2-seater so Boris Said could teach him the basics.

A decade later, Edwards finally has a win to show for his hard work.

And he beat road racing ace Jeff Gordon to get to Victory Lane on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, where Gordon leads all drivers with five wins.

“My road racing progression, it’s been a pretty long climb,” Edwards said. “The real special part to me was to stand in Victory Lane at Sonoma and have Jeff Gordon come and give me a handshake as the second-place finisher. I grew up watching Jeff Gordon and specifically watching how he drove this race track and all the successes he had here, so I mean, that’s really super. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Edwards’ win made Roush Fenway Racing the unlikely organization to end Hendrick Motorsports’ 5-race winning streak. And the win came a week after Roush was shut out at Michigan, where the organization failed to put a car in the top 10 for the first time since 2000.

Edwards took the lead on a restart with 25 laps remaining and seemed to have the win wrapped up until Gordon nearly chased him down on the final lap. Gordon had one good look at Edwards and couldn’t pull off the pass.

“That last lap was ugly,” Edwards said of trying to hold off Gordon.

It wasn’t a terrible day for the Hendrick organization, which had won every Sprint Cup Series race since Gordon’s victory at Kansas on May 10. Instead, HMS settled for all four of its drivers finishing in the top seven.

Gordon, the Sprint Cup Series points leader, wound up second. He said he made one mistake in overdriving a turn with about five laps to go that allowed Edwards to build a healthy lead.

“I just couldn’t put enough pressure on him,” Gordon explained. “I think had I put some more pressure on him, I saw him really struggling with the (tire) grip level, but he did everything he needed to do. That last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him and he didn’t overdrive it. I was hoping he might slide up and I’d get a run on him.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third after rallying from an incident that wrecked Matt Kenseth and was apologetic on the radio and after the race.

“I tried to screw it up a couple times in the race but I calmed down and was able to get a good finish,” Earnhardt said after his career-best finish on a road course. “I got into Matt, I jumped a curb and jumped into the air and just ran into him. Totally my fault. I hope he’s not sore with me.”

Kasey Kahne bounced back from an early flat tire to finish sixth and Jimmie Johnson was seventh.

 
Cueto pitches Reds past Blue Jays 4-3
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:06 PM

By GARY SCHATZ

Associated Press

 

CINCINNATI — Two days before his 52nd birthday, Reds manager Bryan Price asked for two long outings from his starting pitchers to save an overworked bullpen.

Johnny Cueto delivered the latest present for Price, throwing eight effective innings as Cincinnati beat Toronto 4-3 Sunday.

The Reds surrendered an 8-0 lead on Friday night and spent its bullpen in the process. Behind Cueto, the Reds won after Blue Jays stars Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista exited early because of injuries.

“Leaker (Mike Leake) and Johnny really picked up our bullpen,” Price said.

Leake pitched eight innings in an 11-1 win on Saturday. The Reds have not lost any of their last five series and evened their record at 37-37. They have not been above .500 this season.

“I’m very proud of this team. They battled through a lot of adversity,” added Price on his birthday. “Someone is taking care of me. Maybe it’s my mom sending good vibes.”

Todd Frazier broke a 2-all tie in the fifth with a 2-run homer off R.A. Dickey (6-6).

Cueto led off the fifth with a bunt single. One out later, Frazier lined his team-leading 17th homer of the season.

Frazier went into the game tied with Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen and Baltimore’s Adam Jones for the most home runs in the month of June. Each had seven.

Frazier hit his second home run off Dickey. He faced the knuckleball pitcher in 2012 as a member of the Mets.

 
Scherzer, Cabrera and Tigers sweep Indians
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:05 PM

CLEVELAND (AP) — A trip to Progressive Field last month began a downward spiral for the Detroit Tigers.

Their return visit could signal the start of a significant reversal.

Max Scherzer pitched six strong innings, Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three runs and the Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 10-4 on Sunday for a 3-game sweep.

The Tigers, swept in a 3-game series at Cleveland in May, have won four in a row overall and reclaimed first place in the AL Central.

“We’re playing good baseball right now,” Scherzer said. “If we play good baseball and do the little things right, we’re as good as any team in the American League. That’s what we did this series.”

The first trip to Cleveland began a 9-20 tailspin that dropped the Tigers out of first place for the first time this season. Manager Brad Ausmus is pleased his team finally seems to be out of its funk.

“We played well here,” he said. “We’re playing better, obviously, but I’m not going to make any declarations that anything is starting or finishing.”

Scherzer (9-3) bounced back from one of the worst outings of his career. The reigning AL Cy Young winner allowed 10 runs in four innings against Kansas City on Tuesday.

Scherzer gave up one run and six hits, striking out eight. He was struck in the side of the right leg by Lonnie Chisenhall’s line drive in the sixth but recovered to throw him out and completed the inning.

Ausmus and a team trainer checked on Scherzer, who quickly indicated he wanted to remain in the game. Nick Swisher doubled but David Murphy grounded out and Scherzer pumped his fist as he headed to the dugout.

Cabrera hit his 13th homer in the first, added an RBI single in the third and drove in a run with a grounder in the fifth when Detroit scored seven times.

Josh Tomlin (4-5) allowed eight runs in 4-plus innings. He faced six hitters in the fifth and all reached base.

Cabrera, whose RBI double in the 10th inning Saturday gave Detroit a 5-4 win, lined a full-count pitch to right after Tomlin retired the first two batters in the first.

The Tigers took advantage of errors by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and center fielder Michael Bourn in taking a 9-0 lead in the fifth.

“Against any team, if you give them extra opportunities, there’s a decent chance you pay for it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “They just blew it open and we helped them. They don’t need the help.”

 
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