Sports Watch

Reds erase stench of Monday's blowout...Manny ejected...Beckett gets 10th win

(AP) - Two hits, three RBIs, two strikeouts and one ejection. That sums up Manny Ramirez in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 8-0 laugher against the New York Mets Tuesday night.

Ramirez went 2 for 4 with three RBI before he was ejected in the fifth inning following his second called strikeout. He gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead with a two-run single in the second inning and added an RBI single in the fourth.

Clayton Kershaw combined with three relievers on a four-hitter as the Dodgers handed the Mets their second straight shutout loss. The Mets have been blanked over their last 22 innings.

Also in the National League, Brandon Phillips smacked a pair of home runs before Ramon Hernandez singled home the tiebreaking run in the ninth inning to lift the Reds past the Phillies 4-3 in Philadelphia. Phillips erased the Phillies' early 3-0 lead by belting a two-run blast and a solo shot.

Barry Zito had his best outing of the season in San Francisco's 3-0 shutout of Florida, holding the Marlins to four hits in 8 1-3 innings. Juan Uribe (yoo-REE'-bay) supplied a two-run homer to help Zito improve to 5-8.

Clint Barmes (BAHR'-mehs) had two RBIs, including the tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning of Colorado's 5-4 decision over Washington. The Rockies scored the lead run without benefit of a hit, doing it with two walks, an error and a fly ball.

Arizona also took advantage of sloppy fielding in a 4-3 triumph over San Diego, scoring twice on three errors in the third inning. Geraldo Parra hit an RBI triple and Doug Davis pitched into the seventh for his first victory in a month.

Adam Wainwright scattered seven hits over 8 1-3 innings to pitch St. Louis past Milwaukee 5-0, giving the Cardinals a 2-game lead in the NL Central. Ryan Ludwick opened the scoring with a three-run blast before Colby Rasmus added a solo shot and an RBI double.

Jack Wilson hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs in leading Pittsburgh to a 6-3 triumph at Houston, ending the Pirates' 3-game skid. Wilson contributed a run-scoring single while the Pirates scored four times in the seventh.

Javier Vazquez allowed a run and five hits in seven innings as Atlanta nipped the Chicago Cubs 2-1. Brian McCann drove in the Braves' runs with a first-inning single and a third-inning double, both with two out.

Over to the American League, where Texas moved back into a first-place tie with the Los Angeles Angels in the West Division. Andruw Jones belted a three-run homer while the Rangers were scoring six times with two out in the fifth inning of an 8-5 win at Anaheim. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (sahl-tah-lah-MAH'-kee-uh) supplied a two-run single that chased losing pitcher John Lackey in the fifth.

The Angels also lost right fielder Vladimir Guerrero to a strained muscle behind his left knee.

Josh Beckett became Boston's second 10-game winner of the season in a 5-2 verdict over Oakland. Jason Bay socked his 20th home run, Jason Varitek drove in two runs and Dustin Pedroia (peh-DROY'-uh) went 1 for 3 with an RBI in his return to the Red Sox's lineup.

CC Sabathia (suh-BATH'-ee-uh) was sharp in the New York Yankees' 10-2 pounding of Minnesota, holding the Twins to a run and three hits in seven innings. Mark Teixeira (teh-SHEHR'-uh) went 4 for 6, and Robinson Cano (kuh-NOH') and Brett Gardner drove in two runs apiece in the Yankees' 11th victory in 13 games.

Marcus Thames (tihmz) crushed a three-run homer and Justin Verlander struck out 11 in seven innings as Detroit outscored Kansas City 8-5. Miguel Cabrera and Placido Polanco also homered to support Verlander, whose league-high 141 strikeouts are the most by a Tigers pitcher before the All-Star break since 1972.

Paul Konerko set career highs with three homers and seven RBIs to power the Chicago White Sox past Cleveland 10-6. The White Sox trailed 3-1 until Konerko ripped a grand slam in the sixth inning.

Tampa Bay beat Toronto 3-1 on Pat Burrell's two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th. James Shields had to settle for a no-decision after limiting the Blue Jays to a run and seven hits in seven innings.

And Baltimore rode Luke Scott's three hits and career-high seven RBIs in a 12-4 romp at Seattle. Scott came within a double of the cycle, providing a two-run single, a two-run triple and a three-run homer.

Jays GM will listen to Halladay offers...Mets no healthier...DeRosa, Dempster on DL

(AP) - The Toronto Blue Jays are willing to part with their ace pitcher.

Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi (rih-CHAR'-dee) says he's willing to listen to offers for Roy Halladay, although Ricciardi tells The Canadian Press that Toronto isn't actively seeking to trade him.

Halladay is 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 16 starts for the fourth-place Jays this season. He'll be paid $14.25 million this year and his contract expires after the 2010 season, when he's set to earn $15.75 million.

It doesn't appear shortstop Jose Reyes and center fielder Carlos Beltran will be back in the New York Mets lineup next week. Reyes had a cortisone shot Tuesday because he still feels pain in his right leg. Beltran will need a rehabilitation assignment once the bone bruise below his right knee subsides. Beltran won't even be re-examined until the All-Star break, when he'll have an MRI.

The Mets also announced Carlos Delgado likely won't be back from hip surgery until mid-August.

Also in the majors, the St. Louis Cardinals are placing newly acquired utilityman Mark DeRosa on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 1, because of a strained left wrist. DeRosa got off to a stumbling start with the Redbirds going 0 for 9 in three games after being acquired from Cleveland last month. He was hitting .270 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs this season prior to the trade.

The Chicago Cubs have placed Ryan Dempster on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right toe. Dempster won 17 games for the Cubs last season and is 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 17 starts this year.

And the Arizona Diamondbacks have traded right-reliever Tony Pena to the Chicago White Sox for minor league infielder Brandon Allen.


Lack of motive slows ruling on McNair girlfriend

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee's state medical examiner says murder-suicide is the most likely scenario in the deaths of former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and his girlfriend. But the examiner, Bruce Levy, says investigators have been hesitant to conclude that the woman killed McNair and herself because she didn't appear to have a motive.

Levy also says it's unlikely the crime scene was staged by a third party.

Investigators have been cautious about exploring every possibility. In murder-suicides, friends and family usually have seen problems. But 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi's (sah-HEHL' kah-ZEE'-meez) family has said she was very happy.

A ruling is expected in the next few days.

A memorial service will be held Thursday night in Nashville and a funeral service is scheduled for Saturday in Hattiesburg, Miss. A private burial will take place in McNair's hometown of Mt. Olive.

Pistons, Johnson end coaching talks

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Pistons are close to hiring a new coach after negotiations with former Dallas coach Avery Johnson fell through Tuesday.

A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press the Pistons and John Kuester (KYOO'-stur) are nearing an agreement to make him their coach.

The person said the contract could be completed as soon as Wednesday.

Kuester spent the past two seasons as a Cleveland Cavaliers assistant and was on Larry Brown's championship-winning staff in 2004 with the Pistons.

The Pistons fired Michael Curry last week after he went 39-43 in his only season with the team.

AP source: Hawks reach deal with Bibby

ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Hawks and point guard Mike Bibby have reached what the player's agent says is an "oral agreement" on a 3-year contract.

Hawks general manager Rick Sund says he can't comment on the deal because Wednesday is the first day NBA free agents are allowed to sign contracts.

The 31-year-old Bibby was acquired by the Hawks before last year's trade deadline before helping the team reach the postseason for the first time in nine years. He averaged 14.9 points and 5.0 assists last season as the Hawks won 47 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Hatch wants BCS investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) - Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is urging the Justice Department to investigate college football's Bowl Championship Series for what he views as violations of antitrust laws.

Hatch's comments followed up on testimony by a lawyer for the Mountain West Conference, which does not get an automatic bid and has pressed for changes to the BCS. Utah is in the Mountain West and was bypassed for last year's national championship despite going undefeated in the regular season.

Hatch said, "There's an arrogance about the BCS that just drives me nuts."

Sakic to hang up the skates

DENVER (AP) - Joe Sakic (SAK'-ihk) spent his entire 20-season NHL career with one franchise after being taken in the first round of the 1987 draft.

A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the longtime Colorado Avalanche captain will announce his retirement Thursday.

Sakic is a 13-time All-Star and a the Hart Trophy winner as the league's MVP in 2001. Drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, he went to Colorado when the franchise was relocated in 1995.

He'll retire with 1,641 points, 1,016 assists and 625 goals.

Also in the NHL:

Chris Pronger has agreed to a multiyear extension with the Flyers, ensuring the former NHL MVP will remain under contract beyond this season. The Flyers acquired the star defenseman in a blockbuster, draft-day trade with Anaheim last month.

Toronto has signed coveted free agent goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a 1-year contract. The 24-year-old Swede was also heavily pursued by Dallas, San Jose and Colorado.

Todd Marchant is staying with the Anaheim Ducks after agreeing to a 2-year deal that runs through the 2010-11 season. The center had five goals and 13 assists in 72 games last season.

The Penguins announced that forward Maxime Talbot will miss training camp and the beginning of the season after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Talbot scored both goals in Pittsburgh's 2-1 victory in Game 7 against Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals last month.

And the Calgary Flames have brought back center Jamie Lundmark and signed forward Jason Jaffray.

Armstrong picks up ground

MONTPELLIER, France (AP) - Lance Armstrong surged within a second of the Tour de France lead after his Astana squad won Tuesday's team time trial.

Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara of the Saxo Bank team narrowly kept the yellow jersey lead following the 24.2-mile fourth stage.

Wednesday's Stage 5 is a 122-mile ride along the Mediterranean coast.

Bolt defies weather to run 19.59 in Lausanne 200m

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - Usain (yoo-SAYN') Bolt ran the fourth fastest 200-meter race ever in a meet Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, posting a time of 19.59 seconds despite undesirable conditions.

But with the temperature dipping to 60 degrees and the track slowed by a downpour, Bolt showed he was back in top form a year after winning the 100 and 200 in world record time at the Beijing Olympics.

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