Sports Watch

Taking stock at the All-Star break

(AP) - Baseball heads into its midsummer All-Star break with the Los Angeles Dodgers owning the best record in the game at 56-32, their best start in 32 years. That gives the Dodgers a 7-game lead in the NL West, the biggest lead in baseball. Philadelphia hits the break with a 4-game lead in the NL East and St. Louis owns a 2.5 game lead in the Central.

Over in the American League, Boston goes into the break with an AL-best record of 54-34, good for a 3-game lead over the Yankees in the East. Surprising Detroit has a 3.5 game bulge in the AL Central with the L.A. Angels having a game and a-half edge over Texas in the West.

Here's the action on the final day before the All-Star break:

In the AL:

There are just three major league pitchers with 11 wins heading into the All-Star break, and the Boston Red Sox have 2 of them. Josh Beckett joined teammate Tim Wakefield as the AL's only 11-game winners, tossing a three-hitter in the Red Sox's 6-0 shutout of Kansas City. Rookie Aaron Bates went 3 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI.

John Lackey pitched seven solid innings and the Los Angeles Angels knocked around CC Sabathia to complete a sweep of the New York Yankees with a 5-4 victory. The loss drops the Yanks three games back of Boston in the AL East.

Clete Thomas, Brandon Inge (ihnj) and Justin Verlander led the Tigers to a 10-1 trouncing of Cleveland. Thomas drove in five runs and Inge homered twice.

Carlos Gomez set a career high with five RBIs, including a three-run homer in Minnesota's 13-7 romp over the White Sox.

Oakland scored four in the seventh to beat Tampa Bay 7-3. Kurt Suzuki was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Oscar Salazar homered and Brian Roberts drove in two runs as Baltimore doubled up Toronto 4-2, the Blue Jays' 12th loss in 15 games.

Pinch-hitter Chris Shelton and Rob Johnson hit consecutive RBI singles in the seventh inning to lead Seattle to a 5-3 win over Texas.

Over to the National League, where All-Star Orlando Hudson broke out of a 3 for 41 slump by homering in the sixth and eighth innings of the Los Angeles Dodgers' 7-4 win at Milwaukee. Backup catcher Brad Ausmus also homered.

Carlos Zambrano helped the Chicago Cubs take the opener of a day-night doubleheader against St. Louis, 7-3. Zambrano pitched six innings and smacked his third homer. St. Louis won the nightcap 4-2 with Ryan Ludwick hitting a pair of 2-run home runs.

Pedro Feliz (feh-LEEZ') launched a grand slam during a five-run first that sent Philadelphia past Pittsburgh 5-2. J.A. Happ is 6-0.

Brian Moehler combined with two relievers on an 11-hitter in Houston's 5-0 shutout of Washington.

Gary Sheffield had three RBIs and David Murphy drove in two runs in the New York Mets' 9-7 win against Cincinnati.

Colorado All-Star Brad Hawpe hit a game-ending RBI double and the Rockies rallied to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-7.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, Eliezer Alfonzo and Will Venable homered and the San Diego Padres beat San Francisco 10-4 to snap a season-high 7-game losing streak.

Cody Ross drove in three runs leading the Florida Marlins past the Diamondbacks 8-1 for a split of their 4-game series. Florida All-Star Josh Johnson blanked Arizona through six innings for his eighth win.

Hoffman, Pena, Duke added to All-Star rosters...Home run derby lineups

(AP) - Trevor Hoffman is going to the All-Star game for the seventh time.

The Milwaukee Brewers closer will replace Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton on the National League squad for the All-Star game Tuesday night. Hoffman is 1-1 with 20 saves and a 2.05 ERA this season.

Broxton was set to make his first All-Star appearance but has an irritated nerve on his right toe.

Pittsburgh's Zach Duke is replacing San Francisco's Matt Cain, who was hit by a line drive Saturday night.

There's also a change in the American League roster. Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena will replace Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia (peh-DROY'-uh), who will skip the game to be with his pregnant wife.

Pena leads the American League with 24 homers and will take part in the home run derby.

(AP) - The popular home run derby is Monday night. Major league home run leader Albert Pujols (POO'-hohlz) of the hometown Cardinals anchors an NL lineup that includes Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez and Milwaukee's Cecil Fielder. The AL derby lineup has Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena, Nelson Cruz of Texas, Detroit's Brandon Inge (ihnj) and Minnesota's Joe Mauer.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - All-Star festivities at Busch Stadium began with the World team beating the U.S. 7-5 in the Futures Game shortened to seven innings because of rain. Rene Tosoni and Dayan Viciedo hit consecutive RBI doubles to cap a four-run comeback in the showcase for top minor league talent.

Fans say no WS home-field edge to league winner

(AP) - The American League has won the last 11 All-Star decisions with the National League last winning in 1996 and the leagues playing a tie in 2002. Such domination has given AL teams in the World Series a distinct postseason edge, and a poll shows fans think that's unfair.

An Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released shows by a margin of 56% to 42%, fans say the All-Star game shouldn't be used to determine which league's champion gets to get home field advantage in the World Series.

Other poll results showed:

More than half of fans said every team shouldn't have a guaranteed spot on the All-Star rosters.

Some 82% said players penalized under MLB's drug policy shouldn't be allowed into the All-Star game in the year they are punished.

Ji wins Women's Open

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - Eun Hee Ji (un hee jee) of South Korea made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the U.S. Women's Open. She shot a final-round even-par 71.

Candie Kung of Taiwan finished second.

Stricker wins second tourney of year

SILVIS, Ill. (AP) - Steve Stricker has won the PGA's John Deere Classic in Illinois by three shots. It's the fifth career win and the second this PGA season for Stricker.

Zach Johnson, Brendt Snedeker and Brett Quigley tied for second. Quigley's finish earned him a spot in this week's British Open.

Langer wins with eagle on 18

BLAINE, Minn. (AP) - Bernhard Langer chipped in for eagle on the 18th hole to win the 3M Championship for his second straight win on the Champions Tour. Andy Bean was one shot back.

Armstrong still third, looks to race next year

TARBES, France (AP) - Lance Armstrong had another strong ride at the Tour de France today, keeping him eight seconds off the pace heading into Monday's rest day. Armstrong also hinted that this likely isn't the last time he'll compete in the race.

When asked by a French TV interviewer if this would be his final Tour de France, the 7-time champion, said, "Probably not. Maybe one more Tour."

The 37-year-old Armstrong finished 43rd in the 100-mile ninth stage through the Pyrenees, staying in the same pack as overall leader Rinaldo Nocentini (noh-chehn-TEE'-nee) of Italy. Armstrong's Astana teammate, Alberto Contador, is six seconds behind Nocentini.

Pierrick Fedrigo of France won the stage.

Gatti's wife accused

SAN PAULO (AP) - The wife of former boxing champion Arturo Gatti is being accused by Brazilian authorities in connection with his death. Police are accusing 23-year-old Amanda Rodrigues after contradictions in her interrogation after the boxer was found strangled with the strap of a purse Saturday at a posh seaside resort in Brazil. Prosecutors will later decide whether she will be charged.

Police say Rodrigues could not explain how she spent nearly 10 hours in their hotel room without noticing that Gatti was dead.

Rodrigues denies any involvement in her husband's death.

Croatia ousts U.S.

POREC, Croatia (AP) - The United States has been eliminated by Croatia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals. Marin Cilic (CHIH'-lihch) gave Croatia an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-5 by downing James Blake 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Cilic outlasted Mardy Fish in five sets during Friday's opening singles.

Franchitti wins

TORONTO (AP) - Dario Franchitti (fran-KEE'-tee) won the Honda Indy of Toronto while regaining the IRL points lead. Franchitti started from the pole and easily held off Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Will Power on a late restart for his third win of the season. Scott Dixon lost the points lead with his fourth-place finish.

Webber has F1 pole

NUERBURGRING, Germany (AP) - Red Bull's Mark Webber overcame a penalty to earn his first Formula One victory, beating teammate Sebastian Vettel by 9.2 seconds in the German Grand Prix.

F1 leader Jenson Button of Brawn GP finished fifth to increase his overall total to 68 points, 21 ahead of Vettel.

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