Sports Watch

Howard fastest to 200 homers...Nats lose in Riggleman's debut...Brewers outslug Reds

(AP) - There was a homecoming for one National League slugger yesterday, and a record-setting performance by another.

Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez played in Los Angeles for the first time since completing his 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy. Chants of "Manny! Manny!" could be heard throughout Dodger Stadium as he strode to the plate in the first inning. Ramirez was robbed of a base hit moments later and was 0 for 3 before stroking an eighth-inning single.

Wandy Rodriguez held Ramirez and the rest of the Dodgers in check to lead Houston's 3-0 shutout. Rodriguez allowed five hits in six innings and lowered his ERA to 2.81.

Humberto Quintero put the Astros ahead with a solo homer in the fifth.

Earlier Thursday, Ryan Howard established a home-run record while helping the Philadelphia Phillies stretch their lead in the National League East.

Howard clubbed his 23rd home run of the season to cap the scoring in the Phillies' 4-0 shutout at Florida. The blast was his 200th in 658 major-league games, making him the fastest player in major league history to reach the milestone. Hall-of-Famer Ralph Kiner was the previous record holder, doing it in 706 games.

Raul Ibanez (ih-BAHN'-yehz) homered twice to support Jamie Moyer, who combined with two relievers on a one-hitter in the Phillies' sixth straight win. Moyer is 13-2 lifetime against the Marlins after helping the Phils move five games ahead of second-place Florida.

Also in the National League, the Chicago Cubs spoiled Jim Riggleman's first game as Washington's interim manager. Rich Harden allowed just an unearned run and three hits in six innings as the Cubs knocked off the Nationals 6-2. Derrek Lee went 3 for 4 with a homer, and Ryan Theriot (TEHR'-ee-oh) drove in two runs.

Home Run Derby champ Prince Fielder belted a three-run blast and J.J. Hardy collected three RBIs in Milwaukee's 9-6 win over Cincinnati. Pitcher Braden Looper was part of the Brewers' 14-hit attack, going 3 for 3 with an RBI single. Looper also gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings as the Brewers pulled within two games of first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.

Chipper Jones delivered an RBI single that gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning of a 5-3 win over the New York Mets. Yunel Escobar (yoo-NEHL' EHS'-koh-bahr) and Garret Anderson hit back-to-back homers in the second inning for the Braves before the Mets forged a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Jeff Francoeur (fran-KOOR') was 0 for 4 with an RBI in his return to Atlanta following Friday's trade to the Mets.

Clint Barmes (BAHR'-mehs) belted a three-run homer and Seth Smith added a two-run blast in Colorado's 10-1 laugher at San Diego. Aaron Cook is 9-3 after giving up one run in six innings.

Over to the American League, where the Los Angeles Angels picked up their fourth straight win to move a season-high 13 games over .500. Kendry Morales smacked a two-run homer and Chone (shawn) Figgins added a two-run double as the Halos beat Oakland 6-2. Ervin Santana gave up only one run and three hits in eight innings to end his three-start losing streak.

The other AL final had Cleveland beating Seattle 4-1. Cliff Lee went the distance in his first victory since June 14, allowing nine hits and no walks.

Ryan signs with Cubs

(AP) - The Chicago Cubs have signed former Toronto closer B.J. Ryan to a minor-league deal. Released by the Blue Jays earlier this month, Ryan will first report to the Cubs' spring training complex in Mesa, Ariz. If all goes well, he'll join AAA Iowa.

Sean Marshall currently is the Cubs' lone lefty out of the pen.

Ryan had ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow in 2007. He had 32 saves last year for Toronto.

In other major league news:

San Diego Padres right-handed pitcher Jake Peavy has had his right ankle removed from a protective boot and will begin a rehabilitation program. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 13 with a strained tendon in his right ankle.

The Colorado Rockies have activated reliever Manny Corpas and designated Matt Belisle for assignment. Corpas was 1-3 with one save and a 5.40 ERA in 33 games this season before landing on the disabled list June 20 with bone spurs in his right elbow.

The Milwaukee Brewers decided to send pitcher Dave Bush for another medical exam Thursday following a poor showing in a minor-league rehab start. Bush has been on the disabled list since June 23 with a small tear in his right triceps, which made his arm feel tired. He made his second medical rehab start Wednesday for AA Huntsville and gave up six hits and five runs in only three innings, struggling to throw strikes.

Watson flashes old form, but Jimenez leads

TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) - The second round of the British Open is under way at Turnberry, where the leader is scheduled to tee off within the hour.

Miguel Angel Jimenez (mee-GEHL' AHN'-hehl hee-MEHN'-ehz) fired a 6-under-par 64 yesterday to take a one-stroke lead over 59-year-old Tom Watson and two others. Jimenez capped his round by draining a 66-foot birdie putt.

Watson was the leader for several hours. The 5-time British Open champ fired a bogey-free 65 that included birdies on 2 of his first three holes. He's tied with former champ Ben Curtis and Kenichi Kuboya.

Curtis birdied 4 of his final six holes, and Koboya was even par through 14 holes before finishing birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie.

Tiger Woods was seven shots back after opening with a 1-over 71. The top-ranked golfer is facing the largest 18-hole deficit of his Open career.

No defending champ at U.S. Bank Championship

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Greg Chalmers and Jeff Klauk are co-leaders through one round of the PGA's U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. Klauk needed just nine putts in his first nine holes en route to a 6-under-par 64. Chalmers started his day with two bogeys before making birdies on 5 of his final six holes on the front nine.

Frank Lickliter, Tag Ridings, Jason Gore and Skip Kendall share third at 4-under.

Jazz to match Millsap offer sheet

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Paul Millsap is staying in Utah.

The Jazz have announced they plan to match Portland's offer sheet to the forward. The Trail Blazers worked out a $32 million offer that includes $10.3 million up front.

Millsap averaged 13.5 points and 8.6 rebounds last season, playing mostly as a reserve.

T-wolves GM plans trip to Spain to discuss Rubio buyout

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn says he'll travel to Spain to discuss the future of Ricky Rubio with the first-round draft pick's Spanish team.

Kahn hopes to lower the price tag of Rubio's buyout clause.

Rubio is still under contract with DKV Joventut for the next two seasons. The Timberwolves drafted him with the fifth overall pick in June. But under his current deal, Rubio would have to pay $6.6 million to the team to leave Spain for the NBA.

The Timberwolves can only offer $500,000 to help Rubio under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement.

Armstrong staying with Thrashers

(AP) - The NHL's Thrashers have agreed to a new deal with restricted free agent Colby Armstrong.

The 26-year-old forward matched his career high with 40 points while playing in all 82 games for Atlanta last season. He set a career high with 22 goals. The right wing has 26 goals and 25 assists in 100 games over two seasons with the Thrashers.


The Colorado Avalanche have signed first-round draft choice Matt Duchene (doo-SHAYN') to a 3-year contract. The 18-year-old forward was the No. 3 overall pick and the Avalanche's highest selection since the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995. Duchene recently finished his second season with Brampton of the Ontario Hockey League, where he had 31 goals and 48 assists in 57 games.

Former first-round draft pick Jeff Schultz signed a $715,000, 1-year contract to stay with Washington. The 23-year-old defenseman has played the past three seasons with the Capitals. He had one goal and 12 assists in 64 games last season.

Graham Harrell headed north of the border to play

REGINA, Saskatchewan (AP) - Graham Harrell is headed to the CFL, signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The record-setting Texas Tech quarterback is the NCAA Division I career leader in touchdown passes but wasn't drafted by the NFL.

Armstrong hanging in there

VITTEL, France (AP) - Lance Armstrong remains in third place at the Tour de France after scrambling back to the main pack following a tire puncture with about 37 miles left in the 131-mile 12th stage.

Teammate and rival Alberto Contador of Spain is still six seconds back of overall leader Rinaldo Nocentini (noh-chehn-TEE'-nee) of Italy.

Denmark's Nicki Sorensen was the stage winner.

Armstrong, who is just eight seconds off the lead, is taking a cautious approach until the three-week race reaches the Alps on Sunday. He says the flat stages have been nerve-racking.

The International Cycling Union has announced that the earpiece ban at the Tour has been overturned and riders will again be able to race with electronic radio equipment on Friday.

Tuesday's 10th stage was ridden without electronic communications and a majority of riders and sports directors criticized the measure, saying it was a dangerous practice.

WADA asks court to ban cyclist Hamilton for life

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - The World Anti-Doping Agency has asked the sport's highest court to ban U.S. cyclist Tyler Hamilton for life for doping.

The former Olympic champion was given an 8-year ban last month by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after he admitted taking a steroid in an herbal remedy for depression.

It was the 38-year-old Hamilton's second doping offense, which usually triggers a lifetime ban. He has said he would retire from the sport.

Hamilton served a 2-year ban for blood doping that ended in 2007. His time trial gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics was clouded by suspicions of blood doping.

Beckham makes Galaxy season debut

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - David Beckham slogged through 70 minutes of soccer in his season debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Meadowlands last night. The 34-year-old midfielder appeared winded and often trailed the play in a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.

Beckham's presence did little to boost attendance. The game drew just over 23,000. Last year, the Red Bulls had nearly 47,000 on hand for Beckham's lone New York-area appearance.

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