The American League Championship Series is set as the Angels and Yankees both completed first-round sweeps on Sunday, while Philadelphia gained the upperhand on the Colorado Rockies in the NL Division Series.
Vladimir Guerrero singled home the tying and go- ahead runs in the top of the ninth, as the Angels scored five times in the last two innings to stun Boston, 7-6, and sweep their American League Division Series in three games. It was a measure of revenge for a Los Angeles club that had lost in the ALDS to the Red Sox in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Jonathan Papelbon, who entered the game having never given up a run in 17 career postseason appearances (26 innings), tried to protect a 6-4 Red Sox lead in the ninth, but failed to do so. Juan Rivera had two hits and drove in two runs, while Kendry Morales clubbed a solo home run for the Angels, who advanced to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2005.
Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada each belted solo home runs in the seventh inning to help lift the Yankees to another come- from-behind win, finishing off New York's American League Division Series sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 4-1 decision. The Yankees trailed 1-0 after Joe Mauer's RBI single in the sixth but again used the longball and took advantage of a brutal base- running mistake by Minnesota's Nick Punto to steal the final baseball game played at the Metrodome. New York trailed in all 10 games against Minnesota this year but won each one, capped by its first Division Series sweep since 1999 against Texas. Posada also added an RBI single in the ninth, while Andy Pettitte (1-0) was terrific in 6 1/3 innings for New York, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk while striking out seven. Mariano Rivera finished it off with a four-out save, the 35th of his illustrious playoff career. The Yankees, who advanced to the AL Championship Series for the first time since 2004, will next face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starting in New York on Friday. The Angels completed a sweep of Boston on Sunday and split their 10- game series with the Bronx Bombers this year. The last time the two met in the playoffs was 2005, with the Angels winning the ALDS in five games.
Ryan Howard drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and Brad Lidge escaped a jam to preserve the victory as the Philadelphia Phillies won the pivotal Game 3 of their National League Division Series, 6-5, over the Colorado Rockies in frosty conditions at Coors Field. The teams split the first two contests of the best-of-five series in Philadelphia, but the Phillies are now a win away from going back to the NLCS with a rematch against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Carlos Ruiz knocked in two runs, while Chase Utley homered and scored twice for the defending World Series champions. Winter coats and hats were the tall order at the stadium. The game-time temperature of 35 degrees tied the lowest ever for a postseason contest and it came just a night after Game 3 was postponed due to a snowstorm. The Phillies will turn to Game 1 winner Cliff Lee for Monday's 6:07 p.m. (et) contest while the Rockies counter with Ubaldo Jimenez.
Four teams moved their records to 5-0 on Sunday with the highlight game coming in Denver as Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels saw his team edge his mentor, New England's Bill Belichick, 20-17 in overtime. Matt Prater's 41-yard field goal less than five minutes into overtime sent Denver to the 5-0 start, its best to a season since beginning the 1998 campaign at 13-0 before finishing 14-2 and winning Super Bowl XXXIII.
Peyton Manning threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns, all while notching another milestone as the Indianapolis Colts remained unbeaten with a 31-9 rout of the winless Tennessee Titans. Manning, who completed 36-of-44 passes and was intercepted once, has 345 career passing touchdowns, moving him past Fran Tarkenton (342) for the third- most TD tosses in history. Only Brett Favre (473) and Dan Marino (420) are ahead of Manning. The Colts (5-0) have won their last 14 straight non-playoff contests, last losing a regular season game in Nashville during Week 8 of the 2008 ledger.
Two NFC teams -- the Vikings and Giants -- stayed perfect on Sunday. Brett Favre threw a touchdown pass and Adrian Peterson added two rushing scores, as the Minnesota Vikings defeated the lowly St. Louis Rams, 38-10, at the Edward Jones Dome. Eli Manning, who was listed as questionable for the game due to plantar fasciitis in his right heel, threw for 173 yards and a pair of scores in just under two quarters to lead New York in a 44-7 rout of the Raiders.
A pair of inexperienced quarterbacks will be in the spotlight in Miami on Monday night, when Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets visit Chad Henne and the Dolphins in the latest renewal of a bitter AFC East rivalry. In his first career primetime affair, Sanchez will be attempting to bounce back from the worst outing of his young NFL career. The rookie committed four turnovers in last week's 24-10 loss at the Saints.
Tiger Woods can cross another accomplishment of his career "to-do" list. On Sunday, he clinched the Presidents Cup for the Americans with a 6 & 5 victory over the man who beat him two months ago in the final round of the PGA Championship, Y.E. Yang. That point gave the U.S. the 17 1/2 it needed for victory. Woods had never clinched a win for his team in 10 previous Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup appearances. His huge victory also gave Woods a perfect 5-0 record for the week. It marked the third straight Presidents Cup win for the Americans and sixth overall in eight tries. The Internationals won in 1998 and the Cup was tied in 2003.
Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin will miss the next four-to-six weeks with a broken foot suffered in Wednesday's game against Montreal. Sedin took an Alex Edler shot off his foot on Wednesday. The veteran stayed in the game but had a cast put on the foot Friday after X-rays revealed the fracture. The 29-year-old has played his entire nine-year career in Vancouver and has never missed more than seven games. In 82 tilts last season, the second overall pick in the 1999 Draft scored 31 goals and assisted on 51 more.
California native Jimmie Johnson accelerated his bid for a record fourth straight Sprint Cup Series championship with a convincing victory Sunday at his hometrack -- Auto Club Speedway. Johnson, from nearby El Cajon, moved underneath Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and took the lead with six laps remaining in the Pepsi 500. Just after Johnson made the pass, a multi-car pile ensued in turn one, forcing a 22-minute red flag for track cleanup. He easily held off Gordon in a three-lap shootout to the finish for his third consecutive win in the fall race here. With the victory, Johnson claimed the points lead for the first time this season. He now holds a 12- point lead over Mark Martin, who finished fourth. Gordon finished second, while Juan Pablo Montoya came in third. Montoya trails Johnson by 58 points after the fourth race in the Chase.
Belgian Justine Henin, who last month announced her intention to return to the professional circuit, was given a wildcard to play in the 2010 Australian Open. Henin, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, was the 2004 Aussie Open winner. In May of last year, the diminutive Henin shocked the tennis world by announcing her decision to retire, as she became the first-ever reigning world No. 1 to do so. Another Belgian, Kim Clijsters, completed her improbable return last month by winning the U.S. Open. She was a wildcard entry.