Update on the latest in sports:


Associated Press

Posted on September 4, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 4 at 8:33 AM


Bucs stretch lead...Reds blank Cardinals

UNDATED (AP) — Travis Snider's blast has allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to double their lead in the National League Central and clinch their first non-losing season since 1992.

Snider came off the bench to deliver a tiebreaking solo homer in the ninth inning to lift the Bucs past the Brewers 4-3 in Milwaukee. Andrew McCutchen opened the scoring with his 100th career homer and Marlon Byrd drove in a pair of runs before Snider's round-tripper gave the Pirates a two-game lead over St. Louis.

The Cardinals were 1-0 losers at Cincinnati as Homer Bailey held the Redbirds to two outs while striking out eight in seven innings. Bailey allowed just two runners after Matt Carpenter led off the game with a single and Carlos Beltran walked one batter later.

The game was scoreless until Todd Frazier's RBI double in the seventh allowed the Reds to beat the Cardinals for the second straight day.

The Reds cut their magic number to 17 for clinching a playoff spot and stayed within 3 ½ games of Pittsburgh. They also own a 7 ½-game lead over Washington for the final NL wild-card berth.

The Texas Rangers are alone atop the AL West following a 5-1 victory over the second-place Athletics in Oakland. Martin Perez is 9-3 after holding the A's to one run over seven innings. Mitch Moreland and Alex Rios hit solo homers for the Rangers, who scored three times in the fifth to go up 4-1.

Also in the majors, Atlanta reduced its magic number for clinching the NL East to 10 by beating the New York Mets 3-1. The Mets led 1-0 in the seventh before Evan Gattis (GAT'-his) hit a solo homer and Andrelton Simmons added a two-run shot two batters later.

The Los Angeles Dodgers also trimmed their magic number to 12 for an NL West title as Carl Crawford furnished three hits and two RBIs in a 7-4 triumph at Colorado. Nick Punto went 4-for-5 to help the Dodgers win their sixth in a row and improve to 36-8 since the All-Star break.

Rajai Davis, Brett Lawrie and Moises Sierra belted two-run shots and Edwin Encarnacion (ehn-kar-nah-see-OHN') smacked his 36th homer of the season as Toronto ripped Arizona 10-4. Adam Lind added a solo blast and Sierra finished with three RBIs.

Ubaldo Jimenez (oo-BAHL'-doh hih-MEH'-nehz) worked six shutout innings and Yan Gomes (gohmz) hit a two-run double as Cleveland held off Baltimore 4-3. Asdrubal (as-DROO'-bul) Cabrera lifted a pair of sacrifice flies for the Indians, who blanked the Orioles until Nate McLouth (mih-KLOWTH') hit a three-run homer off Chris Perez in the ninth.

Detroit's lead in the AL Central is down to 7 ½ games over Cleveland after Jon Lester held the Tigers to one run while striking out nine in seven innings of Boston's 2-1 victory. Will Middlebrooks hit a two-run single in the fifth off Max Scherzer, who was denied his 20th victory despite yielding just five hits in seven innings.

Tampa Bay stayed within 5 ½ games of the AL East-leading Red Sox while maintaining a 2 ½-game lead over the New York Yankees for the league's final wild-card berth. Fifteen-game winner Matt Moore pitched into the sixth inning and the Rays ended a five-game skid by whipping the Angels 7-1. Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar (yoo-NEHL' EHS'-koh-bahr) hit solo homers for the Rays, who also got two RBIs from Ben Zobrist.

The Yankees put together a five-run eighth to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox. Alfonso Soriano sparked the comeback with a two-run single and Curtis Granderson singled home the tying run before Eduardo Nunez lined a two-run double.

Kansas City blew a 3-0 lead before Salvador Perez singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning to push Kansas City past Seattle 4-3. Perez also homered and finished with three hits as the Royals won their third in a row.

Wilson Ramos (RAH'-mohs) hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs as Washington downed Philadelphia 9-6. Corey Brown added a solo homer for the Nationals, who also scored on a wild pitch and a pair of bases-loaded walks.

Miami's bullpen combined for 4 2/3 hitless innings of relief in a 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. Donovan Solano and Christian Yelich each had three hits and two RBIs.

Houston's Brandon Barnes capped his five-RBI night by hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, but Minnesota regrouped and beat the Astros 9-6 in 12 innings. The tiebreaking run scored on a wild pitch by Kevin Chapman before Darin Mastroianni added a two-run double.

Chris Denorfia supplied the tiebreaking single in the seventh inning of San Diego's 3-2 verdict over San Francisco. Nick Hundley was 2-for-2 with an RBI double and two runs scored as the Padres dropped the defending World Series champs into the NL West cellar.


Tests due for Indians starter...Perez pleads no contest

UNDATED (AP) — Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson will miss at least one start because of a strained left oblique discovered during an MRI. The right-hander was pulled from Monday's game against Baltimore in the second inning because of soreness in his left side. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Masterson won't resume baseball activities until he's pain-free.

Meanwhile, Indians closer Chris Perez has pleaded no contest and been convicted of misdemeanor drug abuse for marijuana shipped to his home in the family dog's name. Perez withdrew his not guilty plea in Rocky River Municipal Court and was found guilty and fined $250. He also was placed on probation and ordered to speak to youngsters about drugs.

Also in the majors, the San Diego Padres have signed outfielder Will Venable to an $8.5 million, two-year contract extension through 2015.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have activated All-Star closer Jason Grilli, who had been on the disabled list since straining his right flexor tendon during a win over Washington on July 22.

The Texas Rangers have activated right-hander Alexi Ogando (oh-GAHN'-doh) from the 15-day disabled list. Ogando began his third DL stint of the season on Aug. 20 because of an inflamed nerve in his right shoulder.


Hewitt can't close the deal...Djokovic cruises into quarters

NEW YORK (AP) — Things couldn't have been easier for Serena Williams at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.

The top-seeded Williams dismantled Carla Suarez Navarro to reach the women's semifinals. Williams needed just 53 minutes to post a double-bagel, beating the 18th-seeded Navarro 6-love, 6-love. The five-time U.S. Open champ won 53 of 71 points and had 20 winners compared to just three for Navarro.

Next up for Williams is fifth-seed Li Na (lee nah), who beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

Second-seed Victoria Azarenka (ah-zah-REN'-kuh) is through to the women's quarterfinals after outlasting No. 13 Ana Ivanovic (ee-VAH'-noh-vich) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in their weather-postponed fourth round match.

Over to the men's side, where Lleyton Hewitt's surprising run is over. The 32-year-old former champion was two points away from advancing to the Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 until 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny (YOOZ'-nee) took the final five games in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Hewitt.

Men's top-seed Novak Djokovic (NOH'-vak JOH'-kuh-vich) won the last 13 games and cruised into the quarters with a 6-3, 6-love, 6-love victory over Spain's Marcel Granollers. Djokovic will take on Youzhny on Thursday.

Third seed and defending champ Andy Murray was tested before reaching the quarterfinals for the third straight year. Murray blew a 5-3 lead in a first-set tiebreaker before downing Denis Istomin (IHS'-toh-mihn) 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

Murray's next opponent is No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka, who pulled off a mild upset by downing No. 5 Tomas Berdych (BUR'-dihch), 4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-2.


Nadal returns for Spain

MADRID (AP) — Rafael Nadal (rah-fay-EHL' nah-DAHL') will play in the Davis Cup for Spain next week for the first time since winning the 2011 final.

He will team with Tommy Robredo (roh-BRAY'-doh), Fernando Verdasco and Marc Lopez for the World Group playoff against Ukraine starting Sept. 13.


Ex-players suing league, helmet maker

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Four former NFL players have sued the league and its helmet maker, claiming they hid information about the dangers of brain injury. The ex-players - Jimmy Williams, Rich Mauti, Jimmy Keyes and Nolan Franz - filed the federal lawsuit in New Orleans on Sunday and are seeking medical care for past, current and future NFL players.

The NFL last week tentatively agreed to pay $765 million to past players with health problems that can be caused by concussions. Helmet maker Riddell was not part of that settlement.


NFL suspends 20

NEW YORK (AP) — Denver All-Pro linebacker Von Miller is among 20 NFL players suspended for the beginning of the NFL season.

Miller will be out for six games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Among the games he'll miss is Thursday night's against Super Bowl champion Baltimore.

Ravens defensive back Asa Jackson and Cincinnati defensive end DeQuin Evans have been suspended eight games, under the performance-enhancing drugs policy.

None of the 20 players has been suspended for violating the personal conduct policy, although Jets running back Mike Goodson was arrested in New Jersey in May on drugs and weapons charges and will miss four games for substance abuse. His case was sent to a grand jury.


Texans' Cushing gets extension...Redman to start for Steelers

UNDATED (AP) — Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has signed a six-year contract extension reportedly worth more than $55 million.

Cushing was in the last year of the deal he signed as a rookie in 2009. The Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009 had over 110 tackles in 2009 and 2011.

In other NFL news:

— Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has named Isaac Redman as Pittsburgh's starting running back for the season opener Sunday against Tennessee. Redman becomes the featured running back despite missing most of preseason with a neck injury.

— Indianapolis promoted tight end Dominique Jones to the active roster and signed rookie tight end Justice Cunningham to the practice squad. The moves came shortly after the Colts traded rookie linebacker Caesar Rayford to the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional draft pick. Rayford led Indy with five sacks in the preseason.

— The Kansas City Chiefs placed rookie safety Sanders Commings on injured reserve and signed Bradley McDougald to replace him on the roster heading into Sunday's season opener at Jacksonville.

— Buffalo has signed kicker Dan Carpenter, who was cut by Miami last month and previously had tryouts with Arizona and the Jets. Carpenter's signing came a day after Bills rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins was injured in practice.


Tide rolls to No. 1 again

NEW YORK (AP) — Alabama stays on top in this week's Associated Press college football poll.

The Crimson Tide's opening 35-10 win over Virginia Tech helped earn 58 of a possible 60 first place votes.

But there's a new No. 2 with Oregon moving up a notch despite not getting either of the two other first place votes. The 66-3 blowout win over Nichols State in coach Mark Helfrich's debut nudged the Ducks ahead of Ohio State which won its opener over Buffalo 40-20.

Clemson bolted up four spots to No. 4 after taking out previously fifth-ranked Georgia. That's the Tigers highest ranking in the AP Poll in 25 years.

Stanford is fifth, followed by South Carolina, Texas A&M, Louisville, LSU and Florida State. Georgia dropped to 11.


No big deal

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) — Tony Stewart says he views his broken right leg as "a small bump in the road" and believes he's on pace to return to racing in time for next year's Daytona 500.

The three-time NASCAR champion underwent two surgeries on a broken tibia and fibula and has been homebound for almost a month.

Stewart used a wheelchair to get around Stewart-Haas Racing before sliding into a chair on the stage for his news conference.


Suns split with Beasley...Celtics forward in hot water

UNDATED (AP) — The Phoenix Suns and Michael Beasley have reached an agreement to terminate the contract of the troubled power forward. The move will cost the franchise $7 million, a $2 million savings from what Beasley would have been due had he simply been waived.

In other NBA news:

— Toronto has waived swingman Quentin Richardson, less than two months after he was acquired in a trade with the New York Knicks.

— Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger has pleaded not guilty to domestic violence-related charges after allegedly repeatedly pinning his girlfriend to a bed and the floor.


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge is pushing Lance Armstrong closer to his first sworn testimony on details of his performance-enhancing drug use, ordering the cyclist to answer questions about who knew what and when about his doping.

That could possibly even include information about his ex-wife and attorneys.

Acceptance Insurance Holdings is seeking the information in its lawsuit to recover $3 million in bonuses it paid Armstrong from 1999 to 2001.