Texas is center of baseball

UNDATED (AP) — The Houston Astros own a 2-1 lead in the AL division series, and the Toronto Blue Jays are still alive in their ALDS after avoiding a sweep by the Rangers in Texas.

By:Eric Christian Smith
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Dallas Keuchel allowed a run and five hits in seven innings to pitch the Astros past Kansas City 4-2. The Houston ace worked out of several jams before improving to 15-0 at home this season.

Jason Castro put the Astros ahead to stay with a two-run single in the fifth. Carlos Gomez added an RBI single in his first start of the series, and Chris Carter smacked a solo shot that put the Astros ahead 4-1.

Luke Gregerson gave up Alex Gordon's leadoff homer in the ninth before finishing off the Astros' first home playoff game in 10 years with a four-out save.

Kansas City starter Edinson Volquez fell to 0-3 in his postseason career by allowing five hits and three runs in 5 2-3 innings.

The Astros could wrap up the best-of-five series with a win over the defending AL champions in Game 4 on Monday.

Toronto will be playing a Game 4 on Monday after Troy Tulowitzki and Marco Estrada led them to a 5-1 victory over the Rangers.

Tulowitzki finished with four RBIs, including a three-run homer that put the Jays ahead 5-0 in the sixth. Tulowitzki went 2-for-3 after going hitless in 10 at-bats during the first two games.

Estrada was reached for just one run and four hits with no walks over 6 ½ innings. He carried a three-hit shutout into the seventh but was lifted after allowing back-to-back singles with one out.

Losing pitcher Martin Perez was reached for four runs and six hits in five-plus innings.

Derek Holland will start Game 4 for the Rangers against R.A. Dickey.


MLB suspends Utley for two games

NEW YORK (AP) — Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley has been suspended for the next two games of the NL division series against the Mets for his hard slide that left New York shortstop Ruben Tejada with a fractured right fibula.

The slide sparked the Dodgers' four-run seventh in a 5-2 win over the Mets in Game 2 on Saturday. Tejada was trying to pivot in an attempt to make a throw to first before Utley barreled into him without touching second base. A run scored on the play, and Utley was awarded second base after replay showed Tejada never touched the bag.

MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre said he concluded that Utley's slide was illegal and warranted discipline.

Utley's agent called the penalty "outrageous and completely unacceptable" and said there would be an appeal, which would allow Utley to play until the hearing process is complete. MLB would likely try to resolve the matter before the series resumes with Game 3 on Monday.


Sarkisian asked to take leave of absence

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California's Steve Sarkisian is taking an indefinite leave of absence after athletic director Pat Haden determined that the troubled football coach is "not healthy."

Haden announced the decision after Sarkisian didn't show up for Sunday's practice, saying he asked Sarkasian to take a leave during a phone conversation. Haden wasn't specific about the reasons for Sarkisian's absence, only saying that "it was very clear to me" that the second-year USC coach was unwell.

Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take charge of the Trojans, who have lost two of their last three games.


Buckeyes still No. 1, but barely

UNDATED (AP) — Ohio State stays No. 1 in this week's Associated Press college football poll, but its lead continues to dwindle. After starting the season a unanimous top pick, the Buckeyes now only have 27 first-place votes after it struggled for 2 ½ quarters in their win over Maryland. That puts the unbeaten Buckeyes just 21 points ahead of Baylor, which is No. 2 for the first time ever.

TCU fell a spot to third, just four points in front of Utah. The Horned Frogs stayed unbeaten by holding off an upset bid at Kansas State. The Utes moved up after their close win over California.

Clemson rounds out the top five. Then in order it's LSU, Michigan State, Florida, Texas A&M and Alabama.

Michigan moved up to No. 12 after posting its third straight shutout win.


Terps fire Edsall

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Randy Edsall has been fired as Maryland's football coach following the team's third straight lopsided defeat, 49-28 against top-ranked Ohio State Saturday. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will take over on an interim basis.

Maryland is 2-4 and mired in a three-game skid in which the Terps have been outscored by a combined 122-34.

Edsall went 22-34 after taking over before the 2011 season.


Logano wins at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Joey Logano won at Charlotte Motor Speedway to automatically advance to the third round of NASCAR's playoffs.

His fourth victory of the season and his first career win at Charlotte came in the opening race of the second round of the Chase.

Logano beat reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick to the finish line by 0.704 seconds in a race originally schedule for Saturday night, but postponed by rain. Martin Truex, Jr. finished third.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch suffered through problems that led both of them to fall to the back of the championship standings. Same with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was one of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers to have a rough day. Busch finished 20th, Earnhardt 28th and Kenseth 42nd.


Hamilton closes in on title

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Lewis Hamilton took a huge step toward retaining his Formula One title by winning the Russian Grand Prix as his main rival Nico Rosberg failed to finish.

Hamilton started second behind Rosberg, but took over the lead when his Mercedes teammate had mechanical problems that forced him out of the race.

Hamilton then cruised to victory by 5.9 seconds over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton can now win his third career title at the next race in Texas.


Habs top Sens

OTTAWA (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens spoiled Ottawa's home opener and won the only game on Sunday's NHL schedule.

Tomas Plekanec scored a pair of first-period goals and new backup netminder Mike Condon faced just 21 shots in a 3-1 win over the Senators. Plekanec allowed the Habs to carry a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Condon blanked the Senators after Jean-Gabriel Pageau notched a short-handed goal midway through the second period.

Torrey Mitchell added an insurance goal in the third period to help the Canadiens improve to 3-0 on their season-opening four game road trip.

Ottawa had been 2-0.


Haas clinches another US win

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Bill Haas wrapped up the clinching point on the final hole of the final match to give the U.S. the win at the Presidents Cup. Haas delivered for his father, Jay, who was the captain of the victorious Americans.

The 15 1/2 to 14 1/2 final score over the International team improved the Americans' record in the competition to 9-1-1.


Lehman closes strong to win in North Carolina

CARY, N.C. (AP) — Tom Lehman closed out his final four holes of the Champions Tour's SAS Championship with an eagle and three birdies for a one-stroke victory over Joe Durant in North Carolina.

The 56-year-old Lehman birdied the par-4 15th and 16th, eagled the par-5 17th and birdied the par-4 18th for a 7-under 65 and a 12-under total.

Bernhard Langer and Kenny Perry tied for third at 10 under.


Korda pulls away

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Jessica Korda shot a final-round 6-under 65 to score a four-shot win at LPGA Malaysia. It's the fourth tour title for the 22-year old American, who previously only had one top ten finish all year.

Second-ranked Lydia Ko, No. 3 Stacy Lewis and 2014 winner Shanshan Feng tied for second.