AP Thursday Sports Roundup
Jays top Yanks to pad division lead
UNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays have regained a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League East by blanking the New York Yankees in the finale of the season series.
Marcus Stroman scattered five hits in seven innings as the Jays shut out the Yanks, 4-0. The game was scoreless until Kevin Pillar hit an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, one inning before former Yankee Russell Martin crushed a three-run homer.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova was the hard-luck loser after yielding just one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The Jays captured the rubber match of the three-game set to finish 13-6 versus New York this season.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have put three games between themselves and the second-place Astros in the AL West.
Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus socked three-run homers and Rougned Odor smacked a solo shot as the Rangers clobbered the Athletics, 10-3 in Oakland. Rangers starter Colby Lewis is 17-8 after limiting the A's to a pair of runs and five hits in six innings.
Texas has won eight of 10 to open its largest division lead of the season.
The Angels did the Rangers a favor while moving closer to the lead for the second AL wild-card berth. The Angels blew a 3-2 lead before David Freese delivered a two-out, two-run double in a three-run eighth that lifted Los Angeles past the Astros, 6-5 in Houston. Carlos Perez capped the rally with an RBI single that proved to be the winning run.
The Angels' second straight win over the Astros puts them just 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the final AL wild-card berth.
In other major league finals:
— Minnesota is within one game of the Astros after Phil Hughes tossed five shutout innings and the Twins put together a four-run fourth to beat Cleveland 4-2. Brian Dozier opened the scoring with a solo blast and Trevor Plouffe added an RBI double before scoring on Eduardo Escobar's two-run single. The Indians dropped 4 1/2 games behind the Astros.
— Kansas City beat Seattle 4-3 in 10 innings, reducing the Royals' magic number to two for winning the AL Central. Lorenzo Cain ended it with an RBI single, one inning after he scored on Jarrod Dyson's sacrifice fly. Wade Davis worked a scoreless 10th and improved to 8-1 with a 0.86 ERA.
— Pittsburgh has become the second team to wrap up a National League playoff berth, claiming at least a wild-card spot with a 13-7 pounding of Colorado. Neil Walker was 4-for-6 with a three-run homer and six RBIs to lead the Pirates' 19-hit assault. Starling Marte added three hits and two RBIs, Sean Rodriguez provided a three-run double and the Bucs' bullpen retired its first 11 hitters faced after Charlie Morton was reached for six runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
— Matt Carpenter smacked a pair of two-run homers and Mark Reynolds went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the Cardinals' 10-2 thrashing of Cincinnati. Randal Grichuk and Peter Bourjos added solo shots to back Lance Lynn, who gave up three hits over six scoreless frames. The Cards' fourth straight win keeps them atop the NL Central by four games over Pittsburgh.
—Chase Utley hit a solo homer and added a tiebreaking, RBI double in the eighth inning to carry the Dodgers past Arizona, 4-1. Corey Seager launched a two-run shot to cap the scoring in the eighth and help Los Angeles end a four-game skid. The victory, coupled with the Giants' loss at San Diego, drops the Dodgers' magic number to five for winning the NL West.
— The Padres helped out Los Angeles by beating San Francisco 5-4 on Jedd Gyorko's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. San Diego coughed up a 3-2 lead in the eighth and a 4-3 lead in the ninth before Gyorko won it with his third hit of the night. Yangervis Solarte and Travis Jankowski contributed two-run doubles in the victory.
— Freddie Freeman capped his five-RBI night by belting a three-run homer off Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning to lift the Braves past the Mets, 6-3 in New York. Freeman also hit a two-run double that put the Braves up 3-2 in the seventh. Daniel Murphy homered for the NL East-leading Mets, who've dropped six of eight since an eight-game winning streak.
— The Mets' magic number is down to five after Manny Machado belted a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning of Baltimore's 4-3 triumph over the Nationals in Washington. Steve Pearce also hit a two-run blast as the Orioles beat the Nats for the second straight night. The Nationals remain 6 1/2 games behind New York with 11 games remaining.
— The Cubs had won nine straight against Milwaukee until Zach Davies held them to two hits over six innings of the Brewers' 4-1 triumph at Chicago. Martin Maldonado collected two RBIs and Luis Sardinas singled home the game's first run. Jorge Soler homered for the Cubs, who mustered just two hits in losing for only the second time in nine games.
— Justin Verlander made an encouraging start and Victor Martinez belted his 200th career home run as Detroit downed the Chicago White Sox 7-4. Verlander entered the game 3-8 but was hitting 99 mph in escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, his final inning of work. J.D. Martinez added a two-run double that gave him 98 RBIs for the season.
— Drew Smyly was sharp in Tampa Bay's 6-2 rout of Boston, holding the Red Six to five hits while striking out seven over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Asdrubal Cabrera and Steven Souza hit back-to-back solo homers in the ninth, one inning after John Jaso's two-run double broke it open. Souza had four hits and Cabrera finished with three as the Rays vacated the AL East cellar and dropped the Bosox into the basement.
— Miami pulled out a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Dee Gordon's walk-off double in the bottom of the 11th. Justin Bour hit a solo homer to help the Marlins halt a four-game skid.
Hall of Famer Berra dies
NEW YORK (AP) — The baseball world is mourning the loss of Yogi Berra. The 90-year-old Hall of Famer passed away Tuesday night from natural causes. The director of the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey made the announcement.
The 10-time World Series winner was the American League's Most Valuable Player three times. During his 18-year career with the Yankees, Berra helped the team reach 14 World Series.
For many, though, he was even better known for all those amusing "Yogi-isms."
"It ain't over 'til it's over" is among eight of them included in Bartlett's book of quotations.
Chancellor returns to Seahawks
UNDATED (AP) — Kam Chancellor has ended his holdout and reported to the Seattle Seahawks. He missed training camp and the first two weeks of the regular season. Chancellor has potentially lost more than $2 million with a holdout that appears to have not resulted in a new contract. It is not clear how much he will be fined.
Elsewhere around the league:
— Josh McCown will start at quarterback for Cleveland Sunday against Oakland after missing last week's game with a concussion. Johnny Manziel guided the Browns to a win over Tennessee last weekend in McCown's absence.
— Texans coach Bill O'Brien doesn't expect running back Arian Foster to return from a groin injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will likely be out, too because of a concussion.
Jones to start again for Buckeyes...Bruins lose Jack
UNDATED (AP) — Quarterback Cardale Jones will start for top-ranked Ohio State in Saturday's game against Western Michigan.
Coach Urban Meyer announced the decision following practice Wednesday, two days after hinting he was considering starting J.T. Barrett. Jones was pulled in the second quarter of a 20-13 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday after throwing two interceptions.
Also in college football:
— Linebacker and running back Myles Jack will miss the rest of the season for ninth-ranked UCLA due to a knee injury. He was injured during practice on Tuesday and has undergone surgery. It's the Bruins' third season-ending injury to an important defensive starter.
Updates from the NBA
UNDATED (AP) — Kevin Durant has been cleared to return to basketball activities. The NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2013-14 played just 27 games for the Thunder last season because of a broken bone in his right foot. Thunder general manager Sam Presti says that Durant is ready to go after undergoing three procedures. Training camp begins next week.
Wolves dumping Bennett
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former NBA No. 1 overall draft Anthony Bennett is on the move again. A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Minnesota Timberwolves have reached agreement on terms on a $3.65 million buyout with Bennett, who was chosen by Cleveland in 2013.
The Wolves will be on the hook for the buyout money unless Philadelphia or Portland claims him. They are the only teams currently with salary cap space to withstand Bennett's contract.
Questions of evidence handling in Kane case
UNDATED (AP) — A rape investigation involving Chicago Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane has taken a bizarre turn after the attorney for the accuser said that an empty bag that once held the woman's rape kit had been secretly placed in the doorway of her mother's home.
Kane's attorney, meantime, says both sides in the case have been told that none of Kane's DNA was found "from the waist down" on the woman.
The head of the county agency responsible for maintaining evidence in such cases, says everything given to the agency by the investigating police department is accounted for.
— Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie has suffered a broken bone in his right hand and is expected to miss three to six weeks. Brodie took a shot off his hand in Monday's preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Bad news for Bowyer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Clint Bowyer's slim shot at winning the Sprint Cup championship has taken a huge hit when NASCAR penalized his team for an infraction in the opening playoff race.
NASCAR said the No. 15 team had parts not properly installed on its Toyota in the opening inspection Friday at Chicagoland Speedway. Bowyer was docked 25 points, dropping him to last in the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.
Principal: Coach told players to hit ref
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A high school principal in Texas says the school's assistant football coach has acknowledged directing two players to a hit a referee during a game earlier this month.
In an internal school district statement first reported by ESPN, John Jay High School Principal Robert Harris says assistant coach Mack Breed told him he asked the students to hit the referee because the ref had used racial slurs and missed calls.
Referee Robert Watts has denied using any slurs.
Breed remains suspended from the district. He did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.