AP Thursday Sports Roundup
Cubs beat Pirates
PITTBURGH (AP) — The Chicago Cubs are coming to St. Louis.
Jake Arrieta, Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber carried the Cubs to a 4-0 shutout over Pittsburgh in the National League wild card game on Wednesday, setting up a division series against the Cardinals. Chicago had dropped nine straight playoff games since Game 4 of the 2003 NLCS.
Arrieta continued his string of outrageously good starts by tossing a four-hitter that included 11 strikeouts. It was the second complete game by a Cubs pitcher in a postseason game since the 1945 World Series, and the first since Mark Prior did it against Atlanta in the 2003 division series. Claude Passeau was the last Cub to toss a postseason shutout, doing it in Game 3 of the '45 Fall Classic.
Arrieta ended the regular season winning his last 11 decisions and compiled a 0.41 ERA over the final two months.
Fowler led off the game with a single and stole second before scoring on Schwarber's single. Schwarber added a two-run blast that scored Fowler in the third inning, and Fowler launched a solo shot that put the Cubs ahead 4-0 in the fifth. Each run came against Pirates ace Garret Cole, who surrendered six hits in five innings.
Tempers flared in the seventh after Pirates reliever Tony Watson drilled Arrieta in the left side with a fastball. Arrieta and Watson exchanged words near home plate, causing the bullpens and benches to mill about the infield for a few moments. The only punches thrown were by Pirates first baseman Sean Rodriguez, who clobbered a drink cooler in the dugout.
Arrieta hit two Pirates earlier in the game, though neither appeared intentional.
Game 1 of the division series is Friday at Busch Stadium.
Coming up Thursday, the American League Division playoffs begin with games in Kansas City and Toronto.
The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the afternoon, with 18-game winner David Price going for the home team against Yovani Gallardo. The Jays won the American League East title, while the Rangers finished first in the AL West.
The night game has the Royals entertaining the Astros, who advanced to the ALDS with a 3-0 win over the Yankees in Tuesday's wild card game. The Royals have announced they'll start Yordano Ventura against Houston's 19-game winner Collin McHugh.
Rangers spoil Hawks' latest banner-raising ceremony
UNDATED (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks raised their third Stanley Cup banner in five years before they were reminded that they aren't invincible.
Henrik Lundqvist turned back 32 shots and the New York Rangers scored three times in the first period to beat the Hawks 3-2. Lundqvist handled 13 shots in the final period and was perfect after Teuvo Teravainen beat him with about 13 minutes left.
Oscar Lindberg notched his first NHL goal to open the scoring just 1:43 after the opening faceoff. Artemi Panarin countered for the Blackhawks at 14:24, but the Rangers went ahead for good on goals by Kevin Klein and Derek Stepan 2:23 apart late in the first period.
Elsewhere on ice:
— Max Pacioretty scored twice as the Canadiens beat Toronto 3-1, spoiling Mike Babcock's first game as coach of the Maple Leafs. Carey Price stopped 36 shots, Alex Galchenyuk notched the season's first game-winning goal with 7:58 remaining and P.K. Subban finished with three assists. Babcock was successful in making the first coach's challenge in NHL history after replay backed up his argument that there was goaltender's interference during Jeff Petry's apparent goal in the second period.
— Joe Pavelski had a goal and two assists in San Jose's 5-1 rout of the Kings in Los Angeles. Martin Jones beat his former team by making 19 saves in his Sharks debut. Joe Thornton and Brent Burns each added a goal and an assist to the win.
— The Canucks gave road teams a 4-0 record on opening night as Daniel Sedin had a goal and two assists in a 5-1 triumph at Calgary. Ryan Miller stopped 29 shots to help Vancouver avenge last season's six-game loss to the Flames in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Brandon Sutter delivered a goal and an assist in his Canucks debut.
Forward won't appeal 41-game suspension
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres has decided not to appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim's Jakob Silfverberg in a preseason game.
This marks the fifth and most significant suspension for Torres, who served a 21-game ban for a high hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs. Torres will have sat out 72 career NHL games due to suspension once the latest one concludes.
Blues ink Gomez
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Blues have signed forward Scott Gomez to a one-year contract.
The 15-year NHL veteran attended training camp on a professional tryout. He had seven goals and 34 points in 58 games for New Jersey last season.
More in Europe, and maybe LA as well
NEW YORK (AP) — You are going to see more NFL games played overseas. The owners have approved more international games through 2025, including ones in places other than England. An agreement to stage games in the United Kingdom through 2016 not only was extended at the Fall meetings, but other nations, such as Mexico, Germany and Canada, will be considered for international games.
The league also is looking at moving the Pro Bowl to international sites. Brazil has expressed interest in the all-star game, and Mark Waller, a vice president with the league, says Australia and Asia also were potential sites.
Also, Commissioner Roger Goodell expects league owners to vote on franchise relocation to Los Angeles in a few months. The current timetable calls for submission of applications to relocate in January, when the owners could vote. Steelers president Art Rooney said he doesn't envision that timetable being changed, noting that St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego are "still are putting together their proposals" to keep their teams.
Johnson back with Colts...Bills ink Cundiff
UNDATED (AP) — Josh Johnson is back with the Colts. The quarterback was signed last Friday by the team and then released on Monday, but because Andrew Luck is still recovering from an injury and backup Matt Hasselbeck has been sick, Johnson has been brought back.
To make room on the roster, Indy put cornerback Jalil Brown on season-ending injured reserve with a groin injury.
Also in the NFL:
— The Buffalo Bills have signed veteran kicker Billy Cundiff to replace the Jordan Gay, who was released after handling kickoff duties. Cundiff's arrival poses a threat to veteran kicker Dan Carpenter, who has been erratic since the start of the preseason while nursing assorted injuries. He has missed two of seven field-goal attempts, including a 30-yarder in a 24-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
— Prosecutors in Northern California say San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has pleaded not guilty to hit and run, drunken driving and vandalism. The 25-year-old Smith was arrested in August in Santa Clara on drunken driving charges.
South Carolina game moved
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — University of South Carolina officials have decided to move Saturday's scheduled football game against LSU to Baton Rouge due to massive flooding in the Columbia area.
School officials wanted to keep the game in Columbia, but now say that law enforcement that would be needed to direct traffic and keep Williams-Brice Stadium safe are needed elsewhere in the area to help clean up from the massive flooding. The game time has not been announced.
Cleveland heads to the Supreme Court
CLEVELAND (AP) — The city of Cleveland has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to back its position that it is within its rights to tax visiting professional athletes based on the number of games they play a year.
In a filing Tuesday, the city asked the Supreme Court to back its position after the Ohio Supreme Court struck down Cleveland's system earlier this year.
The state court ruled that Cleveland's method for taxing athletes violates players' due process rights. It ruled the city must assess taxes based on the total number of days each visiting player works in a year, as is common elsewhere.