Thursday’s Sports In Brief

BASEBALL

ST. LOUIS (AP) Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. blamed ”roguish behavior” for the team’s involvement in the alleged hacking of the Houston Astros’ player personnel database.

DeWitt said the team was still investigating the matter, but said no more than a handful of individuals in an operation that numbers in the hundreds – he described it as a ”needle in a haystack” – was responsible.

”I still don’t know the reason for it,” DeWitt said. ”I can’t come up with a reason for it. It goes against everything we stand for. We don’t know who did what here.”

DeWitt and general manager John Mozeliak met with media at Busch Stadium a day after an attorney hired by the team said high-level executives were not involved in the scandal. Both teams have said they’re cooperating with authorities.

NEW YORK (AP) – Alex Rodriguez reached 2,999 hits with a pair of singles, and Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner each had two-run homers, leading the New York Yankees to a 9-4 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Rodriguez hit an RBI single in the first inning for the second straight night, flied out to right field in the third and hit a sharp grounder past diving third baseman Donovan Solano in the fifth to move within one hit of becoming the 29th player to reach the 3,000 plateau.

He lined out in the sixth, his first try at the milestone – swinging at specially marked balls. In the eighth, Miami reliever Sam Dyson didn’t give A-Rod a chance to swing, throwing four inside pitches that sent the slugger leaping back each time.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Nationals star Bryce Harper strained his left hamstring while taking an awkward tumble making a throw, and Washington lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3.

Manager Matt Williams said Harper had a mild strain and would be evaluated Friday. There was no estimate on how long Harper might be out or whether he would need to go on the disabled list.

The All-Star right fielder fell on the wet grass while trying to throw home on Asdrubal Cabrera’s single in the sixth inning. As he planted to throw, his right leg slipped and his left leg buckled. Harper held his leg while down on the ground for a few minutes and then gingerly walked off the field under his own power, escorted by members of the Nationals’ training staff.

ATLANTA (AP) – Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval was benched by manager John Farrell for the team’s game against Atlanta after using his Instagram account during a loss to the Braves.

Boston is last in the AL East at 28-39 and has lost eight of its last nine games.

Farrell said the Red Sox will not fine or suspend Sandoval. The manager was not sure whether Major League Baseball will discipline the 2012 World Series MVP.

GOLF

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (AP) – One mystery was solved in the U.S. Open.

Chambers Bay can be as hard as the USGA wants it to be. Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson shared the lead at 5-under 65, and the other 23 players who managed to break par in a gentle debut of the new golf course off Puget Sound agreed that it likely will only get tougher the rest of the way.

Another mystery deepened: Tiger Woods.

In a hole deeper than that bunker he found by topping a 3-wood on his final hole, Woods sunk to another low with the highest opening round of his PGA Tour career and his worst score by three shots in two decades at the U.S. Open. He shot an 80, which would have been even more shocking if he hadn’t had two scores even worse already this year.

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) – Liberia’s soccer chief launched a bid to succeed Sepp Blatter, pledging to eradicate corruption and ensure fans trust FIFA again by being a unifying leader who stops power being concentrated at the top.

Liberia Football Association President Musa Bility is the second candidate after former Brazil star Zico to declare his interest in the FIFA presidency, the election for which is expected to be held between December and February.

Candidates must be nominated by at least five of the 209 FIFA member associations and pass integrity checks to get on the ballot. Bility said he already has a ”commitment from many countries” to endorse him.

PRO BASKETBALL

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) – Cavaliers coach David Blatt says he has developed a bond with superstar LeBron James that might be ”more than what meets the eye.”

The Blatt-James relationship has been under scrutiny all season, and Blatt said the chance to coach the four-time MVP has been a fantastic experience that he looks forward to continuing.

General manager David Griffin has tired of a negative narrative surrounding Blatt, who guided the Cavs to the NBA Finals in his first season. Cleveland, which lost All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to injuries in the playoffs, lost in six games to Golden State.

Griffin expects both James and Love to opt out of their contracts and become free agents, but believes both will return. The Cavs will also attempt to re-sign forward Tristan Thompson and will extend qualifying offers to restricted free agents Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova.

HOCKEY

CHICAGO (AP) – Jonathan Toews kissed and hoisted the Stanley Cup as he was introduced toward the end of the latest raucous rally honoring the Chicago Blackhawks. Then the captain headed toward the back of the stage at Soldier Field.

The roaring crowd wanted more and, as usual, he delivered.

”We all know this is amazing to be able to hoist this thing,” a hoarse Toews said. ”But to do it on home ice in front of you guys, in front of our fans, to share this with you guys, the best fans in the world – it doesn’t get any better than this.”

He thanked the crowd and added: ”Maybe the only way it does get better is if we win four.”

Tens of thousands of fans turned out on a warm, humid day to cheer their beloved Blackhawks as they celebrated their third Stanley Cup championship in the past six years with a downtown parade and a rally at Soldier Field.

PRO FOOTBALL

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Dez Bryant has indicated that he would be willing to miss regular-season games without a new long-term contract from the Dallas Cowboys.

The unsigned All-Pro receiver still couldn’t stay away from the team on the last day of minicamp. Even though Bryant hasn’t signed a franchise tender that would guarantee him $12.8 million this season, he was in the stands with teammates at the Cowboys’ stadium when coach Jason Garrett addressed them before the final organized workout until training camp opens next month. He was then on the sideline for most of the 90-minute practice.

NEW YORK (AP) – A properly inflated ball from the game in which Tom Brady used underinflated footballs is up for auction.

Bidding starts at $25,000 in the auction running through July 17.

An NFL-commissioned report found that during a halftime examination, 11 of the 12 balls used by the New England Patriots offense were under the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch. The balls were re-inflated for the second half against the Indianapolis Colts. The ball being auctioned was used on a third-quarter touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount in New England’s 45-7 win over Indianapolis in the AFC championship game.

CINCINNATI (AP) – The Bengals waived quarterback Terrelle Pryor at the conclusion of their minicamp, leaving one less candidate for the job of backing up Andy Dalton.

The former Ohio State quarterback signed with the Bengals on May 10 following a tryout during rookie camp. He was competing with AJ McCarron and Josh Johnson for the backup job. Oakland took Pryor in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft. He played three seasons and started 16 games for the Raiders.

HOUSTON (AP) – Cornerback Johnathan Joseph signed a contract extension with the Houston Texans.

The two-time Pro Bowler was entering the final year of the contract he signed when he signed as a free agent in 2011. The new deal will keep him in Houston for the next three years. The 31-year-old Joseph started each game for the Texans last season and had a career-high 75 tackles and two interceptions.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) – John David Crow, the bruising running back who won the 1957 Heisman Trophy with Texas A&M before a Pro Bowl career in the NFL, has died. He was 79.

The university said Crow died Wednesday night surrounded by his family. A cause of death was not disclosed.

Crow was the first Heisman winner for the Aggies, who were coached at the time by Paul ”Bear” Bryant. During the 1957 season, Bryant famously said: ”If John David Crow doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy, they ought to stop giving it.” He had 129 carries for 562 yards and six touchdowns during his Heisman season. He also threw five touchdown passes and played defense, where he grabbed five interceptions.