Thursday's Sports in Brief

October 2


ATLANTA (AP) — Ian Anderson dazzled in another shutout performance for Atlanta, and the Braves won a playoff series for the first time in almost two decades by sweeping the light-hitting Cincinnati Reds with a 5-0 victory Thursday.

Ronald Acuña Jr. had three hits for the NL East champions, including a run-scoring double in the fifth. After winning Wednesday’s series opener 1-0 in 13 innings, Atlanta broke open Game 2 on two-run homers by Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall off Raisel Iglesias in the eighth.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics ended 14 years of postseason futility, riding Chad Pinder’s go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning and repeated costly walks by Chicago’s relievers to rally past the White Sox 6-4 on Thursday and win the decisive third game of their AL wild-card round series.

The AL West champions lost the opener, then won on consecutive days and advanced to a Division Series against the rival Houston Astros starting Monday in Los Angeles. The winner of that matchup faces the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay for a spot in the World Series.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw struck out 13 while delivering eight innings of three-hit ball, Mookie Betts snapped a scoreless tie with a two-out, two-run double in the fifth, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 to sweep their NL wild-card series on Thursday night.

The eight-time West champion Dodgers advanced to the NL Division Series in Arlington, Texas, and will play either the St. Louis Cardinals or San Diego Padres, who meet in a deciding Game 3 on Friday.

HOUSTON (AP) — Astros ace Justin Verlander had Tommy John surgery.

General manager James Click announced Thursday that Verlander had the procedure a day earlier and estimated recovery time at about 12-14 months. That means the earliest Verlander could pitch for would be in the 2022 season and it might not be for the Astros. A right-hander who turns 38 in February, Verlander has a $33 million salary next year, then is eligible for free agency.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner made just one start this season, pitching six innings on July 24 in a win over Seattle on opening day before being placed on the injured list with strained right forearm. He attempted a comeback after he was injured, but announced on Sept. 19 that he would need Tommy John surgery.


NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL is tightening up the league’s procedures for how teams go back to work following positive COVID-19 results after the Tennessee Titans’ outbreak postponed their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The league sent a memo to all 32 teams Thursday and it was obtained by The Associated Press. It details new procedures to follow for any club dealing with an outbreak or exposure to COVID-19 or teams exposed to a club with an active outbreak.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, and Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, wrote that daily testing does not protect anyone during this pandemic and any activity after testing increases the potential for infection.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Ravens All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey has signed a five-year extension that will keep him with the team through the 2026 season.

Since being drafted by Baltimore with the 16th overall pick in 2017, the former Alabama standout has 150 tackles, eight interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 49 games. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro in 2019 after picking off three passes and returning two fumbles for scores.


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers have reached an agreement with Doc Rivers to become their new coach.

Rivers reached a deal Thursday to become the latest coach to try and lead the Sixers to their first NBA championship since 1983, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the Sixers had not formally announced the move.

Rivers takes over for Brett Brown, who was fired after the 76ers were swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

—By AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston.


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The Mountain West released its revised schedule and said the two teams with the highest conference winning percentage will meet in the championship game.

The league is skipping the traditional two-division format to allow “maximum flexibility given the various constraints which had to be considered,” Commissioner Craig Thompson explained in a release Thursday.

The teams are scheduled to play eight games, beginning Oct. 24. The championship contest is slated for Dec. 19 and the host team will be the one with the highest winning percentage in conference games only.


ABERDEEN, Scotland (AP) — Paul Lawrie is making his 620th appearance on the European Tour at the Scottish Open this week. It also will be his last.

The 1999 British Open champion is quitting the tour after the tournament at The Renaissance Club because of problems with his back.

Lawrie will play on the senior circuit instead.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — IndyCar announced a 17-race schedule for 2021 on Thursday that includes a stop at Texas Motor Speedway before the Indianapolis 500 for the first time ever.

Texas was one of the first tracks to support the open-wheel series when it launched and joined the schedule in 1997, the first full season of IndyCar competition. The race had traditionally been held in June immediately after the Indy 500 until 2012, when Belle Isle took its slot.


SAO PAULO (AP) — FIFA decided on Thursday that clubs can stop their players from participating in international matches until the end of the year depending on COVID-19 conditions in the countries to which they are traveling.

The announcement comes one week before the two opening rounds of South American World Cup qualifiers.

The council of soccer’s governing body decided that clubs don’t need to release players if they are expected to travel to countries that impose mandatory quarantine or self-isolation for at least five days upon arrival.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Loyal forfeited a second-division soccer match in the United States in protest against an anti-gay slur apparently hurled at one of its players.

The comment toward Collin Martin, who is openly gay, was said to be made near the end of the first half of Wednesday’s match against Phoenix Rising at Torero Stadium.

Martin’s teammates were seen rallying around him as they walked off the field at halftime. When they came back out for the second half, Loyal’s players and coaches took a knee and then walked off, thereby forfeiting the match.

Loyal was winning 3-1 at the time.


GENEVA (AP) — American cyclist Quinn Simmons was suspended by the Trek-Segafredo team on Thursday after posting antagonistic comments on social media in support of President Donald Trump.

The 2019 junior road race world champion replied to a journalist from the Netherlands who had criticized Trump on Twitter.


NEW YORK (AP) — Johnny Bench has decided to sell memorabilia from his Hall of Fame career with the Cincinnati Reds.

The 72-year-old retired catcher won two World Series titles, was a 14-time All-Star and a two-time National League MVP.

Bench’s items will be auctioned on Nov. 14 at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Kentucky.

He plans to use the proceeds to help fund the future college educations of his two youngest sons.

Among the items he’s parting with are his World Series trophies from 1975 and ’76, and his 1968 NL Rookie of the Year award.

WIXOM, Mich. (AP) — Former Detroit Tigers pitching ace and two-time Cy Young award winner Denny McLain wants to part with baseball bats, pennants, trading cards and a few thousand other pieces of sports memorabilia.

They will be sold during an estate sale at McLain’s Wixom home, northwest of Detroit. The sale started Thursday and runs through the weekend.

McLain said his wife died recently and its time to downsize their home.


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