Thursday’s Sports In Brief

NFL

CHICAGO (AP) — In a defensive battle also marked by sloppy offense and penalties, the Green Bay Packers used the Bears’ usual trademark, a staunch D, and just enough from Aaron Rodgers to kick off the league’s 100th season with a 10-3 victory over archrival Chicago.

A lack of action in the preseason clearly damaged both offenses, and Rodgers at times looked uncomfortable in the attack designed by new coach Matt LaFleur. But he is a two-time league MVP, and he hit Jimmy Graham in the second quarter for the only touchdown,

From there, it was an aggressive defense that would have made Vince Lombardi proud in the latest edition of the NFL’s longest rivalry, which the Packers lead 98-95-6. Green Bay has won 16 of the last 19 regular-season meetings, and Rodgers is 17-5.

Chicago’s defense hardly slacked, getting five sacks — tying the most it has had against Rodgers. But it could do little with the ball and the Packers had five sacks of Mitchell Trubisky, who never found his stride, and was sacked on Chicago’s final offensive play. Former Bears safety Adrian Amos picked off an end-zone pass into double coverage with 1:58 remaining, the only turnover of the contest.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Star receiver Antonio Brown was sent away from the Oakland Raiders four days before the season opener amid reports he could be suspended over a confrontation with general manager Mike Mayock.

Mayock said at the beginning of practice that Brown wasn’t at the Raiders facility and wouldn’t be practicing a day after posting a letter from the GM on social media detailing nearly $54,000 in fines.

ESPN reported the two had a confrontation the previous day over the posting of the letter and that the Raiders plan to suspend Brown. Teams have the right under the collective bargaining agreement to suspend players up to four games for conduct detrimental to the team.

A suspension would also void the more than $29 million in guarantees over the next two seasons contained in Brown’s contract with the Raiders.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Tight end Tyler Higbee agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $31,025,000 with the Los Angeles Rams.

A person with knowledge of the deal said Higbee is guaranteed $15.5 million and could make $36 million over the course of the contract, which runs through the 2023 season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms weren’t publicly disclosed by the team.

Higbee has played in every game during his three seasons with the Rams, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Western Kentucky in 2016. He has 60 career catches for 672 yards and four touchdowns, and he is a dependable blocker on runs and passes.

Higbee had four catches in the NFC championship game in New Orleans last season. He didn’t make a reception in the Super Bowl.

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he’s been unfairly and incorrectly portrayed as anti-gay after recording a video encouraging Christian students to take their bibles to school.

The video was disseminated by an organization called Focus on the Family, which has promoted policies widely viewed as hostile to the LGBTQ community.

Brees said his only intention was to encourage Christian students to practice their faith with confidence on National Bring Your Bible to School Day.

Brees says he was not aware “at all” that Focus on the Family was associated with anti-gay messaging, inequality or “any type of hate.” The record-setting quarterback says he sees Christianity as representing love, forgiveness, respecting all and accepting all.

TENNIS

NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams faced three break points in the opening game of her U.S. Open semifinal and managed to pull it out. She trailed 40-love in the second, then came through again. Another trio of break points arrived later in that initial set. Once more, Williams was up to the task.

Soon enough, she was on her way to yet another final at Flushing Meadows — and yet another shot at Grand Slam singles trophy No. 24.

Williams turned in an increasingly impressive performance for a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine at Arthur Ashe Stadium, reaching her fourth final in the past six major tournaments.

Williams, a six-time U.S. Open champion, will face 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada on Saturday. The 15th-seeded Andreescu reached her first major title match in only her fourth appearance at a Slam by eliminating No. 13 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-6 (3), 7-5.

BASEBALL

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brian Moran became the first player in major league history to make his debut while facing his brother on the mound, striking out younger sibling Colin in the Marlins’ 10-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Brian entered in the fourth inning with the Marlins trailing 5-2. After Bryan Reynolds led off with a groundout, Colin stepped to the plate having doubled in each of his first two at-bats.

The 30-year-old Brian fell behind 3-1 before throwing back-to-back sliders to strike out Colin looking. The 26-year-old Colin shouted toward the mound on his way back to the dugout. Moran hit Josh Bell with a pitch and then got Melky Cabrera to fly out in his only inning of work.

The Marlins rallied for four runs in the fifth, allowing Brian to get the win. Colin finished 2 for 4.

They became the first siblings to face each other in a pitcher-batter scenario with one of the brothers making his major league debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kyle Schwarber’s grand slam capped a five-run sixth inning and powered the Chicago Cubs to a 10-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a crucial four-game series.

The third-place Brewers dropped 7 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central and five back of the Cubs for the second wild card. Chicago remained 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, who routed San Francisco 10-0.

The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on two singles and a walk against Matt Albers (5-5). Drew Pomeranz relieved and Anthony Rizzo lined a sacrifice fly to right field that put Chicago up 5-4.

Willson Contreras reached on a swinging bunt to reload the bases. Schwarber then sent the first pitch 442 feet to right-center for his 34th homer and second grand slam of the season.

HOCKEY

CHICAGO (AP) — The NHL and NHL Players’ Association will meet again Friday in New York to continue collective bargaining negotiations.

Players have until Sept. 15 to decide whether to terminate the current collective bargaining agreement effective a year from now. Owners had the same option and chose not to end it, citing the health of the league and the momentum from a period of labor peace.

Unlike previous negotiations where Commissioner Gary Bettman said there was a need for fundamental changes, the issues this time appear more manageable. Bettman described it as “joint problem-solving” between the league and players, which has sparked the ongoing dialogue.

The two sides could negotiate an extension of the current CBA with some changes. If players decide not to opt out and there’s no extension, the CBA expires in September 2022.

Roughly 50 players from the executive board and others in town met as Chicago Blackhawks player representative Jonathan Toews said the 700-plus-member group is pretty close to having a consensus on major issues.