Wednesday Sports In Brief

BASEBALL

HOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander pitched a two-hitter and lost, allowing homers to John Hicks and Ronny Rodriguez as the Detroit Tigers beat the Houston Astros 2-1.

Hicks led off the ninth with a tiebreaking blast to left-center field off Verlander (15-5), who leads the majors in strikeouts with 239 but ranks second in homers allowed with 33.

The veteran right-hander retired the first 14 batters, with six strikeouts, before Rodriguez homered to the seats in right with two outs in the fifth. Verlander sat down another 10 straight before Hicks connected.

With Verlander on the mound at home against the worst team in the majors, the Astros were more than a 5-1 favorite, one of the biggest favorites in an MLB game that Las Vegas oddsmakers could remember.

Verlander walked none and finished with 11 strikeouts in his 99-pitch gem, extending his franchise record of games with 10 or more strikeouts to seven as he lost for the first time since June 18.

CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Chicago Cubs a 12-11 comeback victory over the San Francisco Giants in a wild, back-and-forth game.

Nicholas Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber also connected for Chicago, which has won four straight despite losing leads twice in the last four innings. The Cubs moved back into first place in the NL Central by a half-game over St. Louis, which lost to Milwaukee in a rain-shortened game.

Castellanos, who went 4 for 5, has homered in three straight games for the second time in his career — he also did it with Detroit in 2016 — and has nine in 19 games since being acquired in a trade before the July 31 deadline. He is batting .392 (31 for 79) with the Cubs.

Evan Longoria, Mike Yastrzemski, Stephen Vogt and Kevin Pillar homered for San Francisco, which has dropped three straight.

BASKETBALL

Red, white and blue. The colors of USA Basketball.

Except this summer, green — Celtics green, to be precise — would work on that palette as well.

The Boston Celtics will have at least three and possibly four players on the final 12-man roster that USA Basketball will take to China next week for the FIBA World Cup. So these Team USA practices have been a get-to-know-you bonus of sorts for new Celtics guard Kemba Walker and Boston teammates Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

Walker, Tatum and Brown seem like locks to make the final U.S. roster. Smart is perhaps a question mark only because of a strained calf that he’s been dealing with since the first week of training camp in Las Vegas earlier this month. He’s expected to play Thursday when the Americans play a pre-World Cup exhibition against Australia in Melbourne — with a crowd of about 50,000 expected.

The U.S.-Australia game is at Marvel Stadium, the third-biggest stadium in the Australian Football League.

FOOTBALL

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Copeland can still participate in the team’s preseason practices and games. He is eligible to return to the active roster on Oct. 7.

In a post on Instagram, Copeland explained that he used a supplement that he believed adhered to NFL rules. Copeland hinted that he would appeal the suspension.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Los Angeles Wildcats and New York Guardians will be among the teams taking the field when the XFL returns in February.

The league revealed the logos and names for its eight teams, which will also include the DC Defenders, Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, St. Louis BattleHawks, Seattle Dragons and Tampa Bay Vipers. The reveal was done during a presentation on the XFL website that was also on the ESPN and Fox Sports websites.

The league announced in 2017 that it was coming back after it went one season in 2001 before shutting down. The XFL recently signed former Oklahoma and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones as its first player and had a session in California with coaches to go over rules.

FIGURE SKATING

NEW YORK (AP) — Richard Callaghan, who coached Tara Lipinski to Olympic gold, has been banned from figure skating by the U.S. Center for SafeSport for sexual misconduct.

Callaghan, who also coached six-time U.S. champion Todd Eldredge, was ruled “permanently ineligible” on Wednesday for actions involving a minor. Callaghan was accused by a former student, Adam Schmidt, in a lawsuit. Schmidt alleged that Callaghan sexually abused him from 1999-2001. Schmidt was 14 in 1999.

Also in 1999, Callaghan was investigated for sexual misconduct involving another coach, Craig Maurizi, but U.S. Figure Skating dismissed those charges. Maurizi said the incidents began in 1976 when he was 13, and continued for years.

Now 73, Callaghan was suspended in March 2018 by SafeSport and by the federation. He sued SafeSport, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

NHL

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders agreed to terms with Derick Brassard on a one-year contract.

Brassard, who will turn 32 on Sept. 22, had 14 goals and nine assists in 70 games last season while with Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado. He also had an assist in nine playoff games with the Avalanche.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

The 23 points last season was his lowest total since he had a goal and an assist in 17 games as a rookie with Columbus in 2007-08.

For his career, Brassard has totaled 176 goals and 275 assists in 786 games while also playing for the New York Rangers and Ottawa. He also has 23 goals and 37 assists in 99 career postseason games.