Weekend Sports in Brief
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL Central on the final day of the regular season, using Jack Flaherty’s arm and Matt Carpenter’s bat Sunday to win their first division title since 2015 with a 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs lost on Joe Maddon’s day as their manager. It was announced before the game that he won’t return next year.
Flaherty tossed seven impressive innings and Carpenter led a three-homer attack with a three-run drive to help St. Louis advanced to the NL Division Series, starting Thursday at Atlanta.
Manager Mike Shildt and the Cardinals began the day with a one-game lead over Milwaukee. The second-place Brewers will play at Washington in the NL wild-card game Tuesday night, with the winner going on to play Los Angeles in the NLDS.
Paul Goldschmidt and Dexter Fowler also homered for St. Louis, which is back in the postseason after a three-year absence.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon will not be back with the team next season after it failed to make the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Maddon and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced the move before the team’s season finale at St. Louis. Maddon’s contract expires after Sunday’s game.
The change in the dugout begins what could be an active offseason for the Cubs, and Maddon once again becomes one of baseball’s top free agents.
While Maddon is out after five seasons, he is tied to Chicago forever after managing the Cubs to the 2016 World Series title for the franchise’s first championship in 108 years.
Chicago also made it to the NL Championship Series in 2015 and 2017, but it faltered in September each of the last two seasons. The Cubs finished third in the NL Central this year.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pirates fired manager Clint Hurdle before Sunday’s regular season finale against Cincinnati following a stunning second-half collapse that dropped Pittsburgh to the bottom of the National League Central and included a series of off-the-field issues.
Pittsburgh entered Sunday 69-92, including a 25-47 since the All-Star break.
Hurdle went 735-720 in nine seasons with Pittsburgh, helping the franchise emerge from 20 years of losing to reach the playoffs three straight years from 2013-15. The Pirates never advanced past the Division Series and are assured of a third losing season in their last four years. Hurdle had two years left on an extension he signed in 2017.
Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington called it “an extremely difficult decision” for the organization.
NEW YORK (AP) — Mets slugger Pete Alonso hit his 53rd home run of the season Saturday night, breaking the rookie record Yankees star Aaron Judge set in 2017.
Alonso launched a 93 mph fastball on a 1-2 count from Atlanta Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz just to the right of straightaway center field. The solo shot gave New York a 3-0 lead in the third inning.
As the 415-foot drive landed in the seats, Alonso raised both arms in triumph while running to first base — and Mets teammates came out of the dugout to congratulate the 24-year-old first baseman. Fans at Citi Field gave him a standing ovation and Alonso raised both arms again, tilted his head back and looked skyward as he stood in front of the dugout.
Overcome with emotion, Alonso had tears in his eyes when he went to first base in the fourth.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has agreed with game officials on a seven-year labor contract that will run through the 2025 season.
The deal announced Saturday came with the current contract set to expire in May. The new agreement lasts through May 2026.
League executive vice president Troy Vincent says the agreement “solidifies the working partnership between the league and officials toward the common goal of developing and training the best officials in the world.”
The new collective bargaining agreement covers compensation and benefits and emphasizes efforts to train and develop officials.
Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll for the first time this season, replacing preseason No. 1 Clemson after the Tigers had a close call.
Alabama received 29 of 61 first-place votes Sunday from the media panel as the Tigers’ one-point victory at North Carolina gave the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank the first shake-up at the top this season. Clemson slipped to No. 2 and received 18 first-place votes.
The last time a No. 1 team won and dropped was Ohio State on Nov. 7, 2015, after the Buckeyes beat Minnesota 28-14 at home. It has happened 74 times previously since the poll started in 1936.
No. 3 Georgia received four first-place votes. Ohio State moved up to No. 4 and received seven first-place votes. LSU was No. 5 and Oklahoma sixth. No. 7 Auburn received three first-place votes.
At the other end of the rankings, No. 24 SMU is ranked for the first time since the program received the so-called death penalty for NCAA rules violations in 1987 and did not compete for two seasons.
A person with knowledge of the move says the Colorado Avalanche agreed to terms with Mikko Rantanen on a $55.5 million, six-year contract.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the deal had not been announced.
Rantanen will count $9.25 million against the salary cap. He’s one of the final restricted free agents to sign a contract.
The 22-year-old Finn set career highs with 31 goals, 56 assists and 87 points last season. Rantanen has 209 points in 239 NHL games.
—By AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno.
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Chase Elliott recovered from a costly mistake to win NASCAR’s first elimination race and advance into the second round of the playoffs.
NASCAR’s second trip to The Roval, a hybrid road course and oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, was sloppy from start to finish on a scorching hot Sunday. Temperatures inside the cars hovered near 120 degrees during a late red-flag stoppage.
Elliott passed Kevin Harvick on the inside as they raced through a chicane with five laps remaining to earn his third victory of the season. Earlier in the race, he locked his brakes on a restart as the leader and drove directly into a tire barrier.
He celebrated the win by returning his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to the same tire barrier, nosing it in and burning his tires in white, billowy puffs.
The attention was on the bottom of the 16-driver championship field to see which four drivers would be eliminated from the playoffs. Ryan Newman gave away his chance at advancing when he missed a chicane trying to hold off Aric Almirola.
It allowed Almirola to pass him, cost Newman a point that swung in Alex Bowman’s favor and earned Bowman a spot in the second round.
Newman, Almirola, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones were eliminated from the playoffs.
NAPA, Calif. (AP) — Cameron Champ made a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a one-stroke victory over Adam Hadwin on Sunday in the Safeway Open, finishing off an emotional week with his grandfather battling cancer.
Three strokes ahead entering the round, Champ had five birdies and overcame a bogey on No. 17 to hold off Hadwin for his second PGA Tour victory. Champ closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 17-under 271 at Silverado Resort.
Champ raised both arms then shared a long embrace with his caddie before breaking into tears as he hugged his father on the green. Champ’s grandfather, Mack, is fighting stomach cancer and is in hospice in Sacramento. Mack introduced Champ to golf at a young age.
Hadwin birdied the final three holes for a 67 to tie Champ at 16 under, then watched from nearby as Champ nearly chipped in for eagle on the par-5 18th before making the short birdie putt.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Kirk Triplett won the Pure Insurance Championship for the third time Sunday at Pebble Beach, beating Billy Andrade with an 8-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff.
The 57-year-old Triplett also won the PGA Tour Champions event in 2012 and 2013. He has eight senior victories, also winning a playoff in March in the Hoag Classic down the coast in Newport Beach.
Playing four groups ahead of Andrade, Triplett birdied the 18th in regulation for a 5-under 67 and 9-uner 206 total. Andrade also closed with a birdie, holing a 7-footer after hitting his second shot through the green.
The 55-year-old Andrade missed a 20-foot birdie try before Triplett holed the winning putt in the event that pairs tour players with juniors from The First Tee programs around the country.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Mi Jung Hur played bogey-free with the lead Sunday and never gave anyone a chance, closing with a 4-under 68 for a four-shot victory at the Indy Women in Tech Championship for her second LPGA Tour victory this year.
Her opened with a 63 and went wire-to-wire for the first time in her career. The 29-year-old South Korean had 26 birdies for the week at Brickyard Crossing.
Nanna Koerstz Madsen birdied her last two holes for a 67 to finish alone in second, moving her from No. 70 to No. 44 in the Race to the CME Globe. Marina Alex finished third. She started two shots out of the lead but didn’t made birdie until the 16th hole.
SHANGHAI (AP) — Lin Yuxin of China made birdie from the bunker on the second playoff hole Sunday to beat defending champion Takumi Kanaya and win the Asia-Pacific Amateur for the second time.
Lin won the first playoff in the 11-year-history of the Asia-Pacific Amateur and joined Hideki Matsuyama as the only two-time winners. The victory gets Lin into the Masters and the British Open next year.
He thought he had thrown away his chance when he laid up into the water on the par-5 18th hole at Sheshan International, making bogey for a 68. Kanaya had a chance to win in regulation, but missed a 7-foot birdie putt.
Both made birdie on the 18th on the first extra hole. Lin blasted out to 3 feet and made the winning putt.
TRACK AND FIELD
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Christian Coleman won the world championship gold medal in the men’s 100 meters on Saturday, three weeks after avoiding a ban for missed drug tests.
Coleman started well and extended his lead down the stretch to win in 9.76 seconds, beating defending champion Justin Gatlin into second place in the centerpiece race. Andre de Grasse of Canada was third.
Coleman had been accused of failing to provide accurate information on his whereabouts for drug testing. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency dropped the case after determining one of the missed tests should be backdated on a technicality, taking it out of the required 12-month window for violations.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Elena Delle Donne scored 22 points and Ariel Atkins had 21 to help the Washington Mystics beat the Connecticut Sun 95-86 on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
Kristi Toliver added 18 points for the Mystics, who had the best record in the regular season. It’s the first finals win in franchise history for the Mystics, who were swept last year by Seattle in their only other appearance in the championship round. Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Tuesday night in Washington.
The Mystics were up nine at the half and extended the lead to 17 in the third quarter before Connecticut rallied within four twice in the final period. Delle Donne — the league’s MVP — answered each time for Washington with a basket. Her jumper with 4:56 left made it 82-76 and started a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach. Atkins followed with a 3-pointer that made it a nine-point game and then corralled an offensive rebound that Toliver finished off with a finger roll down the lane with 3:16 left.
The Sun could only get within eight the rest of the way.
Kaillie Humphries will be allowed to bobsled for the United States this season and beyond, after Canadian officials announced Saturday night that they are granting the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s request to be released from their program.
Humphries has been seeking that release for weeks after filing a harassment complaint against the Canadian program alleging she was mistreated by a coach. She needed to obtain the release by Monday in order to be eligible to slide this season.
Canada was reluctant to grant the release because Humphries is still a medal contender. Canadian officials said Saturday night that “this was not an easy decision, nor was it one we took lightly.”
USA Bobsled coach Mike Kohn, when informed of the decision by The Associated Press, said “this is what we’ve been waiting for and we cannot wait to work with Kaillie.”
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — A horse went down in the stretch and tossed two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez in the eighth race at Santa Anita.
The incident occurred Saturday on the second day of the fall meet at the track where 31 horses have died since December.
Emtech, a 3-year-old colt trained by Steve Knapp, went down in the middle of the track in the upper stretch of the six-furlong, $40,000 claiming race. Gutierrez landed near the inner rail.
Workers immediately put up a green screen to shield the foundering colt from the crowd, its front legs unable to withstand the animal’s weight.
Gutierrez, the 32-year-old rider who won the Kentucky Derby in 2012 and 2016, was taken away by ambulance. A track steward says Gutierrez was up and walking, but still being examined by a track physician.