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Palmeiro Reaches 3,000-Hit Milestone (AP)
AP - Rafael Palmeiro stood near second base surrounded by his teammates, receiving hugs and high-fives after getting his 3,000th hit. Fittingly, one of the most unassuming stars in baseball never expected such a fuss.

Cardinals Win on Pujols' 13th Inning Homer (AP)
AP - Albert Pujols took a win away from the Houston Astros. The Washington Nationals think they were done in by an umpire's call. St. Louis won on Pujols' walkoff homer, and the Nationals were livid after a balkoff loss. The National League's two winningest teams played games that ended with extra-inning drama on Friday night.

Lance Armstrong Prepares for Soaring Temps (AP)
AP - If Lance Armstrong can beat the heat, a seventh straight Tour de France title might already be his. Soaring temperatures are forecast for Saturday's 14th stage of the 23-day race, which takes riders into the Pyrenees mountains. Armstrong is taking precautions, wanting to avoid a repeat of two years ago when dehydration almost cost him the title.

BALCO Pleas Keep Athletes Out of Court (AP)
AP - BALCO founder Victor Conte's plea deal could be another home run for Barry Bonds. The San Francisco Giants slugger, along with Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees and track star Marion Jones, now will likely never be forced to testify in open court about steroid use.

Nicklaus Passes Torch at British Open (AP)
AP - They leaned out of store-top windows, crammed onto hotel balconies and filled every inch of space along the 18th hole at St. Andrews to witness a historic moment at the home of golf.

Niners Acquire Middlebrooks From Denver (AP)
AP - The San Francisco 49ers acquired cornerback Willie Middlebrooks from the Denver Broncos on Friday for defensive end John Engelberger.

Mavs Face Difficult Decision on Finley (AP)
AP - As much as the Dallas Mavericks appreciate what Michael Finley has done for their franchise, simple economics make it likely they will soon say goodbye to their longtime leader.

Baseball Today (AP)
AP - Atlanta at New York Mets (7:10 p.m. EDT). The Braves' Tim Hudson is expected to pitch for the first time since June 13, when he strained his left oblique.

Real Madrid Players Take Tour of Chicago (AP)
AP - The promotional tour started way before Real Madrid arrived at City Hall on Friday afternoon.

Babcock Introduced As New Red Wings Coach (AP)
AP - Mike Babcock slipped on a Detroit cap and officially kicked off a new era in Hockeytown. The Red Wings introduced their new coach Friday during a news conference at Joe Louis Arena, and Babcock said he was looking forward to building on the Motor City's winning tradition.

Six Points: Most improved
Miami, Oakland and Kansas City made significant upgrades but aren't the NFL's most improved team.

Jags close to trading for Bills RB Henry (AP)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are close to completing a trade for disgruntled Bills running back Travis Henry, a move that would provide insurance for injured starter Fred Taylor. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said a deal for Henry could be completed ``in the next few days or week.'' Henry demanded a trade after losing his starting job last season to Willis McGahee.

Patriots VP Pioli agrees to extension (AP)
Scott Pioli, who helped build the New England Patriots teams that have won three of the last four Super Bowls, has agreed to a contract extension as the team's vice president of player personnel. Terms of the extension that will keep Pioli with the Patriots were not disclosed. Robert Kraft, the Patriots' chairman and chief executive, said Pioli ``has done a tremendous job managing our personnel...

Falcons' Coleman arrested on misdemeanor (AP)
Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Rod Coleman was arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct during a traffic stop early Friday, allegedly cursing at an officer and asking, ``Do you know who I am?'' DeKalb police spokesman Sgt. Charles Dedrick said Coleman ``was verbally abusive'' to a police officer.

Browns sign kicker Dawson to 5-year deal (AP)
Kicker Phil Dawson, one of only two members of the 1999 expansion Browns roster still with the team, signed a five-year contract extension with Cleveland, the team announced Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Dawson was headed into the last year of a four-year deal signed in 2002. Defensive back Daylon McCutcheon is the other Browns player still on the team from when the team was revived...

Cops: Man faked being Big Ben for dates (AP)
Police have flagged a man for an illegal quarterback sneak. Authorities said Brian Jackson, 31, dated two women by pretending to be Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Brian St. Pierre. Jackson, arrested Friday, was charged with harassment for allegedly continuing to contact both women after they learned of the ruses.

Niners, Broncos swap defensive players (AP)
The San Francisco 49ers acquired cornerback Willie Middlebrooks from the Denver Broncos on Friday for defensive end John Engelberger. The deal swaps two young defensive players who had fallen out of favor on their original teams. Middlebrooks, the Broncos' first-round selection in 2001, was a disappointment in Denver, never earning a regular starting job in four seasons.

Titans' top pick 'Pacman' arrested (AP)
Tennessee Titans top draft pick Adam ``Pacman'' Jones surrendered to police Wednesday on charges of assault and felony vandalism stemming from a fight at a nightclub. Jones was released from custody after posting bond. He did not comment to reporters as he left the jail. His agent, Michael Huyghue, said in a statement that Jones had been advised not to comment and the cornerback regretted any...

What's the deal?
Find out which free agents are staying and going and which teams are looking to make a move.

Heat keep quiet on Riley return rumors (AP)
Reports that Miami Heat president Pat Riley is contemplating a return to coaching continued Friday, nearly a month after he announced plans to ``take a little bit more of an active participation'' during the coming season. Team officials declined to comment Friday on the reports, and coach Stan Van Gundy -- Riley's longtime top assistant who was promoted before the start of the 2003-04 season --...

Artest finally returns to court (AP)
Shortly after Ron Artest knocked down his third jumper in four shots at the Minnesota summer league, one fan in the sparse crowd at Target Center leaped up to boldly proclaim, ``Ron is back!'' It was easily heard in the near-empty arena, and the Indiana Pacers couldn't be happier. The embattled forward returned to competitive action on Friday for the first time since being suspended for his role...

Brown thinks Pistons will bring him back (AP)
Larry Brown wants to return to the Detroit Pistons if owner Bill Davidson will have him back. If not, he wants to move on. ``My thing has never changed. I want to coach Detroit, and I expressed that to them,'' Brown said of his meeting Wednesday in suburban Detroit with Davidson, team president Joe Dumars and Brown's agent, Joe Glass.

Wizards to trade Kwame Brown to Lakers (AP)
Kwame Brown is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent said Thursday. Arn Tellem confirmed a published report that Brown, the first overall selection in the 2001 NBA draft, will be involved in a trade between the Lakers and Washington Wizards. ``It's Kwame's intention to sign a contract with the Wizards on the first day possible and be traded to the Lakers,'' Tellem said.

Mobley agrees to deal with Clippers (AP)
Cuttino Mobley, one of the NBA's most accurate outside shooters, will play for the Los Angeles Clippers next season, his agent said Thursday. ``An agreement has been reached,'' Andy Miller said from his office in Tenafly, N.J. Miller wouldn't divulge terms, but it's believed the parties agreed to a five-year deal worth around $42 million.

Haslem, Heat agree to five-year deal (AP)
Udonis Haslem got his wish. He's staying home. With work on Shaquille O'Neal's multiyear deal to stay in Miami progressing nicely, the Heat have completed another of their top offseason tasks. Haslem, the team's starting power forward, said Wednesday he's agreed to a five-year contract that could be worth more than $33 million.

Reports: Knicks sign C Jerome James (AP)
The New York Knicks and free-agent center Jerome James agreed to a five-year deal, according to several media reports. Marc Fleisher, James' agent, confirmed the approximately $29 million deal Wednesday, but the contract can't be signed until the free-agent signing period begins on July 22. ``They approached us on the first day of free agency and told us they had a lot of interest,'' Fleisher told...

Bucks give C Gadzuric six years, $36M (AP)
The Milwaukee Bucks are spending the big bucks this summer. Dan Gadzuric's agent said the 6-foot-11 center will sign a six-year, $36 million contract to stay with the Bucks once the league-wide moratorium on player movement ends later this month. That means the Bucks have committed some $200 million in player contracts since July 2.

Report: Nuggets exercise Lenard's option (AP)
The Denver Nuggets have exercised their $3.2 million option on Voshon Lenard's contract to keep the sharpshooter with the team next season, the Denver Post reported Friday. ``I always figured that they would do this,'' Lenard's agent, Joel Bell, told the newspaper. ``There were plenty of other teams that had interest if he was free.'' Lenard worked out Thursday with the Nuggets' summer league team...

Beil's Spiel: Resurrecting the dead
The NHL is back, after showing fans what it's like going over a cliff on a Zamboni.

NHL to have strict drug policy (AP)
NHL players will be subject to random testing for performance-enhancing drugs, and will face stiff penalties after one infraction. Under the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players' association, which still needs ratification, players would be subject to a minimum of two drug tests a year without advance warning.

Babcock introduced as Red Wings coach (AP)
Mike Babcock slipped on a Detroit cap and officially kicked off a new era in Hockeytown. The Red Wings introduced their new coach Friday during a news conference at Joe Louis Arena, and Babcock said he was looking forward to building on the Motor City's winning tradition. ``I believe in leadership,'' he said.

Larry Robinson to return to coach Devils (AP)
Larry Robinson has already experienced the highs and lows as coach of the New Jersey Devils. That made him an easy, short-notice choice to replace the ailing Pat Burns. Robinson, who led the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup title in 2000 but was fired less than two years later, returned Thursday as coach of the team.

Businesses assess NHL lockout damage (AP)
Bartender Paul Lewis used to pay his college tuition with the $600 in tips he made nightly when the Columbus Blue Jackets played next door. But when last year's hockey season was lost to the NHL lockout, business dropped so drastically at O'Shaughnessey's Public House that Lewis, 23, took a job at a Colorado ski shop.

NHL, union reach deal in principle (AP)
The NHL is about to find out if it was missed. Rebounding from an entire season lost to a lockout, hockey players and owners reached a long-awaited agreement Wednesday that virtually ensures the NHL will be back on the ice in the fall. It's not the deal players' association executive director Bob Goodenow wanted when he took on this fight, but the union is expected to approve it.

Ray rips Goodenow for misleading players (AP)
Former Sabres enforcer Rob Ray is unhappy with the players' association, not only because the union denied him benefits and a monthly stipend during the lockout. Ray accused players' association executive director Bob Goodenow of misleading players into believing they could avoid a salary cap in a new collective bargaining agreement.

IIHF think NHLers will be at Olympics (AP)
Ice hockey's governing body is optimistic that NHL players will play at the Turin Olympics next year. The NHL and the players' association reached an agreement in principle on a six-year labor deal Wednesday. International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said Thursday he doesn't know whether the agreement includes a clause about NHL participation in the Olympics, but he said a decision...

Hometown hero
LOUDON, N.H. – With Ricky Craven out of Cup racing, Kevin Lepage could become the new local favorite at New Hampshire.

Gentilozzi wins 29th Trans-Am pole (AP)
Paul Gentilozzi earned the pole Friday in qualifying for the Trans-Am Series race at the Grand Prix of Edmonton. Gentilozzi, in a Jaguar, turned in a record lap of 1 minutes, 17.144 seconds at 92.072 miles per hour. It was the 29th pole of his career. Gentilozzis teammate, Tomy Drissi, was second fastest in a Jaguar, ahead of Randy Ruhlman in a Chevrolet Corvette.

Martin probably will return if needed (AP)
Mark Martin simply cannot say no to car owner Jack Roush, who wants him to come back for one more Nextel Cup season -- maybe.

Michael Waltrip will not return to DEI in 2006 (SportsTicker)
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker) - Michael Waltrip, who won a pair of Daytona 500s as a member of Dale Earnhardt Inc., will not return to the NASCAR racing team in 2006.

Busch has two goals for New Hampshire (AP)
Kurt Busch's bid for an unprecedented third straight New Hampshire International Speedway victory may ultimately just be practice for a championship run.

Waltrip leaving DEI after season (AP)
Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will not return next season after five years with Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Indy Speedway announces details of F1 ticket refund plan (AFP)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and tyremaker Michelin announced details here of the Formula One ticket refund process for last month's US Grand Prix fiasco.

Ford introduces Fusion as new model on NASCAR circuit (AP)
Ford Motor Co. unveiled a prototype Thursday of the model that will replace its Taurus on the NASCAR circuit.

Kentucky Speedway sues NASCAR (AP)
Kentucky Speedway filed suit Wednesday against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp., alleging the companies have violated federal antitrust laws by illegally restricting the awarding of Nextel Cup races.

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