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Big Unit Pitches Yankees Into First Place (AP)
New York Yankees' Randy Johnson delivers a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005 at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)AP - Randy Johnson was his old self, glaring and pointing. The Big Unit not only made it into the late innings, he pitched the New York Yankees into first place.


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Devil Rays Knock BoSox Out of AL East Lead (AP)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Jonny Gomes lines a two-run triple off Boston Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin during the eighth inning Wednesday night Sept. 21, 2005 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Devil Rays defeated the Red sox 7-4, knocking them from first place in the American League East. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)AP - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays rallied for five runs in the eighth inning Wednesday night to beat the Boston Red Sox 7-4 and knock the defending world champions out of first place in the AL East.


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Tribe Creeps Closer to ChiSox With 8-0 Win (AP)
Chicago White Sox pitcher Jon Garland, right, walks back to the mound as Cleveland Indians' Travis Hafner, left, rounds the bases on a three-run home run during the eighth inning Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)AP - Cleveland's chase of the White Sox got a big boost from 6-foot-8 Scott Elarton and powerful Travis Hafner. Now the Indians are only 2 1/2 games behind first-place Chicago in the AL Central again.


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Trent Smith Hopes to Help 49ers' Offense (AP)
AP - When Trent Smith broke his leg in his first NFL preseason game in 2003, the tight end figured he might be out of football for a while. When his leg didn't heal within a year, he was certain the Baltimore Ravens would get rid of him. But the Ravens didn't cut Smith until this summer, when he finally had begun to realize the potential everyone saw before his injury.

Culpepper Still Confident in His Abilities (AP)
AP - Daunte Culpepper made major strides the past two years, developing better poise on the field and a stronger awareness of the game that unquestionably helped him become one of the league's best quarterbacks.

Perry Reveals Why He Was Bengals' Top Pick (AP)
AP - Running back Chris Perry took a swing pass from Carson Palmer, turned upfield and showed everyone why he was the Cincinnati Bengals' No. 1 pick last year. No one had a chance to catch him.

Payton, Heat Close to Finalizing Deal (AP)
AP - Gary Payton's quest for an NBA championship will apparently continue in Miami. The nine-time All-Star guard is on the verge of signing a one-year free agent deal with the Heat, a move that could be formally announced as early as Thursday.

Rangers Starter Hit by Line Drive (AP)
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Kameron Loe is helped off the field after being hit with a line-drive off the bat of Los Angeles Angels' Vladimir Guerrero during the fourth inning Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)AP - Texas Rangers starter Kameron Loe left Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth inning after being hit in the head by Vladimir Guerrero's line drive.


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Mexican Soccer Coach Free After Kidnapping (AP)
AP - Ruben Omar Romano, the Argentine coach of Mexico's Cruz Azul soccer team kidnapped in July, was freed Wednesday. Officials confirmed that the 47-year-old Romano had been freed in what local media described as a police raid in the low-income district on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Canucks Sign Cooke to Three-Year Contract (AP)
AP - The Vancouver Canucks re-signed winger Matt Cooke to a three-year, $4.6 million contract Wednesday.

Short-circuited
With two losses and a tough schedule, the Chargers could be powerless in defending their AFC West crown.

Doctor charged for steroid distribution (AP)
A doctor who was accused in a television report of writing illegal steroid prescriptions for three former Carolina Panthers players has been indicted on federal charges. James M. Shortt was charged with 29 counts of distributing steroids and human growth hormones as well as a conspiracy charge, U.S. Attorney Johnny Gasser said Wednesday.

McNabb, Owens sit out practice (AP)
Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens now can bond in the trainer's room. McNabb and Owens missed practice Wednesday with injuries, but it's unlikely either player won't play in Philadelphia's game against Oakland on Sunday. The two stars, who have reconciled their relationship after feuding all summer, connected for two touchdowns in the Eagles' 42-3 victory over San Francisco last Sunday.

Vick questionable for Bills game (AP)
Michael Vick was held out of practice Wednesday with a sore left hamstring, but the Atlanta quarterback said he may play Sunday at Buffalo even if he can't practice the rest of the week. ``As long as I'm getting mental reps, I think I'll be able to go out there and execute the game plan,'' Vick said.

Texans call practice, prepare for Rita (AP)
The Houston Texans canceled practice for Thursday and asked all players to leave town immediately as Hurricane Rita barreled toward the Texas coast with 165-mph winds. Coach Dom Capers said the team, which has a bye this week, was looking at alternatives that include practicing next week in Cincinnati before the Texans' game on Oct.

Manning expects chilly reception in S.D. (AP)
Eli Manning remembers facing hostile crowds in college, although he concedes those experiences could seem tame compared to the reception that likely awaits him in San Diego Sunday night. Manning spurned the Chargers when they made him the first pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, saying at the time he did not want to play in San Diego.

Perry emerging a year after being top pick (AP)
Running back Chris Perry took a swing pass from Carson Palmer, turned upfield and showed everyone why he was the Cincinnati Bengals' No. 1 pick last year. No one had a chance to catch him. Perry ran 86 yards along the sideline Sunday, pulling away from Minnesota Vikings defenders as he got closer to the end zone.

Struggling Culpepper still confident (AP)
Daunte Culpepper made major strides the past two years, developing better poise on the field and a stronger awareness of the game that unquestionably helped him become one of the league's best quarterbacks. Two weeks into this season, it looks as if Culpepper forgot everything he learned. Dissecting Minnesota's offensive problems following two embarrassing performances in defeats to Tampa Bay and...

Saints even more upset after 'home' loss (AP)
Now that he's been through the experience of playing a ``home'' game on the road, and came away a loser, New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett is furious about it all. Back at the team's temporary home in San Antonio, Haslett said Tuesday the Saints were at a competitive disadvantage in their 27-10 loss to the New York Giants at Giants Stadium on Monday night -- even if they were wearing their home...

McGahee running better after challenge (AP)
Less dancing, more running. That's the challenge Buffalo Bills coach Mike Mularkey issued Willis McGahee this week, prodding his running back to be more decisive. Mularkey was confident the message was received from the straight-ahead pop he saw in McGahee's runs during practice Wednesday. ``Sometimes those negative things that happen in games may be a positive in the long run,'' Mularkey said.

The wisdom of Hubie
After spending some time with Hubie Brown, you quickly learn why he's in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Hornets to play 35 games in Okla. City (AP)
The New Orleans Hornets have a few new homes on the road. The Hornets announced plans Wednesday to play 35 home games in Oklahoma City and six others in Baton Rouge, La., after a relocation agreement was approved by the city council. ``This whole thing is somewhat bittersweet,'' owner George Shinn said.

Payton, Heat close to finalizing deal (AP)
Gary Payton's quest for an NBA championship will apparently continue in Miami. The nine-time All-Star guard is on the verge of signing a one-year free agent deal with the Heat, a move that could be formally announced as early as Thursday. Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin, said he will be in Miami on Thursday to continue his ongoing dialogue with Heat president Pat Riley and other team officials.

Sonics re-sign Radmanovic (AP)
Vladimir Radmanovic signed a one-year qualifying offer to stay with the SuperSonics, the team announced Wednesday. General manager Rick Sund called the reserve forward ``a multi-positional player who can shoot the 3, and he's a good fit with our team.'' Radmanovic, 24, has played four seasons in the NBA, and averaged 11.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 63 games for the Sonics last year.

Serbia-Montenegro coach quits after loss (AP)
By the time the Serbia-Montenegro basketball coach resigned, the feeling among his players had grown so bitter that they could no longer look at each other. Failing to defend their European Championship title -- and the locker room scuffle that followed -- was the breaking point. Zeljko Obradovic stepped down Wednesday, saying that to stay on as coach ``would lead me straight to a madhouse.

Blazers sign G Blake to offer sheet (AP)
The Portland Trail Blazers signed restricted free agent guard Steve Blake to an offer sheet on Monday. Blake, 25, has spent the last two seasons with the Washington Wizards, who have until Sept. 28 to match the Trail Blazers' offer. The 6-foot-3 Blake, a member of Maryland's 2002 NCAA championship team, averaged 4.3 points in 44 games last season.

NBA unveils team affiliations for NBADL (AP)
C.J. Miles learned Monday that Albuquerque, N.M., may be his detour destination if the road to the Utah Jazz includes a stint in the minor leagues. Announcing the affiliations NBA teams will have with the eight clubs in the National Basketball Association Development League, league officials unveiled some of the details of the new program that allows teams to assign first- and second-year players...

Heat re-sign Shandon Anderson (AP)
The Miami Heat re-signed free agent swingman Shandon Anderson on Monday. Anderson, who originally signed with the Heat on Nov. 14, averaged 3.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 65 games with Miami and New York last season. For his nine-year NBA career, the defense-minded Anderson has averaged 7.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

Crosby has assist in NHL debut (AP)
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh's celebrated top draft pick, had an assist in his NHL exhibition debut, but it wasn't enough for the Penguins in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Zdenek Blatny scored the game-winner on the power play, blasting a shot between the pads of Jocelyn Thibault 4:02 into the extra session.

Coyotes lose in Gretzky's debut (AP)
The Phoenix Coyotes' play under coach Wayne Gretzky has been anything but stellar so far. Since it's only the preseason, The Great One isn't too concerned. Gretzky stepped behind the Phoenix bench for the first time Tuesday night, but it wasn't enough as the Coyotes lost 8-4 to the Los Angeles Kings. ``Sure we're disappointed with that beating, and there's things we've got to work on, but this is...

Red Wings' Osgood out with groin injury (AP)
The Detroit Red Wings might start the season with only one veteran goaltender. Chris Osgood, who was signed to compete with Manny Legace, could miss the exhibition season because of a groin injury. ``They tell me I'll be out two to three weeks,'' Osgood said Wednesday, two weeks before Detroit opens the season against St.

Canucks re-sign Cooke to three-year deal (AP)
The Vancouver Canucks re-signed winger Matt Cooke to a three-year, $4.6 million contract Wednesday. Cooke played in only 53 games in 2003-04 because of injuries, scoring 11 goals with 12 assists. But he was promoted to the top line after Todd Bertuzzi was suspended for his March 8 attack on Colorado's Steve Moore and led the Canucks in playoff scoring with three goals and an assist.

Red Wings expect Datsyuk to re-sign (AP)
The Detroit Red Wings expect restricted free agent center Pavel Datsyuk to re-sign with the club this weekend, general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday. Datsyuk and his agent, Gary Greenstin, have been negotiating since before the NHL lockout began on Sept. 16, 2004. Holland said Greenstin told him Monday, ``We have a deal.'' Holland said he spoke Tuesday with the 27-year-old Russian.

Avs' Hejduk to miss start of season (AP)
Colorado Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk will miss the start of the season after undergoing surgery on his right knee. ``The procedure went really well and a full recovery is expected,'' Colorado trainer Matt Sokolowski said Tuesday. Hejduk will be out for at least four weeks, the team said. The NHL season begins Oct.

Islanders come up short vs. Flyers (AP)
Branko Radivojevic scored 5:57 into the third period to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in an exhibition game Wednesday night. The teams were called for a total of 28 penalties, 12 in the first period and six of those were for hooking as players continued to struggle with the NHL's new rules.

Trading Paint: Anger management
Readers are fired up about Tony Stewart and his NASCAR pals being, well, fired up.

Stewart, Biffle crash in Charlotte test (AP)
Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle crashed Wednesday night during a test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the second round of accidents for the championship contenders.

Gordon's helmet pulled off eBay after bids exceed $10 million (AP)
The helmet that Robby Gordon threw at Michael Waltrip was temporarily pulled off the online auction site eBay on Wednesday after bidding exceeded $10 million.

Stewart wrecks during Charlotte test, drivers complain about track surface (AP)
NASCAR points leader Tony Stewart crashed during a test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Tuesday, raising serious questions about the track surface.

Jarrett gets Parrott back as crew chief (AP)
After failing to qualify either Elliott Sadler or Dale Jarrett for NASCAR's playoffs, Robert Yates Racing shook the teams up Tuesday and sent crew chief Todd Parrott back to work with Jarrett.

Robert Yates Racing makes personnel changes (SportsTicker)
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker) - With neither of their two cars qualifying for the "Chase for the Championship," Robert Yates Racing decided to try something new.

Gordon auctioning off helmet for Katrina fund (AP)
Robby Gordon is auctioning off the helmet he threw at Michael Waltrip, with all proceeds going to a relief fund for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Robby Gordon among those fined by NASCAR (SportsTicker)
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) - Robby Gordon's helmet-throwing incident proved costly.

Gordon, Kahne avoid suspension, only fined for New Hampshire outbursts (AP)
Robby Gordon and Kasey Kahne avoided suspensions Monday when NASCAR penalized them for road-rage incidents in New Hampshire.

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