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Cantu Leads Mexico Into 2nd Round (AP)
Mexico's Jorge Cantu rounds the bases as Canada's starter Jeff Francis, right, kicks the mound during the second inning of their Round 1 World Baseball Classic game Thursday, March 9, 2006, at Chase Field in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)AP - Jorge Cantu homered and drove in three runs and Esteban Loaiza allowed a run in five-plus innings Thursday night as Mexico defeated Canada 9-1 to leave the U.S. team a win away from reaching the second round.


Syracuse Stuns No. 1 UConn in Big East (AP)
Syracuse's  Gerry McNamara, right, celebrates a with Terrence Roberts during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Championship against Connecticut. Thursday, March 9, 2006 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Syracuse defeated top-ranked Connecticut 86-84 in overtime.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)AP - Gerry McNamara waited one day to one-up himself. The senior guard hit a 3-pointer with less than a second to play to give Syracuse a win over Cincinnati in the opening round of the Big East tournament.


Barry Hears Boos; Sheets Feels Side Ache (AP)
Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Ben Sheets is pulled in the first inning after getting only one out and facing seven Oakland Athletics batters during a baseball spring training game Thursday, March 9, 2006, in Phoenix. Sheets left the game with irritation in a muscle in his right side. The irritation is in the same area that led to a season-ending injury last Aug. 26. He will see the team doctor Saturday. (AP Photo/Will Powers)AP - Boos coming his way from all directions when he stepped into the batter's box for the first time, Barry Bonds played his first spring training game in two years and went 1-for-2 in the San Francisco Giants' 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.


Bonds Strikes Out in First Spring At-Bat (AP)
San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds strikes out in the first inning against Los Angeles Angels pitcher Hector Carrasco during a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 9, 2006, in Tempe, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Khampha Bouaphanh)AP - If the latest round of steroids accusations is bothering Barry Bonds, he's not letting on to it. Boos coming his way from all directions, Bonds slowly stepped into the batter's box for his first spring training appearance in two years and struck out swinging on six pitches.


Busiest Deadline Day in NHL History Ends (AP)
These are 2005 NHL handout photos of players involved in trades on Thursday, March 9, 2006, the NHL trading deadline day. Top row (left to right) Sean O'Donnell, Denis Gauthier, Mika Noronen, Todd Simpson and Jeff Friesen. Bottom row: (left to right) Sean Brown, Mark Recchi, Keith Carney, Jamie Rivers and Brad Lukowich.  (AP Photo/NHL, HO)AP - If the NHL wanted to cut down deadline dealing, it didn't work. With goaltenders and defensemen drawing the most attention, 25 trades involving 40 players were completed Thursday before the league cutoff. It didn't matter that clubs faced their first deadline in the salary cap era or that the end of trading was moved up two weeks to keep teams from giving up hope on the playoffs.


Column: Players Win This Round of Talks (AP)
Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson is surrounded by reporters after leaving the NFL owners meeting Wednesday, March 8, 2006, at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. Labor peace was restored to the NFL when the owners agreed to the players' union proposal Wednesday, extending the collective bargaining agreement for six years. (AP Photo/D.J. Peters)AP - During a low point of the marathon NFL owners' meetings, the labor-deal deadlock looked so hopeless that one owner suggested they needed help from beyond.


Nuggets Win 3rd Straight, Beat 76ers (AP)
Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony (15) is guarded by Philadelphia 76ers' Andre Iguodala (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 9, 2006, in Philadelphia. Anthony had 29 points as the Nuggets won 97-93. (AP Photo/George Widman)AP - Carmelo Anthony made up for a slow start with an excellent finish. Anthony scored 29 points, including the go-ahead basket with 18.9 seconds left, and Ruben Patterson added 20 to lead the Denver Nuggets to their third straight win, 97-93 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.


World Baseball Classic gets thumbs up from MLB (Reuters)
Reuters - The inaugural World Baseball Classic is receiving an exuberant thumbs up from Major League Baseball, citing fan response, player attitudes and the overall quality of play.

Los Angeles Galaxy President, GM Dies (AP)
AP - Doug Hamilton, president and general manager of the defending MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy, died Thursday after an apparent heart attack while flying back from the team's CONCACAF Champions Cup match in Costa Rica.

Roy's Hat Trick Leads Sabres to Victory (AP)
Buffalo Sabres' Toni Lydman (5), of Finland, defends on a shot as Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan Craig (34) is checked to the ice in front of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller during the second period of the NHL hockey game at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, March 9, 2006. (AP Photo/David Duprey)AP - Derek Roy has no complaints about his offensive production now.


NFL's hot commodities
Free agency will be a seller's market, with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback being the best buy.

NFL owners approve new labor deal (AP)
At the end, even the NFL's maverick owners decided that labor peace was better than the uncertainty of working without a salary cap. They didn't especially like doing it, though, after two days of meetings that sometimes got quite contentious. "No one hit anyone," Oakland's Al Davis said after the owners finally agreed Wednesday to accept a deal that will add close to a billion dollars to the...

Patriots cut McGinest in salary cap move (AP)
The New England Patriots released linebacker Willie McGinest in a salary cap move, ending a 12-year relationship with the NFL's all-time postseason sack leader. The release of the two-time Pro Bowler was announced Thursday, the day after the NFL owners voted 30-2 at their meeting in Grapevine, Texas, to extend the collective bargaining agreement with the players for six more years, resulting in a...

Culpepper asks to be traded or released (AP)
Daunte Culpepper wants out of Minnesota. Culpepper's shaky relationship with the Vikings deteriorated further on Wednesday when the quarterback said he wants to be released if the team fails to trade him. "If a trade does not happen then I am asking the Vikings to terminate my contract as soon as possible," Culpepper said in an e-mail to reporters.

Bengals prez unhappy with labor deal (AP)
Bengals president Mike Brown, one of two NFL owners to vote against the new labor agreement, thinks the deal is bad for his small-market team. The Bengals and Buffalo Bills were the only teams to oppose the deal approved Wednesday. Buffalo's Ralph Wilson said owners weren't given enough time to understand the deal.

Eagles bring back LB Shawn Barber (AP)
Since Shawn Barber left Philadelphia three years ago, the Eagles have tried three players at weakside linebacker. Now they're going back to Barber. Less than a week after Kansas City cut him for financial reasons, the 31-year-old Barber signed a one-year deal with the Eagles on Wednesday. Terms of the contract weren't immediately known.

Texans, OL McKinney agree to extension (AP)
Veteran offensive lineman Steve McKinney agreed to a contract extension with the Houston Texans on Wednesday. McKinney, who has been with the team since its inception, played center for most of last season but will move to left guard in 2006. He started three games at that position last season but moved back to center because of injuries to other players.

Alexander signs $62M deal with Seahawks (AP)
The criticism followed Shaun Alexander. He didn't run hard between the tackles. He avoided hits. He wouldn't block blitzing linebackers or catch passes out of the backfield. Seahawks president Tim Ruskell heard it all, but never let it influence his opinion of the Pro Bowl running back. Ruskell wanted to see Alexander for himself during the 2005 season and determine his future value to the Seahawks.

High-rising Sun
No player in the NBA has raised his game as much as Phoenix's do-it-all forward Boris Diaw.

Anthony powers Nuggets past 76ers (AP)
Carmelo Anthony made up for a slow start with an excellent finish. Anthony scored 29 points, including the go-ahead basket with 18.9 seconds left, and Ruben Patterson added 20 to lead the Denver Nuggets to their third straight win, 97-93 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. "My team needed me out there to get some things done," Anthony said.

Suns G Nash misses game with injury (AP)
The Phoenix Suns were without Steve Nash and his backup Leandro Barbosa for Thursday night's game against the San Antonio Spurs. Nash, who had not missed a game all season, sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of Monday night's contest against New Orleans in Oklahoma City. The Suns rallied without Nash to beat the Hornets 101-88 for their 11th consecutive victory.

Kobe spoils Hornets' homecoming (AP)
They came in talking about Katrina. They left talking about Kobe. Kobe Bryant scored 18 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets 113-107 Wednesday night, disappointing the standing room crowd that put aside its Hurricane Katrina problems for a night of cheering on its team.

Wade scores 40 in return, Heat win again (AP)
There was no way Dwyane Wade was going to miss a game against the Washington Wizards. Wade returned to score 40 points and lead the Miami Heat to their 10th straight win, a 118-112 victory over the Wizards on Wednesday night. Wade, who missed the previous two games with a sprained right wrist, has scored 115 points in three games this season against Washington.

Pistons outrun Bulls in wild 4th quarter (AP)
The Detroit Pistons' usual defense didn't arrive until the final 20 seconds Wednesday night. That was all they needed. At the end of one of the highest-scoring quarters in recent Pistons history, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace made key defensive plays to help Detroit pick up a 106-101 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Cavs win on Damon Jones' 3 at buzzer (AP)
If Damon Jones was distracted by a possible sexual offense charge against him, he sure didn't show it. Jones made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Cleveland Cavaliers their fourth straight victory, 98-97 over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Morris Peterson had given Toronto the lead with a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left, but a double-teamed LeBron James found a wide-open...

Yao scores 38 as Rockets top Pacers (AP)
Yao Ming peeled off his shoes and socks and dunked his bare feet into a bucket of ice water with a groan after the Houston Rockets' 103-99 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. Bruised and exhausted, Yao managed to smile as he talked about his best performance of the season. Yao scored a season-high 38 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked five shots as the Rockets rallied from 17...

Jazz owner reassures Sloan job is safe (AP)
Jerry Sloan was reassured Wednesday that his 18-year run as coach of the Utah Jazz is not in jeopardy. Sloan met with Jazz owner Larry Miller about a rumor that Miller had threatened to fire his longtime coach. The rumor was spurred by an outraged Miller walking across the court to talk to two of his team executives two days before, when the Jazz blew a 20-point lead against the Orlando Magic, and...

Kings' 123 points tie season high in win (AP)
The Sacramento Kings have won with defense since Ron Artest joined the team in late January. They showed they still have plenty of offensive firepower Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. Mike Bibby scored 36 points, and the Kings tied their season high for points in a 123-116 victory over the struggling Bucks.

Power rankings
Who has time to bemoan North America's failures in Turin when so many NHL teams are in the playoff hunt?

Hurricanes acquire Recchi from Penguins (AP)
The Carolina Hurricanes added another important offensive piece Thursday, acquiring veteran forward Mark Recchi from Pittsburgh less than an hour before the NHL's trade deadline. Recchi gives the NHL's top team a replacement for injured forward Erik Cole, who will miss the rest of the regular season after fracturing a vertebra in his neck less than a week ago against the Penguins.

Canadiens' Huet shuts out Bruins again (AP)
The Montreal Canadiens solidified their hold on the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. The Boston Bruins just kept sliding down the standings. Cristobal Huet made 28 saves for his second consecutive shutout over Boston and his fourth of the season, beating the undermanned Bruins 3-0 on Thursday night.

Avs lose top scorer Svatos for season (AP)
Colorado Avalanche rookie Marek Svatos will miss the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury. Svatos, who leads the team with 32 goals, was injured during last weekend's 5-3 loss at Dallas. The Avalanche announced Thursday that he will need several months to recover. "Marek sustained a fracture in his right shoulder, which was discovered during an MRI.

Rangers acquire D Ozolinsh from Ducks (AP)
The Rangers acquired defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Thursday for a third-round pick obtained a day earlier in a separate trade. Ozolinsh has two goals -- both game-winners -- in four games since rejoining the Ducks following a six-week stint in the NHL's substance abuse program.

Roy's hat trick gets Sabres by Tampa (AP)
Derek Roy has no complaints about his offensive production now. Roy recorded his second-career hat trick -- and second in four games -- J.P. Dumont had two goals, and Thomas Vanek snapped a third-period tie to help the Buffalo Sabres to a 8-5 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. Roy, who began the season in the minors and had just seven goals in his first 44 games with the Sabres, has...

Bruins trade F Samsonov to Oilers (AP)
Sergei Samsonov and Joe Thornton came to Boston separated by seven draft picks and left three months apart. The Bruins sent Samsonov to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, trading the former first-round pick in a push for the playoffs just 36 games after shipping Thornton out of town. Boston will get centers Marty Reasoner and Yan Stastny and a second-round pick in this year's draft.

Zetterberg scores twice, Wings top Kings (AP)
Henrik Zetterberg said he wanted to shoot the puck more this season. So far, the strategy has worked. His 30th and 31st goals less than a minute apart in the second period sent the Detroit Red Wings to a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Nicklas Lidstrom added a goal and three assists, Tomas Holmstrom had a goal and two assists, and Jason Williams and Robert Lang had a goal and...

Panthers extend Jokinen, Gratton deals (AP)
Rather than deal away team captain Olli Jokinen, the Florida Panthers signed him to a new contract. Hours before the NHL trading deadline, the Panthers' center agreed to a four-year deal worth $21 million. Jokinen -- who helped lead Finland to a silver medal at the Turin Olympics -- and Panthers goalkeeper Roberto Luongo had been the subject of trade rumors.

Sabres trade G Noronen to Canucks (AP)
Mika Noronen got his wish to escape the Buffalo Sabres' goaltender glut, and was traded Thursday to the Vancouver Canucks, a team in need of an experienced backup. In exchange, the Sabres received a second-round pick in the deal announced hours before the NHL's trade deadline. Noronen became the odd-man out behind starter Ryan Miller and backup Martin Biron and has played in only four games with...

Trading Paint: Location, location, location
NASCAR fans generally are in favor of Charlotte, but they still aren't keen on California.

NASCAR Hall of Fame deal all about the branding (AP)
In a sport famous for slapping sponsor names on every available inch of sheet metal and fire-retardant racing...

Who will be the first to enter NASCAR's new Hall of Fame? (AP)
Now that we know where NASCAR's much-ballyhooed Hall of Fame is going to be built, the bigger question remains:...

Move from open wheel to Busch Series tough for Jourdain (AP)
MEXICO CITY – Little has gone right since Michel Jourdain Jr. left a successful open-wheel career to join...

Notes: Gordon gets waxed (AP)
Madame Tussauds was set to unveil a life-size wax statue of four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon this week,...

Bristol puts off resurfacing to 2007 (AP)
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Resurfacing of the half-mile track at Bristol Motor Speedway will be put off until 2007 so...

Hall of Fame Racing appeal denied (AP)
Penalties levied by NASCAR against the new Hall of Fame Racing team for using an unapproved carburetor modification during qualifying for the Daytona 500 have been unanimously upheld.

Charlotte wins race for NASCAR Hall of Fame (AP)
NASCAR's first Hall of Fame will be built in downtown Charlotte, within miles of the garages and sprawling mansions that make the region an epicenter of the sport.

In the Pits: What to do about 'Buschwackers'? (AP)
When Denny Hamlin crossed the finish line in Mexico City, he won a Busch Series race for the first time.

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