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Top 3 teams in NL wild-card race lose (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_ba_ga_su/bbn_nl_rdp"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060812/capt.798271dc791946749c156f0ceecccf9c.reds_phillies_baseball_pamk106.jpg?x=130&y=89&sig=7d7fiac9Leuvp_ulD56fYg--" align="left" height="89" width="130" alt="Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Rowand follows through with a game-winning RBI single against the Cincinnati Reds in the 14th inning of their baseball game Friday, August 11, 2006, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won, 6-5. (AP Photo/Miles Kennedy)" border="0" /></a>AP - Cincinnati had a chance to widen its lead in the National League wild-card race and couldn't do it. Arizona and San Diego each had an opportunity to catch the Reds and fell short.</p><br clear="all"/>

Contreras' stellar start helps White Sox (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_ba_ga_su/bba_al_rdp"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060812/capt.baeeb643013040e5a9002803fadc896f.tigers_white_sox_baseball_cxs105.jpg?x=126&y=130&sig=ITKPrQ8UpcYjEETjzWBOVQ--" align="left" height="130" width="126" alt="Chicago White Sox starter Jose Contreras pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on Friday, Aug. 11, 2006, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)" border="0" /></a>AP - The Chicago White Sox are going to need Jose Contreras to pitch like the ace he was last season if they want to have a chance to catch Detroit. Contreras pitched a three-hitter for his first major league shutout, beating the team with the best record in baseball Friday night as the White Sox defeated rookie Justin Verlander and the Tigers 5-0.</p><br clear="all"/>

Greg Biffle crashes at Watkins Glen (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_au_ra_ne/car_nascar_watkins_glen"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060810/capt.3860b5b2833041878556e0e8190c093e.nascar_watkins_glen_auto_racing_ny158.jpg?x=80&y=130&sig=HE9.baFzJosFRZ1XLT3A9A--" align="left" height="130" width="80" alt="Greg Biffle climbs out of his car after winning the pole for the NASCAR Crown Royal 400 race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., in this May 5, 2006 file photo. Time is running out in the race to make NASCAR's Chase for the Championship, and Greg Biffle is feeling the squeeze as much as anybody. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)" border="0" /></a>AP - With only five races remaining before the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship begins, Greg Biffle can't afford many mistakes if he hopes to get in the competition. However, he made a big one Friday. After being one of the fastest cars in practice on the road course at Watkins Glen, Biffle crashed during qualifying and will have to start at the rear of the field for Sunday's AMD at The Glen.</p><br clear="all"/>

Kane in contention at Women's Open (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_go_su/glf_lpga_tour"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060810/capt.56c3fce2061b4c9ca2c252223b6917ed.canada_lpga_tour_cplh115.jpg?x=79&y=130&sig=4LdMcdSKsce3UTKPby1fWw--" align="left" height="130" width="79" alt="Angela Stanford, of the United States, smiles after sinking a putt on the 13th hole during the first round of the Canadian Women's Open golf tournament in London, Ontario, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006. (AP Photo/Aaron Harris)" border="0" /></a>AP - Lorie Kane's name is all over the place at the Canadian Women's Open. It's on posters, programs and seemingly every autographable item from hats to flags to scraps of paper. Most importantly, it's on the leaderboard.</p><br clear="all"/>

Obscure Falcons kicker overshadows stars (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_nfl_rdp"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060812/capt.13f6231c349d474abb74186a625bb4cb.patriots_falcons_football_garc111.jpg?x=98&y=130&sig=vVyWctZJ3_LmQBCAcV5JKA--" align="left" height="130" width="98" alt="Atlanta Falcons kicker Michael Koenen hits the game-winning field goal as time expired against the New England Patriots, for a 26-23 win in an NFL exhibition football game Friday, Aug. 11, 2006, in Atlanta. Holding on the play is Matt Schaub. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)" border="0" /></a>AP - Michael Koenen, barely known outside of Atlanta despite being a regular punter and kickoff specialist last season, grabbed the spotlight on the first busy night of the NFL preseason.</p><br clear="all"/>

McNair produces TD in 1st Ravens game (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_fo_ga_su/fbn_giants_ravens"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060812/capt.61bb46dcc5c34995a9547003b02b4502.giants_ravens_football_baf103.jpg?x=130&y=95&sig=IUgNt9ai8Sn15sn2SxUjng--" align="left" height="95" width="130" alt="Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair rushes the ball toward the end zone to score a touchdown during the first quarter of their pre-season football game Friday, Aug. 11, 2006, in Baltimore.(AP Photo/Chris Gardner)" border="0" /></a>AP - The first quarter belonged to Steve McNair, who produced a touchdown on his first series with the Baltimore Ravens before sitting out the rest of the game.</p><br clear="all"/>

NBA Nets release Bosnian guard Planinic (AFP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060811/sp_afp/basketnbanets"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20060811/capt.sge.dvm97.110806195555.photo00.photo.default-345x512.jpg?x=87&y=130&sig=DhQlR2BkeS0Pwv04k1YmmQ--" align="left" height="130" width="87" alt="Zoran Planinic, a Bosnian guard who was a first-round pick in the 2003 National Basketball Association Draft, seen here in action in November 2005, was released by the New Jersey Nets.(AFP/Getty Images/File)" border="0" /></a>AFP - Zoran Planinic, a Bosnian guard who was a first-round pick in the 2003 National Basketball Association Draft, was released by the New Jersey Nets.</p><br clear="all"/>

Hendrickson helps Dodgers defeat Giants (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_ba_ga_su/bbn_giants_dodgers"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060812/capt.ac5b7057f1474352b79626c445259686.giants_dodgers_baseball_lad103.jpg?x=95&y=130&sig=EasVazZ0eGjavhZqFoxH0Q--" align="left" height="130" width="95" alt="Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Mark Hendrickson throws against San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles on Friday, Aug. 11, 2006. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)" border="0" /></a>AP - Mark Hendrickson pitched seven strong innings, Julio Lugo provided the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2 Friday night for their 13th victory in 14 games.</p><br clear="all"/>

Beckham dropped from England team (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060812/ap_on_sp_so_ne/soc_england_beckham"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20060811/capt.ee4f1abf6ac74862a22901a27bb26445.real_madrid_soccer_slcu101.jpg?x=86&y=130&sig=hxcGsR1FZO3ChKA44YZHGw--" align="left" height="130" width="86" alt="Real Madrid David Beckham takes the ball down field during soccer practice Friday, Aug. 11, 2006, in Salt Lake City. Madrid plays Real Salt Lake on Saturday (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)" border="0" /></a>AP - England may never again rely on David Beckham's bending free kicks. Coach Steve McClaren on Friday left him off the squad that will face European champion Greece on Wednesday in an exhibition game.</p><br clear="all"/>

Free-agent Sykora signs with Oilers (AP)
AP - The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Petr Sykora to a one-year contract on Friday.

Not-so Mr. Irrelevant
He could be the last man to make his 53-man roster. But to NFL coaches, he's just as valuable as the franchise quarterback.

McNair leads TD drive in Ravens debut (AP)
The first quarter belonged to Steve McNair, who produced a touchdown on his first series with the Baltimore Ravens before sitting out the rest of the game. McNair didn't get a win to savor, however, because the New York Giants dominated the fourth quarter and rallied for a 17-16 victory Friday night.

Jets QB Pennington sharp in loss to Bucs (AP)
Even if Eric Mangini isn't ready to say it, Chad Pennington looks like a quarterback ready to reclaim his job. Playing for the first time since undergoing a second major operation on his right shoulder, Pennington worked two series in the New York Jets' 16-3 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night.

Marinelli wins coaching debut with Lions (AP)
Rod Marinelli remembers scurrying along the sideline before the national anthem, making sure the Lions were standing and holding their helmets properly. Before Marinelli knew it, his debut as a head coach at any level was over. Each of the Lions' quarterbacks -- Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky and Josh McCown -- led scoring drives and Detroit's defense caused three turnovers in a 20-13 win over the Denver...

K Koenen lifts Falcons by Patriots (AP)
The Atlanta Falcons have been looking far and wide for a young kicker who won't count too much against the salary cap. They may have found him -- and he's already on the payroll. Michael Koenen, who handled the punting and kickoff duties as a rookie last season, appears ready to take on another job after booting four long field goals Friday night, including a 40-yarder as time ran out for a 26-23...

Alex Smith leads 49ers past Bears (AP)
Frank Gore can see it in his quarterback's eyes. Alex Smith is ready to lead the San Francisco 49ers. Brian Griese seems just as ready to lead the Chicago Bears -- and that might be bad news for Rex Grossman. Smith passed for 137 yards and led the 49ers to a big early lead in their 28-14 exhibition victory over the Bears on Friday night.

Bush, Young featured in Saints-Titans (AP)
Sorry Sean Payton. Your head coaching debut with the New Orleans Saints will be a little overshadowed by a Southern California/Rose Bowl mini-reunion featuring Reggie Bush, LenDale White and Vince Young. Thanks to the preseason schedule, two of the first three picks in the April draft are making their own NFL debuts Saturday night when Bush and the Saints play their exhibition opener against Young...

DE Williams ready for debut with Texans (AP)
Mario Williams professes to not pay attention to the media hype surrounding him since the Houston Texans made him the first pick in the draft. Newspaper articles? "I don't read the newspaper," he said. Television and radio reports? "I don't watch TV and I don't listen to the radio." But despite his aversion to virtually all media, the defensive end knows that all eyes will be on him on Saturday in...

Roethlisberger to start preseason opener (AP)
The Super Bowl champs will have their star quarterback and the Arizona Cardinals will be without their big-name rookie for their preseason opener Saturday. Amid the fanfare of the grand opening of Cardinals Stadium, Ben Roethlisberger will be at the controls of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, two months after sustaining serious head and facial injuries in a motorcycle crash.

QB Culpepper to play in preseason opener (AP)
Daunte Culpepper has received medical clearance to take a hit -- or dish one out. The Miami Dolphins plan to play their new, surgically repaired quarterback in Saturday's exhibition opener against Jacksonville, coach Nick Saban said Thursday. Culpepper will be exposed to contact for the first time since a knee injury ended his 2005 season with the Minnesota Vikings last October.

The status woe
Sticking with the current roster wasn't part of the plan for the Celtics, 76ers and Warriors.

Nowitzki, Germany spoil Yao's return (AP)
Yao Ming returned after a four-month layoff from a foot injury, revitalizing China in an 82-73 loss to Dirk Nowitzki and Germany on Friday in a warmup game leading to the world championships. Yao scored 11 points but was no match for Nowitzki, who gave the Houston Rockets center a playful slap on the chest at the start.

Report: Isiah denies harassing team exec (AP)
Knicks coach Isiah Thomas has filed court papers denying he sexually harassed a former team executive, the New York Daily News reported Thursday. In the 12-page court document filed Wednesday, Thomas acknowledged he once touched Anucha Browne Sanders' shoulder, and may have even tried to kiss her on the cheek.

Bucks send Smith to Denver for Patterson (AP)
The Milwaukee Bucks acquired guard-forward Ruben Patterson on Thursday from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for veteran forward Joe Smith in a move to bolster the benches for each team. Bucks general manager Larry Harris said his first phone call was to the Nuggets after instructing his staff last week to scour other teams' rosters for a backup small forward.

Anthony practices with U.S. team (AP)
Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony took part in a 2-hour practice Thursday, two days after hyperextending his knee while playing for the U.S. national team in China. Anthony, the leading scorer for the U.S. after three exhibition games, practiced after injuring his knee Tuesday night in the 90-86 win against Brazil.

Nets to re-sign Clifford Robinson (AP)
Clifford Robinson will play again for the New Jersey Nets. The troubled forward, suspended during last season's playoffs for violating the NBA's drug policy, has reached an agreement with the Nets and passed his physical, team president Rod Thorn said Friday. Robinson, a key backup for Richard Jefferson and Jason Collins, turns 40 in December.

U.S. adjusting to international play (AP)
United States coach Mike Krzyzewski sees signs that his team is adjusting to international play as it prepares for the world championships. The U.S. team arrived Friday in Seoul, where it will play two tuneup matches against Lithuania and South Korea before heading to Sapporo, Japan, for its first game of the world championships on Aug.

'Other' Eddie Johnson speaks out (AP)
Eddie Johnson is still getting over what he calls the worst day of his life. He scratched his way out of the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago, fashioned a long and successful NBA career, turned that into an opportunity on TV and built a reputation as an all-around good guy who loves to work with kids.

Oilers sign F Sykora to one-year deal (AP)
The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Petr Sykora to a one-year contract on Friday. Sykora scored 23 goals and had 28 assists last season with Anaheim and the New York Rangers. It was the seventh consecutive NHL season that he scored 20 or more goals, but he was held without a point in four postseason games when the Rangers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the New Jersey Devils.

Former Flyers captain Desjardins retires (AP)
Eric Desjardins broke down before saying a word. Retirement was more difficult than the former Philadelphia Flyers captain had imagined. Desjardins, the second-highest scoring defenseman in Flyers history, called it quits Thursday, ending a 17-year career that included a Stanley Cup and an Olympic appearance.

Bruins president Sinden resigns (AP)
He was coach when Bobby Orr made his celebratory flop during the Bruins' 1970 championship, the general manager who brought Hall of Famers such as Ray Bourque to Boston and president as the team slipped into mediocrity over the past decade. On Wednesday, Harry Sinden became the latest figure in the team's offseason shake-up.

Hurricanes face Sabres on opening night (AP)
The Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes will play the Buffalo Sabres as part of an Oct. 4 opening night doubleheader on the channel formerly know as OLN. The Dallas Stars face off against the Colorado Avalanche in the second game on Versus, the NHL announced Wednesday. The NHL All-Star festivities on Jan.

Former Ducks C Green returns to Anaheim (AP)
The Anaheim Ducks signed center Travis Green to a one-year contract on Thursday. The 14-year NHL veteran, who was with the Ducks in the late 1990s, played in 82 games for Boston last season, one of only two Bruins who did not miss a game. He had 10 goals and 12 assists. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder came to the Ducks in February of 1998 and was with them for the entire 1998-99 season.

Sharks re-sign Rissmiller, add D Biron (AP)
The San Jose Sharks re-signed left wing Patrick Rissmiller and added free-agent defenseman Mathieu Biron on Wednesday. Rissmiller, a restricted free agent who got a two-year contract, will make $520,000 next year. He was a solid late-season addition to San Jose's lineup last spring, getting three goals and three assists in 18 regular-season games before appearing in all 11 playoff games.

Sabres walk away from Dumont award (AP)
The Buffalo Sabres rejected forward J.P. Dumont's one-year, $2.9 million salary arbitration award on Tuesday, allowing the seven-year veteran to become an unrestricted free agent. The team exercised its "walkaway" option, as allowed under NHL rules, in an attempt to keep its payroll in line. Dumont's salary, set in arbitration last week, represented a $1.3 million raise over what he made last...

Trading Paint: Chasing Tiger
Jimmie Johnson is not Tiger Woods, and struggling stars shouldn't make the Chase &ndash; according to NASCAR fans.

Greg Biffle falters in qualifying at Watkins Glen (AP)
With only five races remaining before the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship begins, Greg Biffle can't afford many mistakes if he hopes to get in the competition.

Junior can be a tough boss, too (AP)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in a dogfight to make the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship. He's also a car owner, and he can be a tough boss when he has to.

Kurt Busch captures pole for NASCAR AMD at the Glen (SportsTicker)


Loeb leads German Rally in pouring rain (AP)
Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb took the lead in rainy conditions after the first day of the German Rally. Loeb covered the first eight of 19 stages over 315 miles in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 35 seconds. Teammate Daniel Sordo finished second, 42.7 seconds back, and Toni Gardemeister completed a Citroen sweep.

Mayfield fired by Evernham Motorsports (SportsTicker)
WATKINS GLEN, New York (Ticker) - Evernham Motorsports officially fired Jeremy Mayfield on Friday.

Mayfield looking for a new ride (AP)
Jeremy Mayfield is looking for a new ride.

McFarland released from No. 88 Chevrolet team (SportsTicker)
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker) - JR Motorsports announced on Thursday that NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex will replace Mark McFarland in the No. 88 Chevrolet for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Watkins Glen.

Notes: Newman donates $10,000 to conservation group (AP)
NASCAR driver and noted outdoorsman Ryan Newman has given a $10,000 grant to a conservation organization.

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