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Update October, 2019


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Packers get the calls, Crosby hits late FG to beat Lions

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers drops back to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

By Keith Jenkins

Green Bay, Wis. (AP) — It took Mason Crosby 13 seasons to perform his first Lambeau Leap.

The 35-year-old kicker nailed a 23-yard field goal as time expired and jumped into the crowd with a boost from long snapper Hunter Bradley after he finished off a rally for the Green Bay Packers, who benefited from some questionable officiating to edge the Detroit Lions 23-22 on Monday night.

"That was fun, yeah," Crosby said of leaping into the crowd. "That feeling, once you get up in the stands, the energy in there and teammates and everyone's around, that's something I'll always remember. That was great."

Aaron Rodgers, in his second straight game without top target Davante Adams, completed 24 of 39 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns, including a beautiful 35-yard throw to Allen Lazard for the second-year pro's first career score.

"I actually sit next to him in the team meetings," Rodgers said of Lazard, who was cut by the Packers in August and then signed to the practice squad to start the season. "We've struck up a pretty good friendship.

"The thing that got me was, which you love as a quarterback, and that's when your receiver's coming back and telling you he wants the ball and what route he wants to run. ... That was him coming back in the huddle, telling me what play he wanted, and for a young guy to do that, how can you not have confidence in that?"

Rodgers linked up with Jamaal Williams for the other TD. Williams finished with 104 yards on 14 carries and four catches for 32 yards for Green Bay (5-1), which captured its first win in five tries against its NFC North rival.

The Packers, who are off to their first 3-0 start in the NFC North since 2012, might not have pulled it off if not for two fourth-quarter penalties for illegal hands to the face against Detroit's Trey Flowers, both of them on third down. The first set up Lazard's touchdown, and the second allowed Green Bay to run the clock down to 2 seconds before Crosby's game-winner. In both cases, replays showed Flowers' hands on the neck or shoulder — not the face — of a Packers lineman.

"I actually changed the position of my hand, because it was to the chest initially," Flowers said. "I was doing it all game. I didn't know that was a flag to the chest, so I changed it. And he called it again.

"I didn't think hands to the chest was a penalty. I thought hands to the face, but I had him right here in the chest. The second time I changed it. ... That's part of a move that I do. So, nah, I don't think that was a penalty."

Referee Clete Blakeman said each of the calls was made by umpire Jeff Rice, and he discussed the last one with him.

"Basically, it's for illegal use of the hands, hands-to-the-face foul," Blakeman told a pool reporter. "To be a foul, we basically need some forceful contact that's prolonged to the head and neck area of the defender.

"So, in his mind he had pinned him back, it was prolonged, and that's what created the foul."

Matt Prater was good from 26, 22, 41, 51 and 54 yards for the Lions (2-2-1), who fell to 0-2 under Matt Patricia on Monday night. Detroit lost its last Monday night game to the Jets 48-17 last year.

"We got to find a way to finish," said Kenny Golladay, who had 121 yards on five catches for Detroit. "That's a big part of it right now. Find a way to finish. We left a lot of points out there. We were in the red zone quite a bit and just coming out with field goals. That's tough, especially when you've got a guy, a quarterback on the other side that you, you've got to finish."

Matthew Stafford finished 18 of 32 for 265 yards and was sacked three times.

Kerryon Johnson scored the lone touchdown for the Lions from 1 yard out in the first quarter.

Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith each had a sack for Green Bay. Preston Smith and Kyler Fackrell combined for the other.

Rodgers was sacked once by Damon Harrison Sr. and threw an interception that bounced off the facemask of an open Derrius Shepherd near the goal line. James Coleman snagged the ball returned it 55 yards, setting up Prater's last field goal that made it 22-13.

Rodgers surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter. He's the 13th Packers player to reach the milestone.

Up next:

Lions: Host the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 20.

Packers: Host the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 20.


Isles rally past Blues in OT; Bruins' Pastrnak scores 4

Fans reach to congratulate Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) who scored four goals in an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Associated Press

Uniondale, N.Y. (AP) — Devon Toews scored at 1:13 of overtime to complete a stunning late-game comeback by the New York Islanders as they downed the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Monday.

The Blues seemed to have the game well in hand in the closing minutes before Brock Nelson put the home team on the board with his third goal of the season at 14:29 of the third. Mathew Barzal then tied the game at 19:33 off a scramble in front with Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss pulled for an extra attacker.

That set the stage for Toews' goal. Barzel and Nelson had the assists. That sent what had been a mostly silent crowd at Nassau Coliseum into a frenzy as the defending champion Blues skated off toward their locker room. Griess made 21 saves for the win.

Goals from Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko had given the Blues at 2-0 lead.

 

Bruins 4, Ducks 2

Boston (AP) — David Pastrnak scored a career-high four goals for his fifth career hat trick, leading Boston over Anaheim.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 30 shots and Brad Marchand added two assists for the Bruins, the Stanley Cup runner-up off to a 5-1 start.

Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique scored for the Ducks, and John Gibson made 19 saves. Anaheim has lost two of three after winning its first three games this season.

Pastrnak completed his hat trick with an unassisted goal off a faceoff. He stole the puck from defenseman Josh Mason and slipped a wrist shot between John Gibson's pads 2:20 into the third period to make it 3-1, prompting fans to throw hats on the ice.

The 23-year-old forward scored 2:14 later off a nice feed from Marchand.

 

Panthers 6, Devils 4

Newark, N.J. (AP) — Mackenzie Weegar scored the tying goal and set up Noel Acciari for the go-ahead tally and Florida rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat winless New Jersey.

Brett Connolly scored twice, Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dandonov also had goals as the Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 17 shots as he improved his career mark against the Devils to 17-5-1.

Pavel Zacha, Taylor Hall, Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher scored for the Devils, who fell to 0-4-2. Cory Schneider made 28 saves.

It is the Devils' worst start to a season since beginning 2013-14 with seven straight losses (0-4-3).

 

Wild 2, Senators 0

Ottawa, Ontario (AP) — Alex Stalock stopped all 26 shots he faced and Minnesota picked up its first win of the season.

Victor Rask and Zach Parise scored third-period goals for the Wild (1-4-0).

Stalock, in his first start of the season, earned his sixth career shutout.

Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots for the Senators (1-4-0), who wrapped up a four-game homestand with a 1-3-0 record.

After two scoreless periods, the Wild opened the scoring midway through the third. Rask had a great takeaway on Jean-Gabriel Pageau and then beat Anderson short-side.

Parise added an empty-net goal to seal the win.

 

Sabres 4, Stars 0

Buffalo, N.Y. (AP) — Rookie forward Victor Olofsson set an NHL record by becoming the first player to score his first seven career goals on the power play, Carter Hutton made 25 saves to earn his first shutout of the season, and Buffalo kept up its strong start.

Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and Marcus Johansson had the other goals and Jack Eichel recorded two assists for the Sabres. Olofsson also had an assist.

Buffalo has earned a point in its first six games (5-0-1) for the first time since going 6-0-2 through its first eight games of the 2008-09 season. The Sabres' 4-0 start at home is their best since 2006-07.

Dallas opened a four-game road trip with a third straight loss.

Ben Bishop stopped 18 shots for the Stars. Bishop entered the game with a 12-0-1 record and consecutive shutouts against the Sabres.

Olofsson set his record on a one-timer off Rasmus Dahlin's pass from the right circle to open the scoring 6:27 into the second period. A delay of game penalty on the Stars' bench put the Sabres on the power play.

 

Avalanche 6, Capitals 3

Washington (AP) — Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and two assists to help the Colorado improve to 5-0-0.

Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov and Matt Nieto also scored for Colorado. Nathan MacKinnon added an empty-net goal and had an assist for the Avalanche, who scored on their first three shots of the game.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 29 shots against his former team to pick up the win, and Andre Burakovsky picked up an assist in his return to Washington as a visiting player.

Colorado's start is tied for the second-longest without a loss since the team moved to Colorado and tied for their fourth-longest in franchise history.

Alex Ovechkin, Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie scored for Washington and Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists. Braden Holtby gave up the three early goals on three shots and was pulled after Kadri's goal 7:54 into the game for the earliest removal of his career. Rookie Ilya Samsonov came on and finished with 19 saves on 21 shots.

 

Blackhawks 3, Oilers 1

Chicago (AP) — Patrick Kane and Alexander Nylander scored, Corey Crawford stopped 27 shots, and Chicago got its first win of the season.

Brandon Saad added an empty-netter with 32.7 seconds left to seal the win for Chicago, which went 0-2-1 in its first three games. Crawford lost a bid for his 26th career shutout when James Neal scored his NHL-leading eighth goal on a power-play with 2:11 remaining.

Mike Smith finished with 32 saves for Edmonton, which had opened the season with five wins.

Crawford came through with big saves, thwarted Edmonton's Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — who entered as the NHL's top two scorers — on several prime chances. McDavid, who has 12 points, was kept off the scoresheet for the first time this season.


Ronaldo nets 700th career goal in Portugal's loss to Ukraine

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, fights for the ball with Ukraine's Oleksandr Zinchenko during the Euro 2020 group B qualifying soccer match between Ukraine and Portugal at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Associated Press

Kiev, Ukraine (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 700th career goal but couldn't keep Portugal from losing 2-1 to Ukraine in qualifying for the 2020 European Championship on Monday.

Ukraine qualified for Euro 2020 with the victory, its sixth in seven matches in Group B. Portugal remains in second place and will need to keep battling for its spot in the remaining rounds.

"We played more with the heart than with the head, especially after 2-1," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "We created opportunities but didn't score."

Ronaldo netted his milestone goal for club and country by converting a penalty kick in the 72nd minute, when the defending European champions already trailed by two goals. It was the seventh goal in six qualifying matches for Ronaldo, and his 95th overall with Portugal.

"The records come naturally," Ronaldo said. "I don't go after them, they come after me. I'm already thinking about tomorrow, about scoring No. 701 in my next match."

Ronaldo has also scored 450 goals for Real Madrid, 118 for Manchester United, 32 for his current club Juventus, and five for Sporting Lisbon.

"It's not an easy number to reach," Ronaldo said. "I have to thank everyone who has helped me. It's unfortunate that it came in a loss."

Roman Yaremchuk had put Ukraine ahead less than 10 minutes into the match, and Andriy Yarmolenko added to the lead near the half-hour mark. Ukraine played with 10 men after defender Taras Stepanenko was sent off with a second yellow card for the handball that led to the penalty converted by Ronaldo.

Portugal kept pressing until the end but couldn't find the equalizer. Ronaldo had a few good chances, and Danilo came close with a long-range shot that struck the crossbar in stoppage time.

"We created enough situations to win the game," Danilo said. "There are days like these, when the ball just doesn't want to go in. No need to do the math now, we just need to win the next two games to reach Euro 2020."

Portugal's last two qualifying matches are against Lithuania and at Luxembourg.

Ukraine reached 19 points, eight more than Portugal and nine more than third-place Serbia, which won 2-1 at Lithuania.

Ukraine, which would have qualified even with a draw, has lost one of its last 19 matches and has only conceded more than one goal in four of its last 29 games.

Portugal and Ukraine had drawn 0-0 in their group opener in Portugal.


Men, women to compete against each other in golf in Europe

Associated Press

London (AP) — Men and women will compete against each other next year in Sweden in a new European Tour and Ladies European Tour event hosted by Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam.

The two tours announced the Scandinavian Mixed on Monday, minus details on how the course at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm will be set up or how the 78 men and 78 women will be paired during the 72-hole event.

They will compete for one trophy, a prize of 1.5 million euros and world ranking points for both tours, along with Race to Dubai points in Europe and Order of Merit points for the LET.

The Scandinavian Mixed will be held June 11-14, one week before the U.S. Open in New York.

It will be the second time Europe has staged an event in which men and women compete for the same trophy.

The Jordan Mixed Open in April featured players from Europe's 50-and-older Staysure Tour, the developmental Challenge Tour and the Ladies European Tour. Daan Huizing of the Netherlands, who plays on the Challenge Tour, won by two shots over Meghan MacLaren of the LET.

The Challenge Tour also had an event in Northern Ireland in which men and women competed for separate trophies on the same course.

Europe has been particularly aggressive in putting men and women in the same tournament in various capacities. The ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia earlier this year had separate men's and women's competition on the same golf course.

Women were invited to play in the European Tour's Golfsixes event. Also, the European Tour and LET staged events in Morocco on the same golf resort but at different courses.

Stenson plans to compete in the event. Sorenstam, who played a PGA Tour event at Colonial in 2003, retired from competition in 2008. She plans to compete in the Wednesday pro-am.

"The European Tour has been leading the way in terms of innovative formats, and I believe this is certainly one that can be part of the way golf is played in the future," Stenson said.

Sorenstam said bringing men and women together in the same event "is exciting for fans in Sweden and for the global game as we continue to showcase golf is a game for everyone."



Watson outduels Mahomes, leads Texans past Chiefs

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller (29) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Associated Press

Kansas City, Mo. (AP) — Deshaun Watson threw for 280 yards and a touchdown while running for two more, outdueling Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes in a matchup of former first-round picks and leading the Houston Texans to a 31-24 victory over Kansas City on Sunday.

Carlos Hyde added 116 yards rushing and a touchdown against the team that traded him to Houston (4-2) before the start of the season. DeAndre Hopkins hauled in nine passes for 55 yards.

None was bigger than his last, when the Texans star made a sliding grab on fourth-and-3 from the Kansas City 27 with just under 2 minutes to go. That allowed Houston to run out the clock and deal the Chiefs (4-2) their second consecutive loss — both at Arrowhead Stadium.

Mahomes, who was selected two spots ahead of Watson in the 2017 draft, finished with 273 yards passing and three touchdowns, though he also threw his first interception of the season.

Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill returned to action for the first time since Week 1, when he broke his collarbone, to catch five passes for 80 yards and two of the Chiefs' scores.

 

Seahawks 32, Browns 28

Cleveland (AP) — Chris Carson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:30 left, Russell Wilson threw two TD passes and ran for one and Seattle rallied past mistake-prone Cleveland, improving to 3-0 on the road for the first time in 39 years.

The Seahawks (5-1) gave up touchdowns on Cleveland's first three possessions before storming back.

Wilson connected with Jaron Brown for two scores, and Seattle's cool quarterback scampered 16 yards for a TD. The Seahawks last won their first three road games in 1980, when they went 4-12.

The Browns (2-4) were hurt by their own miscues. They couldn't overcome four turnovers, a blocked punt or quarterback Baker Mayfield's hip injury and fell to 0-3 at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Mayfield threw three interceptions, raising his NFL-leading total to 11. Trying to bring the Browns back late, Mayfield, who went to the locker room in the third quarter to be evaluated, was picked off by Seattle's K.J. Wright with 2:41 remaining.

 

Steelers 24, Chargers 17

Carson, Calif. (AP) — James Conner scored two touchdowns, Devin Bush recovered a pair of turnovers and Devlin Hodges won his first NFL start as the Steelers held off the Chargers.

Conner had his first game with both a rushing and receiving touchdown and accounted for 119 scrimmage yards (41 rushing, 78 receiving).

Hodges, who was elevated into the starting spot after Mason Rudolph suffered a concussion last week against Baltimore, didn't look fazed. He completed 15 of 20 for 132 yards and benefited from a running game that helped control the clock. Benny Snell led the way with 75 yards on 17 carries for the Steelers (2-4).

Bush forced turnovers on the Chargers second and third drives. The rookie linebacker scored his first NFL touchdown when he scooped up a backward pass from Philip Rivers that Melvin Gordon was unable to handle and went 9 yards to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead. Bush got his second turnover four plays later when he intercepted a Rivers' pass that was deflected by defensive end Tyson Alualu at the line of scrimmage. That would lead to Conner's first TD.

The Chargers (2-4) trailed 24-0 after three quarters but rallied to get within seven on a Chase McLaughlin field goal and two TD passes from Rivers to Hunter Henry.

 

Saints 13, Jaguars 6

Jacksonville, Fla. (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater found Jared Cook for a 4-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and New Orleans held on to beat Jacksonville and improve to 4-0 without injured starter Drew Brees.

Coming off a 300-yard, four-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay, Bridgewater was less effective against the Jaguars (2-4). But he did enough for New Orleans' defense.

Gardner Minshew was sacked twice, hurried often and threw his first interception as a starter. The rookie sensation completed 14 of 29 passes for 163 yards and was held without a touchdown for the first time this season.

Bridgewater was 24 of 36 passing for 240 yards for the Saints (5-1).

Michael Thomas had eight receptions for 89 yards, and Alvin Kamara finished with 31 yards rushing while playing through an ankle injury.

 

49ers 20, Rams 7

Los Angeles (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 243 yards and ran for a touchdown, and San Francisco remained unbeaten with a dominant defensive performance against struggling Los Angeles.

George Kittle had eight catches for 103 yards for the Niners (5-0), who held Los Angeles' once-unstoppable offense to 157 yards in coach Kyle Shanahan's first victory over Rams coach Sean McVay in a game in which both of these NFC West rivals were playing their starters.

These longtime coaching colleagues' teams are going in opposite directions after this one-sided showdown at the Coliseum. San Francisco used its possession offense and a sturdy defense to stay alongside New England as the NFL's only unbeaten teams, while the Rams (3-3) are on their first three-game losing streak of McVay's 2˝-year tenure.

Tevin Coleman rushed for an early touchdown for San Francisco, while Garoppolo was mostly effective despite two turnovers. The Niners didn't score a touchdown in the final 27 minutes, but they're off to their fourth 5-0 start in franchise history, and their first since 1990.

 

Jets 24, Cowboys 22

East Rutherford, N.J. (AP) — Sam Darnold gave the Jets' struggling offense a huge boost by throwing two touchdown passes in his return from mononucleosis, and New York held on to beat Dallas for its first win of the season.

The Jets led 21-9 in the fourth quarter, but Dak Prescott and the top-ranked Cowboys offense stormed back — and had a chance to tie in the closing moments.

Prescott ran for a 4-yard touchdown with 43 seconds left, making it a two-point game. Going for the tie, Prescott dropped back and was quickly met by a blitzing Jamal Adams and his pass on the conversion try fell short of Jason Witten in the end zone.

The Cowboys (3-3) tried an onside kick, but Demaryius Thomas recovered for the Jets (1-4), who won for the first time under coach Adam Gase. It was the third straight loss for Dallas.

Darnold, who missed three games while recovering from mononucleosis, finished 23 of 32 for 338 yards — including a 92-yard touchdown toss to Robby Anderson and a 5-yarder to Ryan Griffin.

 

Vikings 38, Eagles 20

Minneapolis (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw to Stefon Diggs for three of his four touchdowns, racking up a season-high 333 passing yards as Minnesota ravaged Philadelphia's secondary.

Diggs scored on plays in the first half that covered 51 and 62 yards, becoming the first player since Randy Moss in 2000 to post two touchdown receptions of 50-plus yards in one game for the Vikings (4-2).

His most important catch came late in the third quarter, a double toe tap in the back of the end zone from 11 yards out that pushed the lead to 11 points after Carson Wentz and the Eagles (3-3) had pulled within 24-20 with 17 straight points.

Cousins went 22 for 29 with one sack and one interception on a deflected ball.

The Eagles have been badly missing starting cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox, and Cousins took full advantage with a first half that looked at times like passing drills against the scout team.

 

Ravens 23, Bengals 17

Baltimore (AP) — Lamar Jackson ran for a career-high 152 yards and a touchdown, threw for 236 yards and guided Baltimore past hapless Cincinnati.

Jackson carried 19 times, including three kneel-downs, and finished tantalizingly short of Michael Vick's single-game record of 173 yards rushing by a quarterback.

Jackson now has three career 100-yard rushing games, tied with Billy Kilmer for most by a quarterback in his first two seasons since 1950.

Regardless of where Jackson went, the Bengals (0-6) were usually a step behind. Jackson was also adept when throwing, going 21 for 33 without an interception.

Cincinnati jumped on top when Brandon Wilson took the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score, but Jackson responded quickly. Baltimore (4-2) finished with 497 yards of offense, and the Ravens retained sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

 

Panthers 37, Buccaneers 26

London (AP) — Christian McCaffrey scored two touchdowns and Carolina turned five interceptions by Jameis Winston into 17 points as the Panthers beat Tampa Bay.

After starting the season with two straight losses with hobbled Cam Newton at quarterback, the Panthers (4-2) have been on a roll with Kyle Allen at quarterback thanks to McCaffrey's big plays and an opportunistic defense that had a franchise record-tying seven takeaways on the day.

Both of those factors came up big on Carolina's first trip to London in front of a large contingent of Panthers fans for what was designated as a home game for the Bucs (2-4).

Winston did most of his damage after the game got out of hand late, throwing for 400 yards with a 10-yard TD pass to Cameron Brate in the fourth quarter that gave him 100 touchdown passes in his career.

 

Redskins 17, Dolphins 16

Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP) — Rookie Terry McLaurin caught two touchdown passes and Washington stopped Miami's two-point conversion attempt with 6 seconds left in a matchup between winless teams.

Adrian Peterson more than doubled his season rushing total with 118 yards for Bill Callahan in his first game as interim coach. Washington intercepted Josh Rosen twice and sacked him five times before he was benched at the start of the fourth quarter with the Dolphins trailing 17-3.

Rosen's replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick, sparked a rally and led two touchdown drives, including a 75-yard march that began with 2:02 left. But after Fitzpatrick hit DeVante Parker for an 11-yard score to cut the deficit to one point, rookie coach Brian Flores decided to go for two.

Running back Kenyan Drake dropped Fitzpatrick's quick pass with several defenders between him and the goal line.

Washington (1-5) looked like a different team after firing coach Jay Gruden, but the caliber of the opposition had something to do with that. The Dolphins (0-5) remained winless under Flores but helped their chances of securing the No. 1 draft pick in April.

 

Broncos 16, Titans 0

Denver (AP) — Denver's swarming defense sent Marcus Mariota to the bench and Tennessee to its fourth loss in five games.

The Broncos (2-4) had seven sacks in a game for the first time since their 2015 Super Bowl season and they picked off three passes.

Chris Harris Jr. and Justin Simmons intercepted Mariota, who was sacked three times and was replaced by Ryan Tannehill after Simmons' interception led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Phillip Lindsay that made it 13-0. Tannehill was sacked four times and picked off by Kareem Jackson on Tennessee's final drive, which reached the Denver 5-yard line before two offensive penalties and a sack pushed the Titans back to the 30-yard line.

Both Denver and Tennessee (2-4) were 2 of 14 on third down, leading to 17 punts.

 

Cardinals 34, Falcons 33

Glendale, Ariz. (AP) — Kyler Murray threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns and Arizona built a big lead over Atlanta, lost it, and then rallied to win.

Atlanta looked like it would tie the game with 1:53 left after Matt Ryan hit Devonta Freeman on a 12-yard touchdown pass, but 44-year-old Matt Bryant missed left on the extra point, and the Cardinals ran out the clock from there.

The Cardinals (2-3-1) took a 34-27 lead with 5:12 remaining on David Johnson's 14-yard touchdown catch from Murray. Johnson made a great adjustment to his route on the slightly underthrown ball, catching the ball between two defenders.

The Cardinals won at home for the first time since last Oct. 28.

The Falcons (1-5) have lost four straight games.


Correa HR in 11th as Astros top Yankees 3-2; ALCS tied at 1

Houston Astros' Carlos Correa celebrates with teammates after his walk-off home run against the New York Yankees during the 11th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Kristie Rieken

Houston (AP) — In a battle of the bullpens, Carlos Correa felt the greatest relief.

Injured down the stretch and slumping this month, Correa hit a leadoff home run in the 11th inning that lifted the Houston Astros over the New York Yankees 3-2 Sunday night, tying the AL Championship Series at one game apiece.

Correa, who earlier lined an RBI double and made a sensational play at shortstop, connected for an opposite-field shot to right off J.A. Happ.

"Not playing a couple of weeks before the playoffs and then not producing for or my team offensively, obviously it's tough, getting hurt and everything," the All-Star said. "But it's all worth it for moments like this, moments like this where you give your team a chance to win every day, it's worth it, man."

Hours earlier, Correa was confident this would be the day he turned things around. About time, too, after starting out 3 for 22 in the postseason after returning from back problems.

"I've got my swing back," he said then. "I'm going to hit a homer tonight."

And with a swing that kept Houston from falling into an 0-2 hole, he did just that.

"Going into that last inning I thought: 'I got this. I feel like I got this,'" Correa said. "And I had the right approach against him. I've been successful against him going the other way. And that's what I try to do, I saw a good pitch down the middle and I drove the other way."

Correa watched the ball sail, tossed his bat, put his hand to one ear to soak in the roars of the crowd and then held up one finger as he rounded the bases. As he approached home plate, he tossed his helmet as if shooting a basketball at the crowd of teammates waiting for him.

"As soon as I hit it I knew it was going to go over the fence," he said. "The adrenaline started pumping like crazy. I don't even know what I did. I've got to go watch the video. But I know I was so hyped."

Correa's big night gave him 27 RBIs in the postseason to pass Lance Berkman for the most in franchise history. And it was a familiar scene — in Game 2 of the 2017 ALCS against the Yankees, Correa hit a walk-off double in the ninth.

"You look at his RBI totals in the postseason, you look at his walk-offs, you look at the big moments, he's a pretty special man," manager AJ Hinch said.

Game 3 is Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Gerrit Cole, who is 18-0 in his last 24 starts and led the majors in strikeouts, starts for the Astros against Luis Severino.

"The game of baseball, it's a beautiful game," Correa said.

The Yankees tied a League Championship Series record by using nine pitchers. The eight relievers had permitted only one run and two hits with 11 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings before Correa homered, ending a game that took 4 hours, 49 minutes and finished just before midnight.

Houston's five relievers combined for 4 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball after taking over for Justin Verlander. Going into this best-of-seven series, the Yankees were considered the better team in the bullpen — the Astros amply held their own in this one.

"Our bullpen was nasty, gave us a chance to win the game," Correa said.

Gary Sánchez struck out looking to end the Yankees 11th with runners on first and second. The pitch appeared outside — it came right after he swung and missed with two strikes, but was ruled a foul ball.

New York lost for the first time this postseason after four wins.

"It was a struggle tonight," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "They're tough to score runs off, especially on a night when Verlander is out there."

Aaron Judge put the Yankees on top 2-1 with a two-run shot off Verlander in the fourth. It was his first homer this postseason and the eighth in his playoff career.

George Springer tied it in the fifth with his franchise-record 12th career postseason home run. The 2017 World Series MVP homered on the first pitch after reliever Adam Ottavino entered.

"Just back and forth — the two best ballclubs in the game," Judge said. "I wish we could have come away with two here, but now time to regroup and get ready for Tuesday."

Along with his bat, Correa made the key play in the field to keep it tied at 2 in the sixth. With runners at first and second, and on the move on a full-count pitch with two outs, Brett Gardner hit a hard grounder that bounced off second baseman José Altuve for a single.

The ball bounded away and Correa quickly retrieved it and threw a strike to catcher Robinson Chirinos, who tagged out the sliding DJ LeMahieu.

Verlander pumped his fist and screamed "let's go!" as he came off the field and Correa shook his finger with a look that said: "not on my watch."

Cameras then panned to Verlander's supermodel wife, Kate Upton, who jumped and cheered from a luxury suite.

"I just tried creeping over and as soon as the ball hit him, I scooped it and he sent him, so I had to gun him down," Correa said.

Correa ended an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI double in the second off James Paxton, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings.

Hours later, Correa ended it with his drive off Happ. Correa is 6 for 12 with two homers against the lefty.

"It's been a tough road this year but I'm finally here and I was able to contribute tonight," he said.

Up next:

Cole was 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA and 25 strikeouts across 15 2/3 innings against the Rays in the ALDS. The 29-year-old led the AL with a career-best 2.50 ERA and was first in the majors with 326 strikeouts in the regular season.

This will be the eighth postseason start for Severino, who did not factor in the decision in New York's Game 3 win over Minnesota. Severino, who made just three regular-season starts because of a late injury, allowed four hits in four innings against the Twins.


Jarry makes 27 saves, Penguins rout Jets 7-2

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel (59) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)

Associated Press

Winnipeg, Manitoba (AP) — Zach Aston-Reese, Sam Lafferty and Jake Guentzel each had two goals to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.

Dominik Simon also scored and Aston-Reese also had an assist for the Penguins. Tristan Jarry stopped 27 shots.

Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele had goals for the Jets, and Laurent Brossoit finished with 21 saves.

Both teams were playing back-to-back games and lacked zip.

Golden Knights 5, Kings 2

Los Angeles (AP) — Paul Stastny scored twice on the power play, Max Pacioretty added a power-play goal and Vegas beat Los Angeles.

Reilly Smith and Mark Stone also scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves as the Golden Knights swept their first set of back-to-back games.

Vegas was 3 for 3 on the power play after starting the season 3 for 17 with the man-advantage.

Jonathan Quick allowed five goals on 36 shots for the Kings.

Dustin Brown and Austin Wagner scored for Los Angeles.

Sharks 3, Flames 1

San Jose, Calif. (AP) — Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist to help San Jose beat Calgary.

Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc also scored as San Jose won their second straight after an 0-4-0 start. Logan Couture had two assists and Patrick Marleau had one in his first home game since rejoining the Sharks. Martin Jones stopped 32 shots after posting a 4.55 goals-against average while losing his first three starts.

Elias Lindholm scored for Calgary, which has lost two straight and three of its last four.

The Flames were playing their third road game in four days and second in as many days.

Cam Talbot had 17 saves in his Calgary debut. The 31-year-old, signed a one-year free agent contract with the Flames in the offseason after splitting time last season between Edmonton and Philadelphia.


After record world medal haul, Biles a face of 2020 Olympics

Simone Biles of the United States shows her five gold medals she won at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (Marijan Murat/dpa via AP)

By James Ellingworth

Stuttgart, Germany (AP) — Next stop Tokyo for Simone Biles.

With Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps both retired since the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. gymnast will be the face of the games for much of the world.

In gymnastics, no one else comes close. Biles won five of the six gold medals at last week's world championships and broke the all-time record of 25 medals by any gymnast, male or female.

"She's just above anything else that we have seen in the sport," five-time Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci said of Biles on Sunday, praising "the domination that she has toward all the other gymnasts that competed here."

Biles has not just got the talent. She's got the character of an Olympic star.

There's the laser-like focus on training, the same easygoing humor which endeared the world to Bolt, and — crucially in the modern era — a savvy social-media style.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Sunday that Biles' star status would make gymnastics a must-see event at the Tokyo Olympics.

"You can have legends confirming their status as we have just seen with Simone Biles, this amazing performance there on the beam, but you also have new stars," he said. "Gymnastics has all the ingredients to be top another time, I must say. A top Olympic event in Tokyo."

Despite its dispute with Biles over the scoring for her new double-double beam dismount — its grade was lessened in part so as not to encourage less-skilled gymnasts to attempt the risky move — the International Gymnastics Federation knows Biles is crucial to the sport.

Labeling her "wonder woman" and "a hero," FIG president Morinari Watanabe is keen for Biles not to retire after the Tokyo Olympics. "I hope she will continue after 2020, because she is an excellent athlete," he said Sunday.

Biles is certainly the only athlete who could pull off her look in training at the U.S. nationals in August. She caused a stir with a leotard bearing her surname and a goat's head picked out in sequins, a nod to "Greatest Of All Time."

Few disagree, but Biles hasn't yet won everyone over.

"There's no need to turn her into some unbeatable queen. If I was 15 years younger, I'd definitely take the fight to the American," the Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina said in comments on the Russian Olympic Committee website Thursday.

Khorkina won 20 world championship medals between 1994 and 2001 and held the women's record until Biles overtook her Tuesday.

One record is likely to remain out of Biles' reach, however. Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina won a record 15 Olympic medals between 1956 and 1964. Biles won five Olympic medals in Rio de Janeiro, and could add six more next year in Tokyo, but appears highly unlikely to stick around until the 2024 Olympics.

However, there's another record to aim for. Matching her world championship performance from last week would make Biles the first female gymnast to win five gold medals at a single Olympics, and the first female athlete to do so in any sport since East German swimmer Kristin Otto in 1988.

After Biles pioneered a new beam dismount and triple-double on the floor this season, her coach Laurent Landi says he favors refining her existing routines for the Olympics over adding yet more upgrades.

"I can find plenty of (upgrades), but you need to be realistic and only the medals count at the end," he said. "We don't need to show off everything we can do."



A deserving Japan reaches first Rugby World Cup quarterfinal

Japan's Isileli Nakajima, left, celebrates with Yu Tamura after the Rugby World Cup Pool A game at International Stadium against Scotland in Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. Japan won 28-21. (AP Photo/Jae Hong)

By John Pye

Yokohama, Japan (AP) — When Michael Leitch thanked everyone for supporting his team, he meant absolutely everyone in Japan.

When he dedicated the team's unprecedented success to the people suffering in the wake of a deadly typhoon that almost caused this game to be cancelled, he meant it from the heart.

His team got the chance to play the game that would prove it was a worthy World Cup quarterfinalist, and he inspired them to take it bravely with a 28-21 win over Scotland on Sunday night, about 24 hours after the destructive storm made landfall.

Against all odds, Japan finished unbeaten to top Pool A and earn a shot at South Africa next week. And it has form against the two-time champion, after producing the so-called Miracle of Brighton to upset the Springboks in 2015.

"It's a tough time at the moment with the typhoon," Leitch said. "Everyone who is suffering with the typhoon, this game was all for you.

"Today was more than just a game for us."

Japan is into the knockout stage for the first time, fittingly in the first Rugby World Cup staged in Asia.

"I'm incredibly proud. From the very start, we played with our heart," Leitch said. "Today was nothing about skill, it was all about emotion and physicality and we showed that. We are representing Asia, we are representing Japan."

After a stirring comeback, Scotland missed the quarterfinals for only the second time and will go home with its streak of seven wins over Japan ending in a narrow defeat. The result meant Ireland placed second in the group and will play the defending champion All Blacks next week.

Japan won with its pace and width, but also with the resolve in the toughest moments that can come out of adversity. And with raucous, almost unanimous support at a Yokohama Stadium packed with 68,000 people almost entirely wearing red-and-white striped shirts.

Winger Kenki Fukuoka was voted player of the match, creating the first try for fellow speedster Kotaro Matsushima, scoring his own try moments before halftime and touching down again three minutes after the break to secure Japan a four-try bonus point with almost half a game to play.

It was Scotland that ended Japan's hopes of a quarterfinal run four years ago. And the Scots rallied from a 31-0 deficit to draw with England in the Six Nations this year, so there was no counting them out. The Scots threatened legal action if they didn't get the chance to play the game, so they had to back that up with a performance.

"We gave it a good crack in the second half but when you leak 28 points you are always going to be chasing the game," Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw said. "Credit to Japan."

It started well for Scotland when flyhalf Finn Russell strolled through some weak defense in the seventh minute, but then Japan responded with three tries.

After spurning a shot and missing a shot at goal, Japan went ball-in-hand.

From halfway, Japan spread the ball left to find both speedsters in space. Fukuoka almost got around his opposite but lost his footing and somehow managed a one-handed offload to Matsushima, who sprinted away to score.

A jinking run from Matsushima was the spark for Japan's second try, with prop Keita Inagaki diving over. Yu Tamura missed another penalty attempt from near the right touchline, but again it resulted in a try another minute later.

After a Scottish 22-meter restart, Japan spread the ball left, where Tim Lafaele grubbered a kick through for Fukuoka to grab one-handed and stumble over to score. Tamura's sideline conversion made it a 14-point margin.

The new half had barely started when Fukuoka stripped the ball from Chris Harris and ran away to extend the lead to 28-7.

That's when Scotland threw caution to the wind. Two tries in six minutes to front-rowers Willem Nel and Zander Fagerson narrowed the gap to seven points and set up a tension-filled last 25 minutes.

Both teams threw everything into attack and, when needed, both teams defended grimly. The Scots repelled 22 phases from Japan before earning a relieving penalty. But Scotland just couldn't crack Japan's defense, either.

Three minutes from fulltime, first-half hero Matsushima accidentally carried the ball back over his line, resulting in a five-yard scrum and giving Scotland a chance to equalize. But the Japanese defended their line, regained possession and expertly wound down the clock.

The game that caused so much angst for organizers was green-lit only on Sunday morning after the stadium was assessed, started with a minute of silence.

That was to pay respects for the dead and injured from overnight. From the national anthems on, the noise didn't stop until well after fulltime. Then the celebrations really got underway when Leitch and co bowed to the crowd.


McCaffrey scores 2 TDs to lead Panthers past Bucs 37-26

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

By Josh Dubow

London (AP) — Christian McCaffrey scored two touchdowns and Carolina turned five interceptions by Jameis Winston into 17 points to give the Panthers their fourth straight victory, 37-26 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

After starting the season with two straight losses with hobbled Cam Newton at quarterback, the Panthers (4-2) have been on a roll with Kyle Allen at quarterback thanks to McCaffrey's big plays and an opportunistic defense that had a franchise record-tying seven takeaways on the day.

Both of those factors came up big on Carolina's first trip to London in front of a large contingent of Panthers fans for what was designated as a home game for the Bucs (2-4).

James Bradberry intercepted Winston on the first play from scrimmage to set up a field goal to set the tone for the game.

Bruce Irvin then forced a bad throw by Winston in the second quarter that Javien Elliott intercepted. That led to McCaffrey's dazzling 25-yard touchdown catch that featured him juking Vernon Hargreaves III and stiff-arming Devin White on his way into the end zone.

In between those two scores, McCaffrey capped a 99-yard drive with a 1-yard run on fourth down, giving him five TDs the past two weeks.

The Panthers took advantage of Tampa Bay's banged-up line that forced the Bucs to use backups Earl Watford and Josh Wells on the right side to harass Winston all day. They sacked him seven times, hit him to help force two of the interceptions and forced fumbles on successive plays late in the second quarter, including a strip sack by Vernon Butler that Irvin recovered.

It was part of a disturbing pattern for Winston throughout his career. He has five games with at least four turnovers, while no other player has more than two of those games since Winston entered the league in 2015. Winston had five turnovers in all, giving him an NFL-worst 86 in the past five seasons.

Winston did most of his damage after the game got out of hand late, throwing for 400 yards with a 10-yard TD pass to Cameron Brate in the fourth quarter that gave him 100 touchdown passes in his career.

Curtis Samuel added two second-half TDs, scoring on an 8-yard end-around and a 13-yard pass from Kyle Allen.

Allen finished 20 for 32 for 227 yards, two TDs and no interceptions to improve to 5-0 as a starter in his career.

Just for kicks: There was a rare play at the end of the first half when the Panthers called for a fair catch at the 50 with 1 second left. Coach Ron Rivera opted to try a free kick for a field goal. Joey Slye got the opportunity to kick from the 50 with no rush as the Tampa Bay players were required to remain 10 yards back. The kick went wide right.

Real McCoy: Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had a big game against his former team. McCoy had 2˝ sacks, deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage and had one tackle for loss.

Coming home: Carolina defensive end Efe Obada was made an honorary captain for the game as part of an emotional day for him. The Nigerian native arrived in England as a 10-year-old after being trafficked with his sister from the Netherlands. Now he's back here as an NFL player and a star attraction after first picking up the sport of American football at age 22.

Up next:

Panthers: Carolina gets a week off before heading to San Francisco on Oct. 27 to face the 49ers.

Buccaneers: Tampa Bay gets a brief respite in its five-game stretch away from home with a bye week before traveling to Tennessee for the fourth game in this stretch on Oct. 27.


Sloppy Wales beat Uruguay 35-13 to top Pool D at World Cup

Wales' Tomos Williams scores a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool D game at Kumamoto Stadium between Wales and Uruguay in Kumamoto, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Associated Press

Kumamoto, Japan (AP) — Wales will play France in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals after laboring past Uruguay 35-13 to top Pool D on Sunday.

Four wins from four matches gave the Welsh a pool sweep for the first time since 1987. Their victory left Australia to play England in another quarterfinal.

Coach Warren Gatland gave 11 Wales players their first starts in the tournament and said he'd consider them for the quarterfinals team if they impressed, but few impressed in a match they dominated but kept hurting themselves through unforced errors.

In the face of Uruguay's scrambling, scrappy defense, Wales could score only four legitimate tries and received a penalty try.

Two more tries were ruled out on video review, and three others were bombed. Winger Hallam Amos had three ruled out, all of them his own fault.

The fumbling and bumbling meant Uruguay was in the match at halftime, behind only 7-6. While the Teros never looked like winning, they hustled to the end and managed to humble the Welsh by scoring their only try while down to 14 men.

Gatland wanted the Teros out of the picture long before halftime so he could rest some tired players four days after the bruising comeback against Fiji. He was justified to think his players would deliver as Wales won the only previous matchup 54-9, but the players were sloppy in dry conditions.

Three catches were dropped in the first four minutes; one by No. 8 Aaron Wainwright with the line at his mercy. Flanker Aaron Shingler had a try ruled out for a foot in touch.

Uruguay was dicing badly with the offside line under sustained pressure and down to its last warning from referee Angus Gardner when Wales prop Nicky Smith, after 14 phases, burrowed over with Bradley Davies on his back in the 17th minute.

But only Uruguay added points in the rest of the half as flyhalf Felipe Berchesi kicked two penalties for them to trail only 7-6.

Wales finally made separation from a lineout: Parkes battered the line, Davies was stopped under the crossbar and Rhys Patchell's miss-out pass put Josh Adams in.

For the second time in the match, Amos bombed a try when he took a final pass in front of Parkes, earning scathing looks from Leigh Halfpenny.

Uruguay flanker Santiago Civetta's yellow card for a professional foul opened the way for a Wales penalty try from a rolling maul and 21-6.

But the Teros were inspired to push hooker German Kessler over from a ruck.

Wales hit back immediately with a try by replacement scrumhalf Tomos Williams, and Amos bombed a third try when he dived into the left corner but dropped the ball.

The teams went back and forth after the final hooter, and five minutes in replacement flyhalf Gareth Davies settled with a quick tap to himself and a try between the posts.


Wiesberger wins Italian Open, tops Race to Dubai rankings

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger looks on during the fourth round of the Golf Italian Open 2019, in Rome, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (Giorgio Maiozzi/ANSA via AP)

By Andrew Dampf

Rome (AP) — Bernd Wiesberger moved atop the Race to Dubai rankings by winning the Italian Open on Sunday for his second Rolex Series victory of the year.

Wiesberger carded a bogey-free 6-under 65 at Olgiata Golf Club for a one-stroke victory over Matthew Fitzpatrick after beginning the day three strokes behind the Englishman.

Fitzpatrick had chances to get into a playoff but missed both an eagle putt on the 17th hole that lipped around the cup and a birdie effort on No. 18.

It was Wiesberger's third win of the season after Denmark in May and the Scottish Open — which is also in the Rolex Series — in July. The 34-year-old Austrian also finished in a tie for second in the Irish Open.

"I've played really well in the right events," said Wiesberger, who finished 16 under overall. "Just really excited what's ahead of us in the last few events."

Wiesberger has 4,198 points in the Race to Dubai, ahead of Jon Ram (3,898), British Open champion Shane Lowry (3,535) and Fitzpatrick (2,865).

He joins Rahm, Alex Noren, Justin Rose and Danny Willett as multiple winners in the Rolex Series.

It was the seventh career win on the European Tour for Wiesberger, who missed the last seven months of last year with a wrist injury.

"I've been really good putting myself in positions and staying there," Wiesberger said after earning a winner's check of $1.1 million. "I just really enjoy my time and being back out there, because I know how tough it was when I had to withdraw from these events last year. It's just really full enjoyment out there when I'm in position."

Wiesberger also moved to a career-high 22nd in the world golf rankings, boosting his chances of making a Ryder Cup debut next year.

American Kurt Kitayama finished third, four shots behind Wiesberger and one stroke ahead of Andrew Johnston, Robert MacIntyre and Matthias Schwab.

Francesco Laporta was the top Italian in a tie for seventh while Andrea Pavan tied for 10th on his home course.

With a $7 million purse, the Italian Open returned to Rome after 17 years as the local federation attempts to boost interest ahead of the 2022 Ryder Cup at the nearby Marco Simone club.

Total attendance for the four days was 29,000.

"This week couldn't have been better in terms of re-embracing Rome and preparing for 2022," said Italian golf federation president Franco Chimenti. "We had four days of perfect sunshine — which is something we're used to in Rome."

Chimenti announced that next year's tournament will also be played at Olgiata, before the tournament moves to Marco Simone in 2021.



Rugby World Cup cancels 2 games ahead of expected typhoon

A satellite photo of typhoon Hagibis is seen during a press briefing on update relating to the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the final round Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches this weekend Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Alan Gilpin, left, tournament director for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Japan Rugby 2019 CEO Akira Shimazu, right, attend during a press briefing on update relating to the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the final round Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches this weekend Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

By John Pye

Tokyo (AP) — Well before a potentially devastating typhoon was expected to hit Japan, it ruined Italy's Rugby World Cup quarterfinal ambitions and the hopes of one of the sport's longest-serving veterans.

It was still bright and sunny in Tokyo on Thursday when tournament organizers took the unprecedented step of canceling two games scheduled for Saturday — the Pool C decider between England and France in Yokohama and the Pool B game between defending champion New Zealand and Italy in the city of Toyota — because of the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the weekend.

Organizers will leave a decision until Sunday on the Japan-Scotland match at Yokohama, which is scheduled to conclude the group stage that night. Scotland needs to win that game to have any chance of advancing.

The safety of players, fans and workers was paramount, Rugby World Cup organizers said, and added that under tournament rules, any canceled games will be logged as 0-0 ties with two competition points going to each team. That rules Italy out of any chance of finishing first or second in a group containing former champions New Zealand and South Africa. It also means England tops its group without having to play second-place France.

Organizers said no group matches could be rescheduled to later days, and added that logistical issues meant those games couldn't be played at alternative venues, either.

The safety-first approach was widely accepted, given the warnings from Japan's weather bureau, but the decision not to build reserve days into the group-stage schedule for the first Rugby World Cup in Asia was heavily criticized by Italy captain Sergio Parisse.

"If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would not have been canceled," Parisse, who has 142 test caps and is playing at his fifth World Cup, told a news conference. "It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made because it isn't like the fans arrived yesterday. It is ridiculous that there was no Plan B, because it isn't news that typhoons hit Japan.

"Sure, everyone might think that Italy versus New Zealand being canceled counts for nothing because we'd have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team."

The Japan Meteorological Agency is warning the typhoon may bring torrential rain and strong winds to central parts of the country over Saturday and Sunday and urged people to take precautions to avoid potentially life-threatening danger. Airlines and train services anticipate cancellations in what is expected to be the most destructive typhoon of 2019. It was generating winds up to 270 kph (168 mph) Thursday morning but was expected to weaken over cooler waters as it nears Japan's main island.

World Rugby tournament director Alan Gilpin said organizers explored options to enable all of Saturday's games to be played, but "it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers ... exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon." Friday's game between Australia and Georgia in Shizuoka and Saturday's game between Ireland and Samoa in Fukuoka were expected to go ahead as scheduled.

"We've taken the very difficult decision but right decision to cancel matches in affected areas," Gilpin said. "We don't think it undermines (the quarterfinals) at all."

The Scotland team issued a statement saying it was working with organizers to ensure the game against Japan goes ahead. Scotland ended Japan's chances of reaching the quarterfinals in 2015. A canceled game would ensure Japan progresses to the knockout stage for the first time.

"Scottish Rugby fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarterfinals on the pitch, and will be flexible to accommodate this," the statement said.

Japan Rugby 2019 chief executive Akira Shimazu said the decision on Sunday's games could be left until six hours before kickoff. So far, none of Sunday's four games scheduled have been canceled.

"We will look at the damage, we will consider carefully," Shimazu said. "We will make every effort so the spectators will see the match."

Gilpin addressed questions regarding the fairness of allowing some teams to play and not others by saying all 20 nations "signed up to the participation agreement — they're well aware of the tournament rules."

"We always knew there would be risks (with the weather) but it's rare for there to be a typhoon of this size at this stage of the year," he said. "We have no regrets."

There are weather contingencies in place for the knockout phase, he said. Eight teams will qualify for the quarterfinals, and there's only three venues hosting the remaining games.

England coach Eddie Jones said he had no problems with the tournament decision and his team was "getting on with it."

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said the cancellation of the All Blacks' last game was "a no-brainer."

"When you get a typhoon to the level we're getting, then safety is the paramount thing," Hansen said. "The most important thing that happens now is how we adapt and adjust to it."

Japan's central Pacific coast may see torrential rains beginning Friday and the high waves and tides may cause flooding. Japan is regularly hit by Pacific storms. Typhoon Faxai caused massive power outages in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo last month.


Hamilton aiming for win at typhoon-threatened Japanese GP

From left, Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg of Germany, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco, Racing Point driver Sergio Perez of Mexico and Williams driver George Russell of Britain attend a press conference for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)

By Jim Armstrong

Suzuka, Japan (AP) — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton knows a win at this weekend's typhoon-threatened Japanese Grand Prix will go a long way in sealing a sixth Formula One championship.

Hamilton has a commanding 73-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas with five races left. Given Hamilton's success at the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile) Suzuka circuit, the odds are clearly in his favor.

Hamilton has won here in four of the last five races.

"The races are counting down but we are just trying to take things one race at a time, put one foot in front of the other and not stumble," said Hamilton, who is coming off a win in Russia. "When you have a battle like this, you're working flat out, turning over every stone and questioning every little thing you can do better."

If Hamilton is able to win this weekend, he will equal Michael Schumacher's record for the highest number of wins at the Japanese GP with six. Hamilton won with McLaren in 2007 and with Mercedes in 2014, 2015, 2017 and last year.

Meanwhile, Japan's weather agency has warned that Typhoon Hagibis is expected to make landfall on Japan's main island over the weekend with Suzuka potentially taking a direct hit.

Current forecasts suggest Hagibis will reach Japan's shores on Saturday, when final practice and qualifying are due to take place.

The Japanese GP will also see the next chapter in the ongoing drama at Ferrari. Team strategy in the last two races in Singapore and Russia has resulted in some awkwardness between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

In Russia, the Italian team threw away a possible one-two finish after Vettel broke down and Leclerc dropped from first to third after a pre-race agreement went awry.

In Singapore, Vettel won ahead of Leclerc after an early pit-stop allowed the German driver to pass Leclerc, who started on pole and was seeking his third straight win.

While the two drivers have been diplomatic in their public statements, comments over the team radio suggest otherwise.

Leclerc played down any notion of a rift on Thursday.

"Obviously there was some misunderstanding from the car, but I think we've had a discussion and everything is clear now," Leclerc said. "Obviously it felt like it was a huge deal from the outside, which it definitely wasn't, but now everything is fine."

Japanese fans have always enthusiastically supported the race and will get an added bonus this year.

For the first time since 2014, a Japanese driver will drive an F1 car at Suzuka. Naoki Yamamoto will make his Formula 1 debut driving for Toro Rosso in the Friday's first practice session.

Yamamoto will replace Pierre Gasly in FP1, fulfilling Honda's desire for a local driver to take part in the event the company supports financially.


Federer joins Djokovic in Shanghai quarterfinals

 

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return shot against John Isner of the United States during their men's singles match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament at Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center in Shanghai, China, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Roger Federer of Switzerland gestures after defeating David Goffin of Belgium in their men's singles match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament at Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center in Shanghai, China, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

By Sandra Harwitt

Shanghai (AP) — Roger Federer saved five set points in the first set as he scrambled to a 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over 13th-seeded David Goffin on Thursday and advanced to the Shanghai Masters quarterfinals.

Second-seeded Federer holds a 10-1 winning record against Goffin, including all three matches they've played this year.

Despite the outcome, Federer didn't feel in control of their Round-of-16 game.

"I never really felt like I had the upper hand over David today," Federer said. "I thought he took really a lot of good decisions, and he was super fast on his feet today, which I think made it really hard for me to get my freebies and winners off the baseline."

Federer will play fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany on Friday in the quarterfinals.

Zverev beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-0, 7-6 (4) in the last match of the night. The German served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but couldn't nail down the victory until the tiebreaker.

Earlier, John Isner served his 1,000th ace of the season but it wasn't enough to stop defending champion Novak Djokovic from advancing with a 7-5, 6-3 win. Isner's nine aces against Djokovic took him to 1,007 for the year.

Top-seeded Djokovic is on a 24-0 sets winning streak in Asia dating back to last year's Shanghai Masters. He won his inaugural appearance at the Japan Open last week without losing a set.

"It's always a big challenge returning the serve," Djokovic said. "He's got one of the biggest serves of all time."

Djokovic will play sixth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the quarterfinals. Tsitsipas defeated Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (5).

Third-seeded Daniil Medvedev continued his quest to reach a sixth consecutive ATP tour final after beating Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (7), 7-5.

Medvedev's frustration got the better of him when Pospisil led 4-2, 40-30 in the first set, which led to him smashing his racket repeatedly into the ground at the baseline.

"I usually don't like to do it, to break the rackets, because it's never beautiful," Medvedev said. "But it's true that sometimes it maybe can help to get some emotions out and get also the stress out."

Third-seeded Medvedev, who reached his first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open in September, leads the tour this year with 56 victories. He next plays 10th-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy in the quarterfinals.

"I think (he's) the worst player I can play at the moment," Fognini said of Medvedev. "He's really dangerous."

Fognini beat seventh-seeded Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-3, 7-5. Khachanov had won their first career meeting in three sets at the China Open quarterfinals in Beijing.

"I'm happy because I was losing to him last week and I was playing really good also," 10th-seeded Fognini said.

Fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria beat No. 15 Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4 and next faces 11th-seeded Matteo Berrettini.

Berrettini outlasted eighth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-6 (5), 6-4.


Iran women freely at FIFA soccer match, 1st time in decades

 

An Iranian woman waves her country's flag as she arrives at the Azadi Stadium to watch the 2022 World Cup qualifier soccer match between Iran and Cambodia, in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Iranian women are freely allowed into the stadium for the first time in decades. They had been banned since 1981. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

By Amir Vahdat & Mehdi Fattahi

Tehran, Iran (AP) — Flag-draped Iranian women watched a FIFA soccer match from inside a Tehran stadium Thursday, the first time they've been freely allowed into a stadium in decades.

The 2022 World Cup qualifier between Team Melli and Cambodia at Tehran's Azadi Stadium marks a decades-long push by Iranian women to be able to watch matches, something hard-liners in Iran's Shiite theocracy to this day still oppose.

Iran allocated only 4,000 tickets for women in a stadium that seats about 80,000 people, keeping them separated from men and under the protection of female police officers. That's even though face-painted Iranian women have cheered for their team abroad for years despite the 1981 ban that followed the country's Islamic Revolution.

"We are so happy that finally we got the chance to go to the stadium. It's an extraordinary feeling," said Zahra Pashaei, a 29-year-old nurse who has only known soccer games from television. "At least for me, 22 or 23 years of longing and regret lies behind this."

Iran scored in the game's fifth minute with a long shot by midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi. On Iran's conservatively controlled state television, which carried the match live, a shot of the cheering crowd included ecstatic women spectators. They followed with another goal in the 10th minute.

While Iran for years has considered letting women into soccer matches, the decision to allow them in Thursday came as part of intense pressure from FIFA, the world body governing the sport. Iran faced a potential ban if it didn't allow women into the match.

That pressure has grown both with FIFA and Iran's soccer-loving public since September, when an Iranian woman detained for dressing as a man to sneak into a soccer stadium to watch a match died after setting herself on fire upon learning she learned she could spend six months in prison.

The self-immolation death of 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari, who became known as the "Blue Girl" for her love of the Iranian team Esteghlal, shocked Iranian officials and the public, becoming an immediate hashtag trend across social media in the Islamic Republic.

Iran is the world's last nation to bar women from soccer matches. Saudi Arabia recently began allowing women into soccer matches in the kingdom.

Hard-liners and traditional Shiite clerics, citing their own interpretation of Islamic law, believe in segregating men and women at public events, as well as keeping women out of men's sports. They've maintained tight control on social mores in the times since the Islamic Revolution, which saw women required to cover their hair and also wear the black, all-encompassing chador while working in government jobs.

The effort to allow women back into stadiums has gone through fits and starts since the revolution. Iran even barred a woman from hold a sign for the country when it attends its first Summer Olympics in 1986 in South Korea. A group of Irish women received special permission to attend a qualifier between Iran and Ireland in Tehran in 2001.

In 2006, former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wanted women to attend matches to "improve soccer-watching manners and promote a healthy atmosphere." However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state, opposed the decision.

Then, last year, Iranian authorities allowed a select group of women into Azadi Stadium by invitation only to watch the Asian Champion League final.

Activist groups outside of Iran, however, remain suspicious of Tehran. Amnesty International called the decision "a cynical publicity stunt by the authorities intended to whitewash their image."

"Instead of taking half-hearted steps to address their discriminatory treatment of women who want to watch football, the Iranian authorities should lift all restrictions on women attending football matches, including domestic league games, across the country," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director.

Still, many in Iran embraced the move, like shopkeeper Amir Ali Bagheri, who sold the nurse Pashaei a new Team Melli jersey ahead of the match.

"They (women) are so excited they are going to the stadium," he said. "God willing, there will be freedom sooner so that they can attend all matches, not just the national team matches. That will be much better."



Bruins top Golden Knights 4-3, off to best start in 18 years

Boston Bruins right wing David Backes (42) attempts a shot on Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By W.G. Ramirez

Las Vegas (AP) — The defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins won't play their first home game until Saturday.

That hasn't stopped them from opening on a rampage in Western Conference cities, clearly putting last season's Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final behind them.

The Bruins (3-0-0) remained undefeated when Brad Marchand had two goals and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.

Boston scored four straight goals after falling behind 2-0 early in the first period and has won its first three games for the first time in the past 18 seasons.

"We have a good group. We're pretty much all together again. We've got a couple of new guys, but we have a good team," said Marchand, who has three goals this season. "We're going to compete every night. That's what's in this room, that's what we expect.

"If we're going to get beat, we're either going to have a really bad game or another team is going to battle us."

Neither of which has taken place yet, as the Bruins have outscored Dallas, Arizona and Vegas 7-3.

David Pastrnak and Torey Krug also scored for the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask made 31 saves.

"It's not too long since we last played together and I think we have pretty much the same group, so we know the system and it helps," said Rask, who moved into sole possession of 49th place with his 267th career win. "I think we're feeling comfortable playing together and even though we were down a couple of goals we just trust the system and it worked out today."

Boston, which was 4-0-2 in the preseason, improved to 4-1-0 all-time vs. the Golden Knights and concludes its four-game road trip Thursday in Denver.

"Obviously being down early, being able to come back, winning a close game at the end, pushing them off a little bit at the end, those are just experiences that we'll put in our pocket and use for another day," Krug said. "Early on you're trying to find your legs, your game and sometimes it's not going to be pretty. When you go on the road you don't worry about putting on a show for the fans. We're just able to grind out some games.

"We got some greasy wins, they weren't pretty early on, it's still not where we want to be — but they're steppingstones. I think it's beneficial to go out on the road."

The Golden Knights (2-1-0), who swept a season-opening home-and-home series with San Jose, looked out of sync much of the night despite occasional flashes from their top two lines.

Mark Stone, Reilly Smith and Max Pacioretty scored for Vegas.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves but dropped to 12-8-5 against the Bruins with a .915 save percentage.

"Their defense has good gaps, big, long sticks — we had to be prepared for that," Stone said. "We didn't do a good enough job in the neutral zone and that led to their attack. We had our looks in the second period to score goals. A bounce here, a bounce there, we're right back in it. We've just got to clean up our mistakes."

Vegas started out strong with back-to-back goals in the first period by Stone and Smith to take a 2-0 lead in the first 8:20. But then the Bruins answered with four consecutive goals — three from their top line of Marchand, Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron.

Marchand scored 33 seconds into the second period to put Boston ahead 3-2, handing Vegas its first deficit of the young season, and Krug extended the lead with a blistering slap shot that got through traffic to make it 4-2.

The Golden Knights, who didn't get their first shot on goal in the third period until there was 8:28 left in the game, made it a one-goal game when Pacioretty beat Rask with his first of the season, a power-play goal with 5:18 remaining.

NOTES: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, 42, appeared in his 1,488th game, breaking a tie with Wayne Gretzky for the 23rd-most in history. ... Chara and San Jose's Joe Thornton, 40, are the two oldest active NHL players. They both made their debut in 1997 and are the only active players who played a game in the 1990s. ... The Golden Knights were one of three teams entering Tuesday that had yet to allow a power-play goal, along with Carolina and the Rangers. Both Carolina and Vegas allowed power-play goals in their respective games.

Up Next:

Bruins: At the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

Golden Knights: At the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.


Wales reaches RWC quarterfinals after thrilling win vs Fiji

Wales' Josh Adams crosses for a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool D game at Oita Stadium between Wales and Fiji in Oita, Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

By Jerome Pugmire

Oita, Japan (AP) — Left winger Josh Adams scored a hat trick of tries — and had another ruled out — as Wales rallied to reach the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals beating Fiji 29-17 in a pulsating Pool D match on Wednesday.

The Six Nations champion hit back from 10-0 down and meets either England or France in the quarterfinals.

The Flying Fijians are taking the plane home but going out in style.

Only five points separated them with about 10 minutes left, until fullback Liam Williams gave Wales breathing space with a converted try. Center Jonathan Davies created it with a brilliant backhand offload.

Earlier in the second half, his younger brother James Davies got sin-binned on his World Cup debut at flanker.

It was a chaotic match.

The first half produced seven tries, but only three were given.

Referee Jerome Garces referred five to video review, of which three were ruled out — two by Wales, one by Fiji.

Another try, scored by Fiji No. 8 Viliame Mata late in the half, didn't need the TMO because the forward pass to him was so evident.

Adams crossed three times in the first half, but one got chalked off. So was a try by Wales flanker Josh Navidi disallowed.

The two Fiji first-half tries that counted went to right winger Josua Tuisova and fullback Kini Murimurivalu inside eight minutes, by which time Fiji scrumhalf Frank Lomani had one ruled out by TMO after a forward pass from left winger Semi Radradra.

Added to that, there were three first-half sinbins: Two for Fiji, after Wales hooker Ken Owens got his early on for dangerously launching Mata over his shoulder.

The restart saw the TMO used yet again, this time denying Radradra a try in the left corner because of a forward pass from Murimurivalu.

Mindful of needing four tries and a bonus point, Fiji stormed forward again and, after Wales flanker James Davies got the game's fourth yellow card, Fiji took a lineout and speared Wales with a huge driving maul for a penalty try.

Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar, who converted his side's first-half tries, went off for a head injury assessment during the new half. He also went off for an HIA during the 29-25 win against Australia, and was recently cleared to play this match.

His replacement, Rhys Patchell, booted over a long penalty to level the match with about 20 minutes remaining.

Ten minutes later, the elder Davies launched Adams into the left corner.

Try, Mister Garces?

Yes, but only after another TMO confirmed Adams was in bounds.

Patchell's conversion attempt missed.

When Williams ran clear, the red-shirted Welsh hordes could finally roar with relief.


Biles sets record as US wins world gymnastics team gold

Simone Biles of the U.S. performs on the floor during women's team final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

By James Ellingworth

Stuttgart, Germany (AP) — Simone Biles won a record 21st medal at the world gymnastics championships on Tuesday as the United States retained its women's team all-around title.

It was Biles' 15th career gold and broke a tie with Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina for the most medals overall by a woman at the world championships. She's now two short of Vitaly Scherbo's all-time record of 23 among men or women.

"Every year it feels better and better just because we're adding to the legacy," Biles said. "I feel like I never think of records. I just go out there and do what I came to do, which is compete for the country."

The U.S. team scored 172.330 points to beat second-place Russia by 5.801 points and win its seventh consecutive team title at an Olympics or world championships.

The reward for winning was a battery-powered medal that lights up when it senses movement. Biles called it "the sickest medal we've ever had."

Biles posted the best individual scores on the vault, balance beam and floor.

"I think if I do the routine that I did tonight I'll be more than happy" in Thursday's individual all-around final, she said.

A fall for Sunisa Lee on balance beam in her world championship debut and a fumbled routine from Grace McCallum on the uneven bars left the U.S. with room for improvement, though both were strong on other apparatus.

"It's just so surreal to come out here and end up on top with the strength of the team that we have, even after having a couple falls out there," Biles said.

Russia became the first team to get within six points of the U.S. since China at the 2015 world championships, something which pleased Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova.

"We're happy that we got second because we can't battle the Americans just yet, but today the gap was significantly lower than at the last few world championships," Melnikova said.

Biles said other teams were "most definitely" closing in on the U.S.

"All of the teams have improved their difficulty over the last quad, and I think that's really exciting to see the strength that they have."

Italy ended its 69-year wait for a women's team medal with bronze, as China failed to make the podium for the first time since the 2003 world championships.

China was fourth after a tough day for Liu Tingting, who fell twice on the uneven bars and again on the balance beam.

A fall on the beam mount by Italy's last gymnast, Elisa Iorio, made for a tense finish but she recovered to score enough to stay ahead of China by 0.536 points.

It was a big recovery for Italy, which qualified in last place for the final.

"The goal for today was just to do better than qualification and how it goes, it goes," Italian gymnast Giorgia Villa said through a translator.


England beats Portugal 1-0 in friendly to end winless streak

Lisbon, Portugal (AP) — Beth Mead took advantage of a goalkeeping error to score the only goal as England beat Portugal 1-0 in a friendly on Tuesday to end a five-game winless streak dating back to the Women's World Cup.

Mead poked the ball into an empty net midway through the second half after Portugal goalkeeper Patricia Morais tried to collect a cross but let it slip right through her hands.

The win will ease some pressure on Coach Phil Neville, whose team had not won since the World Cup quarterfinals. It lost to the United States in the semifinals and to Sweden in the third-place playoff, then drew with Belgium and lost to Norway and Brazil after the tournament.

Portugal nearly equalized when Claudia Neto's free-kick hit the crossbar in injury time.



Kevin Na survives mistakes to win in Las Vegas

Kevin Na holds up the trophy after winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open golf tournament on the second playoff hole Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, (Monday morning Thai time) in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Associated Press

Las Vegas (AP) — Kevin Na finally won a sudden-death playoff on the PGA Tour when he least expected it.

Staked to a three-shot lead to start the back nine at the TPC Summerlin, Na never imagined it would come down to that.

But he made triple bogey without hitting into a hazard on No. 10. He went at the flag and found the water on the par-5 16th for a bogey to lose the lead for the first time all day.

Right when he looked to be out of chances, Na saved himself with a 25-foot par putt on the 17th, a 10-foot birdie to extend the playoff, and he won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open when Patrick Cantlay made the worst mistake — the last one.

"Came down way too close," Na said.

Cantlay, who gave up a one-shot lead by hitting 9-iron into the water on the par-3 17th, three-putted from 45 feet on No. 18 on the second extra hole for bogey. Na rolled in his 4-foot par putt to win in Las Vegas for the second time.

"I've been in this situation before where I lost the lead and I failed many times," said Na, who closed with a 1-under 70. "I've lost three playoffs. This is my first playoff win. I kept telling myself, 'This is the playoff I'm going to win.' It felt great to win."

It was a bitter finish for Cantlay, who won his first PGA Tour event in Las Vegas in 2017 in a playoff, but had to settle for a runner-up finish the second straight year.

"It leaves a sour taste in my mouth," he said. "That's two years in a row here. I played well. I'll take that momentum the rest of the year."

Cantlay took his first lead with a two-putt birdie on the 16th, only for his 9-iron to come up short and just far enough to the left that rolled down into the water. He still looked as though he would head to the final hole until Na made his 25-foot par putt.

"I'm a fighter," Na said. "The putt on 17, I was doing everything I could to make that putt."

Na won for the third time in the last 15 months, and third in as many seasons on the PGA Tour. He joined Jim Furyk as the only multiple winners in Las Vegas.

Even after his bogey on the 17th, Cantlay was poised to win in regulation when he hit the longest drive of the final round — 345 yards — and had only 113 yards left. But he could get no closer than 25 feet, and his putt hung on the right edge of the cup.

Cantlay, trying to win for the third time when facing a deficit of at least three shots, closed with a 68.

They finished at 23-under 261.

On the first extra hole, Na hit wedge to just inside 10 feet. Cantlay was just outside 10 feet — on the same line as his 25-foot birdie chance in regulation — and made it. Na poured his in, walking toward the hole before the ball dropped.

Cantlay came up well short on his approach to the 18th on the second playoff hole — his third time playing it in less than an hour — and his birdie putt came up well short.

Na set a record by making 559 feet of putts over four rounds, the most since the PGA Tour developed its ShotLink system of measuring every shot of every player. And he won with a 4-foot par.

Pat Perez closed with a 68 to finish alone in third, his best finish since he won in Malaysia two years ago.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau shot 63 and tied for fourth with Adam Hadwin (63) and Brian Stuard (67).


Jay Gruden fired by Redskins after 0-5 start to 6th season

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden speaks to officials during the first half of an NFL football game between the Washington Redskins and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

By Howard Fendrich

Washington (AP) — Jay Gruden was fired as head coach of the Washington Redskins on Monday after an 0-5 start to the sixth season of a tenure that featured only one playoff appearance.

The Redskins have gone 35-49-1 overall under Gruden, whose brother, Jon, coaches the Oakland Raiders.

The team said offensive line coach Bill Callahan would replace Gruden on an interim basis. Callahan has been coach of the Raiders in the NFL and of Nebraska in college football.

Owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen informed Gruden he was out early Monday morning, a day after a 33-7 loss to the New England Patriots. Allen was scheduled to make a rare appearance at a news conference Monday afternoon.

In the statement announcing the moves, the Redskins said: "Through the first five games of the 2019 season, the team has clearly not performed up to expectations, and we all share in that responsibility. Moving forward we are committed to doing all that we can collectively as an organization to turn things around and give our Redskins fans and alumni a team they can be proud of in 2019 and beyond."

After the home loss to New England, Gruden was asked if he knew where he stood with the Redskins.

"Nobody's told me anything, and I don't have a concern. I'll just wait and see," Gruden said. "(If) my key works on Monday, keep working."

Gruden initially was hired by Washington in the hopes that he could help Robert Griffin III develop into a star quarterback, but that forced partnership quickly soured.

And while Gruden had some success drawing up and calling creative plays for Washington's offense, his area of expertise, he never seemed to get a feel for other aspects of the job.

Despite never before being a head coach in the NFL, and despite never winning more than nine games in a season, Gruden managed to stick around longer than anyone else who's held that job for the Redskins during Snyder's unsuccessful two-decade stint as team owner.

Gruden's teams finished with winning records just twice — 9-7 in 2015, then 8-7-1 in 2016 — and he took the Redskins to one playoff game, a loss. The team went 7-9 in each of the past two seasons, leading to speculation about whether he would be back.

Those questions about his job status reached a crescendo with the terrible start to this season, which has been a mess on and off the field for a franchise that won three Super Bowls under previous owner Jack Kent Cooke but has been in disarray throughout Snyder's stewardship, including the last 10 years with right-hand man Allen running things as general manager and now president.

This season alone has seen star left tackle Trent Williams hold out, a shuffle at quarterback after Dwayne Haskins was taken No. 15 overall in the draft and increasingly large contingents of visiting fans attending games at the team's home stadium.


England cricket team back in hands of an Englishman

Former England paceman Chris Silverwood has been hired as head coach of the national team after being promoted from his role as bowling coach, it was announced Monday Oct. 7, 2019. The 44-year-old Silverwood takes over from Trevor Bayliss. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File)

By STEVE DOUGLAS

After four years with an Australian in charge, England's cricket team is back in the hands of an Englishman.

Chris Silverwood, who played six tests for England over six years around the turn of the century, was the rather low-profile choice to replace Trevor Bayliss as head coach of the national teams on Monday.

After Bayliss, who improved England's one-day fortunes so much that the team won the Cricket World Cup for the first time this year, the England and Wales Cricket Board could have hired another coach from overseas in former South Africa international Gary Kirsten.

Yet, Silverwood proved to be the standout candidate because of his knowledge of the inner workings of the England team, and his rapport with the players through his role as its bowling coach for the past two years.

"He is somebody we know well, but it is his intimate understanding of our structures and systems and his close relationships with test captain Joe Root and white-ball captain Eoin Morgan that will help us develop our plans for the next few years," England managing director Ashley Giles said.

"He has performed exceptionally well during his role as an assistant coach and has the ultimate respect of the players that have worked with him."

Giles said the 44-year-old Silverwood demonstrated a "clear understanding and strategy of how both the red and white-ball teams need to evolve," with critics of Bayliss saying the Australian focused too much on the shorter formats during his time in charge.

England won the World Cup this year, but failed to regain the Ashes from Australia after drawing a home series 2-2. That marked the end of Bayliss' contract with England and he has since agreed to join Indian Premier League franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad next year.

"I aim to continue the great work that has been done over the past five years and build on our future, especially in the test arena," Silverwood said.

Silverwood, who played six tests and seven ODIs from 1996-2002, won the English County Championship as Essex coach in 2017 before joining the national team's backroom staff.

His first matches in charge of England will be in the tour of New Zealand starting Nov. 1.

"He has some detailed thoughts on what it will take to win the Ashes in Australia and win major ICC white-ball tournaments," Giles said. "Over the past couple of years, he has been an integral member of developing the teams' culture and emerging a cohesive relationship across the team's management group."

Kirsten, who has previously led South Africa and India to No. 1 in the test rankings, held talks with Giles and ECB chief executive Tom Harrison but was overlooked in favor of someone who also knows the domestic county scene better.

"Ultimately," Giles said of Silverwood, "his highest quality is that he is a winner and that will be an important part of the job as we look to strive to become the most respected team in the world across all formats."


Bayern loses 1st game of season following rout of Tottenham

In this Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 photo Bayern's player Serge Gnabry, right, reacts after the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and 1899 Hoffenheim in Munich, Germany. Bayern Munich’s first defeat of the season has exposed old problems that a 7-2 rout of Tottenham had helped cover up only days before. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)

By Ciaran Fahey

Berlin (AP) — Bayern Munich's first loss of the season has exposed old problems that a 7-2 rout of Tottenham had helped cover up only days before.

After producing the seven-goal gala in London in the Champions League on Tuesday, Bayern might have expected more of the same against modest Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

But Hoffenheim had other ideas and took advantage of Bayern's weaknesses in a 2-1 victory against the seven-time defending champions. Sargis Adamyan scored twice in Hoffenheim's first ever victory in Munich.

"I'm annoyed that we couldn't build on the euphoria, the good vibes," Bayern coach Niko Kovac said.

Bayern looked lethargic and complacent, perhaps too comfortable in relying on a moment of individual brilliance from the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Philippe Coutinho or Serge Gnabry, who himself nabbed four goals against Tottenham.

Lewandowski maintained his record of scoring in every league game so far, a record mark of 11 goals in eight games, but it wasn't enough to make up for the mistakes that culminated with the team's first loss.

Corentin Tolisso lost the ball in midfield in the buildup to Adamyan's first goal, while Bayern's defense failed to close him down before the Armenian striker scored his second.

"We made too many mistakes and never put our opponents under pressure," Kovac said.

With the exception of Thiago Alcantara coming in for the injured David Alaba, Kovac started with the same players who had impressed against Tottenham, leaving Thomas Müller on the bench for the fifth game in a row.

"If need be, he will certainly get his minutes," Kovac said of Müller, who came on for the last half-hour and set up Lewandowski's equalizer.

Müller was the first player to leave Bayern's stadium after the defeat.

"Nothing to say, as the English say," he said.

Fellow substitute Javi Martínez was in tears after staying on the bench. The Spanish midfielder, so highly valued by former Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, has not started this season, with just five appearances as a substitute across all competitions.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic criticized the players' attitude against Hoffenheim.

"You also have to give 100% or 110% in the Bundesliga, not just the Champions League," Salihamidzic said.

Bayern has 14 points, one more than it had at the same stage last season, when it was already four points behind Borussia Dortmund.

Dortmund has only 12 points after three consecutive draws, while Borussia Mönchengladbach is the surprise leader after seven rounds.

"We've let the Bundesliga get exciting," Salihamidzic said.

Bayern's players weren't too happy at the annual Oktoberfest celebrations on Sunday.

"We'd rather have come here after a victory," Bayern defender Niklas Süle said.



Marquez secures 8th world title with Thailand Grand Prix win

Spain's rider Marc Marquez of the Repsol Honda Team rides during final round Thailand's MotoGP at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Buriram, Thailand (AP) — Marc Marquez of Spain passed Fabio Quartararo of France on the last lap to win the Thailand Grand Prix and clinch his eighth MotoGP world title at the Chang International Circuit on Sunday.

In a typically inspired performance the defending champion chased down the Frenchman but left his decisive move until just before the end.

"I planned from the start of the weekend to win the race, not worrying about winning the championship or the battle between me and (Andrea) Dovizioso. My target was to try to find the best way to win the race," said the 26-year-old who also produced a late burst to win the same race last year.

It was a stunning performance by the Spaniard who crashed on both Friday and Saturday. It was Marquez's ninth win of the season, which propelled him to his eighth world title with a total of 325 points, putting him beyond Dovizioso's reach at 215 points with four races remaining this season.

"Fabio was really fast in most parts of the race. I wasn't able to grab the lead in the middle of the race. I caught up in the last lap and took it from there. It's been an amazing year. It's now time for me to enjoy and celebrate the eighth title," added Marquez who has won titles in 2010, 2012-14, 2016-19.

In another dominating year, Marquez has finished on the podium 14 times in 2019.

The 20-year-old rookie Quartaroro, the youngest to secure four pole positions in a season including Sunday's race, appeared to be on his way to a maiden victory before the late charge from Marquez.

"I can't say anything except that I'm so proud of the work of my team and myself. I couldn't be happier as I fought until the last corner. I already tried everything. If I didn't try to make a move in the last corner, I would have gone up unhappy. My time will come," said the French rider who had to settle for second for the third time this year.

He finished in a time of 39 minutes and 36.394 seconds with Maverick Vinales of Spain third just over a second behind. Dovizioso just missed out on a podium finish in fourth.


Djokovic beats Millman in straight sets to win Japan Open

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot against John Millman of Australia during a final of Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

By Jim Armstrong

Tokyo (AP) — Novak Djokovic couldn't have asked for a better tournament debut in Tokyo.

Playing in the Japanese capital for the first time, Djokovic beat Australian qualifier John Millman 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Japan Open on Sunday, marking the 10th time the Serbian has lifted a trophy on his main draw debut at a tour-level event.

The top-ranked Serb did not drop a set in his five matches at Ariake Colosseum with the closest set, 7-5, coming against home favorite Go Soeda in the second round. In his final three matches, against fifth-seeded Lucas Pouille, third-seeded David Goffin and Millman — all of whom have made a Grand Slam quarterfinal — Djokovic lost a total of 15 games.

"I didn't drop a set all week so I played fantastic tennis," said Djokovic who will next play in Shanghai. "There are not many negatives here that I can point out so I'm going to Shanghai with great confidence and hope I can finish the year in style."

Sunday's final followed a familiar pattern to his previous matches here with Djokovic breaking Millman to go up 3-1 in the first set with a perfectly placed forehand volley to the corner.

"Obviously the key was to try to fight off the resistance early in the match because he didn't have much to lose playing finals from qualifications," Djokovic said. "He came out and played pretty well but I made that crucial break and I was serving very well which allowed me to get a set advantage."

The second set was even more dominant as Djokovic broke his opponent twice to go up 3-0 then held serve the rest of the way.

Djokovic lost only four first-serve points and hit six aces.

Djokovic retired with a left-shoulder injury during his fourth-round match against Stan Wawrinka at the U.S. Open but has shown no lingering effects in Tokyo.

"I didn't know until one week before the start of this tournament that I would be here," Djokovic said. "That's when I made a decision with my team that I was ready to play."

The 32-year-old Serb is making a push to finish as year-end No. 1 for the sixth time, which would tie the mark held by Pete Sampras.

Djokovic now stands alone in third place on the ATP Tour this year with 46 tour-level wins, breaking a tie with Roger Federer. The only players ahead of him are Daniil Medvedev (54) and Rafael Nadal (48).

Osaka victorious in China Open final

Beijing (AP) — A surging Naomi Osaka won her second consecutive final with a three-set victory over top-seeded Ashleigh Barty at the China Open on Sunday.

Osaka bounced back from a set down to cruise through the final sets, defeating the Australian top seed 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

That follows the two-time Grand Slam winner's victory last month at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in her birthplace of Osaka, Japan, her first singles title since the Australian Open in January.

Japan's dominant player came into the tour's Asian leg determined to make a statement following what she has called an on-and-off year that included failing to make a final in Europe or America.

Osaka's shaky start included a trio of double faults midway through the first set that helped put the French Open champion in the driver's seat.

The second and third sets were entirely different stories, however, with Osaka bringing her service game under control and pounding her returns down the line. After breaking Barty in the seventh game, victory was all but assured, despite an attempted comeback by the Queensland native in the final game.

In the men's final, top-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem faces Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.


Canadiens rally to beat Maple Leafs in shootout

Montreal Canadiens centre Max Domi (13) scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson (30) during first period NHL action in Toronto, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

Toronto (AP) — Paul Byron scored in a shootout and the Montreal Canadiens overcame a three-goal deficit to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 on Saturday night.

Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares all failed to beat Carey Price in the shootout.

Brendan Gallagher had a goal and two assists for Montreal, Phillip Danault and Max Domi each had a goal and an assist. Jeff Petry scored on a penalty shot, Jonathan Drouin also scored, and Price made 32 saves.

"He's unbelievable," Domi said about Price. "He's the best goalie in the world for a reason."

Matthews scored twice for Toronto — his fourth and fifth goals of the season — and Alexander Kerfoot had a goal and two assists for his first three points with Toronto. Trevor Moore added a goal and an assist, William Nylander scored, and Michael Hutchinson stopped 37 shots.

After a wild third period that saw Toronto blow a 4-1 lead before tying it at 5, Price robbed Marner on a breakaway in overtime before the Canadiens came close at the other end on a scramble that resulted in a slashing penalty to Tavares that helped save a goal.

The Leafs managed to kill that one off and Tavares had a chance on another break coming out of the box, but Price snagged his effort with the glove. Domi then hit the crossbar on a 2-on-1 rush to cap a frantic extra session.

Toronto appeared to have the game in hand when Nylander made it 4-1 at 5:16 of the third period on a power play, but Montreal scored 11 seconds later when Drouin's pass in front went in off Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly.

Gallagher made it 4-3 at 6:29 after an icing, banging home a rebound.

Kerfoot took an interference penalty with under nine minutes left in regulation that Toronto came close to killing off, but Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen inexplicably threw his broken stick at Petry after blocking a shot when the Canadiens defenseman had the puck at the point.

Petry was awarded a penalty shot as a result, and he beat Hutchinson glove-side to tie it at 13:02.

"I've seen guys throw a stick at the puck, but never at somebody," Petry said. "No one knew the ruling on it. I saw the ref's arm go up. They originally said anybody can take it, and then they changed it and said anybody on the ice. And then they said it had to be me, so it was a weird way it played out."

Kapanen said fatigue played a factor in his brain cramp.

"I guess you get a penalty shot for that," he said. "I take full responsibility."

"I've never seen that play by anybody ever," Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said. "We've all got to learn from it."

Danault put Montreal ahead by banging a rebound home with 4:40 left. But Matthews tied it 1:15 to go and Hutchinson on the bench for an extra attacker.

"Things were looking a little bleak going into the second intermission, but we were able to stay positive, rally the troops and have a big third," Price said. "I think that was fun to watch."

NOTES: The 22-year-old Matthews has 12 goals in 12 career games against Montreal. The Leafs came in off Friday's 4-1 road victory in Columbus following their 5-3 victory over Ottawa in the opener. The Canadiens dropped their season opener 4-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout Thursday.

Up Next:

Canadiens:  At Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Maple Leafs: Host St. Louis on Monday night.


Golovkin edges Derevyanchenko to regain a middleweight title

Gennadiy Golovkin raises his arm after defeating Sergiy Derevyanchenko by decision in their IBF middleweight championship title bout at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

By Brian Mahoneyiter

New York (AP) — Gennadiy Golovkin is a champion again, though just barely.

The powerhouse who used to look invincible looked beaten up by the end of Saturday night.

Golovkin held on to regain one of his old middleweight titles, edging Sergiy Derevyanchenko in a unanimous decision to take the IBF championship at Madison Square Garden.

Golovkin knocked down Derevyanchenko in the first round, opened a cut near his right eye in the second, and then held on from there in a fight where the longtime 160-pound ruler absorbed plenty of the type of punishing shots he used to deliver.

"This was a tough fight," Golovkin said. "I need a little bit more. I need to still get stronger in my camp. Just more serious. I need to work hard. I need a little bit more focus."

But the 37-year-old did just enough to win 115-112 on two cards and 114-113 on the other, claiming the belt that was vacated by Canelo Alvarez, who handed Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) his only loss.

The Associated Press scored it 115-112 for Golovkin.

Derevyanchenko (13-2) fell just short in his second attempt to win the middleweight title, having lost by split decision to Danny Jacobs last year, also at Madison Square Garden.

Many of the same fans who cheered Golovkin wildly before the fight and chanted "Triple G! Triple G!" when it looked as if he needed a boost in the 10th as Derevyanchenko rained combinations to his head booed the decision.

Golovkin was credited with a 243-230 advantage in punches by Compubox, which said Derevyanchenko landed the most punches in any of the 25 Golovkin fights it had tracked.

"Right now it's bad day for me. It's a huge day for Sergiy, his team," Golovkin said. "This is huge experience for me. Right now I know what I need exactly."

It was Golovkin's second straight win after he had a draw and a loss in his two fights with Alvarez, close bouts in which many people thought he won at least one of them. But plenty more thought he could have lost this one, after Derevyanchenko rallied strongly from a bad start to the fight.

Golovkin wants a third fight with Alvarez but he would have to be much sharper if he gets it — or if he has a rematch with Derevyanchenko — than he was Saturday.

He was frequently beaten to the punch by Derevyanchenko, who ignored the cut and Golovkin's vaunted power to nearly pull off the upset.

"The cut really changed the fight. I couldn't see at times," Derevyanchenko said. "And he was targeting the eye. But no excuses, it is what it is, I was trying my best."

Golovkin started cautiously, seemingly willing to just establish his jab in the first round, before suddenly unleashing a flurry of punches that sent Derevyanchenko to the canvas. Then he had another good round in the second, when the cut opened that would be frequently checked by doctors between rounds.

Derevyanchenko got himself into the fight with a good third but took some more punishment in doing it, then kept up the good work in the next couple rounds while wiping away the blood around his eye that was staining Golovkin's white shorts.

Golovkin landed some hard shots late in the sixth to slow the Ukrainian's momentum a bit. Golovkin then seemed to get the better of a great exchange at the end of the seventh as the area under his left eye swelled.

Derevyanchenko landed a good three-punch combination in the eighth and Golovkin just shook his head, then landed one of his patented body punches later in the round to slow down the Ukrainian, but only temporarily. Derevyanchenko resumed the pressure again in a back-and-fourth ninth round but didn't have enough for the finish, losing the 12th on all three cards.

Golovkin defended the middleweight title 20 times, tied for the record, during his lengthy reign. He first vacated the IBF belt when he wouldn't agree to face mandatory challenger Derevyanchenko when the original date for the second match against Alvarez had to be scrapped in May 2018 after the Mexican failed a drug test.

Golovkin then left without any belts after falling to Alvarez when it was rescheduled.

He's got one again, but plenty of work to do if he's going to keep it long.

"I lost a little bit of focus. Sergiy was ready, I really respect him," Golovkin said. "He showed me such a big heart. I told him, 'Sergiy, this is best fight for me. It's a huge experience.'"



Ritchie beats former team on 1st shift, Bruins top Stars 2-1

Boston Bruins forwards Brad Marchand (63) and Patrice Bergeron (37) work against Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop (30) for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

By Schuyler Dixon

Dallas (AP) — Brett Ritchie had never taken the ice in an NHL game with a team other than the Dallas Stars when he debuted for the Boston Bruins.

After scoring on his first shift, Ritchie watched his former teammates basically form a parade route out of the rink with injuries.

The new Boston forward scored barely a minute in, Dallas defenseman Roman Polak was taken off on a stretcher just before the Stars’ only goal and the Bruins opened defense of their Eastern Conference title with a 2-1 victory Thursday night.

Danton Heinen had a power-play goal in the first period as the Bruins beat Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop with their first two shots in a season-opening meeting of teams that lost Game 7s in the playoffs to Stanley Cup champion St. Louis last season.

“You’re not going to score on your first two shots very often,” said Ritchie, who was with the Stars when they lost in double overtime in the second round last spring before the Bruins fell to the Blues in the Cup finals.

“We jumped out to the lead there and built the momentum for the first, and then they took it to us in the second.”

Dallas’ goal came less than a minute after Polak had to be taken off on a stretcher after going head-first into the boards when he tried to check Chris Wagner with 12:56 remaining in the second period.

Polak barely moved while face down on the ice before being rolled onto a board and lifted onto the stretcher during a delay that lasted almost 10 minutes. Coach Jim Montgomery said after the game Polak was OK after an evaluation at a hospital and could return soon.

“I think obviously we kind of didn’t want to think about it after it happened,” defenseman John Klingberg said. “We got to get back playing again. It’s tough to see a teammate go down like that.”

Roope Hintz’s goal came 51 seconds later when the 22-year-old beat Tuukka Rask stick side on a partial breakaway after Mattias Janmark split two defenders with a pass. Joe Pavelski got his first point with the Stars with an assist on the takeaway that started the rush.

“You’ve got to find ways to stay in games and give yourself a chance,” Pavelski said. “I thought we did a good job with that. We kept coming, kept getting better. It was right there for us.”

The Stars had 16 of their 29 shots in the third period, and Rask stopped them all to finish with 28 saves. The 13th-year pro entered the season with the best goals-against average among actives goalies at 2.28.

“I felt the best in the third,” Rask said. “I don’t know if that’s because it was the most action or what, but a big win.”

Before Polak’s injury, forward Blake Comeau sustained a lower body injury when he fell awkwardly after getting hit in the cheek by a puck in the first period. Montgomery said he would miss multiple weeks.

The Stars lost another forward after the first period when Jason Dickinson didn’t return with an upper body injury.

“It’s life in the NHL,” Montgomery said. “Next man up. We went through it all of last year and we’re a resilient group. We’re a deep organization and we’re going to be OK.”

Ritchie’s goal came 1:09 in when Andrew Cogliano couldn’t get a clearing pass from Bishop out of the zone and turned over the puck near the blue line. Charlie Coyle got an assist.

The 26-year-old Ritchie spent his first five NHL seasons with Stars as a 2011 second-round pick, signing as a free agent in Boston following two disappointing seasons in Dallas after he scored 16 goals - nearly half his career total - in 2016-17.

“I’m still confident in what I can do,” Ritchie said. “New team, new opportunity, fresh start, whatever you want to call it. I just tried to take advantage of it.”

Heinen beat Bishop from the left circle about five minutes later after Alexander Radulov was called for holding. Bishop stopped all 18 Boston shots after that.

NOTES: Former President George W. Bush did the ceremonial puck drop. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush live in Dallas. ... The Bruins improved to 9-21-5 in season openers on the road. The previous road win in an opener was 4-3 in overtime at New Jersey in 2010. ... The Stars opened the season at home for the ninth straight year. They are 5-3-1 in those games.

 Up Next

Bruins: A four-game road trip to open the season continues Saturday at Arizona.

Stars: At St. Louis on Saturday in their first game there since losing Game 7 in the second round last season.


Andy Murray loses to Dominic Thiem at China Open

 

Andy Murray of Britain looks to hit a return shot while competing against Dominic Thiem of Austria in their quarterfinal match in the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Dominic Thiem of Austria hits a return shot while competing against Andy Murray of Britain in their quarterfinal match in the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Beijing (AP) — Andy Murray’s run at the China Open is over.

The former No. 1, who had won consecutive singles matches for the first time since undergoing hip surgery in January, lost to top-seeded Dominic Thiem 6-2, 7-6 (3) Friday in the quarterfinals.

Thiem broke the 32-year-old Murray in the first game of the match, but the British player made things more difficult in the second set, testing his younger opponent’s nerve in finishing out the match.

Also, Karen Khachanov beat Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Top-seeded Ash Barty reached the semifinals in the women’s draw by beating Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

“From my opinion, that was one of the highest quality matches I played all year," said Barty, the French Open champion. "Petra always has a way of bringing out the best in me, she really does."

Barty converted three of her six break points while Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, was two for seven.

In Saturday’s semifinals, Barty will face eighth-seeded Kiki Bertens, who defeated Elina Svitolina 7-6 (6), 6-2.

“I think this week I played some better tennis again," said Bertens, who amassed 36 winners to Svitolina's 16. “I think then with some pressure and playing better all the time, it's good for me. It says for myself that I was growing a lot over the last few years.”

Also, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 7-6 (5) and will next face either Bianca Andreescu or Naomi Osaka.


Centuries for Elgar, De Kock as SA fights back against India

South Africa's Dean Elgar plays a shot during the third day of the first cricket test match against India in Visakhapatnam, India, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

By Chetan Narula

Visakhapatnam, India (AP) — Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock struck centuries to help South Africa avoid the threat of a follow-on and reach 385-8 at stumps on Day 3 of the first test against India on Friday.

Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took his 27th five-wicket haul in tests to keep India in control of the series opener, however, with South Africa still trailing by 117 runs.

After the Proteas resumed in some trouble on 39-3, Elgar scored 160 off 287 balls for the opener’s 12th test hundred before De Kock attacked India’s spinner to make 111 off 163 deliveries.

They put on 164 runs for the sixth wicket, allowing South Africa to ease past the follow-on mark.

At stumps, Senuran Muthusamy (12 not out) and Keshav Maharaj (3 not out) were in the middle.

Responding to India’s first innings of 502-7 declared, South Africa _ which, at one stage, was reeling on 34-3 _ dominated the third day of the test and lost only two wickets in the first two sessions.

Ishant Sharma trapped Temba Bavuma (18) lbw before lunch, while Faf du Plessis fell for 55 in the afternoon to end a partnership of 115 runs with Elgar that resurrected the Proteas’ innings.

That brought Elgar and De Kock together, the latter taking charge of the innings with a counterattacking knock to reach his fifth test century off 149 deliveries.

The breakthrough finally came in the 100th over when Elgar holed out to deep mid-wicket off Ravindra Jadeja (2-116).

De Kock helped South Africa cross 350 in the next over but fell to Ashwin, pushing the ball onto the stumps off his pads.

Ashwin made it a quick double blow as he bowled Vernon Philander for a 10-ball duck, and had figures of 5-128 from 41 overs.

India’s big first-innings score was established on an opening stand of 317 runs between Mayank Agarwal (215) and Rohit Sharma (176).


South Africa trounces 14-man Italy 49-3 to stay alive at RWC

South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe scores a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool B game at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa between South Africa and Italy, in Shizuoka, Japan, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)

By Gerald Imray

Shizuoka, Japan (AP) — South Africa won big in a game it had to win, trouncing 14-man Italy 49-3 in Shizuoka on Friday to stay in the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa was 17-3 up through two tries and the boot of Handre Pollard by the time Italy prop Andrea Lovotti was sent off for dangerous play in the opening minutes of the second half.

Lovotti lifted South Africa No. 8 Duane Vermeulen off his feet and speared him into the ground, head-first, for the fourth red card of the World Cup.

Italy had problems with props all night. Two of them were injured in the first 20 minutes leading to uncontested scrums.

The Springboks scored seven tries in all for a bonus point. They would have taken just a win to keep them in the competition before kickoff but weren’t going to turn down the chance when Italy went down to 14 men with nearly the entire second half to play.

Electric right wing Cheslin Kolbe scored two of the tries, hooker Bongi Mbonambi one, and center Lukhanyo Am intercepted for the bonus-point score. Left wing Makazole Mapimpi also had one, Italy gifted replacement lock RG Snyman the sixth, and hooker Malcolm Marx was over in a rolling maul after the final hooter.

Italy is just about out of the World Cup. It needs to beat defending champion New Zealand in its last pool game to have a chance of making the quarters.

South Africa is just about through with underdog Canada to play.

South Africa dominated up front early in a game billed as likely to be decided up front. The Boks pack buckled the Italians in the first scrum and marched them back in the second. But South Africa’s scrum dominance disappeared midway through the half when the game went to uncontested scrums. That’s because Italy prop Simone Ferrari went off injured in the first minute and his replacement, Marco Riccioni, also later left injured. Italy had no specialist tighthead left.

The Springboks’ big men found other ways to dominate, making big charges, being effective in the lineout, and scoring two tries from rolling mauls.

Kolbe jinked through Italy’s defense for the first in the sixth minute. The forwards took Mbonambi over for the second.

Italy’s only points came through flyhalf Tommaso Allan’s early penalty, but Italy tested South Africa’s defense in the first half.

Lovotti’s red card on Vermeulen - after Italy nearly scored the first points of the second half - allowed the Boks to pour it on.

Kolbe’s second came when he collected a cross-kick from Pollard.

Am’s try was the result of a crazy, helter skelter passage of play when Italy intercepted deep in its half and broke all the way downfield. The teams both lost possession multiple times in the move before Am intercepted and went 50 meters back to score untouched.

Mapimpi also collected a cross-kick, this time on the left wing from the boot of fullback Willie le Roux.

Italy fullback Matteo Minozzi handed the sixth to Snyman on a plate when he was being tackled into touch by Kolbe near his tryline and tried to hurl a pass infield with five minutes to go. The ball fell for Snyman to scoop it up and dive over.

Replacement hooker Marx scored the final one well after the final hooter sounded. South Africa’s forwards were eager for more. Pollard’s missed conversion in the last act prevented it being 50 points.



Osaka reaches quarterfinals at China Open

Naomi Osaka of Japan spins her racquet as she waits for a serve from Alison Riske of the United States during their third round of the women's singles match in the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Beijing (AP) — Naomi Osaka won the final 10 games of the match and beat Alison Riske 6-4, 6-0 Thursday to reach the quarterfinals at the China Open.

The two-time Grand Slam champion from Japan served seven aces and stretched her winning streak seven matches.

“Today I was kind of happy because the first set was really tight. I was thinking that it's been a while since I've kind of had to be really serious,” Osaka said. “It seemed like she was the type that would use my pace, especially on the forehand. I just tried not to give her too much.”

Osaka will next face Bianca Andreescu in a meeting of the last two U.S. Open champions. The Canadian easily defeated American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-1, 6-3.

Osaka called Andreescu “an amazing player.”

“I feel like she's doing better than I was last year, so it's all cool,” Osaka said. “I have to learn from her, too.”

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Katerina Siniakova 7-5, 6-4.

"I was trying to stay aggressive. I was trying to move the ball around a lot,” the 16th-seeded Wozniacki said. “I think I was successful most of the time, but there was a couple of games where she played good or I played a little sloppy.”

Also, Daria Kasatkina beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 6-3.

In the men’s draw, John Isner hit 21 aces in a 7-6 (3), 7-5 victory over Dan Evans.

The American will next face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals. The third-seeded Greek came back from a set down to defeat defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

“In the second and third sets, I felt really comfortable,” Tsitsipas said. “I returned well, served well and did everything well.”

Also, Alexander Zverev beat Felix Auger Aliassime 6-3, 6-1, and Sam Querrey defeated Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 6-3.

Top-seeded Dominic Thiem will play Andy Murray on Friday. Murray won consecutive singles matches in Beijing for the first time since undergoing hip surgery in January.


Liverpool beats Salzburg 4-3 after throwing away 3-goal lead

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah controls the ball during the Champions League group E soccer match between Liverpool and Red Bull Salzburg at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Liverpool, England (AP) — Liverpool recovered from throwing away a three-goal lead against Salzburg as Mohamed Salah’s 69th-minute strike earned the titleholders a wild 4-3 win in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Trailing 3-0 after 36 minutes following goals by Sadio Mane, Andrew Robertson and Salah, Salzburg stunned the Premier League leaders by scoring three unanswered goals itself in 21 minutes either side of halftime at Anfield. The 60th-minute equalizer was tapped in by Erling Braut Haaland for his fourth goal of the competition already.

Salah regained the lead for Liverpool by running onto Roberto Firmino’s flicked header and cushioning a left-foot shot into the net, and the Reds held firm to collect their first points in group play after opening up with a 2-0 loss at Napoli.

Salzburg signaled it might be one of the most entertaining sides in this season’s Champions League by thrashing Genk 6-2 in the first round of games, with Haaland scoring a hat trick to bolster his reputation as one of the most exciting young strikers in Europe.

And the Austrian team played its part in what proved to be a shootout at Anfield as Liverpool forged ahead by playing some breathtaking football before showing defensive brittleness that has crept into its game this season.

“It's better to learn the lessons during the game than talk about it after,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. "I thought we were outstanding in the first 30 minutes, then the Salzburg system changed and we lost the ball so that caused us problems.

"The momentum changed and it was really difficult to get a foot in the game.”

Mane, who scored 42 goals in two seasons for Salzburg from 2012-14, opened the scoring by jinking in from the left, playing a one-two with Firmino, and slotting his finish past the goalkeeper in the ninth minute.

The second goal was a flowing team move that was finished off by Liverpool’s two flying full backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold crossing from the right and left back Robertson turning the ball home from close range in the 25th.

Alexander-Arnold and Robertson had 25 assists between them in the Premier League last season and they have already both scored goals this season.

“Robbo can’t get an assist if he’s scoring,” Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter, adding: “(hashtag)CleverTrent.”

When Salah scored off a rebound in the 36th after Firmino’s header was parried out, Liverpool looked like running up a big score.

Yet Salzburg crucially got back in the game before halftime when Hwang Hee-chan achieved the rarely seen feat of turning Virgil van Dijk - leaving the Liverpool defender sprawling on the turf - and fired his shot into the corner.

Because of a scoreboard malfunction inside Anfield, the screens showed: Liverpool 3, Salzburg 3.

Before long, that was the score.

Takumi Minamino met a left-wing cross with a volley into the ground and past goalkeeper Adrian in the 56th minute, and the Japanese forward set up the equalizer for Haaland with a low cross into the area that the substitute couldn’t miss.

Salzburg’s American coach, Jesse Marsch, sprinted down the touchline to join in the celebrations with his players in front of the team’s fans.

Salah ensured they were short-lived.

“This group is really difficult,” Klopp said, “but we wanted the three points and now it’s game on.”


Ashwin dismisses Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn

India's Mayank Agarwal plays a shot during the second day of the first cricket test match against South Africa in Visakhapatnam, India, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

By Chetan Narula

Visakhapatnam, India (AP) — Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn before stumps as South Africa were reduced to 39-3 on Day 2 of the first test against India on Thursday.

Ravindra Jadeja (1-21) bowled night watchman Dane Piedt (0) to leave the Proteas 463 runs behind.

India declared its first innings at 502-7 with Mayank Agarwal making a maiden double hundred.

Ashwin was introduced into the attack in the fourth over and got the breakthrough in his third over. He bowled Markram (5) through the gate with the ball turning in through the gap between bat and pad.

De Bruyn (4), who boasts a good domestic record against spin, was stumped off Ashwin in the latter moments of the session.

At end of play, Dean Elgar (27 not out) and Temba Bavuma (2 not out) were the unbeaten batsmen.

After tea, Jadeja scored 30 not out to help India cross 500 in the 136th over.


Previously unbeaten Leipzig smarting after 2 losses at home

Lyon's Martin Terrier scores his side's second goal during the Champions League group G first round soccer match between RB Leipzig and Olympique Lyon, in Leipzig, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

By Ciarán Fahey

Berlin (AP) — Leipzig’s upward trajectory under coach Julian Nagelsmann has been halted after two losses in five days, both of them at home.

Defensive blunders and poor finishing were to blame for the 2-0 loss to Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Schalke’s efficiency led to a 3-1 result in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Previously unbeaten Leipzig had been leading the league but now finds itself among five teams one point behind Bayern Munich. The pressure is on for Saturday’s visit to Bayer Leverkusen.

“I don’t want to make it a bigger issue than it is, but to lose two games in a row is not good,” Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg said. “Also the way we lost them is not good. We have to recharge the batteries and look forward now. We don’t have any alternative.”

Nagelsmann is refusing to panic, despite whistles from some Leipzig fans both at halftime and after the fulltime whistle against Lyon.

“It’s not a downward trend,” the coach said. “I see rather a problem with efficiency.”

Timo Werner missed two chances the Germany striker should have taken against Lyon, while bad defensive mistakes from Ibrahima Konaté, Dayot Upamecano and Nordi Mukiele led to the visitors’ goals.

“Altogether we didn’t play a good game,” Werner said. “But there are two points: We made two mistakes at the back that you cannot make. Up front, myself in particular, we didn’t take our chances. That’s how you lose a game.”

Werner, himself 23, defended his teammates, however.

“The guys are 21, 22 years old. You can make mistakes. I don’t believe that Boateng or Hummels didn’t make mistakes when they were 22,” Werner said, referring to the former Germany defenders.

Leipzig has won all five games it has played away from home this season, so Saturday’s trip to Leverkusen could be just the tonic it needs. From the three previous visits there have been two wins and a draw.

Leverkusen also likes to keep the ball, which should suit Leipzig’s counter-attacking style if it can cut out the defensive mistakes. Both teams have 13 points and Leverkusen will also be eager to make amends for its 3-0 loss at Juventus on Wednesday.

“It wasn’t completely terrible, but it wasn’t good enough,” Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky said of his team’s second loss in two Champions League games.



Andy Murray, Bianca Andreescu win at China Open

Andy Murray of Britain hits a return shot against his compatriot Cameron Norrie during their second round of the men's singles match in the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Beijing (AP) — Andy Murray won consecutive singles matches for the first time since undergoing hip surgery in January while U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu won her 15th in a row at the China Open on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Murray beat British countryman Cameron Norrie 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-1 to make the singles quarterfinals at a tournament for the first time in 12 months.

Murray will face either top-seeded Dominic Thiem or Chinese wild-card entry Zhang Zhizhen on Friday.

After splitting the first two sets on tiebreakers, former top-ranked Murray pulled away in the third, winning 77% of first serve points to improve to 4-0 against Norrie.

"I decided like, if I want to win, I have to go and take risks and come to the net, try and finish the points quicker, which I did. I did that well at the end," Murray said.

Also Wednesday, fourth-seeded Karen Khachanov beat Jeremy Chardy, and eighth-seeded Fabio Fognini beat Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4.

Bianca Andreescu of Canada hits a return shot against Elise Mertens of Belgium during their second round of the women's singles match in the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

In the women's tournament, No. 6-ranked Andreescu beat Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a second-round match. It was a rematch of a U.S. Open quarterfinal, which Andreescu won en route to her first career Grand Slam title last month.

Andreescu, a 19-year-old Canadian, will face Jennifer Brady in the next round. Brady earlier beat fellow American Madison Keys 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Top-seeded Ash Barty advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win over Zheng Saisai of China.

The French Open champion saved five of five break points to record her 50th win of the year.

"It's a new challenge, new circumstances, different environment," Barty said. "But I'm always up for the challenge, so I'm happy to be here."

Petra Kvitova defeated Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-3 to reach her fifth career China Open quarterfinal.


New Zealand All Blacks pound Canada 63-0 at Rugby World Cup

New Zealand's Rieko Ioane scores a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool B game at Oita Stadium between New Zealand and Canada in Oita, Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

By Foster Niumata

Oita, Japan (AP) — It was never all about the score for the All Blacks.

With every respect due to Canada, New Zealand had bigger goals in mind for their Rugby World Cup pool match under the roof of the Oita Dome than the handsome win that was expected and delivered with breathtaking blitzes at the start of each half.

The 63-0 result was a let off for the outgunned semi-professionals from Canada, and another good night for New Zealand, ruthlessly pouring eight tries, plus a penalty try, through a defense that missed 46 tackles. Its second convincing win from two matches propelled it closer to moving its title defense into the quarterfinals.

The All Blacks had boxes to tick, and enjoyed making big ticks in them.

Dual playmakers Richie Mo'unga at flyhalf and Beauden Barrett at fullback, playing their fifth test together, ran rings around the Canadians. Mo'unga was the maestro director, and Barrett was brilliant counterattacking from the back. Their scissors move from a scrum gave replacement scrumhalf Brad Weber his second try. Mo'unga landed all eight of his goalkicks, and one from the sideline drew gasps from the entertained crowd of 34,411.

Barrett ran so much in the Pool B game that, when he had a second try in sight after the fulltime hooter, he lost control of the ball five meters from the line because he ran out of energy. The ball was also slippery in the humid conditions, worse than if it had been rained on, Barrett said.

Beauden and brothers Scott and Jordie — all starters — supplemented their milestone as the second trio of brothers to play in the Rugby World Cup after the Vunipola brothers of Tonga in 1995, by all scoring tries.

The out-of-form Rieko Ioane went looking for work when the ball didn't come to his left wing and he glided in for his 24th try in his 27th test just 45 seconds into the second half after a Jordie Barrett jump-catch, and another break by impressive inside center Sonny Bill Williams. Ioane also moved into the centers with aplomb for the last half hour, after Williams was replaced.

Williams made a sizeable amount of the All Blacks' 24 breaks (to Canada's three), slicing through the defense to set up several tries and near-misses. He also reminded that he has a pretty good kicking game: His grubber kick was scored from by Beauden Barrett.

"He's done that kick four times, and we've scored four times from it since 2011," coach Steve Hansen said. "He's injury free and starting to look like the old Sonny."

Williams' starting midfield partner, Jack Goodhue, also put in 40 good cobweb-blowing minutes after a six-week injury layoff, and rising prop Atu Moli played the full 80 to allow tightheads Angus Ta'avao, Nepo Laulala, and Ofa Tuungafasi limited minutes to keep them fresh for Namibia on Sunday in Tokyo.

Hansen also hinted lock Brodie Retallick, who has been rehabilitating a dislocated left shoulder since July, may be ready to play, in four days.

New Zealand even made a little history. Beside the try-scoring Barrett brothers, replacement flanker Ardie Savea became the first player in Rugby World Cup history to play with goggles. The vision in his left eye is diminishing and he wears goggles to protect both eyes. With one of his first touches, he dropped a pass with only grass in front of him, and threw the goggles away.

"We have come away with some confidence about what we are trying to do, starting to build and grow," Hansen said. "We have done a lot of work at training, way harder than we normally would, and we will come away (from tonight) with a lot of confidence. We'll bank this one."

The gulf in class between the teams was apparent as the All Blacks almost scored in the first minute from the kickoff, making Canada scramble to hold up Perenara between the posts. The try eventually came in the fifth minute, a penalty try after captain Kieran Read was interfered with while the All Blacks drove Canada's scrum five meters backwards over its tryline.

That ignited the All Blacks into quick tries by Jordie Barrett, and Williams, before they all got sloppy. But they were dominating almost every category and making most of the running. The All Blacks would make 15 handling errors, while achieving 94 carries over the gain-line to Canada's 29.

Normal transmission resumed after the break, when the All Blacks were exhilarating with five tries in 17 minutes. They didn't make a handling error in that time until the second half was 20 minutes old.

There was even time for some humor.  Replacement scrumhalf Weber had been baiting Canada captain Tyler Ardron that he was going to make a big tackle on his teammate with Super Rugby's Chiefs. But Ardron got a big tackle on Weber. "The trouble was," Ardron said, "I was offside."

New Zealand extended his perfect record in World Cups of 30 straight wins in the pool stage, and 16 straight wins against Tier Two opponents.

To all the talk about the All Blacks being diminished, Ardron just shook his head.

"They're as good as ever," he said.


Sharma hits century on debut as opener, India 202-0 vs SA

 India's Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the first day of the first cricket test match against South Africa in Visakhapatnam, India, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

By Chetan Narula

Visakhapatnam, India (AP) — Rohit Sharma scored a century in his test debut as an opener as India reached 202-0 at stumps with rain preventing any play in the final session on Day 1 of the first test against South Africa on Wednesday.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President's XI against South Africans last week.

He was unbeaten on 115 — his fourth test century — with 12 fours and five sixes. Mayank Agarwal also turned on the aggression, reaching 84 not out with 11 fours and two sixes as South Africa failed to break through in its 59.1 overs.

"I was told in West Indies (about opening in this series). It's about mentally training your mind more than anything else," Sharma said. "I prefer opening the innings and going out to bat without thinking too much. I was very clear in my mind about how I wanted to bat."

Bad light and thunder stopped play five minutes before tea with heavy rain shortly afterward.

Earlier, India won the toss and opted to bat. Sharma and Agarwal, India's ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017, took the hosts to 91-0 at lunch in 30 overs.

Vernon Philander (0-34) was impressive with the new ball but couldn't claim a wicket.

The openers batted slowly through the first hour but picked up pace thereafter. Sharma reached his half-century off 84 balls before lunch. Offspinner Dane Piedt (0-43) went for more than six runs per over.

India scored 111 runs in the afternoon session.

India captain Virat Kohli said Wednesday that limited-overs specialist Sharma, who averages 39.62 in 27 tests since 2013, will open for the short term with Lokesh Rahul sent back to domestic cricket to regain form.


Case against Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth going to court

South Africa's Eben Etzebeth leaves the field during the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between New Zealand and South Africa in Yokohama, Japan, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

By Gerald Imray

Hamamatsu, Japan (AP) — Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth could be forced to return home midway through the Rugby World Cup in Japan after the South African Human Rights Commission said it was taking him to court over a case of alleged physical and racial abuse.

The commission said Wednesday it would “institute legal proceedings” against Etzebeth at an equality court on Friday. He was accused of assaulting and racially abusing a person in South Africa in August.

The court proceedings are due to start the same day that Etzebeth, a key member of the South African team, is due to play against Italy in a crucial World Cup pool game in Shizuoka.

It's unclear if the court will require that Etzebeth return home to take part in proceedings. A South Africa team spokesman in Japan didn’t immediately reply to messages asking for clarification.

Etzebeth was accused of racially abusing a person while on a night out during a vacation in the South African coastal town of Langebaan, near Cape Town. He was also accused of assault the same night. He denied both allegations and said he had witnesses who could corroborate his story.

The late-night incidents are alleged to have happened the day before South Africa’s World Cup squad was announced.

Etzebeth was reportedly out at a bar with friends and family members when the incidents are alleged to have taken place.

Etzebeth said in a statement after the allegations surfaced that it was “completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone ... multiple witnesses can corroborate that.”

SA Rugby promised to cooperate with authorities and said it would take a hard line approach if Etzebeth was found to be guilty. But it also backed Etzebeth after his denials, saying we "trust our people to act responsibly."

At the time, Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus said he met with Etzebeth and believed his story, and Etzebeth was included in the World Cup squad.

“I was definitely worried about it when I first heard about it,” Erasmus said. “If there was any truth to it that would have been a massive issue for us. But after chatting to Eben and hearing his side of the story, there is trust between a coach and player.

“I have to trust him to do some stuff on the field and win test matches and he must trust me to believe him when he tells me something.”

Etzebeth also met with the human rights commission, the HRC, before flying to Japan with the Springboks squad. The allegations are also being investigated by criminal prosecutors.

“As good and law-abiding corporate citizens, SA Rugby have given our full co-operation in the Eben Etzebeth investigation and will continue to do so,” SA Rugby said last month. “The case is in the hands of (prosecutors) and the HRC. We trust and believe they will investigate it thoroughly. Once their findings are known, we will adhere to whatever is decided.”

The human rights commission and equality courts were set up in the wake of South Africa’s apartheid past and deal with cases of racial and also other discrimination. The courts generally operate like civil courts. The unnamed person accusing Etzebeth made a complaint to the human rights commission, the commission said.

The 27-year-old Etzebeth, who is 6-foot-8 tall, has played 81 tests and is one of the most experienced players in the Springboks squad. He’s played a part in both South Africa’s games at the World Cup so far, starting in the loss to defending champion New Zealand and coming off the bench in a big win against Namibia on Saturday.

He was named to start the game against Italy on Friday, when South Africa effectively needs to win to stay in contention at the World Cup.


Blame it on the juice: Pitchers set for homer-filled October

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander, second from left, walks back to the mound after giving up a two-run home run to Los Angeles Angels' Andrelton Simmons, second from right, during the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka works against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Jake Seiner, AP

Justin Verlander didn't intend to alter his pitching strategy, not after 14 seasons as a major league ace. But then the home runs stopped making sense.

A long drive by Yankees slugger Aaron Judge? The Houston Astros ace can live with that. This season, though, was full of surprises. Like when spindly utility man Ehire Adrianza drove a fastball into the right field party deck in Minnesota. Or the time light-hitting Angels infielder David Fletcher nearly put one into a parking lot beyond left field during a series in Monterrey, Mexico. Routine fly balls had become wall-scraping homers, and every hitter was suddenly strong enough to reach the second deck.

"The game has changed completely," Verlander said.

Expect more of the same this October.

Hitters smashed a record 6,776 home runs in 2019, soaring past the previous high of 6,105 from two years earlier. It's a rise of over 60% from 2014, a year before a seismic home run spike attributed to tweaks in the baseballs. Major League Baseball commissioned a study in 2018 that concluded there was less drag on the ball causing all those extra homers, but Commissioner Rob Manfred has insisted MLB doesn't know why. He has also denied accusations from Verlander and other pitchers that the balls have been deliberately altered.

Manfred told Forbes last week he has reconvened the scientists from the 2018 study and expects to issue another report after the World Series. His goal: "predictable, consistent performance from the baseball."

First, though, may come the juiciest postseason yet.

Across the 10 playoff rosters, only three qualified hitters connected for fewer than 15 home runs this season — St. Louis' Kolten Wong (11), Milwaukee's Lorenzo Cain (11) and Houston's Josh Reddick (14). There were 21 such hitters on postseason teams in 2014.

Verlander has been critical of structural changes to the baseball since 2017, when pitchers and coaches from the Astros and Dodgers complained that World Series balls were slicker than ones used in the regular season. They moaned and groaned while the clubs combined for a Series-record 25 homers, but fans largely oohed and awed — especially during Game 5, a topsy-turvy classic featuring seven home runs.

Verlander has called this year's balls a "joke." He's given up a career-most 36 homers, yet he's neck-and-neck with teammate Gerrit Cole for the AL Cy Young Award. How'd he do that?

"I used to pitch to weak contact," he said. "I no longer try to miss barrels. I try to miss bats."

After years of seeking quick outs to keep his pitch count low, Verlander has gone whole hog on punchouts. The 36-year-old totaled 300 of them in a season for the first time and surpassed 3,000 for his career in his final start. He avoided the middle of the plate at all costs, especially with runners on base — 28 of his homers were solo shots.

Of course, strikeouts have surged everywhere — the majors set a record for the 12th consecutive season with 42,823 of them in 2019. There are varied reasons for that, including stronger arms and aggressive bullpen management, but pitchers say distrust in the baseball is a factor.

"There's been an adaptation in the way I pitch that correlates with the ball, I just didn't necessarily realize I was doing it because of the ball," Verlander said. "You can no longer give in to a fastball away because 99% of players in Major League Baseball now can take an away fastball and hit a homer opposite field.

"So what's my defense to that? My defense is I have to have you swing and miss."

In the clubhouse of the NL East-champion Braves, every pitcher seems to remember at least one home run this year that looked like a pop fly off the bat.

"(Christian) Yelich, he went straight-center off me," starter Mike Foltynewicz said.

"(Pete) Alonso, on a changeup," added rotation-mate Mike Soroka.

"You just know sometimes you might make your pitch and it's not going to matter," All-Star reliever Shane Greene said.

Those pitchers aren't as concerned about strategizing around the homers as they are with steeling themselves against the frustration of it all. Soroka had the lowest home run rate of any qualified NL starter, and he credits that to an effective sinker and a willingness to be "stubborn."

"The way guys are hitting them out now, every time the ball goes in the air you think it has a chance," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They experience all that on a daily basis over the course of the season. The ones that are successful are the ones who can handle that adversity."

The postseason is a different game though, and not just because of the extra scrutiny and pressure. There are 26 hitters on postseason rosters who hit at least 30 home runs this season — not including Yelich, the Brewers' NL MVP contender who will miss the postseason with a broken kneecap. Four teams bypassed the previous season record for homers, with the Twins (307) and Yankees (306) becoming the first clubs to reach 300.

"There's certain ballparks and certain times that you have to be patient," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Because you know there are going to be a few more runs scored and balls are going to leave the ballpark."

Stressful stuff for pitchers and managers, no doubt, but if the 2017 World Series is an indication, it could be wild fun for fans, too. This year's postseason participants combined to win 73 times in the regular season when trailing after seven innings. When no lead is safe, no game can be boring, right?

Maybe. Some are concerned that this year's big fly bonanza might have been too much even for the thrill-seekers in the seats.

"Before, it was like the big wreck at a NASCAR race," Greene said. "You might see one, and everybody showed up to see that one homer. Now, you're going to see six."

Managers have learned to live with all that carnage. Snitker maintained the baseball won't affect his decision-making, a sentiment echoed by Astros manager AJ Hinch. Yankees skipper Aaron Boone isn't sure what to anticipate, except he's pretty sure hitters will keep finding ways to connect.

"The team that ends up winning the World Series," Boone said, "will do a good job of holding offenses down and will probably hit a lot of balls in the seats when they have traffic to create some big innings off of elite pitchers.

"What it ends up looking like, I don't know how to predict that."


Sharma opens for India in 1st test vs revamped South Africa

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli addresses a press conference in Visakhapatnam, India, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. India and South Africa are scheduled to play the first test cricket match of the three-match series from Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

By Chetan Narula

Visakhapatnam, India (AP) — Limited-overs specialist Rohit Sharma will be a surprising opener for India in the first test against a rebuilding South Africa beginning Wednesday.

Captain Virat Kohli said Sharma, who averages 39.62 in 27 tests since 2013, will open for the short term with Lokesh Rahul sent back to domestic cricket to regain form.

Sharma has never been able to extend his ODI form, where he averages 48.5 in 218 matches with 27 centuries, to the longer format.

He has never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck in a practice game against South Africa last week.

"We are in no hurry with Rohit as opener," Kohli said Tuesday. "It is all about a mental change and the whole team is excited to see if he can replicate his ODI form. He will be given the space to find his own game and come into his own."

No. 1-ranked India will be without paceman Jasprit Bumrah, who has been ruled out of the three-test series with a minor back stress fracture. India will revert to a two-spinner, two-pacer formula in home conditions.

Ravichandran Ashwin will return to the side after not playing in the West Indies as India team management favored Ravindra Jadeja. Ashwin last played test cricket against Australia at Adelaide in December 2018, ending a lengthy absence for the off-spinner who has taken 234 wickets in 38 home tests.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has been dropped in favor of Wriddhiman Saha, who also returns to the test side for the first time since January 2018. Saha was out for almost a year due to a shoulder injury.

South Africa will take the field in test cricket for the first time since the retirements of mainstays Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, and skipper Faf du Plessis has already said he will retire after the Twenty20 World Cup next year.

Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada are expected to lead the new-ball attack for South Africa. Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn and Zubayr Hamsa are expected to give South Africa its batting boost, with none of those batsmen featuring in the 2015 four-test series in India won 3-0 by the hosts.

"We are a different unit," du Plessis said. "It is a very young batting lineup and they are motivated to do well in international cricket, and this tour will be no different for them."

The second test begins Oct. 10 in Pune and the third Oct. 19 in Ranchi.

Lineups:

India: (from) Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.

South Africa: (from) Faf du Plessis (captain), Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamsa, Vernon Philander, Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada.


Baggage unpacked, England intent on making amends for 2015

England's Billy Vunipola runs at United States' Shaun Davies, left, during the Rugby World Cup Pool C game at Kobe Misaki Stadium, between England and the United States in Kobe, Japan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Tokyo (AP) — The England players had to unload a lot of baggage and bring in a new coach to get over the bitter disappointment four years ago of becoming the first host of the Rugby World Cup to be eliminated in the pool stage.

No. 8 Billy Vunipola said a bit of therapy, with psychologist Corinne Reid, and new coach Eddie Jones had helped them get over the emotional pain and focus on making it right at the 2019 edition in Japan.

"Men don't know how to talk about their feelings. It took us a while, but we got there in the end," Vunipola said of the sessions with Reid. "Being brutally honest can hurt a few feelings (but) it was really good (Reid) gave us the platform to do it."

Jones was the head coach of Japan at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, when he masterminded the biggest upset in the tournament's history with a victory over two-time champion South Africa in Brighton. South Africa recovered to reach the semifinals. England, the 2003 champion, failed to reach the knockout round from a tough pool containing two-time winner Australia and Wales.

Vunipola, born in Australia into a family of Tongan international rugby players, qualified for England by residency and made his debut in 2013. He was set to play a big role in the 2015 World Cup but injured his knee in the group-stage loss to Wales and was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament.

Jones, who was head coach when Australia lost the 2003 Rugby World Cup final in extra-time to England, and was a consultant with South Africa when the Springboks beat England for the title in '07, is now at the helm of English rugby.

The straight-talking Australian puts a major emphasis on the squad being more important than individuals, and the England players are buying into it.

"Eddie has definitely got the baggage out," said Vunipola, who has started 11 tests this year at No. 8. "It was something that was very important to us, and it has probably freed us up a lot in terms of our relationships."

Vunipola said the respect within the England squad was "on a different level to any England side I've previously been involved with," and was translating onto the field.

"We've talked about things we've never previously been able to put out there as a group and it's brought us closer together," he said. "There is a lot more respect in that changing room for each other and it's been really fun."

England opened with a 35-3 win over Tonga and a 45-7 win over the United States, and now faces two-time semifinalists Argentina on Saturday in Pool C. Argentina is playing for survival after opening with a loss against France. Only the top two teams in each group advance to the knockout stage, and No. 3-ranked England is favored to top Pool C.

"Our destiny is in our own hands still and we have to put down a marker, not for anyone else but for ourselves as a team," Vunipola said. "We have talked a lot about it, but talking is different to doing."


Soccer leagues, player unions team up on concussion protocol

Everton's Theo Walcott is carried off after an injury during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Saturday Sept. 28, 2019. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Nyon, Switzerland (AP) — European soccer leagues and player unions are teaming up to improve how concussions are identified and treated during games.

The European Leagues group and FIFPro, the global network of national unions, said Tuesday they will make country-by-country agreements "over the course of the coming two seasons."

European governing soccer body UEFA also wants better awareness of concussion after incidents in its games in March involving Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Switzerland defender Fabian Schaer.

The campaigns come as soccer's rule-making body IFAB is being urged to explore the idea of temporary substitutes to replace players being assessed for a head injury.

"This is a critical issue for our players' long term wellbeing," said Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of FIFPro's Europe division. "Other sports such as rugby or American football have been able to improve the management of and awareness for concussions significantly in their sports. Football needs to now follow suit."

European Leagues and FIFPro want domestic league rules to incorporate international standards of "concussion management procedures on the field as well as return to play protocols."

Team medical staff could get access to live broadcast footage to help identify injuries quickly.

Disciplinary measures are being considered "such as the requirement of further training and education." Pre-season training will be offered to teams, medical staff and referees.

European Leagues said its members will get more details at their annual meeting, in London on Oct. 18. The group includes 36 member leagues from 29 countries.

UEFA has asked for soccer's concussion rules to be discussed by IFAB's expert advisory panels which meet Oct. 23 in Zurich.

"The health of players is of utmost importance and I strongly believe that the current regulations on concussion need updating to protect both the players and the doctors," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement.

The next annual meeting of IFAB, where the laws of soccer can be changed by FIFA and the four British soccer federations, is held Feb. 29 in Northern Ireland.


Tokyo Olympic organizers: 6,900 tickets bought through fraud

In this April 25, 2016, file photo, official logos of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, left, and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games are displayed by the Tokyo Organizing Committee, in Tokyo.

By STEPHEN WADE

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers are investigating the fraudulent purchase of 6,900 tickets worth 180 million yen ($1.67 million) that were obtained in an online lottery for Japan residents.

"We are consulting with the police on this matter, and if there are other cases where unauthorized purchases are suspected, we will deal with those as needed," Tokyo organizers said in a statement Monday.

Organizers were in the process of voiding the tickets but did not suggest who was involved. They said they were bought using fraudulent IDs.

Ticket interest in next year's Tokyo Olympic is unprecedented with demand at least 10 times above supply, and probably much greater.

Earlier this year Japan passed a law that prohibits ticket scalping, with a 1 million yen ($9,100) fine and a one-year jail term — or both.

However, the law has large loopholes and does not apply to tickets distributed for free or given away as gifts, or tickets without a purchaser's name. This applies to many tickets coming from the International Olympic Committee, the 206 national Olympic committees, or major sponsors.

In a separate matter, organizers have announced the results of their latest ticket lottery for Japan residents.

The outcome is much like the first lottery in May: tickets are very tough to get, and many in Japan will be left out.

Organizers say 1.4 million people applied in the August phase, and only 120,000 were successful landing 350,000 tickets.

Tokyo organizers say they have now sold 3.57 million tickets to Japan residents in both lotteries. The Japanese general public is slated to get between 70-80% of the estimated 7.8 million tickets that are listed as available.

The rest are for sale outside Japan through Authorized Ticket Resellers — the Olympic agents contracted to sell tickets outside Japan — or go to sponsors, national Olympic committees, sports federations, and dignitaries.

Organizers are planning another lottery this fall for Japan residents but have declined to say how many tickets will be available.

Tokyo is a reversal from recent Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Pyeongchang, South Korea, when tickets were unsold and many events were poorly attended. That won't be the case with 35 million people in Greater Tokyo looking to attend.

The demand is widely reported to be driving up hotel prices.

Tickets sales are projected to raise about $800 million for the organizing committee's operating budget of $5.6 billion.


Pakistan wins toss, elects to bat against Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan cricket team player Angelo Perera attends a practice session at National Stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday Sept. 29, 2019. Sri Lanka touring Pakistan to play three-ODI and three T20 matches series. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — The Pakistani city of Karachi is finally ending its 10-year wait to host a one-day international as Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat against Sri Lanka in the second ODI on Monday.

Unseasonal rain in the southern port city washed out the first ODI on Friday and forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to reschedule the second ODI for Monday instead of Sunday. The third and final match will be played at the same venue on Wednesday.

The ODI series will be followed by three Twenty20s at Lahore from Oct. 5-9.

It is the first time since Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked in Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team is conducting a two-week tour of Pakistan.

Major teams have avoided the country since the ambush that killed eight people and injured several players.

Some of the top Sri Lanka players have pulled out of the tour due to security concerns.

Captain Lahiru Thirimanne said at the toss it's "an opportunity for youngsters to showcase their talent."

Pakistan included all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed, who will be playing his first ODI in four years.

Teams:

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari

Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne (captain), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara


Victor Perez first French winner at Dunhill Links

Victor Perez shows off the trophy following his win of the Links Championship at St Andrews in Scotland, Sunday Sept. 29, 2019. (Kenny Smith/PA via AP)

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Rookie Victor Perez claimed his first European Tour title in his 29th appearance after posting a 2-under 70 to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by one shot on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Perez narrowly missed his 12-foot birdie putt at the last but a close-range par was good enough to see him become the first French winner of this tournament with 22-under 266 overall.

Perez, who is based in Scotland and ranked No. 184, had previous rounds of 64-68-64. He graduated from the Challenge Tour last year.

England's Matthew Southgate (71) was second after a thrilling final-round battle with Perez, who had three birdies and a solitary bogey on the par-3 No. 11 at the Old Course at St. Andrews.

Southgate had two bogeys on the back nine and failed to make the birdie he needed at the last to force a playoff.

"Obviously I felt like I had a solid day. I did my job and it was good enough, and next thing you know, you're a winner on the European Tour," Perez said. "You have to take it how it comes and it's a great win for me."

Another Englishman Paul Waring (70) and Swede Joakim Lagergren (69) finished in a tie for third on 20 under.


Bundesliga switching to ESPN+ from Fox for 2020-21 season

Dortmund's Julian Weigl, left, and Lukasz Piszczek, right, in action with Bremen's Josh Sargent, centre left, and Nuri Sahin, in action during their 6th round Bundesliga soccer match Borussia Dortmund against Werder Bremen at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday Sept. 28, 2019.(Bernd Thissen/dpa via AP)

By RONALD BLUM

NEW YORK (AP) — Germany's Bundesliga is moving its U.S. telecasts from Fox to ESPN, which will carry most of the matches on its digital streaming service in the latest switch from traditional broadcast networks.

ESPN and the Bundesliga announced Monday they had reached a six-year agreement that starts with the 2020-21 season. Select matches will be televised on ESPN's traditional networks but the overwhelming majority will be on ESPN+, an over-the-top service launched by The Walt Disney Co. affiliate in April 2018.

As part of the deal, ESPN also acquired rights to the German second division, the German Super Cup and relegation-promotion playoffs. ESPN's "SportsCenter" is likely to boost Bundesliga coverage.

"We're going to be promoting it across the platform," ESPN+ general manager Russell Wolff said. "We'll make Bundesliga bigger than it's ever been before in the United States."

England's Premier League is the most-watched European soccer league in the U.S., averaging 423,000 viewers for telecasts in 2018-19 on NBC and NBCSN, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Bundesliga averaged 50,000 on Fox's English-language networks in 2018-19, the fourth of the league's five-season deal. Fox took over from GolTV, which had limited distribution.

ESPN+ replaced BeIN Sport as the primary U.S. outlet for Italy's Serie A starting in 2018-19, the same season it replaced Fox for England's FA Cup. ESPN+ also streams the Dutch Eredivisie and UEFA's Nations League, and it carried last summer's Copa América.

"Without a doubt the digital platforms are coming and are now delivering substantial fan bases, so they will be a more present players in these sports environments," Robert Klein, chief executive of Bundesliga International, said in a telephone interview. "People often talk about the U.S. as a saturated market in terms of soccer. There is actually a need for growth, and we see it first of all in the participation numbers in youth."

Spain's La Liga chose a different route. It agreed last month to a contract until 2024 with BeIN, which started televising the league in 2012-13 and also has a far smaller reach than ESPN and Fox.

Several members of the U.S. national team are in the Bundesliga, including Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) and John Brooks (Wolfsburg).

Klein anticipates the league to work with ESPN on wraparound programming featuring players, a method NBC adopted to drive its American audience. The Bundesliga opened a U.S. office in New York last October that has five employees and assists on its clubs' exhibition tours.

"ESPN, we will be working with them now week in, week out. It will not be from a distance from Germany," Klein said. "We have a team on the ground who will be working with them on all these marketing activities. And therefore you will see an intensity and hopefully delivering for the fans. We're doing this so that we can connect with the fans and deliver to the people who care about football in general and the Bundesliga in particular."
 


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