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Tony Stewart skips 3rd race after Ward's death

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Tony Stewart will not race Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, the third Sprint Cup race he's skipped since his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race.

Stewart's decision was announced Wednesday and Jeff Burton will once again replace him in the No. 14 Chevrolet. Burton also drove Stewart's car at Michigan last weekend.

Stewart-Haas Racing is allowing Stewart to take the time he needs away from the track, and the team statement indicated the three-time NASCAR champion is taking it week-by-week. Stewart will not have to decide on another race until the Aug. 31 event at Atlanta.

Stewart has been in seclusion since the Aug. 9 incident at an upstate New York dirt track. He has not commented since he issued a statement the day after Ward's death.

Stewart also pulled out of the race at Watkins Glen, which began about 12 hours after his car hit Ward at event in Canandaigua, New York. Ward's car had spun into a wall as he and Stewart raced for position, and the 20-year-old climbed out to confront Stewart.

Authorities said the first car to pass Ward had to swerve to miss hitting the driver, who was gesturing toward the NASCAR star. The front of Stewart's car then appeared to clear Ward, but Ward was struck by the right rear tire and hurtled through the air.

Ward died of blunt force trauma, and authorities are still investigating the incident. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero has said investigators did not have any evidence to support criminal intent by Stewart, but the investigation is expected to last at least another week. Povero said this week were no new updates.

None of Stewart's peers has spoken to the driver since the accident. But they've come to his defense, with six-time champion Jimmie Johnson saying nothing he's seen has convinced him that Ward's death was anything but a tragic accident.

Kevin Harvick, a longtime friend of Stewart's and his teammate at SHR, also bristled at the negative portrayal of Stewart since Ward's death.

"I've known Tony Stewart for a long time ... I know for sure that Tony Stewart is not going to run over somebody," Harvick said. "I don't think there's anybody in this garage that would. It would be hard to find somebody in the racing world that could point that car, just run somebody over."

NASCAR last week announced a rule that prohibits drivers from exiting from a crashed or disabled vehicle - unless it is on fire - until safety personnel arrive.

Stewart has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts. He has one career win at Bristol, in 2001.

Burton made just his third start of the season last week. The 21-time Sprint Cup winner parted ways with Richard Childress Racing at the end of the season and is transitioning into an analyst for NBC. Burton won at Bristol in 2008 and has 15 top-10 finishes in 40 career starts.

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 22:15:00 +0000
US routs Dominicans in exhibition at MSG

NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose heard the fans chanting his name, and yes, he would've loved to give them what they wanted.

But after missing most of the past two years and with still a long summer of basketball ahead, he's willing to take this return slowly.

"Just trying to protect myself, just knowing that this is a long, long schedule and this is the most basketball I'll be playing in two years," Rose said.

"I want to be out there, but at the same time my health is the No. 1 issue right now."

With Rose sitting out, Kyrie Irving started and made all five shots, scoring 12 points as the U.S. national basketball team beat the Dominican Republic 105-62 on Wednesday night in an exhibition game.

James Harden also scored 12 in limited playing time for the Americans, who used their subs for most of the second half. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan each scored 13 points.

Rose and U.S. assistant Tom Thibodeau, Rose's coach with the Chicago Bulls, both said he was experiencing general soreness, though Rose was quick to point out it was nothing related to his multiple knee surgeries.

Rose's absence allowed U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski to take a longer look at other players with cuts coming soon. The Americans have 16 players on the roster and have to get down to 12 before the upcoming Basketball World Cup.

"When we do eventually make decisions on the 12, it will be very, very difficult," Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski said there would be no cuts before Friday's game against Puerto Rico, and he said Rose would play that night.

Fans chanted loudly in the third quarter for Rose to get into this one, but Krzyzewski decided shortly before tip the Chicago Bulls star wouldn't play.

Rose had sat out practices the past two days after starting in Saturday's exhibition victory over Brazil on his home floor, saying Tuesday he just wanted extra rest as he tries to play his way back into shape after missing most of the past two seasons because of knee surgeries.

"He's feeling a lot better, he was probably feeling good enough to play tonight, but because he hasn't played and he's trying to shake off some rust, the best thing to do was to give him the day off," Thibodeau said.

Houston Rockets forward Francisco Garcia scored 14 points for the Dominican Republic, coached by South Florida's Orlando Antigua. The Dominicans are without their best player, the Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford, who is recovering from a torn right pectoral muscle.

Karl Towns played 10 minutes for the Dominicans, though he won't accompany them to Spain as the highly touted freshman heads to Kentucky. The team shot 34 percent.

"Would've liked to shot the ball a lot better, but I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the game. We showed some good points," Antigua said.

The teams will meet again in Bilbao, Spain, where they are both in Group C.

The Americans leave Saturday for Spain, where they will finish their preparations with a final exhibition against Slovenia. The World Cup opens on Aug. 30.

The Dominicans took a 6-4 lead, the Americans answered with 14 straight points to make it 18-6, and that was about it. The Americans expanded a 28-17 lead after one quarter to 53-31 at the half, as Harden and Klay Thompson each scored 10 points by the break.

The U.S. pushed it to 69-34 with a little more than 4 minutes left in the third after a flurry by Irving, allowing for extra playing time for players at the back end of the roster such as Andre Drummond and Gordon Hayward.

Drummond finished with 12 points for the Americans, who shot 58 percent.

Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver and Mason Plumlee were the only Americans who didn't play.

Before the game, U.S. military members presented each player with two dog tags. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said one featured the American flag, the player's name, and the words leadership, service and teamwork, and the other featured the name of a serviceman.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 02:18:00 +0000
Angels RHP Richards leaves field with knee injury

BOSTON (AP) Los Angeles Angels right-hander Garrett Richards was taken off the field on a stretcher with a left knee injury on Wednesday night.

Richards was hurt in the second inning while running to cover first base on a potential double-play grounder by Boston's Brock Holt. Richards' fell in the dirt near the base. Several minutes later he was wheeled off while he raised his right arm to the crowd and put his left hand on his forehead.

The Angels said he sustained a patellar injury but didn't disclose the extent.

With runners at first and second, Holt grounded to first baseman Albert Pujols, who threw to shortstop Erick Aybar for the out at second. Richards then fell while running to first for a return throw that never came.

Aybar spun and threw to third, but Xander Bogaerts, who had run past the base, dove back safely.

Cory Rasmus replaced Richards.

Richards (13-7) was 7-2 in his previous 11 starts, lowering his ERA from 2.87 to 2.53. Since June 4, he had a 1.79 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 100 1-3 innings.

But he struggled on Wednesday, allowing two runs and five hits with one walk and no strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 01:14:00 +0000
Yankees RHP Tanaka throws 35-pitch bullpen session

NEW YORK (AP) Masahiro Tanaka threw 35 pitches Wednesday in his second bullpen session as he tries to return to the New York Yankees this season.

The injured rookie from Japan threw fastballs, breaking balls and five splitters at Yankee Stadium. He said he felt a little rusty, but his elbow is healthy and now it's just a matter of rebuilding arm strength and getting sharp.

"It was a good day," Tanaka said through a translator. "The elbow is fine now. I'm more looking towards playing in a game now. But that said, even that said, I think I do have to be cautious about the elbow."

Tanaka went on the disabled list July 9 with a partial ligament tear in his right elbow and had a platelet-rich plasma injection. New York hopes he can avoid Tommy John surgery and return to the rotation next month.

The right-hander threw 25 pitches in his first bullpen session last Saturday and might have another one before moving on to batting practice. After that, it would be a simulated game and then a rehab game. No more MRIs are planned.

"So far, so good. I mean, every step has been positive for him and that's obviously the way we hope it continues to go. But each step, he increases intensity, and I'm sure BPs will be a little bit more intense than bullpens," manager Joe Girardi said. "The fact that he felt good today was encouraging. See how he feels tomorrow, obviously, is really important, but he was able to throw his curveball, his slider and his split, and I watched it and it looked pretty good."

Tanaka is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 18 starts. New York began the day four games out of a playoff spot with 39 to play.

In other news, slumping Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup against Houston because of discomfort in his troublesome right elbow, which has bothered him for much of the season.

Beltran was scheduled to be examined by a doctor Wednesday evening.

"I'm not really sure what it means. Hopefully, it's just a day or two," Girardi said.

Derek Jeter was the designated hitter instead of Beltran, with Stephen Drew set to start at shortstop.

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 23:09:00 +0000
Giants win protest, rain-shortened game to resume

CHICAGO (AP) The San Francisco Giants on Wednesday became the first team since 1986 to win a protest filed with Major League Baseball, and will now get to resume a rain-shortened game the Chicago Cubs thought they had won.

MLB executive Joe Torre ruled on Tuesday night's game at Wrigley Field that was called after 4 1-2 innings. The Cubs were declared the winners by a 2-0 score.

Now, it is instead a suspended game that will resume at 4:05 p.m. CDT Thursday with the Cubs batting in the bottom of the fifth. The playoff-contending Giants and Chicago have a regularly scheduled game set to begin three hours later.

"I thought we had a strong case," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I'm just thankful and grateful that they (MLB) were open minded.

"They listened and they looked at it and I think it's the fair thing to do."

A short rainstorm caused a delay of more than 4 1-2 hours Tuesday after the grounds crew couldn't put the tarp down quickly. The umpires said the field was unplayable and called it at 1:16 a.m.

MLB ruled that the tarp had not been properly put away after its previous use. Therefore, under provisions of Official Baseball Rule 4.12 (a) (3) there a "malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club."

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer called it a "just" decision.

"The last thing you want is a playoff team feeling bitter about the result here," Hoyer said. "And obviously it was caused by our organization. It's a good outcome."

"Hopefully we win the game. We have a 2-0 lead and pick it up from there," he said.

Hoyer said the Cubs had hoped all along to play a complete game on Tuesday night, and that the Wrigley Field grounds crew and the umpires were caught off-guard by a "weird weather pattern" and a lack of advance warning of the localized downpour.

That resulted in the field "wetter than usual," according to Hoyer, who added there was no rain at his house, located 12 blocks away from Wrigley Field.

Manager Rick Renteria agreed with Hoyer that the game should be completed.

"I believe in karma, OK," Renteria said. "The league has made the decision that this is what should be done. We're going to abide by it and hopefully we go out there and finish it off."

Bochy was grateful to the Cubs for their support.

I really have to compliment the Cubs," he said. "They were all for this too. They wanted to do the right thing."

Giants President Larry Baer said in a statement: "We appreciate Major League Baseball's careful review of our protest that will allow last night's game to be continued tomorrow."

"We want to thank Commissioner Bud Selig, Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre and the Chicago Cubs organization for their cooperation throughout this process," he said.

The last time a team won a protest filed with MLB was June 16, 1986, when St. Louis played at Pittsburgh. There were two rain delays at Three Rivers Stadium, and the Pirates correctly contended those didn't meet the National League's 30-minute threshold for cancellation.

MLB said in its statement that after watching video of the trouble at Wrigley Field and talking to Cubs' representatives, "the Cubs' inability to deploy the tarp appropriately was caused by the failure to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use."

"As a result, the grounds keeping crew was unable to properly deploy the tarp after the rain worsened," MLB said.

MLB said it talked with umpire crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt and that grounds crew worked hard to comply with his direction to get the field covered.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 05:03:00 +0000

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