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Update October 2017


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Update October 11, 2017

Aussies end war-torn Syria's World Cup hopes in extra time

Australia's keeper Mathew Ryan dives at a ball that hit the post from a Syrian free kick during their World Cup qualifying match in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Keiran Smith

Sydney (AP) — Omar al-Soma's free kick crashed into the post with moments to go, ending war-torn Syria's World Cup hopes and allowing Tim Cahill's Australians to squeeze into the final playoff for a spot in Russia.

The 37-year-old Cahill delivered again for Australia with both goals in a dramatic 2-1 extra-time win over Syria on Tuesday that clinched the Asian playoff series 3-2 on aggregate.

The Australians will next play a home-and-away series in November against CONCACAF side Honduras, which finished in fourth place in the North and Central America and Caribbean qualifying group. The winner of that series qualifies for Russia.

Syria's improbable run toward a first World Cup attracted global attention, which heightened after they salvaged a 1-1 draw in the first leg last week at their adopted home ground in Malaysia.

Syria's chances grew dramatically after they took a 1-0 lead in the return match after al-Soma's goal in the 6th minute, but Cahill's powerful headers in the 13th minute and in extra time secured Australia's place in a playoff next month against the fourth-place team from North and Central America.

"I don't know why we have to make it so hard — it shouldn't be that difficult for us," Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said. "We left it late and we had to work awfully hard, but I think we deserved to get through. The players showed tremendous character."

Postecoglou singled out Cahill, who has been a star of Australia's World Cup campaigns since scoring against Japan in Germany in 2006, for his composed performance.

"Timmy is Timmy, that's why he's a great Australian sportsman." Postecoglou said. "He's got real belief in himself. He's just a unique, extraordinary individual and he led from the front tonight."

But for a matter of inches, it could have been Syrian striker al-Soma getting all the accolades. After returning to the national team from a self-imposed five-year absence amid the war in his country, al-Soma played a vital role in Syria's surge to third spot in the third round of Asian qualifying — including the late equalizer against Iran in the last game which set up the playoff series against Australia.

He converted an 85th-minute penalty last week to secure the draw in Malaysia, and he opened the scoring in the return leg to silence a parochial 42,136 crowd at Sydney's Olympic stadium. The crowd was silent again when al-Soma stepped up in the last minute of extra time with a chance to make it 2-2 — a result that would have allowed Syria to advance to the next stage on away goals — but his free kick struck the woodwork with keeper Mat Ryan well beaten.

The crowd burst into victorious chants and celebrations. But the outcome stunned millions of Syrians watching the broadcast, and some of the disconsolate players who slumped to the ground.

The Syrian team has been on a remarkable run despite being forced to play all its games in other countries. But in a reflection of the massive divisions among Syrians amid an ongoing 7-year-old war, the country's World Cup run was opposed by many Syrians opposed to President Bashar Assad, who accused him of exploiting the team.

There's no doubt, though, that the team's progress was closely followed, with cafes crowded and schools and universities closed to allow students to watch the broadcast of the game far away in Australia.

Syria coach Ayman al-Hakim was full of praise for his team, which finished with 10 men after Mahmoud Almawas was sent off in the fourth minute of extra time after picking up a second yellow card.

"I am very proud of my boys with what they have achieved," al-Hakim said through a translator. "At the end there are mistakes in soccer. The players followed instruction very, very well. But the Australian goal happens because of the pressure of the Socceroos."

The Syrian team certainly didn't lack passion, chasing the win right to the end.

With the score locked at 1-1 and an hour gone, Hakim sent in star playmaker Firas al-Khatib — who recently returned to play for the national team after a prolonged absence — to create the goal-scoring chance.

Al-Khatib created opportunities almost immediately, but the Australians also wasted chances and forced good saves from inspirational goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma to ensure the match was still 1-1 at the end of regulation time.

It took another incisive run from Cahill, powering home his 50th international goal from Robbie Kruse's cross to finally give Australia the edge, as he has so often has in an international career spanning 103 games.

"You've got to write your own script," Cahill said of his ability to score goals under extra pressure. "It's a responsibility when I play. This is my passion. I will run to the end for this manager and these players. I'm proud of everything we have done together."


Messi’s 3 goals lift Argentina to World Cup

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Ecuador during their 2018 World Cup qualifying match at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium in Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Stephen Wade

Quito, Equador (AP) - When it really mattered and when the pressure was most intense, Lionel Messi delivered for Argentina.

On the brink of being eliminated from World Cup qualifying for the first time in almost five decades, Messi scored all three goals in Argentina's comeback 3-1 victory Tuesday at Ecuador — overcoming the thin air in the Andes.

"It would've been crazy if Argentina didn't play the World Cup," said Messi, adding that the team "will change, will grow a lot, will be stronger after this."

But there's still work to do for Argentina, the two-time champions who lost the final three years ago to Germany 1-0.

Messi has yet to hoist a major trophy for his country of birth, a contrast to the laurels he's brought Barcelona.

He'll turn 31 during the World Cup in Russia, so this may be his last chance.

"Messi does not owe Argentina a World Cup, but rather football owes him a World Cup," Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli said.

The top four teams in South America get automatic spots at next year's tournament in Russia. Brazil have 41 points and clinched qualification months ago. The other three advancing Tuesday went in this order: Uruguay (31), Argentina (28) and Colombia (27).

Uruguay beat Bolivia 4-2, Argentina won 3-1, Colombia drew 1-1 with Peru and last-place Venezuela beat Paraguay 1-0.

Peru (26) placed fifth and will keep alive their bid for a first World Cup appearance since 1982 after edging Chile for the South American spot in the inter-continental playoff next month against Oceania representative New Zealand.

On a dramatic last day of continental qualifying tournaments, six South American teams — separated by only four points over 17 matches — had shots at the World Cup entering play.

Chile, after a 3-0 loss to Brazil, and Paraguay missed out. Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador were already out of contention.

There was a major shock further north in the Americas with the U.S. slipping from third spot to fifth in CONCACAF qualifying for teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean with a loss in Trinidad and missing out on the World Cup. Panama secured the third automatic direct entry behind Mexico and Costa Rica, and Honduras finished fourth and secured a spot in a playoff against Australia.


Portugal, France book World Cup tickets; Dutch to stay home

Portugal's players celebrates their side's second goal during the World Cup Group B qualifying match against Switzerland at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Tuesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Graham Dunbar

Geneva (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal are going to the World Cup and not by the risky playoff route this time.

France also sealed their ticket to Russia on Tuesday after, like Portugal, needing a second chance in the playoffs to reach the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.

After runner-up and third-place finishes at those World Cups, the Netherlands will miss out in 2018 after finishing third in France's Group A, despite beating Sweden 2-0.

Portugal beat Switzerland 2-0 in a qualifying duel in Lisbon, to extend their winning streak to nine games and end a perfect Swiss record in Group B.

The European champions already had a superior goal difference and needed a win by any score to top the group.

France also were assured to advance with three points, and beat visiting Belarus 2-1.

Belgium had already qualified and completed an unbeaten Group H program beating Cyprus 4-0. The Belgians will be in the top-seeded pot for the Dec. 1 draw in Moscow.

The European playoffs draw — with Switzerland, Sweden and Greece completing the eight-team lineup — is made next Tuesday in Zurich.


Australia crush India in 2nd T20, level series

Australia's Moises Henriques, center, gestures with his teammate Travis Head after scoring fifty runs during the second Twenty20 cricket match against India in Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Guwahati, India (AP) — Australia swept to a crushing eight-wicket victory over India in their second Twenty20 on Tuesday, after Moises Henriques and Travis Head piled on an unbeaten 109-run partnership for the second wicket to level the three-match series.

Australia needed only 15.3 overs to reach 122-2 in reply, after Jason Behrendorff had taken a career-best 4-21 to bowl out the hosts for a paltry 118 runs. Adam Zampa chipped in with two wickets for 19 runs.

Henriques scored 62 off 46 balls, including four fours and four sixes, while Head made 48 with the help of five fours and a six.

It was Australia's first win in eight T20 games against India and lines up a tantalizing finish to the series in Hyderabad on Friday.

"Jason has got the height and bounce, he comes from Perth and has the right attitude, which is key. Zampa was fantastic as well. Henriques came and showed his experience. Hopefully the crowd gets behind us in Hyderabad," David Warner said.

Warner (2) and Aaron Finch (8) fell early in the chase as Australia were reduced to 13-2 in the third over, with Jasprit Bumrah (1-25) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-9) respectively taking the wickets.

But India's hopes of defending a small target were dashed as their spinners, Kuldeep Yadav (0-46) and Yuzvendra Chahal (0-29), struggled in dewy conditions.

Henriques and Head were watchful early on, but opened up later in the innings to put on 50 runs off just 41 balls, and then bring up the 100 partnership off 73 deliveries.

Earlier, Behrendorff took three wickets in the space of eight balls to stun the capacity crowd at the Barsapara Stadium. It became the 49th venue in India to host international cricket, but Australia didn't provide much for the crowd to celebrate after asking the hosts to bat.

"I have been working hard to play for Australia and I am loving every minute of it," Behrendorff said. "The whole Indian team is a class team. It feels nice to take a few wickets and get off to a great start. I can't wait to do it again at Hyderabad."

Behrendorff trapped Rohit Sharma (8) lbw and then caught a return catch off Virat Kohli (0) as the duo fell in the space of three balls in the first over. It was Kohli's first-ever duck in international T20 cricket.

Manish Pandey (6) then edged behind off him in the third over. India were stuttering at 27-4 in the fifth over as Shikhar Dhawan (2) holed out off Behrendorff, with Warner taking an exceptional catch at long off, running backwards.

Behrendorff's figures were the best for Australia against India in T20 cricket. He improved on Nathan Bracken's 3-11 at Melbourne in 2008.

Kedar Jadhav (27) and MS Dhoni (13) put on 33 runs for the fifth wicket. But both were accounted by Zampa (2-19) in quick succession.

India were reduced to 70-7, before Hardik Pandya (25) and Kuldeep Yadav (16) added 33 runs to take the score past 100 in the 17th over.

Pandya was out caught off Marcus Stoinis (1-20) in the 18th as the runs came in a trickle, offering an easy target for the tourists.


Sri Lanka hand Pakistan first test series defeat in UAE

Sri Lankan players celebrate the dismissal of Pakistan's Mohammad Amir during the last day of the second test in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Dubai, UAE (AP) — Pakistan's record of never having lost a test cricket series in the United Arab Emirates ended on Tuesday when Sri Lanka won the second match by 68 runs and swept the series.

The gulf country has been Pakistan's home away from home since 2010, but the hosts couldn't overhaul Sri Lanka twice on the final days of both tests.

Chasing 317 to win, Asad Shafiq scored a valiant 112 before Pakistan were bowled out for 248 inside the first session on day five.

Sarfraz Ahmed scored a fighting 68, but when offspinner Dilruwan Perera induced a top edge of the Pakistan captain's mistimed sweep and broke the 173-run stand with Shafiq, Pakistan lost their last five wickets for 23 runs.

Sri Lanka made 482 and 96, and dismissed Pakistan for 262 and 248.

"We are over the moon," Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal said.

"The boys executed the game plan really well in this series. Last night, it was a little difficult to bowl, especially with the dew (but) we knew when we come today, it will grip more. We knew Dilruwan and Rangana (Herath) would do the job."

Perera grabbed 5-98 and Herath 2-57, taking the last wicket.

Pakistan, ranked No. 1 a year ago, will drop to No. 7, below Sri Lanka, who began the series as the underdogs. Sri Lanka's confidence was down after losing every match during a visit by India recently, followed by a first five-match series loss to Zimbabwe in one-day internationals.

Resuming at the overnight 198-5, Pakistan started their pursuit positively on the fifth afternoon of the day-nighter with Ahmed and Shafiq attacking to lift the score to 225-5. However, they rode their luck.

Ahmed survived a stumping on 65, and in the same over, Shafiq reached his 11th test century, off 151 balls. The next ball, Shafiq was dropped at first slip, and on 103 he successfully overturned an lbw decision against him.

Ahmed was out seven balls before the new ball was available, then seamer Suranga Lakmal finally broke through Shafiq's defences when he found an outside edge with the second new ball. Shafiq hit 10 boundaries in his attacking knock off 176 balls.

Herath wrapped up Pakistan's innings when last man Wahab Riaz was caught by Chandimal.

"It was a tough series for us, we came close in both matches," Ahmed said after being whitewashed in his first test series as Pakistan captain since the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq this year.

"Test captaincy is a little difficult and I've learnt a lot. The boys are new as well and they'll learn. We'll do better in the future.

"Our preparations were fine, but we just missed big partnerships."

The teams begin a five-match one-day international series, starting on Friday. That will be followed by three Twenty20s, with the last T20 scheduled to be played at Lahore.


Update October 10, 2017

Keenum leads 3 scoring drives, Vikings beat Bears 20-17

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, left, strips the ball from Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, centre, during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 9, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Andrew Seligman

Chicago (AP) — Case Keenum led three second-half scoring drives in relief of Sam Bradford, and the Minnesota Vikings spoiled prized rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's debut with a 20-17 victory over the Chicago Bears on Monday night.

Kai Forbath kicked a 26-yard field goal in the closing seconds after Harrison Smith intercepted Trubisky, and the Vikings (3-2) came away with the win after dropping two of three.

Called on after Mike Glennon struggled in the first four games, Trubisky played like he belonged. The No. 2 overall pick was 12 of 25 for 128 yards with a touchdown.

The interception came after the Bears (1-4) took over on their 10 with 2:32 left in the game. Smith picked off a pass intended for Zach Miller on the right sideline at the 22.

The Vikings got the ball at the 28, and Forbath booted the winner with 16 seconds left.

Bradford could barely move after missing three straight games because of swelling and soreness in his left knee.

He was just 5 of 11 for 36 yards and was sacked four times — including a safety by Leonard Floyd.

Keenum replaced him with 25 seconds left in the first half and went 17 of 21 for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Jerick McKinnon had a 58-yard touchdown run. Everson Griffen contributed a strip-sack against Trubisky that led to a field goal, and the Vikings beat Chicago on the road for just the third time in 17 games.

The Bears simplified their offense for Trubisky, with fewer receivers and extra blockers at times. But he still showed the mobility and arm strength that convinced general manager Ryan Pace to trade up a spot with San Francisco to grab him on draft night.

Jordan Howard ran for 76 yards. Pat O'Donnell threw a 38-yard touchdown to Benny Cunningham on a fake punt. Floyd had two sacks.

Minnesota was leading 3-2 when Keenum hit Kyle Rudolph for a 13-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. The Vikings celebrated by playing duck-duck-goose in the end zone.

The Bears lined up to punt on a fourth down at the Minnesota 38 on the next possession. But O'Donnell passed to a wide-open Cunningham, who spun around Marcus Sherels on the way to the end zone, cutting it to 17-9.

Chicago used another trick play to tie it.

The Vikings' Andrew Sendejo tipped a pass right to Zach Miller in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. The trickery came on the two-point conversion.

Trubisky handed the ball to Howard, who gave it to Miller. Miller then pitched it to Trubisky, who ran it in on the right side to tie it at 17-all with 12:24 left in the game.

TRANSACTION

The Vikings released running back Stevan Ridley after only five days to make room for receiver Michael Floyd, whose four-game suspension from a drunken driving arrest with Arizona last year expired.

INJURIES

Bears: LB John Timu left with a knee injury early in the third. He was hurt trying to tackle Latavius Murray and had to be helped off the field. ... LB Willie Young (triceps) and cornerback Marcus Cooper (back) were inactive.

UP NEXT

Vikings: Host Green Bay on Oct. 15.

Bears: Visit Baltimore on Oct. 15.


The thunderclap heads to Russia: Iceland get World Cup spot

Iceland's captain Aron Gunnarsson celebrates with teammates at the end of the World Cup Group I qualifying match against Kosovo in Reykjavik, Iceland, Monday Oct. 9. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gunnarsson)

Tales Azzoni

Madrid (AP) — The Icelandic thunderclap is making its way to Russia.

Iceland added to their incredible European Championship campaign by becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup on Monday. That means the Viking chant popularized by Iceland fans at Euro 2016 will be heard across Russia next year.

Iceland secured an automatic berth by defeating Kosovo 2-0 in Reykjavik to win Group I and kick-start celebrations in the island nation of about 330,000 people.

Fireworks were set off after the match at a packed Laugardalsvollur Stadium, and captain Aron Gunnarssonled immediately led the crowd in the traditional chant in which players and fans yell and clap their hands at a rhythmic crescendo that is likened to a Viking war chant.

The chant was a success when Iceland made their major tournament debut at the Euros in France last year, where they stunned everyone by reaching the quarterfinals after drawing with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the group stage and eliminating England in the last 16.

Serbia also qualified for the World Cup for the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006.

Ireland secured a playoff spot from Group D, while Gareth Bale's Wales were eliminated only 15 months after reaching the semifinals at Euro 2016.

Spain and Italy won their last qualifying games in Group G, which had already been won by the Spaniards. Italy were already assured of a playoff spot.

Here's a look at the action on Monday:

GROUP D

Serbia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2010 by beating Georgia 1-0 in Belgrade with a goal by Aleksandar Prijovic's in the 74th minute.

The result left Wales and Ireland to decide their fate in the Celtic showdown in Cardiff, and the Irish got the victory and a playoff berth after James McClean's 57th-minute goal following a defensive mix-up by the Welsh.

"That last half hour seemed an eternity," Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said. "We had to withstand pressure but we knew at some stage we would have to try to win the game and we did it."

Bale couldn't play for Wales because of injury.

Serbia finished with two more points than Ireland, and four more than Wales.

The Irish will try to qualify for the World Cup for a fourth time — and first since 2002. They will not be seeded in the playoffs draw which will take place on Tuesday.

GROUP G

Spain ended their qualifying campaign by beating Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, while Italy scraped past Albania 1-0 in Shkoder in another poor effort which will do little to inspire confidence in coach Gian Piero Ventura and his team.

"We have some limitations at the moment but today there was the desire to try and do things," Ventura said.

With a World Cup berth already secured, Spain played without most of their regular starters in Jerusalem but won thanks to a long-range strike by Asier Illarramendi in the second half.

They finished unbeaten with nine wins and a 1-1 draw against Italy in Turin last year. The Italians ended five points behind Spain.

Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0 in the match between the two bottom sides in the group.

Liechtenstein were outscored 39-1 in their 10 qualifiers.

GROUP I

Iceland made history by beating last-place Kosovo with a goal by Gylfi Sigurdsson in the first half and another by Johann Gudmundsson in the second, keeping the momentum from their inspiring run at Euro 2016.

The result left the Icelanders two points in front of Croatia, who beat Ukraine 2-0 in Kiev to secure the playoff spot.

Ukraine ended three points behind Croatia in third place.

It was the tightest group in European qualifying. Iceland entered the final round with a two-point lead over both Croatia and Ukraine.

Kosovo completed their maiden qualifying campaign for a major tournament with a single point from a draw at Finland.

Iceland, unbeaten in 13 competitive home games, will be the smallest nation in terms of population to play in soccer's showcase event.


Severino, Judge help Yanks top Indians 7-3 to force Game 5

New York Yankees' Gary Sanchez (24) celebrates with Greg Bird after hitting a solo home run against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning in Game 4 of baseball's American League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 9, in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Mike Fitzpatrick

New York (AP) — Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees are headed back to Cleveland for a decisive Game 5 — thanks to plenty of help from the Indians.

Severino rebounded from his playoff debacle, Judge delivered a big hit and the Yankees took advantage of shoddy defense by Cleveland to beat the Indians 7-3 Monday night and even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.

"There's a lot of confidence in that room," New York manager Joe Girardi said.

Gary Sanchez homered and a slumping Judge laced an early two-run double for his only hit of the series to go with 12 strikeouts in 15 at-bats.

Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer struggled on three days' rest and was chased in the second inning. But it was on the wet Yankee Stadium field where the Indians really flopped, committing a season-high four errors that marked a franchise record for a postseason game and led to six unearned runs.

The defending AL champions made only 76 errors all season, the lowest total in the league.

"The whole night, we made it hard on ourselves to win," manager Terry Francona said.

After preventing a three-game sweep with a 1-0 win Sunday night, the wild-card Yankees will start CC Sabathia against his original team in Game 5 on Wednesday. Indians ace Corey Kluber gets the ball in a rematch from Game 2, when he was hit hard by New York.

"It's hard to imagine giving it to somebody better," Francona said. "We're looking forward to it."

The winner will face Houston in the AL Championship Series after the Astros finished off Boston in four games Monday to win their ALDS.

Simply taking two in a row to send the series back to Cleveland was no small feat for the Yankees. The last time the Indians lost consecutive games was Aug. 22-23 at home against Boston, just before starting their AL-record 22-game winning streak. From that point on, Cleveland had gone 35-4 before arriving at Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the ALDS.

Minus injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians have scored three runs in two games since.

Severino got only one out in the wild-card game against Minnesota last Tuesday, but was bailed out by his teammates as New York advanced with an 8-4 victory. This time, the 23-year-old ace was determined to come through, and he did.

"I think he was able to relax a lot more. He was able to control his adrenaline," Girardi said.

Handed an early 5-0 lead and showing lots of emotion, the fired-up righty struck out nine in seven innings and gave up four hits, including Carlos Santana's two-run homer and Roberto Perez's solo shot.

"I told him after the game, he grew up a lot today," Girardi said.

Tommy Kahnle relieved a wild Dellin Betances in the eighth and got six outs for his first save of the season as New York improved to 3-0 when facing playoff elimination this year.

Sanchez hit his second home run of the series off Bryan Shaw in the sixth to make it 7-3.

A rainy day in the Big Apple prevented both teams from taking batting practice on the field. But the tarp was pulled and play started right on time, with fans in hooded ponchos bunched below the overhangs seeking cover from a heavy drizzle.

Showers dissipated in the bottom of the first, though a few puddles remained on the slick warning track all night.

The first of two costly errors by normally sure-handed third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a .224 hitter in the lineup for his defense, was a painful one. Starlin Castro's sinking line drive in the second struck him just above the left ankle and caromed away.

Shaken up, Urshela was checked by a trainer but stayed in the game.

With two outs, Todd Frazier pulled a 78 mph curve to deep left and it landed smack on the foul line for an RBI double. A frustrated Bauer gestured with his hand when he didn't get a strike-three call on a checked swing by Aaron Hicks, who soon singled home a run.

Brett Gardner singled and, after a mound visit from Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, Judge had a gritty at-bat. The rookie slugger was 0 for 11 with nine strikeouts in the series before fighting back from 0-2 to a full count and lining a two-run double to the left-field wall on one hop.

After pulling in at second base, Judge clapped and pointed to the Yankees dugout.

Bauer managed only five outs after tossing two-hit ball with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings during a 4-0 win in the series opener last Thursday. All four runs he allowed were unearned.

Urshela's two-out throwing error with the bases loaded in the third made it 5-0.

Frazier reached on pitcher Danny Salazar's two-base throwing error to start the fifth. He scored on Gardner's shallow sacrifice fly to center fielder Jason Kipnis, a second baseman moved to the outfield late this season. Kipnis began the year on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: Encarnacion sat out again after leaving Game 2 with a sprained right ankle. Before the game, Francona said the team hoped Encarnacion would be available to pinch-hit. ... OF Brandon Guyer is scheduled for surgery Wednesday in Arizona to repair a tendon in his left wrist, ending any chances of him playing in this postseason.

UP NEXT

Indians: A favorite to win his second Cy Young Award next month, Kluber went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts this season. Those impressive numbers included a 2-0 mark with a 1.59 ERA against New York that left him 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in seven career regular-season starts vs. the Yankees. But they got to him in Game 2 last Friday for six runs and seven hits over 2 2/3 innings.

Yankees: If they don't win Game 5, it could be Sabathia's final outing for the Yankees. The 37-year-old lefty was 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA this season and can become a free agent after the World Series. He was removed with an 8-3 cushion in Game 2 at Cleveland after only 77 pitches. New York's vaunted bullpen squandered the lead and the Yankees lost 9-8 in 13 innings.


Another Pakistan revival puts win in sight in 2nd test

Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmad plays a shot during the fourth day of the second test against Sri Lanka in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Oct. 9. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Dubai, UAE (AP) — A cricket test that looked beyond Pakistan's reach for nearly three days was suddenly winnable by stumps on day four on Monday.

Pakistan bowled out Sri Lanka for 96 in the second innings to give themselves a target of 317 to win and protect a run of undefeated test series since 2009, when they made the United Arab Emirates a home away from home.

At the end of another twist-filled day, Pakistan were 198-5, needing 119 more runs for victory.

Projecting hope were nightwatchmen Asad Shafiq, 86 not out off 141 balls, and captain Sarfraz Ahmed who was 57 off 113 balls.

They combined for 146 runs but it was more valuable than that. Shafiq and Ahmed came together when Pakistan were reduced to 52-5 in the middle session and looked like losing the test and series inside four days. Offspinner Dilruwan Perera took three wickets in 11 balls and had Pakistan on their knees.

Twice, Perera thought he had Shafiq, too, on 26. But both times, the shot was dropped by Kusal Mendis.

Shafiq made Sri Lanka pay. He and his captain made it to dinner of the day-night test, and carried their bats through the last session, Pakistan's best in the test.

They even prevented Rangana Herath from adding to his 400 career wickets in this innings. Herath has figures of 19-2-53-0.

The day started just as brightly for Pakistan.

Sri Lanka, 34-5 overnight in their second innings, were all out for 96 after making 482 in the first innings.

Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella threatened to set back Pakistan's gains late Sunday, until Dickwella was out for 21. Perera followed for a duck.

Herath hit a quick 17 then was dismissed by left-arm spinner Haris Sohail. Drinks were taken and, when the same over resumed, Sohail removed Mendis for 29 and Nuwan Pradeep for a duck.

Sohail took 3-1 in his one and only over, Wahab Riaz had 4-41 off nine overs, and Yasir Shah 2-47.

Despite Sri Lanka's collapse, the target was still formidable, and looked out of reach as Sami Aslam was out for 1, two balls after he was caught off a no ball, and Azhar Ali out for 17 from a thick inside edge which ballooned to short square leg.

Sohail (10) and Shan Masood (21 off 100 balls) edged behind, and Babar Azam fell for a duck at 52-5.

Enter Ahmed alongside Shafiq, and a little luck.


Del Potro advances to 2nd round at Shanghai Masters

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina blows his fingers as he plays against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia during their men's singles match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai, China, Monday, Oct. 9. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Shanghai (AP) — Juan Martin del Potro needed all three sets to reach the second round at the Shanghai Masters, beating Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 on Monday.

Del Potro, a Shanghai semifinalist in 2013, struggled with his second serve. Although he won 40 of 49 points on his first serve, he only captured 13 of 30 second-serve points.

American qualifier Frances Tiafoe advanced to the second round by beating Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-4. The 92nd-ranked Tiafoe was playing in his first main draw match since a five-set loss to Roger Federer at the U.S. Open.

Tiafoe will play either 10th-seeded Sam Querrey or Yuichi Sugita in the second round.

"I hope I play Sam, two Americans, so their will be an American in the third round," Tiafoe said.

Chung Hyeon also advanced, defeating ninth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-3. Chung saved all four break points he faced against last year's finalist.

"Today, I was trying to stay calm all the time in the match," said Chung, who only won one game when he played Bautista Agut in Dubai in 2016. "I won today so I did everything good."

Also, Feliciano Lopez advanced by beating Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6), while Andrey Rublev and Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas also made it through.

Federer, who won the title in Shanghai in 2004, will play his opening match on Wednesday. The Australian Open and Wimbledon champion hasn't played at an official tournament since losing in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

"I'm playing just the big tournaments now," Federer said. "I've been practicing for hours on the Centre Court. I'm here for a reason. I'm here for a purpose. Hopefully to do well and winning the tournament.

Federer will play either Diego Schwartzman or Australian qualifier Jordan Thompson in his first match.


Update October 9, 2017

Hamilton wins Japanese GP to move closer to F1 title

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads the field at the start of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 8. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Jim Armstrong

Suzuka, Japan (AP) — Championship leader Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, taking a major step toward winning his fourth Formula One title.

The Mercedes driver crossed the finish line 1.2 seconds ahead of Malaysia GP winner Max Verstappen to claim his eighth F1 victory of the season and third at the Suzuka circuit. Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was third.

"The track was fantastic today and the team did an unbelievable job," Hamilton said. "Max drove an outstanding race. Obviously, it wasn't easy for us."

Hamilton moved 59 points clear of title rival Sebastian Vettel with four races left. Vettel was forced to retire on the third lap when his Ferrari lost power.

Starting from pole position next to Vettel, Hamilton held the lead through the first turn.

With Vettel out of the race, it quickly became a showdown between Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Hamilton built up a four-second lead over the Red Bull driver through the first 15 laps and made his only pit stop on the 23rd lap.

Verstappen pitted a lap earlier than Hamilton, then produced some good laps to cut the lead to 1.7 seconds midway through the race.

Verstappen closed to within a second at the start of the final lap but traffic allowed Hamilton to escape once more and seal the narrow win.

"I was able to hold him behind me but he got very close," Hamilton said. "We had a bit of traffic but it was very close at the end."

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was fourth followed by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. The Force India duo of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez was sixth and seventh, respectively.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was eighth followed by teammate Romain Grosjean. Williams driver Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10.

Vettel's early retirement put a serious dent in his fading hopes of coming back to win the championship. He also had mechanical issues at Malaysia and started at the back of the grid before working his way to a fourth-place finish.

"It is obviously a pity the last two races with the reliability issues," Vettel said. "But you know, it's like that sometimes. Of course it hurts, and we're all disappointed."

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson also retired early when he ran across the gravel and dived nose-first into the barriers.

Carlos Sainz lost control of his Toro Rosso, spinning across the gravel into the wall on the outside and retiring after the second lap.

Mercedes also increased its lead in the Constructors' standings to 145 points over Ferrari. Red Bull is in third place with 303 points.

The next race is Oct. 22 in the United States.


Colts celebrate Manning's return with 26-23 win over 49ers

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett runs three-yards for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 8, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Indianapolis (AP) — After blowing a 14-point lead in the final eight minutes of regulation and surviving an interception in scoring position in overtime, Marlon Mack's 35-yard run set up Adam Vinatieri for a 51-yard field goal as the Indianapolis Colts beat the San Francisco 49ers 26-23 on Sunday.

Vinatieri made four field goals to move into second on the NFL's career list, one ahead of Gary Anderson (538). Mack and Jacoby Brissett each scored on TD runs for the Colts (2-3), who have won both games against winless teams.

San Francisco (0-5) is one of three teams that still has not won this season. The Browns and Giants are the others.

In many ways, the mistake-prone game became a sideshow for what happened around it.

While many showed up to thank Manning, who played his final home game in Indy on Jan. 8, 2011, most didn't anticipate becoming part of another political statement.

Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, left shortly after about a dozen San Francisco players dropped to their knees for the national anthem. The Colts locked arms, but none took a knee.

Some reports indicated Pence's walkout was planned.

President Donald Trump later tweeted: "I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen."

And Peyton Manning was inducted into the Colts' Ring of Honor.

PACKERS 35, COWBOYS 31

Arlington, Texas — Aaron Rodgers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining, lifting Green Bay over the Dallas Cowboys in another thriller nine months after the Packers' divisional playoff win on the same field.

Rodgers capped a 75-yard drive in just 1:02, going toward the same end zone as in the playoff game.

Adams, active 10 days after leaving the field on a stretcher on a helmet-to-helmet hit that resulted in a suspension for Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan, had seven catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

Dak Prescott had given Cowboys the lead on an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:13 remaining to cap a 17-play drive that lasted almost nine minutes. Dallas (2-3) has already matched the number of losses from the magical rookie season for Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Packers (4-1) had gone ahead earlier on Damarius Randall's 21-yard interception return for a touchdown, the third of five lead changes in the fourth quarter. Green Bay rallied from 15 points down in the first half.

Aaron Jones had 19 carries for 125 yards and a TD, becoming the first Green Bay running back with 100 yards in his first start as a rookie since Samkon Gado in 2005.

Elliott finished with 116 yards on 29 carries. Prescott was 25 of 36 for 251 yards and three first-half touchdowns, two to Cole Beasley and one to Dez Bryant.

Rodgers was 19 of 29 for 221 yards and three touchdowns and set up the winning score with an 18-yard scramble.

CHARGERS 27, GIANTS 22

East Rutherford, New Jersey — Philip Rivers threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon with 2:58 to play and the Chargers rallied to beat the Giants in a game worthy of two teams that started the season 0-4.

The touchdown pass was Rivers' third of the game and came three plays after Kyle Emanuel had a sack, forced fumble and recovery against Eli Manning at the Giants 11-yard line. It also came four plays after Odell Beckham Jr. hurt an ankle and become the fourth Giants receiver knocked out of the game.

Rivers also hit Gordon on a 6-yard TD pass in the second quarter and had a 25-yarder to tight end Hunter Henry in the third as the Chargers ended a nine-game losing streak dating to late November.

Manning had given the Giants a 22-17 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard TD pass to a wide-open Beckham. New York missed the 2-point conversion attempt after being hit with a delay of game penalty.

Manning, who was sacked five times, also threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to backup Roger Lewis Jr. in the third quarter. Orleans Darkwa scored on a 23-yard run and the Giants got a safety in scoring their first first-quarter points this season.

JAGUARS 31, STEELERS 9

Pittsburgh - Telvin Smith and Barry Church returned a pair of Ben Roethlisberger's interceptions for touchdowns and Jacksonville stunned Pittsburgh.

Jacksonville (3-2) beat the Steelers for the first time in a decade by relying heavily on the NFL's top-ranked pass defense. The Jaguars picked off Roethlisberger five times in all and sacked him twice. Rookie Leonard Fournette ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars, who are over .500 after five games for the first time since 2010 and have already matched their victory total from 2016.

Roethlisberger completed 33 of 55 for 312 yards and his career-high five interceptions, the most by a Pittsburgh quarterback since Mark Malone threw five against Cleveland in 1987.

A week after a sideline outburst generated headlines and drew Roethlisberger's ire, wide receiver Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards for Pittsburgh (3-2).

Brown was also the intended receiver on a pair of third-quarter passes the opportunistic Jaguars turned into points. The Steelers led 9-7 when Roethlisberger looked left for Brown. Jacksonville defensive lineman Abry Jones tipped it into the hands of Smith, who chugged 28 yards to put Jacksonville in front with 6:38 left in the period.

The Jaguars defense struck again on Pittsburgh's next series. Roethlisberger tried to hit Brown down the sideline. Jalen Ramsey deflected it and Church came down with it. A 51-yard sprint later and Jacksonville had turned a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead without taking an offensive snap.

EAGLES 34, CARDINALS 7

Philadelphia — Carson Wentz threw a career-best four touchdown passes and the Eagles continued their impressive start.

Wentz tossed three scoring passes in the first quarter, including 59 yards to Torrey Smith, 11 yards to Zach Ertz and 15 yards to Trey Burton. He connected with Nelson Agholor for a 72-yard TD in the third quarter that left six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson shouting on the sideline.

The Eagles (4-1) have won three straight games.

Carson Palmer and Arizona's one-dimensional offense were held to 279 yards. The Cardinals (2-3) have alternated losses and wins since Week 1.

Wentz torched a secondary that features Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, finishing 21 of 30 for 304 yards. Peterson held Alshon Jeffery to three catches for 31 yards, but Wentz spread the ball around.

DOLPHINS 16, TITANS 10

Miami Gardens, Florida — Jay Cutler finally silenced the boobirds with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, and the Dolphins overcame another dismal offensive showing.

The jeers started in the first quarter of the Dolphins' home debut, and soon the crowd was chanting for backup quarterback Matt Moore. But coach Adam Gase stuck with Cutler, who capped a 58-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry for the tiebreaking score.

The Titans (2-3) played without quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was inactive because of a left hamstring injury suffered a week ago. Replacement Matt Cassel went 21 for 32 for 141 yards and was sacked six times.

Miami (2-2) came in ranked last in the NFL in points and yards per game, and struggled against a Titans team that allowed 57 points against Houston a week ago.

PANTHERS 27, LIONS 24

Detroit — Cam Newton showed he was very focused on football, throwing three touchdowns to help the Panthers build a lead big enough to hold off the Lions.

The Panthers (4-1) scored 24 straight points after trailing 10-3 early in the second quarter. Detroit rallied, but could not stop Newton on his last drive to get the ball back.

Newton came under fire for making sexist comments to a female reporter this week. He apologized after losing an endorsement deal and getting criticized by the NFL.

He was 26 of 33 for a season-high 335 yards. On perhaps the game's key play, he converted a third-and-19 from the Carolina 24 with a sharp, 17-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 2:00 left while clinging to a three-point lead against a team out of timeouts.

Newton threw a 6-yard TD pass to rookie Christian McCaffrey to pull the Panthers into a 10-10 tie early in the second quarter and a 10-yard pass to Devin Funchess for a tiebreaking score with 48 seconds left in the first half. With a perfectly lofted 31-yard pass to Benjamin, the 2015 NFL MVP put Carolina up 24-10 early in the third.

Detroit (3-2) struggled to move the ball in the air and on the ground until late in the game.

BENGALS 20, BILLS 16

Cincinnati — A.J. Green had a hand in three turnovers that kept it close, but the receiver also pulled off a 77-yard touchdown and another long catch that set up a score.

After losing their first three games, the Bengals (2-3) have salvaged their season by getting the ball to their playmakers at decisive moments. Green's 47-yard catch set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Joe Mixon that put Cincinnati ahead to stay in the fourth quarter.

The Bills (3-2) got off to an encouraging start by relying heavily on kicker Stephen Hauschka and a defense that led the league, allowing only 13.5 points per game in the first four. The combination wasn't enough this time. Buffalo's depleted offense couldn't take advantage of Cincinnati's three turnovers.

Tyrod Taylor's off-target pass was picked off near midfield with 2:14 left, clinching it for Cincinnati. Taylor finished 20 of 37 for 166 yards and was sacked six times.

The Bengals changed offensive coordinators after failing to get a touchdown in their first two games. Green complained that they weren't getting the ball to their difference makers. He made the difference Sunday, catching seven passes for 189 yards.

JETS 17, BROWNS 14

Cleveland — Josh McCown came back to Cleveland and beat the team that cut him, throwing two touchdown passes and leading the surprising Jets over the winless Browns, who benched rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and fell to 1-20 under coach Hue Jackson.

McCown went 1-10 in two seasons as a starter for the Browns, who released him on Feb. 7 in a cost-cutting move. The 38-year-old wasn't seeking revenge, but he got it with two second-half scoring tosses.

McCown threw a 2-yard TD pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the third quarter and a 24-yarder to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth to give the Jets (3-2) a 17-7 lead en route to their third straight victory.

Kearse's TD capped a 97-yard drive after Jackson decided not to try a potential tying field goal — rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two attempts in the first half — and went for it on fourth down. However, running back Isaiah Crowell was stopped short by New York's defense.

Jackson also decided to replace Kizer in the second half for backup Kevin Hogan, perhaps a sign the coach is worried about losing his job. Hogan threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end David Njoku.

The Browns (0-5) dropped to 2-30 in their past 32 games, but they did finally get to see No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett. Garrett, who missed Cleveland's first four games with a high ankle sprain, got a sack on his first play and finished with two.

RAVENS 30, RAIDERS 17

Oakland, California — Joe Flacco hit Mike Wallace on two deep passes to spark Baltimore's struggling offense, and the Ravens got a fumble return for a touchdown by Jimmy Smith to beat short-handed Oakland.

Flacco had struggled to get the ball downfield in losing the past two weeks. He changed that on the opening drive of the game for the Ravens (3-2) when he connected on a 52-yard pass to Wallace that set up an early touchdown and established the tone for the day.

The Raiders (2-3), playing without injured star quarterback Derek Carr and two key cornerbacks, played from behind all game as Smith returned Jared Cook's fumble 47 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0 just 3:50 in.

Backup quarterback E.J. Manuel , making his fourth start in the past three seasons, threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and led another TD drive that ended in Marshawn Lynch's 3-yard run . He finished 13 for 26 for 159 yards.

But that wasn't nearly enough for the Raiders, who have dropped three straight following a 2-0 start, putting a severe dent in their hopes to challenge in the AFC West.

SEAHAWKS 16, RAMS 10

Los Angeles — Russell Wilson passed for 198 yards and a touchdown, and Earl Thomas forced two of the Rams' five turnovers in Seattle's win.

Jimmy Graham scored late in the first half in a defense-dominated win for the Seahawks (3-2), who shut out the NFL's highest-scoring offense in the second half of their second straight win over their NFC West rivals.

Thomas made enormous defensive plays early and late for Seattle. The veteran safety stripped the ball from Todd Gurley at the goal line to kill the Rams' opening drive, and he intercepted Jared Goff's fluttering pass at midfield with 6:02 to play.

Sheldon Richardson also came through with two big plays, diving to intercept a deflected pass in the third quarter before scooping up Goff's fumble near midfield with 2:45 left.

Goff moved the Rams 55 yards in the final 1:09, but Seattle's defense made its final stop. Rams rookie Cooper Kupp barely missed a diving TD grab on third down, and Goff's fourth-down pass to Kupp was too low.

Tavon Austin rushed for a 27-yard TD for Los Angeles (3-2), and Goff went 22 of 47 for 288 yards with three costly turnovers.


Prolific Lewandowski leads Poland into World Cup finals

Poland's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring against Montenegro during the World Cup Group E qualifying match at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 8. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Steve Douglas

London (AP) - With a record-setting 16th goal in European qualifying, Robert Lewandowski led Poland's charge into a first World Cup since 2006 on Sunday.

The Bayern Munich striker has long been one of the most prolific players in European soccer, for club and country, and he'll now be able to test himself at a global level when he competes at a World Cup for the first time next year.

Lewandowski scored Poland's third goal in their 4-2 win over Montenegro that clinched first place in Group E, at the expense of Denmark. Poland are the fifth European nation to qualify — after Belgium, Germany, England and Spain — with Russia already sure of participating as tournament hosts.

Lewandowski has 51 goals in 91 international matches since his debut for Poland in 2008, and became the first European player to score more than 15 goals in a World Cup qualification campaign.

That record might only last two days, with Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo on 15 goals in Group B with one qualifier remaining — the winner-takes-all match against Switzerland on Tuesday.

It will be Poland's eighth appearance at a World Cup, with third place their best finish in both 1974 and '82.

Denmark are assured of a consolation prize - a place in the playoffs for the best eight runners-up from the nine groups — after drawing 1-1 at Romania. Northern Ireland's spot in the playoffs was also confirmed Sunday, but Slovakia must wait despite clinching second place in Group F behind unbeaten England.

Here's a look at Sunday's action in European qualifying:

___

GROUP E

Poland needed only a point in Warsaw to qualify automatically for the World Cup as group winners, but even that was in doubt when Montenegro pulled level at 2-2 in the 83rd after scoring two goals in five minutes.

Lewandowski seized on a sloppy back-pass to score and put Poland 3-2 ahead, before Filip Stojkovic's own-goal ended any further suspense.

Poland ended up winning the group by five points, as Denmark failed to hold onto a lead earned by Christian Eriksen's 60th-minute penalty. Romania lost Cristian Ganea to a red card for two bookings, but still equalized through Ciprian Deac in the 88th.

Montenegro finished third with 16 points — four fewer than Denmark — ahead of Romania on 13.

___

GROUP F

Heading into the final round, three teams — Slovakia, Scotland and Slovenia — were in contention to finish second and it went down to the wire. The latter two were playing each other, in the Slovenian capital Ljubliana.

Slovakia won 3-0 at home to Malta but still needed Scotland to fail to win.

The Scots went 1-0 up through Leigh Griffiths, conceded twice to substitute Roman Bezjak in the 52nd and 72nd minutes, then equalized in the 88th through Robert Snodgrass. Bostjan Cesar's red card in injury time left Slovenia a man down for the final three minutes, but Scotland couldn't find a winner.

Slovakia finished tied on 18 points with Scotland, but ahead on goal difference, and now have to wait to see if they get a playoff spot.

England finished qualifying with eight wins and two draws after beating Lithuania 1-0 thanks to Harry Kane's first-half penalty, the Tottenham striker's 15th goal in his last 10 games for club and country.

___

GROUP C

Germany completed a perfect qualification campaign by beating Azerbaijan 5-1 in Kaiserslautern for a 10th straight win.

Leon Goretzka scored twice, with Sandro Wagner — with his fifth goal in five international appearances — Antonio Rudiger and Emre Can also on target to leave the Germans with 43 goals in total.

Switzerland are the only other country that can finish European qualifying with maximum points.

Northern Ireland knew before their match at Norway began that a playoff place was guaranteed, courtesy of Slovakia finishing second in Group F and having an inferior points haul than the Northern Irish.

Norway won 1-0 thanks to a comical own-goal by Chris Brunt, who booted the ball into the roof of his own net from a yard out as he attempted to make a clearance. Czech Republic finished third, ahead of Norway, after beating San Marino 5-0 for their biggest win in qualifying.

San Marino lost all 10 games, scoring only two goals and conceding 51.

___

PLAYOFFS

Denmark, Italy and Northern Ireland are the only three countries guaranteed to be in the lineup for the playoffs, with six groups still to be decided.


Nadal wins 6th title of year in Beijing; Garcia beats Halep

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to Nick Kyrgios of Australia during the men's singles final of the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, China, Sunday, Oct. 8. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Sandra Harwitt

Beijing (AP) - Rafael Nadal beat Nick Kyrgios of Australia 6-2, 6-1 Sunday in the China Open final to win his sixth ATP title of the year, and Caroline Garcia defeated soon-to-be-No. 1 Simona Halep 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the women's event.

Top-ranked Nadal, who was tied with Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev at five titles this season, picked up his 75th career singles trophy with the win in Beijing.

The 15th-ranked Garcia, who lost to Halep the two previous times they played, won her second consecutive WTA title. The Frenchwoman will make her top-10 debut when the new rankings come out on Monday.

The 31-year-old Nadal's six trophies this year include a record 10th title at the French Open and a third at the U.S. Open. The last time the Spaniard won at least six titles in a year was in 2013 when he captured 10 trophies for the season.

Kyrgios started Sunday struggling with his serve and never found a confident range throughout the match. His first-serve percentage mostly languished under the 50 percent mark.

In contrast, Nadal always looked in charge and saved all four break points he faced.

"I was playing very high intensity the whole match, changing the directions and not making many mistakes," Nadal said.

Kyrgios offered Nadal eight break points in the first set with Nadal taking two service breaks.

Kyrgios was angered by a line call in the first set and his complaints eventually cost him a penalty point at the start of the eighth game.

Kyrgios didn't make it onto the board in the second set until he was serving with Nadal already leading 5-0.

"In the semifinal I played well, obviously beating Alex (Zverev)," Kyrgios said. "It's a typical type of week for me: beat a player well, then pretty much no-show."

Garcia also won her final in straight sets.

"She played amazing tennis," Halep said of Garcia. "She deserved to win today. She was better."

For Halep, the loss was particularly disappointing as she was unable to back up her guaranteed debut in the No. 1 ranking on Monday. She secured the top spot on Saturday with her semifinal victory over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Halep's best opportunity to rebound against Garcia ended when she failed to make good on any of the nine break points she had at 3-3 in the second set.

"For sure it definitely turned the second set," Garcia said. "This game was definitely very important."

In the second-set tiebreaker, the unseeded Garcia jumped out to 4-1, and on a first match point at 6-3 with Halep serving, the Romanian netted a forehand. Garcia fell to her knees in celebration.

She is enjoying an 11-match winning streak, having captured her first title of the season at Wuhan last week. This is the second time she's won a career-best 11 straight matches.

"It was such an amazing two weeks," Garcia said. "It went so fast."

Garcia saved a match point in her three-set quarterfinal victory over third-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

The last time Kyrgios played a No. 1 it was also against Nadal. In that 2014 fourth-round encounter at Wimbledon, the then 144th-ranked Kyrgios emerged a four-set winner.

This was Nadal's second China Open title in four trips to the final. He won his first in his Beijing debut in 2005.

"In 2005, I never will believe that I will keep playing tennis in 2017," Nadal said.

Nadal leads Kyrgios 3-2 in career meetings, and 2-1 this season.


Hatton retains Dunhill title, Fisher record 61 at Old Course

 

England's Tyrrell Hatton tees off on the fifth hole, during day four of the Dunhill Links Championship at The Old Course at St. Andrews, in Fife, Scotland, Sunday Oct. 8. (Mark Runnacles/PA via AP)

St. Andrews, Scotland (AP) — Tyrrell Hatton retained his title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday after a final round at St. Andrews in which Ross Fisher shot a course-record 61 at the home of golf.

On a calm day on the storied Old Course, even a bogey-free round by Fisher containing 11 birdies could not reel in overnight leader Hatton, who shot 6-under 66 for a three-stroke victory over his fellow Englishman.

Hatton became the first player in the 17-year history of the Dunhill Links to successfully defend the title in a tournament played over three Scottish courses — the Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie. His aggregate score of 24-under 264 was a tournament record, after rounds of 68-65-65-66.

Both of Hatton's career titles have come at the Dunhill Links, having won with a score of 23 under par in 2016.

Fisher — the runner-up for a second straight year — had a putt for eagle from the Valley of Sin on No. 18, which would have sealed the first round of 59 in the history of the European Tour. It fell two feet short and he missed the birdie putt back, though still broke the course record — held jointly by six players — by a stroke.

Fisher birdied four holes in a row from No. 2, then Nos. 7, 8 and 9 for a front nine of 29. A burst of four straight birdies from No. 12 then helped Fisher reduce Hatton's lead to three strokes, down from a margin of six at the turn.

"They started taking all the stuff off the leaderboards so I didn't see a leaderboard until the 16th green and saw he was on 21 (under)," Hatton said. "That made the 17th tee shot a lot harder."

Still, Hatton found the fairway with his drive on the notoriously tough Road Hole and even sailed his approach near to the flag on the narrow green. A par at No. 17 meant he could enjoy arguably the most famous walk in golf, over the Swilcan Bridge and down the 18th fairway.

Victor Dubuisson was 10 under after 15 holes and also on course to break the course record, before a bogey at No. 16 slowed the Frenchman. Dubuisson finished with a 63 and was third, seven shots off Hatton.

Rory McIlroy shot even-par 72 to finish tied for 63rd on 4 under par, meaning he ended a season without a victory for only the second time in his professional career.


Update October 7 - 8, 2017

Spain make it to World Cup; Serbia unable to clinch a spot

Spain players celebrate at the end of the World Cup Group G qualifying match against Albania at the Rico Perez stadium in Alicante, Spain, Friday, Oct. 6. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Tales Azzoni

Alicante, Spain (AP) - Spain secured their 11th straight World Cup appearance aided by Italy's home draw against Macedonia on Friday, while Serbia blew a chance to make it to next year's finals in Russia after a loss at Austria.

Spain comfortably defeated Albania 3-0 in a match in which defender Gerard Pique, an outspoken defender of Catalonia who had been harassed by Spanish fans during the week, received a mixed reaction from the home supporters.

"Despite everything that happened this week we were able to play a great match," Isco said. "We have to be proud of having already qualified for the World Cup with one game yet to be played."

Italy practically secured a playoff spot but they were jeered by fans after drawing with Macedonia 1-1 in Turin. Even a victory would have kept the Italians in a difficult position to surpass Spain for first place in Group G because of a worse goal difference.

Serbia needed a win against Austria to clinch their spot from Group D but lost 3-2 in Vienna, while Wales kept their chances alive by beating Georgia 1-0 despite Gareth Bale's absence.

Iceland stayed on the path to becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup after beating Turkey 3-0 in Group I.

The group winners automatically qualify, while the best eight second-place finishers from the nine groups advance to the playoffs.


Extra special: Indians edge Yankees 9-8 in 13, take 2-0 lead

Cleveland Indians' Yan Gomes, center, is mobbed by teammates after the Indians defeated the New York Yankees 9-8 in 13 innings in Game 2 of a baseball American League Division Series, Friday, Oct. 6, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Tom Withers

Cleveland (AP) — They've won this season in almost every way imaginable: comebacks, walk-offs, blowouts, nail-biters.

No. 104 for the Cleveland Indians topped them all.

Yan Gomes singled home Austin Jackson from second base with none out in the 13th inning as Cleveland rallied from five runs down to stun the New York Yankees 9-8 on Friday and snatch a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

Despite an atrocious start by ace Corey Kluber, losing slugger Edwin Encarnacion with a severely sprained ankle in the first and facing the possibility of playing their final game at home, the Indians, with some help from a call that went their way, continued a charmed season growing more and more special by the day.

"The tendency of this team is to never give up," Kluber said. "Even when we were down 8-3, we didn't believe the game was over. We never feel like we're out of a game."

Jackson drew a leadoff walk in the 13th from Dellin Betances and stole second. Gomes went to a full count before pulling his bouncer just inside the third-base bag, easily scoring Jackson and touching off another one of those wild celebrations inside Progressive Field, where the Indians have been so good while running away with their division and winning 22 straight.

As Jackson sprinted home, Cleveland's players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Gomes at the conclusion of a wild, 5-hour, 8-minute thriller that featured 14 pitchers and a call that may haunt Yankees manager Joe Girardi for months.

"We just were supposed to win," said Indians outfielder Jay Bruce, who hit a game-tying homer in the eighth. "No words, honestly. I'm speechless."

Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam in the sixth to rally Cleveland, which will try for a sweep in Game 3 Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Carlos Carrasco will start for the Indians against Masahiro Tanaka, who will try to extend New York's season.

The Yankees had their chances late, but they stranded the go-ahead run at third in the ninth and 10th — and had pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes picked off second in the 11th by Gomes from the behind the plate.

Josh Tomlin, who had been scheduled to start later in the series, pitched two perfect innings for the win as Francona ran out of relievers in a game started by his best pitcher.

Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer off Kluber and Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird hit two-run shots for the Yankees, who may have caught a bad break before Lindor's homer.

New York's Aaron Judge went 0 for 3 and is hitless in seven at-bats in the series with five strikeouts.

The Yankees lost consecutive games for the first time since they were swept at home in a three-game series by the Indians from Aug. 28-30. Now, they need to sweep three in a row from Cleveland.

Down 8-3, facing New York's vaunted bullpen, the Indians came back.

New York starter CC Sabathia was lifted with one on and one out in the sixth for Chad Green, another one of the Yankees' flame-throwers who got an out before Gomes doubled. Green came inside and Lonnie Chisenhall was awarded first by plate umpire Dan Iassogna on a hit by pitch.

TV replays showed the ball slightly change direction — it appeared to hit the knob of Chisenhall's bat.

Girardi said there wasn't enough evidence within 30 seconds to justify a challenge. He said the team later saw a slow-motion replay suggesting he should've contested the call, but it was too late.

"There was nothing that told us he was not hit by the pitch," Girardi said.

New York catcher Gary Sanchez said he heard something, but wasn't sure what. Sanchez caught the pitch on a fly — it would've been strike three if it had been ruled a foul tip — and immediately pointed to the Yankees dugout, indicating they should consider challenging the call.

Girardi nodded and held up a finger, asking for time to make a decision.

"I didn't think it hit him, because he never reacted," Sanchez said through a translator. "He stood there. But it's just stuff that happens in the game."

Lindor then stepped in and hit a towering shot off the inside of the right-field foul pole to make it 8-7. Before he left the batter's box, Lindor gave his shot some help.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance of going out," Lindor said. "Then after a couple of steps, I was like, 'No, don't go foul, please. Just stay fair.' I started blowing on it a little bit. As soon as it went out, it was just a lot of emotions.

As Lindor rounded the bases with Cleveland's first postseason slam since Jim Thome in 1999, Progressive Field shook the way it did last November when Rajai Davis hit a two-run homer in eighth inning of Game 7 off Aroldis Chapman, then with the Cubs and now closing for the Yankees.

Bruce, who has done everything since coming over in an August trade, led off the eighth with his homer to left off reliever David Robertson, who pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings and earned the win in the wild-card game over Minnesota.

Five innings later, the Indians finally broke the tie. They matched the longest postseason game in Cleveland history — Tony Pena's homer in the 13th beat Boston in Game 1 of the 1995 ALDS.

Kluber wasn't himself. Not even close.

The right-hander, who led the AL in wins, ERA and intimidation, didn't get out of the third inning as Francona pulled him after allowing Hicks' three-run homer.

It was the shortest outing this season for Kluber, and as he slowly walked off the mound, Cleveland's stunned crowd gave him a polite ovation and several teammates approached him to offer consolation.

"I threw too many balls," Kluber said. "And when I'd throw strikes, they were right over the plate."

SLUGGER HURT

After rolling his ankle, Encarnacion stayed on the ground and rolled in the infield dirt in obvious pain while waiting for medical attention. He was helped to his feet and had to be assisted off the field.

Francona said an MRI showed a sprain the Encarnacion, who hit 38 homers with 107 RBIs, is day to day.

BRANTLEY'S RETURN

Sidelined for Cleveland's deep postseason run in 2016, Michael Brantley is along for the ride this year and the plan — before Encarnacion got hurt — was for the All-Star to start Game 3 in left.

He replaced Encarnacion in the second and went 0 for 5.

UP NEXT

Carrasco went 11-3 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 road starts. Tanaka, who struck out a career-high 15 in his last start, will be making his second postseason start for the Yankees. He lost the wild-card game in 2015.


Tyler Duncan eagles 18th to take Safeway Open lead

Tyler Duncan follows his approach shot from the fairway to the 10th green of the Silverado Resort North Course during the second round of the Safeway Open PGA golf tournament Friday, Oct. 6, in Napa, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

James Raia

Napa, Calif. (AP) — Tyler Duncan chipped in from the fringe for eagle on the par-5 18th hole Friday to take the second-round lead in the season-opening Safeway Open.

Making his second career PGA Tour start, Duncan shot a 6-under 66 for a one-stroke lead over defending champion Brendan Steele at Silverado Resort and Spa.

Duncan, the Web.com Tour graduate who shared the first-round lead with Steele and Tom Hoge, also had seven birdies and three bogeys to reach 13-under 131.

"It's crazy, it's nothing I could have ever dreamed of," said Duncan, whose only other PGA Tour event was as a regional qualifier in the 2015 U.S. Open. "I don't think it's sunk in yet, to be honest. It's something I've dreamed about for a long time. I'm just happy to be playing here and to be in the lead is something special."

Steele had six birdies and a bogey in a 67. He's 30 under is his past six rounds in the event.

"It was really a solid day, very similar to yesterday," Steele said. "I hit a lot of good shots, rolled and a lot of good putts and was able to watch Chesson go crazy."

Chesson Hadley, who began the second round seven shots behind the leaders, broke the course record with a career-best 61 to get within two strokes. He parred the final two holes.

"It's just one of those days everything was going my way," said Hadley, the 2014 Puerto Rico Open winner who regained his tour card through the Web.com Tour. "I was hitting great shots, good putts and got some good breaks. When you get that of momentum, things just go your way.

He had an eagle, 10 birdies and a bogey. His previous career best was a 64 in the opening round of the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Zac Blair (66) and Tony Finau (65) were 9 under, and Graham DeLaet (67) and Brian Davis (66) were another stroke back.

"I just had a lot of good looks," said Blair, who doesn't have a bogey through 36 holes. "I made 17 greens out there, left myself in some good spots, made a few of them and it was just kind of easy out there."

Emiliano Grillo, who won the event two years ago, was 7 under after a 70

Phil Mickelson, seeking his first win in since 2013, shot his second 69 to reach 6 under.

"I expected to score a little bit better today, but I had some good chances today," said Mickelson, who had six birdies, one bogey and a double bogey. "I drove it a lot better, I hit quite a few more fairways and gave myself some good birdie chances. But I let a few opportunities slide."

Mickelson, playing in his 91st PGA Tour event since his last win, finished eighth in the tournament last year and has six straight rounds in the 60s at Silverado.

"A low round is out there," said Mickelson, who birdied three straight holes after double-bogeying the 14th — his fifth hole of the day. "I feel like I'm getting close to it."

John Daly, the two-time major winner who in May won his first PGA Tour Champions title and is playing via a sponsor exemption, birdied the 18th for second-round 69 to make the 1-under cut at 143. Daly had missed the cuts in his past 12 PGA Tour events.


Qatar World Cup head say blockade poses 'no risk' to event

A Qatari woman walks in front of the city skyline in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

Rob Harris

London (AP) — The regional blockade on Qatar poses "no risk" to the 2022 World Cup going ahead, the tournament head said on Friday, maintaining that logistical obstacles are being overcome and building work is continuing with only "minimal" cost increases.

The energy-rich nation's land border and its air and sea routes have been closed off for four months since Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched an economic boycott. It has forced World Cup organizers to find alternative sources for materials to complete the venues being used by the region's first major soccer tournament.

"We have come under criticism and attack over the years, but we have always faced our critics," Qatar World Cup supreme committee secretary general Hassan Al Thawadi told The Associated Press. "Our projects are going ahead as scheduled. This (blockade) is no risk in relation to the hosting of the World Cup."

The diplomatic crisis that has torn apart the Gulf Cooperation Council stems from allegations Qatar supports for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha.

When Qatar's sole land border with Saudi Arabia was closed and sea traffic cut off, World Cup organizers were forced to instigate their "Plan B," including brining in supplies from Turkey. The Qataris express confidence FIFA is not exploring a "Plan B" of its own for an alternate 2022 host.

"Every project has contingency plans and we have had contingency plans in place from the very start," Al Thawadi said in an interview during a visit to London to attend a summit staged by the Doha-based sports organization, Aspire Academy. "Once the blockade came into play we contacted the main contractors, we put in place alternative supply chains, we sourced alternative materials from alternate suppliers."

Only the Khalifa International Stadium, which will also host the world track championships in 2019, has been completed. Qatar is building another seven stadiums for use by 32 teams at the tournament in five years.

"I'm very happy to say that our project scale is on time and there is no significant impact on our projects," Al Thawadi said. "As of today we haven't seen a significant impact on the cost. There might have been some minimal increase in terms of establishing alternative supply chains but these have been absorbed very, very quickly and been normalized as these supply chains have been put in place."

Qatar is investing more than $150 billion on infrastructure to handle the World Cup in the tiny desert nation. Under pressure from activists, Qatar has been compelled to raise living standards and worker rights for the large migrant workforce being relied on to construct venues. Al Thawadi said organizers are "always improving" worker welfare standards.

Qatar has also staved off calls for the country to be stripped of the World Cup after facing investigations into the conduct of its bid.

FIFA ethics investigators found that the Qataris used a full range of lavishly funded state and sports agencies to deliver the victory in the 2010 vote. But a World Cup bidding report, published for the first time in June, concluded there was no "evidence of any improper activity by the bid team."


Update October 6, 2017

Germany, England seal World Cup qualification; Poland close

England's Harry Kane, center, scores the winning goal during the World Cup Group F qualifying match between England and Slovenia at Wembley stadium in London, Thursday, Oct. 5. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Ciaran Fahey

London (AP) - Germany and England booked places at the World Cup in Russia next year, while Poland were made to wait for qualification in Europe despite thrashing Armenia 6-1 on Thursday.

Defending champions Germany never looked like missing out as early goals helped them to beat Northern Ireland 3-1 in Belfast, maintaining their perfect record with nine wins from nine games in Group C.

England qualified in contrasting fashion, scraping past Slovenia 1-0 thanks to Harry Kane's injury-time strike in a poor team performance at Wembley Stadium.

Robert Lewandowski scored a hat trick in Yerevan, Armenia, to become Poland's all-time highest scorer and put his team on the verge of qualification.

A draw later between Montenegro and Denmark would have meant Poland clinched Group E, but Christian Eriksen gave Denmark a 1-0 win in Podgorica to keep alive their slim hopes of topping the group.

Group winners qualify automatically for the finals in Russia.

Here's a closer look at the action across the three groups:

GROUP C

Northern Ireland hadn't lost a qualifier in Windsor Park for four years, but they got off to a bad start when Germany's Sebastian Rudy fired the ball inside the top corner from distance in the second minute.

Sandro Wagner brought a good save from Michael McGovern and hit the post before he finally scored in the 21st to give Germany a comfortable lead.

Joshua Kimmich wrapped it up late, and Josh Magennis got the enthusiastic home fans singing again with the home side's consolation after a corner in injury time.

Northern Ireland were already assured of at least second place, but only the top eight runners-up from the nine groups advance to playoffs.

Already out of contention, the Czech Republic defeated Azerbaijan 2-1 in Baku to move to third, and Mohamed "Moi" Elyounoussi scored a hat trick as Norway routed San Marino 8-0.

German coach Joachim Loew said before his side's game in Belfast that he wants to complete qualifying with 10 wins from 10 games, a feat accomplished previously by only Spain before they won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

GROUP E

With his third hat trick in the campaign, Poland striker Lewandowski became the most prolific scorer in a European qualifying campaign with 15, one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lewandowski curled in a free kick to tie Wlodzimierz Lubanski's record as Poland's all-time leading scorer on 48 goals and then added two more to own it outright with 50.

Following Denmark's 1-0 win in Montenegro, Poland lead by three points over Denmark, and they need a point from the last-round match on Sunday against Montenegro in Warsaw to automatically qualify as the group winners.

Denmark, who handed Poland their only defeat in the group stage by 4-0, host Romania in the last round and must win to top the group.

GROUP F

Kane secured England's place in the fourth minute of additional time when he latched onto Kyle Walker's cross and struck under goalkeeper Jan Oblak for the side's flattering win over Slovenia.

It was a rare highlight on a dreary and subdued night that highlighted the limitations of Gareth Southgate's Russia-bound team.

England, who haven't missed a World Cup since 1994, could still be joined in Russia next year by neighbors Scotland.

Martin Skrtel's own goal gave Scotland a 1-0 victory over 10-man Slovakia in Glasgow.

The Scots, missing from the World Cup since 1998, will be guaranteed second place and a potential place in the playoffs if they beat Slovenia in the last round of games on Sunday.


Argentina slump to 0-0 draw, on verge of missing World Cup

Argentina's Lionel Messi screams in disbelief after missing a chance during the 0-0 draw against Peru in a World Cup qualifying match at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Oct. 5. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Stephen Wade

Rio de Janeiro (AP) — Argentina and Lionel Messi are on the verge of missing the World Cup for the first time since 1970, stumbling to a 0-0 draw against Peru before a capacity crowd in Buenos Aires.

Only one round of qualifying remains in South America.

Argentina, the runners-up to Germany in the World Cup three years ago in Brazil, play on Tuesday against Ecuador in the thin air of Quito in the Andes. The Argentines are in sixth place, with the top four teams advancing automatically. The fifth-place team can advance by winning a playoff against New Zealand.

Brazil have already qualified, and drew 0-0 against Bolivia on Thursday. Brazil have 38 points, followed by: Uruguay (28), Chile (26), Colombia (26), Peru (25), Argentina (25) and Paraguay (24).

Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia are eliminated.

It's too close to call. But Uruguay are expected to get through the final round on Tuesday. After that, four teams are chasing the two automatic spots.

That will leave two teams trying to reach the playoff, which looks like Argentina's only route. They must win at 2,850 meters in Quito and get some help.

In other scores on Thursday: Paraguay beat Colombia 2-1, Chile beat Ecuador 2-1 and Uruguay were held to a 0-0 draw at Venezuela.

The last matches feature: Uruguay vs. Bolivia, Peru vs. Colombia, Ecuador vs. Argentina, Brazil vs. Chile and Paraguay vs. Venezuela.


Altuve hits 3 homers, Astros beat Red Sox 8-2 in ALDS opener

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve watches his solo home run, his third of the game, against the Boston Red Sox in the seventh inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series, Thursday, Oct. 5, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kristie Rieken

Houston (AP) — Jose Altuve had just arrived in the Astros dugout after launching his third home run of the game when George Springer grabbed his right biceps and examined it, as if searching for an explanation for his teammate's extraordinary pop.

"He makes sure he stays on top of his gym routine, whatever it is," Springer said. "The dude is just a joke."

The major league batting champion put on an unprecedented show of power Thursday as Houston roughed up Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox 8-2 in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.

Buoyed by chants of "MVP" in each trip to the plate, the 5-foot-6 Altuve hit solo homers in the first and fifth innings off Sale. He connected again in the seventh off reliever Austin Maddox to give Houston a quick boost in the best-of-five series.

"As soon as I cross the white line, I feel the same size as everyone else," Altuve said.

It was just the 10th time a player hit three homers in a postseason game, and first since Pablo Sandoval for the Giants in the 2012 World Series opener against Detroit. Babe Ruth did it twice.

"I told him the last time I've seen three home runs in a game was Pablo Sandoval and I gave up two of them, so I'm glad there's somebody new that's done it," winning pitcher Justin Verlander said.

Altuve became the first Astros player to hit three homers in one game since 2007, when Carlos Lee did it in the regular season. He seemed as surprised as anyone else that he was now in a category with the Sultan of Swat, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols.

"I hit one and I was like: 'Wow,'" he said. "And the second one is like: 'Wow, what's going on here?"

And his thoughts after the third?

"I got to wake up," he said, flashing a huge grin.

After he finished talking to Springer following his third shot, Altuve's teammates goaded him into exiting the dugout for a curtain call. And as he tipped his hat to the crowd, one fan near the dugout held a sign that proclaimed in blue block letters: "That Kid Can Hit."

Verlander pitched six effective innings and improved to 6-0 since Houston got him in late trade with Detroit. He is 5-0 with a 2.24 ERA in nine career starts in the division series.

Sale, the major league strikeout leader, was tagged for seven runs in five-plus innings of his postseason debut.

Game 2 is Friday, with Dallas Keuchel starting for the Astros against Drew Pomeranz.

Among the shortest players in the majors, Altuve couldn't be a bigger leader for the Astros. He's one of the few players remaining who languished through a rebuilding process that led to three straight 100-loss seasons from 2011-13, and is perhaps the main reason this team ran away with the AL West title this year.

"First off, how good is Jose Altuve?" Houston manager A.J. Hinch asked. "It's incredible to watch him step up and be every bit the star that we needed today for sure. It's hard to describe in different ways."

Altuve hit .346 this year, his fourth straight 200-hit season. He had 24 home runs this year — this was his third career multihomer game, and the first time he'd hit three all at once.

Quite a comeback from his only previous postseason — in 2015, he batted just .154 (4 for 26) without an extra-base hit.

Alex Bregman and Altuve hit back-to-back homers in the first inning , making Sale look a bit rattled. The Red Sox tied it up by scoring a run each in the second and fourth innings before Marwin Gonzalez lined a two-run double in the fourth for a 4-2 lead.

There were two outs in the fifth inning when Altuve connected again to push the lead to 5-2 and make him the third player in franchise history with a multihomer game in the postseason, joining Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran.

The crowd of 43,402, which included Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, waved bright orange towels as Altuve trotted around the bases.

Sale never got into a rhythm and was chased after walking Josh Reddick with no outs in the sixth. The left-hander was tagged for nine hits and matched a season high for most runs allowed.

"Anytime he mislocated, particularly in the middle of the plate, they made him pay for it ...  And then his slider was hit and miss today," manager John Farrell said. "Some were flat, some had good depth, but the inconsistency to the location pitch to pitch is a difference in this one against a team that makes you pay."

After fanning 308 in the regular season, Sale struck out six. But he allowed three homers and three doubles, marking just the second time in his career that he's given up six extra-base hits.

"Never really gave my team a chance to win. Put them in a hole early," Sale said. "They fought back and they fought back hard and I gave it right back to them. It happens (but a) terrible time for it to happen."

Verlander, a playoff veteran who was starting his 17th postseason game, yielded six hits, struck out three and walked two to help the Astros take the early lead in the series.

Sandy Leon had two hits and drove in a run and Rafael Devers added an RBI for the AL East champs.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox designated hitter Eduardo Nunez was carried off the field in the first inning with a right knee injury and did not return. He pulled up running to first base on a groundout in the first inning before falling to the ground. Nunez missed 19 of Boston's last 20 regular-season games with what the team called a sore knee. The Red Sox said he had re-aggravated his knee injury and he was replaced by Hanley Ramirez.

"We have got to go through a protocol here to determine his inactivity before we make a roster move," Farrell said. "But I think it's pretty safe to say, given how he went down today, he would not be available."

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Pomeranz will make his first career postseason start after going 0-0 with a 4.91 ERA in two relief appearances in the playoffs.

Astros: Keuchel believes that the experience he got pitching — and winning — two games in the 2015 playoffs will help him in his second trip to the postseason. "I'm grateful that we got some experience in 2015 and hopefully that will carry us to the championship series," he said.


Red Wings beat Wild 4-2 in opener at new arena

Detroit Red Wings' Anthony Mantha, right, celebrates his goal with teammate Henrik Zetterberg, (40) against the Minnesota Wild in the second period of their NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 5, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Noah Trister

Detroit (AP) — Henrik Zetterberg and Martin Frk scored in the third period to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in the first regular-season game at Little Caesars Arena.

Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin scored 23 seconds apart in the second period for the Red Wings, who rallied after blowing a 2-0 lead early in the third. Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart scored 48 seconds apart to tie it, and then Zetterberg put Detroit back ahead to stay with 12:53 remaining.

The Red Wings said goodbye to Joe Louis Arena in April and moved to a new downtown venue they'll share with the Detroit Pistons. The Red Wings missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1990, and although expectations are low at the moment, they opened with a victory.

Even before the opening faceoff, fans were already partaking in that old Detroit tradition of tossing octopi on the ice. The puck went across the Detroit goal line twice in the first, but goaltender interference was called both times and the period ended scoreless. Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk made the save of the night when, while sprawled on his back, he swung his left arm across to deny Gustav Nyquist on a breakaway.

The Wild wasted a two-man advantage in the second period, and Detroit took full advantage of a similar opportunity. Mantha opened the scoring on a two-man advantage, and with the Red Wings still a man up after that, Larkin redirected the puck past Dubnyk to make it 2-0.

Detroit is counting on younger players like Mantha and Larkin in its rebuilding effort, but it was the grizzled veteran Zetterberg, who turns 37 on Monday, who gave the Red Wings the lead again after Minnesota tied it. Zetterberg collected the puck in the slot, and his wrist shot went between Dubnyk's legs. Frk made it 4-2 with his first NHL goal.

Jimmy Howard had 37 saves for Detroit.

The atmosphere was subdued for much of the night, and the empty seats in the lower level around the start of the second and third periods suggested fans may have been taking extra time to enjoy the new arena's amenities on the concourse — but the action on the ice picked up considerably in the final period.

UP NEXT

Wild: Visit Carolina on Saturday night.

Red Wings: Visit Ottawa on Saturday night.


Rafael Nadal advances to quarterfinals of China Open

Rafael Nadal of Spain tosses the ball to serve against Karen Khachanov of Russia during their second round men's singles match at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, Thursday, Oct. 5. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Christopher Bodeen

Beijing (AP) — Rafael Nadal earned his season-leading 58th victory on Thursday by beating Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the China Open.

The top-ranked Spaniard, who won the French Open and U.S. Open this year, saved all six break points he faced and increased his lead over Roger Federer at the top of the rankings.

Nadal will next face John Isner. The big-serving American defeated Leonardo Mayer 6-0, 6-3.

"Tomorrow will be a tough one against Isner," Nadal said. "John is a very good player from the baseline, too. I saw him today. He played so aggressive, having a lot of success, hitting a lot of winners, returning very well."

Second-seeded Alexander Zverev also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-2. The German will next play Andrey Rublev, who defeated seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.

In the women's tournament, Jelena Ostapenko advanced after Peng Shuai, the last Chinese player in the competition, retired from the match while trailing 3-0.

Also, third-seeded Sorana Cirstea defeated fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 7-5, Caroline Garcia beat Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1, and Petra Kvitova beat former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-4.


India set to make World Cup soccer debut as host/participant

A Delhi policeman stands guard at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 4. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Manik Banerjee

Kolkata, India (AP) — India's team will set a benchmark regardless of its result against the United States in the Under-17 World Cup on Friday.

It will be the first time the cricket-crazy country of 1.2 billion has played in a World Cup game at any level of soccer, and the anticipation is high in the host nation.

Organizers are confident that the government's 1.2 billion rupees ($18.5 million) investment in renovating stadiums in six cities to host the 24-team tournament will help showcase the country as a venue for major events.

The Indian public is keen to put memories of the scandal-hit 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi behind them, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government hopes to promote football across the country through the Under-17 event.

The country's leading sports celebrity — India cricket captain Virat Kohli — lent a big hand with the public relations push locally by posting a video message for the team to his 18.8 million Twitter followers saying "Good Luck boys, make us proud!"

But while the infrastructure and facilities were ready well ahead of time and the anticipation is growing around the Oct. 6-28 tournament, analysts and commentators have urged football fans not to place unrealistic expectations on the team.

Luis Norton de Matos, who took over as head coach in March to replace Nicolai Adam, is among those calling for patience as his lineup takes "a first step for the future" of the game in India.

In the first of their three group games in the capital, India will play a U.S. team featuring Tim Weah, the son of the 1995 world player of the year, George Weah of Liberia, who played for PSG, AC Milan and Monaco during his career.

Games against Colombia and two-time champion Ghana follow.

"There is a gap between India and the other teams, say from Europe and South America," de Matos was quoted as saying last month by Press Trust of India. "So, I don't think much about the results and chances but I know my players will give their best.  I see this World Cup as a step forward for the future ... India can build on this experience."

The U.S. placed fourth in the 1999 edition.

"This cycle of players is unique in terms of the quality, depth and work ethic of the group," U.S. head coach John Hackworth said as he unveiled his squad. "The biggest challenge in selecting this roster was the competition for spots at almost every position. Our team is ... motivated to prove themselves on the world stage."

Nigeria, which has won the last two titles and five overall at the under-17 level, didn't qualify from Africa, leaving three-time champion Brazil as the most successful country in the tournament.

While the event has been the starting point for the stars such as Ronaldinho and Neymar, this edition will be missing some of the brighter lights in the age group.

Highly-touted Flemengo forward Vinicius Junior missed the Brazil team's trip to India, while Jadon Sancho will only be available for England in the group stage.

The England squad includes Angel Gomes, who made history last season when Jose Mourinho introduced the attacking midfielder as a second-half substitute for Wayne Rooney in Manchester United's last game of the Premier League season against Crystal Palace.

With his brief appearance, Gomes became the first player born this millennium to play in the Premier League.

He'll be eager to make amends for missing out on England's run to the final of the European Under-17 Championship because of injury.

England are in Group F and will play their three group games — against Chile, Mexico and Iraq — at Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium.

Due to concerns over teams fielding older, ineligible players, FIFA has introduced more stringent testing for age verification at this year's tournament.


Update October 5, 2017

Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay to make 2030 World Cup bid

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, left, Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes, second left, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, center, Uruguay's President Tavare Vazquez, second right, and CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez pose for a photo at Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Oct. 4. (Argentine Presidency via AP)

Luis Andres Henao

Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP) — Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay will make a joint bid to host soccer's centenary World Cup in 2030, the presidents of the three South American countries said on Wednesday.

Bidding is not due to open for at least another four years, but the South American bid is already expected to face tough competition for the hosting rights of a tournament that will likely feature 48 teams.

European soccer federations will be eligible to bid, with an option that could unite England and other British members of FIFA, while China is also expected to express interest in hosting the tournament.

"If they give us a chance, we're going to be great hosts," Argentine President Mauricio Macri said during the announcement at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. "We're going to organize a great World Cup because there's plenty of soccer passion in this region of the world."

Macri said the three countries are looking into "six or eight" stadiums in Argentina and "two or three" stadiums in Paraguay and Uruguay.

Uruguay staged the first World Cup in 1930 and had long been expected to seek hosting rights with Argentina.

Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez said the idea of a joint bid followed a visit by Macri to Montevideo in January 2016.

"The subject came up and, after just over 40 seconds of talking about it, we had agreed on the possibility of an Argentina-Uruguay bid," he said, adding that the possibility of bringing Paraguay into the bid came later. Paraguay President Horacio Cartes announced his support for such a move two months ago.

"We think we deserve it because it marks 100 years from that historic milestone," Vazquez said. But he declined to answer reporters' questions about the costs of hosting the tournament or concerns about the possibility of stadiums becoming so-called white elephants if not managed properly.

A three-way bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico is favored to host the 2026 World Cup. FIFA has said that it will expand the World Cup to 48 teams, adding 16 extra nations to the 2026 tournament.

The announcement of the South American bid was also attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.


Giro director to Froome: Come make 'history' in Italy

Sky team rider Chris Froome is shown in this July 22, 2017 file photo. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Andrew Dampf

Rome (AP) — Rain, often snow, and sometimes even mud.

The conditions at the Giro d'Italia are often everything that Chris Froome dislikes most.

Yet if the Kenyan-born, heat-loving Briton enters next year's race he'll have the chance to become the first cyclist to win the Tour de France, Spanish Vuelta and Giro in succession.

"He has to have the desire to try and become the first rider to achieve this feat," Giro director Mauro Vegni said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It would be historical."

Froome finally won the Vuelta last month to add to his four Tour titles, leaving the Giro as the only Grand Tour he hasn't claimed.

While no cyclist has ever won all three Grand Tours in the same season, two riders have won three or more consecutive Grand Tours over two seasons.

Eddy Merckx won four straight in 1972 (Giro and Tour) and 1973 (Vuelta and Giro), and Bernard Hinault won three in 1982 (Giro and Tour) and 1983 (Vuelta).

But nobody has achieved the feat since the Vuelta was moved to the end of the season in 1995. And only six riders have won all three Grand Tours in their careers.

"I think he should have the right motivation to come," Vegni said this week.

Still, it's unlikely that Froome will want to risk his chances of matching the record of five Tour titles held by Merckx, Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain.

After all, nobody has achieved the Giro-Tour double since the late Marco Pantani in 1998.

"If he wins the Giro, who's stopping him?" Vegni said. "He's one of the few riders who can really attempt to follow a Giro victory by also taking the Tour. But first he should grab this milestone. There's plenty of motivation but it needs to be him that judges it worthy of attempting."

Perhaps making matters easier, the Tour will start a week later next year to avoid conflicting with soccer's World Cup — which would give Froome six weeks rather than five to recover and refocus after the Giro.

Froome has raced the Giro twice but not since before he became a Grand Tour contender.

He finished 36th in the 2009 Giro and was disqualified from the 2010 edition for holding on to a police motorbike up the feared Mortirolo pass.

The Giro also remains the only Grand Tour that Froome's dominant Team Sky has never won.

Former Sky leader Bradley Wiggins entered the 2013 Giro as favorite only to struggle with crashes and wet roads before withdrawing midway through the race with a chest infection.

Geraint Thomas, one of Froome's most loyal support riders, made an attempt at winning his first Grand Tour in this year's Giro, only to withdraw with an injured knee following a crash caused by a police motorbike that also affected another Sky hopeful, Mikel Landa.

Vegni is going to have to make quite a sales pitch to Froome and Sky team principal Dave Brailsford.

"We're working on it," Vegni said. "I think we'll have a chat with Froome, his physical trainer and his manager before the end of the year."

Yet Vegni has no intention of paying Froome to come, like previous race director Angelo Zomegnan did with Lance Armstrong in 2009 — when an acknowledged fee of about $1 million convinced the now-disgraced American to compete in his only Giro.

"I don't think that a rider like Froome or like Armstrong was has the necessity to be 'hired,' if we want to use that term," Vegni said. "It's more necessary that they feel it suits them. Riders like them don't need any extra money. They need more of a plan, a goal, and motivation that gives them the desire to participate."

Giro organizers recently announced that next year's race from May 4-27 will begin with three stages in Israel — marking the first time a Grand Tour will be held outside Europe.

The rest of the route through Italy will be presented in late November.

With teams still formulating their plans for next year, Vegni is also unsure whether defending champion Tom Dumoulin or Italian standouts Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru will commit to the Giro.

But the focus is on Froome.

"He creates the most interest," Vegni said.


Kyrgios smashes racket, advances to China Open quarterfinals

Nick Kyrgios of Australia returns a shot against Mischa Zverev of Germany during their men's singles match in the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 4. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Christopher Bodeen

Beijing (AP) — Nick Kyrgios smashed a racket after losing the first set, sang a song while relaxing during a changeover, and then advanced to the China Open quarterfinals.

The eighth-seeded Australian rallied to beat Mischa Zverev 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 Wednesday, finding some degree of redemption for his ill-tempered, suspension-earning performance against the German last year in Shanghai.

Kyrgios said he found his rhythm after losing the first set and smashing his racket, choosing at one point to sing along with the stadium soundtrack.

"Obviously, didn't have a great one last year. Obviously, got suspended after that," Kyrgios said. "I just wanted to go out there and redeem myself a little bit from last year."

Kyrgios missed the end of the 2016 season after being suspended by the men's tour and fined $25,000 for "tanking" a match and insulting fans during a second-round loss to Zverev at the Shanghai Masters. The ATP said Kyrgios was sanctioned for "conduct contrary to the integrity of the game" following an investigation into his behavior.

Kyrgios said his latest victory was more a statement about his playing ability than anything.

"I just wanted to prove to myself how much I have improved," he said.

Also, third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov eliminated Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (6), 7-5, Steve Darcis defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 and fifth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut beat Aljaz Bedene after the British player retired from the match in the second set.

In the women's tournament, second-seeded Simona Halep defeated Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.

Halep landed 74 percent of her first serves, while Sharapova recorded five double-faults.

"First of all, I think she played an incredible match, probably the best she's played against me in all of our previous meetings," said Sharapova, who is still rebuilding her game after serving a doping suspension. "And I wasn't as sharp. I wasn't seeing the ball as well. I wasn't moving up and down as well as I have been against her."

Peng Shuai also advanced, beating Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-2, while Caroline Garcia defeated Elise Mertens 7-6 (4), 6-4 and Jelena Ostapenko beat Samantha Stosur 6-3, 7-5.


Judge-ment day: Indians set to meet slugger, Yankees in ALDS

 

New York Yankees Aaron Judge hits a two-run double during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 27. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Tom Withers

Cleveland (AP) — They ran away with their division again, and streaked to history, 102 wins and home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The Cleveland Indians have had a special season.

A new one, the only one, is about to begin.

Heartbroken after coming up a little short last year against the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland figured to make it to October for another swing at ending a World Series drought stretching back to 1948.

The Indians are back, but there's now a 6-foot-7, 280-pound baseball-bashing behemoth standing in their way.

Behold Aaron Judge.

On the same field where their magical 2016 postseason ended on Nov. 2 in a light rain and extra innings, the Indians will open the division series on Thursday night against Judge and the New York Yankees, who rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins in the wild-card game.

Unaffected by a larger stage, Judge hit a two-run homer in his playoff debut as the Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit in the first inning and won their first postseason game in five years to earn a best-of-five matchup against the defending AL champions — and the team favored to win it all.

"We're not done yet," Judge said after the 8-4 win at Yankee Stadium. "We've just got to keep it rolling in Cleveland."

And while fans across the country are excited about watching the colossal Judge, who blasted 52 homers as a rookie and seems to hit the ball hard every time he's up, face Indians ace Corey Kluber and baseball's deepest pitching staff, Cleveland manager Terry Francona isn't as thrilled.

"He's good for Major League Baseball," Francona said of Judge. "He's bad for the teams you're playing against. He's really good. From all accounts, he's a really special young man. I didn't get a chance to meet him at the All-Star Game because I wasn't there, but everybody came back raving about him as a person.

"I know, if you throw in the wrong place, he's going to hit it a long way."

Francona, normally a by-the-book manager, is taking a gamble in the opener and starting Trevor Bauer, a 17-game winner during the regular season, in Game 1 instead of Kluber, who will start Game 2. Francona reasoned that in doing so he will have Kluber on regular rest again for Game 5 — if the series goes that far and if Mother Nature doesn't bring rain.

It makes sense. Then again, it seems risky.

Bauer is well aware of the damage Judge can do, but he's just as focused on rest of New York's lineup.

"You've got some youth in there with big power," he said. "You've got some veteran guys in there too that balance everything out. They can do a lot of different things offensively, and they're very well balanced."

So are the Indians, who don't have a hole in their lineup and finished strong, stringing together 22 straight wins from Aug. 14 to Sept. 24 and winning 33 of their last 37.

Cleveland also went 5-2 against New York.

None of that means anything now.

"Everybody's even," Francona said. "What's going to matter is who plays the best. It doesn't matter who thinks somebody should win unless it's the umpires. It's going to be who plays the best."

Cleveland and New York boast two of baseball's best bullpens, stacked with hard-throwers, specialists and elite closers.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi showcased his stellar relief corps Monday night after starter Luis Severino was chased in the first.  Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman combined for 8 2/3 innings of one-run relief, striking out 13.

The Indians have plenty of arms, too, including Andrew Miller, virtually unhittable last October.

"These are two teams that can shorten the game real quick with the bullpens that we have," Indians center fielder Jason Kipnis said. "It's not just versus the Yankees, it's in any game that we'd like to score early and often and keep pressing. It's just even more-so the case with how good they have those guys back there."


Flames sign 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr to 1-year deal

Jaromir Jagr has a laugh after being introduced as the newest Calgary Flames player at a press conference in Calgary, Alberta, Wednesday, Oct. 4. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press via AP)

Calgary, Alberta (AP) — Jaromir Jagr has signed with the Calgary Flames.

The 45-year-old Jagr agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal Wednesday for his 24th NHL season — and first with a Canadian team.

"I already said in a Czech newspaper it's 99.9 percent that his will be my last season, so I want to get the experience to one day say I played for a Canadian team," Jagr said.

The five-time NHL scoring champion is second behind Wayne Gretzky in NHL history with 1,914 points (765 goals, 1,149 assists).

Jagr has played 1,711 NHL games with Pittsburgh, Washington, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, New Jersey and Florida and is 57 games from passing Gordie Howe for the most NHL games played (1,767).

"If I can reach it, especially with a Calgary Flames jersey on, it's going to be special," Jagr said. "I don't want to look that far."

Flames assistant general manager Craig Conroy said "everyone was on board" with the signing.

"How do we make us competitive? We felt the best way to do this is to get the best player available, and Jaromir Jagr happened to be available," Conroy said.

Calgary opened the season at Edmonton on Wednesday night and will face Winnipeg at home on Saturday night. It will take Jagr some time to get ready to play.

"I'm just probably going to need a little more time than usual," Jagr said. "I don't know how my body is going to react. I didn't play any games for five months. I didn't have any team practices for five months. I was practicing on my own most of the time. I just want to get some practices and see how I feel. I still need some confidence. If it's not good for the team to play right away, I'm not."

Jagr started his career with Pittsburgh in the 1990-91 season and helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. The Czech star won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 1999.

Last season, he had 16 goals and 30 assists in 82 games with Florida. Ten Flames were not even born in 1991 when Jagr won the first of his Stanley Cup.

"Everyone compared to my age is a young guy," Jagr said. "Last 20 years I've played with young guys. But the last two years in Florida I played with (Jonathan) Huberdeau and (Aleksander) Barkov and combined their age is still younger than me. It was great for me and hopefully they can say the same thing."

Jagr also has played parts of eight seasons in Europe, including a three-year run with Omsk Avangard in Russia in the Kontinental Hockey League from 2008-09 to 2010-11.


Update October 4, 2017

Nadal saves 2 match points, advances at China Open

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a set against Lucas Pouille of France during their men's singles match in the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 3. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Christopher Bodeen

Beijing (AP) — Rafael Nadal needed to save two match points before advancing to the second round at the China Open.

The top-ranked Spaniard, playing for the first time since winning the U.S. Open title last month, rallied to beat Lucas Pouille 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5 Tuesday.

Pouille held two match points while leading 6-4 in the second-set tiebreaker. But Nadal reeled off four straight points to take the set and turn the match around.

"Was a very tough first round, as I say the other day," said Nadal, who lost to Pouille in five sets at the 2016 U.S. Open. "He played well, I think. Very aggressive. He's serving well. For me was little bit difficult at the beginning. Then I started to play better, I think.

"But still, I didn't have the control of the match for almost all the time."

In the final set, Nadal broke Pouille's serve to take a 6-5 lead and then served out the match.

Nadal is 57-9 this season and leads the tour with five ATP singles titles, including the French Open. He won the China Open title as a teenager in 2005 and has a 21-5 record in Beijing. He next plays Thursday against Karen Khachanov, who beat Chinese wild-card entry Wu Di.

Earlier, Juan Martin del Potro advanced by beating Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (4), 6-4.

"It was enough to win. I play good in important moments of the match, that's the tiebreaks and the last game of the second set," said the 2009 U.S. Open champion, who returned to professional tennis last year after wrist surgery.

Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, sixth-seeded John Isner, eighth-seeded Nick Kyrgios and Leonardo Mayer also advanced.

In the women's tournament, Maria Sharapova rallied to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

"She definitely picked it up in the second. But I felt like although she won that second set, I was really motivated to start the third," Sharapova said. "I was questioning how I would feel physically, but I felt really good going into the third set."

The former top-ranked Russian will next face second-seeded Simona Halep on Wednesday.

"We know each other's games very well. That's no secret. They've always been very challenging, tough, competitive, emotional," Sharapova said. "Any time you're able to face an opponent that's done something and well, it's great to see where you are and where your level is."

Halep advanced after Magdalena Rybarikova retired from their match while trailing 6-1, 2-1.

Other winners include Karolina Pliskova, Elena Vesnina, Petra Kvitova, Daria Gavrilova, Sorana Cirstea, Darla Kasatkina and Barbora Strycova.


Mickelson's final mission: Win a Ryder Cup in Europe

The United States' Phil Mickelson, left and Rickie Fowler take a selfie with fans on the eighth hole during the third day of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Saturday, Sept. 30. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Doug Ferguson

Jersey City, N.J. (AP) — Phil Mickelson hasn't had his fill, not when it comes to the Cup.

Especially the next one.

Mickelson saved some of his best golf in one of his worst years for when it really counted. Steve Stricker wanted to see some life from Lefty before deciding to use a captain's pick on him for the Presidents Cup, and Mickelson delivered with four rounds in the 60s at the TPC Boston to tie for sixth.

The pick extended his record streak to 23 consecutive teams, and Mickelson delivered another strong performance on the course and in the team room. He went 3-0-1 at Liberty National, one of four Americans to go unbeaten.

But it was a passing comment in Chicago, the week after he was chosen for the Presidents Cup, that shed some insight into his immediate future. He is starting a new season this week at the Safeway Open, which was expected because his management company runs the tournament.

"Looks like I'm probably going to go to China, too," Mickelson said.

China?

Mickelson is a two-time winner at Sheshan International, but he has played the HSBC Champions only once in the last four years. Why now? One reason — perhaps the only reason — is because the World Golf Championship in Shanghai is the only tournament in the fall that offers Ryder Cup points.

This is one team Mickelson doesn't want to miss.

He turns 48 next year and is still trying to manage psoriatic arthritis, which affected his energy and focus this year. Mickelson realizes his time is running out as a player in the Ryder Cup. He has played on three winning teams, all in America.

Next year's matches are in France. This might be Mickelson's last chance to win a Ryder Cup in Europe.

"That's the one thing I haven't done," he said in Chicago.

And the opportunity has never looked better.

The Americans suddenly look a lot like Europeans when only a gold trophy, not cash, is on the line. They have developed a formula of familiarity, and they have relationships that go beyond the team room. Not even Europe had that. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger grew up together in junior golf and graduated high school the same year. Thomas lives down the street from Rickie Fowler.

"You look at the camaraderie of the young players and how they support each other, even outside of these team events," Mickelson said. "They have a support system where they love competing against each other, love beating each other, but are genuinely happy for each other's success. And that leads to a very positive, uplifting energy in the team room.

"And I think that these young guys ... really lay a solid foundation for the U.S. teams."

The performance in the Presidents Cup — a 19-11 victory, a beating so thorough the Americans were one match away from ending it on Saturday — made it tempting to look ahead one year to the Ryder Cup with the belief it will turn out the same way.

If the Europeans were watching, should they be nervous?

"It's more confidence for us than anything they would be worried about," Spieth said.

That alone might be enough to worry.

The Americans have figured something out, and Mickelson was behind that, too.

He's the one who put his image on the line at Gleneagles after the 2014 Ryder Cup with his passive-aggressive criticism of the way Tom Watson ran the team and his incredulous tone when asking why the Americans got away from what had worked for them in Valhalla when they won in 2008.

That led to the task force, in which the players lobbied for consistency and control.

And it appears to be working.

"They got better at doing what Europe does than what Europe did," said Geoff Ogilvy, an assistant captain for the International team. "And we paid the price. Europe made America better. ... Europe plays with such spirit, and that's what it is. What you see with that U.S. team, isn't it a bit of that European spirit?"

Does that translate to the Ryder Cup? Not necessarily. The Americans have been feeling good about themselves after the Presidents Cup for the last decade and they have only two Ryder Cup victories to show for it.

The Ryder Cup is a different monster. Mickelson knows that better than anyone. And that's why he's so desperate to be there.

"There will be a point where I look back and I remember, cherish, talk about all the experiences and memories that have been created," he said of his 23 appearances in the Cups. "Right now, I'm still trying to make more. I have not been a part of a Ryder Cup victory in Europe. It's a big goal of mine. We have the players, the foundation, and the direction. I want to be part of that team next year."


Dementia concerns starting among academy players in soccer

In this Oct. 18, 1969 file photo, Chelsea's Eddie McCreadie, second right, clear the ball in front of West Bromwich's Jeff Astle, left, during an English League Division 1 match at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London. Astle’s death at age 59 in 2002 was attributed to repeatedly heading heavy, leather footballs. (AP Photo/Robert Rider)

Rob Harris

London (AP) — Earning a place in a Premier League club's academy offers an irresistible path to fame, glory and wealth. Parents, though, are becoming increasingly aware of the potential health risks their children will be exposed to.

At Manchester City, offering reassurance and trying to allay concerns about any long-term brain damage caused by blows to the head now starts long before a professional contract is on offer.

"When we have young academy players — and we are talking 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 — we get the parents in and talk to them about it," City club doctor Matthew Brown told The Associated Press. "Concussion is a massive issue."

Just last week, Ireland forward Kevin Doyle retired from soccer after complaining of repeated headaches from heading the ball and concussions while playing for the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer in recent months. It was a preventative measure by the 34-year-old former Premier League player to try and avoid permanent damage.

Medics are yet to verify definitive links between impacts to the brain and the early onset of dementia within footballers, and Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane was dismissive of Doyle's anxieties on Tuesday.

"If you're worried about the physical side of any sport, then play chess," Keane said. "It is part of the game, players picking up injuries. (Doyle) is a center forward, and he gets a few knocks from center backs. I'm sure he has given out a few himself."

A notoriously tough midfielder during his playing career with Manchester United and Ireland, Keane is trying to protect the game's physicality. Governing bodies, though, realize they cannot be indifferent if football is to blame for retired players suffering from degenerative brain diseases.

In research published earlier this year, six of 14 former players were found to have signs of Alzheimer's disease after their brains underwent post-mortem examinations. The Football Association and Professional Footballers' Association in England are stepping up the research being undertaken, and the way Alzheimer's or memory loss has afflicted several members of England's 1966 World Cup winning squad has sharpened the need to investigate.

Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat trick in England's 4-2 win over West Germany in the 1966 final, will launch an Alzheimer's Society walk next week to raise awareness.

"Dementia is becoming one of the most serious illnesses and it is increasing," Hurst said. "My involvement with the players from my squad who have got it is seeing how the families deal with it all, and it is arguably one of the most debilitating aliments families can face."

Hurst believes Martin Peters, the other scorer at Wembley 51 years ago, would no longer recognize him.

"If you have a physical disease, or a broken leg, you can recover from it and get better in time," Hurst said, "with dementia it only goes one way, albeit at different levels."

It's why families of fledgling players are starting to take note of the risks. Manchester City's medical team tell parents of academy entrants that the playing style championed throughout the club by first-team manager Pep Guardiola — keeping the ball on the ground — isn't just aesthetically-pleasing. It's safer too, according to City's doctor.

"At Manchester City we have a philosophy of football, we play beautiful football," Brown said. "There isn't a lot of heading. I am not going to say there isn't ever any heading because obviously there is.

"When I speak to the parents of these young kids about concussion and any concerns they may have and the hypothetical risk of links to dementia at an early age, I say to them 'as a club we are doing everything we can to both limit heading, (and) diagnose, assess, manage and rehabilitate head injuries'."

In 2015, the U.S. Soccer Federation recommended a ban on headers for players 10 and under in a bid to address concerns about the impact of head injuries. The United States has also seen a $1 billion settlement between the NFL and thousands of its former American football players who have been diagnosed with brain injuries linked to repeated concussions.

"I don't imagine we are going to change the rules of football because of this situation," Brown said. "Obviously, there have been some quite publicized reports of ex-professional players that have dementia. But we've done a bit of work with experts around the country and they've said at the moment there's no exact link between heading the ball and concussion or chronic traumatic encephalopathy .

"In the future will they ever prove a link? I don't know. I think there are so many variables, I really do. So all we can do is just reduce the risk to the player."

The family of former England striker Jeff Astle, whose death at age 59 in 2002 was attributed to repeatedly heading heavy, leather balls, has been pushing for better protection for modern players. The priority for the Astle family has been convincing football to recognize the problem even exists.

"It is very encouraging that, for the most part, football is beginning to take the issue of concussion seriously and, along with more research, a cultural change is beginning to take place," Peter McCabe, chief executive of the Headway brain injury association, said in response to Keane's comments at the Ireland training camp. "It is vital that we continue to conduct more research into the potential long-term implications of heading footballs to ensure people are able to make informed choices."


George Foreman challenges Steven Seagal to 10-round fight

Former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman is shown in this Oct. 1, 2015, file photo. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Las Vegas (AP) — Former heavyweight champion George Foreman has challenged big-screen tough guy Steven Seagal to a real-life fight.

The 68-year-old Foreman posted a picture of the 65-year-old Seagal on Twitter on Monday, writing: "I challenge you one on one, I use boxing you can use whatever. 10 rounds in Vegas."

When fans asked Foreman on Twitter why he wanted to fight Seagal, Foreman replied that the martial artist "really can fight" and is big enough to defend himself. Foreman first won the heavyweight title in 1973 and again in 1994.

Seagal made headlines last week for saying that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem were a "joke" and an "outrage."

A representative for Seagal told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the star didn't want to comment on Foreman's offer.


Update October 3, 2017

Herath spins Sri Lanka to victory, gets 400th test wicket

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir is bowled by Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath during the fifth day of the first test in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

 Abu Dhabi, UAE (AP) - Rangana Herath bowled Sri Lanka to a stunning 21-run win over Pakistan on Monday, snaring six wickets on the last day of the series-opening test and becoming the first left-arm spinner to claim 400 wickets in cricket's traditional format.

The 39-year-old orthodox spinner snared 6-41 in the second innings — giving him 11 for the match — as Sri Lanka defended their meager 135-run advantage on a dramatic day when 16 wickets tumbled in three sessions.

Sri Lanka resumed at 69-4 on the fifth morning and were bowled out for 138, setting Pakistan a target of 136 for victory.

Pakistan's chase started badly, losing wickets at 4, 7, 16 and 32 before limping to tea at 67-5, setting up a tense last session.

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed shared an innings-reviving 42-run stand with Haris Sohail but when he was stumped, advancing down the wicket to Herath, Pakistan slumped to 78-6 and Sri Lanka had the upper hand.

Sohail, who scored a defiant 76 and was the last man out in Pakistan's first innings of 422, kept his team's hopes alive until he was trapped lbw with a ball from Dilruwan Perera that hit the back leg. He grafted for 34 runs from 69 deliveries and his dismissal left Pakistan needing 38 runs with three wickets in hand.

Herath ensured it for the visitors when he bowled Hassan Ali (8) and Mohammad Amir (9) and had Mohammad Abbas out lbw to skittle Pakistan for 114.

In the process, he lifted his career tally to 101 test wickets against Pakistan and 400 overall.

Herath noted there was assistance from the pitch late in the match, but he was feeling sore after a marathon bowling spell.

But his overwhelming feeling was pride.

"I was so happy with the remarkable achievement," of 400 wickets, Herath was quoted as saying. "All credit should go to the people behind me, from my parents to the team and the supporting staff."

It was Pakistan's first test defeat in Abu Dhabi, one of the team's homes away from home while international cricket is suspended in their country.

Dinesh Chandimal's unbeaten 155 helped Sri Lanka to a first innings of 419, with key contributions from Dimuth Karunaratne (93) and Niroshan Dickwella (83). Bat continued to dominate ball in Pakistan's reply, with the top three batsmen posting half centuries and Sohail adding his valuable 76 to give his team a three-run first-innings margin.

As the wicket deteriorated, though, the spin bowlers started to assert themselves and Yasir Shah's 5-51 contained Sri Lanka's second innings and seemingly put Pakistan in command — with Dickwella's unbeaten 40 helping the visitors mount a rear-guard and eventually match-winning lower-order rally from 101-8 to 138 all out.

"Dickwella was unbelievable in the second innings, he got us to (almost) 140," Chandimal said. "We knew once we got that much, we have our legend (Herath) here.

"We knew if there were a couple of early wickets, we would do well. Credit to the bowlers who put (in) their heart and soul."

Sarfraz said his Pakistani team was bitterly disappointed after feeling they should have won.

"We have a few issues, especially in the fifth day when we come under pressure," he said. "Some things have to change — we needed a partnership and didn't get one.

"We'll try and bounce back in the next game."

The second test starts Friday in Dubai.


Nadal credits passion and overcoming injuries for success

Rafael Nadal of Spain speaks during a news conference of the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, Monday, Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Beijing (AP) — Passion, and overcoming injuries, are the key to Rafael Nadal's recent success.

The top-ranked Spaniard won the French Open and the U.S. Open this year, and reclaimed the No. 1 spot from Andy Murray. His next event is the China Open.

"I had some injuries, but good thing is I keep having the passion for the game and the love for what I am doing and the spirit of overcome tough situations in terms of physical issues," the Spaniard said. "Of course, the spirit of improvement: every day when I wake up, going on court with the goal of doing something better than what I was doing."

Nadal will open against Lucas Pouille on Tuesday at the China Open. The Frenchman beat Nadal in their previous meeting last year.

Nadal is 56-9 this season. He leads the tour with five ATP singles titles and will be trying to add this year's China Open title to the one he took home as a teenager in 2005.

Nadal has made the tournament's final in three of his six earlier appearances and has a 20-5 record in Beijing.

In the first round on Monday, top-ranked Garbine Muguruza retired from her opening match with a cold. Muguruza dropped the first set 6-2 and was trailing 2-0 against Barbora Strycova when she decided to stop.

"I couldn't perform today," said the Spaniard, who said she picked up a virus at the Wuhan Open last week but wanted to try to play despite her illness. "I don't want to retire before the tournament starts for me."

Also, U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens was beaten by Christina McHale 6-3, 6-0.

"It was a tough day," Stephens said. "There's not really much to say about. Obviously not a great match, so just forget about it and try to move on."

In other women's matches, former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-2, while Peng Shuai, Elena Vesnina, Elise Mertens, Coco Vandeweghe and Alize Cornet also won.

Men's winners included fifth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut, Mischa Zverev, Steve Darcis, Fabio Fognini and Aljaz Bedene.


Gano field goal lifts Panthers over Patriots 33-30

Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano, left, kicks the game-winning field goal against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 1, in Foxborough, Mass. The Panthers won 33-30. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Foxborough, Massachusetts (AP) — Graham Gano hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired, helping the Carolina Panthers stun the New England Patriots 33-30 on Sunday.

The winner served as redemption for Gano, who missed an extra point in the third quarter.

It was the second home loss this season for the usually unbeatable Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The defeat marked just the second time since 2012 that Tom Brady has lost two home starts within a season.

Cam Newton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. Jonathan Stewart rushed 14 times for 68 yards to pass DeAngelo Williams and become the franchise's all-time leading rusher.

Newton finished 22 of 29 for 316 yards and an interception, picking apart a New England defense that was giving up an NFL-worst 461 yards and 31.7 points per game. The Patriots (2-2) forced a pair of turnovers, but had trouble containing Newton's stable of targets.

Carolina (3-1) finished with 444 total yards, marking the fourth straight game the Patriots have given up at least 300 yards.

Brady finished 32 of 45 for 307 yards and two scores.

BRONCOS 16, RAIDERS 10

Denver — The Broncos throttled running back Marshawn Lynch and sent quarterback Derek Carr to the sideline with a back injury, then sealed their win on safety Justin Simmons'  interception of EJ Manuel at the Denver 8 in the closing minutes.

Despite holding Lynch to 12 yards on nine carries, the Broncos found themselves in danger of frittering away an AFC West showdown they had dominated. Trailing by six, Manuel heaved a high toss to Amari Cooper just after the two-minute warning. Simmons, who won the job from three-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward this summer, came down with the ball just shy of the goal line and took it out to 8. The Broncos ran out the clock to hit their bye week at 3-1.

Oakland (2-2) had cut its deficit to six on Giorgio Tavecchio's 38-yard field goal with 5:23 remaining. That came after Brandon McManus hit the left upright from 29 yards out early in the fourth quarter after nailing kicks from 28, 36 and 46 yards.

SEAHAWKS 46, COLTS 18

Seattle — J.D. McKissic took the second carry of his career 30 yards for a touchdown and Bobby Wagner scooped up Marcus Smith's forced fumble and rumbled 21 yards for a score in a 13-second span late in the third quarter that helped Seattle beat Indianapolis.

Justin Coleman added a 28-yard interception return for a TD in the first half and Seattle overcame a sleepy first 30 minutes from its offense.

Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions, but his most important play was a 23-yard run in the third quarter to give Seattle an 18-15 lead. Adam Vinatieri pulled the Colts even at 18 as the Colts capitalized on Wilson's second interception. Graham dropped a catchable pass and it was intercepted by Malik Hooker, his third straight game with an interception.

But Seattle answered with a 75-yard drive that was capped by McKissic's touchdown sprint. Wilson added TD passes of 6 yards to Luke Willson and 27 yards to McKissic in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks outscored Indianapolis 36-3 in the second half.

Seattle's win came with a big blow in the final minutes when starting running back Chris Carson sustained a left leg injury.

CARDINALS 18, 49ERS 12, OT

Glendale, Arizona — Carson Palmer threw 19 yards to Larry Fitzgerald with 32 seconds left in overtime for the game's only touchdown. The scoring had been limited to nine field goals on an ugly afternoon in the desert before Palmer directed a seven-play, 75-yard drive with 1:52 to play.

Fitzgerald, who had three catches for 13 yards before the winning grab, rose to catch the ball under tight coverage by Rashard Robinson.

Robbie Gould kicked his fifth field goal, a 23-yarder with 2:24 left in overtime to put the 49ers ahead 15-12.

Phil Dawson kicked four field goals for the Cardinals (2-2), whose two victories both have come in overtime.

The 49ers (0-4), losing to the Cardinals for the fifth time in a row, won the coin toss to start the overtime. They used up 7:36 of the extra session, which was shortened from 15 to 10 minutes this season.

EAGLES 26, CHARGERS 24

Carson, California — Carson Wentz passed for 242 yards, LeGarrette Blount rushed for 136 and the Eagles extended their promising start to the season.

Rookie Jake Elliott kicked four field goals for the Eagles (3-1), who had thousands of roaring fans in the Chargers' temporary stadium while they hung on to win on the road for the second time in 10 tries.

Playing without several injured defensive regulars, the Eagles matched last year's 3-1 start even though they blew most of an early 13-point lead. Rookie Austin Ekeler rushed for a score and Hunter Henry made a one-handed TD catch during the Chargers' fourth-quarter surge.

But Blount rushed for 88 yards in the fourth quarter alone, and Philadelphia ran out the clock after Henry's TD catch with 6:44 to play.

Philip Rivers passed for 347 yards and two TDs for the Chargers, who have lost nine consecutive games dating to last season in San Diego.

Tyrell Williams caught a 75-yard touchdown pass , but the Bolts are off to their first 0-4 start since 2003 — three years before Rivers became their starting quarterback. New coach Anthony Lynn is still winless after Los Angeles' new team wrapped up a three-game homestand.

BUCCANEERS 25, GIANTS 23

Tampa, Florida — Jameis Winston threw for 332 and three touchdowns without an interception, and Nick Folk kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired.

Folk redeemed himself after missing two field goals and an extra point earlier in the day, booting the winner after Winston answered Eli Manning's second TD pass of the day with an impressive drive that began at his 25.

The Giants (0-4) lost on a last-second field goal for the second straight week. They took a 23-22 lead on Rhett Ellison's 2-yard TD reception with 3:16 remaining. Manning threw to Odell Beckham Jr., in the rear of the end zone for a 2-point conversion that was disallowed because the receiver had stepped out of bounds before making the catch.

Winston threw TDs passes of 6 yards to Mike Evans and 58 yards to O.J. Howard in building an early 13-0 lead. His 14-yard scoring pass to Cameron Brate put the Bucs up 22-17 midway through the fourth quarter, setting the stage for an exciting close.

RAMS 35, COWBOYS 30

Arlington, Texas — Todd Gurley scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 53-yard catch-and-run, and Greg Zuerlein kicked a career-high seven field goals.

Gurley finished with 215 total yards — 121 rushing and 94 receiving — as the Rams overcame two first-half touchdowns from Ezekiel Elliott the day before a federal appeals court hearing related to the star Dallas running back's blocked six-game suspension over a domestic incident in Ohio.

The Rams (3-1) rallied from 11 points down late in the first half and matched their start from a year ago, when they went 1-11 the rest of the way as No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff was sitting and later lost the first seven starts of his career.

Goff showed more poise in first-year coach Sean McVay's offense, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He has seven TD passes and one interception this season.

The Cowboys (2-2) are already a loss shy of their total from last season when Dak Prescott was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Elliott led the league in rushing, also as a rookie.

BILLS 23, FALCONS 17

Atlanta — Stephen Hauschka kicked a tiebreaking, 56-yard field goal with less than five minutes remaining and the Buffalo Bills made a last-minute defensive stand.

The Falcons lost star wide receiver Julio Jones to a hip injury and also saw fellow WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) leave the game.

Hauschka padded the lead with a 55-yarder with about three minutes remaining.

Buffalo's defense stopped the Falcons at the Bills 10 with less than a minute remaining when Matt Ryan couldn't complete a fourth-down pass to Taylor Gabriel, and Atlanta became the last NFC team to lose this season.

Tre'Davious White returned a fumble recovery 52 yards for a third-quarter touchdown as the tough Buffalo defense delivered again even when it yielded its first passing touchdown of the season. Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes hit Ryan's arm as Ryan was trying to pass, forcing the fumble.

It was one of three turnovers by Atlanta (3-1) on a day the Bills (3-1) set a team record for consecutive quarters without a turnover. Ryan threw two interceptions, giving him five in his last two games.

STEELERS 26, RAVENS 9

Baltimore — Le'Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns to seize first place in the AFC North.

Though held to a touchdown over the final 30 minutes, Pittsburgh (3-1) mounted enough of an attack before halftime to earn its first win in Baltimore since 2012. Ben Roethlisberger went 18 for 30 for 216 yards and a touchdown. Bell did more than his share, carrying the ball 35 times to help the Steelers amass 381 yards on offense.

The Ravens (2-2), meanwhile, looked every bit like the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL. Baltimore trailed 19-0 at halftime, generated only 154 yards through three quarters and stumbled through a second straight game with only one touchdown.

Joe Flacco completed 31 of 49 passes for 235 yards, was sacked four times and intercepted twice.

TEXANS 57, TITANS 14

Houston — Rookie Deshaun Watson threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as the Texans scored the most points in franchise history.

Watson, the 12th pick in this year's draft, became the first rookie to throw four touchdowns and run for another one since Fran Tarkenton in 1961, and tied an NFL record for most TDs by a rookie quarterback.

The Texans (2-2) outdid their previous highest point total of 45 set in a victory over the Titans in 2014 and are the first NFL team to score 50 points since the Jaguars scored 51 in December 2015.

Houston's defense got things going when Andre Hal intercepted Marcus Mariota on the game's third play. It was the first of four interceptions for Houston's defense. Mariota, who became the first Titans quarterback with two rushing touchdowns in a game since Steve McNair in 2003, injured his hamstring and didn't play after halftime. Matt Cassel took over for the Titans (2-2) and threw for 21 yards with two interceptions.

Watson then led Houston's offense to touchdowns on three straight possessions for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. It was the first time since Oct. 19, 2008 that Houston scored a touchdown on each of its first three possessions.

LIONS 14, VIKINGS 7

Minneapolis — Anthony Zettel led a ferocious performance by Detroit's defense with two sacks, four hurries and a fumble recovery, as the Lions forced three turnovers while holding Minnesota scoreless in the second half.

The Lions turned two fumbles lost by the Vikings in the third quarter into 11 points, taking the lead on Ameer Abdullah's 1-yard touchdown run five plays after rookie Dalvin Cook fumbled at the Minnesota 29.

The Vikings (2-2) lost more than just possession when Cook limped off with an injury to his left knee and did not return.

Tahir Whitehead recovered that fumble for the Lions, plus one by Adam Thielen with 1:43 left at the Detroit 45 that ended the last-chance drive for the Vikings.

Detroit (3-1) leads the NFL in turnover margin at plus-9.

Abdullah came close to ending a four-year stretch by the Lions without a 100-yard rusher, finishing with 94 yards on 20 carries before leaving with an undisclosed injury.

Matthew Stafford was sacked six times for 55 yards, but he hung on to the ball each time and completed 19 of 31 passes for 209 yards, plus the key 2-point conversion to T.J. Jones to give the Lions a seven-point lead.

Case Keenum started in place of Sam Bradford at quarterback for the Vikings for the third straight game, going 16 for 30 for 219 yards. He was sacked by Zettel for an 11-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 3 right before the two-minute warning, and his fourth down heave into the end zone sailed over Thielen's head.

SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0

London — Drew Brees threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and the Saints scored all but three of their points in the second half.

Michael Thomas had a touchdown reception in the third quarter, Alvin Kamara added one in the fourth and Will Lutz made two of his three field-goal attempts for New Orleans (2-2), which arrived for the game on Monday and won the lowest-scoring game ever held in London.

It was expected to be a big homecoming for the Dolphins' Jay Ajayi, who was born in the city, but the running back finished with 46 yards on 12 carries.

Lutz missed his first try, a 41-yarder, wide right on the second play of the second quarter, and the teams threatened to have the first scoreless opening half since Week 14 of the 2011 season until Lutz connected from 43 yards with no time remaining.

Brees found Thomas, who had eight catches for 89 yards, on a 4-yarder to push the score to 10-0 in the third quarter, and Kamara took a shovel pass from Brees 12 yards into the end zone with 3:57 remaining to wrap up the victory.

JETS 23, JAGUARS 20, OT

East Rutherford, New Jersey — Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 41-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Jets to a wacky win.

After Catanzaro split the uprights, he and his teammates celebrated wildly in the middle of the field — but then had to wait because there was a penalty flag on the field. The officials ruled there actually was no penalty on the play, giving the Jets the victory.

Bilal Powell rushed for a career-high 163 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, and rookie Elijah McGuire had a 69-yard score and finished with 93 yards rushing as the Jets (2-2) ran all over the Jaguars (2-2).

But New York blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead because of some big mistakes, then had to hold on in the extra period.

After Jacksonville went three-and-out, on the punt Paul Posluszny was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting as the Jets' Dylan Donahue went down on the Jaguars sideline with an elbow injury. It put the ball on the Jacksonville 25, and after two 1-yard runs, Josh McCown spiked the ball to set up Catanzaro's field goal.

McCown finished 22 of 31 for 224 yards with an interception and the Jets outgained the Jaguars 471-311 in total yards, including 256-175 on the ground.

BENGALS 31, BROWNS 7

Cleveland — Andy Dalton threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half and Cincinnati's offense found the perfect opponent to work out some early season struggles.

Dalton only missed on one of 18 throws in the first half as the Bengals (1-3) built a 21-0 lead.

He connected with A.J. Green, Tyler Croft and Giovani Bernard while dissecting the young Browns (0-4), who were again plagued by mistakes and were down three defensive starters.

Dalton, the NFL's 30th-ranked QB, finished 25 of 30 for 286 yards. His second TD to Croft in the third quarter made it 31-0, and sent even some of the most die-hard Browns fans toward the FirstEnergy Stadium exits.

The Browns avoided a shutout with 1:54 left.


Mercedes unhappy despite extending lead in F1 title race

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Jerome Pugmire

Sepang, Malaysia (AP) — Mercedes is giving a false impression of dominance in this season's Formula One championship.

That's the opinion of the team's head of motorsport, Toto Wolff.

On the surface, all appears on track with just five races remaining in the season:

— Lewis Hamilton leads by 34 points from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

— Mercedes is 118 points clear of Ferrari and close to sealing a fourth straight constructors' championship.

— Hamilton is odds-on for a third F1 title in four years with Mercedes, and fourth overall.

Yet the mood after Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix was almost despondent, despite Hamilton finishing in second place and Vettel fourth.

The bare result glosses over the fact that Vettel, starting from last place on the grid after an engine problem ended his qualifying, almost got a podium position. Vettel was lapping nearly one second faster than Hamilton and overtook Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, even though Bottas started fifth.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen overtook Hamilton with ease early on to win the race.

"It's just so painful. The pace of Ferrari and Red Bull was very good," Wolff said. "That is the underlying feeling with all of us: We need to understand why we underperform on certain circuits (with) very high temperatures."

Ferrari's other driver, Kimi Raikkonen, was not able to start because of a suspected turbo problem. Raikkonen could well have challenged for a win, given Ferrari's pace and that he qualified in second place.

Two weeks ago in Singapore, Vettel started from pole position and looked set to regain the championship lead. Raikkonen was perfectly placed to help him, sitting ahead of both Mercedes cars on the grid. But Vettel caused a crash that took out both Ferraris, and two other cars, and handed the initiative to Hamilton.

"We have built our advantage over Ferrari in the last two races because of them shunting out in Singapore, Sebastian's engine problems in qualifying, and Kimi's problems in the race," Wolff said Sunday in the Mercedes motorhome. "If they finished the races as they should have performed, we would not have increased our points advantage, but would have lost many points to them."

Mercedes encountered problems with tire set up and rear balance issues earlier in the season, when Ferrari was on top. The problems have since been offset by the brilliant driving of Hamilton, who has managed to extract the most out of the car and find extra pace in qualifying following tough practice sessions.

"We have a very capricious car that has a very narrow window with the tires. Dipping in and out of the window is the fundamental story of 2017," Wolff said. "We are looking at our own level of performance. How can we fix our issues? Benefiting from Ferrari's problems shouldn't hide that they have (been quicker) this race."

Red Bull was also quicker.

"To beat Mercedes fair and square was beyond our expectation," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. "I thought we had a great race car but I didn't think it was going to be quite that great."

Hamilton rarely gets beaten for pace, especially when starting from pole position.

"Even if I had closed the door and held Verstappen back on that lap, he would have got me on another," Hamilton said. "When he passed me he was pulling away eight-tenths (of a second) quicker. There was nothing I could do."

Hamilton predicted he would have finished third, had Raikkonen started.

"There are some issues with the car that we don't fully understand," Hamilton said. "Problems happening throughout the weekend that are just not acceptable for this great team."

Mercedes struggled in practice for Malaysia, with Hamilton no higher than fifth as the Ferrari's placed 1-2 in second and third practice.

"We happened to get the set up just OK for qualifying," Hamilton said. "That was partly really good work from the engineers, but also fortunate."

Hamilton knows his 34-point lead is somewhat illusory, given that the luck has gone Mercedes' way "on two circuits where we shouldn't have had those results."

Still, having trailed Vettel by 14 points four races ago, he heads to the Japanese GP with cause for optimism.

"Suzuka is a much cooler circuit," Hamilton said. "It should be better" for Mercedes.


Presidents Cup needs more than just time to improve

International Team member Hideki Matsuyama hits to the third green during the final round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Doug Ferguson

Jersey City, N.J. (AP) — The banner posted on the side of the grandstand at the first tee loudly proclaimed the Presidents Cup as "The U.S. versus The World." That sounded like a compelling competition except for one small problem.

When did Europe move to another planet?

The PGA Tour has pleaded for patience in letting the Presidents Cup mature into a must-see event, referring to a Ryder Cup that once was even more one-sided. During a 50-year stretch, the Americans captured the Ryder Cup 20 out of 21 times.

Then again, they were beating up on a Britain and Ireland team trying to recover from World War II, the worst kind of home game. The turning point came in 1979 when all of Europe became eligible, which included Seve Ballesteros, perhaps the most important figure in Ryder Cup history.

The International team comes from every country outside Europe. What else can it add?

What can it do?

It's difficult enough playing under a flag with no significance except for one week every two years at the Presidents Cup. And it doesn't help that the International team takes its direction from the PGA Tour, which also oversees the American team. Imagine a World Series between two baseball teams with the same owner.

Worse yet was looking across at a U.S. team that is loaded with so much young talent that some of those stars at Liberty National might not be on the charter flight to France for the Ryder Cup next September.

The record will show a 19-11 victory for the Americans.

The memory from this Presidents Cup will be the Americans being one match away from ending it on Saturday.

A blowout typically leads to knee-jerk reactions. Those were hard to find two years ago in South Korea when the International team came within two putts in one match from winning — Chris Kirk making his putt from 15 feet, Anirban Lahiri missing his putt from 4 feet.

The big picture suggests a deeper problem.

The Americans are now 10-1-1. Their only loss was in 1998 in Australia, when the matches were held two weeks before Christmas, and most of the Americans spent more time shopping online than studying potential pairings.

The matches return to Australia for a third time in 2019, this time ending on Dec. 15. So there's hope for the International team.

Nothing would have helped this year. International captain Nick Price referred to this U.S. team as a juggernaut, and that might have been an understatement. The Americans usually field strong teams. What's different about this team was that all of them were playing great. That's an unbeatable combination.

"None of this is about making it easier for us," said Geoff Ogilvy, one of Price's assistant captains. "It's about making the event better. Everyone who leaves on Monday morning says, 'It's the most fun I've ever had.' But they're (ticked) off because they're not in the mix. We watch it lovingly every two years and we get jealous because the Europeans and the U.S. have that. We haven't had that. That's what the boys want.

"Anything we can do to help that situation happen more often is going to make this tournament better."

Playing better would help, but even that might not be enough.

This was the first time in 10 years that every player on the International team was a full PGA Tour member. But their road to America is always longer, and more difficult, when it starts in places like India, Argentina and perhaps China for the next team.

What has to change is autonomy for the International team.

The modern Ryder Cup, which dates to 1979, essentially is the PGA Tour against the European Tour, no matter where the Europeans live or play. There is pride, and from that comes passion and spirit. That can't be manufactured.

Ernie Els is the logical choice as the next International captain. That decision will come from the PGA Tour, which also will select the American captain. Any change in format is decided by the PGA Tour. The tour isn't rigging the competition in American favor. That does no one any good.

Even so, separate teams require separate leadership.

"It's gotten to the stage now where we have to do whatever we can to try and benefit our team," Els said. "Whether that's logistics, scheduling, golf course setup, I think we have to be more in control."

Not to be overlooked is the selection process. The International team is determined by the world ranking because that's what the PGA Tour decided. Why not let the International team set its own qualification? It could use a mixture of FedEx Cup points and world ranking points. Maybe it wants four captain's picks instead of two.

None of that would have mattered this year, not against this U.S. team and the way it played. But at least it would make the Presidents Cup feel like a competition instead of an exhibition.


Update October 2, 2017

Americans win Presidents Cup for 7th straight time

The U.S. Team celebrates with the winner's trophy after the final round of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Doug Ferguson

Jersey City, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump showed up about an hour after the final match was underway Sunday at the Presidents Cup. Had he shown up much later, he might have missed the start of a long celebration for an American team that rarely had it this easy.

This really was over before it started.

"Honestly, it was really weird being out there today, knowing there was no chance of losing," Dustin Johnson said after going unbeaten in five matches. "I don't know how to explain it, but it was like playing golf with my buddies. We were going to win no matter what."

The Americans so thoroughly defeated and demoralized the International team that they needed just one point from 12 singles matches to win the gold trophy. Daniel Berger delivered the cup-clinching moment in the fourth match.

Charley Hoffman, one of five Americans who had never experienced cup competition as a pro, chased after Berger and sprayed him with champagne, and then Berger grabbed the bottle for a guzzle before passing it over to U.S. captain Steve Stricker.

The final score was 19-11, the seventh straight victory for the Americans. They extended their dominance to 10-1-1 in this contest, if it can even be called that.

"This is a juggernaut of a U.S. team," said Nick Price, in his third and final stint of the International captain, all of them losses. "They're an overpowering team that played some phenomenal golf. It was tough to watch, especially being on the receiving end."

The only consolation was keeping the Americans from a record rout.

Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott and Jhonattan Vegas each won their first point of the week as the International team won the singles session. That kept the Americans from becoming the first team to win every session in the Presidents Cup.

No matter. All they really wanted was the cup, and the only difference this year was who gave it to them. Trump became the first sitting president to attend the final day of the Presidents Cup, and the first to present the team with the trophy.

"They came in here riding a ton of momentum and a ton of confidence," Stricker said. "It was about getting out of their way."

So thorough was this beating that Hoffman and Kevin Chappell could have clinched the cup Saturday evening if they had won their fourballs match. Stricker sent them out at the top of his lineup to give them a chance to finish the job. Chappell nearly did, doubling over when he missed a 20-foot birdie putt and halved his match with Marc Leishman. Hoffman was beaten by Jason Day, a former world No. 1 who had gone nine straight matches without winning until a 2-and-1 victory.

Instead, the clinching match fell to Berger, who had told Sky Sports in an interview Saturday, "Our goal from the minute we got here was to crush them as bad as we can. I hope that we close them out today and we go out there tomorrow and beat them even worse."

After each session, as the margin kept getting larger, the talk was whether this U.S. team was as good as any. Stricker simply had 12 players who were on top of their games. Phil Mickelson at No. 30 had the lowest world ranking on this team and was the only player who didn't make it to the Tour Championship.

He also gets credit as an architect behind a new American model of developing continuity and familiarity as they move from the Ryder Cup to the Presidents Cup each year. And it helps that the young core of this team has a blast with each other.

"I've seen it, how talented these guys are, and for them to bring out the best in each other is just impressive," Mickelson said. "You don't get a performance like we had this week without that little something extra, that little special something, and these guys brought it out in each other."

Mickelson did his part by going 3-0-1 for the week. This was his 23rd consecutive team, including every Presidents Cup, and Sunday was his 100th career match. He won it on the 17th hole against Adam Hadwin.

"It was weird to have a stress-free Sunday singles," Mickelson said.

It was a familiar outcome for Jordan Spieth, who still hasn't won a singles match in his five Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup appearances combined. That didn't dampen his mood. So lopsided were these matches that Patrick Reed said the Americans could have sent out three players on Sunday and figured out how to get one point.

"Not if I was one of them," Spieth cracked.

The International team has not won since 1998 at Royal Melbourne. It looked as though it was turning the corner two years ago in South Korea when the Presidents Cup came down to the final two matches in a thriller. This was a snoozer.

"It was a bit of a slaughtering this week," Scott said. "We've got to stand up and take our (butt) whipping like men and walk out of here with our heads high."

They have to wait two years to try again at Royal Melbourne.


Red Bull's Verstappen wins Malaysian Grand Prix

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands celebrates on the podium after winning the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Jerome Pugmire

Sepang, Malaysia (AP) — Max Verstappen celebrated his birthday by winning the Malaysian Grand Prix in style on Sunday, while Lewis Hamilton finished second to extend his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel started the race from last but drove brilliantly to take fourth place behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and limit the damage to his own title hopes. Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen did not even start, despite qualifying second. Moments before the race, mechanics wheeled Raikkonen's car back to the garage but could not get it ready.

Hamilton secured the 70th pole of his career in qualifying, and his fourth straight in Malaysia, while Vettel failed to set a time because of an engine problem.

The day after turning 20, Verstappen turned on the style, making a fine move to overtake Hamilton on lap 4.

"The whole race went well. Once I got past Lewis I could focus on my tires," Verstappen said. "From then on, I could race my own race. It's incredible to win."

His father, the former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, looked emotional as his son stood on the podium.

Dutch fans poured onto the grid to join in the celebrations, with one fan applauding with a pair of clogs.

Hamilton's only win in Malaysia was in 2014. He led comfortably last year but retired with an engine failure.

Vettel's last win came at the Hungarian GP before the summer break, moving him 14 points clear of Hamilton. But the British driver has won three of four races since and now leads Vettel by 34 points with five races remaining.

"It's a step toward trying to win this world championship so every point counts," Hamilton said. "Considering the issues we had with the car, it's a good weekend."

Hamilton had failed to finish higher than fifth in practice but found some speed in qualifying. Still, given his position — and where Vettel was — he might have expected to be further ahead.

Vettel saved Ferrari's blushes but, as if Ferrari's luck could not get any worse, Williams driver Lance Stroll smashed into the side of his car on the warm-down lap, cutting it almost in half.

"That's impossible," a stunned Vettel said. "Stroll's not looking where he's going. He's shunted into my car."

Stewards investigated the issue but no action was taken. In a light-hearted moment, the German driver hitched a lift back to the paddock the novel way — by sitting on the side of countryman Pascal Wehrlein's Sauber.

Verstappen won the Spanish GP on his Red Bull debut last year, and became the youngest driver on the front row when he qualified second for Monaco. He was still 18.

Up until Sunday, however, his season had been blighted by engine problems. Since placing third at the Chinese GP — the second race this season — he failed to finish seven times. Two weeks ago, he was taken out on Turn 1 by Vettel and had to retire.

But his luck held and he delivered a composed performance in keeping with the predictions that he will become a future great.

"Big congratulations to Max," Hamilton said. "He did a fantastic job today."

Hamilton made a clean start — although with no car next to him on the front row that was hardly difficult.

Verstappen drew cheers from the Sepang crowd — watching a race here for the last time — after sweeping past Hamilton, who failed to defend his position aggressively enough.

"I opted to go on the inside. It was my only chance," Verstappen said. "I saw Lewis was struggling more with traction, so I used my battery a bit more."

Valtteri Bottas made a great start from fifth to third, overtaking Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, but was soon under pressure from the Australian.

Since signing a new Mercedes contract for next year, Bottas has hit a poor spell of form and he finished fifth.

Vettel drove like someone keen to defy the odds.

He found just enough room to squeeze inside two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso on lap 10 — a textbook overtaking move — to move 10th and into the points. At this point, Raikkonen was already in his shorts and walking back to the Ferrari motorhome.

Vettel might even have caught Ricciardo, moving to within one second of the Australian driver late on.

"Seb came so quick at the end, I felt like I was going to have a handful," Ricciardo said. "But he only had one attack."

For Ricciardo it was an eighth podium in 11 races, and another sign that Red Bull is coming back strongly.


Barcelona game played without fans amid Catalonia vote

The Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Las Palmas is played behind closed doors at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Joseph Wilson

Barcelona, Spain (AP) — Barcelona joined the protests against the Spanish government's attempt to halt Catalonia's independence vote on Sunday by preventing fans from entering Camp Nou Stadium for their Spanish league game against Las Palmas.

The club made the decision to play behind closed doors after a request to postpone the game was denied by the Spanish league. Barcelona said playing in an empty stadium was a way to show discontent with the incidents in Catalonia.

Barcelona won the match 3-0 with two goals by Lionel Messi and one by Sergio Busquets.

"We tried to suspend the game all day long but it wasn't possible," Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. "We could lose points if we didn't play, so we decided to play behind closed doors as a way to show the entire world that we were not pleased with what happened (in Catalonia)."

By day's end, Catalonia's health services said 844 people had been treated in hospitals for injuries, including two in serious condition, as Spanish authorities tried to stop the independence vote that the central government said was unconstitutional. Thirty-three police were also injured.

FC Barcelona had openly backed the referendum and criticized the Spanish government for trying to impede the vote.

"Today was my worst experience as a professional," said Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, who couldn't hold back tears as he talked about the incidents in Catalonia. "It was a tough day. I am and I feel Catalan, and I've never felt prouder of the people of Catalonia."

Pique, one of the most outspoken players defending the referendum, had called Sunday's incidents "shameful."

"It was very strange," Busquets said. "This game was marked by all that happened today (in Catalonia)."

Las Palmas added a Spanish flag to the shirts that the players wore against Barcelona to show their support for a unified Spain.

In Madrid, Real Madrid fans were handed cards with the Spanish flag colors and displayed them before the team's match against Espanyol, another Catalan club. There were very few Espanyol fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, but they displayed at least one flag with the red and yellow colors of Catalonia.

Bartomeu said police had guaranteed the safety of fans and everyone else involved in the match at the Camp Nou, and the club could have allowed them in if it wanted.

"FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression," the club said in a statement. "Given the exceptional nature of events, the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League's refusal to postpone the game."

Barcelona made the closed-doors announcement with less than a half hour to kickoff, with thousands of supporters already waiting outside the stadium.

"We were aware of what happened here today, we don't live in an igloo," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "It was very difficult, a strange situation for everyone."

The Spanish league said it was in contact with local authorities and there was no reason to postpone the game because of safety reasons.

Barcelona's Camp Nou, Europe's largest stadium with a capacity of nearly 100,000, is often used as a rallying point for Catalan nationalists.

Spanish media said that Barcelona vice president Carles Vilarrubi resigned after the club decided to play the game under these conditions.

Las Palmas said that the match had become more than a sporting event, especially because of the recent statements by Barcelona expressing its support for the referendum.

The Canary Islands club said the club did not want to limit itself to being a "quiet witness at an historic crossroads." It said that by wearing the flag it was showing its unequivocal support for a "united Spain."

Las Palmas said that even though it is based far from the mainland, it "never felt the slightest temptation to become another country."

"We are doing this to show the world that we are hurt by what is happening," the club said in its statement.

The Catalan soccer federation canceled all local games organized by the federation, most of them involving youth squads and lower divisions.

The Spanish league said late Sunday that the second-division game between Gimnastic and Barcelona's "B'' team was suspended because of lack of security at Gimnastic's stadium in Catalonia.


Fortunes of Arsenal, Liverpool transform in a month

Newcastle United's Joselu celebrates scoring his side's goal against Liverpool during their English Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle, Sunday, Oct. 1. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

Rob Harris

London (AP) - Arsenal and Liverpool head into the international break in very different moods from the last one, even though only a point separates them in the Premier League.

A 4-0 rout of Arsenal by Liverpool at the end of August laid the perfect foundations for a title challenge by Juergen Klopp's side. It was wasted.

Since then Liverpool have only collected five points from a possible 12 to drop to seventh. The latest setback came with a 1-1 draw at Newcastle on Sunday as Arsenal eased to a 2-0 victory over Brighton.

Arsene Wenger's side have amassed 10 points since the Anfield humiliation with the only blip in the last month a creditable one: A 0-0 draw away to defending champions Chelsea.

Arsenal are six points behind the Manchester pacesetters of City and United, but things aren't looking as bleak as they did for Wenger in the opening weeks of the season.

"I knew that after the game in Liverpool everybody would write us off and I knew it just depends on us, how much we respond," said Wenger, who last won the title in 2004. "Nothing is permanent. You're not bad in a permanent way. ... We responded in a united way and we have put some wins together and some good performances as well."

So Wenger will be less anxious as he sends his players away for World Cup qualifiers over the next two weeks.

"Our last international break was a nightmare, this one is a bit better," Wenger said. "I would have loved to continue to play but we cannot do anything about that. Let's hope that the players come back in a good shape."

The third game on Sunday saw Burnley win 1-0 at Everton to deepen the problems for Ronald Koeman, who was jeered by the home fans at Goodison Park.

___

IN-FORM COUTINHO

Being denied a transfer to Barcelona hasn't stilted Philippe Coutinho's commitment to Liverpool. The Brazil playmaker made it three goals in as many games when he struck from 20 yards in the 29th minute at Newcastle.

As ever under Klopp, Liverpool's problem was defending. The lead lasted less than seven minutes. Jonjo Shelvey's pass cut through the Liverpool defence to reach Joselu, who — aided by a deflection from Joel Matip's sliding challenge — rolled the ball into the net.

"I am disappointed," Klopp said, "frustrated."

But it ensured Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has now not lost in five games against Liverpool where he won the Champions League and FA Cup while in charge from 2004 to 2010.

Ninth-place Newcastle are only two points behind Liverpool.

___

ANNIVERSARY WIN

Arsenal delivered the perfect gift for Wenger on the 21st anniversary of his appointment as manager. So did Brighton. By not playing with a striker and offering very little threat, this was a comfortable day for Arsenal despite only recording a two-goal victory margin.

Monreal poked in his first league goal since March 2013 in the 16th minute. Alex Iwobi was set up by Alexis Sanchez's back-heel to double Arsenal's lead at the start of the second half.

___

MOVE OF THE DAY

Burnley's win at Everton was secured by an eye-pleasing flowing move of the highest quality. There were 24 passes by Burnley players before the ball reached Jeff Hendrick to score in the 21st minute.

It was painful viewing for Koeman, whose side have lost four of their seven matches this season. Questions are starting to swirl about the Dutchman's future after the manager was given 140 million pounds to strengthen the squad in the summer transfer window.

"It is not in my hands but I try to get the best out of the players," Koeman said. "If there is no commitment and no aggression that is maybe a reason to think about my future but I thank the players for their commitment today."


Saints' second half propels them to shutout win vs. Dolphins

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, centre, runs past Miami Dolphins defenders to score a touchdown during the second half of their NFL football game at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Zac Boyer

London (AP) — Alvin Kamara wasn't sold on it when the New Orleans Saints installed a shovel pass at practice during the week. On Sunday, he became a believer.

Kamara scored a touchdown on that very play, taking Drew Brees' left-handed toss 12 yards to the end zone, and the Saints used it to punctuate their 20-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins on a rainy afternoon at Wembley Stadium.

A rookie out of Tennessee, Kamara finished with a season-high 96 all-purpose yards, including 71 receiving, and had Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to thank.

"That's one of those special plays where we're like, 'All right, we're practicing it, but are we going to run it?'" said Kamara, who scored with 3:57 remaining. "We dialed it up and ran it."

Brees threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns, with Michael Thomas catching the other, as New Orleans (2-2) picked up the first shutout in 19 games held in Britain's capital.

It was the first time the Saints didn't allow a point since Dec. 16, 2012, a 41-0 win against Tampa Bay. Miami (1-2) finished with 186 total yards — its fewest since its last shutout, a 19-0 loss at Buffalo on Dec. 22, 2013.

"The defense got a shutout," Brees said. "Offensively, we sustained drives. We did all the things you need to do for winning football."

It was expected to be a big homecoming for the Dolphins' Jay Ajayi, who was born in the city, but the running back finished with 46 yards on 12 carries.

Jay Cutler completed 20 of 28 passes for 164 yards with an interception for Miami, which has now scored only once in its last eight quarters — a touchdown on the final play of a loss at the New York Jets in Week 3.

"On offense, we need to have some pride in ourselves, some respect for ourselves," Ajayi said. "Put some points on the board. We're not doing that. We need to get back to what we know we can do."

The teams threatened to have the first scoreless opening half since Week 14 of the 2011 season until Saints kicker Will Lutz connected from 43 yards with no time remaining.

Lutz made two other field goals, a 43-yarder and a 45-yarder, and Thomas, who had eight catches for 89 yards, caught a 4-yard pass from Brees to push the score to 10-0 in the third quarter.

STREIF'S STRIFE: Saints right tackle Zach Streif, active despite missing time in practice during the week with a knee injury, left the game after sustaining a knee injury on the first play of the fourth quarter when a Dolphins defender fell on his legs. He did not return.

Also leaving the game injured were Saints TE Josh Hill (concussion) and LB Alex Anzalone (shoulder), and Dolphins LB Mike Hull (shoulder), none of whom returned.

The Dolphins were also without cornerback Byron Maxwell, who injured a hamstring in the team's walk-through on Saturday and was replaced by rookie Cordrea Tankersley, a third-round pick out of Clemson who was inactive for the Dolphins' first two games.

HOMETOWN HEARTBREAK: Ajayi, who was with the Dolphins for their last international trek in 2015 but did not play because of an injury, expected 30 to 40 family members to attend the game, including his three younger siblings, all of whom were born in the United States and had never before been to London.

"This was all that mattered for the trip, this game on Sunday," Ajayi said. "Regardless of anything else I did these last couple of days, this was the primary objective, and we didn't get that done."

FLAGS FLYING: The teams combined for 19 penalties, 11 by the Dolphins, with five called in a four-minute span at the end of the second quarter. Saints coach Sean Payton was not pleased. "Don't get me going here," he joked after the game. "I'm in a good mood."

CRAWLEY'S CATCH: With P.J. Williams taken out of the starting lineup as punishment for a violation of team rules, cornerback Ken Crawley made the most of his second consecutive start, intercepting Cutler on a fade intended for tight end Julius Thomas to end the game's opening drive. "I saw it," Crawley said, dismissively. "It's a tight end ... and I just played the fade."

UP NEXT

Saints: A Week 5 bye means they'll next be in action at home against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 15.

Dolphins: The home debut, at last, against the Tennessee Titans — Miami's latest opener since 1987.


Dettori wins record 5th Arc as Enable caps brilliant season

Italian Lanfranco Dettori riding British horse Enable crosses the finish line to win the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe horse race at the Chantilly horse racetrack, north of Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Chantilly, France (AP) — Frankie Dettori won an unprecedented fifth Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday as Enable capped a memorable season.

Enable, the 10-11 favorite, led for most of Europe's richest horse race to claim her fifth consecutive victory after wins in the Epsom Oaks, the Irish Oaks, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks.

The John Gosden-trained filly won by 2 lengths over Cloth Of Stars, ridden by jockey Mickael Barzalona and trained by Andre Fabre.

The Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses, ridden by Jim Crowley, was another length and a quarter back in third.

It was Dettori and Gosden's second Arc win in three years, after the popular Italian won on Golden Horn.

Dettori's victory comes 22 years after his first triumph in the 1-mile race.


Canada's Brooke Henderson wins New Zealand Women's Open

Canada’s Brooke Henderson. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Auckland, New Zealand (AP) — Brooke Henderson won the weather-delayed New Zealand Women's Open on Monday, finishing off a 3-under 69 for a five-stroke victory.

The 20-year-old Canadian led by four shots after six holes when the final round was suspended Sunday after a day of heavy rain, high wind and threatened lightning strikes. She returned Monday morning to the Windross Farm course and easily held off China's Jing Yan for her second LPGA Tour victory of the season and fifth overall.

Henderson finished at 17-under 271. She also won the Meijer LPGA Classic in June in Michigan.

"I was feeling pretty comfortable out there and I was just trying to keep it at minus 17 as long as I could," Henderson said after receiving the trophy, $195,000 winner's check and a ceremonial feather cloak presented by indigenous Maori. "I had a couple of bogeys but made a lot of birdies and it was probably some of the best golf I've played in a while.

"I'm super excited to win outside North America for the first time and glad it could be here in New Zealand."

The weather remained troublesome Monday with strong wind making low scoring difficult. Henderson mastered the conditions, birdieing three of the first five holes and turning for home five shots clear.

Yan shot a 71. South Korea's Hee Young Park was third at 11 under after a 69.

American Jennifer Song had the best round, a 68, to finish fourth at 10 under.

New Zealand star Lydia Ko closed double bogey-triple bogey for a 75 to tie for 22nd at 5 under.

"I played really solid apart from the last two holes," Ko said. "I made an eagle on 15; I hit it really close and I thought I might have actually hit it in the water. It was a tough finish, but overall I felt really solid, a lot of positives."

Ko defended the decision to play on in marginal weather conditions Sunday.

"Week to week we just have to go with it and they're trying to do the best for us," Ko said.

Henderson had an early bogey Monday on the par-4 eighth hole, then parred the next four and got to 17 with a birdie on the par-3 13h. By the 14th, the wind had picked up and was making it hard to hit the narrow fairways at the newly established Windross Farm course, built on farmland east of Auckland. The wetlands layout featured bristling rough and water off the fairways but Henderson, with sister Brittany on her bag, was able to stay out of trouble and to maintain a lead that peaked at six shots.

She bogeyed the tricky par-4 16th and finished a birdie on the par-5 18th.


India chase down 243 for 4-1 series win vs Australia

Australia’s Travis Head, right, bats during the fifth one-day international cricket match between India and Australia in Nagpur, India, Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Chetan Narula

Nagpur, India (AP) — Rohit Sharma scored his 14th ODI hundred as India reached 243-3 in 42.5 overs to beat Australia by seven wickets in the fifth one-day international at Nagpur on Sunday.

India completed a 4-1 series victory. After dropping the first three games of the series, Australia won the fourth ODI in Bengaluru by 31 runs, but the visitors could not build on the maiden victory.

"It was a really convincing series win for us. We ticked all boxes. We were put under pressure many times and we came back four times to win four games," India captain Virat Kohli said. "We have a good headache regarding selection and that makes my job as captain very easy."

Sharma scored 125 runs off 109 balls, his fourth half-century of the series, which included 11 fours and five sixes. In all, he amassed 296 runs to finish as the highest run-scorer of the series as India retook the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings.

"I love playing against Australia. They are competitive and never give anything easily. That probably brings out the best in me," said Sharma, after he was named man of the match.

Chasing 243, Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (61) provided another strong start for the hosts. They added 124 runs for the opening wicket, their third-successive century stand in this series.

On a slow, tough wicket, the duo put on 50 off 69 balls and then crossed the 100 mark off 113 balls. Sharma reached his half-century off 52 balls.

At the other end, Rahane also scored his fourth successive half-century of the series — and 23rd overall — off 64 balls. Overall, he finished with an aggregate 244 runs.

Looking set to get a hundred, Rahane was out lbw to Nathan Coulter-Nile (1-42) in the 23rd over against the run of play. He requested a DRS review but it was turned down.

Kohli (39) then joined Sharma in the middle and put on 99 runs for the second wicket. They helped India cross 200 in the 37th over, making batting look easy on a pitch where Australian batsmen struggled to get going.

Meanwhile, Sharma completed his hundred off 94 balls. This was his sixth ODI hundred against Australia, equaling Desmond Haynes (West Indies) and now second only to Sachin Tendulkar (India), who has nine centuries against the Aussies.

In doing so, Sharma also became the third-quickest Indian batsman to register 6,000 ODI runs, crossing the mark in his 162nd innings, behind Kohli (136) and Sourav Ganguly (147).

Both Sharma and Kohli were dismissed in the 40th over off Adam Zampa (2-59). The former was caught at deep midwicket, while the latter holed out to long off.

Kedar Jadhav (5 not out) and Manish Pandey (11 not out) got the remaining runs.

Earlier, David Warner had top scored with 53 runs off 62 balls as Australia were restricted to 242-9 in 50 overs. Axar Patel (3-38) took three wickets as the visitors struggled on a slow wicket after at one stage being reduced to 118-4.

"It was probably a 300 wicket. One of the top four batsmen needed to make a big score but we lost wickets in clumps again," Australia captain Steve Smith said. "We have been outplayed and deserved to lose 4-1. A lot of our players have played a lot of cricket in India and we cannot use that as an excuse ... We have a few days until the T20 series. We would like to go home with a trophy."

The three-match T20 series begins on Saturday.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Aussies end war-torn Syria's World Cup hopes in extra time

Messi’s 3 goals lift Argentina to World Cup

Portugal, France book World Cup tickets; Dutch to stay home

Australia crush India in 2nd T20, level series

Sri Lanka hand Pakistan first test series defeat in UAE


Keenum leads 3 scoring drives, Vikings beat Bears 20-17

The thunderclap heads to Russia: Iceland get World Cup spot

Severino, Judge help Yanks top Indians 7-3 to force Game 5

Another Pakistan revival puts win in sight in 2nd test

Del Potro advances to 2nd round at Shanghai Masters


Hamilton wins Japanese GP to move closer to F1 title

Colts celebrate Manning's return with 26-23 win over 49ers

Prolific Lewandowski leads Poland into World Cup finals

Nadal wins 6th title of year in Beijing; Garcia beats Halep

Hatton retains Dunhill title, Fisher record 61 at Old Course


Spain make it to World Cup; Serbia unable to clinch a spot

Extra special: Indians edge Yankees 9-8 in 13, take 2-0 lead

Tyler Duncan eagles 18th to take Safeway Open lead

Qatar World Cup head say blockade poses 'no risk' to event


Germany, England seal World Cup qualification; Poland close

Argentina slump to 0-0 draw, on verge of missing World Cup

Altuve hits 3 homers, Astros beat Red Sox 8-2 in ALDS opener

Red Wings beat Wild 4-2 in opener at new arena

Rafael Nadal advances to quarterfinals of China Open

India set to make World Cup soccer debut as host/participant


Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay to make 2030 World Cup bid

Giro director to Froome: Come make 'history' in Italy

Kyrgios smashes racket, advances to China Open quarterfinals

Judge-ment day: Indians set to meet slugger, Yankees in ALDS

Flames sign 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr to 1-year deal


Nadal saves 2 match points, advances at China Open

Mickelson's final mission: Win a Ryder Cup in Europe

Dementia concerns starting among academy players in soccer

George Foreman challenges Steven Seagal to 10-round fight


Herath spins Sri Lanka to victory, gets 400th test wicket

Nadal credits passion and overcoming injuries for success

Gano field goal lifts Panthers over Patriots 33-30

Mercedes unhappy despite extending lead in F1 title race

Presidents Cup needs more than just time to improve


Americans win Presidents Cup for 7th straight time

Red Bull's Verstappen wins Malaysian Grand Prix

Barcelona game played without fans amid Catalonia vote

Fortunes of Arsenal, Liverpool transform in a month

Saints' second half propels them to shutout win vs. Dolphins

Dettori wins record 5th Arc as Enable caps brilliant season

Canada's Brooke Henderson wins New Zealand Women's Open

India chase down 243 for 4-1 series win vs Australia

 



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