In Sports from United Press International

By United Press International   |   Nov. 1, 2001 at 8:07 PM   |   0 comments

Yankees try to keep momentum

NEW YORK, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- What has already been an extraordinary World Series will serve up a pivotal Game 5 tonight.

Arizona's Miguel Batista will try to slow down the New York momentum in what will be the final game of the season played in Yankee Stadium.

Mike Mussina, who was victimized in the opening game of the Series, will be on the mound for the three-time defending Yankees -- who deadlocked things at two games each Wednesday with with a dramatic, 10-inning victory.

Tino Martinez hit one of the most memorable homers in World Series history, tying the game at 3-3 with a two-out, two-run blast to right-center field off Byung-Hyun Kim in the ninth inning.

In the bottom of the 10th, just after Halloween turned to November, Derek Jeter lined a solo homer over the right-field wall off Kim with two out to send the crowd of 55,863 at Yankee Stadium into hysterics.

Jeter's homer was his second hit of the series. Martinez's blast was his first hit.

Batista's job will be to tame the crowd while matching Mussina pitch for pitch. It will be a tough task, with New York riding a World Series-record nine-game home winning streak dating back to Game 6 of 1996.


Langer shares lead, Woods ailing

HOUSTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- German Bernhard Langer, enjoying one of the best seasons of his career at the age of 44, shared the first-round lead at the Tour Championship with Frank Lickliter today, but most of the attention was focused on an ailing Tiger Woods -- who shot a 1-under 70 despite persistent pain in his lower back.

Although he has twice won the Masters and keeps a home in Florida, Langer has tried to play both the United States and European tours over the past decade and it has been a constant grind.

This year, he decided to play most of his golf on the PGA Tour and that has led to him winning $1.6 million and a current standing of 24th on the money list.

He thus earned him a spot in this exclusive, season-ending event which is open only to the top 30 money earners on the tour.

He fired a 6-under 65 at the Champions Golf Club, a round that included birdies at the difficult 16th and 17th holes.

Lickliter, who has enjoyed a breakout season which sees him ranked 19th on the money list, shot a 4-under 31 on the back nine and birdied the final two holes for his 65.

Tied for third at 67 were Steve Lowery and Scott Verplank while Brad Faxon and Mike Weir were at 68. The superstar group at 69 included David Duval, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard and last week's winner Chris DiMarco.

Woods, seeking his sixth victory of the year but who has had only one top 10 finish in his last eight starts, played in the final pairing of the day with PGA Championship winner David Toms.

While on the practice tee Wednesday, Woods suffered a muscle pull or strain in his lower back. He had been in good form during the pro-am event on Tuesday, when he shot a 64.

The first hint of trouble came on the first tee, when he squatted down to put the tee in the ground instead of bending over from the waist.

At the second hole, his reached for his back with his right hand after hitting his tee shot. He winced in pain on a number of tee shots, but hung in and made three birdies against two bogeys to finish in a tie for 13th place.

"Yesterday afternoon it started acting up," Woods said. "It is one of those things. You just have to deal with it. I tried to play the best I could. I tried to slow my swing down."


Report: McGwire has not signed contract

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said slugger Mark McGwire never signed his $30 million, two-year contract extension, making it more likely he will retire, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today.

"I don't expect him back," La Russa told the newspaper in a telephone call from his home in California.

McGwire, 38, hinted as far back as July that he was thinking of retirement.

In mid-October, McGwire said he felt his body was "definitely worn out." The contract extension awards McGwire a $14 million salary for the 2002 season and $16 million in 2003.

La Russa said he expects McGwire to make a decision in the next month. He said he still thinks McGwire can play.


Astros hire Jimy Williams

HOUSTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros hired Jimy Williams as their new manager today, 2 1/2 months after he was fired by the Boston Red Sox.

Williams, 58, takes over for Larry Dierker, who guided the Astros to four National League Central Division titles in five seasons but never won a playoff series and resigned after losing to the Braves in the Division Series this year.

Williams will manage his third team. He had three winning years in Toronto before being fired in 1989 and guided Boston to a pair of postseason appearances in four-plus seasons before being dismissed in August.

In nine seasons as a major league skipper, Williams is 695-593. He guided the Red Sox to the 1999 American League Championship Series, but lost control of his team as his relationship with General Manager Dan Duquette crumbled.


Hart becomes Rangers GM

ARLINGTON, Texas, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- John Hart, who helped turn the Cleveland Indians from an also-ran into a perennial contender, was named today as general manager of the Texas Rangers.

Hart served as the Indians' executive vice president and general manager from 1991 through the end of the 2001 season. During his tenure, the Indians captured six division titles and American League pennants in 1995 and 1997.

The Rangers hope Hart, 53, can work the same magic in Texas. He replaces Doug Melvin, who was fired last month.

"He's had great success, he's a great leader and he's the guy that's going to be our leader," Texas owner Thomas Hicks said.

As part of their new management team, the Rangers also named Grady Fusion, 45, assistant general manager in charge of scouting and player development.

Fusion, Oakland's director of scouting for the past six years, also was a candidate for the Rangers' general manager position. During his time in Oakland, Tim Hudson, Eric Chavez, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder were among the players that climbed through the system.


Ranked college teams in action

ATLANTA, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- It hardly seemed possible in September, but North Carolina is in position to end Florida State's stranglehold on the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

The upstart Tar Heels hope to keep alive their ACC title hopes tonight when they visit No. 21 Georgia Tech in one of two games involving ranked teams.

In the other contest, eight-ranked Brigham Young hosts Colorado State in a Mountain West Conference game. The Cougars join Miami and Nebraska as the only unbeaten teams in Division I-A but are just 13th in the Bowl Championship Series standings due to a soft schedule.

North Carolina (5-3, 4-1 ACC) has reeled off five straight wins under first-year coach John Bunting and is tied for second in the ACC with Florida State, a half game behind Maryland, another surprising squad.

Florida State, which has won the ACC every year since joining the league in 1992, handed the Terrapins their first loss last week and showed it remains a force in the conference with a 52-31 victory.

But the Seminoles will be interested in Thursday's contest. A North Carolina win keeps the Tar Heels in the ACC mix since they defeated Florida State, 41-9, on Sept. 22 and own the tiebreaker edge.


NBA players named to national team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Nov. 1 (UPI) -- USA Basketball today announced the first seven members of a 12-man team that will take part in next year's World Championships, which will take place from Aug. 29-Sept. 8 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Among those named to the team were Indiana Pacers teammates Reggie Miller and Jermaine O'Neal, who will try to win a gold medal in front of their home fans.

Also tabbed to represent the United States were guards Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks, Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets and Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks.

Phoenix Suns forward Shawn Marion and Toronto Raptors big man Antonio Davis, a former Pacer, rounded out the first seven members of the team.

The other five players will be named after the NBA All-Star Game, which is Feb. 9. George Karl of the Bucks has been named coach.

This will be just the second time NBA players have been featured in the World Championships.


Chinese gymnast wins gold medal

GHENT, Belgium, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Feng Jing of China, virtually unknown on the international competition scene, put on a consistent performance tonight to edge Ivan Ivankov of Belarus and capture the men's all-around gold medal at the World Gymnastics Championship.

Ivankov was bidding for his third world title, but sub-par efforts in the floor exercise and

pommel horse cost him the championship.

American Sean Townsend, who combined with his colleagues to win the silver medal in the team competition Wednesday night, had the lead until his last exercise -- but let it get away on the high bar and finished eighth.

Feng totaled 56.211 points for the six routines while Ivankov compiled 56.124 points for the silver medal. The bronze went to Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria with 56.085.

Next came Dan Potra of Romania, Eric Lopez of Cuba, Yernar Yerimbetov of Kazakhstan, Paul Hamm of the United States and Townsend.

Ivankov totaled just 8.825 points on the pommel horse compared with 9.425 for Feng and had a score of 9.000 on the floor exercise while Feng had a 9.287.

Townsend had to settle for a 8.250 on the high bar. Had he produced the same score on that apparatus as Feng, Townsend would have won the gold medal. Hamm also was in position for a medal until he, too, botched his high bar exercise.


Davenport wins 14th straight

MUNICH, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Second seed Lindsay Davenport enjoyed another overwhelming performance against Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia today to continue her winning ways.

Davenport recorded 14 aces and broke Dokic's serve four times in overpowering her opponent for the third time in 12 days, 6-3, 6-3, to advance to the semifinals of the season-ending Sanex Championships.

In the day's other quarterfinal, Belgian Kim Clijsters, the third seed, took eight of the final nine games to pull away for a 7-5, 6-1 win over Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

Davenport extended her tour winning streak to 14 matches.


Central Florida joins MAC

ORLANDO, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Central Florida announced today its football program would become part of the Mid-American Conference next year.

Central Florida has competed as an independent since the inception of its program at the Division III level in 1979. The Golden Knights moved to Division II in 1982 and to Division I-AA eight years later.

They made the jump to Division I-A in 1996 and have a 10-4 record against MAC schools since then.

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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