ST. LOUIS, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- In a season marked by tragedy, the St. Louis Cardinals finally have something to celebrate.
The Cardinals captured the National League Central Division title for the second time in the last three seasons Friday night with a 9-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
The road to the division title came in a year with plenty of heartache for the Cardinals, who endured the untimely death of popular pitcher Darryl Kile in June. Legendary Cardinals announcer Jack Buck died just days before Kile.
After the bottom of the eighth inning Friday, the scoreboard at Busch Stadium paid a tribute to Kile, Buck and the entire Cards' season.
When third baseman Scott Rolen made an acrobatic diving catch on Brian Hunter's line drive to end the game, the Cards paid further tribute to Kile, with Albert Pujols carrying Kile's No. 57 jersey onto the field.
Eli Marrero, Jim Edmonds and Rolen helped make it a special night as they all hit solo homers in the sixth inning, giving St. Louis an 8-3 lead.
Other National League results: Pittsburgh 5, Chicago 4; Montreal 6, New York 1; Florida 6, Atlanta 2; San Francisco 5, Milwaukee 1. Philadelphia's game at Cincinnati was rained out and will be made up Saturday as part of a day-night doubleheader.
Yankees clinch a share of AL East crown
DETROIT, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Roger Clemens allowed one run over six innings Friday night and helped the New York Yankees clinch at least a tie for the AL East title with a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Another win during the final week of the season by New York or a loss by the Boston Red Sox will make the Yankees division champions for the 11th time.
Alfonso Soriano had two hits drove in a run and scored twice for the Yankees.
Other American League results: Boston 4, Baltimore 2; Tampa Bay 11, Toronto 7; Chicago 10, Minnesota 2; Cleveland 6, Kansas City 2.
Woods shoots second straight 65
THOMASTOWN, Ireland, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Seeking the $1 million top prize at a tournament boasting an elite field, Tiger Woods carded his second straight 7-under-par 65 Friday at Mount Juliet Estate to take a two-stroke lead after the second round of the American Express Championship.
The performance of golf's best player at the World Golf Championships event bodes well for an American team trying to reclaim the Ryder Cup next week at The Belfry in England.
But Woods is not ready to talk about next week's activities.
"I enjoy playing," he said. "I don't enjoy the other stuff leading up to it."
Woods is enjoying his stay in Ireland, shooting a course record for the second straight day and taking a two-shot lead over Jerry Kelly into the weekend with a 36-hole total of 14-under 130.
Kelly birdied four of his first five holes and three of the final four en route to a 65 and a two-round total of 12-under 132.
At last year's Players Championship, Kelly was the surprise 54-hole leader and Woods' playing partner on Sunday, but he tied for fourth with a final-round 73. Woods won by a stroke.
David Toms and Steve Lowery both shot 67s and were tied for third at 11-under 133. Retief Goosen of South Africa was at 134, with countryman Ernie Els, Stuart Appleby of Australia and England's Gary Evans at 136.
David Duval matched the course record with a 65 and was in a group of eight players tied for ninth at 136.
Americans rally top deadlock Solheim Cup
EDINA, Minn., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Meg Mallon made eight birdies in her afternoon match and rookie Laura Diaz made six Friday to help rally the United States and bring about a 4-4 tie with Europe after the opening day of the Solheim Cup.
The Europeans, trying to win on American soil for the first time, took a 3-1 advantage after the morning foursomes. But the United States won three of the four afternoon fourball matches to set up the prospect of a thrilling duel on the weekend.
Europe is also trying to win back-to-back competitions for the first time after capturing the cup two years ago in Scotland.
Mallon teamed with Michele Redman in the afternoon to defeat Annika Sorenstam, the world's best player, and Maria Hjorth, 3 & 1. In the key match of the afternoon, things were all square going to the par-3 15th before the Americans won three holes in a row.
Diaz paired with fellow Solheim Cup rookie Emilee Klein to defeat Sophie Gustafson and Karine Icher, 4 & 3. And Rosie Jones rolled in a five-foot birdie putt at the 18th as she teamed with Christie Kerr for a 1-up win over Laura Davies and Paula Marti. The Jones-Kerr team owned a 4-up lead at the turn and then had to hold on.
It marked the first time in the history of the Solheim Cup that the teams have been tied after the opening day.
France wins opening day matches at Davis Cup
PARIS, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Americans Andy Roddick and James Blake both lost their singles matches to defending champion France Friday to put the United States on the brink of elimination from the Davis Cup semifinals.
The 20-year-old Roddick is considered the United States' best prospect after Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi retire. A two-time winner on the ATP tour this season, Roddick has been particularly tough in Davis Cup action, going 7-0 before Friday.
Sampras and Agassi, who squared off in the final of the U.S. Open two weeks ago, did not make themselves available for Davis Cup.
Clement defeated Roddick for the second time in as many meetings and improved to 6-5 lifetime in Davis Cup.
Blake suffered his first Davis Cup defeat in six singles matches and his second to Grosjean at Roland Garros this year. He lost their previous meeting in the second round of the French Open in May.
In the other semifinal tie, Russia took a 2-0 lead over Argentina at Moscow's Luzhniki Sports Palace.
Investigation launched into on-field attack
NEW YORK, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The chief of security for Major League Baseball said Friday a thorough investigation will be held to determine how to prevent a repeat of Thursday night's frightening episode in Chicago, when two men ran onto the field and attacked Kansas City first base coach Tom Gamboa.
"We have a number of people who we need to talk to," said Kevin Hallinan. "But there will be changes. The pattern we see is that in the latter stages of our games, we have to be more attentive."
Gamboa escaped serious injury thanks chiefly to the fact that Kansas City players rushed from the first base dugout to seize the attackers. The incident occurred in the ninth inning.
"They were two hoodlums," Gamboa said Friday. "They certainly do not reflect the average fan.
"We have security in the dugout and in the stands, but it seems to me that security tends to be more focused at the beginning of the game than at the end."
Mets deny drug use
NEW YORK, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- New York Mets General Manager Steve Phillips has denied a newspaper report that there is widespread drug use in the organization and that the team would warn star prospects in advance of random testing.
New York Newsday reported Friday that at least seven Mets smoked marijuana this season and that manager Bobby Valentine acknowledged that he worried about drug use on his team as far back as spring training.
"We have no indication that there is widespread drug use at any level of our organization," Phillips said in a statement released by the team. "The Newsday report is based solely on anonymous sources. We urge these sources to come to us with proof of their accusations so that we can investigate them."
One unnamed source said that star prospects are sometimes warned in advance about drug tests or are let off the hook after failing tests. While major league players are not subject to random testing as stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement, minor leaguers are tested, although results are not released to the public.
"The charge that we warn star prospects in advance of random testing is ridiculous, since we feel that drug use of any kind impairs a player's performance," Phillips said.
Two minor leaguers -- outfielder Rob Stratton and pitcher Erik Hiljus -- were identified as players who failed drug tests.
Newsday reported that former Mets reliever Mark Corey, who was traded to the Colorado Rockies in July, used marijuana before having a seizure outside a hotel near Shea Stadium in June.
Outfielder Tony Tarasco, also traded earlier this summer, was identified as having used marijuana with Corey.
Sabonis returns to Portland
PORTLAND, Ore., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Arvydas Sabonis, who will turn 38 in December, Friday signed a multi-year contract with the Portland Trail Blazers.
After six years with the Trail Blazers, he spent last year with his family in Spain, where he played prior to entering the NBA in 1995.
A native of Lithuania, the 7-3 Sabonis was the starting center on the Portland teams that reached the Western Conference finals in 1999 and 2000. He gave the Blazers a legitimate body to match up with center Shaquille O'Neal of the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Lakers.
Sabonis averaged 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 61 games in the 2000-01 season, when Portland was eliminated in the first round. During that season, temperamental teammate Rasheed Wallace threw a towel in Sabonis' face during a nationally televised game.
Sabonis was not with the team last season, Maurice Cheeks' first as coach. Portland won 49 games, but without a true center was no match for O'Neal and Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs.
Florida faces must-win game
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Florida Gators, who already have dropped a key encounter this year, face a must-win situation Saturday when they take on the Tennessee Volunteers.
If 10th-ranked Florida (2-1) is to keep alive any realistic chance at a national title, the Gators must find a way to win at fourth-ranked Tennessee (2-0) in a key Southeastern Conference battle.
Saturday's schedule also features a pair of notable non-conference games. No. 7 Virginia Tech (3-0), led by the potent rushing duo of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones, visits No. 21 Texas A&M (2-0) while No. 11 Southern California (2-0) is at No. 23 Kansas State (3-0).
Former Florida coach Steve Spurrier had his way with Tennessee for the majority of his tenure in Gainesville, defeating the Volunteers seven times in an eight-game span before a 34-32 setback last season. Spurrier never hesitated to poke fun at the Volunteers, which made life even more miserable for Vols coach Phillip Fulmer.
Fulmer is just 3-7 against the Gators, but last year's win made up for some of the past failures. Now the pressure is on Zook, whose team was soundly beaten by defending national champion Miami two weeks ago and faces another stern test Saturday.
To make matters worse, the Gators were not overly impressive in a 34-6 win over Ohio last week. Florida gave up 178 yards in the ground to Ohio and is allowing an average of 211.3 in three games.
Rusty Wallace wins NASCAR pole
DOVER, Del., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Rusty Wallace ended his 65-race pole drought Friday at Dover International Speedway for the NASCAR Winston Cup MBNA All-American Heroes 400.
Wallace claimed his fifth career pole on the circuit, but first since notching his ninth pole of the 2000 season at Phoenix International Raceway. He piloted his Ford Taurus around the one-mile oval in 22.956 seconds, averaging 156.822 miles per hour.
Wallace's five poles at Dover put him ahead of Ricky Rudd, Alan Kulwicki and Mark Martin and one behind all-time leader David Pearson.
Wallace still is looking for his first victory of the year. He finished second to Jeff Gordon last month at Bristol.
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