Braves even series, Cardinals take command
ATLANTA, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks faced must-win situations at home Thursday and only the Braves could come up with one.
Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla homered on consecutive pitches in the second inning to put Atlanta in front night and the Braves evened their National League Division Series with a 7-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Atlanta starter Kevin Millwood allowed two home runs in six innings and was taken out to start the seventh after he stretched awkwardly while covering first base in the previous inning. The Braves said Millwood was not injured on the play.
With the best-of-five series deadlocked at one game each, the teams will head to San Francisco for Game 3 on Saturday.
In San Francisco's 8-5 victory to start the series, the Braves were able to slow down slugger Barry Bonds only to be undone by a collection of his teammates. In Game 2, Bonds unleashed a home run off closer John Smoltz, the second of his career in a playoff game. But it came with Atlanta owning a five-run lead in the ninth.
The Giants as a whole had seven hits and only once were able to produce more than one hit in an inning.
In Phoenix, Miguel Cairo came off the bench to rocket a single into center field that drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, moving the St. Louis Cardinals within one victory of the National League Championship Series with a 2-1 decision over the Diamondbacks.
In a dramatic game filled with twists and turns, the defending World Series champion Diamondbacks were pushed to the brink of elimination in the five-game NL Division Series.
The Cardinals held a 1-0 lead through most of Thursday's encounter thanks to a two-out homer by J.D. Drew in the third inning.
But a baserunning blunder by Arizona's Alex Cintron that ended the seventh inning touched off a series of events and roster moves that wound up making Cairo the game's biggest hero.
The National League takes Friday off while the American League resumes with a pair of key games. New York will be at Anaheim and Oakland will play at Minnesota with both series tied at a game each.
Florida State outslugs Clemson
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Greg Jones ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night as 11th-ranked Florida State rolled to a 48-31 victory over Clemson in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.
Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden is unbeaten in four games against Clemson since his son, Tommy, took over as coach in 1999. Last season, Chris Rix threw for a career-high 369 yards in the Seminoles' 41-27 victory, but it was Jones who had a near-career night Thursday.
Jones had 22 carries and fell eight yards shy of the best game of his career. He combined for 76 yards in his previous two games, including just 32 in last week's overtime loss at Louisville.
Rix completed eight of 14 passes and a touchdown as Florida State (5-1, 4-0 ACC) was held to a season-low 114 passing yards. The Seminoles gained 269 yards on the ground.
Clemson took a 24-21 lead on Willie Simmons' five-yard toss to Derrick Hamilton with 27 seconds left in the second quarter. But Jones' 64-yard run on the ensuing drive set up Rix's 10-yard touchdown pass to Talman Gardner just 21 seconds later.
In the only other Division I-A game on the schedule Thursday night, Minnesota downed Illinois, 31-10.
John Rocker released by Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The Texas Rangers Thursday placed controversial lefthander John Rocker on irrevocable waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.
Rocker struggled again in his second season in the American League, going 2-3 with one save and a 6.66 ERA in 30 relief appearances before sitting out the final two months with neck pain.
Former Cleveland Indians general manager John Hart brought Rocker with him to Texas, acquiring him last Dec. 18. But Rocker never got untracked, allowing four runs in his first two appearances of the season and finishing April with an 8.59 ERA.
Rocker, who turns 28 on Oct. 17, spent his first three-plus seasons with the Atlanta Braves and recorded 88 saves in 180 games. But he came under fire and was suspended by Commissioner Bud Selig for remarks on racial, ethnic and sexual minorities in a magazine article late in 1999.
Rocker's release came two days after the Rangers fired manager Jerry Narron.
Serena Williams to take time off
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Citing "a need to rest and recover," world No. 1 Serena Williams announced Thursday she had withdrawn from three European indoor tournaments.
Two weeks ago, the 21-year-old American captured the Princess Cup at Tokyo and played in the doubles competition with Martina Navratilova.
After a 16-hour flight to Leipzig, Germany, she won her WTA Tour-leading eighth title last Sunday at the Sparkassen Cup. She also won the doubles crown with Alexandra Stevenson before arriving at home in Florida on Monday.
Williams has dominated the women's circuit with her older sister Venus this season, defeating her sibling in the finals of the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She won six of her last seven tournaments.
"The past five months have taken my career to new heights, but this has also been a physically and mentally taxing experience," Serena said. "I am committed to giving my best effort during competition and when I get to the point where I don't feel like I can give 100 percent, I know it is time to rest and let my body recover. I am now at that point."
In Moscow, Venus Williams suffered a rare loss when she fell to Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria in the second round of the Kremlin Cup.
Williams, who lost the finals of the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to her younger sister Serena, suffered a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) defeat to Maleeva after receiving a first-round bye.
Maleeva improved to 3-2 lifetime against Williams, who was playing for the first time since losing in the championship match of the U.S. Open.
Duval shares Michelob lead
KINGSMILL, Va., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Two-time champion David Duval fired a 7-under-par 64 Thursday to grab a share of the lead with Japan's Hidemichi Tanaka after the opening round of the Michelob Championship.
Duval won this tournament in 1997 and 1998, but had never shot better than a 65 at Kingsmill. In his eighth appearance at this tournament, he started and finished strongly, collecting an eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys. It is the first time the former British Open champion has had the first-round lead since last year's Buick Challenge.
Redman leads World Championship
VALLEJO, Calif., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Michele Redman bounced back from a difficult Solheim Cup match in record-setting fashion Thursday.
Redman fired a 7-under-par 65 to break the course record and grab a one-stroke lead over Annika Sorenstam after the opening round of the Samsung World Championship.
Eleven days ago, on the final day of the Solheim Cup team competition, Redman squandered a 5-up lead with five holes to play and halved her match with Norway's Suzann Pettersen. She got a reprieve as the United States reclaimed the Cup with a three-point win.
There were no bogeys Thursday as Redman matched the best opening round in tournament history and broke the Hiddebrooke Golf Club record set a year ago by Emilee Klein and Australia's Rachel Teske.
Last year, Redman struggled to an opening-round 76 at this elite field event and finished 15th.
Americans to play Croatia
LONDON, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The United States Thursday learned it will play its first-round tie of the 2003 Davis Cup in Croatia when the draw to determine the opponent was held by the International Tennis Federation.
The Americans, who lost to France last month in the 2002 semifinals, will visit Croatia for the first round on Feb. 7-9, 2003. It will mark the first encounter between the two nations in Davis Cup play.
France and Russia, who will square off in the 2002 Davis Cup final in December, also will be on the road for their first-round ties next year. France visits Romania while Russia travels to the Czech Republic.
Also, the Netherlands host Switzerland, Britain goes to Australia, Brazil journeys to Sweden, Spain welcomes Belgium, and Germany entertains Argentina.