Weir wins Masters in playoff
AUGUSTA, Ga., April 13 (UPI) -- One of the strangest weeks in the history of the Masters ended in the last shadows of a Sunday afternoon.
Mike Weir, a Canadian, won a major championship for the first time, and a left-hander claiming a major title for the first time in 40 years.
Weir, his putter saving him time after time over the always diabolical greens of the Augusta National Golf Club, holed a six-footer for par on the final hole of regulation to earn a playoff spot, then defeated Len Mattiace with a nervous bogey on the first hole of sudden death.
Weir's triumph came at the end of a week in which heavy rains turned the Augusta National Course into a bog, a highly-publicized protest was held in hopes of forcing the club into admitting a woman, Tiger Woods suffered a rare failure, and Phil Mickelson added to his career of frustration at the Masters.
"It has been a little bit odd with a lot of things going on and with the weather and all," Weir said. "It has been a hectic week with things going on away from the course. But I was here to play a golf tournament and I wanted to be very focused."
With Woods having temporarily misplaced his magic and third-round leader Jeff Maggert running afoul of the misfortunes of his sport, Weir rallied from a two-shot deficit on the back nine to tie Mattiace after 72 holes at 7-under 281.
Mattiace, who played 220 events on the PGA Tour before finally emerging as a victor last year, shot the round of his life -- a 7-under 65 that included a pitch-in for birdie at the par-5 eighth, a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th and an eagle at the par-5 13th, where he rifled his second shot over the creek in front of the green to within eight feet of the hole.
With victory almost in his grasp, Mattiace hit a poor tee shot at the final hole of regulation and he had to make a seven-footer just for bogey.
That last lapse by Mattiace gave Weir a chance and he took advantage of it with a birdie at the par-5 15th to draw even with Mattiace.
Over the final three pressure-packed holes, Weir missed an eight-foot birdie at the 16th, rolled in a four-footer for par the 17th and then, in the most critical moment of his career, slammed in a six-footer for par that kept his hopes alive and forced the first playoff at the Masters in 13 years.
Both players hit solid tee shots at the long, downhill 10th, but Mattiace hooked his second shot well left of the green and was partially stymied by one of the giant pines that line the Augusta National fairways.
Weir played his second shot conservatively, putting it about 40 feet from the pin.
Then followed a series of shots in which the players' nerves got the best of them. Mattiace chipped his third shot 25 feet past the hole, after which Weir ran his first putt 15 beyond the cup.
With both players having hit three shots, Mattiace again hit a poor putt, chasing it almost off the green. When Mattiace's fifth shot did not go in the hole, Weir needed only to two-putt from 15 feet to win the tournament and that is what he did.
"Being the first Canadian to win is a real thrill," Weir said. "This is a bigger thrill for me than Canada winning the Olympic (hockey) gold medal."
Jim Furyk was alone in fourth at 284 after a 68 and Maggert, who made two bad swings at the third and 16th holes that cost him a chance to win, wound up in fifth at 286 following a 3-over 75. Ernie Els and Vijay Singh tied for sixth at 287.
Woods, who began the day four shots out of the lead, turned in his third over-par round of the week with a 75, tied for 15th at 2-over 290.
Maddux finally gets first win
MIAMI, April 13 (UPI) - Greg Maddux, off to his worst start in 15 years, allowed just a run and two hits in six innings as Atlanta posted a 7-1 win over Florida.
Also for the winners, Vinny Castilla had a homer and five RBI.
Maddux (1-3) had been tagged for 24 runs, 18 earned, and 29 hits in 14 2/3 innings, and had lost his first three decisions for the first time since 1989. Included in that stretch was an outing against the Marlins on April 5 in which he allowed seven earned runs in two innings.
"It felt good to help us win," said the veteran right-hander. "It's no fun losing. When you're fighting yourself, you've got to fight every pitch. I fought every pitch today. Hopefully, next time out, I can relax a little bit. I didn't really settle down the way I like to. My mechanics were better, my location was better."
The Braves ace settled in early Sunday, tossing a scoreless first inning for the first time this season. Maddux also retired the final nine batters he faced before being replaced by Roberto Hernandez to start the seventh.
Maddux had thrown just 59 pitches when he came out with stiffness in the left side of his neck. He is not expected to miss his next start.
Elsewhere in the National League, it was Montreal 2, N.Y. Mets 1 (10 innings); Philadelphia 13; Cincinnati 1; St. Louis 11, Houston 8; Chicago Cubs 4, Pittsburgh 3; Arizona 9, Milwaukee 3; and San Francisco 5; Los Angeles 4 (12 innings).
First loss for Royals
CLEVELAND, April 13 (UPI) -- Ricardo Rodriguez and the Cleveland Indians beat Kansas City 6-1 Sunday, the Royals' first loss of the season.
Rodriguez (2-0) threw seven strong innings, firing 24 first-pitch strikes to 32 batters. He walked two and struck out four, and prevented the Royals from becoming the first team to go 10-0 since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers won their opening 13 games.
Rodriguez threw 99 pitches, 73 strikes, before Jose Santiago gave up one hit and struck out one in a scoreless eighth. Danys Baez walked one and struck out two in the ninth as Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak.
Milton Bradley homered and scored two runs as the Indians pounded out a season-high 13 hits. Bradley, one of the few Indians enjoying a good season at the plate, has hit in each of the team's 11 games.
Kansas City left 12 runners on base, and was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Also in the American League, it was Chicago White Sox 3, Detroit 2; Cleveland 6, Kansas City 1; Boston 2, Baltimore 0; Tampa Bay 2, N.Y. Yankees 1; Minnesota 9, Toronto 3; Anaheim 8, Oakland 2; and Seattle 4, Texas 3 (13 innings).
New Jersey puts stranglehold on Boston
New Jersey took a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Pandolfo and Madden have held Joe Thornton and Glen Murray to one goal in the best-of-seven series after the duo combined for 80 during the regular season. And they got downright offensive to put New Jersey one win from a trip to the second round.
A Boston-area native, Pandolfo sent Bruins defenseman Ian Moran into goaltender Jeff Hackett just as defenseman Scott Stevens scored the only goal Brodeur needed early in the second period.
Pandolfo added an insurance tally with eight minutes to play and set up Madden's empty-netter.
Martin Brodeur made seven saves in the first period and 11 in each of the last two, extending his shutout streak to 86 minutes, 1 second.
Jeff Hackett made his first start of the series and stopped 19 shots for Boston, which fell to 6-12 at home in the playoffs since 1995.
The Bruins host Game Four on Tuesday.
Also in the NHL playoffs, Edmonton eased past Dallas, 3-2.
Szczerbiak explodes for Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS, April 13 (UPI) -- Wally Szczerbiak scored a career-high ying 44 points ing Sunday as the Minnesota Timberwolves blew out the Chicago Bulls, 119-95.
Among Szczerbiak's sizzling shooting was 6-of-7 from 3-point range. He surpassed by two Kevin Garnett's franchise mark for field goals in a game and tied Tony Campbell's scoring output against Boston on Feb. 2, 1990, Minnesota's first season.
Szczerbiak sat out the final 8:43 of the contest as the Timberwolves (50-31) notched their third 50-win season in the last four years.
The Timberwolves are hpoing to break their ongoing playoff jinx. They have lost in the first round the last six years, and have has never held home-court advantage.
Garnett added 14 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists in just 30 minutes for Minnesota, which handed Chicago an 11th straight road defeat.
The Bulls, who conclude their season vs. Philadelphia on Tuesday, went an abysmal 3-38 away from home.
Szczerbiak scored 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting in the first half to help Minnesota take a 56-46 lead into the break, but he was nearly unstoppable in the third quarter, scoring 17 points in the first 5:52 to surpass his previous career high.
He added another five points in the period, including a three-pointer at the buzzer to extend the advantage to 93-66.
The 6-7 shooting guard never scored 44 points in his All-American career at Miami of Ohio. His college career high was a 43-point performance in a first-round NCAA Tournament victory over Washington in 1999.
Jamal Crawford scored 22 points and Jay Williams added 18 for the Bulls, who had won three of four following a four-game losing streak.
Also in the NBA, it was Portland 101, L.A. Lakers 100; Detroit 110, Memphis 107 in double overtime; New Orleans 94, Philadelphia 89; Milwaukee 107, Indiana 98; Boston 94, Miami 86;
and Phoenix 92, San Antonio 85.
MacInnis questionable for Blues
ST. LOUIS, April 13 (UPI) -- Defenseman Al MacInnis of St. Louis suffered an apparent right shoulder injury during Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
He may be out of the lineup when the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series between the two teams resumes Monday in St. Louis.
A Blues' spokesman described the injury as an "upper body injury," but the team recalled defenseman Tom Koivisto from Worcester of the American Hockey League.
Koivista, 28, a native of Finland, had two goals and four assists in 22 games for Worcester.
MacInnis was hammered into the boards by 245-pound Vancouver left wing Todd Bertuzzi early in the first period. He immediately favored his right arm, went to the locker room, and did not return.
Vancouver evened the series at one win apiece.
MacInnis took over as team captain this season, when former Hart and Norris Trophy Chris Pronger missed all but five games following wrist surgery. He held together a defense that played in front of seven goaltenders, and helped Barret Jackman round into a Calder Trophy candidate.
"He's a big part of our team," Jackman said. "Anytime you play a shift, a period, or three periods without him, everyone's gotta step up."
MacInnis led all NHL defensemen in scoring during the season with 16 goals and 52 assists, and likely will be a finalist for his second Norris Trophy.
"We've had a lot of injuries over the course of the year and we seem to find a way to win," said Pronger. "We're going to have to do it, but it's obviously a big loss for us. He's an integral part of our team and our leader, so we're going to have to find a way to fill in."
Phillies put Byrd on DL
CINCINNATI, April 13 (UPI) -- Centerfielder Marlon Byrd of Philadelphia Sunday was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lacerated left knee.
Byrd, who has struggled in his first full season in the majors, suffered the injury sliding into the plate in the third inning of Philadelphia's 13-1 rout of Cincinnati. He was tagged out, and left the game to receive stitches.
Byrd, 25, is batting just .161 with no home runs and four RBI. Last season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he led the International League with 103 runs and 59 extra-base hits. After being recalled, the 6-0, 225-pounder batted .229 with one home run in 10 games with the Phillies.