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In Sports from United Press International

May 24, 2003 at 12:23 AM   |   Comments

Devils reach Stanley Cup Finals

OTTAWA, May 24 (UPI) -- Jeff Friesen scored with 2:14 remaining in regulation Friday night, pushing New Jersey into the Stanley Cup Finals with a 3-2 win over Ottawa.

Friesen, one of only six New Jersey players who have never played for the Stanley Cup, produced the winning goal in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals.

Undermanned since early in the first period, New Jersey squandered a lead in the opening minutes of the third. But Friesen scored his third game-winning goal of the series to set up a Stanley Cup Finals matchup with his former team, the well-rested Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

The opening game of the NHL's championship series will be played Tuesday night in New Jersey. It will be the third Stanley Cup Finals for the Devils in four years.

New Jersey's John Madden cleared the puck from his own zone to Grant Marshall, who drew defensemen Karel Rachunek and Wade Redden as he moved into the Senators' zone. Marshall threaded a pass through Redden's legs to Friesen, who collected it on his backhand, shifted to his forehand and flipped a shot under the stick of lunging goaltender Patrick Lalime.

The Devils steadied themselves after squandering a three games to one lead and losing veteran center Joe Nieuwendyk, who played just three shifts before leaving with an injury suffered late in Game 6.

Magnus Arvedson and Radek Bonk scored for Ottawa, which survived a bankruptcy filing during the season but could not become the third team in this year's playoffs to win a series after trailing three games to one.


Sorenstam fades in second round

FORT WORTH, Texas, May 24 (UPI) -- Annika Sorenstam's bid to make the cut at the Bank of America Colonial wilted away Friday.

Sorenstam, the first female to play on the PGA Tour in 58 years, saw her hopes of playing on the weekend crushed during an eight-hole stretch in the middle of the second round. She made five bogeys in that span as her short game deserted her.

"This is way over my head," the No. 1 player in women's golf said at the end of one of the unique 48 hours in the history of her sport. "I am not as tough as I thought I was. I need to go back to my own tour where I belong."

She shot a 4-over 74 over the Colonial Country Club course to give her a 36-hole total of 5-over 145. The cut came at 1-over 141, one shot away from equaling the lowest cut figure in the history of the event.

Kenny Perry and Dan Forsman finished two rounds tied for the lead. Perry shot a 64 in the morning while Forsman managed a 66 in the building heat of the afternoon, putting them at 8-under 132. Jim Furyk was alone in third place at 133 while those tied at 134 included Chad Campbell, Tim Petrovic, Jim Williamson, first-round leader Rory Sabbatini and Jesper Parnevik.

Sorenstam shot a 1-over 71 Thursday with the eyes of the sports world watching her every move. That put her in position to make the cut, which was her avowed goal.

That goal seemed within reach Friday when she rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-4 second, putting her at even par for the tournament.

But it all began to fade away on the fifth hole, the hardest test on one of the most treasured venues on the PGA Tour.

Her tee shot on the 470-yard, par-4 hole hit an overhanging limb on one of the scores of oak trees that line the right side of the fairway. The ball stayed in bounds, but she was 277 yards from the green and all she could do was advance her second shot to about 130 yards from the putting surface.

From there, Sorenstam hit a poor shot to the back edge of the green and had to make a five-foot putt just to save a bogey.

She went on to hit a poor chip shot at the par-4 sixth for another bogey and three-putted the eighth, 10th and 12th holes as well to lose shots to par.

Sorenstam parred the final six holes, but the damage was done. She did manage an inspirational finish, however, when she drove into the trees to the left of the 18th fairway, laid up short of the green, chipped to within eight feet and made the putt for par.


Spurs take lead in series

DALLAS, May 24 (UPI) -- Tony Parker scored 19 of his 29 points in the third quarter Friday night as San Antonio rallied for a 96-83 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas lost All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and home-court advantage in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

Duncan continued to display the dominance that has made him a two-time MVP, collecting 34 points, 24 rebounds, six assists and six blocks. But Parker stunned the Maverickss with his performance in the third quarter and helped the Spurs to a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Parker made eight of 11 shots in the period, scoring from just about every spot on the floor. He beat Steve Nash regularly off the dribble and buried contested jumpers over Dallas' bigger defenders.

The Mavericks had a 54-44 lead with 9:22 left in the third before Parker scored seven points during a 15-2 run. He buried a jumper to cap the spurt and give the Spurs a 59-56 lead with 4:43 to go.

Parker closed the quarter with two free throws to make it 69-66 and spark a 14-0 burst that carried into the final period.

The Mavericks already lost control of the game before Nowitzki injured his knee going for a rebound with 7:45 remaining. He was carted to the locker room and left the arena on crutches following the game.

Bruce Bowen scored 13 points and Stephen Jackson added 12 for the top-seeded Spurs, who held a 59-36 rebounding advantage. They reclaimed the home-court advantage they lost in the series opener.

Nick Van Exel had 16 points and Nowitzki added 15 and nine rebounds before exiting as the Mavericks placed six players in double figures.

Game 4 will be Sunday night at the American Airlines Center.


Tomjanovich resigns as Rockets coach

HOUSTON, May 24 (UPI) -- Unable to meet the demands of a grueling job, Rudy Tomjanovich stepped down Friday after 12 seasons as coach of the Houston Rockets.

"I feel it's the best thing for me," said Tomjanovich, who missed the final 17 games of the season to undergo treatment for bladder cancer. "I need to live a life with less stress."

Tomjanovich made the decision after meeting this week with owner Les Alexander, but will remain with the team in an unspecified front office role.

The Houston Chronicle reported Friday that the two sides negotiated a buyout of Tomjanovich's contract, which had two years and $12 million remaining.

Tomjanovich has been with the Rockets for more than three decades and coached the franchise to its only NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. But Houston has failed to reach the playoffs each of the last four seasons.

The 54-year-old Tomjanovich took a medical leave of absence in March and said he did not want to return if he was not 100 percent.

This season, the Rockets added rookie standout Yao Ming to a lineup that featured star guard Steve Francis. They went 43-39 and fell short of the postseason. The Rockets did not name a successor. Assistant Larry Smith coached the team in Tomjanovich's absence.


Yankees fall out of first place

NEW YORK, May 24 (UPI) -- Kelvim Escobar allowed one run and three hits in five innings Friday night, giving Toronto a 6-2 decision over the New York Yankees.

New York lost its fifth straight home game.

Escobar (2-1) blanked the Yankees after giving up an RBI double to Jason Giambi in the bottom of the first inning. He walked four and struck out four in continuing to make the conversion from closer to starter.

The righthander earned his first win as a starter since Aug. 25, 2001, when he tossed a complete game in a 9-0 win at Baltimore.

Toronto improved to 15-6 in May, clinching a winning month, and won for the eighth time in its last 10 road games.

The defeat dropped New York out of first place in the American League East for the first time this season. The Yankees have lost nine of their last 10 here and fell to just 11-12 overall at Yankee Stadium.

New York owns the best road record in the majors at 18-7.

Other American League results: Boston 9, Cleveland 2; Detroit 3, Chicago 2; Texas 5, Baltimore 3; Oakland 4, Kansas City 1.


Millwood wins No. 7

MONTREAL, May 23 (UPI) -- Kevin Millwood pitched seven innings and Bobby Abreu belted a two-run homer Friday night to boost Philadelphia past Montreal, 4-2.

Ejected from his last start for having an illegal substance on a finger on his pitching hand, Zach Day (4-2) allowed three runs and eight hits Friday night with six walks in five innings.

The loss was his first since April 8, snapping a personal three-game winning streak.

Millwood (7-1) continued to give Philadelphia exactly what it expected after acquiring him from Atlanta during the winter. The righthander yielded two runs and six hits while walking three and striking out four.

With the game even at 1-1 after two innings, Abreu launched a 2-1 offering over the wall in left field with a runner aboard in the third to give the Phillies the lead.

Placido Polanco homered and drove in two runs and Jose Mesa tossed a perfect ninth inning for his 13th save of the season and 100th with the Phillies. Mesa, who collected 104 saves with Cleveland, became the 10th player in major league history to reach the century mark with two different teams.

Other National League results: Florida 8, Cincinnati 4; New York 6, Atlanta 5; Houston 7, Chicago 5; Los Angeles 6, Milwaukee 4; St. Louis 10, Pittsburgh 8 in 10 innings.


Ryan Newman wins NASCAR pole

CONCORD, N.C., May 24 (UPI) -- Ryan Newman captured the pole at the NASCAR Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600 for the second time in three years Friday.

After Thursday's scheduled qualifying session was rained out, Newman posted the top speed Friday at 185.312 miles per hour in a Dodge Intrepid.

It is the 10th career pole for Newman, who has qualified in the top 10 in each of the last 10 races.

While Newman has qualified well this season, he has finished 38th or worse in four straight races since winning the Samsung/Radio Shack 500.

Last year's Rookie of the Year, Newman is just 27th in the Winston Cup standings with 1,031 points, 588 behind leader Matt Kenseth.

Elliott Sadler qualified second at 184.300 mph in a Ford Taurus while Mike Skinner was third in a Pontiac Grand Prix.


Roddick reaches title match in Austria

ST. POLTEN, Austria, May 24 (UPI) -- Top-seeded Andy Roddick got some help Friday in reaching his third final of the year at the International Raiffeisen Grand Prix.

Roddick, who has not lost a set this week, owned a 6-2, 2-0 lead against David Sanchez when the eighth seed from Spain quit with a recurring muscle strain in his right calf.

"I already had this problem with my match against Mario Ancic (on Thursday)," Sanchez said. "Today it was even harder because Roddick is a tougher player. His best shot is that forehand out wide and it was hurting when I had to stretch to hit a shot. I realized it was just going to be impossible to win with my condition like that."

Sanchez was trailing, 5-2, in the first set when an ATP trainer treated him for blisters on his right foot.

The 20-year-old American lost in the final of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston last month, but was eliminated in the second round at the Rome Masters and Hamburg Masters.

Roddick also was a runner-up at Memphis in February. His last title came more than a year ago in Houston and he has never won a tournament outside the United States.

The sixth seed at next week's French Open, Roddick will face No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia in Saturday's final.


Williams sisters on opposite side in French draw

PARIS, May 24 (UPI) -- A fifth straight Grand Slam final between sisters Serena and Venus Williams will be a possibility at the French Open.

They were placed on opposite sides of the women's draw announced Friday. Top-ranked Serena, who will be going after her fifth straight major crown, opens defense of her Roland Garros title against Barbara Rittner of Germany.

Venus Williams' ranking has dropped to third in the world behind Kim Clijsters of Belgium, opening the chance the siblings might not face each other in the championship match. However, Venus Williams ended up in the bottom half of the draw, taking on a qualifier.

Clijsters will go against Amy Frazier in the first round as the year's second Grand Slam gets underway on Monday.

On the men's side, No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia will play Brian Vahaly of the United States in the first round while second-seeded Andre Agassi, who won the French in 1999, will square off against Karol Beck of Slovakia.

Although a third-round meeting with former champion Mary Pierce is a possibility, the first big test for Serena Williams could be a quarterfinal showdown with No. 5 Amelie Mauresmo, who handed her only her second loss of the year last week in the semifinals at Rome.

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