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In Sports from United Press International

June 5, 2003 at 3:49 PM   |   Comments

Serena Williams falls at Roland Garros

PARIS, June 5 (UPI) -- Justine Henin-Hardenne upset No. 1 seed Serena Williams Thursday, using a partisan crowd at Roland Garros to set up an all-Belgian final at the French Open.

The fourth-seeded Henin-Hardenne overcame a host of unforced errors to beat Williams, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, and advance to her second Grand Slam final.

"The crowd gave me all the support I needed to win the match," Henin-Hardenne said. "It was unbelievable playing in this atmosphere. I just have to say that it's unbelievable for Belgium. It's an amazing situation."

Williams, unable to battle through the jeers of an angry crowd, and made 79 unforced errors, had her Grand Slam winning streak snapped at 33 matches. The 21-year-old American was seeking her fifth consecutive major title.

She stopped playing two different points in the second set, raising the ire of the crowd. While the umpire reversed each call, the fans quickly turned against the best female player in the world.

In continuing to establish herself as the dominant player on the WTA Tour, Williams also had won 29 of her first 31 matches this season, but the postmatch smiles and waves were replaced by tears Thursday.

"I'm not used to crying," said Williams, who made anti-French comments in Miami earlier this season. "It was a tough crowd out there today. That's the story of my life. All my life, I've had to fight. It's just another fight I'm going to have to learn how to win."

Cheered for each fault and unforced error, Williams served at 3-2, 30-love in the third set before falling apart. Henin-Hardenne won five of the next seven games, breaking Williams three times along the way.

"It doesn't make it any harder," Williams said of the jeering. "Actually, that's a lie, it definitely does make it harder. I've just got to be a little stronger next time."

Williams' season match record fell to 29-3. Two of the losses have come against Henin-Hardenne, including the claycourt final at the Family Circle Cup in South Carolina.

Henin-Hardenne will seek her first Grand Slam title Saturday when she meets No. 2 seed Kim Clijsters, who bounced Nadia Petrova of Russia, 7-5, 6-1. Clijsters, who turns 20 on Sunday, also is looking for her first major crown.


Sosa bats at Hall of Fame not corked

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y., June 5 (UPI) -- Tests conducted on five bats belonging to Sammy Sosa donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame revealed no cork.

The bats were tested after he was found to be using a corked bats in a game Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Cork was found in a bat Sosa shattered during the contest on an RBI grounder. The run was taken off the board and he was ejected when the substance was found.

After the game, officials of Major League Baseball confiscated 76 of Sosa's bats and examined them Wednesday, but none were found to be illegal.

The Hall of Fame had X-rays taken of three bats Wednesday, and CT scans on two others Thursday. Conducted by a radiologist at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, the tests were negative.

In order to speed up the swing, players have been known to hollow out bats by drilling a hole at the top and replacing the wood with cork.

Sosa, the only player to hit 60 or more homers in a season three times, was ejected by plate umpire Tim McClelland in the first inning Tuesday. McClelland, the crew chief, picked up the bat, took it out of play and ruled Sosa out.

Sosa also faces a likely suspension from Bob Watson, the Vice President of On-Field Discipline for Major League Baseball.

Wilton Guerrero received an eight-game ban for a corked-bat incident in 1997 and was fined $1,000. Billy Hatcher also was suspended eight games, and Albert Belle and Chris Sabo each served seven-game bans for similar violations.

Sosa has claimed he only uses a corked bat in batting practice to entertain fans. On Wednesday, he admitted to making mistake and apologized.

"Sammy has been very forthcoming," said Sandy Alderson, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. "We think the investigation will corroborate what he told us. There's no reason to believe his explanation is not accurate."

Also, he claimed that he is being persecuted before all the facts are known.

"The media has got me out there like I'm a criminal," Sosa said. "That's something that really bothered me and hurt me as a man. I understand. Sometimes a lot of people take (my actions) the wrong way, but they compared me like I did something out of this world. It's a mistake. We are all human and we all make them. No one is perfect in this world."

"Before we get judgmental," said Cubs Manager Dusty Baker, "we have to wait and see what the verdict is."

Among the greatest power hitters ever with 505 career homers, Sosa has been dogged by questions regarding steroids and performance enhancers, but has vehemently denied those accusations.

Sosa, 34, hit the 500th homer of his career on April 4. The third-youngest player in history to reach the plateau behind only Jimmie Foxx and Willie Mays, Sosa is the first Latin player to accomplish the feat.


Bobby Bonds ailing

SAN FRANCISCO, June 5 (UPI) -- Former Major League star Bobby Bonds is in failing health at his California home suffering from a variety of ailments, including pneumonia.

His well-known son, slugger Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, made it known after his team's 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins Wednesday night.

The information came as Barry Bonds was being questioned about the Sammy Sosa corked bat issue.

"Do I have to answer that? My father is really sick," Bonds said. "I don't care about Sammy Sosa, my father is the only thing on my mind. (He's) very bad."

When asked if his father has taken a turn for the worse, Bonds said, "yes."

Bobby Bonds underwent surgery on a brain tumor earlier this spring, had a cancerous kidney removed in 2002, and also has been battling lung cancer.

"It's amazing that he can come in and have so much on his mind and still perform at the level he's performing at," Giants second baseman Ray Durham told the San Jose Mercury News. "I don't know if he can totally shut it down, but I know it has to be on the back of his mind."

Barry Bonds had the game-winning hit Wednesday night.

Bobby Bonds,, who is very close to his son and attended a game recently at Pac Bell Park, played 14 years in the majors, including his first seven years with the Giants, and is also a former Giants coach.

During his playing career, he hit .268 and had 332 home runs and 461 stolen bases, and he is one of only four players in Major League history to have at least 300 stolen bases and 300 homers.


Mark Wohlers done for 2003

DENVER, June 5 (UPI) -- Veteran reliever Mark Wohlers will not pitch again for the Cleveland Indians.

Wohlers, a former star closer for the Atlanta Braves, had been on a rehab assignment in Double-A Akron of the Eastern League, working his way back from surgery earlier this spring to remove bone chips in his right elbow.

The results of an MRI, done on May 25, revealed that the elbow is not getting any better.

"There is a definite change in the ligament," said Manager Eric Wedge. "He's going to have to be down doing nothing for six weeks, and realistically in order for him to be all the way back, we're talking about three months. He's more or less done for this season. It doesn't look like it's going to be realistic for this year. It still makes it tough, because we know how valuable he's going to be to us."

Wohlers, 33, who did not throw a pitch for the Indians this season, also has pitched for the New York Yankees and Cincinnati. He had been placed on the 15-day disabled list because of elbow problems on March 29.

For his career, he is 39-29 with an ERA of 3.97. The hard-throwing righthander has 557 strikeouts and 119 saves.


Dodgers put Dreifort on DL

LOS ANGELES, June 5 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have placed righthander Darren Dreifort on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 29, with a sprained ligament in his right knee.

It is the same knee that Dreifort had arthroscopic surgery performed on last July. He last pitched on April 28 at Colorado and felt pain in his knee following that outing.

An MRI on Tuesday revealed the new injury, which is believed to be the result of the arthritis. Manager Jim Tracy said Dreifort could pitch as early as June 14 in Cleveland.

"I don't see a point in getting frustrated," said Dreifort, who was making an impressive comeback from a second Tommy John elbow reconstruction until the knee started acting up. "It does me no good and anybody else no good. I'm assuming it will be 15 days. Hopefully that's the case."

After missing the 2002 campaign following the second "Tommy John" surgery, Dreifort is 4-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts this season.

Over his eight-year career, Dreifort owns a 47-56 record with 10 saves, three shutouts, and a 4.36 ERA.

Andy Ashby will take his Saturday start against the Chicago White Sox at Dodger Stadium.

To replace Dreifort on the roster, the Dodgers have recalled righthander Victor Santos from Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. In 15 games at Las Vegas, Santos went 3-1 with an 0.84 ERA.

Alvarez will fill Ashby's seat as the long man in the bullpen.


Blue Jays put Walker, Stewart on DL

ST. LOUIS, June 5 (UPI) -- Injuries are beginning to catch up with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The team has placed righthander Pete Walker and outfielder Shannon Stewart on the 15-day disabled list.

With three players already sidelined, including 2002 American League Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske, the Blue Jays added Walker to the list when the pitcher suffered a strained left knee in Tuesday's loss to St. Louis.

Walker, who spent time on the DL in May with soreness in his right shoulder, allowed two runs and two hits while retiring just two batters. In 15 games, including four starts, he is 1-1 with a 5.85 ERA.

Stewart, batting .300 with three home runs and 25 RBI in 51 games, was put on the DL, retroactive to May 29, with a strained right hamstring. The leftfielder has not played since last Wednesday, when he went 0-for-4 against the Chicago White Sox.

To fill the 25-man roster, Toronto recalled pitcher Josh Towers and outfielder Jayson Werth from Triple-A Syracuse of the International League.

Towers, who was sent down after Sunday's victory over Boston, is 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two relief appearances with the Blue Jays.

Werth, a converted catcher, played 16 games with Toronto earlier this season, batting .212 with two homers and seven RBI.


Stanley Cup Finals resume

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., June 5 (UPI) -- After a two-day break, the Stanley Cup Finals resume Thursday at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.

In the contest, the New Jersey Devils will try to recover from consecutive overtime losses to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Game Five is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern time, some 45 hours after

Anaheim's Steve Thomas scored 39 seconds into overtime to even the series at two games apiece.

Thomas put his name in a group that includes Ruslan Salei, Chris Phillips, and Shaun Van Allen, each of whom have beaten New Jersey with overtime goals this postseason.

The Devils have lost four straight overtime games, two each to the Mighty Ducks and Ottawa Senators. They also have won only two one-goal games in the last two series, outscoring opponents 19-5 in their six victories.

By contrast, the Mighty Ducks are 7-0 in overtime this postseason, and also have tied an NHL record with 12 one-goal wins against only one loss.

New Jersey, which posted a pair of overtime wins against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, will need some kind of offense to take back the series. Anaheim allowed only two goals on 57 shots the last two games.

Much of the reason was Conn Smythe Trophy favorite Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who set a playoff record by extending his overtime shutout streak to 168 minutes, 27 seconds.

Two-time Stanley Cup winner Martin Brodeur has not been as solid. Although he made a great save before the game-winner by Thomas, he also surrendered a fluke goal in Saturday's setback.

The Devils are seeking their third title since 1995. Only Edmonton and Detroit have won as many since 1987.

Anaheim is in the Finals for the first time.

Game Six is Saturday night in Anaheim. If necessary, Game Seven would be Monday in New Jersey.


Agassi to play Stella Artois event

LONDON, June 5 (UPI) -- Andre Agassi has accepted a wild card to the Stella Artois Championships, a tune-up to the third Grand Slam event of the season.

Tournament organizers announced Thursday that Agassi, 33, ousted in the quarterfinals of the French Open this week, has decided to play at the Queen's Club for the first time since 2000.

He will be seeking his ninth Grand Slam title and second Wimbledon crown, having won the event in 1992. For his age, he has shown no signs of slowing down as he leads the ATP Champions Race.

"It's the 25th birthday of the Stella Artois Championships this year, and I can't think of a better present for our spectators, viewers, and sponsors," said tournament director Ian Wright.

Agassi last played in the event three years ago, when he reached the third round.

Queen's Club has built an impressive draw, with Lleyton Hewitt seeking his record fourth straight title at the event, and former Wimbledon champions Goran Ivanisevic and Richard Krajicek already having accepted wild cards.

Englishmen Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski also are entered, along with United States star Andy Roddick.

The Stella Artois Championships are June 9-15. Wimbledon begins June 23.


Business manager for Mark Jackson arrested

LOS ANGELES, June 5 (UPI) -- The former business manager for guard Mark Jackson of the Utah Jazz was arrested Thursday for embezzling nearly $3 million from the NBA player.

In a news release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, prosecutors said Bruce Jay Breger, 40, of Beverly Hills, Calif., was taken into custody without incident. He has been charged with two counts of wire fraud.

The government said in the statement that, based upon a case investigated by the FBI, Breger was able to embezzle the funds by fraudulently transferring money from Jackson's bank account at City National Bank in Westwood, Calif., to bank accounts that Breger controlled both inside and outside of City National Bank.

In some cases, it said, Breger was able to access Jackson's accounts by forging Jackson's name on faxes Breger sent to City National Bank requesting that the money be transferred from Jackson's account to accounts controlled by Breger.

Breger allegedly used the money to help fund an extravagant lifestyle.

He purchased expensive jewelry for his wife and girlfriend, and he took frequent gambling trips to Las Vegas, often renting a private plane as the means of transportation.

While in Las Vegas, he often gambled in exclusive or private rooms at various casinos, and received complimentary penthouse accommodations because of his frequent visits.

Breger is alleged to have hidden his theft by, among other means, having Jackson's City National Bank account statements sent to Breger's office. In addition, he allegedly sent Jackson phony statements indicating that Jackson had substantial assets under management when, in fact, Jackson's account had been looted.

If convicted of the charges, Breger faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.


Bills ink Cota

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., June 5 (UPI) -- The Buffalo Bills have signed free agent defensive back Chad Cota, who played for the St. Louis Rams last season.

No terms were disclosed, but it is believe he got a one-year contract.

Cota is a eight-year veteran who also has played for the Indianapolis Colts (1999-2001), New Orleans (1998), and Carolina Panthers (1995-97).

The 6-0, 198-pounder, a seventh-round draft pick by the Panthers in 1995 out of Oregon, has 646 tackles, including 472 solo, in his career, with four sacks and 15 interceptions. As a backup with the Rams last season, he played in 14 games, with one start, for the Rams, but had no sacks or interceptions.

He has 15 interceptions and one touchdown in his career.


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