Red Sox champions of baseball
ST. LOUIS, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Derek Lowe's dominance brought Boston a 3-0 win over St. Louis Wednesday night and made the Red Sox champions of baseball for the first time in 86 years.
Boston completed a four-game World Series sweep without trailing at any time in any game. The Red Sox became just the fourth team ever to do that and in the process ended a drought that had turned into an enduring legend.
The Red Sox won five of the first 15 World Series ever played and then sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Boston fans long believed that transaction cursed their team, but the curse finally ended Wednesday night.
Johnny Damon opened the final game of the season with a homer, Trot Nixon delivered two runs in the third with a bases loaded double on a 3-0 count and Lowe pitched seven innings.
After allowing a leadoff single in the first, Lowe retired 13 straight. He gave up three hits and walked one. Three relievers completed the shutout.
Lowe also won Game 7 over New York in the ALCS, during which Boston became the first team to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. HEADER:Pleasantly Perfect favorite in Classic
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Defending champion Pleasantly Perfect has been installed as the early favorite for Saturday's $$@$!4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park.
The Classic is the richest of Saturday's eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship races to be run for the first time in Texas. The Breeders' Cup usually decides year-end honors among the top horses.
This year's edition features an unusually light representation of European-based horses, due in part to owners' and trainers' unfamiliarity with the first-time location of the event.
However, all eight championship races are highly competitive and the event long has been a sellout with more than 50,000 seats sold.
Pleasantly Perfect, who followed up his 2003 Classic victory by winning the Dubai World Cup this spring, drew post position No. 12 in a field of 13. "I wasn't really concerned about the post," said trainer Richard Mandella. He'll ease back in the early going and settle off the first flight of runners anyway."
Those were the tactics that brought victory last year in the 1 1/4-mile race.
Pleasantly Perfect was listed at 5-2 in the morning line following Wednesday's post position draw. Second choice on the line is Ghostzapper, a lightly raced, 4-year-old son of Awesome Again who has won four straight graded stakes. He drew the inside post position. Roses in May, another late-blooming 4-year-old, was posted at 5-1 odds off five straight wins.
Azeri, attempting to become the first female winner of the Classic in its 21st running, drew post No. 3 and was listed at 15-1 on the morning line. HEADER:Mississippi State placed on probation
STARKVILLE, Miss., Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Mississippi State, coming off its biggest football win in years, was placed on four years probation Wednesday by the NCAA.
Because of recruiting violations, the school will have to give up eight scholarships over the next two years and will not be allowed to play in a bowl game this season. The school would not likely have qualified to play in a bowl anyway.
The NCAA cited two former assistant coaches and several boosters of the athletic program and said the violations took place from 1998 until 2002. Allegations of unethical conduct against former coach Jackie Sherrill were dismissed.
Sherrill retired after the 2003 season and was replaced by Sylvester Croom. The Bulldogs are 2-5 this season, but shocked Florida last Saturday. Florida promptly fired its head coach. HEADER:Serena loses to world's 73rd ranked player
LINZ, Austria, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Qualifier Alina Jidkova of Russia stunned former world No. 1 Serena Williams Wednesday in the second round of the Generali Linz Open.
Jidkova defeated Williams, the third seed, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. After committing 29 unforced errors, Williams said she was suffering from a headachie.
It was Williams' first appearance in a month, having been away from action with a sore left knee.
Jidkova, ranked 73rd in the world, had lost her five previous matches on the WTA circuit.
Williams is playing in Europe in an attempt to gain points toward next month's WTA Championships, for which she has not yet qualified.