In Sports from United Press International

By United Press International  |  Oct. 7, 2001 at 1:14 AM
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Ripken plays final game

BALTIMORE, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Cal Ripken Jr., arguably the greatest player in Baltimore Orioles' history and certainly one of the most popular ever to play the game, competed for the final time Saturday night.

Ripken, who many credit with reviving interest in the national pastime, went hitless in three at bats in his 3,001st and final game, a 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Baseball's Iron Man, Ripken captivated the nation in September 1995 with his assault on the consecutive games played streak held by legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig. Ripken broke Gehrig's record on Sept. 5, 1995 and ran his streak to 2,632 games.

Honored before and after the game, Ripken failed to deliver in his final game the way he did on that September night in 1995 or in this year's All-Star Game, when he homered en route to Most Valuable Player honors.

Ripken lined out to left field in the second, popped out to shortstop in the fifth and skied to center in the eighth. He was in the on-deck circle when Brady Anderson struck out to end the game.

In Seattle, meanwhile, the Mariners equaled the all-time single-season victory record with their 116th triumph of the year. They beat the Texas Rangers, 1-0, who were shut out for the first time this season.

Seattle improved to 116-45 this season, tying the mark of the Cubs, who went 116-36. The Mariners conclude their dream regular season Sunday, sending 15-game winner Aaron Sele to the mound.

Other American League results: Oakland 6, Anaheim 3; Tampa Bay 5, New York 2; Minnesota 6, Chicago 5; Toronto 5, Cleveland 2. Kansas City and Detroit split a doubleheader, Kansas City winning the opener, 8-3, and Detroit claiming the second game, 2-1.

Astros, Cardinals go to the wire

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Jeff Bagwell made a pair of throwing errors and Moises Alou dropped a fly ball Saturday as the Houston Astros wasted their first chance to capture the National League Central Division title. St. Louis downed the Astros, 10-6.

The winner of today's game between Astros and Cardinals will capture the division title and meet Atlanta in the divisional round of the playoffs. The loser will be teh National League's wild-card team and play Arizona.

Dave Veres worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning and Jim Edmonds collected four RBI for the Cardinals.

Houston can win its fourth division title in five years with a victory Sunday. That would give the Astros and Cards identical 93-69 records and Houston a 9-7 edge in the season series.

Other National League results: San Diego 10, Colorado 4; Chicago 13, Pittsburgh 2; Los Angeles 6, San Francisco 2; Atlanta 7, Florida 3; Milwaukee 5, Arizona 4; New York 4, Montreal 0. Philadelphia swept a doubleheader from Cincinnati, 2-1 and 5-1.

Sooners outslug Longhorns

DALLAS, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Third-ranked Oklahoma forced four interceptions by Chris Simms Saturday, including one that was returned for a score by linebacker Teddy Lehman in the game's final moments, boosting the Sooners past the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns, 14-3.

On a Saturday that saw two highly-ranked teams upset at home, Oklahoma captured a physical battle with its old rival and took a big step in its bid for a second straight national title. Oklahoma has won 18 straight games.

Cornerback Roy Williams sealed the victory with 2:01 left when he blitzed from the left side and caught up with Simms, whose pass fluttered into the hands of Lehman. He waltzed into the end zone to put the Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12 South) ahead by 11 points.

Oklahoma improved to 8-0 against top-10 teams under Stoops.

The team's ranked in front of Oklahoma both won Saturday. No. 1 Miami struggled early before getting past Troy State, 38-7; and No. 2 Florida pulled away from LSU, 44-15.

In addition, Nebraska stayed unbeaten with a 48-14 blitzing of Iowa State.

But No. 7 Tennessee was shocked by Georgia, 26-24, when the Bulldogs scored with six seconds remainnig. And No. 13 Kansas State suffered a stunning setback at the hands of Colorado, 16-6.

Penn State, meanwhile, was a 20-0 victim of Michigan, leaving the Nittany Lions with an 0-4 record. It is the first time in the legendary coaching career of Penn State's Joe Paterno that he has a team start the year with four straight losses.

Turek records second straight shutout

CALGARY, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Roman Turek made 23 saves for his second straight shutout Saturday night, leading the Calgary Flames to a 4-0 blanking of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Acquired from St. Louis in a draft day trade, the 31-year-old Czech has posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since Dec. 18-21, 1999. He opened the season Thursday night with a 1-0 whitewash of Edmonton.

Defenseman Derek Morris and Jarome Iginla each recorded two assists as Calgary got goals from four different players.

Other NHL results: Boston 4, Atlanta 3 in overtime; Buffalo 3, Ottawa 2; Montreal 2, Toronto 2, Philadelphia 3, Columbus 3; San Jose 0, Minnesota 0; Washington 6, New Jersey 1; New York Islanders 3, Florida 0; Anaheim 4, Pittsburgh 2; Nashville 2, St. Louis 2; Calgary 4, Chicago 0; Detroit 4, Vancouver 1; Edmonton 6, Phoenix 2.

Tennessee-Baltimore highlights NFL Sunday

BALTIMORE, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Eddie George and Ray Lewis continue their heavyweight fight today while Brett Favre and Warren Sapp also renew acquaintances.

The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans staged the NFL's fiercest rivalry during the 2000 season, concluding with the Ravens' 24-10 victory in the divisional playoffs last January at Tennessee.

"When we get together, it's a slugfest," Ravens coach Brian Billick of the AFC Central rivals. "Something unique decided last year's playoff game and that will probably be the case on Sunday."

The Titans (0-2) spent the offseason haunted by kicker Al Del Greco's struggles in that playoff game. After failing to convert two field goals, Del Greco had a potential go-ahead kick blocked and returned 90 yards for a touchdown by Anthony Mitchell in the fourth quarter, giving Baltimore a 17-10 lead.

Lewis, the Ravens' perennial Pro Bowl middle linebacker, sealed Tennessee's fate when he picked off a pass that went off the right hand of George, the Titans' star running back. Lewis returned the interception 50 yards for a touchdown.

The Ravens (2-1) have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 40 consecutive games, including playoffs, and George fell nine yards shy in the playoff loss. He also caught eight passes for 52 yards and constantly peeled himself off the ground after taking numerous hits from Lewis.

When the Green Bay Packers (3-0) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) meet in an NFC Central battle, three-time MVP quarterback Brett Favre will again be on the lookout for Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

"I love to play against him," said Sapp, who has sacked Favre eight times and hit him numerous other times in the previous meetings. "He's one of those quarterbacks you love to chase for four quarters. It's a great personal challenge."

General manager John Butler has pumped life into the San Diego Chargers. Butch Davis also is having quite an effect with the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers (3-0) look to remain the AFC's only unbeaten team when they meet the Browns (2-1).

In other games today, Arizona will be at Philadelphia, Atlanta will host Chicago, Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh, Jacksonville visits Seattle, Denver is at home against Kansas City, New Orleans entertains Minnesota, Miami hosts New England, the New York Jets will be in Buffalo, the New York Giants host Washington, Carolina goes to San Francisco and Dallas will be in Oakland.

Hornish wins IRL race in blanket finish

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- IRL champion Sam Hornish passed Scott Sharp at the finish line Saturday to capture the Chevy 500 by 0.0188 seconds in the closest 1-2-3 finish in Indy car history.

Hornish won an incredible three-car battle, with Robbie Buhl finishing third, just 0.0468 seconds behind.

Hornish, Sharp and Buhl ran abreast crossing the finish line with Sharp on the low side, Hornish in the middle and Buhl on the outside in what may have been the tightest three-way finish in major auto racing annals.

Hornish's pass was the 32nd of the afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway, establishing an IRL record for most lead changes.

As Hornish began his victory lap following his third-career victory -- all this season -- he was handed an American flag and drove around the 1 1/2-mile oval to the cheers of the surprisingly large crowd.

Toms leads Michelob Championship

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Oct. 7 (UPI) -- David Toms moved closer to his second straight Michelob Championship title Saturday, shooting a 4-under-par 67 for a two-shot lead over Esteban Toledo.

Ranked ninth in the world, Toms had five birdies and a pair of bogeys to reach 12-under 201 at Kingsmill Resort, where he defeated Mike Weir in a playoff last year.

Before a second-round 70, Toms opened the tournament with a 64 that included four birdie putts of at least 25 feet and was just one stroke off the best round of his career.

Toms is having the season of his career. He has won a pair of events, including the PGA Championship, and a career-best $2,677,267, which puts him fifth on the money list.

Toledo is in an unlikey position -- the final group on Sunday. He is winless in five seasons on tour and has not been in the top 10 in 32 starts this year.

A 68 put Toledo alone in second at 10-under 203.

Jose Coceres of Argentina, Kirk Triplett, Neal Lancaster and Chris Riley are tied for third at 204 in an event that has added significance to a handful of players.

England earns World Cup berth

LONDON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- A rocket-like shot from 30 yards out by David Beckham deep in injury time Saturday rallied England to a 2-2 tie with Greece and clinched a berth for his country in next year's World Cup.

Russia, Portugal, Denmark, Croatia and Italy also won spots in soccer's biggest show as a critical weekend of qualifying around the world got underway.

The United States faced a critical match in Boston Sunday against Jamaica.

England went into its final qualifying game tied with Germany atop Europe's Group 9, but the English had a six-goal lead over Germany in first tiebreak category -- goal differential. The Germans were expected to easily handle Finland in their matchup, so it seemed likely England would need a win to qualify.

But Germany was held to an unlikely 0-0 tie by Finland, meaning all England had to do was earn a tie with the underdog Greeks. With time running out, however, England faced a 2-1 deficit and seemed headed toward a second-place finish in the group, which would have meant the English would have had to face the Ukraine in a playoff with a World Cup berth on the line.

Beckham, however, saved England from that uncertain fate when he sent a shot into the top corner to earn the tie.

Russia, meanwhile, won Group 1 by shutting out Switzerland, 4-0. Portugal captured Group 2 with a 5-0 decision over Estonia, Denmark earned the Group 3 title by crushing Iceland, 6-0, Croatia won a 1-0 showdown with Belgium to capture Group 6 and Italy emerged as the victor in Group 8 with a 1-0 victory over Hungary.

Saturday's results left 19 berths in the 32-nation tournament filled. Those winning a spot Saturday joined defending champion France, Sweden, Poland and Spain as nations to have qualified for the World Cup from Europe. The other qualifiers thus far are Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Argentina and co-hosts Japan and South Korea.

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