In Sports from United Press International

By United Press International   |   Nov. 12, 2001 at 12:10 AM
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Rams own NFL's best record

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Green Bay cooled off the Chicago Bears Sunday and the Seattle Seahawks did the same thing to the Oakland Raiders, leaving the St. Louis Rams with the best record in the NFL.

The Rams also have Marshall Faulk back in the lineup.

Playing for the first time in nearly a month, Faulk rushed for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half alone Sunday, sending the St. Louis Rams rolling past the Carolina Panthers, 48-14.

Trung Canidate picked up where Faulk left off in the second half, rushing for 145 yards on just 16 carries.

Behind Faulk and Canidate, the Rams rushed for 337 yards -- third highest in franchise history -- and outgained the Panthers, 493 yards to 146.

The league's most versatile running back, Faulk missed St. Louis' two previous games after suffering a sprained right knee on Oct. 14 against the New York Giants.

On St. Louis' third play from scrimmage, Faulk raced around left end, hurdled a defender and broke off a 71-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career. Faulk appeared reach to break the NFL single-game rushing record of 278 yards by Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals, but coach Mike Martz opted to rest him in the second half.

In Seattle, Shaun Alexander also threatened Dillon's record by gaining 266 yards on 35 carries in the Seahawks' 34-27 victory over Oakland. Alexander's 88-yard scoring run put Seattle in front to stay in the second half.

And in Chicago, Brett Favre passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns to lead Green Bay to its eighth straight win in Chicago, a 20-12 victory over the Bears that moved the Packers into a tie for first place in the NFC Central.

St. Louis owns a 7-1 record while Miami, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Chicago, Green Bay and San Francisco are all at 6-2.

Miami kept the lead in the AFC East by rallying to a 27-24 decision over Indianapolis, Pittsburgh stayed in front in the AFC Central with a 15-12, overtime victory against Cleveland and Philadelphia maintained a lead in the NFC East thanks to a 48-17 whipping of Minnesota.

Elsewhere around the league, New England defeated Buffalo, 21-11; Jacksonville subdued Cincinnati, 30-13; Atlanta got past Dallas, 20-13; the New York Jets coasted by Kansas City, 27-7; Tampa Bay edged Detroit, 20-17; Denver outbattled San Diego, 26-16; and the New York Giants won over Arizona, 17-10.

Tennessee will host Baltimore tonight.

Report: Mark McGwire to retire

ST. LOUIS, Mo., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Mark McGwire, whose prodigious power captivated a generation, reportedly has retired.

ESPN reported Sunday that the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman will not return next season. He walks away from a two-year, $30 million contract extension and leaves after a season in which he batted just .187 with 29 homers in 299 at bats.

"After a considerable discussion with those close to me, I have decided not to sign the extension, as I am unable to perform at a level equal to the salary the organization would be paying me," McGwire said.

"I believe I owe it to the Cardinals and the fans of St. Louis to step aside, so a talented free agent can be brought in as the final piece of what I expect can be a world championship-caliber team."

McGwire established a major-league record for homers in a season with 70 two years ago. That record was eclipsed by the 73 produced by Barry Bonds this year.

Vancouver blasts Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The Vancouver Canucks had enough energy left at the end of a five-game road trip to record their most decisive win of the season Sunday, a 5-0 pounding of the Minnesota Wild.

Five different players scored and Dan Cloutier made 18 saves as the Canucks finished their trek at 2-3-0. They totaled only six goals through the first four games of the nine-day trip.

Defenseman Drake Berehowsky and Henrik Sedin scored their first goals of the season to help give Vancouver a 5-0 lead through two periods.

Enforcer Donald Brashear and Ed Jovanovski also tallied. Brashear scored his fourth goal to move within seven of a career high and Jovanovski added his sixth, which leads all NHL defensemen.

Other NHL results: Edmonton 1, Carolina 1; New York Rangers 3, Montreal 2 in overtime; Dallas 2, Anaheim 2; Chicago 3, San Jose 2 in overtime.

Jordan struggles in setback

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Gary Payton had his fifth double-double in eight games Sunday and forced Michael Jordan into one of the worst shooting days of his career as the Seattle SuperSonics posted a 99-84 victory over the Washington Wizards.

On offense, Payton collected 32 points and 15 assists. On defense, the man known as "The Glove" held Jordan to just 16 points on a nightmarish five-of-26 performance from the field. Jordan missed his first 14 shots.

The points represented a season-low for Jordan in his third comeback. The 10-time scoring champion did contribute 12 rebounds and four assists, but Washington shot a meager 37 percent.

Four others scored in double figures for Seattle, which took control with two extended runs during the third quarter and snapped on a three-game losing streak while finishing a 2-3 eastern road trip.

A dunk by Jerome James with 1:41 to play in the third period gave the SuperSonics a commanding 76-51 lead. Although the Wizards used a 22-4 run to fight within 80-73 midway through the final quarter, they could not get any closer.

It was the fourth straight loss for Washington, which was held to its second-lowest point total of the season.

Other NBA results: Portland 100, Detroit 98; Denver 96, Toronto 85; Los Angeles Lakers 108, Orlando 95.

Elliott ends seven-year drought

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Bill Elliott won his first race since 1994 when he passed teammate Casey Atwood with four laps remaining Sunday to capture the NASCAR Pennzoil Freedom 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Elliott drove a Dodge Intrepid to victory and gave Ray Evernham his first victory as a team owner. Elliott was able to drive underneath Atwood in the third turn. That made Atwood's car a little loose and Elliott was able to make the pass in turn 4.

The victory snapped a 226-race winless streak for the driver from Dawsonville, Ga.

Elliott defeated Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip by 1.420 seconds. Atwood, a Winston Cup rookie, finished third, followed by Jeff Burton and Sterling Marlin.

It was a 1-3-5 finish for Dodge. Waltrip was in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Burton drove a Ford Taurus. Burton and Atwood were involved in a crash on pit road earlier in the race.

The race was marred by a crash on pit road that left three of Ricky Rudd's crew members and a NASCAR official injured. Bobby Burrell was the most serious of the injured, listed in serious condition but conscious at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The collision appeared to have ended any hopes Rudd had of preventing Jeff Gordon from clinching his fourth Winston Cup title in Sunday's race. However, Gordon suffered a pit road mishap on the next pit stop when the Chevrolet driven by Mike Skinner hit Gordon's left front fender, forcing Gordon to make an additional stop and drop him further back in the field.

Rudd was 21st and Gordon 28th, leaving Gordon with a 305-point lead with two races remaining in the battle for the Winston Cup title.

Gordon finished 28th for the second week in a row and can clinch the title by finishing 32nd or better next week in Atlanta or by merely starting the season's final two races.

Belgium wins Fed Cup

MADRID, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, who have vaulted into the top 10 of the WTA rankings this year, teamed Sunday to lift Belgium to its first Fed Cup title.

Clijsters, the world No. 5, routed Elena Dementieva of Russia, 6-0, 6-4, in only 49 minutes to clinch the triumph in Belgium's first trip to the World Group Finals.

Henin, ranked seventh in the world, needed just a minute longer to dismantle Russian Nadia Petrova, 6-0, 6-3, in Sunday's opening singles match.

Clijsters and Henin each enjoyed breakthrough years, claiming three tour titles and making a Grand Slam final apperarance during 2001.

Masters Cup begins today

SYDNEY, Australia, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Australian stars Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter highlight the first day of action today at the Tennis Masters Cup, the final ATP tournament of the season.

Hewitt, the second-seeded U.S. Open champion, plays No. 7 Sebastien Grosjean of France and No. 6 Rafter battles Australian Open champion Andre Agassi of the United States in Newcombe Group play.

The eight players who have qualified for this elite season-ending event are split into two groups, named after Australian tennis legends John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall. Each player participates in three matches, with the two leading players from each group advancing to the elimination semifinals. The winner of the semifinals square off in a best-of-five set final.

The Rosewall Group takes to the court on Tuesday as Kuerten, the top seed and defending champion, faces No. 8 Ivanisevic and fourth seed Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain takes on fifth seed and 1997 finalist Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.

Nebraska moves into No. 1 spot

LINCOLN, Neb., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Miami was able to hold off Boston College Saturday, but still lost its No. 1 ranking in the coaches' football poll released Sunday.

Nebraska (11-0), the top-ranked team in the Bowl Championship Series standings, hurdled Miami with 30 first-place votes, 12 more than last week, and 1,469 points.

Miami (8-0) used a late turnover by Boston College Saturday to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 18 games. The Hurricanes were clinging to a 12-7 lead when Boston College drove deep into Miami territory. But safety Edward Reed returned a lateral for a touchdown with 13 seconds left to complete a bizarre 91-yard scoring play in an 18-7 victory.

Nebraska did not breeze to victory either and even trailed at halftime against Kansas State. But the Cornhuskers turned the momentum with a seven-minute drive on its first possession of the second half and posted a 31-21 win.

The Hurricanes lost 11 first-place votes from 41 to 30 and fell 10 points behind Nebraska.

Florida (8-1) rolled to a 54-17 rout of South Carolina and picked up a second first-place, but remains No. 3 overall. The Gators are just seventh in the BCS ratings.

Oklahoma (9-1), which is No. 3 in the BCS, is fourth in the coaches' poll, followed by Texas (9-1), Tennessee (7-1), and Oregon (9-1).

Brigham Young (10-0), one of three remaining unbeatens in Division I-A, moved up one one spot to No. 8. Maryland (9-1) and Washington State (9-1) completed the top 10.

Mexico to play in World Cup

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Cuauhtemoc Blanco had two goals and an assist Sunday to send Mexico into the 2002 World Cup with a 3-0 blanking of Honduras.

Mexico, which was heavily favored to win the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament, was unable to clinch a spot in next year's event until the final round of matches. The United States and Costa Rica had already wrapped up two of the three berths available from the region, leaving the final spot to be decided between Mexico City and Honduras.

Mexico struggled early in the 10-match tournament, but a coaching change brought new life to the traditional regional power and led to four wins in its last five games.

Honduras would have gone to the World Cup with a win Sunday.

Mexico became the 25th nation to qualify for the 32-team field that will compete next year in Japan and South Korea. All but one of the remaining seven spots will be determined next Wednesday when the second leg of the European qualifying playoffs are held along with the final round of round-robin games in the South American tournament.

The last spot will be determined later this month in a two-game playoff between Australia and the team that finishes fifth in the South American tourney.

The final United States qualifying game, a meaningless contest against Trinidad & Tobago, ended in a 0-0 tie Sunday.

Doyle wins Senior Slam

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Allen Doyle added another achievement to his incredible season Sunday, holding off Tom Watson to win the Senior Slam.

Doyle entered the day with a three-shot lead and ended it two strokes ahead of Watson at 10-under-par 134. He carded his second straight 5-under 67.

Watson finished at 8-under 136 with Bruce Fleisher at 137 and Doug Tewell at 138. The tournament invites the four major winners from the Senior Tour season.

Doyle qualified with a win at the Senior Players Championship in July. He only claimed one other official event this season but had 25 top-10 finishes in 34 starts.

Four straight top-four showings late in the season helped Doyle to a tour-high $2.553 million and the inaugural $1 million Charles Schwab Cup bonus, which he donated to charity.

Baseball's post-season honors begin today

NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The distribution of baseball's post-season awards will begin today with both the American and National League Rookie of the Year honors being handed out.

Perhaps the most overwhelming favorite for any of the awards this year is Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, who is expected to run away with the voting for AL Rookie of the Year.

Later in the week, the Cy Young Award and Manager of the Year honors will be handed out. MVP awards will announced next week.

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