In Sports from United Press International

Aug. 10, 2002 at 12:48 AM
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Report: Players close to setting strike date

NEW YORK, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A baseball strike appeared to be within striking distance, according to published reports Friday.

The New York Times said the Major League Baseball players' union would set a strike date at its meeting in Chicago on Monday unless it reaches a deal with owners on a new collective bargaining agreement.

No strike date has been specified, the report said, but it most likely would be in the last 10 days of August.

"I hope they don't because I do understand how fans feel, andI'm concerned about it," Commissioner Bud Selig said.

A deal by Monday does not seem likely with the sides still discussing revenue sharing, a luxury tax and a worldwide draft.

The Times quoted an anonymous source "familiar to the union's thinking," who said a deal struck by Monday is "not out of the realm of possibility."

Rogers flirts with perfect game

CLEVELAND, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Kenny Rogers flirted with perfection for seven innings before settling for the victory Friday night after Rafael Palmeiro led off the ninth with a homer to lift the Texas Rangers past the Cleveland Indians, 3-2.

Rogers (12-6), who fired a perfect game against the California Angels in 1994, lost his perfect game and nearly the contest in the eighth.

Jim Thome led off with a walk before Milton Bradley ripped a clean double into left field. Travis Fryman struck out and Ricky Gutierrez doubled off the top of the left field wall to score both runners, tying the game, 2-2.

Rogers regrouped and induced Karim Garcia to pop out and Einar Diaz grounded out to shortstop.

Palmeiro got Rogers the win by hitting the first pitch from Mark Wohlers (1-2) over the fence in right field for his 30th homer. Palmeiro became the 10th player in major league history to hit at least 30 home runs in eight different seasons.

Francisco Cordero earned his fourth save with a perfect ninth.

Within days after Rogers pitched his perfect game in 1994, the players went on strike and the World Series was eventually wiped out. His brush with perfection Friday night came as the players again are threatening to walk off the job.

Other American League results: Toronto 5, Anaheim 4; Detroit 3, Baltimore 0; Minnesota 5, Boston 4; Chicago 10, Seattle 2; Kansas City 5, Tampa Bay 4 in 12 innings.

Cardinals continue to struggle

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Al Leiter combined with two relievers on a five-hitter and the New York Mets scored the go-ahead run without a hit in the sixth inning Friday night en route to a 2-1 triumph over the reeling St. Louis Cardinals.

Since signing a two-year, $20 million contract extension on July 24, Leiter (10-8) failed to record a decision in two starts, allowing eight runs over 12 innings. But the 36-year-old lefthander made just one mistake against the Cardinals -- a solo homer by Eduardo Perez in the second inning.

Leiter did not allow another runner to get past second base and yielded five hits over seven innings with three walks and two strikeouts.

David Weathers struck out one in a hitless eighth and Armando Benitez worked around a two-out walk to pinch hitter Jim Edmonds in the bottom of the ninth for his 27th save.

Andy Benes went five innings for St. Louis before giving way to Mike Matthews (2-1), who got two quick outs in the sixth in a 1-1 game. After walking Roger Cedeno, Matthews had him picked off but made an errant throw that enabled the speedster to race to third.

Light-hitting Rey Ordonez was walked intentionally before Matthews skipped his next pitch past catcher Mike Matheny for the decisive wild pitch.

Other National League results: Cincinnati 12, San Diego 10; Montreal 11, Milwaukee 4; Colorado 2, Chicago 0; Atlanta 6, Houston 5 in 13 innings; Los Angeles 7, Philadelphia 6.

Hewitt wins showdown with Agassi

CINCINNATI, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Lleyton Hewitt may have established himself as the top hardcourt player in the world in a tune-up for the U.S. Open.

The top-seeded Hewitt recorded five service breaks and battled for a 7-5, 6-3 victory over sixth seed Andre Agassi Friday night to reach the semifinals of the Tennis Masters Series-Cincinnati.

The Australian will take on Fernando Gonzales of Chile, who eliminated Andy Roddick Friday night, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (8-6).

Earlier Friday, 16th seed Carlos Moya of Spain converted four of five break point opportunities en route to a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 victory over Germany's Rainer Schuettler.

Moya's semifinal opponent will be compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero, the eighth seed, who got past Australia's Wayne Arthurs, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

Hewitt and Agassi entered their quarterfinal with the best hardcourt records this year on the ATP Tour. But the world No. 1, who also beat Agassi in the San Jose hardcourt final in March, has taken both two meetings in 2002.

Hewitt is one of the few players with a winning record against Agassi, opening a 4-2 advantage in their lifetime series.

Serena's winning streak halted

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The 21-match winning streak of Serena Williams came to a stunning end Friday.

No. 12 seed Chanda Rubin shocked the world No. 1, recording a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 triumph to reach the semifinals of the J.P. Morgan Chase Open.

During her run, Williams captured the Rome, French Open and Wimbledon titles, dropping a mere three sets along the way.

Rubin avenged a straight-sets loss to Williams in the round of 16 at the All-England Club.

The 20-year-old Williams, who also captured titles at Scottsdale and Miami earlier this year, had not been beaten since falling to Belgium's Justine Henin in the final of the Berlin claycourt event.

Williams won here in 1999 and 2000 but squandered seven match points in a quarterfinal loss to Monica Seles a year ago.

Rubin will face fourth seed Jelena Dokic in Saturday's semifinals after the Yugoslavian eased past Italy's Rita Grande, 6-4, 6-1.

Woods takes big lead

GRAND BLANC, Mich., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods, with even his bad shots leading to success, turned in a 9-under 63 Friday that vaulted him four shots in front after two rounds of the Buick Open.

Woods, playing in his first regular PGA Tour event in 11 weeks, completed 36 holes at the Warwick Hills Country Club course in 14-under 130. Since playing The Memorial Tournament in May, Woods' only appearances have come at the U.S. Open and British Open.

Tied for second at 134 were Scott Verplank, who will be one of Woods' teammates next month at the Ryder Cup, and J.J. Henry. The lead could have been larger. He missed four makeable birdie putts on the back nine, including an eight-footer at the 18th.

The round was highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 16th. Woods hit a tee shot to the right of the fairway, which drew an expletive from the world's No. 1 ranked player. But he was still able to slash a 2-iron out of the rough and onto the green, eight feet away.

Woods, whose run at an unprecedented Grand Slam ended last month at the British Open, is preparing for next week's PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota. He will try to become the first player ever to win three major titles in the same year twice.

Bledsoe debut ruined in Buffalo

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Akili Smith helped take some of the luster away from Drew Bledsoe's debut for his new team Friday night as the Cincinnati Bengals downed the Buffalo Bills, 24-17.

Acquired in the offseason from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots for a 2003 first-round draft pick, Bledsoe was brought to the Bills to be the franchise quarterback the club has been missing since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.

Trying to shake off some of the rust after he was supplanted as the starter by Tom Brady last season, Bledsoe looked good for his new team, going nine of 11 for 136 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.

Bledsoe had a 31-yard touchdown pass to Eric Moulds on the game's opening drive and found Peerless Price from 12 yards early in the second quarter before departing.

A bust since being selected third overall in the 1999 draft, Smith played the second half and helped the Bengals erase a 17-14 deficit.

Smith completed 10 of 17 passes for 72 yards, including a six-yard touchdown to Sean Brewer late in the third quarter that gave the Bengals a 21-17 lead.

Other NFL exhibition results: Atlanta 23, Jacksonville 13; Baltimore 12, Detroit 6; Dallas 20, Oakland 6.

Sol nears playoff spot

MIAMI, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Sheri Sam scored 18 points and Betty Lennox added all of her 12 points during a second-half run Friday night as the Miami Sol rallied for a 65-59 victory over the Cleveland Rockers.

Miami started the night one game behind Indiana for the fourth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Sol capitalized on the Fever's loss in Detroit and dominated the second half for their second straight win.

Miami faces Indiana on Sunday in a game that will decide the season series between the teams.

Cleveland had a 36-25 cushion after Ann Wauters buried a jumper with 17:39 remaining. But Miami scored 25 of the next 35 points led by Lennox, who made four three-pointers during the burst.

Sam scored seven points and Pollyanna Johns Kimbrough added four to fuel the run, which gave the Sol a 51-46 lead with 6:28 to go.

Other WNBA results: New York 74, Washington 66; Detroit 55, Indiana 54; Charlotte 68, Minnesota 62; Los Angeles 85, Utah 77; Seattle 83, Portland 74.

Koch, Kung share lead

TURNBERRY, Scotland, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- With temperatures in the 50s and wind swirling around Turnberry Golf Club Friday, Carin Koch grabbed a share of the lead with Candie Kung of Taiwan midway through the Women's British Open.

Koch avoided the horrendous morning weather -- which forced fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam to miss the cut -- and shot her second straight 4-under-par 68 to match Kung at 8-under 136.

Kung, the first-round leader who opened with a 7-under 65 on her 21st birthday, had three birdies and three bogeys, including one at the 18th that forced her to settle for a 71.

Sorenstam, the top female player in the world who won six of her first 14 starts this season, could not control anything. She followed a 73 with a 77 and missed the cut for the first time in 75 events.

Some of the other big names remained in contention. Australian star Karrie Webb had two eagles en route to a 71 and was tied for third at 7-under 137 with Tina Barrett, rookie Beth Bauer and Paula Marti of Spain.

Rudd captures NASCAR pole

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- His long-term future may be uncertain, but Ricky Rudd secured a bright short-term future Friday by capturing the pole at the NASCAR Winston Cup Sirius Satellite at the Glen.

The next-to-last driver to turn in his qualifying run on the 11-turn road course, Rudd knocked Michael Waltrip off the pole with a top lap of 122.696 miles per hour in a Ford Taurus.

It was Rudd's third pole in as many years with Robert Yates Racing, which appears unlikely to retain him for next season. His last came in 2001, when he won the Pocono 500.

New contract set for Barnett

BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The University of Colorado reportedly has rewarded Coach Gary Barnett for leading the Buffaloes to the Big 12 Conference football championship last season.

The Rocky Mountain News reported Friday that Barnett has signed a five-year contract extension that will made him the

third-highest paid coach in the Big 12. The newspaper said the

deal could be worth up to $8 million.

A university spokesman would not confirm the signing.

Barnett, who originally signed a five-year contract when he was hired in 1999, has posted a 20-16-0 record in his three seasons as Colorado coach.

The Buffaloes posted a 10-3-0 record last season, a seven-game improvement from their 3-8-0 mark in 2000.

Colorado clinched a berth in the Big 12 championship game with a shocking 62-36 victory over Nebraska, then won the title with a 39-37 win over Texas.

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