Selig reports little progress
NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday night there were still major differences separating negotiators as they try to avoid a shutdown of the sport.
"The same issues are unresolved," Selig said as represenatives of the owners and players met late into the night.
"It has been constructive and both sides are reaching out. But I can't tell you we are any closer. I think only time will tell. We will know more tomorrow."
Selig flew from Milwaukee to New York Wednesday amid what had been growing optimism that a work stoppage could be avoided.
"We hope to have another constructive 24 to 36 hours," Selig said when he arrived at the site of the negotiations.
But some of that optimism was put on hold late in the evening when he was unable to report any substantial progress on the key issues of a luxury tax and revenue sharing.
The players have set a 1 p.m. EDT Friday deadline to reach a bargaining agreement.
"I still think we're going to get something done," said Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine, chief player representative for the National League. "I just think we're all too close on too much of this to let it fall apart. I believe that."
"I hold onto the fact that having Mr. Selig in town may make a difference," said Boston Red Sox first baseman Tony Clark. "Having him sit down at the table and being able to make the decisions that need to be made in a more timely fashion may help the process over the course of these last 48 hours."
New York Yankees player representative Mike Stanton said, however, that there would be no extension of the stike deadline set by the union.
"A deadline is a deadline for a reason," Stanton said prior to New York's meeting with the Boston Red Sox. "We have had plenty of time to get something done. Hopefully, we will be able to finish this thing off. But if it comes down to it, there will be no extension."
With the deadline approaching, teams were told that if they had long trips to make prior to Friday's games, they should make them. Only in the event of a short commute were teams given permission to wait until Friday morning to travel.
Serena, Sampras win at U.S. Open
NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Serena Williams and Pete Sampras advanced at the U.S. Open Wednesday while fifth seed Jelena Dokic became the first major upset victim, falling in a second-round match to Elena Bovina of Russia, 6-3, 6-2.
The 19-year-old from Yugoslavia played disinterested and distracted tennis, sometimes failing to run for shots or stabbing halfheartedly at a ball. She committed 29 unforced errors and lost her serve four times during the hour-long encounter.
Third seed Tommy Haas of Germany almost followed Dokic out the early exit door but rallied for a 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph over David Sanchez of Spain.
Haas' injured right arm manage to hold up through the three-hour, 23-minute match, but both players received medical treatment.
Fifth seed Tim Henman of Britain, who has an ailing right shoulder, also cruised into the second round. Henman routed Finnish qualifier Tuomas Ketola, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1, in 86 minutes.
Showing some of his old form, four-time champion Sampras cruised past Albert Portas of Spain, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, in a first-round match.
Williams, the No. 1 seed, advanced to the third round with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Russian teen Dinara Safina.
Dokic has had an excellent year, but injuries and off-court incidents appear to have weighed her down. The winner of two titles and a quarterfinalist at the French Open and Wimbledon, she performed well this summer while playing with a hamstring injury.
The Wednesday night session was disrupted by rain. Plan was suspended with Lindsay Davenport holding a 6-4, 2-2 lead over Petra Mandula of Hungary.
Oakland extends winning streak
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Barry Zito tossed seven innings and seven different players drove in runs Wednesday night as the Oakland Athletics trounced the Kansas City Royals, 7-1, for their 15th consecutive victory.
It is the longest winning streak in Oakland history.
Staked to a 6-0 lead in the first inning, Zito (19-5) retired the first 16 Royals he faced before Neifi Perez smacked a single to center field. The lefthander, who is 8-2 with a 1.69 ERA since the All-Star break, allowed one run and four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
The 15-game winning streak is the longest in the majors since Seattle captured 15 in a row last season from May 23-June 8. The 1931 Philadelphia A's hold the longest winning streak in franchise history, claiming 17 straight from May 5-25.
Other American League results: Chicago 8, Toronto 0; New York 7, Boston 0; Cleveland 2, Detroit 1; Minnesota 2, Seattle 1; Texas 5, Baltimore 3.
Stephenson returns in style
CINCINNATI, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Garrett Stephenson tossed four scoreless innings in his first start since May 29 and Miguel Cairo went three for four with an RBI Wednesday night as the St. Louis Cardinals rolled to a 9-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Activated from the disabled list before the game, Stephenson allowed two hits while walking three and striking out two.
The righthander, who missed nearly three months after undergoing surgery on his left hamstring, threw 74 pitches before being lifted in favor of lefthander Steve Kline (2-1), who yielded a hit and walked two in 1 1/3 innings to gain the win.
Cairo was instrumental in the third inning, ripping an RBI double and scoring on Mike DiFelice's single to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead. The utilityman, who is five for eight with four runs scored in the first two games of the three-game series, also singled and scored in the eighth and added a base hit in the second.
Pinch-hitter Kerry Robinson added a three-run double in the eighth for St. Louis, which maintained its 3 1/2-game lead over Houston in the National League Central.
Other National League results: florida 7, New York 3; Pittsburgh 1, Atlanta 0 in 10 innings; Milwaukee 5, Chicago 1; Houston 2, San Diego 1; Montreal 6, Philadelphia 3; San Francisco 9, Colorado 1; Los Angeles 1, Arizona 0.
World Basketball Championships open Thursday
INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The World Basketball Championships come to the United States for the first time Thursday with the rest of the planet hoping for another first -- a loss by NBA players in international competition.
The absence of true superstars on Team USA and the growing influence of foreign players in the NBA has created the possibility for an enormous upset.
Yugoslavia and perhaps Argentina are given the best chance of toppling the Americans and will try to do so with multiple NBA players on their rosters.
The Americans will have 12 NBA players on their team. However, they are a long way from being the 12 best players.
Guided by Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl, Team USA has to do more than play well. It has to win, preferably by a lot. NBA players have never lost a game in international competition, although there were two close calls at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
"There's a lot of pressure to it but it's also a great honor," Karl said.
Brady signs contract extension
FOXBORO, Mass., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- New England quarterback Tom Brady, who started the 2001 season as a third-stringer and ended it as the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, reached agreement on a contract extension Wednesday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The agreement came on the eve of New England's final preseason game against the Washington Redskins.
The Patriots officially committed to the 24-year-old Brady as their quarterback when they shipped veteran Drew Bledsoe to Buffalo in April.
Brady wrote one of the most improbable stories in NFL history last season when he led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl title.
A sixth-round pick in 2000, Brady went into training camp last year as the third-string quarterback, beat out Damon Huard for the backup job in the preseason and then replaced an injured Bledsoe as the starter after the Patriots lost their first two games.
Under Brady, the Patriots went 11-3, won the AFC East and beat Oakland and Pittsburgh in the playoffs before pulling off a 20-17 upset off St. Louis in the Super Bowl.
Blue-Gray Classic called off
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Blue-Gray Classic, a college football All-Star Game played on Christmas Day for almost a quarter century, has been called off this year because organizers said they were unable to find a title sponsor.
Charles Jones, the executive director of the game, said the game was unable to meet a Wednesday deadline imposed by ABC Sports, which has broadcast the game since 1985, to acquire the necessary funding.
Jones said the Montgomery Lions Club, which runs the game, was able to find secondary sponsors but not a primary one. He said that $800,000 is necessary to put on the contest and make a charitable contribution.
Sparks go after another title
NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Sparks begin their quest for a second straight title Thursday night when they meet the New York Liberty in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
New York and Los Angeles played in the league's inaugural game in 1997 and have staged a nice rivalry over the years, splitting 14 meetings. The teams have never met in the postseason.
The rivalry between the teams was epitomized by the last meeting on July 18 in which New York posted an 72-59 victory that was Los Angeles' last road loss.
The Sparks have had a smooth route to the finals, sweeping Seattle and Utah. They enter the series with a seven-game winning streak.
Revolution keeps playoff hopes alive
FOXBORO, Mass., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Taylor Twellman snapped his four-game goal scoring drought in spectacular fashion Wednesday night as the New England Revolution continued their late season push to qualify for the postseason by beating the Colorado Rapids, 3-1.
Twellman scored two goals and the Revolution pulled within four points of the MetroStars and the Kansas City Wizards in the playoff race. It was New England's first home win against the Rapids since April 26, 1997.
New England got on the board in the 27th minute on Twellman's 16th goal of the season. Defender Joey Franchino carried the ball up the left wing before finding Twellman 30 yards from goal.
The University of Maryland product spun to the middle of the field on Rapids defender Rick Titus and hit a right-footed shot from the penalty arc that deflected off Rapids defender Robin Fraser and bounced past goalkeeper David Kramer.
Chiefs sign Ryan Sims
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Kansas City Chiefs' bitter contract dispute with defensive tackle Ryan Sims ended Wednesday when the first-round pick signed a seven-year contract.
Financial terms were not dislosed.
The sixth overall pick out of North Carolina, Sims missed the Chiefs' three exhibition contests and has 11 days to get ready for the club's opener at Cleveland.
Things got so heated in the negotiations that Sims, along with seventh overall pick Bryant McKinnie of the Minnesota Vikings, requested an investigation into possible collusion between their clubs.
49ers end exhibition campaign with win
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Tim Rattay ran for one score and threw for another in the opening period Wednesday night as the San Francisco 49ers opened the final week of the NFL exhibition schedule with a 27-3 decision over the San Diego Chargers.
Rattay scored on a two-yard run midway through the first period and then hit James Jordan with a three-yard scoring pass with five seconds left in the quarter after a San Diego turnover.
The backup San Francisco quarterback completed 16 of 21 passes for 158 yards.
The 49ers built a 24-3 halftime lead on an 11-yard touchdown run by Jamal Robertson and a 25-yard field goal by Jose Cortez with 10 seconds left in the second period.
San Diego's only points came on Steve Christie's 39-yard field goal in the second period.