Expos shock Braves again
ATLANTA, April 4 (UPI) -- Javier Vazquez and three relievers combined on a nine-hitter Thursday night, allowing Montreal to complete a three-game sweep of Atlanta, 4-0.
Brad Wilkerson contributed a two-run homer. Montreal throttled one of the National League's most productive lineups. The Expos outscored the Braves, 17-2, in the series and the finale might have been Atlanta's most frustrating outing of the three.
Vazquez (1-0) scattered seven hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, striking out five. The veteran righthander improved to 5-2 lifetime at Turner Field and showed no effects of a strained right calf that limited him at the end of spring training.
Scott Stewart allowed a hit over 1 1/3 innings and T.J. Tucker and Joey Eischen worked an inning apiece.
Russ Ortiz allowed four runs and five hits in six innings in his Braves' debut. He walked two and struck out two but was victimized by Wilkerson's two-run blast to right in the second.
The Braves are 0-3 for the first time since 1988 and have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 1992.
Other National League results: Pittsburgh 7, Cincinnati 5; St. Louis 6, Milwaukee 4; Florida 8, Philadelphia 3; Colorado 10, Houston 5; Chicago 6, New York 3; San Diego 6, Los Angeles 1.
Red Sox pound Devil Rays
The Red Sox pounded Nick Bierbrodt to take three of four games in the series.
Casey Fossum (1-0) recorded the win, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. The Red Sox won the final three games of the series after dropping the season opener Monday.
Bierbrodt (0-1) surrendered seven runs in four innings in his first start since giving up one run in six innings in the 2001 season finale against the New York Yankees.
He struggled last spring and was optioned to Class AAA Durham before the start of the season. The 24-year-old lefthander was demoted to Class A Charleston and made his first minor league start of the season on June 5. Less than two days later, he was shot twice while on the passenger side of an automobile at a drive-thru restaurant.
Bierbrodt suffered wounds in his right arm and chest and still has both bullets lodged in his liver. He returned to pitching nearly four months later and earned a spot in the 2003 rotation with a solid spring.
Bierbrodt blanked the Red Sox in the first two innings, but was tagged for five runs in the third. A wild pitch on a strikeout of Garciaparra triggered the big inning.
Other American League results: Minnesota 3, Detroit 0; Kansas City 12, Chicago 6; Seattle 7, Oakland 6 in 11 innings; Cleveland 3, Baltimore 0.
Senators clinch Eastern home ice
WASHINGTON, April 4 (UPI) -- Peter Schaefer scored twice and rookie Jason Spezza had three assists to lead Ottawa to a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.
Ottawa claimed home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Goalless since Dec. 30, Schaefer opened the scoring 1:43 into the game before completing his fifth career two-goal game with 5:17 left in the second.
Selected second overall in the 2001 draft, Spezza set up three of Ottawa's first four tallies for his first career three-point effort.
Daniel Alfredsson also scored twice for the Senators, who can become the first Canadian-based team to win the Presidents' Trophy since the 1988-89 Calgary Flames with a win on Saturday at Toronto.
Robert Lang netted the lone goal for the Capitals, whose loss clinched the Southeast Division title for Tampa Bay.
Other NHL results: Boston 1, New Jersey 1; Toronto 2, Minnesota 1; Detroit 5, New York Islanders 2; Chicago 6, St. Louis 4.
Lakers down Dallas
DALLAS, April 4 (UPI) -- Shaquille O'Neal produced 31 points Thursday night, giving the Los Angeles Lakers a 100-89 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Dallas had its lead over San Antonio cut to a half game in the race for the Western Conference title.
The game was deadlocked at the half, but O'Neal helped the Lakers to a third-quarter surge. He added 14 rebounds.
Other NBA results: Atlanta 91, Washington 89.
DiMarco leads BellSouth Classic
ATLANTA, April 4 (UPI) -- With the firm greens making birdies hard to find, Chris DiMarco earned a one-stroke lead Thursday at the BellSouth Classic.
DiMarco had six birdies and a bogey for a 5-under 67, using the claw putting grip that helped revitalize his career. He has been one of the best putters on tour since adopting the style, ranking 10th this year.
The way he putts came in handy Thursday at Sugarloaf, which has been compared to Augusta National for its hard, fast greens that normally allow the cream to rise to the top.
Defending champion Retief Goosen headed a group tied for second at 4-under 68.
Billy Andrade, Bob Burns, rookie Aaron Barber and journeyman Brad Lardon all shot 68 as well. Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia, Lee Janzen and Paul Azinger were among those shooting a 69. Englishman John Morgan also carded a 69, but he had a share of the lead before closing with a double-bogey at the ninth hole.
Only 35 of the 137 players to tee off broke par. Phil Mickelson was not among them. The world's fourth-ranked golfer settled for a 73.
Parcells highlights NFL schedule
NEW YORK, April 4 (UPI) -- The NFL released its complete 2003 schedule Thursday, and many of the highlights involve Dallas Coach Bill Parcells.
Parcells, who had successful tenures with the New York Giants, New York Jets, and New England, was lured out of retirement by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Now Parcells will face all three of his former employers on the road.
The first road game for Parcells will be Sept. 15, when the Cowboys play the New York Giants in a Monday night affair. They will face the Jets in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sept. 28, and will travel to New England on Nov. 16 for a Sunday night game with the Patriots.
Another reunion involving the Cowboys will be Oct. 5 at Texas Stadium, when the Cowboys host Emmitt Smith and the Arizona Cardinals. Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, was released by the Cowboys this offseason.
The NFL released part of its 256-game schedule earlier this year. The opening game will be Thursday, Sept. 4, when the Jets visit the Washington Redskins.
The first Monday night game has the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first regular-season game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 8.
The AFC champion Oakland Raiders will open their season on Sunday, Sept. 7 with a night game at Tennessee.
Five coaches will make their debuts with their new teams on Sept. 7, led by Parcells, who debuts in a home game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Marvin Lewis debuts for the Cincinnati Bengals at home against Denver while Steve Mariucci and the Detroit Lions face Arizona. The Jacksonville Jaguars and new coach Jack Del Rio open on the road against the Carolina Panthers and Dennis Erickson of San Francisco opens at home against the Chicago Bears.
Howland heads to UCLA
LOS ANGELES, April 4 (UPI) -- Ben Howland, who turned the Pittsburgh Panthers into one of the best teams in the country, has been lured back to the West Coast.
He has accepted the position of basketball coach at UCLA. The 45-year-old Howland replaces Steve Lavin, who was fired last month after the Bruins endured their first losing season since 1948.
A native of Southern California, Howland has a deep respect for the traditions at UCLA built by legendary coach John Wooden. Last week, he called the vacancy his "dream job."
"Having grown up in Southern California as a Bruin fan, watching the television replays of the games was special for me," he said. "To now be the head coach of this program is something I dreamed about, but never thought possible."
Howland made himself a prime candidate for the job by leading Pittsburgh to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances for the first time in school history. The Panthers lost to Marquette, 77-74, in the Midwest Region semifinals last week.
Last year, Howland signed a contract extension worth a reported $5.9 million over seven seasons, but the deal included a buyout clause.
The Los Angeles Times reported that UCLA offered Howland a deal worth $850,000 a year, plus incentives, but he likely will make far more in endorsements and media appearances.
Ron Artest fined by NBA
NEW YORK, April 4 (UPI) -- Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest was fined $20,000 by the NBA Thursday for directing obscene gestures toward fans at Gund Arena.
The incident came during Wednesday night's 103-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It was the latest disciplinary action for Artest, who gestured with both hands with 7:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. Shortly after pushing Ricky Davis out of bounds, Artest was hit by a thrown coin.
Artest, who was given a technical foul for the shove, avoided his sixth suspension of the season.
The defensive stalwart already has missed 12 games for suspensions due to bad behavior and flagrant fouls.
World Cup of Hockey to return
TORONTO, April 4 (UPI) -- The World Cup of Hockey, an international event that has not been held since 1996, will return in the summer of 2004.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Thursday that the eight-nation tournament will be staged Aug. 30-Sept. 14, with games being played in four European countries and three American cities.
The event begins at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, where the Finns will host the Czech Republic. The United States, which won the only other World Cup, opens with Russia on Sept. 3 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Defending Olympic gold medalist Canada and reigning world champion Slovakia will join the United States and Russia in the North American pool. The Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Sweden make up the European pool.
Other venues will be Globe Arena in Stockholm; Cologne Arena in Cologne, Germany; Saska Arena in Prague, Czech Republic; Bell Centre in Montreal; and Air Canada Centre in Toronto.