In Sports from United Press International

May 26, 2003 at 11:18 PM
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Cardinals lose Vina up to 12 weeks

ST. LOUIS, May 27 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to be without second baseman Fernando Vina for up to 12 weeks with a torn right hamstring.

Vina suffered the injury while running to first base in Sunday's 8-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. An MRI on Monday revealed a complete tear of the medial hamstring tendon on the inside of the thigh.

"He's looking at several weeks of rehabilitation," said Cardinals team physician Dr. George Paletta. "Realistically, he's looking at 6-to-12 weeks. He will be re-evaluated in the next 48 hours. At that point, we will decide on surgery or rehabilitation."

The Cardinals did not immediately place Vina on the disabled list. Miguel Cairo started at second in Monday's 10-5 win over Houston. He went 2-for-5 and scored twice.

"Everything was starting to come together," said Vina, who had batted .345 over his previous 14 games. "It's just bad luck. When I fell on the ground, I couldn't control my leg, so I knew it was bad. I tried to put myself up and I couldn't."

The two-time Gold Glove winner is hitting .262 this season. In May, he was batting .310, with 11 extra-base hits and a .529 slugging average.

"That's a real tough break for him and us," said St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa. "He was looking so good at the plate. When you lose a guy, you're reminded of his value. People talk about Fernando struggling at the top of the lineup, but he's the best guy we have, and he's proven he's capable of igniting us."

Sixers coach Larry Brown resigns

PHILADELPHIA, May 27 (UPI) -- Larry Brown resigned Monday as coach and vice president of basketball operations of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Brown spent six seasons with the Sixers - his longest tenure with any team in his 31 years of coaching. In Philadelphia, the man nicknamed "Mr. Fix-it," turned a sagging franchise into a perennial contender.

"We had a good run and it's time to let someone else in here and give a fresh look," Brown said. "I said I didn't want to be here and set this franchise back. But I believe I've taken this team as far as I can, and it's time for change."

Brown's future with the team had been up in the air since the Sixers were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

As early as last week, Sixers Chairman Ed Snider told the Philadelphia Daily News that his team needed to "move on" if Brown had lost his enthusiasm for coaching the 76ers.

"He did a terrific job with the team, and helped restore the 76ers as one of the best organizations in basketball, and 76ers fans everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude," Snider said.

The 62-year-old Brown leaves the Sixers with two years remaining on his contract. Snider said at Monday's press conference that Brown is free to pursue other jobs and would not seek compensation.

Brown did not hide his feelings when it came to coaching again.

"There's a lot of jobs out there and I just left a great one," Brown said. "I have to sit back with my family and see what's best. I am pumped about coaching. My passion for coaching is still there."

Enshrined to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, Brown is the only coach in NBA history to lead six different teams to the playoffs and has over 1,000 wins in the ABA, NBA and the college ranks.

Brown's resume also includes stints with the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Carolina Cougars of the ABA.

He also spent five seasons at Kansas, winning the NCAA title in 1988, and coached at UCLA for two years.

The crowning achievement for Brown in Philadelphia came in 2001, when he was named NBA Coach of the Year after guiding the Sixers to the NBA Finals for the first time in 18 seasons.

In 1997, Brown took over a floundering franchise in Philadelphia. After going 31-51 in his first season, Brown built the franchise into a contender and amassed a 255-205 record with the Sixers, including five straight playoff appearances.

Overall in 20 seasons as an NBA coach, Brown has compiled a 879-685 record. His career record as a coach is an impressive 1,285-853.

Rumors of Brown departing Philadelphia occurred in the past. In 2000, Brown nearly left the Sixers to take the job at North Carolina. He has said in the past that former North Carolina Coach Dean Smith offered him the job, but was overruled by school administrators.

Brown already has been mentioned as a candidate to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are expected to select high school phenom LeBron James with the first pick in April's draft. Jeff Van Gundy also is a candidate to coach in Cleveland.

Brown also has a busy summer ahead as he will coach Team USA in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico this August. The U.S. is competing to win a spot in the 2004 Olympics.

If Brown does not take another NBA job, his coaching status for coaching Team USA is not expected to be affected.

As a player, Brown was a member of the 1964 gold medal U.S. Olympic basketball team.

Nowitzki doubtful for Game Five

DALLAS, May 27 (UPI) -- If Coach Don Nelson has his way, All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki will not play Tuesday night against San Antonio in Game Five of the Western Conference finals.

Nowitzki was sidelined Sunday night because of a sprained left knee, and without him, the Mavericks lost to the Spurs, 102-95, in Game Four.

He was injured in the fourth quarter of Friday night's loss, but spent a great deal of time Sunday trying to convince Nelson that he could play. He was not happy when Nelson shut him down.

"I'm just 24 years old, and hopefully I've got a lot of basketball in front of me," Nowitzki said. "The risk would have been just a little too high, so I understand that. It only makes sense if you're 100 percent. If you're not, you're only going to hurt your team. I want to be pain-free, so Tuesday we'll see how it feels."

Nelson is expected to make a final decision about Nowitzki's playing status some point on Monday.

"I think Dirk has a chance to play in the next game," Nelson said. "I want to look at him and talk to him and see how he feels. I want to watch Dirk move and see if I think he'll be able to play in Game 5."

Game Five will be played at SBC Center in San Antonio, and the Spurs can win the series with a victory. Their lead at the moment, three games to one.

Serena, Agassi advance at French Open tennis

PARIS, May 27 (UPI) -- Defending champion Serena Williams needed just 54 minutes Monday to advance to the second round of the French Open.

The women's world No. 1 and current holder of all the grand slam titles thrashed Barbara Rittner of Germany, 6-2, 6-1.

She broke Rittner in the third game with a backhand dropshot on the line that gave her a 2-1 lead. Rittner hit back immediately to level the set at 2-2, but Williams' great returns and overall power proved too much, and the German managed to win just one more game.

Williams was so dominant in the second set that she needed only 10 minutes to grab a 4-0 lead, and eventually wrapped up the match by breaking Rittner's serve at love.

The 21-year-old American began her glorious run a year ago at the French, then claimed Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and this year's Australian Open.

She beat her older sister, Venus, in all four finals.

"It takes a new level for me to be able to win another Grand Slam, and obviously I would like to win here again," Serena said. "A lot of players believe that I am the player to beat in any tournament, but that is why I play tennis -- to be remembered."

Also in the women's top 16 seeds, No. 16 Ai Sugiyama (16) beat Virginia Ruano Pascual, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

On the men's side, No. 5 Roger Federer was upset by unseeded Luis Horna, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 7-6 (7-3); tenth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand was knocked off by Dominik Hrbaty, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5; and No. 11 Rainer Schuettler, the Australian Open runner-up, beat Cecil Mamiit, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Horna, who was routed by Federer in Miami only two months ago, won his first Grand Slam match in his third attempt. The 22-year-old from Lima immediately declared the victory his career highlight.

Meanwhile, second seed and 1999 winner Andre Agassi opened with an easy 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Karol Beck of Slovakia in 95 minutes.

Agassi, 33, making his 15th appearance at the French, has a chance at a Grand Slam himself after destroying the field at Melbourne for his eighth career major.

No. 4 Carlos Moya of Spain, the 1998 champion, battled past lucky loser Filippo Volandri of Italy, 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, dispatched Julien Boutter of France, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Also, No. 13 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic cruised past French wild card Julien Benneteau, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; and qualifier Galo Blanco of Spain upended countryman and two-time French runner-up, No. 16 Alex Corretja, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5.

United States awarded Women's World Cup

CHICAGO, May 27 (UPI) -- FIFA awarded the 2003 Women's World Cup to the United States on Monday.

FIFA, world soccer's governing body, made the decision to move the tournament out of China due to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the Asian country.

"I would like to sincerely thank those national associations that declared an interest in organizing the FIFA Women's World Cup 2003 in such trying circumstances," said FIFA President Joseph Blatter. "The Women's World Cup in 1999 was so successful that FIFA is delighted to see the event return to the United States.

The tournament is expected to be held along the original timetable of Sept. 23-Oct. 11. So far, no stadiums have been officially designated for the tournament. But the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., has been mentioned as a possible site for the final game.

In 1999, the Women's World Cup enjoyed enormous, drawing a total of 660,159 spectators for 32 matches, including a sold out finale at the Rose Bowl. The tournament and the subsequent U.S. victory in the final proved that women's sports could find an audience.

FIFA undoubtedly took that history into consideration in awarding the event to the United States, taking the extraordinary step of suspending a regulation which prevents a tournament from returning to the same country in consecutive competitions.

Clemens delayed in bid for 300th victory

NEW YORK, May 27 (UPI) -- Boston spoiled Roger Clemens' first bid at 300 victories Monday as the Red Sox posted an 8-4 triumph over the New York Yankees.

Seeking to become the first pitcher to reach 300 career wins since Nolan Ryan accomplished the feat on July 31, 1990, Clemens labored through 5 2/3 innings. After cruising through the first inning, the 40-year-old righthander struggled putting batters away and was forced to throw a season-high 133 pitches.

Clemens (6-3) allowed eight runs and 10 hits - also season highs. He walked two, struck out nine and surrendered just one extra-base hit - a double to Manny Ramirez in the second inning that led to a run - but repeatedly failed to retire batters after getting ahead. Boston registered eight two-strike hits against the New York starter, many of them costly.

With the game virtually sold out more than a week in advance and Clemens having more than 50 family members and invited guests on hand, the Yankees waited more than 90 minutes to get the game in.

Despite damp conditions, an enthusiastic crowd showed up hoping to witness history. But after watching the veteran righthander struggle, many began heading to the exits when Clemens departed trailing, 7-3.

Clemens gets his next shot at 300 this weekend in Detroit against the Tigers. He will have to wait to become the second pitcher to record his 300th victory with the Yankees and missed an opportunity to join the Chicago White Sox's Tom Seaver as the only pitchers to have acommplished the feat at Yankee Stadium.

Blue Jays put Hinske on disabled list

TORONTO, May 27 (UPI) -- The Toronto Blue Jays will have to do without third baseman Eric Hinske for awhile.

On Monday, after capping an 8-2 road trip with their first four-game sweep of the New York Yankees on Sunday, they placed Hinske on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, with an injured right hand.

Toronto's 25-year-old third baseman will undergo surgery on the hamate bone in his right hand on Wednesday. He could be out as long as six weeks.

"(The doctors) said, by the CT scan, that it happened at least six weeks ago," Hinske said. "I guess I've been playing with a broken hand for the whole year, pretty much. Maybe I can blame my .230 batting average on that. I've been battling through it all year, trying to stay positive. That's what I'm going to do through this: Come to the field, cheer the guys on, and hope the team's winning games."

Toronto Manager Carlos Tosca said being without Hinske is very untimely.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Eric was going to put up similar numbers (to last year)," Tosca said. "You're talking about 85 RBI, 20 home runs, (and) a solid defender at third base. We're going to miss his bat in the lineup, and we're going to miss him being here. Hopefully, this won't take a long period of time."

The 2002 American League Rookie of the Year has struggled in his sophomore season, batting just .232 with two homers and 21 RBI. He hit .279 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI last season.

NCAA names World Series field

INDIANAPOLIS, May 27 (UPI) -- Florida State was selected Monday as one of the eight national seeds in the 64-team field for the College World Series.

The Seminoles (50-10-1), making their 41st tournament appearance and 26th in a row, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.

Each regional winner will advance to the super regionals, which will be contested from June 6-9. The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts on June 13 at Omaha, Neb.

Florida State takes on Jacksonville (32-28) in its first game. The Seminoles never have won a national championship, although they have been a runner-up three times.

The seven other national seeds are: Louisiana State (40-19-1), Georgia Tech (44-16), which beat FSU Sunday, 10-7, in the ACC title game; Auburn (40-19), Rice (48-10), Stanford (41-15), Cal State-Fullerton (43-13), and Miami (39-14-1).

Teams selected as national seeds cannot meet until the College World Series. There are 16 overall No. 1 seeds.

Miami secured its 31st straight appearance in the field, extending its own NCAA record. The Hurricanes meet Bethune-Cookman (30-26) in their first game.

Defending national champion Texas (43-17) gained also gained a top seed, and will take on Bucknell (27-14) in its opener.

The Southeastern Conference led the way with eight selections, with the ACC and Big 12 were next with five teams each.

Murray State (25-29), which won the Ohio Valley tournament, is the only team in the field with a losing record.

Virginia wins NCAA lacrosse title

BALTIMORE, May 27 (UPI) -- Virginia captured its third NCAA lacrosse title with a 9-7 victory over Johns Hopkins Monday before a record crowd of 37,944 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

A.J. Shannon scored four goals and goalie Tillman Johnson made 13 saves for the second-seeded Cavaliers (15-2), whose previous championships came in 1972 and '99.

Johns Hopkins (14-2) failed in its bid to win its eighth NCAA title and first since 1987. The top-seeded Blue Jays had not been to the championship game since capturing its last title.

Chris Rotelli added a goal and four assists for Virginia, which avenged an 8-7 loss to the Blue Jays earlier this season. The Cavaliers had also avenged a loss in the semifinal round with an 8-7 win over Maryland.

Rotelli helped his team get off to a good start, scoring on the Cavaliers' first shot of the game. Shannon followed with his first goal to make it 2-0 less than five minutes into the match.

Shannon scored his second goal and Billy Gladling also tallied, giving the Cavaliers a 4-0 advantage after one quarter. It marked just the fourth time this season that Johns Hopkins went scoreless in a quarter.

Joe McDermott scored early in the second quarter, and Bobby Benson and Corey Harned tallied in a nine-second span as Johns Hopkins clawed within 6-4 at halftime.

The Blue Jays pulled within one goal with 5:41 to play in the third quarter on a tally by Greg Peyser.

John Christmas then scored with a man advantage, and Shannon tallied in the waning seconds of the third quarter, extending the Cavaliers' lead to 8-5.

Tillman, who had 18 saves in the semifinal victory, made the lead stand up. Early in the fourth quarter, he made three big saves from close range.

Jefferson reported to sign with Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich., May 27 (UPI) -- The Detroit Lions apparently have agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, a 12-year veteran.

He averaged 14.6 yards on 27 receptions with Atlanta last season.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Jefferson, 34, agreed to a one-year deal for $775,000, including a $25,000 signing bonus. He will be a mentor to rookie Charles Rogers of Michigan State, who was the Lions' No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and second overall.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder caught 27 passes for 394 yards and one touchdown last season for the Falcons. In his career, he has 464 career receptions for 6,977 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Jefferson has been durable in his pro career, having played in every game in 10 of his 12 seasons. The two years he did not play every game were last year, when he missed three games, and 1996, when he missed one.

He also has played for San Diego and New England. The Falcons released him in February in a salary-cap move.

Jefferson has his best campaign in 2000, caught a career-high 60 passes for Atlanta for 822 yards and two touchdowns.

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