A pair of ninth-inning homers have allowed the Atlanta Braves to take Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Austin Riley led off the ninth with a homer off Blake Treinen to spark a four-run ninth in the Braves' 5-1 win over the Dodgers.
Ronald Acuna Jr. followed with a double and scored on Marcell Ozuna's single to right before Ozzie Albies unloaded a two-run blast to cap the rally. Freddie Freeman belted a solo shot in the first inning, and the lead held up until Kike Hernandez went deep off Braves starter Max Fried. Fried was sharp over six innings, striking out nine and allowing four hits. Dodgers starter Walker Buehler looked good as well, yielding three hits while fanning nine over five frames. Atlanta finished the game without left fielder Adam Duvall, who hurt his left oblique in his first at-bat during the second inning. It's the first postseason loss for the Dodgers. It's also the first game to be played in front of fans this season. A crowd of about 11,500 were allowed to sit in the stands in socially-distant groups of four. Game 2 is Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.
A Gold Glove winner made a critical error that helped the Tampa Bay Rays take a two-games-to-none lead in the American League Championship Series. Manuel Margot launched a three-run homer and Mike Zunino added a solo shot as the Rays downed the Houston Astros, 4-2. Margot's first-inning blast came two pitches after second baseman Jose Altuve threw away a potential inning-ending grounder. Altuve also had a throwing error in the third inning without creating any damage. The 2016 Gold Glove winner didn't have an error this entire season until Monday. Zunino also went deep off starter and loser Lance McCullers, who gave up just four hits while striking out 11 over seven innings. Charlie Morton tossed five shutout innings to get the win as Houston continued to turn hard contact into loud outs. Nick Anderson loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth before getting out of the jam with just one run scoring. Anderson also filled the bags with two out but got Alex Bregman to line out to Kevin Kiermaier near the warning track. Game 3 is Tuesday in San Diego, where the Astros will serve as the home team for the next three contests.
In MLB news:
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan has died at age 77. A family spokesman says he died at his home Sunday in Danville, California. Cincinnati reds great was suffering from a nerve condition, a form of polyneuropathy. He became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine and the prototype for baseball's artificial turf era. Morgan was a two-time NL Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. He could hit a home run, steal a base and disrupt any game with his daring. Most of all, the 5-foot-7 dynamo known for flapping his left elbow drove a Cincinnati team featuring the likes of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez to World Series titles in 1975 and '76.
San Diego Padres outfielder Tommy Pham is recovering after he was stabbed in the back Sunday night. A police spokesperson told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Pham was stabbed shortly after 10:30 p.m. outside a gentlemen's club. The spokesperson said Pham apparently didn't know the attackers, who remain at large. Pham issued a statement through the team saying he's on the road to recovery and will be able to begin his offseason training regimen in no time.
The Chicago White Sox and manager Rick Renteria have agreed to split following a disappointing finish to a breakout season in which the team made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. The White Sox went 35-25 in his pandemic-shortened fourth year. They held a three-game lead in the AL Central before losing seven of their final eight to finish tied for second with Cleveland, one game behind Minnesota. Chicago then got knocked out by Oakland in three games in their wild-card series. Renteria drew criticism for some questionable decisions down the stretch.
It was another heart-breaking loss for rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. Will Lutz nailed a 36-yard field goal with 5:08 left in overtime before New Orleans stopped Chargers receiver Mike Williams just short on fourth down to preserve a 30-27 victory. The Chargers blew a 17-point lead for the second straight game and dropped to 1-4. Herbert's fourth touchdown pass of the game was a 64-yarder to Michael Williams that gave Los Angeles a 27-20 lead in the fourth quarter. But the 3-2 Saints tied it on Taysom Hill's 9-yard run with 52 seconds left in regulation. Chargers kicker Michael Badgley missed an extra point and had a chance to end it with a field goal, but his 50-yard kick clanged off the right upright as the fourth quarter expired. Saints QB Drew Brees rushed for a 1-yard touchdown and hit tight end Jared Cook for a 41-yard score.
In NFL news:
A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the Buffalo Bills' game with Tennessee remains on schedule for tonight after the Titans had no positives. The New England Patriots also returned no positives after the NFL pushed back their game with Denver from last night to Sunday. The latest testing results come a day after the NFL juggled the schedule affecting nine teams after both the Patriots and Titans had a positive result apiece Sunday. Both teams closed their facilities but the NFL gave the Titans permission for an afternoon practice involving only players, coaches and trainers.
The Atlanta Falcons have named defensive coordinator Raheem Morris interim head coach after firing Dan Quinn. Morris is in his sixth season with the Falcons and his first full season as defensive coordinator. The Falcons fired Quinn on Sunday night, hours after the team fell to 0-5 for the first time since 1997 with a 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Falcons owner Arthur Blank also fired longtime general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Syracuse coach Dino Babers says preseason All-American defensive standout Andre Cisco will miss the rest of the season. Babers confirmed it toward the end of his weekly news conference. Cisco was inserted as the rover in the Orange's new 3-3-5 defensive scheme and had one interception in the two games he played. He was injured during pregame warmups for the Georgia Tech game in the Carrier Dome just over two weeks ago and hasn't played since. Cisco entered the season with 12 interceptions as a safety, most among returning players in FBS, and added another in the two games he played this season.
In other college football news:
Baylor had 32 active COVID-19 cases in its athletic department in the wake of having to postpone a football game for the second time this season. Updated numbers released Monday include student-athletes from multiple sports and show 29 new cases since last week. The school's weekly update came a day after the Big 12 rescheduled next Saturday's home game against No. 7 Oklahoma State to Dec. 12. Baylor's pause of football activities since last Thursday will extend through at least this week. Of the 32 active cases, 29 student-athletes had symptoms and only three were asymptomatic.
Vanderbilt's football game at Missouri on Saturday has been postponed because COVID-19 issues have left the Commodores without enough available players. The Southeastern Conference has announced the game has been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12. It is the first SEC game rescheduled due to COVID-19-related problems and the 28th FBS game overall to be postponed or canceled since Aug. 26.
Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson has undergone season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder, leaving freshman Will Howard to lead the No. 22 Wildcats the rest of the way. Thompson was hurt two weeks ago when Texas Tech's Rico Jeffers drove him into the ground after unloading a pass in the Wildcats' 31-21 victory.
Police said yesterday afternoon that 76 people were arrested and more than 30 buildings and businesses were damaged when a downtown celebration turned chaotic after the Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th National Basketball Association championship. Causes for the arrests included failure to disperse, vandalism and assault on a police officer. A police statement says eight officers were treated for injuries and three members of the crowd were taken to hospitals after being injured by so-called less lethal munitions fired by officers. Authorities said the celebration by about 1,000 people was at first largely peaceful, but "unruly individuals" mixed into the crowd and threw glass, bottles, rocks and other projectiles at officers. The Lakers beat the Heat 106-93 Sunday night to win the NBA Finals in six games. Fans went to the Staples Center to celebrate despite admonitions to stay away.
The Rangers have agreed to terms with No. 1 draft pick Alexis Lafrenière on a three-year, entry-level contract. Lafrenière signed a day after turning 19 and less than a week since New York selected him first overall. The Quebec-born left winger is expected to play in the NHL right away when next season begins. The league is targeting a Jan. 1 start.
In other NHL news:
The Vegas Golden Knights have acquired a recent Stanley Cup-winning captain. A person with direct knowledge of the situation says the Knights and Alex Pietrangelo have worked out a seven-year, $61.6 million contract. Pietrangelo will count $8.8 million against the salary cap through 2027. The deal also means Vegas will need to shed salary to fit him under the $81.5 million salary cap. The 30-year-old defenseman leaves the St. Louis Blues after serving as captain of their 2019 Stanley Cup championship team. Pietrangelo scored a career-high 16 goals last season despite a pandemic that cut the Blues' schedule by 10 games.
The Canadiens have signed forward Tyler Toffoli to a four-year deal that carries an average annual value of $4.25 million. Toffoli played 10 regular-season games for the Canucks this season after being acquired from Los Angeles in a February trade.
The Blackhawks have agreed to a one-year contract with Mattias Janmark, adding a veteran forward to help make up for the loss of Brandon Saad. Janmark's contract carries a salary-cap hit of $2.25 million. Saad was traded to Colorado on Saturday, and the 27-year-old Janmark could step into his role on Chicago's penalty-killing unit.
Former Olympic gold medal winner Charlie Moore has died at 91. Moore won the 400 hurdles in the rain at the Helsinki Summer Games in 50.8 seconds, tying the Olympic record he set in the quarterfinals. Moore also earned a silver medal in Helsinki on the United States' 1,600-meter relay team. Moore died Thursday from pancreatic cancer, according to World Athletics.
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