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Sports Report: Pats Star In NFL Season Opener

Gillette Stadium

MLB:

In baseball, in the American League, the Blue Jays kept their 1 ½ game lead in the AL East after both New York and Toronto lost yesterday. Boston topped Toronto 10-4, Baltimore beat the Yankees 5-3, Tampa Bay blanked Detroit 8-0, Cleveland bested the White Sox 6-4, Minnesota edged Kansas City 3-2 in 12 innings, Houston won against Oakland 11-5, and it was Seattle over Texas 6-0.

In the National League, Yoenis Cespedes continues to carry the New York Mets on his back during the stretch run. Cespedes delivered the tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning on Wednesday as the Mets earned a 5-3 victory and a three-game sweep of the Nationals in Washington. New York extended its lead in the NL East to seven games. St. Louis edged the Cubs 4-3, Atlanta won against Philadelphia 8-1, Miami beat Milwaukee 5-2, Pittsburgh slid past Cincinnati 5-4, San Diego crushed Colorado 11-4, and it was Arizona over San Francisco 2-1.

In interleague play, the Angels edged the Dodgers 3-2.

Attendance at Pawtucket Red Sox games has declined 10 percent this season, the lowest attendance in over 20 years. WPRI-TV reports the Triple-A franchise of the Boston Red Sox attracted 466,600 spectators this season. The team drew 515,665 fans last year. Attendance hadn't been that low since 1993, prior to a major renovation at McCoy Stadium.

A fan at Fenway Park was injured by a foul ball during last night's Red Sox game against the Blue Jays. It's the latest in a series of crowd accidents this season at the Boston stadium. The man was sitting four rows from the field when he was struck by a foul off the bat of Josh Donaldson in the first inning.

Athletics manager Bob Melvin has received a two-year contract extension that runs through the 2018 season. Melvin has guided the A's to three playoff appearances and a 385-338 record, but the team currently owns the AL's worst record at 60-79. The announcement comes after Oakland earned back-to-back wins over the AL West-leading Houston Astros.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson says the plan for pitcher Matt Harvey could include regular season starts down the stretch against the Yankees and Nationals. Alderson also said the NL East leaders haven't determined how they might use Harvey in the postseason.

NFL:

Tonight it’s the season opener for the NFL regular season and the New England Patriots when they see Pittsburgh in Foxboro at 8:30. Tom Brady is expected to start after a judge lifted his four-game “Deflategate” suspension last week.

Meanwhile the Patriots have asked the NFL to reinstate the suspended employees at the heart of the scandal. An NFL spokesman says the request is under review. The team suspended equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally as part of the investigation.

The New York Giants have sent two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul home because he is not ready to play. Coach Tom Coughlin announced the decision after the team examined the right hand that Pierre-Paul injured in a fireworks accident on the July Fourth holiday. Coughlin said the team did not feel he was ready to come back and that there is no timetable for his return. He refused to describe the injury to Pierre-Paul's right hand.

The Giants have also signed linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who was released by the Cowboys on Monday. The Giants announced the move as they started preparations for the season opener against Dallas on Sunday. Brinkley has played in 79 regular-season games with 33 starts for Minnesota and Arizona. He missed the 2011 season because of a hip injury.

Buffalo coach Rex Ryan says he expects running back LeSean McCoy to be ready to play in the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. McCoy's playing status had been in question as recently as last week, when the seventh-year player said he was optimistic but not entirely sure if he could play because of an injured hamstring. The Bills acquired the NFL's 2013 yards-rushing leader in a trade with Philadelphia.

NHL:

Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins will miss training camp after undergoing hip surgery. The team says he will be ready for the start of the season next month. The Canucks say Desjardins had the operation to treat "an acute flare up of his pre-existing hip condition."

Players from the NHL will take part in next year's World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Up next are negotiations to try to secure their attendance at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. NHL players have competed at the Olympics since 1998, creating an elite tournament that has become one of the Olympics' most popular events. While participating players enjoy the experience, team owners don't seem to like shutting down their league for two-plus weeks in the middle of the season and hoping their stars don't get injured. The eight-team World Cup of Hockey has not been played since 2004.

PGA:

The PGA Championship is returning to Oak Hill in Pittsford, New York, in 2023. This will mark the fourth time the club has held the event and first time since Jason Dufner won two years ago. Only one other course has hosted the event as many times, Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tennis:

The men's and women's semifinals are set at the U.S. Open following Wednesday's matches.

Second seed Roger Federer never dropped a set in reaching his 38th Grand Slam semifinal. Federer cruised to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 triumph over No. 12 Richard Gasquet, a match that was completed in under 90 minutes. Federer never facing a break point while compiling a remarkable 50-8 edge in winners.

Fifth seed Stan Wawrinka had dropped four straight meetings to Kevin Anderson before knocking off the South African, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0. Wawrinka broke Anderson's serve five times while facing just one break point, which he saved. Anderson had 42 unforced errors to Wawrinka's 15.

Federer and Wawrinka will meet in the semifinals on Friday. The other men's match will have top seed Novak Djokovic against ninth seed and defending champ Marin Cilic.

Second seed Simona Halep and No. 26 Flavia Pennetta will square off in the women's semis. Halep pulled out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 triumph over 20th-seeded Victoria Azarenka after Pennetta rallied for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 triumph against fifth seed Petra Kvitova. Halep's match was delayed 85 minutes by rain early in the final set.

Thursday's other women's semifinal will have top seed Serena Williams against unseeded Roberta Vinci.

Police say internal affairs detectives are investigating claims by former tennis professional James Blake that he was thrown to the ground and then handcuffed while mistakenly being arrested Wednesday at a Manhattan hotel.

Blake is biracial and told the Daily News of New York he wasn't sure if he was arrested because of his race but said the officer who put him in handcuffs inappropriately used force.

The NYPD's top spokesman said a cooperating witness misidentified Blake to detectives investigating fraudulently purchased cellphones as one of two people he recognized as being involved with the scheme.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told NY1 cable television news station that Blake has a right to be upset. Bratton vowed to aggressively address Blake's allegations.

NCAA:

Pace University in Westchester County has suspended the captain of its football team, who has allegedly been seen in a controversial picture involving the confederate flag. In the picture senior Tyler Owens appears to be dressed in the Confederate flag making a Nazi salute.  Owens will be suspended and will not be participating in football activities until the school finishes an investigation into the picture and its origin. 

WNBA:

In the WNBA playoffs, New York beat Connecticut 74-64 and Atlanta won against Los Angeles 90-60.

Volleyball:

The United States beat Canada 25-21, 25-20, 25-17 on Thursday to remain undefeated at the men's volleyball World Cup.

Matt Anderson scored 13 points and Taylor Sander added 12 as the U.S. improved to a 3-0 record. Canada dropped to 1-2.

World champion Poland also improved to 3-0 with a hard-fought 25-18, 19-25, 25-21, 27-25 win over Argentina (2-1).

Italy stayed even with the U.S. and Poland with a 20-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-13 win over Egypt while Iran overpowered Venezuela 25-20, 25-17, 25-15. Both Egypt and Venezuela are winless.

Two berths for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics are on offer in the 12-nation tournament that runs to Sept. 23.

Hiking:

A trail runner who set a speed record for completing the Appalachian Trail has agreed to pay a $500 fine for popping a bottle of champagne atop Maine's Mount Katahdin (kuh-TAH'-dihn). Scott Jurek agreed yesterday to pay the fine for drinking in public in exchange for the state dropping charges of littering and hiking in an oversize group.

©2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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