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Sports

#SportsReport: Suns Oust Clippers; Braves Blast Mets

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The Phoenix Suns are headed to the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 130-103 to close out the Western Conference finals in six games. Chris Paul tied his career playoff high of 41 points points and Devin Booker added 22 points to send the Suns to their third Finals appearance in franchise history. They will face either the Atlanta Hawks or Milwaukee Bucks, who are tied 2-2 in the East finals. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Game 5 Thursday after undergoing an MRI on his injured left knee Wednesday. Similarly, the Hawks expect Trae Young to be a game-time decision as he tries to recover from a bone bruise in his right ankle the forced him to miss Game 4. 

NHL

The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the Stanley Cup Final two games to none after beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1on Wednesday night. Andrei Vasilevskiy made a playoff career-high 42 saves to keep the defending champions in the game and Blake Coleman scored the Game 2 winner on a highlight-reel diving buzzer beater in the second period. Montreal outshot Tampa Bay 43-23 and was the better team for much of the night. But the Lightning beat Carey Price three times and showed they can lean on great goaltending and score opportunistic goals much like the Canadiens. Game 3 is Friday night in Montreal.

In NHL news: 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews says he missed this past season while dealing with what he says is chronic immune response syndrome. He says his body just kind of "fell apart" when he stepped away in December, about a month before the delayed season began. Toews has played for Chicago since 2007 and helped the team win three Stanley Cup championships. He is under contract with Chicago for two more years.

The Detroit Red Wings have hired assistant coach Alex Tanguay filling an opening that was created when the team and Dan Bylsma decided he would not return next season. Tanguay had 863 points during a 16-year NHL career, which included two stints with the Colorado Avalanche.

Tom Dundon is now sole owner of the Carolina Hurricanes after buying out the remaining shares of the NHL club held by Peter Karmanos and others. The league's board of governors unanimously approved the transaction on Wednesday.

MLB 

Ozzie Albies drove in seven runs with five hits, including two home runs, and the Atlanta Braves battered the New York Mets 20-2 for a strong finish to a disappointing month. Mets left-hander David Peterson left the game due to right side soreness in the fourth, leaving his status for his next start unknown. The Braves led 14-2 when outfielder Albert Almora entered the game to pitch in the eighth with the bases loaded. Almora gave up a three-run homer to Albies, who set career highs for hits, RBIs and by scoring four runs.

Elsewhere in major league baseball: 

Shohei Ohtani's debut on the Yankee Stadium mound didn't last long. The two-way phenom got only two outs for the Los Angeles Angels during his highly anticipated first pitching appearance in the Bronx. Ohtani, who leads the majors with 28 home runs, was chased after four early walks and charged with a career-worst seven runs. Making his career-high 12th pitching start of the season, Ohtani flopped long before the game was delayed by rain in the third inning. He was handed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first but quickly gave it back. That said, the Angels ultimately took the match 11-8. 

J.D. Martinez and Hunter Renfroe homered, Martin Perez pitched two-run ball into the sixth inning and the Boston Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 in a game twice delayed by poor weather. First pitch was pushed back 41 minutes and umpires stopped play for 1 hour, 56 minutes in the middle of the sixth, but the teams managed to play nine innings. Perez allowed two runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out two. He allowed a homer to Salvador Pérez leading off the second. Pérez's homer came during a 4-for-4 night. Mike Minor gave up five runs on seven hits over five innings.

Dylan Moore hit a three-run homer in the tenth inning and the Seattle Mariners held on after blowing two earlier leads to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-7. Moore hit a 3-1 pitch from right-hander Patrick Murphy to left-center, scoring automatic runner Luis Torrens and Shed Long Jr., who singled as a pinch-hitter. Drew Steckenrider allowed an RBI leadoff double to Cavan Biggio in the bottom of the inning but retired the next three batters — two via strikeout — for his second save. Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger hit two-run homers for Seattle. Moore and J.P. Crawford each had three hits and scored twice. Kendall Graveman was the winning pitcher.

Joe Panik made an instant impression in his first game in Miami's lineup, homering in his first at-bat and adding a go-ahead RBI single during a six-run sixth inning as the Marlins rallied for an 11-6 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Starling Marte went 4-for-6 for Miami and Garrett Cooper and Adam Duvall each had three hits for the Marlins. Bryce Harper hit two solo homers for the Phillies. Aaron Nola (5-5) struck out 11 in 4 2/3 innings.

Trea Turner completed his record-tying third career cycle by hitting a sixth-inning triple for the Washington Nationals, accomplishing the feat on his 28th birthday in a 15-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The speedy shortstop became the fifth player in major league history with three cycles, joining Adrian Beltre, Babe Herman, Bob Meusel and John Reilly, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Chris Bassitt pitched three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings to win his ninth straight decision and the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 3-1. Frank Schwindel hit his first career homer in his A's debut after becoming the 2,000th player in franchise history earlier in the day. Elvis Andrus added two hits. Joey Gallo homered for the fourth consecutive game for the Rangers, who had won four straight. Bassitt set down 16 of his first 18 batters and pitched out of a two-out jam with runners on the corners in the sixth when he got Gallo to ground out to first on a 3-2 pitch.

Miguel Cabrera hit his 494th career homer, moving into sole possession of 28th place all-time, and the Detroit Tigers completed a doubleheader sweep with a 7-1 win over the Cleveland Indians. Cabrera went 2 for 4, scored twice and broke a tie with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff on the homer list with a solo shot off Nick Wittgren in the fifth inning. Wily Peralta, who didn't pitch in the majors last year, allowed one unearned run over five innings for his first victory since April 17, 2019, with Kansas City. In the first game, Harold Castro and Jonathan Schoop each had three RBIs in a 9-4 victory.

Highly touted Milwaukee prospect Aaron Ashby got roughed up for seven runs in the first inning of his big league debut, but Luis Urias homered twice as the Brewers rallied to rout the Chicago Cubs 15-7 for their eighth straight win. The Brewers swept the three-game series and increased their NL Central lead to six games over Chicago. The Cubs lost their sixth in a row. Willy Adames hit a grand slam during an eight-run burst in the fourth inning that put Milwaukee ahead 14-7.

Kwang Hyun Kim won for the first time in 11 starts, pitching five solid innings and helping himself with a two-run double as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-4 for a three-game sweep. Kim had lost five straight decisions. Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O'Neill each doubled twice and singled for St. Louis. Arizona lost its fourth in a row.

Trent Grisham hit a grand slam and a solo shot and the San Diego Padres rallied to beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-5 in a rain-shortened game. The sizzling Padres have won 11 of their last 12 games and have beaten the Reds six straight times in the past two weeks. Grisham's first career grand slam in the fifth inning came off Reds reliever Josh Osich and gave San Diego the lead for good. The rain came with one out in the Padres' half of the sixth inning. The game was called after a 90-minute delay.

Jon Gray tossed six strong innings in another solid outing for Colorado starters, and the Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2. Garrett Hampson had four hits for the Rockies, who swept the three-game series and improved to 28-16 at home. Colorado is just 6-31 on the road. Adam Frazier led off the game with a triple, scored on a sacrifice fly and Bryan Reynolds homered for the 14th time this year for a quick 2-0 lead.

Harold Castro and Jonathan Schoop each drove in three runs, powering the Detroit Tigers past the Cleveland Indians 9-4 in the first game of a doubleheader. Castro's two-out single off Bryan Shaw in the fifth inning scored Nomar Mazara and broke a 4-4 tie. Schoop had a two-run single in the seventh as the Tigers banged out 15 hits in the seven-inning game. Kyle Funkhouser retired all five batters he faced in relief of starter José Urena, who allowed a career-high four home runs in 3 1/3 innings. Detroit won at Cleveland for the first time in five games this season. Rookie Bobby Bradley hit two of the four homers off Urena.

Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run shot and a towering two-run drive, and the Chicago White Sox went deep six times to pound the Minnesota Twins 13-3. Rookie Andrew Vaughn smacked a two-run homer and had three RBIs. Gavin Sheets hit his first career home run in his second game as Chicago won its third straight. José Abreu and Brian Goodwin added solo shots to help first-place Chicago expand its lead over Cleveland in the AL Central. Dylan Cease cruised to his fourth victory in five starts, allowing three hits and striking out seven in six innings. Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz connected for solo homers off the 25-year-old right-hander.

Austin Hays homered and Ryan Mountcastle drove in two runs to help the Baltimore Orioles wrap up a three-game sweep of the slumping Houston Astros with a 5-2 win. The Astros swept the Orioles in a three-game series last week where they outscored them 26-3 as part of an 11-game winning streak.

In MLB news:

Fired New York Mets general manager Jared Porter has been suspended by Major League Baseball baseball through at least the end of the 2022 regular season following an investigation that began after a report that he sent sexually explicit text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while he was working for the Chicago Cubs. Porter is eligible to apply for reinstatement after the final game of the 2022 regular season, a timetable that could allow him to apply for front-office openings that October.

New York Mets reliever Dellin Betances will have surgery on his right shoulder and miss the remainder of the year after pitching just once this season. The 33 year-old signed a $10.5 million, one-year deal with the Mets for 2020, but went 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in 15 games. He exercised a player option for a $6 million deal this year, but again was hurt.

COLLEGE BASEBALL
 
 
Will Bednar and Landon Sims combined on a one-hitter, Mississippi State scored early and built on its lead, and the Bulldogs won their first national championship with a 9-0 victory over Vanderbilt in the deciding third game of the College World Series finals. Bednar was working on three days' rest and walked three of the first five batters he faced before retiring 15 in a row. He turned the game over to the Bulldogs' star closer to start the seventh. It's Mississippi State's first national title in a team sport. Wednesday's game ended a CWS unlike any other since it began in 1947. There was no CWS last year because of the pandemic, and COVID-19 was never out of mind during the event's return even though TD Ameritrade Park was at full fan capacity. Positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing left North Carolina State with only half its roster available in a 3-1 loss to Vanderbilt last Friday. By that night, a total of eight players had tested positive and prompted the NCAA to remove the Wolfpack from the tournament because of COVID-19 protocols.

NCAA

The NCAA has cleared the way for athletes to profit off their fame and celebrity. The move comes just as legislation is set to become law in a dozen states that would allow for that kind of compensation. The NCAA wants to have federal laws or its own rules regarding the issue known as NIL but was forced to seek a temporary solution. The decision applies to more than 450,000 athletes across all three divisions of the NCAA.

TENNIS

Novak Djokovic slid, slipped, skidded and stumbled into the third round on Wimbledon's slick grass Wednesday by beating Kevin Anderson in straight sets. Footing continued to be an issue on the third day of the tournament, and Djokovic went sprawling several times, as did players in other matches and at least one ball kid. Seven-time champion Serena Williams retired Tuesday with a leg injury after she slipped. Roger Federer's opponent had to call it quits after he fell and twisted his knee.

Venus Williams lost to No. 21 Ons Jabeur 7-5, 6-0 in a second round match. Her Wimbledon isn't over yet. She's also playing mixed doubles with Nick Kyrgios. John Isner played another five-setter on Wimbledon's Court 18. Isner was broken in the final game to lose 7-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 to Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the first round. Former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin was eliminated in a second round match by American Madison Brengle ranked 82nd, 6-2, 6-4.

American Sebastian Korda is into the third round at his first Wimbledon. The 20-year-old Korda advanced by beating Antoine Hoang of France in straight sets. Two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Vandeweghe beat qualifier Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-4, 6-2 - less than a year after severing two ligaments and a nerve in her left hand. It was Vandeweghe's first win at any major tournament since the 2018 French Open; she was diagnosed with a rare chronic pain condition in her right foot later that year.

NASCAR

Chip Ganassi is pulling out of NASCAR at the end of the season and has sold his entire organization to Trackhouse Racing. Ganassi told The Associated Press that Trackhouse owner Justin Marks made him an offer he had to consider. Ganassi will still run his IndyCar, IMSA sports car and Formula E programs, all out of Indianapolis. The entire NASCAR operation, including its North Carolina race shop, will transfer to Trackhouse at the end of the season. Terms of the deal were not released.

CYCLING

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar has powered to victory in the first time trial of the Tour de France to assert himself as the odds-on favorite at the three-week race. Pogacar lagged 39 seconds behind leader Mathieu van der Poel at the start of Stage 5 in the western Mayenne region and erased a big chunk of the deficit to move into second place in the general classification. In other Tour de France news, a French radio station reports that a fan involved in a massive pileup at the Tour de France during the opening stage at cycling's biggest event has been arrested. The fan brandished a large cardboard sign that translates as "Go Grandpa-Grandma" while leaning into the path of oncoming riders on Saturday.

© The Associated Press 2021. All Rights Reserved.