Update on the latest sportsAP
Braves get 1st win; top Nats 7-6 to open doubleheader
UNDATED (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have snapped their season-starting four-game losing streak. They edged the Washington Nationals 7-6 in a doubleheader opener with the help of three hits from Ronald Acuña Jr. and a save by Will Smith a night after he gave up a walk-off hit. Smith, Atlanta’s fifth pitcher, didn’t have an easy time of things. The first batter he faced was Juan Soto, whose RBI single in the ninth inning delivered a 6-5 victory for Washington yesterday. This time, Soto led off the bottom of the seventh by walking, Starlin Castro drove him in with a double to cut Atlanta’s two-run lead in half. But Smith got a double play to end it.
Elsewhere in the majors:
— Christian Vázquez homered, Xander Bogaerts had three hits and J.D. Martinez went for extra bases for the seventh game in a row to help the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-2. Nathan Eovaldi scattered three hits over seven innings, striking out seven. The Red Sox were swept by lowly Baltimore in their opening series. Now they’ve beaten the defending AL champion Rays in three straight by a combined score of 26-9. Going into the series, the Rays had won eight straight at Fenway Park and 13 of 14.
— José Ramírez’s second two-run homer of the game snapped a tie in the eighth inning and sent the Cleveland Indians to a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals after Cy Young winner Shane Bieber struck out 12. Ramírez’s one-out shot off Greg Holland gave the Indians their first home win in 2021 after they were shut out Monday. Earlier, Ramirez connected for a two-run homer in the sixth. Bieber allowed just three hits in 6 1/3 innings. He’s struck out at least 8 in 14 straight starts. Salvador Perez homered for the Royals.
— Jorge Polanco hit a two-run double in the sixth inning and the Minnesota Twins held off Akil Baddoo and the Detroit Tigers 3-2. Baddoo hit an RBI triple and threw a runner out from left field — another impressive day in this stellar start to his big league career. But he was doubled off third after his big hit. It was a rough day on the bases for the Tigers, who also ran into two outs at home in the sixth. Wilson Ramos homered for Detroit.
Blue Jays GM Atkins gets 5-year contract extension
UNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays and general manager Ross Atkins have agreed on a five-year contract extension. The extension goes through the 2026 season.
The Blue Jays hired Atkins in December 2015 after 15 seasons in the front office with the Cleveland Indians. That was two months after former Indians executive Mark Shapiro (shuh-PY’-roh) became president and CEO of the Blue Jays. Toronto made the expanded playoffs last season.
In other MLB news:
— Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was held out of New York’s lineup Wednesday night with soreness in his left side. Judge had a homer, three hits and four RBIs in a 7-2 win over Baltimore on Tuesday night but wasn’t back in the lineup against the O’s a day later. New York has a day off Thursday, giving the right fielder a chance to rest on consecutive days.
— George Springer is dealing with another issue while waiting to make his debut with the Toronto Blue Jays. Springer was on track to play Thursday before feeling tightness in his right quad when running the bases.
Los Angeles sheriff will reveal cause of Tiger Woods crash
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say Tiger Woods was driving nearly 90 mph — twice the posted speed limit — on a downhill stretch of road when he lost control of an SUV outside Los Angeles and crashed in a wreck that left the golf superstar seriously injured.
At a news conference Wednesday Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva blamed the Feb. 23 crash solely on excessive speed and Woods’ loss of control behind the wheel. The sheriff said Woods was driving 84 to 87 mph in an area that had a speed limit of 45 mph.
The stretch of road is known for wrecks and drivers who frequently hit high speeds. Due to the steepness of the roadway, a runaway truck escape lane is available just beyond where Woods crashed.
He won’t face any citations for his third high-profile collision in 11 years.
Woods is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries.
NHL’s Canucks say 21 players tested positive
UNDATED (AP) — The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks say 25 members of the organization have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 21 players. The team was shut down last week, and it’s uncertain when it will play its next game.
In a statement attributed to team doctor Jim Bovard and infectious disease doctor Josh Douglas, the Canucks say the COVID-19 cases stem from a variant of the virus that was traced by Vancouver Coastal Health back to one individual contracting it in a public setting.
Four staff members also tested positive for the virus, another player is considered a close contact, and the entire team remains in quarantine.
The Canucks had a league-high 18 players on the COVID protocol list Tuesday, the second most all season behind only the New Jersey Devils’ 19 on Feb. 8 and 9.
In other pandemic-related developments:
— The LPGA Tour says the final event of its three-tournament Asia swing has been canceled. The Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island in China was scheduled for May 13-16, following tournaments in Singapore and Thailand. The LPGA said the cancellation was due to current health concerns and travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the decision was guided by the China Golf Association, which oversees all golf events in China. It is expected to return to the schedule in 2022.
— The European Tour says the French Open golf tournament has been postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions the government announced last week. The tour says it will work with the French golf federation to try to reschedule it. The French Open was scheduled for May 6-9 at Le Golf National, which hosted the 2018 Ryder Cup. The tour said given the travel of players, caddie and TV production personnel coming from an average of 25 countries, it was best to postpone.
— The Milwaukee Brewers are going to start allowing tailgating again outside American Family Field before home games. Tailgating wasn’t permitted for the team’s first home series as part of their pandemic-related protocols. The Brewers say tailgating will be permitted again starting with Monday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, with the support of the Milwaukee Health Department.
— Japan’s Osaka prefecture issued a special warning Wednesday that a rapid surge in coronavirus cases is placing medical systems in the region at the verge of collapse and requested the cancellation of the Olympic torch relay along all public roads in the prefecture. The governor declared a “medial emergency” in the western Japanese prefecture, where daily cases have reached new highs, and asked hospitals to urgently prepare additional beds. He said all segments of the torch relay on public roads should be canceled.
Bengals show another veteran the door, release RB Bernard
UNDATED (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals parted with another veteran Wednesday when they released running back Giovani Bernard.
Bernard, a free agent, played his entire eight-year NFL career in Cincinnati and established himself as a reliable blocking back and receiver. The 29-year-old Bernard became a starter for the last 10 games of 2020 after Joe Mixon suffered a foot injury. A 2013 second-round draft pick by the Bengals, he played in 115 games with 30 starts, rushing for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. His 342 receptions are the most by a running back in Bengals history, and his 2,867 receiving yards are the second most.
The Bengals had already traded defensive end Carlos Dunlap in midseason last year and released defensive tackle Geno Atkins last month. Receiver A.J. Green, who had spent his entire 10-year career with the team, signed with Arizona as a free agent.
In other NFL news:
— Nike has suspended its endorsement contract with Deshaun Watson amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the Houston Texans quarterback. Watson has been accused of sexual assault or harassment in lawsuits filed by 22 women. Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has called the allegations “meritless” and questioned the claims against Watson, alleging they were made following a failed attempt to blackmail his client.
— The Buffalo Bills agreed to sign guard Forrest Lamp to a one-year contract in continuing a series of offseason moves to add experienced offensive line depth. Lamp spent the past four seasons with the Chargers and was one of two Los Angeles linemen to play every offensive snap last season. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds and was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft out of Western Kentucky. He missed his entire rookie season after tearing a ligament in his right knee during training camp.
— The Tennessee Titans have hired veteran defensive coordinator and former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz as a senior defensive assistant. Schwartz has been a defensive coordinator for 14 NFL seasons, the last five with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent 10 years with the Titans.
Arizona parts ways with Sean Miller amid NCAA investigation
UNDATED (AP) — Arizona has parted ways with men’s basketball coach Sean Miller as the program awaits its fate in an NCAA infractions investigation.
The school announced Miller will be leaving the program and associate head coach Jack Murphy will serve as interim head coach.
Miller and the Wildcats have been in the NCAA’s crosshairs since being ensnared in a 2017 FBI investigation into shady recruiting practices. The NCAA issued a Notice of Allegations last year and the case is currently going through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process. Arizona issued a self-imposed postseason ban this year and finished 17-9.
In other college basketball news:
— Tennessee freshman guard Keon Johnson says he’s declaring for the NBA draft and will sign with an agent. He becomes the Vols’ second freshman to leave after one season. Johnson announced his decision Wednesday on social media. He says he has been thinking, praying and consulting with family and coaches since Tennessee’s season ended in a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament. Jaden Springer declared for the draft last week. Johnson started 17 games and was the second-leading scorer, averaging 11.3 points a game. Johnson scored a career-best 27 in a win at Kentucky in February.
— Michigan State has added high-scoring guard Tyson Walker, a transfer from Northeastern. Spartans coach Tom Izzo made the announcement Wednesday, a little more than a week after sophomore guard Rocket Watts entered the transfer portal to leave the program. Walker averaged 18.6 points last season as a sophomore and led the Huskies to an 8-2 record in the Colonial Athletic Association. He scored 27 points in a game at North Carolina and had 30-plus points twice last season. The native of New York averaged 10.4 points and 3.4 assists during his freshman season.
— Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj is not returning to the Orange for a final season and will seek to play professionally. 6-foot-10 native of Slovakia made the announcement Wednesday on social media. Dolezaj had one year of college eligibility remaining due to the coronavirus pandemic.
— Graduate transfer center Nysier Brooks has signed to play with Mississippi. The 7-footer played last season at Miami. Brooks averaged 7.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season while shooting 51.7% from the field. He started 25 games last season as a senior and was the Hurricanes’ leading rebounder and shot blocker.
SHOOTING-FOOTBALL PLAYER CHARGED
Former Florida State star charged in double shooting
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say former Florida State star football player Travis Rudolph has been arrested in South Florida for a shooting that left one man dead and another wounded.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says the 25-year-old Rudolph was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
Officials say deputies responded shortly after midnight to a double shooting in the Lake Park area. Authorities say one man was transported to a local hospital for treatment, while the other was found dead a short distance to the south in West Palm Beach. Investigators identified Rudolph as a suspect in the shooting and arrested him a short time later.