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Los Angeles Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, 8th straight division title

Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth consecutive division title with a 7-2 triumph over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. They are the third team to win at least eight consecutive division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991 to 2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998 to 2006).

“To fast-forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said.

“Truth be told, a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible, but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every match in a best-of-three series versus the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 triumph over the San Diego Padres. Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates.

Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

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The clubhouse celebration was also muted.

Champagne was involved, but it was players toasting one another with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it — instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate, and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs Tuesday. “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and A.J. Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual, but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May went five innings and permitted two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in any of his first 13 career starts, which includes 10 this season.

Seager tied it 1-1 in the first with an RBI single and led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend L.A.’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas.

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch because of left hamstring discomfort. He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28.

Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will stay with the team for the entire postseason.

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New York Giants adding Devonta Freeman on 1-year deal

The New York Giants are signing former Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman after losing Saquon Barkley for the campaign.

Freeman and the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

Freeman is projected to sign the contract Wednesday morning, practice with the Giants later Wednesday and could play as soon as Sunday.

“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Rosenhaus told Schefter.

Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee in Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. Dion Lewis played every snap in his absence.

Freeman, 28, spent the first six years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2015-16) and has averaged 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career. But Freeman had 656 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 184 carries (3.6 average) last season. The Falcons let him walk as a free agent this offseason and instead signed Todd Gurley.

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Freeman had other chances this offseason.

He turned down a deal that could have been worth $3 million with the Seattle Seahawks and recently visited with the Philadelphia Eagles.

But the Giants offer Freeman the best opportunity for touches with Barkley lost for the campaign. They have Lewis and Wayne Gallman on the active roster. Veteran Rod Smith is on the practice squad.

“Wayne and Dion are definitely guys that will factor in,” coach Joe Judge stated Monday. “We’ll work to their strengths — they are two different types of backs. Both of them have a degree of toughness. Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving.

Dion’s got that real good short-area quickness and burst to get going. He does a great job of finding small seams and getting through the hole. They are both different guys; we’re going to have to work with what they do well to give them an opportunity to be successful.”

Now add Freeman, who visited the Giants on Tuesday, to the mix.

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Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton out for season

The Denver Broncos’ passing attack now will have to forge on without not only its starting quarterback but also its top target.

Wide receiver Courtland Sutton is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Vic Fangio confirmed Monday.

Sutton had three catches for 66 yards before exiting the match. He missed the Broncos’ Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans while dealing with a sprained AC joint. Sutton, 24, earned a Pro Bowl berth last season after recording 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.

He was expected to be the focal point of a passing attack that returned second-year tight end Noah Fant and added dynamic rookie receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.

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The injury is just the latest in a series of significant blows to a Denver team that was looking to break out in Fangio’s second season at the helm.

Quarterback Drew Lock suffered a “bad bruise” on his shoulder that will force him to miss three to five weeks, Fangio stated Monday. Three-time All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller suffered a dislocated peroneal tendon that multiple reports indicated could sideline him for the remainder of the campaign.

Running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) also is expected to miss several weeks, per multiple reports, and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) will sit out at least two more games after being placed on injured reserve.

An already young Broncos offense will now feature one of the youngest wide receiver groups in the league as three rookies — Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tyrie Cleveland — will get plenty of work in the weeks ahead. Fangio said “it will be the guys on the roster filling that void [left by Sutton].”

Denver had seven wideouts on roster and will go with six for now. The Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week before facing the New York Jets on the road in a “Thursday Night Football” matchup.

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Lakers take a 2-0 lead, defeats Nuggets

Anthony Davis may have ultimately torn the heart out of the Denver Nuggets, drilling a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer on Sunday to give his Los Angeles Lakers a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic scored his team’s final 12 points, capped by a baby hook that gave Denver a one-point lead with 20.8 seconds left. But a wild final possession that saw three game-winning attempts from the Lakers ended with a clutch Davis triple and a 105-103 triumph that dug Denver another deep hole. It was the first playoff game-winning buzzer-beater for a trailing Lakers team since Kobe Bryant’s in 2006.

The Lakers were sporting their Mamba jerseys in honor of Bryant’s passing earlier this year, and Davis confirmed to reporters after the win that he screamed “KOBE!” as he celebrated his own signature moment.

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“We want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honor his memory,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “There are certain games where we’re going to feel it a little bit more than others.

When we have that uniform on, we feel it more, and that’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. AD flying to the wing, catch and shoot with a game on the line in the biggest moment of the season, nothing but net? That’s a Mamba shot.”

“The one thing I wish AD had with that shot he made, I wish we were playing at Staples,” Lakers star LeBron James added. “We miss our fans so much, and I can only imagine it probably would have blown the roof off Staples Center, AD hitting that shot with our crowd. I would’ve loved for him to have that moment.”

The Nuggets played with the same desperation that served them in a pair of 3-1 series comebacks versus the Utah Jazz and L.A. Clippers in previous rounds, only this time their comeback fell heartbreakingly short.

They must find that resuscitative energy once again, now after the most crippling loss of a dramatic playoff run. And they will have to do it opposite Davis and James, who traded halves torching Denver on Sunday.

James scored 12 of his 26 points in the opening quarter, staking the Lakers to an early double-digit lead, and Davis scored 12 of his 31 points in the third quarter, expanding that lead to as much as 16 points.

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Chicago Bears reach 3 year extension with Tarik Cohen

The Chicago Bears and running back Tarik Cohen reached a settlement Saturday on a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension.

Cohen’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed the deal to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cohen was in the final year of his four-year, $3 million rookie contract he signed after the Bears selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft.

In June, the 25-year-old North Carolina native said the situation provided an extra layer of motivation heading into the 2020 campaign.

“It’s definitely a motivating factor being that this is the year,” Cohen told reporters. “I feel like I can’t put any pressure on nobody else. It’s all on me. That’s how I like to go about it. I just take it upon myself, anything else like, I want to win as a team. I feel like if we win as a team that is good for everybody’s individual success.”

The 2018 Pro Bowl selection has been a valuable dual-threat benefit for Chicago.

He entered his fourth NFL season with nearly as many catches (203) as rushing attempts (250), showcasing the team’s efforts to get him the ball in space to use his elusiveness and game-changing speed.

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“On top of being a Pro Bowl talent, he’s the ultimate captain, teammate and competitor,” Telesco said in a statement. “Quite simply, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. Mike’s played a major role in establishing the culture and standard we now have in our locker room and sets a tremendous example, especially for the younger members of our team.”

Fourth-year offensive lineman Dan Feeney is expected to substitute Pouncey as the starting center, with Forrest Lamp likely filling in for Feeney at left guard.

The Chargers, the third-most injured team last season according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost, are already without star safety Derwin James, who recently underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Fullback Gabe Nabers was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Thursday in a corresponding move.

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Celtics defeat Heat in game 3 on Eastern conference finals

After falling 2-0 behind in the series following Thursday’s defeat, Celtics players apparently aired their frustrations in a raucous locker room and it seemed to do the trick as they were never behind in a 117-106 triumph.

The Celtics were also boosted by the return of Hayward, who scored six points in 31 minutes of a welcome return from an ankle injury that has kept him out since August 17.

“I didn’t expect to play him that much,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“I thought he looked pretty good, he asked to come out a couple times – the wind caught up to him a couple times – but I thought he did what he’s done all year.”

Kemba Walker scored 21 points and Marcus Smart 20 as the Celtics, for whom Tatum added 14 rebounds, shot 48.2 per cent (41 of 85) as a team, outscoring Miami 60-36 in the paint.

“I’m extremely tired right now, my ankle is pretty sore, but I’m proud of the way we fought and proud of us getting the win,” Hayward stated.

“They are a hard-playing team, they compete. They are obviously extremely well coached and they don’t give up.

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“I think they also have a lot of guys that can get going, especially from the outside, so leads aren’t safe and they can score in bunches, as we’ve seen in the first two games.

“Tonight, I think me personally, just trying to help us offensively, being somebody who can get in the paint, create, also trying to help us rebound, bring the ball up. I think if we can run, that can’t set their defense and we have so many good athletes, so many guys that can score and bring up the ball – it makes it difficult for them.”

For Miami, Bam Adebayo had 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyler Herro scored 22 to lead six players in double figures for the Heat, who had just their second defeat in 12 playoff matches en route to their lead in the Eastern Finals.

“We didn’t play hard enough,” said Jimmy Butler, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

“We weren’t playing basketball the way that we have been to win the games that we have been winning.”

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Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey having season-ending surgery

Four-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey has been placed on injured reserve and will soon undergo hip surgery that will keep him out for the remainder of the 2020 campaign, the Los Angeles Chargers informed Thursday, a tough blow for a team that was looking forward to a healthier offensive line this season.

Pouncey, 31, also spent time on IR with a hip injury while with the Miami Dolphins in 2016. He then started every game over the next two years, including his first season with the Chargers in 2018, but missed the final 11 weeks last year after undergoing neck surgery.

The veteran, in his 10th season, has started all 114 games he has played in during his career. He is in the final year of his contract with the Chargers.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said Pouncey’s surgery will take place before the end of September.

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“On top of being a Pro Bowl talent, he’s the ultimate captain, teammate and competitor,” Telesco said in a statement. “Quite simply, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. Mike’s played a major role in establishing the culture and standard we now have in our locker room and sets a tremendous example, especially for the younger members of our team.”

Fourth-year offensive lineman Dan Feeney is expected to substitute Pouncey as the starting center, with Forrest Lamp likely filling in for Feeney at left guard.

The Chargers, the third-most injured team last season according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost, are already without star safety Derwin James, who recently underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Fullback Gabe Nabers was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Thursday in a corresponding move.

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Australian PGA tour postponed until 2021

With a raft of strict control measures in place across most Australian states, the difficult decision to rearrange the tournament was made in hope restrictions will ease by early next year.

It means fans will have the capacity to see the Australian PGA Championship twice in a calendar year, with the 2021 edition also to be staged later that year.

ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Tournaments Director Nick Dastey said the public health considerations of those that help bring this event to life – the players, fans and volunteers – were pivotal in the decision.

“In conjunction with the Queensland Government and other key stakeholders, we have investigated numerous contingency plans to be able to stage the event in December, including players entering a hub and competing while serving a strict quarantine period,” Dastey said.

“Different from other professional sports, golf is a week-to-week travelling tour and in addition to playing in front of no fans, players would have potentially been required to undertake a further period of quarantine prior to or at the conclusion of the tournament.

“For interstate and international players, additional quarantine measures when returning to their home location or next tournament may have also meant a further 14-day quarantine.

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“While it is not a decision taken lightly these measures would not be in the best interests of our members, our fans, stakeholders and commercial partners, and as such we have made the decision to postpone the event with the hope that restrictions ease by 2021.”

Given the ever-changing landscape and uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19, PGA of Australia chief executive Gavin Kirkman stated the PGA will continue to monitor and review its decision, with a definitive ruling of the event’s scheduling to be made in December.

“The uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it extremely difficult to stage events at the level we would normally expect,” Kirkman said.

“We will continue to be agile and rely on the expert advice of the Queensland Government to safeguard against the spread of the virus.

“Our new date will be subject to health regulations and will be reviewed again in early December, when we expect to be armed with a more accurate prediction of COVID-19’s impact across the country during summer.

“At that time we will determine whether the event will proceed in February or, as a last resort, cancelled. This will ensure our members and key stakeholders are provided appropriate notice of any decision made.”

One of the Australian PGA Championship’s feature events in its week-long festival of golf, the Greg Norman Medal, will also be rearranged.

The Greg Norman Medal is Australian golf’s highest individual honour for Australian men and women professional golfers and features an honour roll that includes Hannah Green, Minjee Lee, Marc Leishman and Jason Day.

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Banged-up 49ers place CB Richard Sherman on IR

The San Francisco 49ers placed star cornerback Richard Sherman on the injured reserve list Wednesday and also could be without All-Pro tight end George Kittle this week.

Sherman strained his calf late in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to Arizona and was placed on IR when the injury didn’t get better right way. He will have to miss at least three games before he can come back but the Niners are hopeful it won’t be a longer-term injury.

Kittle sprained his knee in the same game and won’t take part in a full practice this week. Coach Kyle Shanahan said there’s a chance Kittle could participate in the lighter Friday practice before the team leaves to play the New York Jets on Sunday.

San Francisco played the season opener without two of its top receivers in Deebo Samuel (foot) and Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring), as well as its top two centers in Weston Richburg (knee) and Ben Garland (ankle).

Backup cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is in concussion protocol as well after getting hurt on the final drive last week and Jason Verrett remains sidelined by a hamstring injury.

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“We’ve dealt with this before,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “I think every team, you’ve got to deal with your injuries. … I think it’s really just about getting the guys out there you feel confident in who you know what they’re going to do and will do it on Sunday.”

Sherman has been one of the league’s top cover cornerbacks for the past decade. He was a second-team All-Pro last campaign when he locked down the defensive left side of the league’s top pass defense.

The 49ers start the week with Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson as the only two healthy outside cornerbacks. Johnson was promoted from the practice squad Wednesday.

“I know guys are ready to step up,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “It’s always next man up in this league. I think guys are ready and if we put the right week of practice in like we know we should, we should be firing on all cylinders this week.”

San Francisco also could be without backup receiver and returner Richie James Jr., who injured his hamstring in the game.

The Niners agreed to a deal with receiver Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday for more depth at that spot. Sanu must go through the COVID-19 protocol before he will be able to start practice Friday but is taking part in virtual meetings.

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DeGrom exits with hamstring spasm, Mets really past Phils

Jacob deGrom’s balky hamstring forced an untimely exit Wednesday night. Now, the New York Mets ace hopes it won’t mean an early end to his campaign.

DeGrom left a rare rough outing because of a right hamstring spasm, then watched his teammates erase a four-run deficit in rallying for a 5-4 triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 32-year-old deGrom first had issues with his hamstring in his previous start and it went away, so he didn’t tell the team. He couldn’t shake the feeling early versus the Phillies and this time didn’t take any chances.

“I think it’s just day by day,” he said. “What’s weird is running around, playing catch, it seems fine. Then once I get to full intensity in a game is when I feel it. Hopefully it’s something we can treat and get back out there as quick as possible.”

Phillies reliever Hector Neris (2-2) dropped the ball on the mound for a balk that moved the go-ahead run to second base in the ninth inning. Mets rookie Andres Gimenez hit an RBI single to put New York ahead.

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DeGrom had a surprisingly difficult two innings that pointed toward an apparent injury and could derail his bid for a third straight NL Cy Young Award.

He permitted three earned runs in a start for the first time this season, pushing his ERA back over 2.00 at 2.09.

The right-hander, who struck out 12 Phillies on Sept. 6, was pulled after only 40 pitches and one strikeout.

He appeared to spike a water bottle in frustration in the dugout after a brief chat with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and trainer Brian Chicklo.

Hefner visited deGrom on the mound in the second inning when he permitted all his runs, but there was no immediate indication he was hurt. Michael Wacha replaced deGrom in the third with New York trailing 3-0.

“They said, ‘Hey, there’s no reason to try and push through this and hurt something,’” deGrom said.

After he was gone, the Mets became the latest team to strike against the beleaguered Phillies bullpen.

J.D. Davis tied it 4-all in the eighth against Adam Morgan on an RBI double off the wall on a misplayed ball by Adam Haseley in right field that took deGrom off the hook. The Phillies blew a save for the 11th time this season.

“Eventually you believe that it’s got to turn,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.

Miguel Castro (2-1) struck out the final two batters of the eighth and stranded two runners to earn the triumph. Edwin Diaz worked the ninth for his fourth save. DeGrom had been 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 16 career starts vs. Philadelphia.

He failed to record a strikeout on his first time through a team’s batting order for the first time in 103 starts.

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