National Sports Digest
SAN DIEGO ó Dave Smith, a former All-Star closer who holds the Houston Astros record for games pitched, died Wednesday. He was 53.
Former big leaguer Tim Flannery said Smith apparently died of a heart attack, but the official cause of death wasn’t known.
“He’s gone. My tears are the rain,” Flannery, the San Francisco Giants third base coach, told The Associated Press.
Smith was an All-Star with Houston in 1986 and 1990, and had 216 saves in a 13-year career. He played with Houston from 1980-90 before finishing his career with two seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
His 563 outings with the Astros is tops on the club’s list, and his 199 saves ranks second.
– BOSTON ó The Boston Red Sox have been outbid for free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira and “are not going to be a factor” in acquiring him, owner John Henry said in an e-mail on Thursday night.
“We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him,” Henry said. “After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor.”
– Roger Clemens’ former personal trainer cooperated with investigators looking into steroids in baseball under threat of prosecution, an assistant U.S. attorney said in a court filing Thursday.
In a declaration filed in federal court in Houston as part of Clemens’ defamation lawsuit against Brian McNamee, assistant U.S. attorney Matthew Parrella said he told McNamee he was not a target of the investigation but could become one if he failed to cooperate.
– LOS ANGELES ó Rafael Furcal accepted a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth at least $30 million, and the Atlanta Braves accused the star shortstop of reneging on a deal they thought was agreed to earlier this week.
STATESVILLE ó Gillett Evernham Motorsports will lay off about 65 employees in several departments as part of scaling back its Nationwide Series program next season.
The No. 9 Dodge will run a partial schedule in the second-tier NASCAR series in 2009. The team will continue to field at least three Sprint Cup Series teams ó for Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson ó and is in talks with Petty Enterprises to merge with that organization and house its famed No. 43.
– CHARLOTTE ó NASCAR has settled a $225 million lawsuit filed by a former official who said she was subjected to racial discrimination and sexual harassment during her two-plus years working for the stock-car organization, The Associated Press has learned.
The suit was settled during a Dec. 3 mediation held in New York between Mauricia Grant and NASCAR. Settlement terms were confidential.
– DES MOINES, Iowa ó It’s taken the Iowa Speedway just three years to position itself as a leading track in the Midwest.
The speedway announced Thursday its third major event for the 2009 season. The track will host a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race ó formerly known as the Craftsman Truck Series ó on Sept. 5.
The race was originally planned for Mansfield Motorsports Park in Mansfield, Ohio, but was canceled because of the struggling economy.
CLEVELAND ó Lindsay Davenport is pulling out of the Australian Open because she is pregnant with her second child.
The three-time Grand Slam singles champion and former No. 1-ranked woman gave birth to a son, Jagger, in June 2007. Davenport then returned to the tour, although she hasn’t played since the U.S. Open in August of this year.
Just last week, the Australian Open announced Davenport would play in the tournament, which begins Jan. 19.
ORLANDO, Fla. ó Jameer Nelson scored 24 points, and Dwight Howard had 14 points and 13 rebounds to help the Orlando Magic win for the seventh time in eight games, 90-78 over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.
Howard picked up his fifth foul halfway into the fourth quarter and went to the bench. That wasn’t anything new for the Magic, who played the last two games with the All-Star center sidelined by a sore knee.
The Magic improved to 20-6 to open a 41/2-game lead over second-place Atlanta in the Southeast Division.
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