National sports briefs: Team USA wins

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Associated Press
MIAMI ó Hobbled and humbled in the World Baseball Classic, Team USA is still swinging.
David Wright hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a three-run rally Tuesday night, and the injury-plagued Americans qualified for this weekend’s semifinals with a 6-5 win over Puerto Rico.
Wright’s hit eliminated Puerto Rico from the event.
It was an especially sweet victory for the U.S. after Saturday’s embarrassment against Puerto Rico that triggered the mercy rule when the Americans fell 10 runs behind, ending the game in the seventh inning.
This time they played a full nine, saving their best for last.
MAJOR LEAGUES
FORT MYERS, Fla. ó Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He is expected to be out for three to four weeks.
* PHOENIX ó Oakland eleased catcher Rob Bowen, likely opening the door for former first-round pick Landon Powell from Apex to back up Kurt Suzuki.
* SURPRISE, Ariz. ó Sidney Ponson will get another chance to pitch, this time with Kansas City. Coming off two starts for the Netherlands in the WBC, he signed a minor league contract with the Royals.
* SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. ó Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman has been sidelined by a strain on his right side, and the timetable for his return is unclear.
* PHOENIX ó Dodger manager Joe Torre said it was a mistake to put Manny Ramirez in the outfield last weekend and added that his star slugger will be restricted to hitting when he first returns to exhibition play.
* LAKELAND, Fla. ó Houston’s deal with Ivan Rodriguez likely won’t be completed until he’s finished playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
* CLEARWATER, Fla. ó Phillies ace Cole Hamels will return to camp after a team physician found no damage in his sore left elbow.
* HOUSTON ó Lawyers for Roger Clemens asked a federal judge to reconsider his decision dismissing most of a defamation suit the pitcher filed against his former personal trainer over allegations of performance-enhancing drug use.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó It’s been a unique spring practice so far for Stephen Garcia. He’s made it through two practices without a suspension, and he’s South Carolina’s lone quarterback with experience.
“It sure beats sitting at home,” Garcia said Tuesday.
That’s where the prized recruit spent his previous two rounds of spring drills, banned from the workouts because of run-ins with the law.
* TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ó Florida State will appeal part of an NCAA punishment that would strip the school of victories in 10 sports, including as many as 14 in football. The university president called the penalty “excessive and inappropriate.”
Football coach Bobby Bowden has 382 career wins ó one fewer than Penn State’s Joe Paterno, the major college leader. Having 14 victories subtracted from Bowden’s official total could ruin his chances of retiring as the NCAA leader.
“The coaches had no involvement,” Florida State president T.K. Wetherell said. “To hold them responsible in this case is simply wrong.”
* DURHAM ó Duke quarterback Zack Asack is headed to the other side of the ball.
Coach David Cutcliffe says he’s moving Asack to safety this spring because “it’s something that I think he can do to help our team.”
In 2005, Asack became the first Duke freshman in two decades to start at quarterback. When he was suspended for the 2006 season for plagiarism, Thaddeus Lewis took over and has done nothing to relinquish the job through three seasons.
NFL
WASHINGTON ó President Barack Obama selected Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney to be U.S. ambassador to Ireland, turning to a lifelong Republican who provided the Democrat critical campaign support during the White House race.
* PITTSBURGH ó The Steelers have signed backup offensive tackle Trai Essex to a two-year contract, guaranteeing that four of the team’s free agent offensive linemen will return.
The Steelers already had signed left guard Chris Kemoeatu to a five-year contract and starting tackles Willie Colon and Max Starks to one-year contracts. They released guard Kendall Simmons on Tuesday and did not attempt to re-sign tackle Marvel Smith.
* BUFFALO, N.Y. ó Marshawn Lynch met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who will decide whether the Buffalo Bills running back will be disciplined after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge.n ASHBURN, Va. ó Defensive end Renaldo Wynn has agreed to a contract with the Redskins, his team from 2002 to 2006. He played for the Giants last season.
* CLEVELAND ó The Browns have signed versatile offensive lineman John St. Clair, who spent the past four seasons with the Chicago Bears.
* NEW ORLEANS ó The Saints have agreed to terms on one-year contracts with center Nick Leckey and defensive lineman Paul Spicer.
* KANSAS CITY, Mo. ó The Chiefs have come to terms with linebacker Monte Beisel as well as wide receivers Bobby Engram and Terrance Copper.
* INDIANAPOLIS ó The Colts have re-signed running back Lance Ball, linebacker Buster Davis and offensive lineman Dan Federkeil.
* TEMPE, Ariz. ó The Cardinals have re-signed free agent linebacker Clark Haggans to a three-year deal.n NEW YORK ó The Jets have matched Cleveland’s offer sheet to safety Abram Elam.
TENNIS
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. ó Defending champ Novak Djokovic rolled to a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tommy Haas in their third-round match at the BNP Paribas Open.
No. 1 Rafael Nadal advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Dmitry Tursunov.
American John Isner, a wild card, advanced with another upset, downing former No. 1 Marat Safin 6-4, 6-4.

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