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National Sports Briefs: California wins Little League World Series

Associated Press
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. ó California came up big late to win the Little League World Series.
Bulla Graft’s sharp single scored the go-ahead run in the fourth inning and Kiko Garcia pitched three-plus scoreless innings of relief to lead Chula Vista to a 6-3 victory over Taoyuan, Taiwan, to take the tournament title.
With the pro-U.S. fans on their feet, Garcia closed out the victory by striking out Yu Chieh Kao. The California fans yelled, “USA! USA!”
The teams shook hands before the Californians celebrated, then invited Taiwan to accompany them on the customary victory lap around Lamade Stadium on a sun-splashed afternoon.
They reveled in the United States’ fifth straight Little League championship.
NFL
CINCINNATIó Offensive tackle Andre Smith signed a contract Sunday with the Cincinnati Bengals, ending an impasse that dragged on a month into the preseason.
The Bengals originally planned to have Smith start at right tackle, but he has missed three preseason games. He was in Cincinnati and agreed to the deal shortly before the start of a late afternoon practice, allowing him to get back on the field.
The Bengals finish their preseason schedule with a home game against Indianapolis on Thursday. It’s unclear whether the rookie will be ready to play in that game.
– HOUSTON ó Brett Favre had just three days to prepare for his first start this preseason. This one should be a better indicator of how the comeback from his second retirement is going.
Favre is expected to play the entire first half when the Minnesota Vikings face the Houston Texans in an exhibition game tonight.
The 39-year-old quarterback completed just one pass for 4 yards over two series in his Minnesota debut Aug. 22, but was happy he didn’t have any major errors after such little time to prepare.
“That was not a great start to the year last week, but yet what did you expect,” he said.
– EARTH CITY, Mo. ó Rams quarterback Marc Bulger took the first step Sunday toward returning to the playing field.Bulger, out since Aug. 17 after fracturing the pinky on his throwing hand, threw 21 passes in a side session at the morning practice.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
ANN ARBOR, Mich. ó The University of Michigan announced Sunday that it has launched an investigation into allegations that its football program regularly violates NCAA rules limiting how much time players can spend on training and practice.
The announcement from Michigan athletic director Bill Martin came after a Detroit Free Press article in which players from the 2008 and 2009 teams said the amount of time they spend on football during the season and in the offseason greatly exceeds NCAA limits.
NBA
NEW YORK ó The NBA has suspended Denver’s J.R. Smith and Phoenix’s Jason Richardson after both were recently convicted of driving offenses.
Smith will sit out the Nuggets’ first seven games for pleading guilty to reckless driving in New Jersey. Richardson will miss two games after he pleaded guilty to drunken driving in Arizona.
IRL
OLIET, Ill. ó Ryan Briscoe grabbed the IndyCar series points lead by stringing together quietly consistent finishes. Then he took control by putting on a remarkable wheel-to-wheel show under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway.
Briscoe made an aggressive move for the lead going into the final lap of the race, pulling alongside fellow title contender Scott Dixon as the white flag flew. After going side-by-side with their wheels inches apart, Briscoe nosed ahead at the finish line to win by 0.0077 seconds.
GOLF
JERSEY CITY, N.J. ó In a final hour of surprises, Heath Slocum delivered the biggest one Sunday at The Barclays.
One week after Slocum wondered if he would even make it to the PGA Tour Playoffs, he finished off a compelling afternoon at Liberty National by making a 20-foot par putt on the 18th hole for a one-shot victory over Tiger Woods and a cast of stars.
– NORTH PLAINS, Ore. ó Rookie M.J. Hur hit a 6-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole of the Safeway Classic on Sunday to beat Suzann Pettersen for her first LPGA Tour victory.
TENNIS
NEW YORK ó Andy Roddick faces 84th-ranked Bjorn Phau of Germany in the first round of the U.S. Open tonight.
Others scheduled to play on Day 1 include five-time defending champion Roger Federer against NCAA champion Devin Britton of Jackson, Miss.; No. 21 James Blake against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo; three-time champion Serena Williams against American wild-card entry Alexa Glatch of Newport Beach, Calif.; and 2005 champion Kim Clijsters, just back from retirement, against Viktoriya Kutuzova.

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