Newcastle must strengthen - Ameobi - Striker Shola Ameobi defends Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and says the squad must be strengthened this summer. Kane leads Blackhawks past Blues, 4-3 in OT (Yahoo Sports) - Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the game at 11:17 of overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece. Kane carried the puck down the left side as teammates Ben Smith and Brandon Saad rushed toward the net, and beat Ryan Miller with a well-placed wrist shot for his 32nd career postseason goal. Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which blew a 2-0 second-period lead. Jonathan Toews had two assists and Corey Crawford made 30 saves. Aldridge's 43 lifts Blazers over Rockets 112-105 (Yahoo Sports) - LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series. Aldridge has made the most of the return to his home state and put the Trail Blazers in control heading home for Game 3 in Portland. He's also the first player Trail Blazers history to have to 40-point games in the postseason. James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within 3. Pineda tossed for pine tar; Red Sox beat Yanks 5-1 (Yahoo Sports) - Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected for using a foreign substance less than two weeks after appearing to get away with it in another game against Boston, and the Red Sox beat New York 5-1 on Wednesday night. The right-hander was thrown out in the second inning when plate umpire Gerry Davis found a shiny substance on the right side of Pineda's neck after Red Sox manager John Farrell asked him to check. Pineda walked from the mound without protest. ''Our awareness was heightened, given what we had seen in the past.'' Pineda (2-2) had nothing on the right side of his neck in a photo of him on the mound in his tough first inning, when four of the first six batters reached on hits. Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1 (Yahoo Sports) - SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece. Dubinsky, Foligno lift CBJ to 1st home playoff win (Yahoo Sports) - Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno's wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The Blue Jackets overcame a 3-0 deficit for their first home playoff victory in the franchise's 13 seasons, sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night tied 2-2. Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, James Neal scored in a span of 5:01 of the first period to stake the Penguins to a 3-0 lead. Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97 (Yahoo Sports) - LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series. Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to help seal the win for Miami. Mario Chalmers added 11 for the Heat. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte, which got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23 from the floor. Wild's Matt Cooke gets 7-game suspension from NHL (Yahoo Sports) - ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke has been suspended for seven games by the NHL for a knee-to-knee hit that injured Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. Blues C Backes scratched for Game 4 (Yahoo Sports) - St. Louis center David Backes was scratched Wednesday night for Game 4 of the Blues' first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks due to an upper-body injury. Backes did not participate in St. Louis' morning skate, but coach Ken Hitchcock did not rule him out for the game. The final word came when Backes was on the list of scratches on the pregame roster report. Forward Brenden Morrow also was scratched after Hitchcock said earlier in the day that he would miss the rest of the series. Yanks pitcher Pineda ejected for substance on neck (Yahoo Sports) - New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from a game against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning Wednesday night after umpires found a foreign substance on his neck. Pineda's ejection occurred 13 days after the right-hander had brown goo on the lower part of the palm of his pitching hand during a 4-1 win over Boston at Yankee Stadium. But with two outs, no runners and a 1-2 count on Grady Sizemore on Wednesday, Farrell left the dugout to talk with plate umpire Gerry Davis, who went to the mound. Davis touched the right side of the pitcher's neck with his index finger then ejected Pineda as other umpires and Yankee infielders stood nearby.

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Newcastle must strengthen - Ameobi [BBC.co.uk Sports: April 24, 2014, 12:18 am]
Striker Shola Ameobi defends Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and says the squad must be strengthened this summer.
Kane leads Blackhawks past Blues, 4-3 in OT (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 11:07 pm]
Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the game at 11:17 of overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece. Kane carried the puck down the left side as teammates Ben Smith and Brandon Saad rushed toward the net, and beat Ryan Miller with a well-placed wrist shot for his 32nd career postseason goal. Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which blew a 2-0 second-period lead. Jonathan Toews had two assists and Corey Crawford made 30 saves.
Aldridge's 43 lifts Blazers over Rockets 112-105 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 10:50 pm]
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series. Aldridge has made the most of the return to his home state and put the Trail Blazers in control heading home for Game 3 in Portland. He's also the first player Trail Blazers history to have to 40-point games in the postseason. James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within 3.
Pineda tossed for pine tar; Red Sox beat Yanks 5-1 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 8:54 pm]
Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected for using a foreign substance less than two weeks after appearing to get away with it in another game against Boston, and the Red Sox beat New York 5-1 on Wednesday night. The right-hander was thrown out in the second inning when plate umpire Gerry Davis found a shiny substance on the right side of Pineda's neck after Red Sox manager John Farrell asked him to check. Pineda walked from the mound without protest. ''Our awareness was heightened, given what we had seen in the past.'' Pineda (2-2) had nothing on the right side of his neck in a photo of him on the mound in his tough first inning, when four of the first six batters reached on hits.
Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 8:53 pm]
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
Dubinsky, Foligno lift CBJ to 1st home playoff win (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 8:19 pm]
Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno's wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The Blue Jackets overcame a 3-0 deficit for their first home playoff victory in the franchise's 13 seasons, sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night tied 2-2. Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, James Neal scored in a span of 5:01 of the first period to stake the Penguins to a 3-0 lead.
Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 7:56 pm]
LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series. Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to help seal the win for Miami. Mario Chalmers added 11 for the Heat. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte, which got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23 from the floor.
Wild's Matt Cooke gets 7-game suspension from NHL (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 7:28 pm]
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke has been suspended for seven games by the NHL for a knee-to-knee hit that injured Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.
Blues C Backes scratched for Game 4 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 7:17 pm]
St. Louis center David Backes was scratched Wednesday night for Game 4 of the Blues' first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks due to an upper-body injury. Backes did not participate in St. Louis' morning skate, but coach Ken Hitchcock did not rule him out for the game. The final word came when Backes was on the list of scratches on the pregame roster report. Forward Brenden Morrow also was scratched after Hitchcock said earlier in the day that he would miss the rest of the series.
Yanks pitcher Pineda ejected for substance on neck (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 6:46 pm]
New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from a game against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning Wednesday night after umpires found a foreign substance on his neck. Pineda's ejection occurred 13 days after the right-hander had brown goo on the lower part of the palm of his pitching hand during a 4-1 win over Boston at Yankee Stadium. But with two outs, no runners and a 1-2 count on Grady Sizemore on Wednesday, Farrell left the dugout to talk with plate umpire Gerry Davis, who went to the mound. Davis touched the right side of the pitcher's neck with his index finger then ejected Pineda as other umpires and Yankee infielders stood nearby.

Spartacus' Tips

MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts is catching on all over the world. There has been talks, mostly by UFC president Dana White, about trying to get it recognized as an official Olympic sport. While this still appears to be a long way off, here are the top five reasons why MMA should be an Olympic sport ...

Did you know that the first Super Bowl, the football championship game held annually by the National Football League, dates back to January 15, 1967?

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NBA Soccer
Wednesday NBA grades: It’s LaMarcus Aldridge’s world and the Rockets have to live in it [NBC Sports: April 24, 2014, 12:48 am]
LA has 89 points and 26 rebounds in two games.

LaMarcus Aldridge ruining Dwight Howard’s chance at redemption [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 11:40 pm]
Trail Blazers take 2-0 series lead with second win in Houston

Aldridge's 43 lifts Blazers over Rockets 112-105 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 10:50 pm]
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series. Aldridge has made the most of the return to his home state and put the Trail Blazers in control heading home for Game 3 in Portland. He's also the first player Trail Blazers history to have to 40-point games in the postseason. James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within 3.

Spurs give the ball away first, then Game 2 to Dallas [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 9:54 pm]
The Spurs turned the ball over on 26.2 percent of their possessions. It's very unSpurs like.

Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 8:53 pm]
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.

Newcastle must strengthen - Ameobi [BBC.co.uk Sports: April 24, 2014, 12:18 am]
Striker Shola Ameobi defends Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and says the squad must be strengthened this summer.

Cruz Azul defeats Toluca, claims record sixth CONCACAF crown [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 10:36 pm]
Mariano Pavone's first half goal in Toluca delivered La Maquina a record-breaking title.

Hat trick from Wright-Phillips gives New York two wins in a row [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 9:56 pm]
The Red Bulls' slow start is quickly becoming a distant memory as New York posted a 4-0 win over visiting Houston.

Soccer-Uruguay not among world's elite, says coach [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 9:31 pm]
By Malena Castaldi MONTEVIDEO, April 23 (Reuters) - Copa America champions Uruguay are fifth in the FIFA rankings, finished fourth at the 2010 World Cup and in Luis Suarez have one of the world's deadliest strikers, but coach Oscar Washington Tabarez does not rate his side among the elite football nations. We in Uruguay are not among the powers, not even in the South American region, and I think that's the reason we find the qualifiers so hard," Tabarez said on Wednesday. Uruguay scraped into three of the last four World Cup tournaments via an intercontinental playoff having finished in the lowest qualifying berth of the South American group. He told international news agencies at Uruguay's training complex outside Montevideo it would be a surprise for Uruguay to reach the final in Brazil given they are a nation of 3.3 million with a limited talent pool.

Toluca 1-1 Cruz Azul: La Maquina churns out CONCACAF Champions League trophy [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 8:54 pm]
Cruz Azul has won its sixth CONCACAF title, thanks to a 1-1 draw with Toluca that sees it lift the trophy thanks to the away goals tiebreaker.

NFL NHL
Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 6:43 pm]
As Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks get to kick off the NFL's regular season by hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 4. It's the third straight season the Packers have traveled to face the defending Super Bowl champions. ''It's a tremendous opportunity for our football team,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. Also at night will be a Sunday matchup of AFC champion Denver and Peyton Manning hosting his former team, Indianapolis;

Seattle signs Trufant, CB expected to retire (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 4:37 pm]
The Seattle Seahawks have signed former cornerback Marcus Trufant, who is expected to announce his retirement from football. Seattle announced the signing Wednesday and said Trufant was expected to announce his intentions during a news conference Thursday. Trufant spent nearly his entire NFL career with his hometown team. The native of Tacoma, Wash., and former star at Washington State was a first-round pick by the Seahawks in 2003.

NFL players talk about race with Harvard students (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 3:57 pm]
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman says he refuses to back down from his raging rant after the NFC championship game because he wants to ''educate the uneducated.''

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson to divorce wife (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 3:52 pm]
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has announced that he and his wife Ashton are divorcing. Wilson made the announcement in a statement released by the Seahawks on Wednesday. He says decisions like this are not easy and respectfully asks for ''prayers and understanding and privacy during this difficult time.'' The pair married in January 2012 after he finished his college career at Wisconsin and before he was drafted by the Seahawks. The couple had been visible at Seahawks events for his first two seasons in the league.

Bears agree to 1-year deal with RB Draughn (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 3:25 pm]
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- The Chicago Bears have agreed to a one-year contract with running back Shaun Draughn.

Hitchcock knows how Quenneville felt as Blues take their own tough losses [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 11:59 pm]
The Blackhawks gave the Blues a taste of their own medicine.

Kane leads Blackhawks past Blues, 4-3 in OT (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 11:07 pm]
Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the game at 11:17 of overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece. Kane carried the puck down the left side as teammates Ben Smith and Brandon Saad rushed toward the net, and beat Ryan Miller with a well-placed wrist shot for his 32nd career postseason goal. Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which blew a 2-0 second-period lead. Jonathan Toews had two assists and Corey Crawford made 30 saves.

Kane’s OT goal ties Blackhawks – Blues series at 2-2 [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 10:52 pm]
Another memorable moment for the American star.

Frederik Andersen’s key to bouncing back: have a short memory [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 10:25 pm]
The NFL defensive back strategy.

Lemieux went to Pens locker room to lift Fleury’s spirits [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 9:29 pm]
Nice gesture ... bad sign?

Baseball Golf
Hamels loses to Dodgers in 1st start of season (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 11:18 pm]
Zack Greinke outpitched Cole Hamels with seven strong innings, Hanley Ramirez homered and Yasiel Puig drove in two runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night. Manager Don Mattingly tried to squeeze one more inning out of Greinke, but lifted him after Jayson Nix drove the right-hander's 108th pitch to left-center for a leadoff homer. J.P. Howell got three outs in the eighth, and Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save after the Dodgers picked up a couple of insurance runs in the eighth on Ramirez's leadoff homer to center and Justin Turner's RBI single off Shawn Camp.

Werth, LaRoche lift Nats past Angels 5-4 in 9th (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 10:06 pm]
Trailing by two runs with two men on in the bottom of the ninth inning, Washington's Jayson Werth worked a 3-0 count against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri. ''I can't imagine anybody thinking that J-Dub's going to swing,'' Werth's teammate Adam LaRoche said. ''Surprised all of us.'' Werth did indeed go after the next pitch, hitting it down the third-base line for a game-tying, two-run double that ended Frieri's rough outing. LaRoche then produced an RBI single off the first pitch from Fernando Salas to cap a four-run rally in the ninth, and the Nationals beat the Angels 5-4 Wednesday night to avoid a sweep.

Brewers bats wake up at home to beat Padres 5-2 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 9:03 pm]
Jean Segura hit a three-run homer, and the Milwaukee Brewers broke out of an offensive slumber at home to support Kyle Lohse in a 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night. Khris Davis added a solo shot for the Brewers, who have won five of six and are a big league-best 16-6. Brewers batters backed him with nine hits at Miller Park, where the team had been averaging just two runs and six hits entering the night.

Pineda tossed for pine tar; Red Sox beat Yanks 5-1 (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 8:54 pm]
Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected for using a foreign substance less than two weeks after appearing to get away with it in another game against Boston, and the Red Sox beat New York 5-1 on Wednesday night. The right-hander was thrown out in the second inning when plate umpire Gerry Davis found a shiny substance on the right side of Pineda's neck after Red Sox manager John Farrell asked him to check. Pineda walked from the mound without protest. ''Our awareness was heightened, given what we had seen in the past.'' Pineda (2-2) had nothing on the right side of his neck in a photo of him on the mound in his tough first inning, when four of the first six batters reached on hits.

LaRoche caps Nats comeback for 5-4 win over Angels (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 8:49 pm]
Adam LaRoche's tiebreaking RBI single off the first pitch from Fernando Salas capped a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Washington Nationals came back to beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-4 Wednesday night to avoid a sweep. Los Angeles led 4-1 entering the ninth, and closer Ernesto Frieri (0-2) went in, seeking his third save. Instead, he left with his second blown chance, charged with all four runs Washington scored in that inning. One out later, Denard Span singled, then Anthony Rendon walked.

Cheyenne Woods throws out first pitch at Tampa Bay Rays game (PGA) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 11:14 pm]
The Symetra Tour is in the Tampa Bay area this week, and several of the players took advantage of the chance to attend the Minnesota Twins-Tampa Bay Rays game on Wednesday night. They were also on hand to lend their support to fellow player Cheyenne Woods, who got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Tiger Woods' 23-year-old niece is quite an athlete, not to mention the reigning Australian Ladies Masters champion, so it's no surprise that she strode right up to the pitching rubber to make her throw -- no wimpy throwing from in front of the mound for her. Not that we're judging or anything, but Cheyenne did a little better than Lexi Thompson did at a Miami Marlins game the other day.

Horschel aims to regain winning form in Big Easy (The Associated Press) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 5:42 pm]
There's something about the rhythm of life in the Big Easy that appeals to Billy Horschel, who acknowledges that he can be a little ''hyper'' for even his own liking on the PGA Tour. Horschel earned his first PGA Tour victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans a year ago. ''Something about this city just puts me at a sense of ease,'' Horschel said, adding that he's found New Orleans to have the best dining options of any tour stop. We just talk about other things and we're having a good time.'' Horschel has been disappointed with his form lately.

Nike Golf issues VRS Covert 2.0 Matte Black Edition Driver (PGA) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 4:07 pm]
At Nike Golf, college football is still very much on everyone's minds. That's because the company used college football as the inspiration for its latest creation -- a matte-black edition of its flagship VRS Covert 2.0 driver. Sports teams often incorporate black into uniforms for a big rivalry game or season opener, Nike Golf says, adding that black is a color traditionally associated with power, strength and sophistication. The concept, the company notes, is especially popular in college football, where matte-tinted helmets have become all the rage.

'Big Easy' Els returns to a favored PGA Tour haunt (Reuters) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 3:07 pm]
(Reuters) - Four-times major winner Ernie Els returns this week to one of his favorite cities, where he shares the alluring nickname of 'The Big Easy,' to make his eighth career start at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. At a PGA Tour event where he has always enjoyed a "good vibe," the smooth-swinging South African lost out to American Jason Dufner in a playoff for the title in 2012, then tied for 15th last year at the TPC Louisiana. "At the forefront of my mind right now is making sure I put all my efforts into trying to produce a better performance at this week's Zurich Classic," Els wrote on his blog. "Pete Dye has always been one of my favorite designers and courses like TPC Louisiana just seem to fit my eye." Els, a 19-times winner on the PGA Tour, will aim to feed off those positive memories in front of supportive fans as he seeks his first victory on the U.S. circuit since the 2012 British Open.

Kuchar latest to get the Tom Watson seal of Ryder Cup approval (PGA) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 12:37 pm]
First, Bubba Watson. Now, Matt Kuchar.

Motor Sports Tennis
NASCAR Minute: Marcos Ambrose happy with 2014 start (VIDEO) [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 5:00 pm]
RPM's Marcos Ambrose on his start to the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

NHRA drag racing superstar John Force goes on vacation — at a dragstrip, of course [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 4:53 pm]
John Force is your classic workaholic. Even when he's on vacation and supposed to be resting and relaxing and taking things slow, the record-setting 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ never stops working. Force was on vacation with his family last weekend in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, a prelude to his upcoming 65th birthday on May 4.

BREAKING NEWS: Swan Racing restructures, splits up two-car Sprint Cup operation [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 4:00 pm]
Swan Racing has restructured its two-car Sprint Cup team, the organization announced Wednesday afternoon. Minority owner Anthony Marlowe has merged his ownership stake in the No. 26 Toyota driven by Sprint Cup rookie Cole Whitt with BK Racing, which now expands to a three-car operation. Meanwhile, the No. 30 team has been sold to John Cohen, owner of XxxTreme Motorsports.

Swan Racing restructures, splits up two-car Sprint Cup operation [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 4:00 pm]
Swan Racing has restructured its two-car Sprint Cup team, the organization announced Wednesday afternoon. Minority owner Anthony Marlowe has merged his ownership stake in the No. 26 Toyota driven by Sprint Cup rookie Cole Whitt with BK Racing, which now expands to a three-car operation. Meanwhile, the No. 30 team has been sold to John Cohen, owner of XxxTreme Motorsports.

Three-year extension for IndyCar at Long Beach approved by City Council [NBC Sports: April 23, 2014, 3:51 pm]
IndyCars confirmed to "roar by the shore" through 2018 after Long Beach City Council meeting.

Kvitova beaten in 1st major upset at Stuttgart (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 4:41 pm]
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) -- Alisa Kleybanova defeated third-seeded Petra Kvitova 6-2, 7-6 (3) to provide the first major upset at the Porsche Grand Prix on Wednesday.

Seven or eight on Murray's coach list [BBC.co.uk Sports: April 23, 2014, 2:24 pm]
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is considering "seven or eight" candidates in his search for a new coach.

Hantuchova, Peng reach quarters in Morocco (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 12:57 pm]
MARRAKESH, Morocco (AP) -- Top-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia beat last year's runner-up Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix SAR.

Murray breaks down in tears at Scottish ceremony (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 12:01 pm]
His victory speech at Wimbledon was easy compared to this. Andy Murray broke into tears Wednesday as he accepted a civic honor in his Scottish hometown of Dunblane. Murray, who was granted ''the freedom of Stirling'' from the local council, stopped to compose himself and wipe his eyes several times during the ceremony at Dunblane High School.

Ivanovic beats Lisicki in 1st round at Stuttgart (Yahoo Sports) [Yahoo! Sports: April 23, 2014, 11:10 am]
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) -- Ana Ivanovic defeated Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-3 to send the Wimbledon finalist out in the first round of the Porsche Grand Prix on Wednesday.


Pineda tossed for pine tar; Red Sox beat Yanks 5-1

Home plate umpire Gerry Davis ejects New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda after a foreign substance was discovered on his neck in the second inning of the Yankees' baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)BOSTON (AP) — The pine tar on Michael Pineda's neck was a stain for the New York Yankees.


Aldridge's 43 lifts Blazers over Rockets 112-105

Portland Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge (12) reacts after making a basket against the Houston Rockets during the third quarter in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. Portland won 112-105. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)HOUSTON (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge's son JJ, who turned 5 on Wednesday, texted him after the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff win and told him he looked like Spider-Man on one of his dunks.


Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers

FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2013, file photo,k Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tries to get away from Green Bay Packers' C.J. Wilson during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Green Bay, Wis. As Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks get to kick off the NFL's regular season by hosting the Packers on Sept. 4. That Thursday game is the first of four prime-time games on opening weekend. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Mike McCarthy promises there won't be any bad memories plaguing his Green Bay Packers when they open the NFL season on Sept. 4 at Super Bowl champion Seattle.


Michael Phelps launches comeback in 100 butterfly

Michael Phelps swims during a training session Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Mesa, Ariz., as he prepares to compete for the first time since retiring after the 2012 London Games. The 22-time Olympic medalist is entered in three events at the Arena Grand Prix starting Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt York)MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Returning to swimming after a 20-month retirement, Michael Phelps is easing back into the sport he once dominated by racing one of his best events.


Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1

Dallas Mavericks' Monta Ellis (11) is pressured by San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, right, as he tries to score during the first half of Game 2 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Blowing their playoff opener turned out to be great therapy for the Dallas Mavericks.


Kane leads Blackhawks past Blues, 4-3 in OT

Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal during overtime period in Game 4 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series against the St. Louis Blues in Chicago, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The Blackhawks won 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)CHICAGO (AP) — Patrick Kane had his shot all along. Same for his dazzling puck-handling skills and the vision that sees the plays before they happen.


Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97

Charlotte Bobcats' Al Jefferson (25) defends Miami Heat's LeBron James during the first half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.


Your Top Plays for Today

Portland Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge (12) reacts after making a basket against the Houston Rockets during the third quarter in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. Portland won 112-105. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)Your Top Plays for Today: AP's Sports Guide


Dubinsky, Foligno lift CBJ to 1st home playoff win

Columbus Blue Jackets celebrate their win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. The Blue Jackets defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — In the dressing room after Brandon Dubinsky's late goal forced overtime, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno half-jokingly said he'd get the winner.


Jackson seeking Knicks coach, says it won't be him

FILE - In this March 18, 2014 file photo, Phil Jackson, the new president of the New York Knicks, answers questions during a news conference in New York. Jackson won't be hiring himself to coach the Knicks. Two days after firing Mike Woodson, Jackson reiterated Wednesday, April 23, 2014, that he won't be returning to the bench, despite the fact that even fiancee Jeanie Buss told him he should. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — The coaching search is on in New York, and the best possible candidate has already been eliminated.


04/23/2014 10:59 AM
Pujols goes yard twice to join 500 HR club
Albert Pujols has hit the 500th home run of his career, becoming the 26th player in major league history to reach that milestone.
04/24/2014 12:16 AM
Pineda ejected for foreign substance on neck
Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda admitted to using pine tar on the baseball during the second inning of Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, but said he did it not to cheat, rather to ensure he did not hit anyone with an errant pitch.
04/23/2014 11:54 PM
Seahawks to host Packers in season opener
The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will open the 2014-15 NFL season against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, Sept. 4.
04/24/2014 12:27 AM
Aldridge scores 43 as Blazers drop Rockets
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
04/23/2014 10:53 PM
Mavs cruise past Spurs to even series 1-1
Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
04/23/2014 07:56 PM
Giants-Lions, Chargers-Cards to open MNF
ESPN's 2014 Monday Night Football slate will open in Detroit and Glendale, Ariz., for the season-opening Sept. 8 doubleheader as 26 of the league's 32 teams will make an appearance on MNF.
04/24/2014 12:50 AM
Kane's 2nd goal lifts Hawks over Blues in OT
Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the game at 11:17 of overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece.
04/23/2014 09:08 PM
McGrady makes Skeeters' roster as pitcher
Former NBA star Tracy McGrady has made the opening day roster of the Sugar Land Skeeters as a pitcher.
04/23/2014 06:29 PM
D-backs spoil Wrigley's 100th with rally in 9th
Fittingly, the Chicago Cubs marked Wrigley Field's 100th birthday with a loss -- a dramatic, error-filled one, at that.
04/23/2014 04:45 PM
Robben surprised by Real's approach
Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben is surprised by Real Madrid's cautious approach in their 1-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg win.
04/23/2014 09:52 AM
Man Utd believe Moyes timing right
04/23/2014 05:11 PM
Weight concerns behind Phelps return
04/23/2014 03:27 PM
Daley ready for 'special' competition
Tom Daley is set to compete at the London Aquatics Centre for the first time since winning Olympic bronze.
04/23/2014 04:52 PM
Moyes, Woodward and the doomed presentation
David Moyes 'livid' at Manchester United treatment after 10 months characterised by poor communication and difficult relationships
04/23/2014 12:36 PM
Farbrace named as England assistant
04/24/2014 12:18 AM
Newcastle must strengthen - Ameobi
Striker Shola Ameobi defends Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and says the squad must be strengthened this summer.
04/24/2014 12:42 AM
Ecclestone trial to begin in Germany
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone goes on trial on bribery charges in the German city of Munich, and could face 10 years in jail if convicted.
04/23/2014 02:01 PM
Liverpool reveal Anfield expansion plan
Liverpool plan to redevelop parts of Anfield to increase the ground's capacity to around 59,000.
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