Rays win AL pennant; Dodgers stretch NLCS to limit
UNDATED (AP) — The American League Championship Series is over, but there’s one game left in the National League Championship. The Tampa Bay Rays have claimed their first AL pennant in 12 years and now await the winner of Sunday’s NLCS game between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Charlie Morton silenced his former team and the Rays belted a pair of early homers to beat the Astros, 4-2. Morton held Houston to two hits and one walk while striking out six over 5 2/3 scoreless innings before handing it over to the bullpen.
Morton has won all four of his starts in winner-take-all situations.
Series MVP Randy Arozarena (ah-roh-zah-RAY’-nah) got the Rays going with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, one inning before Mike Zunino (zoo-NEE’-noh) went deep off Astros starter Lance McCullers. Zunino added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to give Tampa Bay a four-run cushion.
However, the Astros had a chance to take the lead in the eighth after Carlos Correa slapped a two-run single. But Peter Fairbanks fanned Alex Bregman with runners on first and second to end the threat.
The Dodgers have stretched the NLCS to the limit after trailing it three games to one.
Corey Seager and Justin Turner hit back-to-back homers in the first inning before Walker Buehler completed six scoreless frames to lead the Dodgers past the Braves, 3-1. Seager put L.A. ahead to stay with his third homer in two games.
Cody Bellinger added an RBI single in the first off losing pitcher Max Fried (freed), who was reached for eight hits and four walks over 6 2/3 innings.
Buehler allowed seven hits but no walks while striking out six.
The Braves didn’t score until Ronald Acuna (ah-KOON’-yah) Jr.‘s RBI double in the eighth off Blake Treinen.
Kenley Jansen needed to throw just six pitches to record the final three outs for his first save.
Alabama shreds Georgia secondary
UNDATED (AP) — Second-ranked Alabama had the much better passing attack in Saturday’s showdown with No. 3 Georgia.
Mac Jones passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns as the Crimson Tide rallied for a 41-24 win over the Bulldogs.
Javonta Smith caught 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter that effectively put it out of reach. Jaylen Waddle caught a 90-yard touchdown pass and gained 161 yards on six catches.
The Bulldogs also had trouble stopping Najai Harris, who gained 152 yards on 31 carries against a defense that allowed an average of just 38 yards on the ground this year.
Trailing by four, Alabama scored three straight touchdowns over a 10-minute span of the second half.
Stetson Bennett completed 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yarder to James Cook. But he threw three interceptions.
The Tide were with head coach Nick Saban after he tested negative for the coronavirus earlier in the day. Saban tested positive during the week before showing up negative on Friday and Saturday.
The biggest upset on a day of stunners was provided by Florida State, which ended Saturday with a 1-3 record.
Jordan Travis ran for two touchdowns and threw a scoring pass to help the Seminoles build big first-half lead before holding off fifth-ranked North Carolina, 31-28. Travis guided an offensive that generated 434 yards but was shut out in the second half.
North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell led three second-half touchdown drives to pull to 31-28, but the Tar Heels had drops on third and fourth down in the final seconds to end the comeback bid.
In other Top 25 action:
— Trevor Lawrence set career highs with 404 yards passing and five touchdowns as top-ranked Clemson destroyed Georgia Tech, 73-7. All five scoring strikes came in the first half, including two to Amari Rodgers. The Tigers’ 671 yards and 73 points are the most allowed by the Yellow Jackets in the modern era.
— Kyren Williams ran for 127 yards and Ian Book tossed a 13-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that gave No. 4 Notre Dame the lead for good in a 12-7 decision over Louisville. Williams ran 25 times and had his third 100-yard game of the season as the 4-0 Irish won their 22nd straight at Notre Dame Stadium.
— No. 11 Texas A&M doubled up Mississippi State, 28-14 as Isaiah Spiller ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Kellen Mond threw for two scores and Chase Lane caught two passes, including a 51-yard touchdown reception early in the second half.
— D’Eriq King threw four touchdown passes as No. 13 Miami beat Pittsburgh 31-19. Will Mallory caught two of King’s scoring passes as the Hurricanes bounced back from last weekend’s 42-17 loss at top-ranked Clemson.
— Kevin Harris ran for two touchdowns and South Carolina turned three Bo Nix interceptions into points to defeat No. 15 Auburn for the first time in 87 years, 30-22. The Tigers had won eight straight in the series and looked like they had this one under control as they led 9-0 in the opening 10 minutes.
— Kelvin Joseph and Jami Davis returned interceptions for touchdowns in the first half and Kentucky shut out No. 18 Tennessee in the second half to bury the Volunteers 34-7. It was Kentucky’s first win in Neyland Stadium since 1984, the Wildcats’ largest margin of victory in Knoxville since 56-0 in 1893 and their most lopsided victory in the series since 1935.
— Hendon Hooker ran for a career-high 164 yards, scored three TDs and threw for a score in 23rd-ranked Virginia Tech’s 40-14 victory over Boston College. Khalil Herbert added 143 yards rushing for the Hokies, who ran for 350 yards in bouncing back from a loss at North Carolina.
Patriots back at work; Denver running backs coach tests positive
UNDATED (AP) — The New England Patriots were back to work on Saturday, one day after a fifth player tested positive for COVID-19 and one day before their twice-postponed game against Denver.
The Broncos, meanwhile, had coronavirus news of their own Saturday. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins has tested positive and won’t make the trip to New England.
The Jaguars, Falcons, Colts, Panthers and Ravens also have dealt with COVID issues in recent days..
The Broncos haven’t played since Oct. 1. That’s the longest in-season break between games for any team since the NFL postponed all games on the weekend following the 9/11 attacks.
In other virus-related NFL news:
— The Ravens have placed defensive tackle Brandon Williams on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The eight-year veteran ranks ninth on the team with 15 tackles. The Ravens face Philadelphia Sunday.
— The Jaguars say a player on their practice squad has tested positive for the coronavirus, but they still plan to play the Lions Sunday as scheduled. The player was quarantined, and the team is reviewing contact tracing data to determine what further precautions need to be taken. Jacksonville decided to hold football activities remotely on Saturday in keeping with NFL protocols.
— Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had a second negative COVID-19 test in 24 hours, clearing him to rejoin his teammates and play in Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.
Henley surges to top of leaderboard
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Russell Henley ran off three straight birdies to start the back nine and posted a 5-under 67 to build a three-shot lead going into the final round of the PGA’s CJ Cup at Shadow Creek.
Henley began the round four shots back before receiving plenty of help from the other players in his group.
Xander Schauffele (SHOW’-flee) had a three-shot lead going into the weekend, but a pair of late bogeys contributed to a 74. First-round leader Tyrrell Hatton didn’t make a birdie until the final hole in a 73.
Of the top 25 players, just two broke par.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Mike Weir was the clubhouse leader when the second round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic was halted by darkness.
The field tried to finish 36 holes on Saturday after the first round was postponed by rain. Weir surged ahead with a 63 in his second round for a 13-under total, three strokes ahead of Phil Mickelson.
Retief Goosen and Brandt Jobe are tied for third at minus-8.
Mickelson is trying to win for the second time in as many starts on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.
Bassino leads Brignone for Italian 1-2 in season-opening GS
SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Marta Bassino led Federica Brignone (feh-deh-REE’-kah breen-YOH’-nay) for an Italian 1-2 finish in the season-opening women’s World Cup giant slalom.
Three-time overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin sat out the race after tweaking her back in training.