American League \nThe Yankees kept circling the bases, battering Boston's beleaguered pitching staff on Saturday night. By the time the long, long night ended with a devastating 19-8 rout over the Red Sox, the dreaded New Yorkers were just one game away from a shocking sweep. \n"We feel like we have a whole lot of momentum," Rodriguez said. "It doesn't matter who we're facing." \nSheffield broke a 6-6 tie with a three-run homer off Curtis Leskanic in the fourth inning, Matsui had five hits, five RBIs and five runs scored, and Rodriguez homered and scored five times. \nNew York, which has won six straight postseason games, had 22 hits in all, more than enough on a night Javier Vazquez relieved Kevin Brown to get just his second win in more than two months. \nNo major league baseball team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series, and 20 of the 25 that lost the first three games went down in four straight. \nThe Yankees now have four tries to get the one victory they need for the seventh AL pennant in nine seasons since Joe Torre took over as manager, their 40th overall. \n"We knew going in that it was going to be a tough series," Torre said. "To be up 3-0, I think we're surprised." \nThis game took 4 hours, 20 minutes, the longest nine-inning game in postseason history. It was a tribute to the batters and an embarrassment to pitchers. \nEven when the Yankees took an 11-6 lead in a five-run fourth, the crowd of 35,126 at Fenway Park remained, knowing the Red Sox had nearly overcome an eight-run deficit in Tuesday's opener. \nBut New York kept scoring and the fans grew quiet, as if doom already had descended on a town that wants nothing more than to shake `"The Curse." \nThat may be tough. \n"It starts to look daunting if you look at too big a picture," Boston manager Terry Francona said. \nThe hits and runs came so quickly that it was hard to keep track how many the Yankees put up. The person running the hand-operated board fell behind in the ninth inning, and couldn't replace the panels fast enough. \nOrlando Hernandez will try to close it out Sunday night for the Yankees, with Boston most likely starting Derek Lowe. Tim Wakefield, originally slated to start Game 4, was used in relief in this one. \nThere were 170 pitches in the first three innings, which took 1:45 to play. Brown and Boston's Bronson Arroyo didn't make it to the third. \nVazquez, with just one win in 10 starts since Aug. 6, wasn't particularly effective, but it was good enough. He allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings before Paul Quantrill came in the seventh, one out after a two-run homer by Jason Varitek. \nBoston, which finished with 15 hits, had taken the Yankees to the 11th inning of Game 7 last year and dominated the Yankees during the regular season, going 11-8 -- including 7-3 at home. \n13th pitch \nThe scoring began 13 pitches in, when Rodriguez doubled home Derek Jeter. Matsui's two-run homer into the right-field bullpen then made it 3-0. \nSheffield threw out Ramirez at third base to end the bottom half following David Ortiz's single to right, but the Red Sox beat up on Brown in the second. \nThey went ahead 4-3 on Trot Nixon's two-run homer into the right-field seats, an RBI single off first baseman John Olerud by Johnny Damon, and a run-scoring error by Jeter, who allowed Ramirez's hard grounder to shortstop to kick off his glove. \nBoston's lead lasted just four pitches into the third. Rodriguez, who got into a brawl with Varitek after Arroyo hit him with a pitch July 24, homered over the Green Monster in left. \nRamiro Mendoza, who took the loss, relieved with two on and gave up an soft RBI single to center by Bernie Williams, then balked in run that put New York ahead 6-4. \nNational League \nIn Houston, Roger Clemens hopped off the mound, pumped his right fist and muttered to himself all the way to the dugout. His work was done and the Houston Astros were exactly where they wanted to be -- right back in the NL championship series. \nPitching to save the Astros' season, Clemens came through. He slowed down St. Louis for seven innings, closer Brad Lidge finished off the Cardinals and Houston went on to win 5-2, cutting its deficit to 2-1. \n"It was a must-win for us," Clemens said. \nJeff Kent's two-run homer capped a three-run burst in the first inning. Carlos Beltran homered yet again, connecting along with Lance Berkman in the eighth to further highlight a series featuring sluggers. \nClemens made the early lead stand up, overcoming home runs by Larry Walker and Jim Edmonds and lasting long enough so that Houston manager Phil Garner could avoid using his beleaguered bullpen. \n"What you saw today was exactly what he's done for us so many times," Garner said. "He finds a way to get it done." \nNo team in baseball's postseason has ever rallied from a 3-0 hole. The Astros won't have to try, either, and now start 20-game winner Roy Oswalt against Jason Marquis today in hopes of evening the best-of-seven matchup. \nClemens completed his outing by striking out pinch-hitter Roger Cedeno, then stalked and snarled his way back to the bench. Clemens' wife, Debbie, celebrated by double high-fiving a friend in the stands and the fans roared right along. \n"No matter my age or what I've done in the past, you want to make a good showing," he said. \nLidge relieved Clemens and blew away the Cardinals, striking out Walker and Game 2 star Scott Rolen. \nBeltran added insurance when he homered in his fourth straight postseason game, tying the record set by Jeffrey Leonard in the 1987 NLCS. The solo shot was Beltran's seventh homer in the playoffs, and combined with Berkman's drive gave Lidge extra room to work. \n"It felt great. And I'm definitely available for tomorrow," Lidge said. \nThe Astros won for the 20th time in their last 21 games at Minute Maid Park, and assured themselves of playing at least twice more at home. \nAt 42, Clemens became the oldest starting pitcher to win a postseason game. There is a chance that this might have been his final game, especially if the Cardinals win the next two and he decides to retire -- for real, this time.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first