9/17/2012 5:30:00 AM Weekend roundup: Rizzo's grand slam helps Cubs take Pirates; Notre Dame gets 'signature win' vs. Spartans; Ball State beats IU on last-second FG; Purdue routs E. Michigan; plus, Hunter-Reay wins IndyCar title, more national briefs
Cubs 13, Pirates 9 (Sunday)
CHICAGO (AP) - With the ball jumping out of Wrigley Field, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was in search of a reliever who could keep the ball down and help hold a big early lead.
Hurdle was never able to find that reliever.
Anthony Rizzo hit two homers and drove in six runs to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 13-9 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Pedro Alvarez hit two homers and drove in five runs for the Pirates, who lost for the 12th time in 15 games. Pittsburgh came into play Sunday two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card.
Staked to a 6-1 lead, the Pirates were unable to hold off the Cubs, who have taken five of the last six against Pittsburgh.
Rod Barajas homered for Pittsburgh, and Joe Mather hit a solo shot for the Cubs.
Rizzo hit a two-run shot in a four-run fifth inning, then capped a five-run sixth with his first career grand slam off Jared Hughes (2-2) to put the Cubs up 10-9 and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
Leading 9-5, Hurdle went with sinkerballer Rick van den Hurk, who was unable to retire the three batters he faced before Hughes gave up the grand slam.
"I wanted to bring in the sinker guys in from that point on to try to hold (the lead). I chose van den Hurk. It didn't work," Hurdle said.
Hurdle doesn't believe fatigue is an excuse for his bullpen's struggles.
"I have had people say it's because they are tired, but well sinker guys usually sink it better and throw it better when they are being used more. At least that's my experience," he said. "We are just not getting the job done."
The six RBIs are a career-high, and it was also the 23-year-old's first multihomer game.
"I don't think it tops the walkoff, but it was a great game. Well-fought by all (of us). It was a good game and we kept fighting the last couple of days and showing some resilience," Rizzo said.
David DeJesus had a pinch-hit, two-run single in a three-run ninth for Chicago.
Alvarez followed Gaby Sanchez's leadoff single in the fifth with an opposite-field shot onto Waveland Avenue to give the Cubs a four-run lead.
After the Cubs rallied to get within one, Alvarez hit another opposite-field shot in the sixth with two on to pad the lead again. It was Alvarez's sixth multihomer game of the season. He passed Andrew McCutchen for the team lead with 29.
The Pirates had a chance to tie it when Starling Marte tripled to lead off the seventh, but Marte was caught in a rundown on a fake to third, throw to first by Cubs reliever Jaye Chapman after Neil Walker and McCutchen failed to get the run in.
"Actually that's a forced balk, break late, try to get the throw to second and try to steal a run at home is what it was," Hurdle said. "And I do believe if Starling could've shown a little more patience I think that play would have worked for us, but in the heat of the moment he fired a little bit early. We were hoping he can get in some kind of rundown. He took the out, I thought there might be a little more fight to see if he can make something happen."
Jeff Beliveau (1-0) allowed Alvarez's second home run, but recorded the final two outs of the sixth to earn his first career win.
"He can shrink some ballparks. He did it again today," Hurdle said.
Barajas homered on an 0-2 pitch with a man on and the pitcher on deck in the second inning to reach double-digits for the year.
McCutchen had an RBI single in the second and reached base four times. He has reached safely in nine of his last 11 plate appearances this series.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke was backed by a consistent flow of Pittsburgh offense, but couldn't get through the fifth inning to earn his first big league victory.
"It's tough to pitch when you get behind those guys," Locke said. "I got behind Rizzo 2-0 and you are forced to throw them a strike. The ball was supposed to be down and away and it wasn't down."
The 24-year-old Locke was staked to a 6-1 lead until things fell apart in a four-run fifth.
Mather's one-out solo homer started a string of four straight hits for the Cubs, which included Rizzo's two-run shot.
Cubs starter Chris Volstad gave up six runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.
White Sox 5, Twins 3 (Saturday)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Francisco Liriano took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Paul Konerko homered and drove in three runs Saturday, and the Chicago White Sox stayed on top of the AL Central with a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The White Sox entered the day with a one game lead over Detroit in the Central.
Liriano (6-11) was tremendous against his former team, allowing only a two-out homer in the seventh to Trevor Plouffe. He walked two, hit a batter and struck out nine in seven innings.
Samuel Deduno (6-4) struggled with his control from the start, throwing only 40 of his 86 pitches for strikes.
Pirates 7, Cubs 6 (Saturday)
CHICAGO (AP) - Andrew McCutchen homered and reached base four times, and the Pirates held off a late rally to snap a seven-game losing streak with a win over the Cubs.
Wandy Rodriguez (11-13) held Chicago to three runs - one earned - in helping the Pirates stop their free-fall in the NL playoff race. Pittsburgh had lost 17 of 22, yet was just three games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild-card slot entering the day.
Rodriguez is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last four starts after struggling initially upon being acquired midseason from Houston.
McCutchen launched Jason Berken's pitch off the rear fence behind the left-field bleachers leading off the third, his 28th round-tripper of the season. He also singled and walked twice, improving to .394 in 27 career games at Wrigley Field.
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Everett Golson made plays with his arms and legs, and an inspired Manti Te'o helped Notre Dame's defense smother Michigan State.
The Fighting Irish are off to their best start in 10 years, with the type of marquee victory that's eluded them for almost as long.
Golson threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score in the first half to help the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish dominate the 10th-ranked Spartans 20-3 Saturday night.
The Fighting Irish (3-0) snapped a six-game losing streak against ranked teams and beat a top-10 opponent for the first time in seven years.
"It's a signature win," third-year Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
And Te'o was the signature player.
The senior linebacker had 12 tackles, one for a loss, and broke up two passes, playing just a few days after the deaths of his girlfriend, who had a long battle with leukemia, and his grandmother.
"It was hard," Te'o said of his week. "But I had my family around me. At the end of the day, families are forever."
The last time a top-10 team scored fewer than Michigan State did at home against the Irish was in 1966 when they shut out USC 51-0. Notre Dame had its best showing on defense anywhere against a top-10 opponent since beating Texas A&M 28-3 in 1993.
"It's definitely going to build confidence in the locker room," Kelly said.
The Spartans (2-1) had won 15 straight at home. The streak included a win over the Irish in 2010 on a fake field goal in overtime that preceded coach Mark Dantonio having a heart attack.
Dantonio blamed himself for not having his team ready for a tough test.
"It's everything from everybody and it starts here," he said.
Notre Dame is off to its best start since 2002 when Tyrone Willingham won his first eight games as its coach. The Irish opened 0-2 last year and 1-3 the season before in Kelly's debut before bouncing back to finish with eight wins.
Kelly, though, is not ready to celebrate just yet with No. 17 Michigan (2-1) up next at home.
"We want to rejoice in this, but we also know that we have to come back and we have Michigan next week," Golson said. "That's a big rivalry game also."
Kelly said: "There are a lot of things to work on."
Michigan State had its worst showing on offense at home since losing 20-3 to Central Michigan in 1991.
"Tough day at the office, I guess you'd say," Dantonio said.
Golson was 14 of 32 for 178 yards and a TD, a 36-yard pass to John Goodman. He ran for a 6-yard TD early in the second quarter to give Notre Dame a 14-0 lead.
"He made some big plays for us early which put us in a good position," Kelly said.
Andrew Maxwell was 23 of 45 for 187 yards and Le'Veon Bell had 77 yards rushing on 19 carries for the Spartans.
Notre Dame had four sacks - against a team that hadn't given up one - two more tackles for losses and broke up eight passes with its swarming defenders.
"When a front seven can get a lot of pressure without a lot of blitzes, it causes a lot of problems," Maxwell said.
The Irish shook off a sloppy start that included George Atkinson running into a teammate on a kickoff return, a false start and a timeout before their first snap.
Golson missed an opportunity to connect with wide-open receiver Chris Brown on what would've been a TD, but the first-year starter made up for it . On Notre Dame's second drive, Golson eluded a rush as he rolled to the right and threw back across the field to Goodman for a 7-0 lead.
Maxwell threw a pass on the ensuing possession into the end zone that Bennie Fowler dropped in what proved to be the Spartans best shot to score more than a field goal.
Maxwell didn't have as much time to pass as he did in wins over Boise State and Central Michigan, and Bell couldn't run all over the Irish as he did in the opener against the Broncos. Maxwell was sacked three times in the second quarter alone - after not getting sacked in his first two games - and one of those hits behind the line forced a punt that gave Notre Dame good field position.
Golson took advantage, scoring on a run to the outside on a play that was designed to be a pass to give the Irish a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Michigan State responded with a 13-play drive that ended with Dan Conroy making a 50-yard field goal to match his career high and make it 14-3 late in the first half.
The Spartans had a shot to force Notre Dame to punt early in the fourth, but Cierre Wood went left and cut back to the right on a 26-yard gain that seemed to deflate a team and crowd that didn't have much to cheer about all night.
Fans started to fill the aisles when Wood converted a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan State 37 with an 8-yard run to the outside. Kyle Brindza made a 29-yard field goal at the end of a time-consuming drive that took 6:21 off the clock and gave the Irish a 17-3 lead.
Michigan State's slim comeback hopes were dashed when Bell was going out of bounds and his lateral was caught by linebacker Manti Te'o with 4:20 left in the game to set up Brindza's 47-yard field goal that made it 20-3.
Notre Dame won its second straight in the series by more than a TD after nine of the previous 11 were closely contested contests. It knocked off a top-10 team for the first time since Charlie Weis won his second game over Michigan in 2005.
Ball State 41, Indiana 39 (Saturday)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Keith Wenning had Ball State in perfect position to upset Indiana.
Steven Schott made good on it.
In one of the wildest finishes in Memorial Stadium history, Schott made a 42-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Cardinals a 41-39 victory and their third straight win over the bigger, better-known Hoosiers.
It wasn't the final play that had Hoosiers fans grumbling -- it was Willie Snead's incredible 18-yard diving catch near the sideline. He slid out of bounds with 1 second to go, a play that came just moments after officials had added a second to the clock after Ball State called its final timeout. The catch was reviewed and, to the dismay of Indiana fans and delight of Ball State fans, the call on the field was upheld.
"We had to either complete it and get out of bounds or throw it incomplete and stop the clock," Wenning said. "With 7 seconds, it's risky, but we were too far out. We needed a field goal, so we just took a chance there."
The Cardinals (2-1) made the gamble pay off.
Schott, whose 51-yarder in the first half barely dropped over the crossbar, made this one without any problem. The kick sent Ball State's players sprinting onto the field, jumping and down. Some ran right past Indiana coach Kevin Wilson as they raced to the opposite end of the field where Ball State's students were seated.
The Cardinals are now 3-49 all-time against BCS conference schools. All three wins have come over the Hoosiers (2-1) in the past four years, two of those in Bloomington. The other was at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"It's a huge win. It's a huge win for Ball State, a huge win for our season," Schott said. "Hopefully, it propels us forward into the middle of the season here."
Without Wenning, it may not have happened.
The junior quarterback was 26 of 44 for 222 yards with three touchdowns. He ran six times for 40 yards. He caught his first college pass, a 12-yard TD reception from receiver Jamill Smith, to put Ball State back in front in the third quarter, and he closed it out by moving the Cardinals 44 yards in the final 49 seconds.
But it was Wenning's composure that really proved the difference.
He didn't allow the Cardinals to get rattled during the first-half shootout, didn't get overly concerned when the Hoosiers scored on a 2-point conversion run with 5 seconds left in the first half to take a 25-24 lead and didn't fret when the Hoosiers rallied from a 38-25 deficit to retake a 39-38 lead with two touchdowns in the final four minutes.
Instead, Wenning went back to work, completing passes of 14 and 12 yards before Snead's incredible grab and Schott's decisive kick.
"I was rushing the quarterback, the play happened, they reviewed it, it was a catch," Hoosiers defensive tackle Adam Replogle said. "So, they reviewed it, there's nothing you can do about it. The catch was a catch, we just had to come out the next play and get the field goal."
For the Hoosiers, it was a frustrating night.
A week after losing starting quarterback Tre Roberson for the season with a broken left leg, they went with junior college transfer Cameron Coffman, who was terrific in the first half. He rallied the Hoosiers from a 14-3 first-half deficit to that halftime lead.
Indiana couldn't do anything in the third quarter and after going 24 of 35 for 251 yards with two TDs in his first college start, Coffman left the game with a hip-pointer.
Wilson sent in Nate Sudfeld, the only other scholarship quarterback on his roster.
Trailing 38-25, Sudfeld hooked up with Cody Latimer on a 70-yard TD pass to make it 38-32 with 4:07 to play. And with the help of three pass-interference calls, Sudfeld marched the Hoosiers 77 yards in 53 seconds, throwing a 2-yard TD pass to Shane Wynn with 49 seconds left. Mitch Ewald's extra point gave Indiana a seemingly safe 39-38 lead.
"I got a lot of respect for Ball State, but I got a lot of respect for this young football team. This is a good team, and a lot better than most of you think with your little smirks out there, OK?" Wilson said. "This is a good team that's going to get a heck of a lot better every day, every second."
Wenning and Schott had the answer for that, too.
They just stayed calm, made plays and had the calls go their way.
"The kids are obviously excited and it's just a very humbling experience right now. This is a great place, Indiana is much improved and it was a great college football game tonight," Cardinals coach Pete Lembo said. "They're better and I'd like to think we're a little better, too."
Purdue 54, Eastern Michigan 16 (Saturday)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Purdue's defense did it again.
A week after holding Notre Dame's powerful offense in check, the Boilermakers held Eastern Michigan to 313 total yards in a 54-16 win on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles' only touchdown before the fourth quarter came on a 28-yard interception return by Pudge Cotton in the second quarter. The Boilermakers intercepted three passes and held Eastern Michigan to 144 yards on 14-of-29 passing.
The Boilermakers (2-1) have allowed just 44 points in three games. Frankie Williams, Landon Feichter and Josh Johnson all had interceptions against Eastern Michigan, and Ryan Russell had a sack and two tackles for loss.
The program best known for producing quarterbacks could win big this season by stopping them.
"Our first-team defense, I think, has played very well all season long," Purdue coach Danny Hope said. "Our offense has put them in some tough situations. I think our defense has showed up and played very well."
The tough defense will be important as Purdue gets its passing game in order. The Boilermakers looked sloppy at times with Caleb TerBush at the controls, but eventually the offense came around. TerBush passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, but he also missed open receivers and sometimes held onto the ball too long and. He also threw the interception that Cotton returned for a touchdown.
"I didn't think he played all that well," Hope said. "He was very ill yesterday. I was glad that he sucked it up and went out there and gave us a good effort."
Though the passing game struggled, the running game was dynamic. The Boilermakers ran 42 times for 392 yards. Akeem Hunt ran for 106 yards and a touchdown on just four attempts and scored a 50-yard touchdown on his only catch. Brandon Cottom added 95 yards on the ground, and Antavian Edison caught five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Purdue took advantage of Eastern Michigan's porous run defense, which had allowed 272.5 yards per game to rank 118th out of 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
"We have a lot of team speed," Hope said. "We got the ball in our fastest playmakers' hands. We're good that way; that was part of the plan. We went out and recruited class sprinters."
The Eagles (0-3) were simply overmatched.
"They have a group of extremely talented guys," Eastern Michigan coach Ron English said. "I have coached against them before, and that is the most talented Purdue team I have coached against."
Dominique Sherrer led the Eagles with 12 carries for 73 yards.
Purdue's Williams intercepted a pass by Alex Gillett on Eastern Michigan's second possession. The Boilermakers opened the scoring later in the first quarter when Akeem Shavers broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown run.
Purdue forced Eastern Michigan to punt and Taylor Richards blocked it, allowing the Boilermakers to take over at the Eastern Michigan 29. TerBush closed the possession by rolling right, stopping near the sideline and firing back across the field to find Edison in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. The extra point failed, and the Boilermakers led 13-0.
Later, a fumble by Purdue's O.J. Ross set up a field goal by Eastern Michigan's Dylan Mulder that cut the Boilermakers' lead to 13-9.
It was all Boilermakers from there. Hunt took a short pass from TerBush 50 yards for a score to make it 20-9. Cottom then broke for his long run, the fourth-longest in school history.
"I just saw a hole open up and the linebacker slide down and I got him to miss," Cottom said. "I didn't feel like they could catch me, but I was running as fast as I could."
TerBush closed the first-half scoring with a 2-yard run with 9 seconds left in the second quarter.
Hunt broke loose for a 56-yard scoring run early in the third quarter to push Purdue's lead to 40-9.
Eastern Michigan's Tyler Benz scored on a 2-yard run to give the Eagles their first offensive touchdown with 8:40 remaining. Purdue's Danny Anthrop capped the scoring with his first career touchdown, a 4-yard run with 1:47 to play.
Hope said it was a good result heading into the team's bye week.
"Even though we didn't play our best, we beat them like we were supposed to," Hope said.
Carpenter wins race, Hunter-Reay wins title
FONTANA, Calif. (AP) - Out of the corner of his eye, Ryan Hunter-Reay saw his only competition for the IndyCar championship crash out of the title-deciding season finale.
Will Power's accident should have given Hunter-Reay a wide-open road to his first championship. Instead, he had to hang on for 500 nerve-racking miles, withstand several hairy restarts and a controversial red-flag to snatch the title away from Power on Saturday night.
Needing to finish fifth to win the title after Power exited the race, Hunter-Reay did one better, finishing fourth to put the American flag back atop the IndyCar podium.
Hunter-Reay claimed the title by three points over Power to become the first American since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 to win the IndyCar championship.
"I just drove 500 miles like it was for my life," he said. "I can't believe we're IndyCar champions. I cannot believe this. My dream has come true."
Power, denied for a third consecutive year, was in street clothes watching the finish on television after crashing out early at Auto Club Speedway. He took a 17-point lead into the finale, but once out of the race, gave Hunter-Reay total control of his destiny.
But it certainly wasn't easy.
Hunter-Reay struggled all week at California, even wrecking in Wednesday's open test session, and was off at the start of the race. But he picked his way through the field and was on the edge of where he needed to finish as the laps wound down.
Still, a flurry of late cautions made for some hair-raising restarts and a late red-flag that drew the ire or team owner Michael Andretti. Hunter-Reay managed to hang on in a race that was won by Ed Carpenter, another American.
"We were struggling all weekend. I didn't want to let anyone really know about it that much. We were really in the woods," Hunter-Reay said.
Power, an Australian who has finished second in the points three years in a row, visited Hunter-Reay after the finish.
"At the end of the day, Hunter-Reay is a deserving champion, a real fighter," Power said.
Hunter-Reay won a series-best four races this season, his third with Andretti Autosport. He used a string of three consecutive wins during the summer to climb into the championship, and with Power in position to clinch two weeks ago at Baltimore, he won again to stay in the hunt.
He was rewarded on the eve of the championship race with a new two-year contract from Andretti, the team he has credited for giving him the continuity and support he needed to put together the best season of his career.
"It was really an unbelievable weekend," said Andretti, who won his fourth championship as an owner but first since 2007.
Power, meanwhile, was left wondering how yet another title slipped away.
He's the most dominant driver on road and street courses, and knows that racing on ovals is the one glaring weakness in his program. And when he looks back at this season, he knows that a blocking penalty at Texas and crashes on the ovals at Indianapolis, Iowa, and now, California, cost him the title.
"I wish I could put my finger on one particular thing I don't do right," Power said. "If you look at it, three ovals I crashed out of is a massive hit on points. It's over a whole season that you win a championship and that was proven tonight."
Power crashed 55 laps into the race, spinning hard into the outside wall when his car slipped in a seam in the track. It's the third consecutive year Power has gone into the finale with the title on the line and had an incident snatch away his chances.
He brushed the wall at Homestead in 2011 and lost the title by five points to Dario Franchitti. Last year, his points lead was gobbled up when another car hit him on pit road in the penultimate race, and he was involved in the 15-car accident that killed Dan Wheldon in the finale.
Power broke his back in that accident in Las Vegas.
"Man, depressing," Power said after leaving the wreck. "I wish I could care less."
Power laughed nervously, searching and failing to find the right words to describe his frustration.
"I don't know what to say. It's depressing," he said. "Depressing to lose the championship again that way. Nothing I can say, mate, it's just depressing. I don't know what emotion to even feel right now."
But his Penske team, which has not won a championship since Hornish in 2006, worked furiously to get his car back on the track so he could turn 12 laps and gain more points in the standings. Power had already changed into street clothes, rushed back into his firesuit, and had a total change of attitude when he got back in the car.
"Keep our fingers crossed," he smiled, his mood completely changed.
Both Power and Hunter-Reay went into the race seeking their first career title, and Power said he watched on TV the closing laps unsure how it would end. He was cracking self-deprecating jokes when it was over, perhaps an unusual reaction for one of the most intense and driven drivers in the series.
"Well, I've done it for two years in a row, so I've kind of learned how to cope with it," he said.
Shin wins Women's British Open
HOYLAKE, England (AP) - Jiyai Shin avoided mistakes in miserable weather conditions Sunday to cruise to a record nine-stroke victory in the Women's British Open.
In the 36-hole finish Sunday in the wind-delayed tournament, Shin took a three-shot lead into the final round after shooting a 1-under 71 in the morning. She stayed calm while strong wind and heavy showers sent scores soaring at Royal Liverpool in the afternoon, closing with a 73 to finish at 9-under 279.
The 24-year-old South Korean player won the major championship for the second time in five years and also won for the second time in seven days on the LPGA Tour. Last Monday morning in Virginia, she finished off Paula Creamer on the ninth hole of a playoff in the Kingsmill Championship.
The 10-time LPGA Tour winner entered the day with a five-stroke lead after shooting a 64 - the lowest competitive round ever at Hoylake - on Saturday. She broke the record for margin of victory of five set by Karen Stupples in 2004 at Sunningdale.
Shin completed an Asian sweep of the four majors. South Korea's Sun Young Yoo won the Kraft Nabisco, China's Shanshan Feng took the LPGA Championship, and South Korea's Na Yeon Choi won the U.S. Women's Open. Asian players have won nine of the last 12 majors.
South Korea's Inbee Park was second, shooting 72-76.
Creamer shot 72-72 to finish third at 1 over.
Bears re-sign Bell
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - The Chicago Bears have signed Kahlil Bell to a one-year contract, bringing back the running back with Matt Forte's status uncertain.
Forte left Thursday's loss to Green Bay with what several outlets reported was a high right ankle sprain. Bell, who was waived last month, played 20 games for the Bears over three seasons and made three starts, including the final two last year. He ran for 557 yards on 119 attempts and also caught 20 passes for 137 yards and a TD during that time.
Besides signing Bell, the Bears waived safety Jeremy Jones on Saturday.