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(Fort Smith) (AP) – Good news: You’ve got plenty of time to start training for the first Fort Smith Marathon.
The Southwest Times Record reports that the inaugural 26.2-mile race will happen Feb. 8.
The course will begin and end downtown, winding through several city streets in between. The idea has been floating around for several years but organizer Jeremy Smith says it’s recently gained more support from city leaders and the mayor.
Marathon director Patrick Pendleton says past races have gone well and helped lay the groundwork.
He says the course will emphasize the history and scenery of Fort Smith, using the theme of “True Grit.”
The cost will be $80 for the full marathon and $60 for the half. A four-person relay will also be offered.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — For the second straight game, Cleveland reliever John Axford gave up the winning hit.
Billy Butler’s two-run, two-out, eighth-inning, pinch-homer off Axford was the difference in the Kansas City Royals’ 6-4 victory over the Indians on Friday night.
On Thursday, Nori Aoki punched a RBI-single in the 14th inning off Axford to give the Royals a 2-1 win.
Axford said Aoki’s hit had no lingering effect on Friday.
“Everything is fresh for me,” Axford said. “That’s something I pride myself on. I feel good. I feel strong. It’s obviously tough after the last two nights.”
The Indians signed Axford to be their closer after he saved 106 games for Milwaukee and was the Brewers’ closer from 2010-12. Axford, however, hasn’t earned a save since May 3 and has lost that job.
“I’ll keep going through it and be patient, prepare myself and get ready to go back in that role if that situation comes back,” Axford said.
Axford didn’t get the ball back after Butler’s 422-foot blast to left.
“It was just a bad pitch,” Axford said. “I let it stay out over the plate. It was supposed to be away and it ended up in the seats.”
Carlos Santana homered twice for the Indians, who have lost five of six.
“We have to win games, and to make that change it starts with starting pitching,” said Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, who was pulled in the sixth.
The Royals won a game of matchup moves. After Salvador Perez singled with one out in the eighth off Carlos Carrasco (3-4), Nick Hagadone entered and got the second out.
Butler batted for Raul Ibanez and homered on Axford’s second pitch.
Earlier in the game, the 42-year-old Ibanez drove in a run when he became the oldest Royals player to hit a triple. Ibanez scored on the play when second baseman Jason Kipnis made a wild relay throw.
Kelvin Herrera (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Aaron Crow worked around a leadoff double in the ninth to earn his second save in four chances.
Royals closer Greg Holland, who had pitched in the three previous games, was unavailable.
Perez, who had three hits, and Mike Moustakas had back-to-back home runs to open the second. It was the second time this season Perez and Moustakas hit consecutive homers, having also done it April 23 at Cleveland.
Royals rookie Yordano Ventura, tagged for six runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings in his previous start at Boston, left after 6 1/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs and struck out seven.
Santana hit a solo homer in the fourth and a two-run shot in the sixth.
Tomlin, 1-5 in his previous seven starts, was pulled after 5 1/3 innings.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs don’t have the look of a team more interested in draft position than on-field success.
One day after the Central Division cellar-dwellers couldn’t have looked worse in a 13-3 embarrassment against the lowly San Diego Padres, they showed some grit in a come-from-behind, 7-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, who suffered their fourth consecutive loss on Friday.
A persistent wind at their backs, the division rivals treated the largest crowd at Wrigley Field this season to five home runs and 23 hits.
“A good team win,” said manager Rick Renteria, whose club trailed 3-0 before even getting a chance to bat. “The crowd was buzzing all day. It was a pretty neat environment. Obviously, the fans were into it.”
Luis Valbuena hit a decisive two-run homer in the seventh to decide the see-saw affair.
Kevin Siegrist (1-2) hit Anthony Rizzo with a full-count pitch to start the inning. One batter later, Valbuena launched the first pitch into the center-field bleachers, his first homer against a left-hander in 37 at-bats this season.
“I was looking for a fastball, and I got a fastball right there,” Valbuena said. “That’s why I got aggressive.”
“We had the match-ups we wanted right there,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We wanted (a left-hander) in that situation, in that part of the lineup, and a lefty ended up getting him.”
The Cardinals tied the score 5-5 on solo homers by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday in the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras singled to break the tie in the sixth, but the lead was short-lived.
Justin Grimm (3-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Hector Rondon retired the side in the ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances.
Cubs starter Travis Wood did well to survive five innings after a rocky start. He allowed five runs – two earned – and seven hits with one walk.
Wood aided his cause with a solo homer off Joe Kelly in the fourth inning, his third of the season. He became the first Cubs pitcher since Carlos Zambrano (2009) with at least 10 RBIs in a season.
“They fought off a lot of pitches and made me work,” Wood said. “I was only able to go five, but luckily, I was able to keep it close and we were able to pull it out.”
Ryan Sweeney’s three-run homer pulled Chicago even at 3-3 in the second inning. Kelly had not allowed an earned run in 18 1-3 innings against the Cubs before then.
One inning later, Sweeney singled home Valbuena, who had walked, for a 4-3 lead.
Kelly lasted 4 2-3 innings allowing eight hits and two walks.
St. Louis struck first with three unearned three runs in the opening inning, when Wood was forced to throw 32 pitches largely because of two errors behind him.
Carpenter and Holliday singled, then rookie second baseman Arismendy Alcantara threw away a potential double-play grounder that allowed a run to score.
One out later, Jon Jay hit a two-run double, and when left fielder Chris Coghlan allowed the ball to get past him, the batter advanced to third base on the second error of the inning.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Greg Robinson didn’t stay put the month after the St. Louis Rams cut players loose in mid-June. Wherever he was, the second overall pick of the draft stayed in preparation mode for training camp.
“It was good to just work with different people and learn from multiple people,” Robinson said Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter where you’re getting it in as long as you get it in.”
The 6-foot-5, 332-pound Robinson was a key component in Auburn’s national runner-up season at left tackle and figures as immediate help at guard for the Rams (7-9).
After OTAs ended in mid-June, Robinson worked out a bit at home in Thibodaux, La. He spent time at Bo Jackson’s Nike camp at the University of Oregon, worked out with a trainer in Miami, Fla., and got pointers from Redskins Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams in Houston.
Williams knows plenty about protecting Sam Bradford’s blind side, given they were Oklahoma teammates. The two met at the Nike camp.
“He’s a Pro Bowler so many years and he asked me to come out, so I thought it was a good idea,” Robinson said. “It was pretty cool, I learned a lot from him.”
With Robinson leading the way, Auburn led the nation in rushing and had two players gain 1,000 yards for just the third time in school history. He’s still blocking for Tre Mason, a Heisman Trophy finalist drafted by the Rams in the third round.
Getting picked No. 2 has made Robinson the provider for a fractured family; his dad died in 2012 and two of his siblings have spent time in jail. Though his mother is pushing for a new house and an exit from a tough neighborhood, he’s patiently assessing options for upgrades across the board.
One exception might be the bling earrings he sported at the second rookie workout Wednesday.
“I’m not budging, I’m taking my time,” Robinson said. “I’ve been talking to a lot of people as far as homes and stuff for my mom and buying cars for myself.
“I have the money to do it but I’m not rushing into anything.”
For now, the Robinson home has become a bit of a mecca. Fame and fortune can do that.
“Things are similar but I can see a difference, a lot of people surrounding the house and stuff like that,” Robinson said. “It’s a great feeling that I did something positive and I inspired a lot of people.”
Now, he said, the priority is laying a foundation for his career. His future undoubtedly is at tackle, but for now he’s trying to become more comfortable at guard.
“It started out kind of difficult,” Robinson said. “But now I’m starting to pick up the plays. Now, I’m at the point where I just stop thinking and just play.”
During the rookie workouts, Robinson often went against fellow first-rounder Aaron Donald, a defensive tackle. The two prepared for the combine working out in Arizona.
“We still crack a couple jokes and laugh,” Donald said. “It’s good to get around guys like that, that I’m close to already.”
Veterans are due to arrive Thursday and the first full-squad workout is Friday afternoon.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb threw 10 pitches off the mound on Tuesday and was unhappy.
“It was horrible,” Cobb said. “I was not looking forward to coming into tonight.”
However, he was very glad he made the start Wednesday night.
Cobb struck out 10 and drove in a run with his first major league hit, leading the Rays to a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Rays’ seventh straight win.
Cobb (6-6) blanked the Cardinals on five hits over seven innings. It was the fourth time this season he has thrown at least seven innings without an earned run. Cobb missed 50 games last season with a concussion after he was hit near the right ear by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer.
“Tonight was the best I’ve felt on the mound hands down since I’ve come back and even before that,” Cobb said. “When my mechanics are right, all my pitches play off each other.”
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny agreed.
“You could tell right from the top, he had a good split working today,” Matheny said. “The guys had trouble laying off it below the zone. Their timing was right on it and it was just disappearing below the bat. He was locked in with it.”
All three Tampa Bay pitchers were locked in, finishing with 15 strikeouts.
Jake McGee pitched the ninth inning for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.
The Rays have won 25 of their last 36 games and are 13-4 in July. On June 29, they had the worst record in the majors and have passed 11 teams since.
Tampa Bay completed its road trip at 5-0 and its eight-game road winning streak ties the franchise record set twice. The loss was the third straight for the Cardinals.
“We played well. We had a great vibe in the dugout,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn (11-7) had won three straight and was 4-1 in his last five home starts. He struck out seven and gave up six hits in 6 1-3 innings. Lynn walked three, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch but stranded seven runners in the first five innings.
“I threw the ball well, I just gave up a couple too many with the way he was throwing the ball,” Lynn said. “Some nights, you get outpitched.”
Tampa Bay pitchers, hitting eighth, drove in the first runs in both games of the short series. On Tuesday, Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi drove in the first run with a safety squeeze bunt.
Cobb was not to be outdone.
He picked up his first career hit in eight at-bats when he doubled down the first base line with two outs in the second inning to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
“That was the coolest thing I’ve done in my big league career,” Cobb said. “I was kind of secretly hoping it was going to be a 1-0 win.”
In the fourth, Cobb was hit on the right elbow by a fastball.
“Honestly, my initial thought was I had broken my elbow,” Cobb said. “I’d never been hit by a 94 mile an hour (pitch) before. Once I got on first base, it wasn’t hurting. It was like getting hit on your funny bone.”
Maddon was worried.
“I told him I didn’t want to miss his bat,” Maddon quipped. “I had so many different thoughts. He didn’t wince and there no hesitation on his part.”
Tampa Bay made it 2-0 in the seventh with an unearned run. After a one-out single by Desmond Jennings, St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong mishandled a possible double play grounder to chase Lynn. Randy Choate walked pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer to load the bases. Evan Longoria drove in the run with a sacrifice fly off Seth Maness.
The Rays added a run in the ninth on an RBI single by Guyer.
After the first inning Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo left two packages of crackers for Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina on home plate. They were from Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who is on the disabled list with torn ligaments in his right thumb.
Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar was ejected in the fourth inning. Escobar, who was leading off, vehemently argued with home plate umpire Dan Bellino, who called him out on a 3-2 pitch. Logan Forsythe replaced Escobar and played second base with Ben Zobrist moving to shortstop.
CHICAGO (AP) — Despite starter Jose Quintana’s best efforts, the Chicago White Sox again couldn’t find a way to beat Mike Moustakas and the Kansas City Royals.
One day after hitting two home runs, Moustakas scored the tiebreaking run in the top of the ninth inning, jarring the ball loose from White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers as he slid into the plate, giving the Royals a 2-1 victory Wednesday in the rubber game of a three-game series.
Moustakas triggered the decisive rally with a lead-off single off Zach Putnam (3-2), the last of four White Sox pitchers. Alcides Escobar bunted Moustakas over before Nori Aoki flared a single to center field.
Adam Eaton’s strong throw beat Moustakas to the plate, but Flowers lost control of the ball when Moustakas slid into the tag. Flowers was charged with an error on the play.
“I looked at the replay,” Flowers said. “It looked like his knee, on impact, was literally straight into the webbing of the glove. I wish I would have hung onto it, but there’s nothing I could do different.”
Wade Davis (6-2) pitched a scoreless inning and Greg Holland retired the side in order in the ninth for his 26th save.
After the teams traded runs in the first inning, starters James Shields and Quintana matched each other with six scoreless innings. Neither was overwhelming, but both were able to get key outs when necessary.
“(Quintana) threw a great game,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You get two guys like that going at it, it’s slim pickings for runs.”
Shields allowed six hits in seven innings He walked one batter and struck out seven.
In seven innings, Quintana gave up seven hits and two walks and struck out three. He remained winless (0-5) against the Royals in 11 career starts.
“That’s sucker’s good,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Quintana. “You know when you match up against him, it’s going to be a tough.”
The no-decision was the 36th for Quintana since the 2012 season, the most for any major leaguer in that span.
Chicago’s Adam Dunn singled home Jose Abreu to tie the score at 1-1 in the first.
Kansas City took the lead on Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly.
Hosmer left the game in the eighth inning with decreased grip strength in his hand. He missed Kansas City’s last two games after being hit by a pitch in the hand on Sunday.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – The University of Arkansas softball program says that Randi Davis will become the team’s new assistant coach.
Head coach Mike Larabee announced the addition Wednesday. In her new role, Davis will serve as the Razorbacks’ pitching coach.
Davis brings 12 years of previous softball experience, including coaching at the NCAA Division I and III levels and Gold level, private instruction and consulting with various universities.
Davis has provided biomechanical evaluation with a focus on increasing efficiency and velocity for pitchers that have played on the U.S. National Team and played professional softball in the U.S. and internationally.
Her private instruction role also includes working with recruits who will be playing or are now playing for programs within the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Missouri Valley Conference.
CONWAY, Ark. (AP) – The University of Central Arkansas is picked fourth in both the preseason Southland Conference polls released Wednesday by the conference.
The Bears, under new head coach Steve Campbell, had 72 votes in the Sports Information Directors’ poll and 70 in the head coaches’ poll.
UCA, which finished in a fourth-place tie last season, has two SLC championships since joining the conference in 2007.
Defending champion Southeastern Louisiana is first in both polls, followed by McNeese State, Sam Houston State, UCA and Northwestern State.
The two polls are identical except for the sixth spot, which has Stephen F. Austin and Lamar tied in the coaches’ poll, while SFA is ahead of Lamar in the SID’s poll.
Abilene Christian is eighth in both polls, followed by Nicholls, Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist.
CHICAGO (AP) — Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was removed from Wednesday’s game with the Chicago White Sox because of decreased grip strength in his right hand.
The Royals made the announcement after Hosmer was lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Hosmer had missed the previous two games after being hit in the hand with a pitch on Sunday. Billy Butler, who played first base during Hosmer’s absence, took over for Hosmer.
Hosmer was 0 for 2, ending a 16-game hitting streak. It was the longest active streak in the majors.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals have activated lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist from the 15-day disabled list and optioned rookie lefty Nick Greenwood to Triple-A Memphis.
Siegrist had been on the DL for two months with a left forearm strain. In five rehab appearances with Double-A Springfield, he allowed no runs in 4 2-3 innings. In his most recent outing Monday, he worked 1 1-3 scoreless innings.
As a rookie last year, Siegrist set a franchise record for a reliever with a 0.45 ERA.
This season, he was 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 23 games with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Greenwood was 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA in nine games and worked two perfect innings Tuesday.