Thursday Sports in Brief

Sports

MLB

ATLANTA (AP)Ian Anderson turned in another dominant pitching performance, Jorge Soler and Austin Riley homered, and the Atlanta Braves clinched their fourth straight NL East title by completing a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 5-3 victory Thursday night.

After an up-and-down season marred by injuries and legal issues but bolstered by a flurry of moves at the trade deadline, the Braves won their 21st division title since moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966.

They’ll face their former city in the playoffs when they open the best-of-five Division Series at the NL Central champion Brewers on Oct. 8.

HOUSTON (AP) – Carlos Correa hit his career-high 25th homer with a three-run shot and the Houston Astros clinched the AL West with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.

It’s the fourth division title in five seasons and 10th overall for the Astros. They’re in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, extending a franchise record.

Manager Dusty Baker’s Astros will open the AL Division Series on Oct. 7 against the Chicago White Sox – home field for that best-of-five matchup is still to be determined.

NBA

MIAMI (AP) – The NBA has seen a rise in vaccination rates in recent days when factoring in those players who have received at least one of the necessary shots, a person with direct knowledge of the situation said Thursday.

The leaguewide rate is now around 95% when counting those who are now at least in the vaccination process, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the NBA nor the National Basketball Players Association released the figure publicly.

Based on a rough count of nearly 600 players in the league right now for training camps – that figure will be closer to 500 when the regular season begins Oct. 19 and rosters get trimmed – the 95% figure would suggest that, on average, one player per team is unvaccinated.

– By AP NBA writer Tim Reynolds.

NFL

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will perform for the first time on stage together at the 2022 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show.

The NFL, Pepsi and Roc Nation announced Thursday that the five music icons will perform on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Lamar are Southern California natives.

The Super Bowl returns to the Los Angeles area since 1993. It’s the third year of collaboration between the NFL, Pepsi and Roc Nation.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The NCAA is exploring holding a joint Final Four with the men and women’s basketball tournaments playing their last weekend in the same city, though it would not happen until at least 2027 with sites already locked in through 2026.

Combining the tournaments was one of the recommendations stemming from an external review of gender equity issues of the tournaments. The report released in August was sparked by outrage at the disparities between amenities at the two tourneys, including weight rooms and other features.

A combined Final Four is likely to be more controversial and the idea does not have universal support. But the NCAA said Thursday it will look into the details.

SOCCER

The North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley effective immediately after allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were detailed in a published report.

The alleged misconduct, which includes claims of sexual coercion, stretched back more than a decade, according to a detailed account Thursday by The Athletic.

National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement that the league is referring the allegations to the U.S. Center for SafeSport for investigation.

The Courage appointed assistant Sean Nahas as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Fire fired head coach Raphael Wicky on Thursday, a day after the MLS team beat New York City FC 2-0 for its first victory in a month.

Assistant coach Frank Klopas will direct the club on an interim basis while the team searches for a replacement. Klopas was head coach from 2011-13.

The Fire are 7-15-6 this season. They were 12-25-14 in two seasons under Wicky.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Brazilian soccer legend Pele has been discharged from the hospital where he received treatment for nearly a month, according to a statement from the facility.

The 80-year-old Pele removed a tumor from his colon on Sept. 4 and spent days in intensive care after the surgery.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – The second tier United Soccer League has reached its first collective bargaining agreement with players.

The league and its union agreed to a five-year contract through 2025, a deal subject to ratification by the league’s board of directors and the USL Players Association.

Players will be guaranteed $2,700 per month starting in 2022, with raises in future years. Contracts generally will have a minimum length of 10 months, with each team allowed to sign as many as six players to flex contracts with different standards.

SPORTS BUSINESS

DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) – Hall of Famer Frank Thomas has headed a venture that bought controlling interest in Go the Distance Baseball’s stake of All-Star Ballpark Heaven and the Field of Dreams Movie Site.

The company said Thursday that This is Heaven LLC, a company of the 53-year-old Thomas and Chicago real estate developer Rick Heidner, bought the interests in Go the Distance Baseball owned by the Denise M. Stillman Trust.

Thomas will be chief executive officer and former Chicago White Sox general manager Dan Evans will be chief operating officer.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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