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Braves put Roger McDowell on administrative leave after outburst

Pitching coach allegedly made homophobic comments and crude gestures toward fans before a game in San Francisco last weekend.

April 29, 2011|Staff and wire reports
(David J. Phillip / Associated…)

The Atlanta Braves placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave Friday while they investigate allegations that he made homophobic comments and crude gestures toward fans before a game in San Francisco last weekend.

McDowell also is accused of using a baseball bat to threaten a fan who objected to his actions.

The former major league reliever apologized in a statement, but the team barred him from the bench heading into a three-game series against St. Louis.

The Braves' minor league pitching coordinator, Dave Wallace, will take over for McDowell during the investigation. Major League Baseball has said it's waiting to hear from the team before deciding on possible penalties.

"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco," McDowell said in a statement, his only public comment on the matter. "I apologize to everyone for my actions."

CIF approves regional bowl games for football

The CIF Federated Council gave final approval on Friday to launch regional bowl games in high school football in the North and South, starting in December 2012.

All sections will be required to end their playoffs by Dec. 1 in 2012. It means the regular season will begin a week earlier in August. Regional playoff games will be held the weekend of Dec. 7-8 in five divisions. The winners will advance to the state championship bowl games the following weekend.

The regional format was approved despite unanimous opposition from the largest section in the state, the Southern Section. The Southern Section gets only 36 votes out of 137 on the Federated Council because of a weighted voting system even though it has 582 of the CIF's 1,494 schools (39%).

Schools that reach the finals could end up playing as many as 16 games, which was a major reason Southern Section schools were opposed to the proposal.

Ventura St. Bonaventure Coach Todd Therrien said, "It's a lot of games for 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds. In '07, when we won state, after the game in the locker room, my linebacker said, "I'm excited we won state, but I don't know if I could have played another week.'"

— Eric Sondheimer

Bubba Watson leads Zurich Classic by one stroke

Bubba Watson shot a four-under 68 in shifting wind conditions Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Josh Teater after the second round of the Zurich Classic at Avondale, La.

Watson, the Torrey Pines winner in late January, had a 10-under 134 total at TPC Louisiana.

John Rollins was eight under after a 69. Dean Wilson matched the course record with a 64 to join John Senden (67), Jason Dufner (69), Matt Jones (71) and Webb Simpson (69) at seven under.

David Duval, Rory Sabbatini, Hilton Head winner Brandt Snedeker, Justin Rose and John Daly missed the cut. Duval opened with a 67, but doubled-bogeyed the second hole on the way to a 79.

Sandra Gal of Germany birdied five of the final eight holes Friday for a five-under 67 and a one-stroke lead over Amy Yang in the Avnet LPGA Classic at Mobile, Ala. Gal, who won the Kia Classic last month in California for her first LPGA Tour title, had a seven-under 137 total.

Lee Westwood shot a four-under 68 in the second round of the Ballantine's Championship at Seoul, bouncing back from a rough first day to stay six strokes off the pace.

Leader Ben Rumford posted a 63 to get to 10 under, putting the Australian three strokes clear of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Soren Kjeldsen.

Novak Djokovic remains unbeaten in 2011

Novak Djokovic won his 26th straight match to remain unbeaten in 2011, defeating Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic, 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals of the Serbia Open in Belgrade. Djokovic is off to the best start to an ATP tour season since Ivan Lendl in 1986.

Djokovic has won 63 of 69 sets and four tournament titles in 2011, including the Australian Open. He has unseated Roger Federer, the last man to beat him, for the No. 2 ranking.

In the semifinals, Djokovic will play fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic, who edged Somdev Devvarman of India, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Feliciano Lopez will face Filippo Volandri of Italy in the other match. Lopez upset fourth-seeded fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes, 6-4, 6-4, and Volandri beat Spain's Marcel Granollers, 6-2, 6-4.

Juan Martin del Potro reached the Estoril Open semifinals, beating top-seeded Robin Soderling, 6-4, 7-5, in a match interrupted by a three-hour rain delay at Oeiras, Portugal.

Del Potro, a former U.S. Open champion, will play Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas on Saturday. Cuevas defeated sixth-seeded Thomaz Belluci of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 in this clay-court tournament leading to the French Open.

Germany's Kristina Barrois and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain, both unseeded, will meet in Saturday's women's final. Barrois reached her second career final with a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Johanna Larsson of Sweden, and Garrigues downed Romania's Monica Niculescu, 6-1, 6-3. The Spaniard has won all nine of her career titles on clay.

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