• WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg and teammates zipped through their quickest home game of the season, then waited along with several hundred fans at Nationals Park. About 90 minutes after finishing a victory over the Phillies, Washington broke out the champagne to celebrate its continued NL East supremacy.

    Strasburg extended his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 34 innings, and the Nationals beat Philadelphia 3-2 on Sunday in a tidy 2 hours, 16 minutes. A little while later, Washington clinched its fourth NL East title in six seasons when the Braves beat the Marlins on an 11th-inning homer in Atlanta.

    Fans remained in the stands to watch the Braves rally with three runs in the ninth, and fireworks erupted from the upper deck after Atlanta finished off Miami, making the Nationals the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this year. Players poured out of the dugout wearing ski goggles, embraced their wives, girlfriends and children, and flung hats and T-shirts into the crowd.

    “This one was very, very gratifying. Even though it looked like we had a comfortable lead, it was still a struggle,” manager Dusty Baker said in the booze-soaked clubhouse. “A lot of our top guys were hurt.”

    The Nationals also won the NL East in 2012, 2014 and last year, but they haven’t advanced past the divisional round of the postseason.

    “It’s the most well-balanced team that we’ve had,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We’re very efficient offensively. We don’t strike out nearly as [much as] we did in ’12, ’14 and ’16. We think that we have more ways to score. Our rotation is our rotation. It’s as good as it gets.”

    Baker had the luxury of resting nearly all his regulars on Sunday, but one player who didn’t need a break was Strasburg, who was infamously shut down before the playoffs in 2012 in his first season after Tommy John surgery. Strasburg has just one career postseason start, a loss in 2014.

    Now he’s pitching better than ever, joining Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez in a formidable trio that Washington will carry into the playoffs.

    “Stras has been a big part of this franchise since he joined it. He’s been an elite major league pitcher every time he toes the rubber,” Rizzo said. “I couldn’t be happier that he’s going in the right direction going into October, and it’s a place he belongs.”

    Strasburg (13-4) threw two-hit ball for eight innings and struck out 10. He hasn’t allowed a run since Aug. 19 at San Diego, which was his first start since he came off the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement. Since returning from the DL, he is 3-1 with an 0.51 ERA, 41 strikeouts and just four walks.

    “It just comes with trust. That’s the biggest thing,” Strasburg said. “Trust your ability, trust your stuff, and you go out there and kind of sleep well at night, no matter what happens.”

    Strasburg had command of everything he threw, including a fastball topping out at 97 mph and a 90 mph changeup. He walked one, induced two double plays and faced one batter over the minimum.

    “He had all his pitches working for him, and he was tough to hit,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “We have young guys who have never seen him before, which also added to his success — not that he needs that.”

    Trea Turner homered and tripled for the Nationals, and Victor Robles got his first major league hit and RBI.

    The Phillies threatened in the ninth off Ryan Madson, who allowed Nick Williams’ bloop two-out, two-run single before retiring Rhys Hoskins on a grounder. It was his second save this season and first for the Nationals, who acquired him in a trade with Oakland on July 16.

    Then the wait began.

    “I was about to go to sleep in my office,” Baker said. “It looked like we were going to have to wait until Tuesday, but now, it’s a perfect scenario. We can enjoy it tonight, have a day off tomorrow. Usually you’ve got to come right back and play the next day, and guys are either super tired or hung over.”

    Despite the spring training-type lineup that Baker fielded on Sunday, the Nationals are relatively healthy heading into October, with one major question mark: former MVP Bryce Harper, who is out with a hyperextended knee. Asked how the knee was feeling, Harper said, “ready to party tonight,” without elaborating.

    Rookie Ben Lively (3-6) allowed six hits and struck out seven in his first career complete game and the first for the Phillies this year.

    Lively allowed one hit before Turner led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Adrian Sanchez’s bloop double. Robles doubled with two outs.

    Turner homered with one out in the eighth to extend Washington’s lead.

    “That’s just baseball. Two bad pitches, and that was the ballgame,” Lively said. “Otherwise, I felt great. I felt like our game plan was on point. Just two hangers.”


    The Nationals have an outside shot at catching the free-falling Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors, which would guarantee them home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Catcher Matt Wieters, who made the postseason three times in the past five seasons with the Orioles, isn’t obsessing over the standings.

    “Normally I do like watching scoreboards,” Wieters said before the game. “We know with the lead that we have, that if we just go out there and win, we’ll be fine, and with the postseason, and I’ve learned this from the past, anything can happen at any time, so trying to control situations of where you play or what you’ll do is really reaching at things that may not be in your control.”


    Nationals: Baker rested 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B Anthony Rendon, OF Michael A. Taylor and 1B Ryan Zimmerman on Sunday, and Wieters and OF Jayson Werth sat out both Saturday and Sunday. Werth has a sore shoulder, and Wieters has dealt with intermittent back tightness.

    Phillies: OF Aaron Altherr made his first start since Aug. 4, going 0-for-3. Altherr (right hamstring strain) was activated from the 10-day disabled list Monday but did not appear in a game until Saturday, when he played the ninth inning in left field. … OF Odubel Herrera was out of the lineup one day after his 21-game hit streak ended.


    Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (14-6, 2.50 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game home series against the Braves on Tuesday. RHP Julio Teheran (10-11, 4.77 ERA) will pitch for Atlanta.

    Phillies: After a day off Monday, Philadelphia begins a 10-game homestand Tuesday against Miami with RHP Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.49 ERA) drawing the start.

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  • Magic Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations, took full responsibility for the team’s $500,000 tampering fine and said he told owner Jeanie Buss to take the money out of his paycheck.

    “It’s under my watch,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “I apologize to Jeanie, and that was the main thing. I told her she could take it out of my salary because I don’t want the Lakers to be paying that fine. … I don’t want her spending $500,000, because she didn’t do anything. That’s on me.”

    Last Thursday, the NBA issued the fine to the Lakers for violating the NBA’s anti-tampering rule after general manager Rob Pelinka was found to have had contact with Paul George’s agent after the team had already been warned.

    The league said Pelinka’s contact with George’s agent “constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract” with the Indiana Pacers. The fine followed an investigation, conducted by an independent law firm, after the Pacers filed tampering charges.

    The NBA had already warned the team about tampering following Johnson’s nationally televised comments about George on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on April 20.

    “This is just on a late-night show being funny,” Johnson said Monday. “But now I know I can’t do that. We’re OK. I haven’t thought twice about it. We made a mistake. … It’s under my watch. I’m gonna make sure it doesn’t happen anymore.”

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  • LuxembourgFrance coach Didier Deschamps preferred to retain a positive outlook despite seeing his star-studded side held to a shock goalless draw at home by minnows Luxembourg.

    Les Bleus went into the World Cup qualifier in Toulouse on the back of a 4-0 mauling of Holland on Thursday and would have been expected to inflict even more damage on a nation placed 126 below them in the FIFA world rankings.

    But a combination of the woodwork, inspired goalkeeping from Jonathan Joubert and indifferent finishing saw France — who would have ensured a top-two finish in Group A with a win — held 0-0 at the Stadium Municipal.

    Deschamps admitted his side “can do better” but pointed to the fact they still boast a one-point lead at the top of the group, with their final two games coming against Bulgaria and Belarus, as reason not to be too downhearted by the result.

    He said in quotes reported by L’Equipe: “It’s true that three points against Luxembourg would, of course, be better.

    “I am of a positive nature, but when things are going well, like against Holland, I do not fall into euphoria either.

    “The players are disappointed. But the reality after this match is that we are better off in terms of points than we were before the two matches this week and we are also a point ahead of Sweden.

    “We have to win our last two matches so we don’t have to rely on other sides. We have everything in front of us and it only depends on us”

    Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann both struck the crossbar while the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Djibril Sidibe and Samuel Umtiti also were unable to make the most of the numerous openings that France created in the match.

    It could have been much worse for the 1998 World Cup winners, though, as Luxembourg midfielder Gerson Rodrigues fired a shot against the post with 12 minutes left.

    Deschamps said of his side’s performance: “We can do better, of course. Leaving a game where you’ve had at least 12 opportunities without winning is hard.

    “I would like to congratulate Luxembourg who, like their goalkeeper, have been heroic.

    “We created opportunities but lacked lucidity. There was always a foot, a leg, a post…It is annoying to have so many chances and not score, but we have to accept it. If there were no opportunities it would have bothered me more. That’s football.”

    Luxembourg’s point was their fifth in qualifying and saw them move off the bottom of the group and above Belarus, who lost 4-0 to Sweden.

    Coach Luc Holtz, whose side beat Belarus 1-0 on Thursday, said it was “a day of glory” for his nation.

    He added: “We are satisfied with the point, which we got playing with a lot of heart, commitment and also success. With a bit more luck we would have got the three points.

    “For Luxembourg, the result is historic. A point against a top team is extremely rare. It is a day of glory for Luxembourg football.”

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  • Kylian MbappeKylian Mbappe’s proposed move from Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain is on hold as the capital club try to find a way to sign the forward and still stay within financial fair play (FFP) regulations, according to L’Equipe.

    The French sports daily reports that Mbappe, 18, has already passed a medical with PSG and, as sources told ESPN FC earlier this week, the France international is expected to join the capital club on loan for the current season ahead of an automatic purchase option worth €180 million being taken up next summer.

    Following their €222m purchase of Neymar, PSG wanted to structure their deal for Mbappe so the financial impact of his arrival would not be taken into account this season as they hope to remain in compliance with FFP regulations, which allows a club only a €30m deficit.

    However, if an automatic purchase option is included for Mbappe, the €180m fee would be counted as expenditure for the 2017-18 campaign.

    That would potentially put PSG, who were punished after falling foul of FFP rules in 2014, in peril of infringing the limits again and exposing themselves to further and heavier sanctions from UEFA, the most significant of which would be exclusion from the Champions League.

    Monaco, however, have reportedly insisted that an automatic purchase option be written into the deal as they are unwilling to loan out Mbappe without one and potentially see him return to the Stade Louis II in 12 months with just a year left on his contract.

    According to reports from Le Parisien and Canal+, though, the reason for the delay in PSG completing Mbappe’s signature is simply that France coach Didier Deschamps does not want him distracted for the World Cup qualifier against Netherlands on Thursday evening and would prefer for the move to be made official after the match.

    Sources close to the club also told ESPN FC that the Mbappe deal is ready to be made official but that PSG have been asked to wait to confirm the news.

    One of those sources even told ESPN FC that there is a possibility that Mbappe will be registered as a PSG player before the transfer deadline but the move will not be announced by the club until Friday.

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  • Georgia’s Department of Public Safety on Tuesday launched an investigation into a traffic stop last week involving Anthony Morrow, a nine-year NBA player who says he was pulled over without cause.

    Morrow, 31, told The Charlotte Observer on Monday that he was stopped in Commerce, Georgia, last week while he was driving from Charlotte to Atlanta to pick up his 8-year-old daughter. He said he was frisked and his car was searched by drug-sniffing dogs.

    Morrow said he was racially profiled and said he intended to file a complaint against the officers who stopped him.

    “I was humiliated on the side of the road,” Morrow said. “I had my [car's] hood up and the trunk up. How much more did they need?”

    Morrow first shared details of his traffic stop on social media.

    The Georgia State Patrol told The Observer the stop was for a window-tint violation and that Morrow received a warning.

    The Department of Public Safety said in a news release Tuesday that, “a formal investigation has been initiated to determine the facts surrounding the traffic stop, and the results of the investigation will be made public at its conclusion.”

    The 6-foot-5 Morrow most recently played for the Chicago Bulls and is currently a free agent. He is a Charlotte native and played his college ball at Georgia Tech.

    The traffic stop was on Thursday. Morrow, driving a Dodge Challenger, said after he provided his license, registration and insurance, the officers immediately asked, “Are there any drugs, large sums of money or guns in this car?”

    Citing a sweet smell, the officers asked to search the car, Morrow said. He said no. Police then frisked him for weapons and called in dogs to search for drugs.

    “They forced me out of my car with no probable cause,” Morrow said. “I felt degraded. I know what I stand for: humanity and peace.”

    Morrow was signed by the Golden State Warriors as an undrafted rookie in 2008. A shooting guard with a prowess for 3-point shooting, he did stints with the New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans. In 2014, he signed a three-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder and was traded to the Bulls in February.

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  • Two goals from Marco Asensio weren’t enough as Real Madrid slumped to a 2-2 home draw against Valencia on Sunday.

    Defending La Liga champions Real took the lead after 10 minutes when Asensio, who’s been one of Europe’s most impressive players in the young season, cut in from the right and curled his left-footed shot past Valencia keeper Neto from just outside the box.

    Valencia took the lead through Carlos Soler in the 18th minute and Geoffrey Kondogbia in the 77th, but Asensio struck again seven minutes from time with a sweetly hit free kick to rescue a draw for Los Blancos on the day.

    The win gives Zinedine Zidane’s men four points from two opening games, equal on points with Valencia.

    Sevilla scored a 1-0 victory at Getafe, with Paulo Henrique Ganso producing a rare moment of quality to light up a mediocre contest.

    The game looked to be heading for a goalless draw until Ganso deftly flicked Gabriel Mercado’s cross into the far corner in the 83rd minute, while substitute Luis Muriel wasted a golden chance to double Sevilla’s lead in injury time.

    Amath Diedhiou missed the home side’s best chance in the first half when he blazed his shot over the bar from 12 yards out after being played through by Jorge Molina.

    Meanwhile, Defender Martin Mantovani scored the only goal of the game as Leganes continued to enjoy an impressive start to just their second season in La Liga with victory at Espanyol.

    Mantovani stabbed home a loose ball in the 28th minute after Espanyol goalkeeper Sabata Pau Lopez had saved superbly from Gabriel Pires’ header and the follow up from Javier Eraso.

    The win gives Leganes six points from their first two games of the season, while Espanyol have just one point to show from their opening two matches.

    One goal was also enough for Athletic Bilbao to win on the road at Eibar, with Aritz Aduriz ghosting between two defenders to power home a header from six yards following a superb cross from Inaki Williams.

    The home side’s best chances to equalise both fell to Enrique Kike, who got on the end of an excellent cross from substitute Bebe but saw his close-range effort well saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga, who also got down smartly at his near post to gather Kike’s header from a free-kick.

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  • Burton AlbionManchester United begin the defence of the Carabao Cup by hosting Burton in the third round.

    United, who beat Southampton in last season’s Wembley final, will welcome Nigel Clough’s Championship side to Old Trafford after the 40-minute draw was made in Beijing on Thursday.

    Jose Mourinho’s side have only ever played Burton twice before, when the then non-league club earned a famous FA Cup replay after drawing 0-0 at Old Trafford before United won 5-0 at the second attempt.

    League One side Doncaster have been rewarded for beating Championship club Hull with a trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal, while the other third-tier club Bristol Rovers visit Wolves.

    Manchester City, winners in 2014, have been drawn away at West Brom, eight-time winners Liverpool visit Leicester, Chelsea will play Nottingham Forest at home and Everton host Sunderland.

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  • Yankees rookie Aaron JudgeNew York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge struck out in the eighth inning Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, extending his record to 37 consecutive games with a strikeout.

    Judge, facing Boston reliever Addison Reed, struck out swinging, bringing him to 0-for-4 on the day. The Red Sox won 5-1.

    Judge has 167 strikeouts this season, the third-most in a single season in Yankees history and the second-most in the majors this season; the Twins’ Miguel Sano leads the majors with 170 strikeout

    Girardi said he’s still got faith in the presumptive AL Rookie of the Year, adding, “It’s not like we have a lot of people that are hitting very well.”

    Said Judge: “It’s a little frustrating, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t pout. You can’t cry. You just have to keep working and move on.”

    On Saturday, Judge broke the record previously set by Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman in 1971, for the longest strikeout streak in a single season by any player.

    The rookie’s 37 straight games with a strikeout is also tied for the longest streak over two seasons. Stoneman struck out in 37 straight games spanning the 1971 and ’72 seasons.

    Judge struck out three times in Saturday’s game, marking his 13th game this season with three K’s, tied with Curtis Granderson in 2012 for the most in a single season by a Yankees player since 1920.

    Judge has struck out in all 15 games he has played against the Red Sox this season; he is hitting .155 and has only one home run against Boston.

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  • The 49ersSANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers got a much-needed change Wednesday when they hosted the Denver Broncos for the first of two days of joint practices ahead of Saturday night’s preseason game.

    After it was over, the Niners were pleased with what they got done against the Broncos.

    “I tried to perch myself right there in the middle and it was like a tennis match going back and forth,” general manager John Lynch said. “I tried to watch just as much as possible and really, I know that’s a playoff caliber team and so you want to see ‘How are we measuring up?’ It’s a practice. But I was proud of the way our guys competed on both sides of the field and on special teams. It’s a great measuring stick and it’s a great opportunity for our team to go up against one of the deeper rosters in football and see how we stack up.”

    When the Niners and Broncos had similar practices in Denver last year, the 49ers seemed to be well behind the Broncos. But that didn’t seem to be the case in Wednesday’s workout. The 49ers held their own against coach Vance Joseph and Co.

    Both teams were in full pads and they were able to test each other beyond the confines of a normal workout.

    “I think players get excited and the juices get flowing a little bit but when you practice against each other all the time, our defensive players are calling out our offensive plays all the time,” Lynch said. “You know the audibles, so you are going up against something where it’s not scripted. You don’t know everything they’re doing so it’s true competition. It really is as close to a game as possible.”

    And while many of these practices often feature a major skirmish or two, the Niners and Broncos made it through this one without any real issues. The only problem arose when Niners rookie defensive back Adrian Colbert delivered a big hit to Denver tight end Steven Scheu. That led to a short altercation before the sides were separated and Niners staff immediately went to Colbert to get him to settle down. After sitting out a few plays, Colbert was back in the mix and the Niners made amends with Joseph and general manager John Elway.

    The 49ers and Broncos will have one more practice together on Thursday, though it won’t be a fully-padded session. This is the third year in a row the teams have worked out together and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon given the ties between the likes of Lynch, Elway, Shanahan and Joseph. In fact, Lynch wouldn’t mind adding some other teams to the mix.

    “(Patriots coach Bill) Belichick has done three this year,” Lynch said. “In the future, I don’t think you can get enough of this, if you can handle it like that. If it becomes a melee, it becomes very unproductive. I really commend both coaches for getting their teams right because when it is right, it’s the best thing you can do.”

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  • SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Despite other players around the NFL continuing to protest racial inequality and the racially charged events taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid does not intend to resume kneeling during the national anthem this season.

    Reid explained why after the Niners’ Monday afternoon practice.

    “I think for me, the anthem thing went so sideways — it kills me that it went the way it went because that’s not how we intended it to be,” Reid said. “You guys know what we were trying to get accomplished with that, but I think for me personally, [I'll] just keep talking about it, whether that’s social media or you guys talking to me or whatever events I can make it out to during the season just to keep raising awareness on different topics to hopefully make that change that we’re talking about.”

    Reid was the first player to join quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his protest during the national anthem last preseason. He first knelt next to Kaepernick before the team’s final preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. Reid and linebacker Eli Harold joined Kaepernick in kneeling for the rest of the season.

    Throughout the 2016 season, Reid said he hoped the protest would spark conversations that would lead to change at the highest levels of politics. After the season, Reid said he believed those conversations had started and that he intended to stand for the national anthem in 2017. Reid and the rest of the Niners stood for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the team’s preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night.

    Reid has also kept in touch with Kaepernick, going so far as to attend his “Know Your Rights” camps in Chicago and New York City this offseason. One of the topics the pair discusses is when and where Kaepernick will get back in the league.

    Kaepernick opted out of the final year of his contract with the Niners before they were set to release him, and he has yet to sign with another team. The Seattle Seahawks were the only organization to have him in for a visit.

    Reid has paid close attention to Kaepernick’s job pursuits and takes umbrage with the idea that Kaepernick needs to speak out to get another chance.

    “I think that’s ridiculous,” Reid said. “What does he need to say to prove that he wants to be in the NFL? He’s training every day. He’s been to the Super Bowl. He has the tape. What is coming out and saying, ‘I want to play in the NFL’ do? It’s obvious. I think it’s just a diversion, along with all the other false narratives that are out there about him. It’s just something to deflect away from why he’s not [in the league]. They’re trying to put the blame on him for not being in the NFL.”

    Based on the support Reid saw Kaepernick receive during their time together in Chicago and New York, he said he could see signing Kaepernick as a net positive for a team.

    “I would say that their bottom line would go higher with him on the team,” Reid said. “His jersey sales were No. 1 in the league last year during the protest, so I think that speaks for itself.”

    Reid and Kaepernick chatted on Sunday about what was taking place in Charlottesville and, according to Reid, reached a familiar conclusion.

    “I think it’s becoming more apparent for people to see the issues that we’re talking about, especially in the way it happened in Charlottesville,” Reid said. “We’re just hopeful that if we keep talking about it, we don’t let it go away because a lot of people just want things to blow over like, ‘Oh, that’s an isolated incident.’ But it happens every day. If we keep talking about it, hopefully we can make this change. It needs to stop being ‘hopefully.’ It needs to happen. It needs to happen now.”

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