Floyd and Rios come up huge as Sox end Rays winning streak, back within a game of Detroit.

With so much riding on every game and even every pitch, Alex Rios acknowledged it’s just a little exhausting. He can breathe a little easier after this.Rios hit his career-high 25th homer and the White Sox gave their playoff hopes a major boost, beating Tampa Bay 3-1 on Friday night to end the Rays’ eight-game winning streak.The White Sox got a bit of a reprieve after dropping eight of nine and moved within one game of first-place Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers lost to Minnesota 4-2.The Rays dropped three games behind Oakland for the second AL wild-card spot when the Athletics beat Seattle 8-2.Both the White Sox and Tigers have five games remaining.

“It’s a little bit mentally exhausting,” Rios said. “It’s like we’re playing in the playoffs right now, and it’s been like this for quite a bit now. But you know what? It might be good, because we’re getting used to it.”

For Tampa Bay, it was simply a difficult night. Then again, maybe the Rays were due for one.

“I thought we had one mulligan left. There it was,” manager Joe Maddon said.

The White Sox won thanks to a big effort at the plate by Rios and a strong showing by the bullpen after Gavin Floyd (11-11) struggled with his control.Rios’ drive leading off the fourth against Jeremy Hellickson (9-11) broke a 1-all tie. Rios added to the lead when he started the sixth with a double off the left-field wall and came around on Alexei Ramirez’s two-out single.The crowd cheered that, but the biggest roar came later, when the Tigers-Twins game ended.Manager Robin Ventura joked he thought the Bears had scored, the way the fans were cheering, because that tends to happen at U.S. Cellular Field during football season. If the White Sox weren’t watching the out-of-town scores, they couldn’t help but take a look after that.

“I thought it was amazing how many fans at once were looking at that scoreboard because you would have thought that we had just hit a home run,” Gordon Beckham said. “That’s pretty amazing to me that all those fans were staring at that scoreboard waiting for it to be thrown again.”

Floyd gave up two hits over five innings, including a solo homer to Ben Zobrist in the first, but struggled in a big way with his control. He walked five, and of the 105 pitches he threw, only 57 were strikes.Even so, he got his first win at home since July 23.Jesse Crain threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings, matching his longest outing since April 28, 2010, against Detroit. He left after hitting Evan Longoria with a two-out pitch in the eighth.Matt Thornton walked pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez before Nate Jones retired Jeff Keppinger on a groundout to end the threat.Donnie Veal struck out pinch-hitter Ben Francisco leading off the ninth before Addison Reed retired the final two batters for his 29th save in 33 chances. Hellickson allowed three runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings for Tampa Bay.

“Until the numbers say you’re eliminated, you’re out of it, anything’s possible,” the Rays’ Matt Joyce said.

The White Sox were in first place for 117 days this season. Now, they’re simply trying to stay in contention and time is running out.Floyd was far from dominant in his fourth start back after spending time on the disabled list because of a right elbow flexor strain. Things certainly weren’t looking good for him when Zobrist drove the first pitch he saw out to right for his 19th homer with two outs in the first, but the Rays came away empty in the second and third even though they had two runners on in each inning.The White Sox tied it in the third when Beckham led off with a single, advanced to second on Hellickson’s errant pickoff throw and came around on Kevin Youkilis’ single. Then, in the fourth, Rios broke the tie with a leadoff drive that gave him a personal-best 89 RBIs to go with his career high in homers.

“We had a pretty good game offensively, and hopefully, it gets everybody going again like we were doing earlier in the season,” Rios said. “Let’s see what happens.”

NOTES—Rays C Jose Molina (right quad strain) was out of the starting lineup for a third straight game….Rios made a nice running catch on Joyce’s drive to the right-field corner with two runners on in the second….Ventura said Jose Quintana will start Sunday’s series finale, with ace David Price pitching for the Rays. Chris Sale starts Saturday for the Sox, and Matt Moore goes for Tampa Bay…..Ventura on the Rays’ recent surge: “You’re jealous. I can tell you that right now. We’d like to have that, but again, they’ve earned it.”

Cubs road woes continue in Desert as Barney’s errorless games run ends.

PHOENIX—The Cubs moved witrhin two losses of 100(for the third time ever)and set a team mark with Roas losses.Worse,Darwin Barney just missed setting an errorless games mark with an 8th inning error.Oh yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ wildcard chase ended early Friday night but the team battled on. “What else are we supposed to do?” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said after his club’s 8-3 victory over the Cubs. “You try to win as many games as you can. That’s what you’re supposed to do. People are still out here to see you” Justin Upton and Cody Ransom homered as the Diamondbacks snapped a two-game losing streak but still were eliminated from the NL wild card midway through the game when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 12-2. “Because of your pride you never go out there and give up or roll over,” Upton said. “We knew we were done but you still go out there and play the game right.” Arizona starter Ian Kennedy (15-11) was uncharacteristically wild, walking six in 5 1/3 innings but held the Cubs to three runs and four hits. The right-hander struck out five.Kennedy’s six walks were his second-most in 109 career starts, trailing only a nine-walk outing on June 26, 2010 at Tampa Bay. It was also one more walk than he had issued in his four previous September starts combined.Among Kennedy’s walks were three to Alfonso Soriano and another to Barney with a pinch-hitter for starter Travis Wood standing in the on-deck circle. “There are good walks and bad walks,” Kennedy said. “It’s a matter of picking your spots. (Soriano), with one swing of the bat can tie the ball game up so I didn’t want to give him anything to hit.” Kennedy became the fourth Diamondbacks pitcher to post consecutive 15-win seasons, joining Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Brandon Webb. “To be in that company means a lot,” Kennedy said. Aaron Hill and A.J. Pollock had RBI doubles, and Adam Eaton added a run-scoring single for Arizona.Dave Sappelt homered, and Wood (6-13) allowed five runs and five hits over five innings for the Cubs, who have lost six straight and 10 of 11. Wood struck out three and walked two in his second straight loss. “A solo homer’s OK but especially the two-run homer that Upton hit, that one hurt,” Wood said. “That kind of put it out of reach and they kept tacking on after theat. If I could take that back, we were right there.” The Cubs set a franchise record with its 57th loss away from Wrigley Field and remain winless this season in road 17 games against the NL West. “Our road record has been pretty awful,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “With not very good teams, that’s usually what happens. You wish you had the magic potion for that one but even the great teams struggle on the road. They don’t struggle as bad but you know the road is going to be difficult.” Eaton doubled to lead off the game and Pollock followed with a double to right-center to give Arizona a 1-0 lead.Ransom homered to left with one out in the fourth to make it 2-0.Sappelt hit his second home run in four days, a two-out shot to left-center field, to tie the game 2-2 in the fifth but Hill drove home Kennedy and Upton followed with a towering two-out homer to left to put Arizona back in front 5-2.Starlin Castro doubled home Soriano in the sixth for the Cubs’ final run.The Diamondbacks added three runs in the eighth against Jaye Chapman the first scoring on a throwing error by Barney – the second baseman’s second of the season and first since April 17.Barney had been three outs from setting the major league record with his 142nd consecutive errorless game at second. He finishes tied with Placido Polanco who went 141 games without an error at second in with Detroit in 2007. “I felt for the kid,” Gibson said. “He’s a good kid and plays the game the right way from what I’ve seen of him.” NOTES—The Cubs lost 56 of 77 road games in 1956.. Kennedy reached the 200-inning mark to become the fifth pitcher in franchise history with consecutive 200-inning seasons. … Castro, who entered the game in a 2-for-10 slide, went 3 for 4. … The Diamondbacks’ elimination from the pennant race officially came with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. … Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt was scratched shortly before the first pitch with a sore back. Mike Jacobs took his place and hit sixth. … RHP Justin Germano (2-9) will try to snap a seven-game losing streak when he takes the mound Saturday night for the Cubs against Arizona RHP Trevor Cahill (12-12). Cahill, who is one strikeout away from a career high 147, is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his past two starts at home.

USA leads Europe 5-3 after first day.

United States: 5     Europe: 3
Session 3 Foursomes
   Bubba Watson / Webb Simpson 7:20 AM CT
   Justin Rose / Ian Poulter
   Keegan Bradley / Phil Mickelson 7:35 AM CT
   Lee Westwood / Luke Donald
   Jason Dufner / Zach Johnson 7:50 AM CT
   Nicolas Colsaerts / Sergio Garcia
   Jim Furyk / Brandt Snedeker 8:05 AM CT
   Graeme McDowell / Rory McIlroy
Session 2 Fourball
   Bubba Watson / Webb Simpson « 5 & 4
   Paul Lawrie / Peter Hanson
   Phil Mickelson / Keegan Bradley « 2 & 1
   Rory McIlroy / Graeme McDowell
   Tiger Woods / Steve Stricker
   Lee Westwood / Nicolas Colsaerts « 1 up
   Dustin Johnson / Matt Kuchar « 3 & 2
   Justin Rose / Martin Kaymer
Session 1 Foursomes
   Jim Furyk / Brandt Snedeker
   Rory McIlroy / Graeme McDowell « 1 up
   Phil Mickelson / Keegan Bradley « 4 & 3
   Luke Donald / Sergio Garcia
   Jason Dufner / Zach Johnson « 3 & 2
   Lee Westwood / Francesco Molinari
   Steve Stricker / Tiger Woods
   Ian Poulter / Justin Rose « 2 & 1

Longoria blast in 9th gives Rays 3-2 win over slumping Sox. Now two behind Tigers.

Evan Longoria hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth inning and the surging Tampa Bay Rays won their eighth straight game Thursday night, handing the White Sox a 3-2 loss that hurts the Southsiders playoff hopes.The Rays remained two games back in the race for the second AL wild card, while the White Sox fell two games behind Detroit in the AL Central after their eighth loss in nine games. The White Sox and Tampa Bay both have six games to go, including three more against each other. Detroit beat Kansas City 5-4 earlier Thursday.Longoria’s 14th homer came on the eve of the anniversary of his dramatic shot that beat the Yankees on the final day last season and gave the Rays the AL wild card.Joel Peralta (2-6) pitched an inning for the win and Fernando Rodney finished for his club-record 46th save in 48 chances. After giving up a two-out single to Kevin Youkilis, Rodney struck out Adam Dunn on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.Brett Myers (3-4) gave up Longoria `s homer while pitching 1 2/3 innings. The right-hander has allowed a run in each of his last two outings after a run of six consecutive scoreless appearances.The sliding White Sox wasted a handful of opportunities to grab control of the game, continuing their recent struggles to hit with runners on base.A.J. Pierzynski led off the eighth with a single. Pinch-hitter Dewayne Wise then struck out after failing out to get down a bunt and pinch-runner Jordan Danks was ruled out on a double play on Alexei Ramirez’s fly ball when he apparently failed to retouch second base on his way back to first. The Sox left 10 on base,and they loaded the bases with no outs in both the fourth and fifth innings and scored just two runs. Paul Konerko hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the fifth, tying it at 2.Luke Scott started the fifth with a drive off Jake Peavy for his 14th homer, giving Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead.Ben Zobrist doubled to open the fourth, moved up on a fly ball and scored on Carlos Pena’s sacrifice fly to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.The Sox tied it in the bottom half when James Shields walked two and gave up a single to Alex Rios to load the bases with no outs. One out later, Shields hit Dayan Viciedo with a pitch to force in a run, but he retired the next two batters to avert the big inning.Shields gave up six hits in 6 1/3 innings, throwing 117 pitches. He struck out six and walked four.Peavy went 7 1/3 innings, leaving after walking pinch-hitter Sam Fuld. He gave up four hits, struck out six and walked one.Tampa Bay had runners at the corners with two outs in the second when Peavy made a fake throw to first and was called for a balk by first base umpire Chad Fairchild.Jeff Keppinger was waved in from third before the umpires conferred and wiped out the balk call, sending the runners back to their bases. Rays manager Joe Maddon came out of the dugout for an explanation from home plate umpire Brian O’Nora before Peavy struck out Matt Joyce to end the inning.

NOTES—The White Sox still have not named a starter for Sunday’s series finale to oppose Rays ace David Price. Jeremy Hellickson (9-10) goes for Tampa Bay on Friday against Gavin Floyd (10-11) and Saturday it’s Matt Moore (10-11) vs. Chris Sale (17- 7). … Rays C Jose Molina (right quad strain) missed a second straight game. Maddon said “he’s doing better,” but isn’t sure when Molina will be able to return to action. … Dan Johnson, who homered for Tampa Bay to tie the game with the Yankees on the final day last year, is now a reserve with the White Sox and lined out in the ninth Thursday night. “It’s very strange that Danny’s over there,” Maddon said. “Great guy. He’s a big part of Devil Ray/Ray history. … I know how calm he is in big moments.”

Rockies sweep Cubs, Barney ties Polonco’s MLB record of 141 straight games without an error by a 2B

DENVER—Jim Tracy is excited about the future of the Colorado Rockies, and the veteran manager is hoping to be a part of it.Rookies Jordan Pacheco and DJ LeMahieu each homered, leading the Rockies to a 7-5 win over the Cubs on Thursday for a three-game series sweep.Pacheco, Wilin Rosario and Chris Nelson had two hits apiece for the Rockies, who had 12 hits in their final home game of 2012.

“Hitting’s contagious,” LeMahieu said. “We had a couple of bad weeks where we weren’t swinging it great so I think we were just due.”

The Rockies have collected 10 or more hits in eight consecutive games. They hit .305 at Coors Field this season to become the first team to hit more than .300 at home since the Yankees and Angels did it in 2007.Matt Belisle allowed Anthony Rizzo’s RBI single in the Cubs ninth before Rafael Betancourt entered with two on and no outs. He gave up a run-scoring double to Alfonso Soriano before finishing for his 31st save.Rizzo also homered and Luis Valbuena had two hits for the Cubs, who have lost five straight and nine of 10.The Cubs (59-97) are on pace to surpass 100 losses for the first time since 1966.The Rockies (62-94) were headed in that direction before putting together a four-game winning streak. The down season will likely mean changes in the winter but Tracy said he wants to be part of the future.

“I have a contract to manage here in 2013 and I’m very hopeful of the fact, that as we go along over the course of the next week, that the conversation will take place and we will go from there,” he said before the game.

Tracy might face some tough decisions next year after a handful of prospects took advantage of their chance to play the last six weeks. Thursday’s starting lineup featured six rookies and only one player – Nelson – who was in the opening-day lineup.

“We’ve had enough guys that are out here for a long enough period of time, the way they’re playing the game they have a real belief in themselves that they belong here as major leaguers,” Tracy said. “With the guys we don’t have available, the surplus of quality position players is really, really special.”

Colorado jumped on Chris Volstad right away. Pacheco hit a three-run homer in the first, LeMahieu had a two-run shot in the second and Nelson had an RBI single in the third as the Rockies built a 7-3 lead.The Cubs had a chance to tie the game in the ninth. With runners on second and third, Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters struck out before Anthony Recker hit a grounder to shortstop Josh Rutledge, who threw a one-hopper to Pacheco at first to end the game.

“Rutledge gets to a lot of balls, especially up the middle, so I knew he had a chance at that ball,” Pacheco said. “He threw it over there and I kind of closed my eyes and hoped I got it.”

The Cubs were disappointed they didn’t take advantage of their chances.

“We were one hit away from tying that game after a tough day, where balls were hit really hard and had nothing to show for it,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It was nice to be one ball from hitting the outfield grass to tying it up.”

Volstad (3-11) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in three innings.

“Home runs got me again. The first one was a curveball. The second was a fastball,” Volstad said. “There is no reason to leave that fastball up. I have to make quality pitches in those situations.”

Jhoulys Chacin earned his first win since Sept. 1. Chacin (3-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings.Brett Jackson’s RBI single in the second was the Cubs first run in a span of 13 innings.

NOTES—Cubs 2B Darwin Barney extended his errorless streak to 141 games to tie for the major league record. Placido Polanco of the Detroit Tigers did it in 2007. … Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (left groin surgery) will play in an instructional league game Sunday and has not ruled out returning this season. Tulowitzki has been out since the end of May. … Rockies OF Dexter Fowler was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his strained left wrist Thursday. He came in as a defensive replacement in the top of the ninth. … Colorado drew more than 2.6 million fans for the fifth straight season despite posting its fewest home wins (35) in a full season. … The Cubs are 0-16 at NL West ballparks this year. They play three more at Arizona starting Friday.

NHL desides to cancel all Pre Season Games


While the players remained locked out by the league, the NHL has canceled the remainder of the preseason, calling off all games through Oct. 9.

This is hardly a surprise. The NHL already canceled the first 60 exhibition games through Sept. 30. Now comes the last 37 of the preseason games. That means the next time we talk about canceling games it will be the regular season, which is supposed to begin Oct. 11.This was the simple statement from the NHL.

“NEW YORK—The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the remainder of the 2012 preseason schedule.

The cancellation of the preseason schedule was necessary because of
the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players’
Association and the NHL.”
The Blackhawks had four home and four road games during the Pre Season that were wiped out.What a lovely tone to go into the resumption of CBA talks with on Friday.It’s a pretty safe assumption, at this point, that if the season is going to start on time, a deal will have to be reached in the upcoming three-day round of negotiations. It’s also a pretty safe assumption that won’t happen, but the NHL likely will wait a little longer before calling off the start of the season.Just like the last round of cancellations, I don’t think too many will be heartbroken. Missing out on exhibitions is actually a blessing for some fans; the preseason games can be a pain sometimes. But there is no such thing as a good cancellation. One game missed is one too many, even if they don’t actually count.It’s also worth noting that whenever a deal is reached and the games start back up, we’re probably going to have some growing pains to get into the season.Sure, the preseason might be dull to watch. But training camp and the preseason games serve a purpose, particularly when teams are introducing new players into the fold. Now we’re at the point that whenever the season is set to begin, there won’t be much of a warmup at all. They will just have to get started.If you remember the NFL season last year, they dealt with the same issue and things were a bit rusty at first before everything was back normal.

Rockies sweep Cubs who now have 97 losses.

DENVER—Jordan Pacheco and DJ LeMahieu each homered, leading the Colorado Rockies to a 7-5 win over the Cubs on Thursday for a three-game series sweep.Pacheco, Wilin Rosario and Chris Nelson had two hits apiece for the Rockies, who had 12 hits in their final home game of 2012.Rafael Betancourt pitched the ninth for his 31st save.Anthony Rizzo homered and had three hits and Luis Valbuena also had two hits for the Cubs, who have lost five straight and nine of 10.The Cubs (59-97) are on pace to surpass 100 losses for the first time since 1966.The Cubs trailed 7-3 in the ninth before rallying. Rizzo singled in the first run off Matt Belisle to bring on Betancourt. He allowed an RBI double to Soriano that made it 7-5 and put the tying run on second.Betancourt struck out Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters and got Anthony Recker to ground out to end the game.It was the eighth consecutive game the Rockies had 10 or more hits. They hit .305 at Coors Field this season to become the first team to hit more than .300 at home since the Yankees and Angels did it in 2007.For the last six weeks Colorado’s offense has been fueled by youth. Thursday’s starting lineup featured six rookies and only one player – Nelson – who was in the opening-day lineup.Despite that, Colorado jumped on starter Chris Volstad right away. Pacheco hit a three-run homer in the first, LeMahieu had a two-run shot in the second and Nelson had an RBI single in the third as the Rockies took a 7-3 lead.Volstad (3-11) allowed seven runs on 10 hits in three innings.It was enough for starter Jhoulys Chacin to get his first win since Sept. 1. Chacin (3-5) allowed three runs on seven hits, walked four and struck out two in five innings.Brett Jackson’s RBI single in the second was Chicago’s first run in a span of 13 innings.

NOTES—Darwin Barney extended his errorless streak to 141 games to tie for the major league record. Placido Polanco of the Detroit Tigers did it in 2007. … SS Troy Tulowitzki (left groin surgery) will play in an instructional league game Sunday and has not ruled out returning this season. Tulowitzki has been out since the end of May. … Rockies OF Dexter Fowler was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his strained left wrist Thursday. … Colorado drew more than 2.6 million fans for the third straight season despite posting its fewest home wins (35) in a full season.

Sox fall to Tribe, drop a game behind Detroit with seven remaining

The Cleveland Indians have struggled mightily in the second half. Still, they’re having a big impact on the race in the AL Central. The Indians drew 12 walks in a 6-4 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night, knocking them out of the AL Central lead for the first time in two months. Cleveland came into U.S. Cellular Field and won two of three.

“It shows a little character,” Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “They still got a lot more to play for than we do. We’re obviously not going to be doing anything after Oct. 3, but the fact that we’re still competing like we are right now shows signs of some character.”

The Sox, which has lost seven of eight, had been in sole possession or tied at the top every day since July 24. But Detroit moved ahead by a game, beating Kansas City 5-4 with a week left in the regular season. The White Sox have lost 7 of their last 8 and have seven games remaining — four at home against Tampa Bay and three more at Cleveland next week.

“You’re talking about a game lead, two-game, everything is so fragile. You talk about the momentum swings that can happen. This is one of them, the wrong way,” Paul Konerko said. “It doesn’t mean in two days it doesn’t swing the other way …It was a tough out there tonight. We didn’t deserve to win that game. This is the big leagues. You got all play nine innings.”

Shin-Soo Choo had a go-ahead RBI grounder in the seventh off Matt Thornton (4-9) and Vinny Rottino hit his first homer for Cleveland in the eighth off Brett Myers. Lou Marson drew his third walk of the game with one out in the seventh, and after a double by Ezequiel Carrera, Choo hit an RBI grounder to first. The free passes killed the White Sox and helped the Indians, who left 14 on base.

“That’s what made us successful the first half of the season offensively,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “Still, we rank among the top five teams in walks, which is something we really improved this year, and that’s something we can take advantage of and really help us.”

Tony Sipp (1-2) pitched one-third of an inning for the win and Chris Perez finished in the ninth for his 38th save in 42 chances. He issued the Indians’ sixth walk of the game and after a throwing error by shortstop Brent Lillibridge, he retired Paul on a fly to shallow left to end it.Rottino homered in the eighth off Myers after he entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement in left field. He had two homers earlier this season while with the Mets.

“We put him in to try to catch a fly ball if they hit a fly ball over there and he comes out and hits a home run,” Acta said. “He was a defensive replacement and ended up driving in a huge run there. He really crushed that ball because the wind was tough dead center.”

Indians starter Justin Masterson lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs and four walks. He was encouraged by the comeback his team mustered after his early struggles.

“You know something is on the line for them,” Masterson said. “I think that fires us up a little bit more.”

NOTES—Cleveland SS Asdrubal Cabrera left the game after batting in the top of the first because of a mid-back strain. Lillibridge took over at short. Cabrera felt the injury during batting practice before he aggravated it during his first inning swing, Acta said….Indians CF Michael Brantley (sore groin) was out of the lineup for the third consecutive game. After Thursday’s day off, Acta said Brantley should be ready to play Friday.

Cubs blanked by Rockies, Barney one errorless game from tying MLB record.

DENVER — Drew Pomeranz tossed five scoreless innings for his first win in more than two months and the Colorado Rockies beat the Cubs 6-0 on a rainy Wednesday night.The game was delayed by rain in the seventh inning for 1 hour, 24 minutes.Charlie Blackmon homered and Chris Nelson had two hits and two RBIs in the Rockies’ third straight win. Dave Sappelt had two hits for the Cubs, who are winless in 15 road games against NL West opponents. Pomeranz (2-9) had been 0-6 with a 6.84 ERA since the All-Star break and had lasted past the fourth inning just once in his last 10 starts. Pomeranz allowed three hits in his first win since July 6.Alex White and Rob Scahill combined for four innings of two-hit ball to finish the shutout.He got plenty of support from Colorado’s bats, which reached double-digits in hits for the seventh straight game. Every starter reached base at least once as the Rockies piled up 10 hits. The Rockies scored twice in the first off Jason Berken (0-2). Jordan Pacheco had an RBI double and scored on a single by Tyler Colvin.The Cubs loaded the bases in the second before Berken grounded out to end the inning.Colorado added to its lead in the third. Blackmon led off with his second homer of the season, Nelson hit a bases-loaded, two-run single and Colvin scored on a double-play grounder by Andrew Brown to make it 6-0. Berken allowed six runs on nine hits in four innings in his third start for the Cubs. who’s best chance to score was thwarted by a great play by Nelson at third. With runners at second and third and one out in the seventh, Sappelt hit a deep drive to left. Blackmon caught it at the wall and threw to Nelson at third, who made a sweeping tag on Joe Mather before Josh Vitters could score on the tag-up.

NOTES—Darwin Barney extended his errorless streak to 140 games. He needs one more game to tie for the major league record, set by Placido Polanco of the Detroit Tigers in 2007. … The Rockies are trying to become the first team to hit .300 at home since 2007, when the Angels and Yankees did it. … Colorado C Wilin Rosario was 0 for 4. It’s the first time in six games he failed to get at least two hits.

It’s over! 8 year CBA between NFL and Officials. Real Zebras to work Thursday night’s Cleveland at Baltimore game.

Ever since Monday night’s disaster of an ending in the SeahawksPackers game, there has been a push by both the NFL and the locked-out officials to resolve their labor dispute. That push,resulted in a deal getting done between the league and refs that will end the lockout.

Additionally, La Canfora reports there is language in the deal that would allow the currently locked-out officials to begin working on Thursday night, when the Ravens and Browns kick off Week 4.

The agreement between the NFL and the officials will be an eight-year deal. Average referee salaries will go from $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019. The referee pension plan will remain in place through 2016 and then will be frozen. It will be replaced by a defined contribution agreement starting in 2017 that will feature contributions from the NFL of $18,000 per official (eventually increased to $23,000 per) along with a partial match of a 401(k).

The NFL will have the right to hire full-time officials beginning in 2013. And the NFL will also be given the right to retain additional officials for training and developmental purposes.

“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement released by the NFL. “We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Browns and Ravens still hadn’t been notified of changes to the officiating crew for the Thursday night game. And there appeared to be a reasonable enough financial bridge to gap that would prevent the refs from taking the field in Baltimore.

But the two sides made enough progress in negotiations that it appears the refs will get a full week’s worth of work in. That’s critical, since having the regular refs work all but one game in Week 4 could make for an awkward situation and leave Baltimore and Cleveland at a competitive disadvantage.That will not be a problen since it’s been confirmed that the REGULAR Officials will be back for this game.

“Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”

Of course, if the refs struggle out of the gates, that won’t make things any easier. Which is why it’s good news to hear that Ed Hochuli has been grilling them every week on the rules and situations that the NFL faces in 2012.

The best news, though, is that coaches, players, media and, most importantly, fans will be able to move past the sordid affair of the replacement refs soon enough.