Young clears bases in 7th to break tie and Tigers take opener from Sox 7-4


DETROIT—Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking, three-run double in the seventh inning and the Detroit Tigers beat the White Sox 7-4 Friday night, pulling within two games of the AL Central-leaders.Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta homered as the Tigers took the opener of the three-game series.Octavio Dotel (5-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings of scoreless relief. Joaquin Benoit struck out the side in the eighth inning and Jose Valverde closed for his 27th save in 31 chances.Jake Peavy (9-10) gave up six runs and nine hits over six innings.Cabrera hit his 33rd homer, a two-run shot in the first inning. He went 3 for 4 on a sore right ankle that didn’t affect him at the plate, but made two errors at third base.Peralta’s solo home run gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead in the fourth. The Sox tied it in the sixth without a hit when Dewayne Wise walked, stole second, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on A.J. Pierzynski’s sacrifice fly.Pierzynski hit his 24th homer, a solo shot in the second.Andy Dirks drew a leadoff walk off Peavy in the pivotal seventh inning, Cabrera singled and Prince Fielder was hit on the right shoulder by reliever Matt Thornton to load the bases. With a fired-up crowd buzzing, Young hit a double into the left-center gap to clear the bases.Tigers starter Doug Fister gave up three runs – two earned – on four hits and four walks over five innings.Drew Smyly gave up one run on two walks while getting one out in the sixth, pitching in relief for the first time after the rookie made 16 starts this season.Detroit has won 23 of its last 29 games at home. The White Sox have lost seven of their last nine road games.

NOTES—The Tigers traded former Cub Jeff Baker to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named no later than Sept. 30 to open up a spot for minor leaguer Avisail Garcia, who made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in right field in the eighth. … Peavy gave up four walks – one intentional – and struck out four as his winless streak stretched to five games.

Cubs win second straight, Volstad stuns Giants 6-4

Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer that landed on Waveland Avenue and Anthony Rizzo added a solo shot, helping Chris Volstad and the Cubs beat the weary San Francisco Giants 6-4 on Friday.Soriano also had a two-out RBI single in the first as the Cubs earned their first win of the season against the NL West leaders in five tries. The Cubs were swept in a four-game series at San Francisco from June 1-4. Buster Posey went 3 for 3 with two RBIs for San Francisco, which had won a season-high six consecutive road games. Pablo Sandoval had a sacrifice fly and Hunter Pence drove in a run with a groundout. The Giants rallied for an 8-4 victory in Houston on Thursday night, then arrived in Chicago around 3 a.m. They mostly stayed in the visitors’ clubhouse while the Cubs took batting practice, but they looked listless for much of the muggy afternoon at Wrigley Field. It was still quite a month for San Francisco, which went 18-11 in August to increase its division lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the most victories for the Giants in a single month since they had 18 in September 2010, and they went on to win the World Series that year. Volstad (2-9) allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings for his second consecutive victory after a 24-start winless streak. The 6-foot-8 right-hander pitched into the seventh against Colorado on Sunday for his first win since July 10, 2011, for the Marlins against Houston. Madison Bumgarner (14-9) won three of his first four August starts for San Francisco, but ended up dropping his last two after another ineffective outing against the Cubs. The left-hander retired the first two batters in the third before the Cubs strung together four consecutive hits to build a 5-0 lead. Rizzo got it started with a single to center and Soriano followed with a drive to left on an 0-2 pitch for his 24th homer. Starlin Castro then singled and scored all the way from first on Welington Castillo’s double to the gap in left-center.Castillo moved to third on the throw home and headed for the plate when the ball got away from Posey. Bumgarner’s return throw was high and went off the All-Star catcher’s glove, allowing Castillo to score easily.Rizzo added his 10th homer in the fifth, a drive to left-center that skipped off the basket and caromed back onto the field. The big first baseman hustled into third, but the drive was eventually changed to a home run after a short replay review. Despite the short turnaround from the series in Houston, the Giants almost rallied against the Cubs’ bullpen. Brandon Belt flied out to the warning track with two runners on to end the sixth, then flied out to center with a runner on for the final out in the eighth. Carlos Marmol got the final three outs for his 17th save in 19 chances. The right-hander has converted 16 straight save opportunities. The Cubs closed the month with a pair of impressive wins, but still finished August with an 8-21 record. They scored three times in the ninth on Thursday for 12-11 victory over Milwaukee on Soriano’s game-ending single.

NOTES—Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Posey will get a day off this weekend. San Francisco plays three consecutive afternoon games at Wrigley before returning home for another afternoon start against Arizona. … The Cubs recalled reliever Jeff Beliveau from Triple-A Iowa and sent fellow LHP Brooks Raley to the minors. They also announced they will recall OFs Tony Campana and Dave Sappelt and INF Adrian Cardenas when major league rosters expand on Saturday. Raley’s season is over, and LHP Chris Rusin will be recalled on Tuesday to start at Washington….RHP Miguel Socolovich, who was claimed off waivers from Baltimore on Aug. 23, will be added to the active roster on Sunday. Backup C Anthony Recker, who was acquired in a trade with Oakland, is expected to join the team on Tuesday. …Tim Lincecum (7-14, 5.30 ERA) starts for San Francisco on Saturday against the Cubs Justin Germano (2-4, 5.91 ERA). Lincecum is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four career starts at Wrigley Field.

Bears finish Pre Season 3-1 after holding off Browns 28-20


CLEVELAND—Quarterback Colt McCoy did little to solidify winning Cleveland’s backup job – or impress any other NFL team – and Josh McCown threw two touchdown passes in the first half, leading the Bears to a 28-20 victory over the Browns on Thursday night in the exhibition finale.McCoy, who lost his starting job in training camp to rookie Brandon Weeden, is battling Seneca Wallace to be Cleveland’s No. 2 QB. McCoy went 2 of 5 for 16 yards and an interception.The Bears (3-1) returned an interception and blocked punt for TDs in a 90-second span of the third quarter to pull away from the Browns (2-2).McCown played the entire game, finishing 20 of 29 for 157 yards and the two TDs. He will sit behind starter Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell.The Browns are unlikely to keep both McCoy and Wallace on the roster, which must be trimmed to the league-mandated 53-man limit Friday night. Cleveland has discussed trading McCoy, but coach Pat Shurmur has been impressed with the way his former starter has handled his demotion and may want to keep him as insurance should Weeden get hurt.Shurmur has much more to worry about than naming his backup quarterback.Cleveland’s special teams were bad again, and rookie running back Trent Richardson still hasn’t returned after undergoing knee surgery on Aug. 9.Phil Dawson’s 39-yard field goal brought the Browns within 14-10 in the third before the Bears struck quickly.First, cornerback Greg McCoy picked off Thad Lewis and returned it 15 yards for a TD. Moments later, Bears linebacker Patrick Trahan shoved up-back Rod Windsor into punter Reggie Hodges, whose kick caromed off his teammate’s back and Brittan Golden scooped it up and ran 22 yards for the score.Rookie Adonis Thomas flipped over from the 1 in the fourth to pull Cleveland within 28-17.Not wanting to risk injury to any of his starters, Shurmur sat almost all of his first-teamers, including Weeden and his entire defense. Shurmur said earlier this week he was pleased with Weeden’s development during training camp and feels the 28-year-old is ready to face Philadelphia in the Sept. 9 opener.Weeden didn’t look so smooth last week, fumbling twice as the Eagles hammered the Browns 27-10.Weeden dressed for the final preseason game but only watched from the sideline as McCoy, who started 13 games last season before being sidelined with a severe concusson, struggled.On McCoy’s first pass, he never took his eyes off Greg Little and nearly got his wide receiver pummeled. When Cleveland got the ball back, McCoy threw high to intended target Jordan Norwood and was intercepted by backup free safety Jeremy Jones.On the first play following the turnover, McCown waited for wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher to get behind rookie Trevin Wade, and the Bears’ versatile wide receiver made a diving, one-handed TD grab. The play stood following an official replay.McCoy was lifted after one quarter – 13 total plays – and was replaced by Wallace, a nine-year veteran who has made seven starts in two years with Cleveland. Wallace engineered an 80-yard scoring drive before halftime, capping it with his 2-yard TD pass to Windsor.As Wallace ran off the field, McCoy greeted his teammate with a tap on the helmet and pat on the back.Like Shurmur, Bears coach Lovie Smith rested his starters in advance of their home opener against Indianapolis. Fullback Tyler Clutts was the only Bears’ first-stringer to start.Cutler, who threw just one TD pass and completed only 47 percent of his passes in three games, stood on the sideline wearing a baseball cap.Browns running back Montario Hardesty had six carries for 24 yards, but most importantly he didn’t fumble after a turnover in each of the past two games. His roster spot seems secure because of Richardson’s uncertain status.

NOTES—Browns rookie LB James-Michael Johnson injured his side in the first half and did not return. Johnson is expected to start if LB Scott Fujita has to serve his 3-game suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal. … Bears NT Brian Price and RB Lorenzo Booker sustained head injuries. … Cleveland was outscored 35-6 in first quarters during the preseason.

O’s jump on Quintana, fall to O’s 5-3. Detroit next.

BALTIMORE—Zach Britton made an ample contribution to the Baltimore Orioles’ pennant drive, striking out a career-high 10 over eight innings in a win over the White Sox.Then, as his teammates prepared to take a train to New York for a huge series against the Yankees, Britton packed his bags for a drive to Norfolk, home of Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate.He won’t be gone for long.Britton’s stellar pitching performance, along with home runs by Taylor Teagarden and Adam Jones, carried the Orioles to a 5-3 victory Thursday.Baltimore took three of four from the AL Central-leading White Sox to complete a 5-1 homestand that started with a two-game sweep of Toronto. The Orioles now stand within three games of the idle AL East-leading Yankees, who will be trying to retain that margin in the three-game series that begins Friday night.

“Trust me, this group is going to have fun with it,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.

The Orioles head north with a suitcase full of momentum.

“It’s nice to take this one to New York,” said Britton, who was optioned to Norfolk after the game to make room for left-hander Randy Wolf, signed Thursday after being cut by Milwaukee last week.

Britton (4-1) gave up one run, seven hits and did not issue a walk. He fanned Dewayne Wise three times and eclipsed his previous single-game career high of seven strikeouts by the fifth inning.

“I think Zach will be back,” Showalter said, adding, “Zach was hiding from me tonight.”

The Orioles can’t wait for his return.

“If he can go out and give you eight innings with no walks, he’s going to be hard to beat,” Jones said. “That was the most impressive I’ve seen him.”

Britton allowed hits to five of the first nine batters he faced, but finished by retiring 19 of 21.After Pedro Strop surrendered two singles in the ninth, Jim Johnson got an out, then gave up a two-run single to Alexei Ramirez before striking out Gordon Beckham for his 41st save.The game drew a crowd of 10,141, smallest of the season at Camden Yards. There should be substantially more fans in the stands at Yankee Stadium.

“Our guys aren’t going up there to experience the atmosphere,” Showalter said. “They’re going to try to compete with the team we’re trying to catch.”

Ramirez went 7 for 13 with five RBI in the series, but the White Sox finished 2-6 against Baltimore this season. The Sox next travel to Detroit for a showdown between the top two teams in the AL Central.

“You’ve got to go in there and put this series behind us and hopefully go into Detroit and play well,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “The Orioles are playing well right now. They have a confidence about them, especially at home. We’re out of here now and we have to worry about Detroit.”

Rookie Jose Quintana (5-3) allowed five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, matching the shortest outing of his career. He entered with an 0.88 ERA in day games and was 3-0 with a 3.34 ERA in nine road starts.His downfall came in the second, when he gave up five straight extra-base hits.

“They got to him in that inning,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Everything was kind of up and kind of the same speed, really. They can hit, and they got him.”

Teagarden, the backup catcher behind Matt Wieters, came in batting .086 (3 for 35). In addition to his third-inning home run, he also doubled in a run in the fourth.The Sox wasted a double by newcomer Jose Lopez in the first inning, then scored only one run on four hits in the second. After Pierzynski was thrown out at the plate by Jones trying to score from second on a single to center by Ramirez, Beckham hit a two-out RBI single before Wise struck out with runners on the corners.Quintana opened by getting eight straight outs before Teagarden hit an opposite-field drive to right, the first of five straight two-out extra-base hits by the Orioles. Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy followed with doubles and Jones hit his career-high 26th home run before Mark Reynolds capped the surge with a double.Baltimore made it 5-1 in the fourth when Nate McLouth singled and Teagarden doubled to center.

NOTES—The White Sox purchased the contract of Lopez from Triple-A Charlotte, placed C Tyler Flowers on the paternity list, purchased the contract of C Hector Gimenez from Charlotte, moved RHP Brian Bruney (hip) to the 60-day DL and released RHP Gregory Infante….Four of Teagarden’s five hits this season are for extra bases — two homers and two doubles…..Orioles DH Nick Johnson, who went on the DL in late June with a wrist injury, is likely done for the season, Showalter said….The White Sox outhit Baltimore 10-8. The Orioles improved to 18-48 when getting outhit.

Cubs avert sweep by rallying against weak Brewers bullpen for 12-11 win.

Jonathan Lucroy hit a grand slam and drove in seven runs for Milwaukee, but Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single capped a three-run comeback in the ninth inning Thursday that lifted the Cubs over the Brewers 12-11.The Brewers sub par Bullpen was blown to bits by the struggling Cubs late. In a seesaw game featuring a combined 15 extra-base hits, the Cubs led 3-0, trailed 9-3 and were still down 11-9 going into the ninth.Starlin Castro hit an RBI single against Francisco Rodriguez (2-7), Anthony Rizzo tied it with his second double of the afternoon and Soriano won the game with his one-out drive off the center-field wall.Lucroy tied his career high for RBI and Rickie Weeks had five hits. Ryan Braun and Cody Ransom also homered for Milwaukee, which had won eight straight against the Cubs.Ransom led off the seventh with a go-ahead solo shot to center off Blake Parker after the Cubs rallied to tie the game with a six-run sixth.Lucroy’s third-inning shot landed on Waveland Avenue, erasing the Cubs’ early 3-0 lead. Lucroy also stroked a two-run single in the sixth and an RBI single in the eighth, matching the career high of seven RBI he set May 20 against Minnesota.Braun’s league-leading 36th homer was even more impressive, clearing the batter’s eye beyond the ivy in center field and nearly hitting the camera booth.The Cubs win capped a lopsided season series between the NL Central rivals that saw Milwaukee take 13 of 17 games. Cubs manager Dale Sveum was a coach for the Brewers before taking the reins in Chicago.Shaun Marcum was making his second start after missing two months because of elbow soreness. He allowed three runs, scattering five hits and four walks while striking out four.Marcum had to leave the game after throwing 85 pitches because of right calf cramping.Carlos Marmol (2-2) picked up the win in relief.Cubs rookie Brooks Raley gave up seven runs and 10 hits in four innings in his last outing of the season. Before the game, Sveum said that Raley would be shut down because of an innings limit.Raley will finish the season 1-2 with an 8.14 ERA in his first five big-league starts.Brett Jackson, another rookie, reached base four times. He doubled twice in the sixth, including a slicing two-bagger up the left-field line that tied the score at 9-apiece.David DeJesus and Luis Valbuena had three hits each for the Cubs, who avoided falling 32 games under .500 for the first time since finishing the 2000 season 65-97.

NOTES—Darwin Barney played his 115th consecutive errorless game at second base, extending the single-season NL record he set on Wednesday. Barney is eight games shy of Ryne Sandberg’s Cubs record for errorless games including streaks over multiple seasons.. Sveum said LHP Chris Rusin will likely be recalled from Triple-A Iowa to assume Raley’s spot in the rotation. Rusin held the Brewers to one run and one hit over five innings on Aug. 21, his only big-league appearance to date.. Sveum said that Luis Valbuena may see the bulk of the action at third base going forward after prospect Josh Vitters struggled to a 5 for 53 start after being recalled from the minors for the first time.

Sox score quick and Axelrod does the rest as Sox increase lead to three games on Detroit.

BALTIMORE—The night before White Sox rookie Dylan Axelrod was scheduled to pitch against the Baltimore Orioles, teammates Gordon Beckham and Paul Konerko pulled the right-hander aside and gave him something to think about.The way Axelrod remembers it, the message was: “The season is on the line. You’ve got to win this.” Axelrod delivered, allowing one run and three hits in 7 1/3 innings to guide the3 Sox to an 8-1 victory Wednesday night as Detroit lost to Kansas City 1-0..

“I know they were just kidding me,” Axelrod said of his teammates’ speech, “but it was a good win against a good team.”

The White Sox spoiled the Orioles debut of Joe Saunders, scoring seven runs off the left-hander — including four in the first inning. That was more than enough backing for Axelrod, who overcame four walks to earn his third career win.Recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday as a replacement for injured Gavin Floyd, Axelrod (2-2) retired 13 straight batters before a one-out walk in the eighth ended his night.Although Beckham and Konerko intentionally overstated the importance of the game for the first-place White Sox, the victory did break a five-game skid on the road and put the Sox in position to salvage a split of the series with a win on Thursday.

“We told [Axelrod] after last night’s game that he better win, because we kind of needed it,” said Beckham, who contributed three hits and three RBI.

Afterward, Axelrod was optioned to Double-A Birmingham. It didn’t matter to him one bit, because that assignment puts him in position to be recalled sooner than a return to playoff-bound Charlotte.

“Get my work and get ready to come back,” he said. “I am thankful that they want me back so soon.”

One night after White Sox ace Chris Sale didn’t get past the fourth inning, Axelrod put the brakes on the mini-slide.

“They talk about being a stopper. I’m not that, but I came out with that mindset,” he said. “Put forth my best effort and get this team back on a winning track that hopefully carries into [Thursday] and into [a weekend series with] Detroit as well.”

Alexei Ramirez went 3 for 4 with two RBI and scored twice to help the White Sox notch their most lopsided win since an 11-4 rout of Minnesota on July 24.Omar Quintanilla drove in the lone run for the Orioles, whose four-game winning streak ended. Baltimore remained 3 ½ games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.Obtained on Sunday in a trade that sent reliever Matt Lindstrom to Arizona, Saunders (0-1) gave up 10 hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He was undone by an awful first inning in which he yielded four hits and a walk.

“It just didn’t go my way there in the first, and that was pretty much the game as it ends up,” said Saunders, who grew up an Orioles fan in northern Virginia.

Baltimore is his third stop in a major league career that began in 2005 with the Angels.The Orioles’ success of late and the prospect of seeing Saunders’ debut barely caused a ripple at the turnstiles: The game drew a crowd of 13,098.Saunders launched the Baltimore portion of his career in wretched fashion. Dewayne Wise singled on Saunders’ second pitch and Kevin Youkilis hit a fly ball to the warning track in center before Adam Dunn walked. After Konerko got an infield hit, Alex Rios hit a two-run double and Ramirez singled in two runs.

“I was making good pitches,” Saunders insisted. “I kind of looked back at [catcher Matt Wieters] and said, `What’s going on here?”‘

The Sox added an unearned run in the fourth when Beckham hit an RBI double after Wieters dropped a foul pop behind the plate. Baltimore closed to 5-1 in the bottom half when Wieters doubled, took third on a fly ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Quintanilla, his career-high 16th RBI of the season.Saunders was pulled after the White Sox opened the sixth with two singles and a sacrifice. Beckham greeted Kevin Gregg with a two-run single.An RBI single by Dayan Viciedo made it 8-1 in the seventh.

NOTES—Orioles manager Buck Showalter shot down the notion of prized pitching prospect Dylan Bundy joining the club when rosters expand on Sept. 1. Showalter said he wants the 19-year-old to focus on pitching for Double-A Bowie in the playoffs before participating in the instructional league…..A.J. Pierzynski wasn’t in the starting lineup, but manager Robin Ventura said the catcher would start in the series finale. Pierzynski is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and 5 for 31 over his last 10 games…..Jake Peavy is still expected to start in Detroit on Friday despite being hindered by an eye infection…..Baltimore has been outscored 80-48 in the first inning this season…..Inserted as a defensive replacement in the seventh, Ray Olmedo promptly made an outstanding stop on Mark Reynolds’ grounder down the line, then threw him out.

Barney sets errorless streak record, but Brewers beat Cubs 3-1

The Milwaukee Brewers are by no means a great road team,in fact they suck away from Miller Park — until they get to Wrigley Field.Mike Fiers tossed 7 1/3 solid innings to lead the Brewers to a 3-1 win over the Cubs on Wednesday night, their eighth straight victory in the I-94 Series.The Brewers improved to 6-1 at Wrigley in 2012, while their overall road mark is 24-39.Fiers (8-6) held the Cubs to four hits and struck out six, helping Milwaukee beat its division rival for the 13th time in 16 games this season. The Brewers have won eight of their last nine overall and moved within five games of .500 for the first time since July 21.

“Wherever we’re at we try to win,” Fiers said. “So it’s not like we’re playing not as hard other places. We just happen to be better here.”

Fiers sent down 14 straight batters at one point and won his second straight start, but Milwaukee’s streak of eight straight games with at least 10 strikeouts came to an end. It was the longest such streak since 1900.

“As soon as he got the curveball going … that big slow curveball really sets up his other pitches well,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Fiers.

John Axford finished up for his 22nd save in 30 chances.Jeff Samardzija (8-12) gave up seven hits and three runs — two earned — in seven innings for the Cubs. He struck out 10 for his third double-digit strikeout game of the season.Jean Segura stroked a go-ahead single in the seventh and scored an insurance run when the Cubs committed two errors after Segura’s steal of second base.

“He’s a good player,” Roenicke said of Segura. “He’s going to keep getting better and it will be fun to see him in a year or two. “I think there’s going to be so much improvement from him.”

Segura also made a beautiful diving stop deep in the hole at shortstop and threw out Alfonso Soriano at first in the first inning.

“It was my best game,” the rookie said. “Not because I bring the winning run, but because I have good offense and helped the team win.”

Norichika Aoki and Ryan Braun had two hits apiece for Milwaukee.Bryan LaHair singled and scored on Darwin Barney’s fielder’s choice in the second for the Cubs’ only run. The Cubs have dropped 22 of 28 and have scored two runs or less 11 times in August.

Samardzija has received two runs or fewer of support while on the mound in nine of his last 10 starts, but has lasted at least seven innings in eight of those outings.

“It is what it is,” he said. “You show up every day like a professional and do your job. I go out and give everything I got every day to win a ballgame. That’s not going to change.”

The bumbling Cubs fell to 31 games under .500, their worst mark since Sept. 30, 2006, and looked the part during Milwaukee’s two-run rally in the seventh that was aided by three errors. Nyjer Morgan reached on a bunt single and went to second when Samardzija’s throw sailed up the right field line. He went to third when Samardzija uncorked a wild pitch, and scored on Segura’s solid single to left.Segura stole second and dashed for third when Welington Castillo’s throw bounced past Starlin Castro. Barney backed up the play and threw to third, but Luis Valbuena missed the ball, allowing Segura to score.Barney was initially charged with the second error on the play, but after the inning the official scorer gave the miscue to Valbuena. That allowed Barney to extend his streak of consecutive errorless games at second base to 114 games, breaking the National League record of 113 games set by San Diego’s David Eckstein in 2010.The major league record is 141 games, established by Detroit’s Placido Polanco in 2007.

NOTES—The Cubs named Brandon Hyde the club’s director of player development, promoting him from his role as minor league field coordinator. Hyde, 38, joined the Cubs during the offseason after spending nine years in the Marlins organization. He will assume the duties of former vice president of player development Oneri Fleita, who was fired on Aug. 15. … Former Cubs reliever Scott Maine was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. Maine was designated for assignment by the Cubs on Monday. … LaHair entered the game hitting just .164 (12 for 73) since making the NL All-Star team for the first time. LaHair had a streak of reaching base 32 straight games from April 8 to May 15 earlier this season.


NFL announces that Replacement Officials WILL work Regular Season opener,

The NFL, in a detailed memo to all teams, says replacement refs will start the regular season.

Is this a ploy by the NFL to put pressure on the real game officials? Who knows. I just know that when the NFL does something like this — put in writing to all clubs — there’s a good chance it will happen.

The memo is extensive in its detail and shows you exactly what the NFL is thinking. First, the league does believe that the replacement refs can do a solid job. Agree or disagree that’s what they think.

Second, the league will employ veteran former officials upstairs as supervisors. I saw this system in Baltimore. They contact alternate officials on the sidelines to correct certain mistaken calls and help with getting future calls right.

But the big thing is that the NFL states in the memo that negotiations are still far apart particularly when it comes to retirement benefits. The memo states officials were offered a retirement contribution package that would average $20,000 a year.

This is what we know for certain. The refs and league remain far apart and it certainly looks like replacement refs will start the season.

As for the Bears, they waived Rahied Davis which means that Sane Sanzenbacher has likely made the team. Lovie Smith continues to insist that he expects Brian Urlacher to start against the Colts a week from Sunday in the Regular Season opener. The Bears are in Cleveland for the final Pre Season contest with the Browns Thursday evening.

Gallardo shuts down Cubs as Brewers win 4-1

Jeff Bianchi added another souvenir to his trophy case, and this one caught his manager by surprise.Bianchi hit a three-run shot for his first big league homer, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-1 win over the Cubs on Tuesday night. Bianchi went deep off Travis Wood (4-11) with two outs in the second for Milwaukee, which has won seven of eight overall and has beaten the Cubs seven straight times.The 25-year-old rookie was given the green light on a 3-0 pitch and drilled it into the left field seats.

“I didn’t expect him to swing,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He had the green light, but I didn’t expect him to swing. I was glad he did — not just because of the outcome, but he’s got the pitcher behind him.”

Bianchi started his big league career 0 for 15 but had hits in four straight plate appearances coming in before homering in his first at-bat against Wood.

“It calmed me down a little bit,” Bianchi said of his first big league hit, which came on Saturday. “I don’t think I was putting too much pressure on myself, because I’ve gone 0 for (15) before in my career.”

Bianchi was with the Cubs for about a month during the offseason after being claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals in December. The Cubs also waived him in January to free up a roster spot, and he was claimed by the Brewers.Yovani Gallardo (14-8) won his seventh straight start, holding the Northsiders to one run and three hits over seven innings and striking out nine. Gallardo has won six straight starts since July 31, pitching seven or more innings in each. He’s held the Cubs to a single run in each of his last four appearances at Wrigley Field.

“I’ve been able to command my curveball. That makes a huge difference,” Gallardo said. “I made some mistakes with the fastball tonight, but being able to throw that curveball for a strike opens a little bit more.”

John Axford finished up for his 21st save in 29 chances.Wood settled down after Bianchi’s homer and allowed just two baserunners over his final five innings. Wood has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last six starts – all losses.Wood lost for the eighth time in nine starts despite limiting Milwaukee to five hits and three runs over seven innings.

“[Wood] did a great job,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Obviously he just threw the 3-0 pitch trying to get back in the count was kind of the difference in the ballgame. He put a good swing on the ball that really we didn’t have all night.”

The Cubs have lost 21 of their last 27 games.Wood provided the only offense on the night for the Cubs, going deep off Gallardo in the third inning for this third career home run.Milwaukee has beaten the Cubs in 12 of their last 15 meetings, including Monday’s 15-4 drubbing which lasted 3 hours, 43 minutes.Tuesday’s game moved at a much brisker pace.Milwaukee tacked on a run in the eighth when Norichika Aoki doubled and stole third. He came home when Shawn Camp picked Rickie Weeks off first. As the Cubs chased Weeks in a rundown, Aoki slid home with the run on what was scored a fielder’s choice.The Cubs’ beleaguered bullpen entered the game with a 6.09 ERA in August.After Alfonso Soriano’s third-inning walk, Gallardo retired the last 13 Cubs he faced, striking out five.Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro went 1 for 4, singling in his first at-bat and striking out to end the game. Before the game, the Cubs announced they it had agreed to a seven-year extension with Castro, including an option for an eighth year that would keep Castro in a Cubs uniform past his 30th birthday.

NOTES—Before the game, the Cubs activated RHP Blake Parker from the 60-day DL. Parker had been out since June 6 with a right elbow stress reaction. … LHP Alex Hinshaw was designated for assignment one night after he allowed five runs, including three consecutive homers, without retiring a batter during Milwaukee’s nine-run ninth. … Roenicke was pleased to hear the Baltimore Orioles signed LHP Randy Wolf, who Milwaukee released Aug. 22. “Hopefully he can go in there and start off well, and they like him enough to where he’ll be part of what they do,” Roenicke said. … Darwin Barney completed his 113th consecutive errorless game at second base for yjr Cubs, tying an NL record set by San Diego’s David Eckstein in 2010.

O’s Tillman shuts down Sox 6-0, Sale is roughed up

BALTIMORE—Chris Tillman allowed one hit over seven innings, Nick Markakis drove in three runs and the Baltimore Orioles defeated Chris Sale and the White Sox 6-0 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.Lew Ford homered for the second time in two nights and Adam Jones hit his 100th career home run for the Orioles, who moved a season-high 14 games over .500 (71-57) and remained atop the AL wild-card standings.The only hit against Tillman (7-2) was an infield dribbler by Dayan Viciedo in the fifth inning that shortstop J.J. Hardy couldn’t snag with an attempted barehanded pickup. Pitching on six days’ rest, Tillman walked four, struck out five and did not allow a runner past second.Brian Matusz worked the final two innings, allowing one hit in completing Baltimore’s seventh shutout.Sale (15-5) gave up four runs and six hits in four innings, his shortest start of the season. Coming off a 13-strikeout win over the Yankees, the left-hander lost for the second time in six starts since July 21.It was the fifth straight road loss for the White Sox, who won six in a row at home before dropping the first two of this four-game series. It was the Sox most lopsided shutout defeat of the season.The Orioles have won 12 of 15 at home as they continue toward their first winning season in 15 years, but their scintillating play has not attracted large crowds at Camden Yards this week. Only 12,814 showed up for this one, slightly more than the 10,955 on Monday night.After Sale struck out the first two batters in the second inning, Baltimore used a single by Nate McLouth and two walks to load the bases for Markakis, who drove in three runs with a double to center.Ford made it 4-0 in the third with a drive to left, making it seven straight games in which Sale has given up at least one home run. The last time Ford homered on successive nights was in 2005, when he homered in three consecutive games with Minnesota.Manny Machado delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Jones hit an opposite-field shot to right in the seventh. The drive ended a career-high 110 at-bat homerless drought and gave him 25 for the season, tying a career high.

NOTES—McLouth had a season-high three hits. … LHP Joe Saunders will make his Orioles debut on Wednesday night, starting against Dylan Axelrod, who was recalled by the White Sox from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday. Axelrod replaces Gavin Floyd, who was placed on the 15-day DL with an elbow injury. … The last time Baltimore was 14 games over .500 was June 21, 2005 (42-28). … A.J. Pierzynski went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats.