National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Petkovic reaches French Open semifinals

PARIS - Andrea Petkovic advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal, beating Sara Errani of Italy 6-2, 6-2 at the French Open on Wednesday.

Petkovic had some trouble holding serve, but her groundstrokes consistently landed near the lines, many of them for winners.

The 28th-seeded German had been 0-3 in major quarterfinals, losing at that stage at the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open in 2011. Her ranking dropped after that, as low as 177th last year, because of a right knee injury.

Errani was the runner-up at Roland Garros in 2012, losing to Maria Sharapova. Last year, the 10th-seeded Italian reached the semifinals and lost to eventual champion Serena Williams.

Halep advances to French Open semifinals

PARIS - Fourth-seeded Simona Halep advanced to the French Open semifinals by beating 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-2 Wednesday.

Halep, the highest-seeded player in the draw, lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January, her best previous performance at a Grand Slam tournament.

Halep has moved quickly up the rankings over the last year. In the last 13 months, Halep has won seven titles, second only to Serena Williams. But Halep is the only player to have won titles on clay, grass and hard courts during that stretch.

In the semifinals, Halep will face 28th-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany.

Browns WR Gordon pleads not guilty to speeding

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon has pleaded not guilty to a speeding ticket.

Gordon, who is awaiting a possible NFL suspension for failing a drug test, did not appear as scheduled in Berea Municipal Court on Wednesday. According to the court's website, his attorney entered a not guilty plea Tuesday. There is no new court date.

Gordon was stopped for going 74 mph in a 60 mph zone on May 25. He was fined $187. His passenger was cited for possession of less than 200 grams of marijuana.

Gordon could be facing a one-season suspension for another failed drug test. He was suspended two games last season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He led the league in yards receiving.

Gordon has continued to practice with the team.

California Chrome draws post No. 2 for Triple Crown try at Belmont Stakes

NEW YORK (AP) California Chrome became the 3-5 early favorite on Wednesday to win the Belmont Stakes and become American horse racing's 12th Triple Crown champion.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner will break from the No. 2 post under Victor Espinoza on Saturday at Belmont Park. Eleven Belmont winners have come out of that post, the last being Tabasco Cat in 1994.

California Chrome will be listed No. 2 in the betting program, the same number as 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, who won the Belmont by a record 31 lengths while setting a track record for the 1 1/2-mile (2,400-meter) race that still stands.

Wicked Strong was the 6-1 second choice and drew post No. 9. The colt finished fourth after an unlucky trip in the Derby, sat out the Preakness, and comes into the Belmont off a five-week rest.

Tonalist was made the third betting choice at 8-1 odds and will break from the No. 11 post. The colt has experience on the track, having won the Peter Pan Stakes, although he is new to the Triple Crown trail.

Ride On Curlin, the 12-1 fourth choice, and 20-1 shot General a Rod are the only other horses besides California Chrome who will have run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Eleven horses were entered to take on California Chrome in his bid to win the Triple Crown for the first time since Affirmed swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978.

Commanding Curve, second in the Derby, was listed at 15-1. Four horses were at 20-1: Commissioner, General a Rod, Medal Count (eighth in the Derby) and Samraat (fifth in the Derby).

Matterhorn and Matuszak, both new to the Triple Crown series, were listed at 30-1.

Here's a look at the full draw results:

The field for the 146th #BelmontStakes is drawn! pic.twitter.com/a0ueWDDv9C

— Belmont Stakes (@BelmontStakes) June 4, 2014

Spurs disagree with James, say they respect Heat

SAN ANTONIO (AP) LeBron James has it all wrong. Gregg Popovich is a people person.

"I like everybody," the San Antonio Spurs coach said.

Sideline reporters might disagree, but that's what Popovich said in response to James' comments that the Spurs don't like the Miami Heat.

Immediately after San Antonio beat Oklahoma City in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals to set up the NBA Finals rematch with the Heat that begins Thursday, Tim Duncan said, "We've got four more to win. We'll do it this time."

The Spurs nearly did it last year, but coughed up a five-point lead in the final half-minute of regulation of Game 6 before losing Game 7. The agony of that loss, San Antonio's first in five trips to the finals, led James to surmise that the Spurs aren't very fond of the Heat.

"They don't like us. They don't," James said Monday in Miami. "I can sense it from Timmy's comments over the last couple of days. . They want us, so they got us."

The Spurs, whose demeanor and remarks are normally as plain as sandwich bread, were a bit taken aback by James' reaction.

"Knowing Timmy, that's not trash talking," San Antonio's Tony Parker said. "I don't think he meant it like that. But obviously, we are very motivated and we want to get it done. At the same time, we realize we are playing a very good team that went to the final four times in a row and won the last two."

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said the comment was taken completely out of context and "not a big deal at all." He and Parker both said the Spurs have great respect for what the Heat have accomplished, having never made it to back-to-back NBA Finals until this season.

San Antonio did so after a rugged postseason run in the Western Conference, escaping a seven-game series with Dallas before closing out Portland in five games and Oklahoma City in six.

"Every time you play a team in the playoffs, you don't like them," Ginobili said. "That grows on you. It's such a challenge, you want to beat them so bad that you start to grow that challenge of you don't want the opponent to score on me, you don't want them to do good. You want to do everything you can to limit them. In some ways it's sort of dislike, but the same happened to me against Dallas and against Portland and against Oklahoma City. It's part of what the playoffs are about."

So any talk of dislike for a particular player or team was met with a glare.

"Are you really going to ask that?" Popovich said. "So somebody will say, `I don't like him' and the other guy, `So and so said they don't like you.' `Well, I don't like him either.' Come on, this is silly."

Singleton's HR in debut helps Astros down Angels

HOUSTON (AP) Jon Singleton homered and had two RBIs in his major league debut, Chris Carter also homered and the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-2 Tuesday night.

Jason Castro and Robbie Grossman drove in two runs apiece as Houston took the lead with a five-run third inning.

The Angels were done in by C.J. Wilson's lack of control. Wilson (6-5) walked a season-high five batters, including four in the third, in just 2 2-3 innings.

Josh Hamilton had a solo homer in the eighth inning in his return from the disabled list after breaking his left thumb on April 8. Fellow outfielder Mike Trout was back after missing two games with a stiff back, but left in the second inning with more back trouble.

Collin Cowgill replaced Trout and homered in the eighth.

Singleton walked and had two strikeouts and two errors at first base before he launched a towering shot off Matt Shoemaker into the bullpen in right-center in the eighth inning for his first major league hit to make it 6-2. Carter followed with his opposite field shot to the seats in right field to give Houston back-to-back homers for the first time this season.

Wilson walked three of the first four batters in the third inning to load the bases. Castro followed with his single to right field to put Houston up 2-0. Matt Dominguez singled to load the bases again and Wilson walked Singleton on four pitches to give the rookie his first career RBI.

He struck out Carter for the second out before Grossman's full-count single drove in two more to stretch the lead to 5-0 and chase Wilson.

Houston starter Collin McHugh (4-3) allowed two hits over five scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 2.52.

Singleton, a highly touted prospect expected to help Houston back to respectability, made his major league debut a day after agreeing to a five-year, $10 million contract. Fellow young talent George Springer, who was called up in April, stood up in the dugout cheering and yelling as the 22-year-old Singleton rounded the bases on his homer.

The players danced and laughed together when Singleton returned to the dugout, a rare scene in recent years as the Astros plummeted to Major League Baseball's basement.

Singleton served a 50-game suspension last season for a second violation of a drug of abuse. He told The Associated Press in spring training that he has an addiction to marijuana and had spent a month in a rehabilitation center last year. He moved past his problems this season and got the call to the majors after hitting .267 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

He said before the game that Tuesday meant even more because of his past struggles.

"It's definitely been a work in progress every single day that's been leading up to today," he said "Today is one of the happiest days of my life."

Los Angeles loaded the bases in the fourth after Albert Pujols singled, Hamilton walked and a hit batter with two outs. McHugh escaped the jam when Chris Iannetta lined out to third.

McHugh made a nifty spinning behind the back play on a chopper hit by Pujols and threw to Singleton at first to end the fifth inning.

NOTES: All three of Hamilton's home runs this season have been in Houston. ... The Angels optioned right-hander Jarrett Grube to Salt Lake on Sunday to make room on the roster for Hamilton. ... They also selected the contract of right-hander Cam Bedrosian from Double-A Arkansas and optioned right-hander Michael Kohn to Salt Lake. Bedrosian, a 22-year-old reliever, has a 1.47 ERA in 17 games this season for Arkansas. He struck out one in a scoreless sixth. ... Houston optioned 1B Marc Krauss to Oklahoma City to make room on the roster for Singleton.

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