National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Harvick sets track record to win Kansas pole

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Kevin Harvick has a second straight shot at winning from the pole at Kansas Speedway.

Harvick was back on top at the 1.5-mile track, posting a track record to help propel him to his second pole of the season. Harvick posted his record 194.658 mph lap Friday in the second round of NASCAR's knockout qualifying format. His No. 4 Chevrolet hit 194.252 in the third round to give him two straight poles at Kansas, after he won from the top spot at October's race.

"It was `Freaky Fast' today, so just have to put it all together tomorrow night when it counts," Harvick said.

Harvick has two wins this season and won from the pole at Darlington. He will lead the field to green Saturday under the lights for the first time in a Sprint Cup race at Kansas. Joey Logano joined Harvick on the front row.

Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five.

His qualifying spins over, Keselowski worked hard defending himself from drivers - like former champion Jimmie Johnson - who said he didn't need to race so hard when he was out of contention Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Keselowski fell six laps off the pace while his car was repaired from an earlier accident. When he returned to the track, he decided to race hard with the leaders in an attempt to slowly get his laps back and maybe put himself back in position to win.

Keselowski eventually spun in the middle of the pack to trigger a 14-car accident that wrecked former champions Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Johnson.

"You have to think being six laps down you are not going to get back on the lead lap," Johnson said Friday. "There is an opinion, if you are on the race track you deserve a right to go race regardless how many laps down you are. I'm sure that is probably a smaller percentage of people have that opinion. It's very easy when you are caught up in that wreck is to go, `Why were you racing? You are six laps down.' It just depends on where you are."

Keselowski brushed off the barbs from his rivals.

"That's his right," Keselowski said. "We all hold the steering wheel. There's 43 of us out there and we all hold it a little bit differently and make different decisions. It would be quite lame to watch if we all did the same thing and had the same ideas and personnas.

"I'd say in most cases, I probably wouldn't have done it. But in that case, I felt like it was the proper thing to do with having the potential to race the 1 car (Jamie McMurray) and get back in sequence. If we got back in sequence, we had enough speed in our car, with yellows, to have a shot at winning the race. I wasn't ready to give up."

Kurt Busch was sixth, followed by Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart. Danica Patrick qualified ninth for her second straight top-10 start and Greg Biffle was 10th.

Harvick said a little 15-minute pep talk with Patrick may have spurred her to another solid qualifying run. She set a track record on her first lap, though it was topped multiple times during the three rounds.

"She just basically needed to quit thinking about it and smash the gas," he said. "That's what she said. She's done a great job in trying to take in all the information."

Harvick, who jumped from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing, pulled away from Kurt Busch and Gordon on a late restart to win a wreck-filled race in October at Kansas.

"I don't think it's going to be like the way it was when they dropped the green flag last fall here," he said.

Harvick won his eighth pole in 477 career starts.

"It makes life a lot easier when you can have pit stall one," he said. "Hopefully we can have a good night tomorrow night, but the weekend has gone good we had a great test here a few weeks ago and everything has carried right over."

Kaymer takes 1-shot lead over Spieth at Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth are having a blast at The Players Championship - one because he's playing good golf again, the other because that's all he's been doing.

Kaymer followed his record-tying 63 on the Stadium Course on the TPC Sawgrass with a 3-under 69, capping off his round by hitting a pitching wedge to 3 feet on an island green with a back pin on the 17th hole.

He had a one-shot lead going into the weekend as he tries to end more than two years without a victory.

"Everything is coming together nicely," said Kaymer, a former PGA champion and world No. 1.

Spieth, in his first big tournament since his runner-up finish at the Masters, hasn't shown any signs of a letdown. He pieced together another bogey-free round and converted pure swings into tap-in birdies on consecutive holes on the back nine that carried him to a 6-under 66.

"I don't think it's going to be possible to stay bogey-free for two more rounds with the greens firming up," Spieth said, not sounding at all like someone making his Players Championship debut. "That's a nice goal to have, I think. When bogeys come, it's going to be how I rebound."

Kaymer was at 12-under 132. That matched the best 36-hole score on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass in 20 years, dating to Greg Norman's record-setting performance. Norman made only one bogey that week.

Spieth hasn't made a bogey all week - he has gone 51 holes without a bogey going back to the third round at Hilton Head - though he had to make a couple of tough chips look easy to keep a clean card.

The 20-year-old Texan was still on the practice range when he saw Kaymer finish at 12 under, a score that felt impossible to catch in warm, blustery weather. The grass remained soft on the golf course, however, allowing players to take aim at the flags.

Some players had no choice.

Adam Scott, in his first tournament as a married man, kept alive his hopes of going to No. 1 in the world this week with three birdies in his last four holes for a 67. That was a 10-shot improvement from Thursday and enabled him to make the cut on the number at even-par 144.

Rory McIlroy shot 42 on the front nine and appeared headed home early until making birdie on the 18th hole to salvage a 74 to make the cut.

Not so fortunate was Phil Mickelson. He missed his birdie attempt on No. 18 and had a 70 to miss by one. Mickelson now has missed the cut in the two biggest events of the year - the Masters and The Players.

"I don't feel bad about the game," Mickelson said. "But mentally, I'm just really soft right now."

Kaymer is winless dating to the HSBC Champions in Shanghai at the end of 2011. The more good scores he sees, the more often his name is on a leaderboard, the more confidence he gains. Darren Clarke watched it for two days, referring to him as a "finely tuned engineer."

Even so, the 29-year-old German is hesitant to look beyond the next day. He knows it's tough to follow a record-tying round with anything remotely close. So he lowered his expectations, figuring anything around par would be suitable, and then kept his distance from the field.

"Yesterday was just a very special day for me," he said. "Even though I shot 9-under par yesterday ... if people want to talk negative about it, I then shot six shots worse. But you can always go in the negative. I see very positive things that I backed up that 9-under par with another decent round."

Spieth was even better.

He had to scramble for par from short of the ninth green and from behind the 10th green. He hit his stride in the middle of the back nine with two shots that were nearly identical - a 6-iron on the par-3 13th that rode the ridge down to about 4 feet, and a 6-iron from 184 yards on the 14th to 3 feet.

"It was a nice break to land and roll to pin-high, because it was a very tricky pin with quite a bit of slope around the hole," he said.

Spieth has said he was proud of how he played the final round of the Masters, even with a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play. His game looks every bit as solid at Sawgrass, a course he had only seen while playing a junior event. He finished second in that one, too.

And that's what keep him going. Asked he if was getting bored being in contention so much, he smiled and said, "No, because I haven't won one."

"You should probably have to win every time in order for it to get boring," he said. "But not even Tiger gets bored."

Russell Henley didn't make a par over his last six holes - three bogeys, three birdies - for a 71 and was in third place at 8-under 136. Sergio Garcia (71), U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (71), Gary Woodland (71), Lee Westwood (71) and Jim Furyk (68) were six shots behind.

The course appeared to be getting slightly firmer by the end of the day. The excitement figures to start on the weekend.

Buffalo Bills trade WR Johnson to 49ers

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Receiver Stevie Johnson is heading to his hometown San Francisco 49ers after being the odd man out in Buffalo.

The Bills traded Johnson to the 49ers on Friday in a deal made before the start of the second round of the NFL draft. In exchange, Buffalo acquired an undisclosed pick next year. ESPN reported it was a conditional fourth-round selection.

The deal was made a day after the Bills traded up five spots to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with the fourth pick.

Watkins' addition was the latest in a series of moves the Bills have made to restock their receiver position, and it led to Johnson being expendable after six seasons in Buffalo. The Bills also acquired receiver Mike Williams in a trade with Tampa Bay last month. Last year, Buffalo used second- and third-round picks to draft Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.

Johnson left Buffalo on Thursday, when he was spotted on a flight that landed in Las Vegas about an hour after Buffalo drafted Watkins.

"Today's decision was not an easy one to make, especially involving a player like Stevie, who leaves everything he has on the field and is an emotional leader in our locker room," Bills general manager Doug Whaley said. "All of the decisions we make are done so in the best interest of our team."

The 49ers, by comparison, had a need for receiver and were expected to address the position in the draft. San Francisco instead gained an experienced player in Johnson to fill a key spot as San Francisco's likely No. 3 receiver behind Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.

While Boldin received a new $12 million, two-year contract in March, Crabtree is entering the final season of his contract and San Francisco lost Mario Manningham in free agency.

Johnson spent the past four seasons as a starter in Buffalo. He became the Bills first player to break 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive seasons in 2010-11, and extended the streak in 2012.

49ers first-round draft pick safety Jimmie Ward was thrilled to learn of the addition of Johnson as the defender made the rounds at team headquarters Friday.

"It's awesome," Ward said. "I'm a competitor so I like to play against the best guys. If you've got a lot of best guys on your team, that's only going to get me better at the end of the day."

Johnson's numbers dropped last year, when he finished with 52 catches for 597 yards in 12 games. Aside from being slowed by an assortment of injuries, he was excused by the team for the final two games of the season following the death of his mother.

Overall, he has 301 catches for 3,842 yards and 28 touchdowns in 75 games.

Johnson is from San Francisco and played collegiately at Kentucky. The Bills selected him in the seventh round in 2008.

At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Johnson can play on the outside, but is best suited to play an inside slot position.

Johnson is known for his outgoing personality and colorful touchdown celebrations that have, on occasion, gotten him into trouble.

Former Bills coach Chan Gailey benched Johnson for the final three quarters of Buffalo's 2011 season finale. The discipline occurred after Johnson was penalized a second time that season for an excessive touchdown celebration.

The Bills, who haven't made the playoffs in 14 seasons, are counting on Watkins to add a dynamic threat to an offense that lacked consistency last season under rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. Whaley acknowledged the risk he took with a "win-now" approach by giving up a No. 9 pick this year, plus a first- and fourth-round pick next year in trade with Cleveland to select Watkins.

That's fine with Watkins, who arrived in Buffalo earlier in the day.

"Throughout my whole life I've had high expectations of myself," Watkins said. "I can't wait to get it started."

In three seasons, Watkins set 23 school records, including career marks with 240 catches and 3,391 yards. His 27 career touchdowns matched a school record.

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AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Santa Clara, California, contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Youngstown State offers president's job to Tressel

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) Trustees at Youngstown State University voted Friday to offer the president's job to former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who started his college coaching career there.

The Youngstown State appointment will not be official until a contract is signed, school spokesman Ron Cole said. The board chairman and vice chairman were authorized to begin negotiations.

Tressel, who has been an administrator at the University of Akron for two years, said he looks forward to building on Youngstown State's success.

"We are honored and privileged to accept the board's offer and we are humbled by this opportunity to return to the area and school that we deeply love," Tressel said in a written statement with his wife.

Tressel became a popular figure in the area while coaching Youngstown State's football team from 1986 to 2000, a run that included four Division I-AA national titles, and serving as the Penguins' athletic director for part of that time.

In picking the school's next leader, trustees chose the 61-year-old Tressel over the president of Southern Oregon University and the chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

"After fully examining each and every candidate and reviewing the input from hundreds of individuals across the campus and the community, the Board of Trustees believes Mr. Tressel is the right individual at the right time to lead Youngstown State University," board chairman Sudershan Garg said in a statement. "Mr. Tressel has the personality and leadership skills, in addition to widespread community support, to dramatically raise YSU's profile and prominence across Ohio and the nation."

Tressel recently was a finalist for but was not chosen to be president at the University of Akron, where he is executive vice president for student success. He went to Akron after being forced out at Ohio State following a scandal in which players sold memorabilia for cash and tattoos, leading to an investigation that resulted in sanctions against the team and Tressel.

While making his pitch for the president's job to faculty, staff and students at Youngstown State, he told reporters he was not planning to return to coaching and would accept his next position with the understanding that it would be long-term.

The faculty union at Youngstown State supported his bid to be president. The 13,500-student school launched its search for a new leader after President Randy Dunn accepted a job leading the Southern Illinois University system.

Tressel received a bachelor's degree in education from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1975 and a master's degree in education from the University of Akron in 1977.

The great unknown of Johnny Manziel

NEW YORK -- The most famous line ever uttered about Hollywood probably comes from William Goldman, the writer of “Butch Cassidy” and “The Princess Bride.” He summed up all of the Tinseltown deals and schemes and plans and squabbles and moves and career decisions with three choice words:

“Nobody knows anything.”

In the end, nobody knows how Johnny Manziel will play in the National Football League. He just happens to be one of those thrilling, edgy, free-wheeling, outlandish and curious players who sparks strong opinions. There are people who KNOW that Manziel is so creative and instinctive and wonderful a player that he will be a sure NFL star. And there are people who know that Manziel is too small and weak-armed and unconventional to be a successful NFL quarterback.

And nobody knows anything.

Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, we didn’t so much watch the NFL draft as we watched a morality play starring Johnny Manziel. He did not play the flashy quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy. He did not play the wild college kid who had a knack for making headlines. Instead, he played a confused kid in the green room who sipped water compulsively while NFL teams just kept on passing him by.

This sort of pass-over play happens pretty regularly in the NFL draft. Through the years we have watched Geno Smith and Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers and Boomer Esiason and others as the cameras registered their disappointment at getting passed again and again. The green room is a cruel place for the sliders, and I can only imagine that the only reason people like Manziel keep coming is that people like Manziel never believe the sliding will happen to them.

Most mock drafts had Manziel going to Cleveland with the fourth pick in the draft or to Oakland with the fifth pick. Cleveland seemed a particularly apt partner for Johnny Football; they were like two scruffy and unlucky dreamers finding each other. The Browns have never been to a Super Bowl. They have made the playoffs exactly once in the last 15 years -- this after leaving town and then coming back. They have been marred by astonishing displays of incompetence and anarchy in recent months. Cleveland, as always, badly needs a sports hero.

And Manziel is not 6-feet-tall, he does not have a Joe Flacco-type bazooka for an arm (or anything close), his game is a sort of free-form jazz featuring twists and escapes and blind flings downfield -- a brand of football many people think just will not play at the NFL level. Manziel, as always, needs a cause.

So, this seemed a match -- Cleveland needs Manziel and Manziel needs Cleveland -- only just when it started to feel real, Cleveland traded out of the fourth pick in the draft. A few minutes later, the Browns did trade up to get into the No. 8 spot on the board and Manziel was still there, and it seemed like the deal was done.

“The Cleveland Browns, with the eighth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft,” commissioner Roger Goodell said, “select Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State.”

Justin Gilbert. Strong pick. Sensible pick. Johnny Manziel sipped some more water. Obviously, the Browns did not want him. And that was a bummer. Manziel’s night, already longer than he expected, was about to get a lot longer. He clung to a water bottle for support.

Can Manziel be a star in the NFL? On the one hand, he’s one of the most exciting college football players I’ve ever seen. He turned nothing plays into touchdowns, made magic out of plays that looked dead. And he wasn’t doing it against junior high school teams -- this was against Alabama and Auburn and the like. It’s hard to imagine a player with such a genius for the game flailing in the NFL.

On the other hand -- who can you compare him with? Our minds have difficulty thinking of something new. Some compare him to Brett Favre, but he’s inches shorter than Favre and doesn’t have half the arm. He doesn’t throw with the uncanny accuracy of Drew Brees, and he’s not nearly as disciplined as Russell Wilson. His game reminds most of, say, Fran Tarkenton, but could Tarkenton play in 2014?

I say: Sure. In the right system, yes. But teams are skeptical. There are the various physical questions. And there are questions about Manziel’s maturity level. The NFL’s skepticism about Manziel became more and more obvious as the night went on. Jacksonville shocked everyone by taking a quarterback with the third pick in the draft ... but it was Blake Bortles. Many thought the Vikings would take a quarterback; they took linebacker Anthony Barr instead. There seemed to be some thought that the Cowboys would take Manziel because the Cowboys under Jerry Jones often do utterly illogical things. But they did not.

The crowd was fully in Manziel’s corrner and began chanting his name. But teams kept passing and passing and passing.

When he fell all the way to the 22nd pick, a team finally decided to take control of the moment. That team: The Cleveland Browns. They traded up into the spot and this time everyone knew it HAD to be Manziel. When Goodell announced Manziel’s name, Radio City was louder than it had been all night, even for the hometown Jets and Giants picks. You may like Manziel, you may dislike him. In the end, though, who doesn’t want to believe in the little guy with the so-so arm who desperately wants to prove everybody wrong?

In Cleveland, among my friends, there’s a strong divide about Manziel. Well, it’s like that everywhere. Many Clevelanders think this pick is doomed. The Browns have twice before taken a quarterback with the 22nd overall pick -- Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden. Neither has worked out (to say the least). Well, nothing has worked out for the Cleveland Browns for a long time. There are Clevelanders who, to beat the Christmas rush, are already giving up on Manziel. They see this as just the next mistake.

Then there are others who believe that this is where the turnaround begins. That’s a beautiful thing about sports, a beautiful thing about my hometown. People find ways to hope. There were three Clevelanders wearing orange T-shirts. One shirt said, “Johnny Football.” One shirt said, “Johnny Cleveland.” And the third shirt said, “Johnny Super Bowl.”

“It feels right,” Johnny Football said of going to Cleveland. “It feels like where I should be.”

When Johnny Manziel becomes a star and leads Cleveland to its first Super Bowl, there will be people who will say, “I knew it.” When Johnny Manziel becomes a bust and is looking for a third-string job for whoever will take him, there will be people who will say, “I knew it.”’

But no. Nobody knows nothing. That’s what made Thursday night so fascinating. It’s kind of like one of those orange-shirted guys said: “I’ll always remember where I was when the Browns drafted Johnny Manziel.”

And another guy, not wearing orange, said: “Yeah. One way or another.”

Teemu leads Ducks past Kings 3-2, back into series

LOS ANGELES (AP) Teemu Selanne scored the tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, Corey Perry got his first goal of the series, and the Anaheim Ducks beat the Kings 3-2 on Thursday night to trim Los Angeles' series lead to 2-1.

Jonas Hiller made seven saves in the final 9:58 after rookie goalie Frederik Andersen left with a right leg injury for the Ducks, who bounced back from two narrow losses in Anaheim to open the series.

Ben Lovejoy added a goal with 2:55 to play as Anaheim snapped the Kings' six-game postseason winning streak.

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored and Jonathan Quick stopped 19 shots for the Kings, who hadn't lost since Game 3 of their stunning first-round series against San Jose.

Game 4 is Saturday night at Staples Center.

With Quick pulled for an extra attacker, Richards scored with 30 seconds left when he batted home a rebound of Tanner Pearson's shot, but the top-seeded Ducks hung on for just their third win in their last seven playoff games.

Anaheim dropped the first two games of the local rivals' first playoff meeting, scoring just three goals and losing narrow decisions at Honda Center.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau curiously changed starting goalies for Game 3, replacing Hiller with Andersen, the Danish rookie who played poorly in all three road games in the first round against Dallas. Boudreau repeatedly said Hiller had played well against the Kings in the first two games, giving up just five goals, but Andersen beat Los Angeles three times in the regular season.

Andersen was solid in Game 3 until getting hurt during a wild scramble midway through the third period. Hiller had to make two tough saves immediately after entering the game, but the Swiss goalie was solid despite Richards' late goal.

The Ducks didn't have the same vociferous road support enjoyed by the Kings at Honda Center earlier in the series, but Anaheim still silenced Staples Center just 4:06 into Game 3.

Ryan Getzlaf got the puck down low to Patrick Maroon, who found Perry in the slot for his third goal of the postseason. Perry, second in the NHL with 43 goals in the regular season, hadn't scored in the series.

The Kings evened it on a power play early in the second period with a play similar to the Ducks' score. Marian Gaborik got the puck low and set up a one-timer for Carter, who hadn't scored a goal in the Kings' last four playoff games.

Anze Kopitar, the NHL's leading scorer with 15 points in the postseason, got the second assist.

Anaheim couldn't score during a 4-on-3 advantage for 59 seconds late in the period, but Nick Bonino found Selanne with a saucer pass for the Finnish Flash's 44th career goal in 126 postseason games. Selanne was a healthy scratch for a game in the first round, but has two goals against the Kings.

Matt Beleskey went to the dressing room early in the third period after a hard hit on the boards by Kings captain Dustin Brown. The Ducks said Beleskey had a lower-body injury.

Lovejoy scored his second goal of the postseason on a 2-on-1 rush with Andrew Cogliano, sending Kings fans to the exits.

NOTES: Maroon extended his scoring streak to six games, the longest postseason streak by a rookie since Los Angeles' Warren Rychel in 1993. ... Kopitar has scored in all 10 of the Kings' playoff games. The last Kings player with a 10-game point streak in a single postseason was Wayne Gretzky in 1993. ... The Ducks are staying in a hotel across the street until Saturday, but they'll take a bus 30 miles back home to Anaheim for practice on Friday.

Spurs roll to 2-0 lead over Trail Blazers

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points, Tony Parker had 16 points and 10 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs rolled to a 114-97 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Manu Ginobili added 16 points, Marco Belinelli scored 13, and Tiago Splitter had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Spurs' second convincing victory to open the best-of-seven series.

Nicolas Batum scored 21 points for Portland. Damian Lillard had 19 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points and 10 rebounds, but Portland again struggled to score against San Antonio's suffocating defense.

The Trail Blazers host Game 3 on Saturday night.

Texans pick Clowney; Manziel falls to Browns

NEW YORK (AP) For nearly three years, Jadeveon Clowney couldn't wait to get to the NFL, and the league was just as eager to add the player some called the best defensive prospect in a decade.

No surprise: Clowney is the Texans' man.

But Thursday's first pick of the NFL draft didn't come without some intrigue about how it would all turn out. There had been criticism of Clowney's work ethic last season and questions about whether the Texans would hold or trade the No. 1 slot.

MORE COVERAGE: Posnanski on Manziel | Rotoworld's analysis | Five Things | PFT

"I just been proving a lot of people wrong throughout my life," Clowney said. "Growing up, I grew up hard. I always said I'm going to do something great. Hopefully, I'm going to be a Hall of Famer one day."

Houston will take that.

This draft's other big name, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, sat with a sullen look on his face until Cleveland made its third trade of the round and grabbed the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at No. 22. To rousing cheers and chants of "Johnny, Johnny," Manziel smiled widely as he walked onto the Radio City Music Hall stage.

"If you call it a slide, I wouldn't call it that at all," he said. "I was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.

"It's a great story. It's great for me to end up there, at a team that has fans that are as passionate as I am on the field."

Manziel's wait added plenty of suspense nearly three hours after the Texans took their time selecting Clowney. Rarely does a team not reveal the top overall choice until it is announced, and there was wide speculation the Texans had soured on the defensive end, whose junior season at South Carolina was accompanied by criticism he played it safe to stay healthy for the pros.

After Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the pick, fans filling Radio City Music Hall to capacity applauded Clowney as he held up his index finger, his eyes moist, a relieved look on his face. Just like the 30 prospects on hand, the fans were extra eager to see who would wind up where after the draft was pushed back from late April because the theater was unavailable.

"It's been a long time. It just kicked in at the end there, man, I've been drafted," he said.

Clowney, 21, brings size, speed and power to a lineup that already has 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. His diligence had been questioned after he slipped from 13 sacks to just three in 2013. Critics said he was protecting himself from injury in his junior year before declaring early for the draft.

He is the first defensive player taken first overall since Houston selected another end, Mario Williams, in 2006. Williams now is with Buffalo. Houston also made the top pick in its first season, 2002, taking quarterback David Carr. He never lived up to that billing; the Texans hope Clowney has more of an impact.

Tackle Greg Robinson, whose blocking helped high-powered Auburn make the national championship game last season, went second to St. Louis. The Rams owned the pick as the final payment for a 2012 trade with Washington that allowed the Redskins to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III.

St. Louis is concerned about the health of starting left tackle Jake Long, who is coming off knee surgery.

The first quarterback to go went to Jacksonville in the third slot, but it wasn't Johnny Football. Blake Bortles of Central Florida, whose stock shot up last season and in subsequent workouts. At 6-5, 232, Bortles drew comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger because of his combination of size and mobility. Jacksonville missed the last time it took a QB in the first round, Blaine Gabbert in 2011. The Jaguars gave up on the inconsistent Gabbert, who struggled to read defenses and was benched for journeyman Chad Henne. Gabbert is now a backup in San Francisco.

"He's a down-to-earth guy, a self-made guy, a blue-collar guy and he wants to be the best he can be," said Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell, who added a word of caution: "He just needs a little bit of time."

Seeing a chance to grab playmaking receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson, Buffalo swapped spots with Cleveland, also sending a first- and fourth-round selection next year to move up from ninth to fourth.

"Dynamic playmaker, and that's what this game is all about," Bills GM Doug Whaley said of Watkins. "He's automatically going to make our quarterback (EJ Manuel) better."

Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews, the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, went to Atlanta with the sixth overall pick. The Falcons leaked so badly on the offensive line in 2013 as they plummeted from NFC South champion to 4-12 that Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times.

Another Aggies star was chosen next, receiver Mike Evans to Tampa Bay. The 6-4, 231-pound Evans is durable, versatile - and quite emotional. He also couldn't hold back the tears when Goodell called his name.

The crowd thought Manziel might go eighth when Cleveland traded up one spot to get Minnesota's pick. So when the Browns took cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State, there was a loud groan from the fans. Gilbert smiled wryly as he shook Goodell's hand.

Minnesota grabbed UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Detroit selected North Carolina's Eric Ebron, by far the best tight end in this crop, and Tennessee filled a need on the offensive line with Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan.

Finally, a local team was on the clock and the audience approved lustily when the Giants chose LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham was followed by Pitt DT Aaron Donald to St. Louis, Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller to Chicago, Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier to Ohio State, Notre Dame G Zack Martin to Dallas, Alabama LB C.J. Mosley to Baltimore and, as fans chanted "J-E-T-S," Louisville safety Calvin Pryor is New York-bound.

Minnesota finished off the opening round by trading with Seattle to select Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, the third quarterback taken. Bridgewater was an early entrant into the draft, but already had graduated.

Matt Fraser lifts Bruins past Canadiens, 1-0 in OT

MONTREAL (AP) Matt Fraser scored at 1:19 of overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, tying the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-2.

Fraser got a stick on a rebound after goalie Carey Price lost the puck in front of the net.

Game 5 is Saturday night in Boston.

Tuukka Rask made 33 saves for Boston, and Price stopped 34 shots.

Montreal outshot Boston 14-7 in the third period.

Halfway there: Miami tops Nets in Game 2, 94-82

MIAMI (AP) LeBron James scored 22 points, Chris Bosh added 18 and the Miami Heat took a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series by beating the Brooklyn Nets 94-82 on Thursday night.

Dwyane Wade had 14 and Ray Allen scored 13 for the Heat, who tied a franchise record with their eighth straight playoff victory.

Mirza Teletovic set a Nets playoff record with six 3-pointers, on his way to a 20-point night off the bench. Shaun Livingston scored 15, Paul Pierce had 13 and Joe Johnson added 13 more for the Nets.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Brooklyn.

Arenado's 28-game hit streak breaks Rockies record

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has broken the team record with a 28-game hitting streak.

Arenado had a two-out single in the third inning Thursday night against the Texas Rangers.

The streak is one game longer than teammate Michael Cuddyer's 27-gamer last season.

Arenado's streak is the longest for anyone 23 or younger since Albert Pujols had a 30-game run in 2003 when he was 23.

The streak for Arenado began April 9, a week before his 23rd birthday.

Attorney: Shelly Sterling wants to keep Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) The estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will fight to retain her 50 percent ownership stake in the team, her lawyer said Thursday, adding an unwanted twist to the NBA's plan to force new ownership on the franchise.

Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said his client "will not agree to a forced or involuntary seizure of her interest."

"As her lawyers we will fight vigorously to defend her property rights," he said.

O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling has no interest in managing the Clippers and wants a new investor group to come in with a professional management team.

O'Donnell also told The Associated Press that Shelly Sterling has been separated from her husband for the last year and is considering divorce. There is no record of legal separation documents being filed, though O'Donnell said the couple is living apart.

Last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life and urged league owners to force him to sell the team. The move came after a recording surfaced in which Sterling made racist comments, telling friend V. Stiviano that he didn't want her to bring black people to Clippers games.

At a news conference announcing the decision, Silver said no decision had been made regarding whether Mrs. Sterling or any other Sterling family member will be allowed to retain an ownership position.

O'Donnell said he spoke with NBA officials Thursday morning but declined to elaborate. He said Mrs. Sterling has been working cooperatively with Silver and his staff and supported his announcement seeking a new chief executive officer for the team and the NBA's decision to place longtime team President Andy Roeser on leave.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league wouldn't comment on its discussions.

O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling "abhors" her husband's comments and that "the Sterlings may share the same last name, but she does not share his values on race." The Sterlings have been married 57 years, O'Donnell said.

"We abhor guilt by association in America," O'Donnell said. "The sins of the husband cannot be imputed to the wife or children."

Shelly and Donald Sterling faced allegations that they discriminated against tenants based on race in Los Angeles according to a lawsuit filed by U.S. Department of Justice in 2006. The Sterlings, who at the time owned and managed about 119 apartment buildings or 5,000 apartments throughout Los Angeles County, agreed to settle the suit for $2.725 million.

The settlement also included two suits filed by former tenants at one of the properties, including an African-American family and an interracial married couple with biracial children, who alleged the Sterlings demolished their private yards among other actions because of their race, according to the Justice Department.

"The charges against her by former tenants are false, unfounded and were never ever determined to be valid in a court of law," O'Donnell said. He said the case was settled without any admission of liability. "She doesn't have a racist bone in her body," O'Donnell said.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Thursday at the team's training facility that "it would be a very hard situation" if Mrs. Sterling retained her portion of ownership in the team.

"I guarantee you every person wouldn't be on board with that," Rivers said. "Whether I would or not, I'm not going to say."

O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling hasn't been asked to stay away from games and will not. She is an ardent Clippers fan and plans to attend Friday night's playoff game against Oklahoma City. Rivers said "that's her choice. She can be a ticket buyer or whatever."

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star guard who was asked to serve as a spokesman for NBA players after the Sterling scandal broke, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

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AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles, and AP writers Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles and Juliet Williams in Sacramento contributed to this report.

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Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams

Kaymer ties course record with a 63 at Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Martin Kaymer stopped thinking, started swinging and played his way into the record book Thursday in The Players Championship.

Kaymer missed only two fairways. He putted for birdie on all but one hole. And the former PGA champion finished with four straight birdies to become only the fourth player to shoot 9-under 63 on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass, giving him a two-shot lead over Russell Henley.

Kaymer took advantage of a perfect day for scoring - warm weather, hardly any wind and soft greens.

There were 28 rounds in the 60s, which made the score by Adam Scott look even worse. With another chance - his best one yet - to get to No. 1 in the world for the first time, Scott finished with a pair of double bogeys from shots in the water and signed for a 77. It was his highest opening round at The Players since his first trip in 2002.

Kaymer was flawless, hitting whatever shot he felt he needed. His final blow was a hybrid that ran through the ninth green and into a bunker, leaving a simple up-and-down for birdie. He had a 29 on the back, the first player in the 32-year history at Sawgrass to break 30 on either nine.

Roberto Castro also opened with a 63 last year. The only others with 63 were Greg Norman in the first round in 1994, and Fred Couples in the third round in 1992.

"It's just a nice bonus," Kaymer said. "It's only the first round of a long, long tournament. It's nice to make some history. No one shot 29 on that golf course before."

Kaymer would not have seemed like a good candidate.

He has not won since the HSBC Champions in Shanghai at the end of 2011. He hasn't had a top 10 all year. But the 29-year-old German has felt his swing start to come together in recent weeks. His name has been featured on leaderboards more and more.

And he had a simple explanation.

"I stopped thinking," Kaymer said, a former world No. 1. "I thought a lot the last two years about swing changes ... that every shot I made I reflect on it, what I did wrong, what I did right."

A few weeks before the Masters, he spent time with longtime swing coach Gunter Kessler in Phoenix, and then they had another good session in Germany.

"And then it just clicked a little bit," he said. "I thought, `OK, I know I can hit pretty much every shot when I needed to hit it.' If it's a draw, if it's a fade, low or high, I know that I can do it. It's just a matter of getting the confidence on the golf course and then letting it happen and really doing it."

Henley, who won the Honda Classic in a four-way playoff in March, made birdie on half of his holes to atone for one big mistake. He hooked a tee shot into the water on No. 7 and compounded that with a three-putt for double bogey. But he answered with six birdies on the back nine for a 65.

"I knew I was playing well and felt really comfortable on the greens," Henley said. "But it was one of those back nines where you get to 18 and I just realized that I had a putt for 7 under. So that was pretty cool."

Bae Sang-Moon had a 66.

The group at 67 included Sergio Garcia, who spent last year in a war or words with Tiger Woods that lasted right up until the Spaniard hit three balls into the water on the two closing holes and Woods walked away with the win. Garcia looked sharp, happy and was confident in his game.

And he had loads of company. Lee Westwood, 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose also were at 67. The group at 68 included Ernie Els and Dustin Johnson. There were 67 rounds under par, and the scoring average of 71.99 was the eighth-lowest for an opening round at The Players Championship.

But it wasn't easy for everyone.

Rory McIlroy made three bogeys over his last seven holes and tumbled to a 70. That was nearly as bad as Phil Mickelson. Coming off a 76 in the final round at Quail Hollow last week, he started his round by missing a 3-foot par putt and shot 75.

Of the four players with a mathematical chance to reach No. 1, only Masters champion Bubba Watson broke 70. He had a 69, while Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar each had a 71. Only four players had a worse score than Scott.

Kaymer reached No. 1 three years ago, and then sought to change his swing because he could only hit a fade. He prefers to play by feel, not by mechanics. A swing change left him little choice but to think too much. Now, he can only hope it's as simple as see the shot and hit the ball.

Jamal Crawford of Clippers wins NBA Sixth Man

LOS ANGELES (AP) Just as he has to wait to come into games, Jamal Crawford had to be patient about receiving the NBA Sixth Man Award.

The 34-year-old guard was honored on Thursday, a week later than usual. The delay was caused by the controversy involving team owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by the NBA after a recording surfaced in which he made racist comments.

"We've known it for a while, but obviously with all the stuff going on we decided to try to let it die down before we gave him the award or he would never be able to talk about the award," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm glad we're finally able to do this."

Crawford became the oldest recipient and the first to win with different teams. He also was honored as the league's best player off the bench while with the Atlanta Hawks in 2009-10.

"It's pretty cool," he said during a presentation at the team's practice facility, with teammates including Chris Paul and Blake Griffin cheering him and poking fun of his suit and tie.

"I didn't know what a family was on the court until I got with these guys," an emotional Crawford said. "I've been on a lot of teams and usually guys, they go their own way. But with us, everybody is included, everybody is a part. They make everybody feel like family."

Crawford led the league's reserve players in scoring this season, averaging 18.6 points. He came off the bench in 45 of 69 games he played in, helping the Clippers to a 57-25 record, their best regular-season mark in franchise history.

Crawford went so far as to say he hopes to spend the rest of his career with the Clippers, an organization roiled by Sterling telling his friend V. Stiviano that he didn't want her to bring black people to Clippers games.

"As long as I'm with this group of guys and with Doc leading us, everything else will work itself out," Crawford said.

The Clippers had a 31-14 record when Crawford came off the bench this season.

Crawford set the single-season franchise record for 3-pointers made with 161. That surpassed his record from last season, his first in Los Angeles, when he was runner-up for the Sixth Man award.

"He can score in his sleep," Rivers said. "I've never seen a guy that can sit for 15 minutes and literally be on the floor for a half-second and they swing him the ball and he's ready to shoot and make some shots."

Rivers even made an exception to his policy of not running a play for someone when they first enter the game.

"He's a lethal scorer, but he adds more value when he does other things," the coach said.

Rivers was among those in the NBA who knew Crawford by reputation, a player who only wanted to score and not defend. But Crawford put that to rest this season, especially when Paul was injured.

"This year he's ran the point guard position, he's been my best passer at times when C.P. was out," Rivers said. "He's been our defender, he's in the right spots. He's been a complete team guy, so I'm really happy for him."

Crawford received 57 first-place votes and 421 total points from a panel of 125 sports writers and broadcasters throughout the U.S. and Canada. He joined Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf as two-time winners.

Taj Gibson of Chicago finished second with 395 points and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili was third with 138.

Crawford had his best month in January, scoring in double figures in 15 of 16 games and helping the Clippers go 12-4 that month.

On Jan. 25, he had 37 points and 11 assists in a win over Toronto - the most points he scored off the bench in his career and his most with the Clippers. It was the second time this season he had that many points and assists; he totaled those numbers against Sacramento on Nov. 29.

Crawford missed 13 games in March and April because of a sore Achilles tendon, but rallied to return in time for the playoffs. The Clippers and Thunder are tied 1-1 in their Western Conference semifinals series.

The award sponsor Kia will donate a 2015 vehicle to a charity of Crawford's choice.

Yankees to retire Joe Torre's No 6

NEW YORK (AP) The Yankees will retire former manager Joe Torre's No. 6, leaving Derek Jeter's No. 2 as the last single digit in New York's pinstripes.

Torre, Rich Gossage, Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill also will be honored with plaques in Monument Park, the team said Thursday.

Torre managed the Yankees to World Series titles in 1996 and from 1998-00 and six AL pennants during 12 seasons as manager that ended in 2007. Currently Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations, he is being inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame this summer.

"I am incredibly humbled," Torre said in a statement. "The Hall of Fame became possible for me because of what our players accomplished in 12 memorable years representing this historic franchise together. I hope that number 6 will stand for everything that our players achieved."

Torre's number will be retired during a ceremony in Monument Park on Aug. 23. His number will join those of Billy Martin (1), Babe Ruth (3), Lou Gehrig (4), Joe DiMaggio (5), Mickey Mantle (7), Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey (8), Roger Maris (9), Phil Rizzuto (10), Thurman Munson (15), Whitey Ford (16), Don Mattingly (23), Elston Howard (32), Casey Stengel (37), Mariano Rivera (42), Reggie Jackson (44) and Ron Guidry (49).

Jeter, the Yankees' captain since 2003, said in February this will be his final season.

Martinez's ceremony will be June 21 as part of Old-Timers' Day weekend followed the next day by the honors for Gossage, one of only a handful of pitchers in the Hall of Fame who primarily were relievers. O'Neill's ceremony will be Aug. 9.

The Yankees said the ceremonies are part of a recognition series that will include Bernie Williams in 2015, but they did not specify what honor Williams will receive.

Agassi says Nadal is greatest ever tennis player

SINGAPORE (AP) Andre Agassi says Rafael Nadal should be considered the greatest tennis player ever, not Roger Federer.

Agassi made the comments in an interview with Singapore newspaper Straits Times, saying Nadal's achievements are more impressive because he has had to deal with tougher opponents.

Federer has 17 Grand Slam titles to Nadal's 13, although the Spaniard leads his Swiss rival 23-10 in head-to-head meetings.

Agassi is quoted as saying that "I'd put Nadal No. 1, Federer No. 2," adding that "it's just remarkable to me what he has done, and he has done it all during Federer's prime."

The former No. 1 says "Nadal had to deal with Federer, (Novak) Djokovic, (Andy) Murray in the golden age of tennis. He has done what he has done and he's not done yet."

3 Oregon players investigated, no charges filed

The University of Oregon isn't allowing three basketball players to participate in team activities after a student told police they sexually assaulted her at a postgame party and later at an apartment.

Police in Eugene investigated the allegations against Damyean Dotson, 19, Dominic Artis, 19, and Brandon Austin, 18. Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner decided there was not enough evidence to prove the sex wasn't consensual.

Assistant athletic director Andy McNamara said the three players are not currently participating in any team activities.

The university has refused to say why the players have been disciplined.

"We are deeply concerned about information contained in the police report recently released by the Eugene Police Department," university President Michael Gottfredson said in a statement, adding that the school "takes allegations of misconduct very seriously. The university has established internal conduct processes for handling misconduct allegations."

The police report released by the Eugene Police Department states that the players say the sex was consensual. Austin's attorney, Laura Fine Moro, did not return calls seeking comment. No phone listings could be found for Dotson or Artis in Eugene. It was not known whether Dotson or Artis had attorneys.

Citing federal privacy laws, university spokesman Tobin Klinger would not say whether an internal university investigation had been initiated, or whether the basketball players were barred from team activities because of the allegations. He did say that the woman's father reported her allegations to the university on March 9, the day after the party where she met the players. The party was the same night the Ducks beat No. 3 Arizona in the final game of the regular season, and before they went on to the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments.

Robin Holmes, university vice president for student affairs, said in general, the university "immediately" investigates all allegations of sexual assault involving students, both on campus and off.

Gardner said police asked the university not to take disciplinary action until they finished their investigation, because that gives police the best opportunity to gather evidence.

The Student Athlete Code of Conduct requires athletes "to conduct themselves as responsible citizens," and "in a manner that brings respect to the University of Oregon and its athletic teams."

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the university was handling the situation appropriately.

"I've been monitoring it very closely," Scott told The Associated Press while attending Pac-12 meetings in Phoenix on Wednesday. "I've been in touch with the university, certainly feel that they're handling it with appropriate seriousness and handling it the right way."

Police did not release the victim's age, but the police report says she is a female college student and is under the age of 21.

In a three-page statement detailing his reasoning for not bringing charges, Gardner notes the focus of the determination was not on whether the sex took place, but whether the woman had consented or was too drunk to consent.

Based on interviews with the woman, her friends, the players, and recordings of telephone calls the woman made to the players afterward, there was no evidence she was substantially impaired when she entered a bathroom where the first two sexual encounters happened, Gardner wrote.

For Austin, it's the second sexual assault allegation he has faced. While at Providence College, he and another Providence player were accused last year of sexually assaulting a female student on campus. The two were suspended and Austin subsequently transferred to Oregon. He had to sit out a calendar year under NCAA transfer rules.

Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Attorney General's office, said that case remains under investigation.

If the three players were to leave the team, Oregon will have lost a dozen players from a program that went 24-10 in 2013-14 and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. Seven seniors and two transfers have already left the team since its season-ending loss to Wisconsin on March 22.

Westbrook, Durant help Thunder beat Clippers

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, MVP Kevin Durant fell one assist short and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-101 on Wednesday night to tie their Western Conference semifinal series at one win apiece.

Westbrook had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to claim his third triple-double in his past five playoff games. Durant had 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists before leaving the game with 1:21 remaining. According to information provided to the Thunder by the Elias Sports Bureau, no pair of teammates has had triple-doubles in the same playoff game.

J.J. Redick scored 18 points, Chris Paul had 17 points and 11 assists, and Blake Griffin added 15 points for the Clippers.

Game 3 will be Friday in Los Angeles.

Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha each scored 14 points for the Thunder, who shot 51 percent from the field and outrebounded the Clippers 52-36.

The Clippers made 15 of 29 3-pointers in Game 1, but just 9 of 27 in Game 2.

Durant scored 17 points in the first quarter on 7-for-11 shooting to help the Thunder take a 37-28 lead. Paul, who scored 17 points in the opening quarter of Game 1, went scoreless in the first quarter of Game 2 and watched most of the period from the bench with two fouls.

The Thunder led 46-40 when both Westbrook and coach Scott Brooks were called for technical fouls. Westbrook felt he was fouled on a drive against DeAndre Jordan and didn't get the call. The Clippers made both free throws, then Paul made a 3-pointer to cut Oklahoma City's lead to 46-45. The Clippers went ahead when Griffin connected on a mid-range jumper with just over 4 minutes remaining in the first half.

The Thunder closed the half strong and took a 61-56 lead. Durant had 21 points and Westbrook 19 at the break as Oklahoma City shot 53.3 percent from the field.

Oklahoma City got an offensive boost from an unlikely source - Sefolosha, a defensive stopper. He hit a mid-range jumper, then dunked after a steal by Westbrook to give the Thunder a 78-66 lead. Sefolosha dunked again, then got a steal that led to a 3-pointer by Westbrook and gave Oklahoma City a 90-73 advantage.

Sefolosha scored 12 points in the quarter to help the Thunder take a 94-77 advantage into the fourth.

Westbrook clinched his triple-double with 1:21 remaining when he was credited with an assist after a pass to Sefolosha, who took two dribbles on his drive to the basket.

Notes: A power surge took out much of the arena's lighting with 27.2 seconds left in the first half. The coaches agreed to finish out the half with the limited lighting. The power returned, but halftime was extended briefly to give the lights the necessary 15 minutes to return to full brightness. ... Rapper Jay-Z attended the game. ... 2K Sports has announced that Durant will be the lone player on the cover of NBA 2K15. He shared the cover of 2K13 with Griffin and Chicago's Derrick Rose. Miami's LeBron James was on the cover of 2K14. ... Commissioner Adam Silver presented Durant with the MVP trophy before the game, and he held it up for the fans to see. ... Thunder C Steven Adams was called for a technical foul with 9:17 remaining for falling on Paul after a pump fake and knocking him into the Thunder bench. Los Angeles' Jamal Crawford was issued a technical with 7:28 to play, and Paul was given one with 2:24 remaining.

M's affiliate overcomes 16-run deficit, wins 20-17

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) A minor league team of the Seattle Mariners has pulled off a major rally, coming back from a 16-run deficit to win in the Class A Midwest League.

The Clinton LumberKings trailed the Burlington Bees 17-1 after five innings Wednesday night in the game between clubs based in Iowa. Clinton wound up winning 20-17 in 12 innings.

Clinton scored six runs in the sixth inning, five in the eighth and five more in the ninth to tie it at 17.

Justin Seager, the younger brother of Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager, drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th. Seager finished with four hits.

Burlington is an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.

Pens win 3rd straight, take 3-1 lead over Rangers

NEW YORK (AP) Brandon Sutter scored a short-handed goal to break a second-period tie, and the Pittsburgh Penguins moved within one win of the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

Pittsburgh, which has won three straight following a series-opening loss, can advance with a Game 5 victory at home Friday night.

Evgeni Malkin scored 2:31, and Jussi Jokinen made it 3-1 at 7:02 of the third before the teams traded late goals. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 13 shots.

The only negative for the Penguins was that Fleury allowed a goal for the first time in three games. Carl Hagelin's tying tally in the second period was the Rangers' first goal in 145 minutes, 30 seconds of playing time.

Mats Zuccarello backhanded in a goal with 6:53 left to cut the Rangers' deficit to 3-2, on only their second shot of the third, but Chris Kunitz restored Pittsburgh's two-goal edge 57 seconds later.

Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves in the loss.

The weary Rangers played for the sixth time in nine nights, and not even a full day of rest on Tuesday or the return of forward Chris Kreider helped them. Kreider played for the first time since breaking his left hand a month ago.

Jokinen, who has an eight-game points streak, scored his insurance goal with a flip shot that struck the right leg of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and bounded past Lundqvist.

Pittsburgh had regained the lead late in the second period by taking advantage of New York's inept power play. Not only did the Rangers fail to score for the 36th consecutive time on the power play, they fell behind for the second time.

In what was shaping up to be the Rangers' best second period of the series, New York threw all the momentum back to the Penguins when Sutter scored with 1:33 left. The Rangers turned over the puck shortly after a drop pass in the neutral zone. Brian Gibbons streaked in alone and had his shot stopped by Lundqvist, but the rebound sat in front. Sutter swooped in to knock in his fourth of the postseason to put Pittsburgh back in front.

The Rangers broke out of their scoring drought 4:30 into the second when Ryan McDonagh passed the puck from his end into the neutral zone to Hagelin, who took off with a burst of speed, split the defense, and snapped his third goal of the playoffs past Fleury to tie it.

It was New York's first goal since Derick Brassard's overtime winner in Game 1.

Any early lift the Rangers got from the return of Kreider was lost when Malkin gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

New York contributed greatly as a turnover by defenseman Anton Stralman started the play. The Penguins pressured and moved the puck freely. Sidney Crosby got it to the right of Lundqvist and sent a pass across the slot - that slid past Kunitz and somehow eluded Staal - onto the stick of Malkin, who turned and snapped in a backhander for his fifth of the playoffs on Pittsburgh's first shot.

The Rangers' sloppiness didn't end there as several passes missed their targets, and multiple clearing attempts ended up on Penguins sticks. But New York mounted an extended challenge and kept the puck in the Pittsburgh end for at least a minute with about 6 minutes remaining in the first period.

However, despite tiring out the Penguins who were caught on ice for a long shift, the Rangers recorded only one shot during the sequence and ended it when Staal was called for slashing - Pittsburgh's second power play of the period.

The Rangers killed it and then got their first power play when Kunitz took a retaliatory slashing penalty against Staal that carried into the second period.

NOTES: Penguins D Brooks Orpik returned after missing five games with an injury. He took Robert Bortuzzo's place in the lineup. ... Rangers LW Daniel Carcillo, a healthy scratch in Game 3, came back in. To make room for him and Kreider, Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller sat out.

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