Associated Press Sportswatch

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MLB PLAYOFFS-SCHEDULE

Two games today

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- There are two playoff games on the baseball schedule today, both in the National League as the divisional series start.

First up, Pittsburgh is at St. Louis in the best-of-five series. The Bucs are riding high after their first postseason win in 21 years, eliminating Cincinnati. The Cardinals are the NL Central champs. A.J. Burnett, who posted a 10-11 mark on the season, gets the call for the Pirates while the Cardinals turn to 19-9 Adam Wainwright.

Pittsburgh won the season series 10-9 but the Cardinals overtook them for the division lead with a four-game sweep at home in early September. St. Louis also has quite an advantage in postseason experience, with several holdovers from the 2011 World Series championship team and from last year, too, when St. Louis fell one win shy of a second straight pennant.

The other National League Division Series has Los Angeles at Atlanta. Neither team has played a meaningful game lately. The Los Angeles Dodgers took control of the NL West with an amazing 2 1/2 month stretch. The Braves won the East going away, their commanding lead not at all threatened by a losing record over the final month.

The Braves discount their shaky performance down the stretch, which cost them home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. Atlanta won just 13 of 27 games in September and lost the top seed to St. Louis by a game, which certainly raised the question of whether the team is destined for its eight straight playoff series loss. The Braves have not won a postseason series since 2001.

While the Dodgers turn to Clayton Kershaw, the Braves counter with Kris Medlen, who was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA during the regular season. Kershaw boasts a 16-9 mark and a skimpy ERA of 1.83.

NFL-SCHEDULE

Browns host Bills

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Thursday night football has Buffalo at Cleveland. Both clubs are 2-2.

Two weeks ago, the Browns seemed ready to slide into a hole and disappear. After dropping to 0-2, they traded star running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis in a stunning move. But just when things seemed bleakest, quarterback Brian Hoyer rode to the rescue. Displaying poise and leadership he learned as Tom Brady's understudy in New England, Hoyer has been a revelation for the Browns, and now must deliver again. He kept the starting job this week despite Brandon Weeden being cleared to play after spraining his right thumb.

For the Bills to keep making progress, they'll need more consistency from rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. He passed for just 167 yards last week against Baltimore, but Buffalo's defense intercepted Joe Flacco five times to win.

TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL

One top team in action

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The college football weekend begins with one top-25 game that has number-12 UCLA visiting Utah. It's the Pac-12 opener for the 3-0 Bruins. Utah is 3-1.

NHL-SCHEDULE

Eight games tonight

UNDATED (AP) -- The first week of the NHL season continues with eight games.

Tampa Bay plays at Boston in opener for both teams. The Bruins won all three matchups last season as Tuukka Rask (TOO'-kah rask) was 2-0-0 with a .964 save percentage and a shutout in two starts. Teddy Purcell had four assists and Steven Stamkos had two goals in the three games for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Another contest has Calgary at Washington. It's the home opener for the Capitals, who will raise a final Southeast Division banner before trying to tighten up defensively after a 6-4 loss to start the season against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

The rest of tonight's games have New Jersey skating at Pittsburgh, Minnesota home to Los Angeles, Nashville on the road at St. Louis, Dallas home to Florida, the New York Rangers in Phoenix and Vancouver at San Jose.

GOLF-PRESIDENTS CUP

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- The 10th edition of the Presidents Cup starts today, and the odds do not exactly favor the international team. It has seven rookies, and while all but Hideki Matsuyama have played a fair amount on the PGA Tour this year, Adam Scott is the only team member to have won, at the Masters for his first major and The Barclays during the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The American team is regarded as one of the strongest ever. All 12 players are among the top 30 in the world ranking.

The matches are at Muirfield Village, were Tiger Woods has won five times and Matt Kuchar won in June. The Americans have never lost the Presidents Cup on home soil, which is not all that unusual considering they have only lost once since the Presidents Cup began in 1994.

AP-WF-10-03-13 1452GMT


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