Braves put Roger McDowell on administrative leave after outburst

The Atlanta Braves placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave Friday while they investigate allegations that he made homophobic comments and crude gestures toward fans before a game in San Francisco last weekend.

McDowell also is accused of using a baseball bat to threaten a fan who objected to his actions.

The former major league reliever apologized in a statement, but the team barred him from the bench heading into a three-game series against St. Louis.

The Braves' minor league pitching coordinator, Dave Wallace, will take over for McDowell during the investigation. Major League Baseball has said it's waiting to hear from the team before deciding on possible penalties.

"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco," McDowell said in a statement, his only public comment on the matter. "I apologize to everyone for my actions."

CIF approves regional bowl games for football

The CIF Federated Council gave final approval on Friday to launch regional bowl games in high school football in the North and South, starting in December 2012.

All sections will be required to end their playoffs by Dec. 1 in 2012. It means the regular season will begin a week earlier in August. Regional playoff games will be held the weekend of Dec. 7-8 in five divisions. The winners will advance to the state championship bowl games the following weekend.

The regional format was approved despite unanimous opposition from the largest section in the state, the Southern Section. The Southern Section gets only 36 votes out of 137 on the Federated Council because of a weighted voting system even though it has 582 of the CIF's 1,494 schools (39%).

Schools that reach the finals could end up playing as many as 16 games, which was a major reason Southern Section schools were opposed to the proposal.

Ventura St. Bonaventure Coach Todd Therrien said, "It's a lot of games for 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds. In '07, when we won state, after the game in the locker room, my linebacker said, "I'm excited we won state, but I don't know if I could have played another week.'"

— Eric Sondheimer

Bubba Watson leads Zurich Classic by one stroke

Bubba Watson shot a four-under 68 in shifting wind conditions Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Josh Teater after the second round of the Zurich Classic at Avondale, La.

Watson, the Torrey Pines winner in late January, had a 10-under 134 total at TPC Louisiana.

John Rollins was eight under after a 69. Dean Wilson matched the course record with a 64 to join John Senden (67), Jason Dufner (69), Matt Jones (71) and Webb Simpson (69) at seven under.

David Duval, Rory Sabbatini, Hilton Head winner Brandt Snedeker, Justin Rose and John Daly missed the cut. Duval opened with a 67, but doubled-bogeyed the second hole on the way to a 79.

Sandra Gal of Germany birdied five of the final eight holes Friday for a five-under 67 and a one-stroke lead over Amy Yang in the Avnet LPGA Classic at Mobile, Ala. Gal, who won the Kia Classic last month in California for her first LPGA Tour title, had a seven-under 137 total.

Lee Westwood shot a four-under 68 in the second round of the Ballantine's Championship at Seoul, bouncing back from a rough first day to stay six strokes off the pace.

Leader Ben Rumford posted a 63 to get to 10 under, putting the Australian three strokes clear of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Soren Kjeldsen.

Novak Djokovic remains unbeaten in 2011

Novak Djokovic won his 26th straight match to remain unbeaten in 2011, defeating Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic, 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals of the Serbia Open in Belgrade. Djokovic is off to the best start to an ATP tour season since Ivan Lendl in 1986.

Djokovic has won 63 of 69 sets and four tournament titles in 2011, including the Australian Open. He has unseated Roger Federer, the last man to beat him, for the No. 2 ranking.

In the semifinals, Djokovic will play fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic, who edged Somdev Devvarman of India, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Feliciano Lopez will face Filippo Volandri of Italy in the other match. Lopez upset fourth-seeded fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes, 6-4, 6-4, and Volandri beat Spain's Marcel Granollers, 6-2, 6-4.

Juan Martin del Potro reached the Estoril Open semifinals, beating top-seeded Robin Soderling, 6-4, 7-5, in a match interrupted by a three-hour rain delay at Oeiras, Portugal.

Del Potro, a former U.S. Open champion, will play Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas on Saturday. Cuevas defeated sixth-seeded Thomaz Belluci of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 in this clay-court tournament leading to the French Open.

Germany's Kristina Barrois and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain, both unseeded, will meet in Saturday's women's final. Barrois reached her second career final with a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Johanna Larsson of Sweden, and Garrigues downed Romania's Monica Niculescu, 6-1, 6-3. The Spaniard has won all nine of her career titles on clay.

Nikolay Davydenko defeated 2010 runner-up Marin Cilic, 7-5, 6-3, to reach the semifinals of the BMW Open in Munich.

Bylsma, Trotz, Vigneault are NHL coach of year finalists

Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma, Nashville's Barry Trotz and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault are finalists for the Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL's coach of the year.

Crosby says he had setback in recovery from concussion

Sidney Crosby acknowledged he recently had a setback and experienced symptoms during his recovery from a concussion, but the Pittsburgh Penguins star said he isn't worried that he won't be ready for the start of next season.

Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 5, sitting out the final 48 games, including all of Pittsburgh's 4-3 series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

Training camp is about five months away. Crosby said he will be ready.

Kim Yuna leads after short program at skating world championships

Olympic champion Kim Yuna of South Korea made a dramatic return to competition on Friday, taking the lead after the short program at the figure skating world championships.

In her first competition since last year's worlds, Kim scored 65.91 points despite stepping out of her opening triple lutz. She made a quick recovery, tacking a double toe loop onto her triple flip to complete the required combination, and rounded off her "Giselle" routine with clinical

Japan's Miki Ando closely trails Kim with 65.58 points. The 2007 world champion had an elegant if less adventurous performance. Russia's Ksenia Makarova was third. U.S. champion Alissa Czisny was fourth.

In the ice dance, reigning Olympic and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada won the short dance to take a slight lead over main rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States. The championships end Saturday with the free dance and the women's free program.

Davis and White are trying to become the first Americans to win the world dance title.

Denny Hamlin wins Richmond Nationwide race

Denny Hamlin grabbed the lead for the first time 44 laps into the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond, Va., and dominated the rest of way to win the 250-lap event.

Art Schlichter indicted in alleged ticket-selling scheme

A Columbus, Ohio, grand jury has indicted former Ohio State and NFL player Art Schlichter on 12 felony counts of theft and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity linked to a million-dollar ticket-selling scheme.

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