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The Sports Report: Don’t look now, but the Dodgers are in first place

Justin Turner scores the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
Justin Turner scores the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Mike DiGiovanna on the Dodgers: An object that has been looming in the San Francisco Giants’ rearview mirror for more than four months is no longer closer than it appears. It just passed them in the fast lane and pulled a half-car length ahead in the race for the coveted National League West title.

The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory Wednesday night, Max Scherzer battling through a tight right hamstring to throw six shutout innings and Justin Turner and AJ Pollock delivering clutch two-out, run-scoring hits in the eighth.

Their 20th win in 24 games, combined with San Francisco’s 5-2 loss to Milwaukee, moved the Dodgers (85-49) a half-game ahead of the Giants (84-49) with 28 games left, the first time the defending World Series-champion Dodgers have held first place in the NL West since April 28.

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They fell a season-high five games behind the Giants after a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 12 but have won 16 of 19 games since to put themselves in position to pounce when the Giants finally stumbled.

“It’s a start,” manager Dave Roberts said of his team’s perch atop the NL West. “We’re getting there. We have to continue to play good baseball. There’s a lot of baseball left. I just like the way our guys are so resilient and pick each other up.”

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ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: For a pitcher making first MLB start, there aren’t many tougher assignments.

Not only did Angels left-hander Packy Naughton have to face the New York Yankees potent lineup Wednesday, but he had to do it with Gerrit Cole pitching opposite of him.

While Naughton was decent in a 3 ⅔-inning, three-run outing, Cole was on a different level, striking out 15 batters in a seven-inning, one-run gem to help the Yankees avoid a sweep in Anaheim with a 4-1 win.

“Cole was on today,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers’ initial 53-man roster lasted one day before changes were made, the team claiming safety Trey Marshall and defensive lineman Eric Banks off waivers Wednesday.

Marshall, 25, appeared in 30 games — including two starts — with Denver over the last three seasons. He joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2018 coming out of Florida State, where he played with Derwin James.

Banks, 23, spent last season on the Rams’ practice squad after signing as an undrafted rookie out of Texas-San Antonio. The Rams waived him Tuesday.

The Chargers initially kept undrafted rookie Forrest Merrill for depth behind starting nose tackle Linval Joseph. Merrill was waived to make room for Banks. Staley said the Chargers would like to add Merrill to their practice squad if he clears waivers. With the addition of Marshall, cornerback Brandon Facyson, who has been with the Chargers since 2018, was waived.

USC FOOTBALL

Check out our live blog for all the up-to-the-minute news on the upcoming USC-San Jose State game. Click here to read.

UCLA FOOTBALL

Check out our live blog for all the up-to-the-minute news on the upcoming UCLA-LSU game. Click here to read.

TENNIS

Helene Elliott on tennis: Play began on the outdoor courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center but was suspended by rain at about 1 p.m. Eastern time.

Under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium No. 12 Simona Halep easily got past Kristina Kucova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the third round for the first time since she reached the quarterfinals in 2016. Halep said she was “a little bit lucky today” that her match was moved from an outdoor court to Ashe as the result of Olga Danilovic’s withdrawal from a scheduled second-round match against No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka. Danilovic said via Instagram that she had been battling a non-COVID-related viral illness.

Halep missed Wimbledon and the French Open this year because of a calf muscle tear and she said she wasn’t sure how she would fare here. Two matches in, she’s happy with how she has done. “I’m more confident,” she said. “I think I did well the first two matches.”

Garbine Muguruza of Spain, seeded No. 9, defeated friend and frequent practice partner Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-4, 6-2 under the roof at Louis Armstrong Stadium. She said playing with the roof closed meant “less wind, probably less light,” but she had no trouble with the conditions.

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Sloane Stephens makes a triumphant return to U.S. Open

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1901 — Seven-year-old Ogden wins two races in a single day at Sheepshead Bay race track in Coney Island, New York. Ogden edges Cameron by a head in the second race on the card, a six furlong sprint on the main track. In the sixth race, a 1 1-16 mile distance on the turf, Ogden beats Monarka by a length.

1908 — Tommy Burns knocks out Bill Lang in the sixth round in Melbourne for his last successful defense of his heavyweight title.

1924 — Bill Tilden wins his fifth straight U.S. men’s singles title with a 6-1, 9-7, 6-2 victory over Bill Johnston.

1940 — Byron Nelson wins the PGA by beating Sam Snead 1-up at the Hershey Country Club in Pennsylvania.

1945 — Frank Parker wins the men’s singles title in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association championships by beating Bill Talbert. Sarah Palfrey Cooke beats Pauline Betz for the women’s title.

1970 — The tie-break debuts in Grand Slam tennis at the U.S. Open. A total of 26 tie-breaks (the nine-point sudden death tie-break) are played on the first day of the tournament. Bob McKinley and Ray Ruffels both win matches in fifth-set tie-breaks.

1971 — Sixteen-year-old Chris Evert wins the first of her record 101 U.S. Open matches, defeating Edda Buding, 6-1, 6-0, in 42 minutes. Jimmy Connors, playing on 19th birthday, comes back from a two-set deficit to beat Alex Olmedo for his first U.S. Open victory.

1984 — In his first NFL start, Atlanta’s Gerald Riggs rushes for 202 yards and scores two touchdowns as the Falcons beat New Orleans 36-28.

1991 — Jimmy Connors turns 39 years old and rallies from a 2-5 fifth-set deficit to defeat 24-year-old Aaron Krickstein, 3-6, 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6. The fourth-round Labor Day match lasts 4 hours and 41 minutes.

1995 — Frank Bruno wins a heavyweight championship in his fourth attempt registering a unanimous decision over Oliver McCall to take his WBC title in Wembley, England.

2001 — Michael Schumacher becomes the winningest driver in Formula One history, winning the Belgian Grand Prix for his 52nd career victory. Schumacher breaks the mark shared with Alain Prost and clinches his fourth world championship.

2004 — In a second-round match, Sargis Sargsian defeats Nicolas Massu, 6-7 (8), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, in five hours and nine minutes. It’s the second-longest match on record at the U.S. Open and falls 18 minutes shy of breaking the record for longest match, set in 1992 when Stefan Edberg defeated Michael Chang in 5:26 in the semifinals.

And finally

Jimmy Connors, 39, rallies to defeat Aaron Krickstein in the 1991 U.S. Open. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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