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The Sports Report: Dodgers edge the Rockies in extra innings

Albert Pujols waves to fans after Tuesday's game.
Albert Pujols waves to fans after Tuesday’s game.
(Associated Press)

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

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: For all the All-Stars in their primes up and down the Dodgers’ lineup, a relentless barrage of firepower when the machine is rolling, there was nobody better for the most important job Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies than the hulking 41-year-old man who dawdled off the bench in the 10th inning to pinch-hit.

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Gavin Lux, the go-ahead run, stood at second base when Pujols stepped into the batter’s box to face Jhoulys Chacín. The matchup wasn’t ideal – right on right – but that was irrelevant. Pujols, nearing the end of his 21st major-league season, understood the assignment. Find a hole, anywhere, for his 2,150th career RBI and 38th in 78 games as a Dodger.

It took two pitches. Pujols took the first, a curveball, for a strike. He cracked the second one, a slider, up the middle. The groundball eked through the infield, allowing Lux to race around to score in the Dodgers’ eventual 5-4 win.

Julio Urías and Antonio Senzatela matched each other for six innings. Both pitchers were perfect for three frames and wound up surrendering four runs on seven hits without a walk before exiting.

The Rockies (70-80) scored two runs in the fourth to take the lead before the Dodgers tallied two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to jump out in front. Colorado then tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on back-to-back RBI doubles from C.J. Cron and Elias Díaz.

At the plate, Urías lined a two-out single in the fifth inning for his ninth RBI of the season, tops amongst pitchers across the majors. On the mound, he was efficient – he threw just 73 pitches – but his velocity was appreciably down from his season averages for the second straight start.

The 25-year-old left-hander’s fastball averaged 92.4 mph Tuesday compared to his 94.1 mph average for the season entering the outing. His curveball dropped to 79.7 mph from his 81.4 mph average. His changeup sunk the most, from 86.9 mph to 84.5 mph.

Over the weekend, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts attributed Urías’s velocity plunge last Wednesday to emotions disrupting his mechanics. He insisted Urías wasn’t fatigued even though he had logged a career-high 168 1/3 innings – nearly 100 more than his previous high – this season. He said he believed Urías’s velocity would rebound, but it didn’t.

“I feel good,” Urías said in Spanish. “I can’t explain it.”

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ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: Jo Adell isn’t sure when he’ll next be in the Angels lineup.

He’d love to play again before the end of this season, to return from a left abdominal strain that landed him on the injured list last week after he collided with an outfield wall trying to make a leaping catch.

“[There’s] a lot of soreness,” Adell said, noting that even laughing or sneezing caused him pain. “But things are starting to feel better. I’m starting to work on the right stuff. So hopefully, it’ll clear up.”

On Monday, however, manager Joe Maddon said it’s still unlikely Adell will come back in time, especially with the season finale less than two weeks away.

“We’re running out of time obviously, and if you had to bet, you’d bet that he’s not [going to return],” Maddon said. “But if he feels well enough to get out there, I’m into it.”

Even if Adell’s 2021 campaign season is indeed over, his emergence this year will raise an interesting question leading into next year.

When opening day rolls around in March, will Adell have a spot in the lineup as an everyday player?

USC FOOTBALL

J. Brady McCollough on the Trojans: Jaxson Dart has played in one college football game, and the freshman emerged from it as the Pac-12’s offensive player of the week.

Kedon Slovis has played in 21 games, passing for nearly 6,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, and the junior is widely considered a future first-round NFL draft pick.

USC interim head coach Donte Williams has billed what’s to come as a “quarterback battle,” but, because of injuries for each player, it’s unclear how much of it will be staged at this week’s practices leading into Saturday night’s game against Oregon State at the Coliseum.

Even at USC, where heated quarterback competitions have become the expectation the last two decades, this one feels like it could be quite spicy.

As a prelude to Slovis versus Dart, here’s a look at five quarterback decisions that shaped the modern era of USC football:

Click here for a look.

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USC quarterback Kedon Slovis is sharp at practice while Jaxson Dart is sidelined

USC coaching search heat check: These are the hottest — and coldest — candidates

SOCCER

Kevin Baxter on soccer: The growing partnership between MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX has given birth to two competitive tournaments and a unique All-Star game in the last four years, sparking rumors that a merger could be coming soon. On Tuesday, the two leagues revealed what they’ve really been working on: an annual, monthlong, World Cup-style tournament involving all 47 teams from the two leagues to debut in 2023.

The competition, an expanded and reimagined version of the three -year-old Leagues Cup, will be the first major international tournament to feature every team from two top-tier leagues and will require both MLS and Liga MX to pause their respective regular seasons for a month each year.

The creation of the tournament was announced by MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Liga MX President Mikel Arriola at a news conference in New York City. The competition will be sanctioned by CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and its winner will earn automatic qualification to the CONCACAF Champions League round of 16. The second- and third-place finishers will qualify for the opening round of the CCL.

“That’s not a merger of the two leagues, but it’s probably the next-best thing because all teams will exclusively be playing in a common competition for a month,” said Steven Bank, the Paul Hastings professor of business law at UCLA and an expert on international soccer. “It also comes at a time when the TV sports schedule is pretty weak in the U.S. and globally in a non-Olympic or [men’s] World Cup summer, which likely will encourage media partners and sponsors to highlight these games.”

NBA

All-Star Ben Simmons has been adamant this offseason that he’s no longer interested in playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. New reports arose Tuesday that he has informed the team he will not report to camp.

The Los Angeles Times’ NBA reporters — Andrew Greif, Broderick Turner and Dan Woike — examine what’s next for Simmons and the 76ers, including potential trades to the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers as well as the Lakers and the Clippers.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1905 — Willie Anderson wins the U.S. Open for the fourth time in five years, beating Alex Smith with a 314-total at the Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Mass.

1927 — Gene Tunney wins a unanimous 10-round decision over Jack Dempsey at Soldier Field in Chicago to retain his world heavyweight title. The fight is marred by a long 10-count in the seventh round. Dempsey knocks Tunney to the mat, but Dempsey doesn’t go to a neutral corner. The referee doesn’t start counting until four or five seconds after Tunney is down. Tunney regains his feet and goes on to win.

1969 — Willie Mays becomes the second major league player to hit 600 homers with a two-run shot off Mike Corkins, giving the San Francisco Giants a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

1974 — The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos are the first teams to play to a tie, 35-35, with the new overtime rule in effect.

1984 — Mississippi Valley State’s Willie Totten passes for 526 yards in a 49-32 victory over Jackson State. Wide receiver Jerry Rice has 285 yards receiving.

1987 — The 1,585-member NFL Players Assn. goes on strike after the New England-New York Jets Monday night game. The strike lasts 24 days.

1990 — Illinois’ Howard Griffith sets an NCAA record when he scores eight rushing touchdowns in a 56-21 rout of Southern Illinois. Griffith gets touchdowns on three consecutive carries in the second quarter and ties an NCAA record with four touchdowns in the third quarter. Griffith doesn’t play in the fourth quarter. It’s the most points scored in an NCAA game by a player other than a kicker.

1991 — Miami coach Don Shula gets his 300th career victory in the Dolphins’ 16-13 win over Green Bay.

2002 — New England’s Tom Brady completes 39 of 54 passes for 410 yards and throws touchdown passes to four different receivers, leading the Patriots to a 41-38 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

2007 — Graham Harrell of Texas Tech completes 46 of 67 passes for 646 yards, the fourth-best total in major college history, in a 49-45 loss to Oklahoma State.

2007 — Kentucky’s Andre Woodson sets a major college record for consecutive passes without an interception, breaking the mark of 271 held by Fresno State’s Trent Dilfer.

2012 — Cobi Hamilton of Arkansas has 10 catches for a Southeastern Conference record 303 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-26 to Rutgers.

2012 — Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke smashes NCAA Division I records by throwing for 730 yards. He completes 55 of 79 attempts without being intercepted and leads the Monarchs back from a 23-point, third-quarter deficit to a 64-61 victory against New Hampshire.

2018 — Anthony Joshua retains his IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight titles by stopping Alexander Povetkin in the seventh round at Wembley Stadium.

2018 — Jess McDonald scores two goals and the North Carolina Courage win the National Women’s Soccer League championship with a 3-0 victory over the Portland Thorns.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Willie Mays hits his 600th home run. 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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