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The Sports Report: This Dodgers streak goes to 11

Los Angeles Dodgers' Austin Barnes hits a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 17, 2023, in Los Angeles.
Austin Barnes heads to first after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Jack Harris: It took 120 games, 125 at-bats and what felt like hundreds more frustrating little moments along the way.

But, with the Dodgers 10-game winning streak on the line Thursday night, Austin Barnes picked the perfect time to hit his first home run of the year.

With a line drive blast to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning, Barnes broke a scoreless tie against the Milwaukee Brewers to lift the Dodgers to a 1-0 win, extending the team’s season-long winning streak to 11 games while completing a series sweep of the National League Central’s first-place team.

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“It’s obviously been a while,” a smiling Barnes said postgame, after hitting his first home run since Sept. 20 of last year. “It’s been a struggle this year … But it was nice to put that run across, and give our team a shot to win.”

In a win streak that has been fueled by superstar performances from Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, improved pitching from the rotation and bullpen, and well-rounded production from the Dodgers platoon-heavy lineup, Barnes became the latest -- and unlikeliest -- hero Thursday night.

Entering the game, the team’s long-time backup catcher was mired in a career-worst year. He was batting just .123. He’d driven in only six runs in 138 plate appearances. And he hadn’t hit a single home run all year, a lack of slugging prowess that highlighted his struggles at the plate.

“It’s been a grind this year,” Barnes said. “A lot of … tough nights.”

But, after catching seven scoreless innings from starter Lance Lynn, the ninth-year veteran made sure the outing didn’t go to waste.

After taking a first-pitch strike from Brewers reliever Joel Payamps, Barnes turned on an elevated slider, launching a scorched line drive into the Dodgers bullpen.

“It’s just nice when you have a veteran backstop who can spell Will [Smith] and you can trust him,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He had a heck of a ball game. It was really fun to see.”

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Dodgers box score

All MLB box scores

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NL WEST STANDINGS

Dodgers, 74-46
San Francisco, 64-57, 10.5 GB
Arizona, 62-60, 13 GB
San Diego, 58-64, 17 GB
Colorado, 46-75, 28.5 GB

WILD-CARD STANDINGS
top three teams qualify

Philadelphia, 66-55
San Francisco, 64-57
Chicago, 62-58

Miami, 63-59, 0 GB
Cincinnati, 63-59, 0 GB
Arizona, 62-60, 1 GB
San Diego, 58-64, 5 GB

For full standings, go here

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ANGELS

All MLB box scores

AL WEST STANDINGS
Texas, 72-49
Houston, 70-52, 2.5 GB
Seattle, 66-55, 6 GB
Angels, 60-62, 12.5 GB
Oakland, 34-87, 38 GB

WILD-CARD STANDINGS
top three teams qualify

Tampa Bay, 73-50
Houston, 70-52
Toronto, 67-55

Seattle, 66-55, 0.5 GB
Boston, 63-58, 3.5 GB
New York, 60-61, 6.5 GB
Angels, 60-62, 7 GB
Cleveland, 58-63, 8.5 GB

For full standings, go here

MAUI

From Chuck Schilken: Chargers safety Alohi Gilman has spent the past couple of weeks at training camp in Costa Mesa, but his thoughts have been thousands of miles away.

He was born and raised in the small town of Laie on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. While that’s two islands and nearly 100 miles away from Lahaina, Maui, the site of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, Gilman says the recent events “have struck a deeply personal chord with me.”

“Maui isn’t just a place on the map; it’s a part of my homeland, my connection to Hawaii,” Gilman said in a statement on the team’s website. “My heart resonates with the resilience of the people who lost their homes while also stepping up for their neighbors in need.”

The Chargers have teamed with the 11 other major professional sports teams in Los Angeles — the NFL’s Rams, the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the WNBA’s Sparks, MLB’s Dodgers and Angels, the NHL’s Kings and Ducks, MLS’ Galaxy and LAFC, and the NWSL’s Angel City FC — to donate a combined $450,000 to help provide relief to those affected by the fires.

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LAKERS

From Andrew Greif: The Lakers begin the 2023-24 NBA season with an opening-night road test against reigning champion Denver on Oct. 24. They then return home — but won’t stay there long.

In all, of the Lakers’ first 34 games, 19 will be played on the road, with additional miles potentially added still depending on how far they advance in November and December’s in-season tournament.

Coming off of a Western Conference finals appearance last season, the Lakers intend to advance even deeper in the postseason next spring. By the time they reach the season’s end, they will have been challenged by a slate ranked as the NBA’s fourth hardest by Positive Residual, a site that analyzes schedules.

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Schedule

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Oct. 24 at Denver 4:30 p.m. TNT

Oct. 26 Phoenix 7 p.m. TNT

Oct. 29 at Sacramento 6 p.m. SpecSN

Oct. 30 Orlando 7:30 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

Nov. 1 Clippers 7 p.m. ESPN

Nov. 4 at Orlando 4 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 6 at Miami 4:30 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

Nov. 8 at Houston 5 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 10 at Phoenix 7 p.m. ESPN

Nov. 12 Portland 7 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 14 Memphis 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 15 Sacramento 7 p.m. ESPN

Nov. 17 at Portland 7 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 19 Houston 6:30 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 21 Utah 7 p.m. TNT

Nov. 22 Dallas 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 25 at Cleveland 4:30 p.m. SpecSN

Nov. 27 at Philadelphia 4 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

Nov. 29 at Detroit 4 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

Nov. 30 at Oklahoma City 5 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 2 Houston 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 4-9 in-season tournament

Dec. 12 at Dallas 4:30 p.m. TNT

Dec. 13 at San Antonio 5 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

Dec. 15 at San Antonio 4:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec. 18 New York 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 20 at Chicago 5 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 21 at Minnesota 6 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 23 at Oklahoma City 5 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 25 Boston 2 p.m. ABC

Dec. 28 Charlotte 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 30 at Minnesota 5 p.m. SpecSN

Dec. 31 at New Orleans 4 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 3 Miami 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan. 5 Memphis 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan. 7 Clippers 6:30 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 9 Toronto 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 11 Phoenix 7 p.m. TNT

Jan. 13 at Utah 6:30 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 15 Oklahoma City 7:30 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

Jan. 17 Dallas 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan. 19 Brooklyn 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 21 Portland 7 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 23 at Clippers 7 p.m. TNT

Jan. 25 Chicago 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 27 at Golden State 5:30 p.m. ABC

Jan. 29 at Houston 5 p.m. SpecSN

Jan. 30 at Atlanta 4:30 p.m. SpecSN

Feb. 1 at Boston 4:30 p.m. TNT

Feb. 3 at New York 5:30 p.m. ABC

Feb. 5 at Charlotte 4 p.m. SpecSN

Feb. 8 Denver 7 p.m. TNT

Feb. 9 New Orleans 7:30 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

Feb. 13 Detroit 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Feb. 14 at Utah 6 p.m. SpecSN

NBA All-Star break

Feb. 22 at Golden State 7 p.m. TNT

Feb. 23 San Antonio 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

Feb. 25 at Phoenix 12:30 p.m. ABC

Feb. 28 at Clippers 7 p.m. ESPN

Feb. 29 Washington 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

March 2 Denver 5:30 p.m. ABC

March 4 Oklahoma City 7:30 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

March 6 Sacramento 7 p.m. SpecSN

March 8 Milwaukee 7 p.m. ESPN

March 10 Minnesota 6:30 p.m. ESPN

March 13 at Sacramento 7 p.m. ESPN

March 16 Golden State 5:30 p.m. ABC

March 18 Atlanta 7:30 p.m. SpecSN

March 22 Philadelphia 7:30 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

March 24 Indiana 7 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

March 26 at Milwaukee 4:30 p.m. TNT

March 27 at Memphis 5 p.m. SpecSN

March 29 at Indiana 4 p.m. SpecSN

March 31 at Brooklyn 3 p.m. SpecSN

April 2 at Toronto 4 p.m. SpecSN

April 3 at Washington 4 p.m. SpecSN

April 6 Cleveland 12:30 p.m. SpecSN

April 7 Minnesota 7 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

April 9 Golden State 7 p.m. TNT

April 12 at Memphis 5 p.m. SpecSN, NBA

April 14 at New Orleans 12:30 p.m. SpecSN

CLIPPERS

From Andrew Greif: The Clippers open their 2023-24 NBA season Oct. 25 at home against Portland, and then proceed to largely stay in Los Angeles for the following week.

Four of their first five games will be played at Crypto.com Arena — including a Nov. 1 matchup against the Lakers, a Clippers road game. The home stretch begins, and sets the tone for, a regular-season schedule that could be seen as more forgiving than recent seasons.

The schedule reflects matchups for 80 of their 82 games because their performance in the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament will determine whether those dates are played as part of the knockout round, or filled against two opponents who also failed to advance out of group play.

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The Clippers' 2023-2024 schedule.
(L.A. Clippers)

CHARGERS

From Jeff Miller: After 14 practices against Justin Herbert and his collection of weapons, the Chargers’ first-team defense welcomed a new opponent to training camp Thursday.

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The group responded by largely punching the New Orleans Saints in the chops.

In the first of two joint practices between the teams, the Chargers throttled Derek Carr and a Saints offense that includes running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas.

“I thought we were physical,” coach Brandon Staley said. “I thought we played hard. I thought the technique was good for the most part. I thought the communication was good for the most part.”

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RAMS

From Gary Klein: The Rams and the Las Vegas Raiders held their second joint practice on Thursday in Thousand Oaks. Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald returned after a rest day and immediately raised the intensity level of the workout.

In something of an upset, no fights broke out.

Donald — and the frustration he produces for opponents — has ignited many of the major scuffles and brawls the Rams have engaged in during joint practices through the years. Last year in Cincinnati, Donald swung a helmet during a melee with the Bengals.

But there were no incidents Thursday.

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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

From Eric Sondheimer: After a slow start in which its pitcher walked five, El Segundo turned loose its power hitters, Brody Brooks and Louis Lappe, in the third inning to overcome a two-run deficit and rally for a 4-3 win over the Great Lakes champion, New Albany, Ohio, in a weather-shortened opening game of the Little League World Series on Thursday night in Williamsport, Pa.

The game was halted after four innings. The teams had waited more than two hours to see if conditions would allow the game to resume. El Segundo advances to play on Monday.

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COLLEGE REALIGNMENT

From Ben Bolch: College sports administrators have touted the benefits of conference realignment for their athletes. Increased exposure. Better competition. More money for nutrition, mental health and academic support, not to mention the stability of athletic departments that otherwise might have to cut teams.

Count UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin among those who aren’t buying it.

Any of it.

“None of it is in the best interest of the student-athlete, no matter what anybody says,” Cronin, whose team will compete in the Big Ten starting in the 2024-25 season, said Thursday. “It’s in the best interest of more money to cover the bills. That’s it.”

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Cronin pointed to all the athletic departments in the red — a list that includes UCLA, which faces a four-year shortfall of $130.8 million — and the behind-the-scenes accounting that is not widely known as factors sparking so much movement.

“The problem is the public doesn’t understand the scope of why it’s all even happening,” Cronin said. “Like, the public thinks right now that I have the 12 guys on scholarship and they go to UCLA for free. They don’t realize the athletic department at UCLA has 25 sports and 700 kids on scholarship that they have to pay the university for those scholarships. That, right there, 99% of the people do not know that.

“So why do these schools need all this money? There’s about four athletic departments that actually make money in the entire nation because of scholarship bills and budget expenses, so this all happened because of money, that’s just a reality. It’s not all because of football. And what I would tell you is, this is not the end-all fix. It’s far from over.”

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GOLF

From Helene Elliott: Lilia Vu wasn’t looking to change her game after the bottom fell out of a season that had started so well, with her first LPGA victory in February and her first win at a major in April, when she outdueled Angel Yin to win a playoff at the Chevron Championship at The Woodlands, Texas.

When Vu missed the cut in four of her next five starts after the Chevron championship — including at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach in June — she knew the problem wasn’t the clubs in her bag or flaws in her technique. The obstacle was the self-defeating thoughts that dominated her mind and eroded her confidence.

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Vu, who grew up in Fountain Valley and earned all-America honors at UCLA while setting the program record of eight victories, is a perfectionist. That can be a strength. It made her probably the best putter the Bruins have had and lends authority to her clean ballstriking. But it becomes a weakness when she lets the slightest wobble shatter her focus. A shaky hole too often became a shaky round, which became a disappointing finish.

“I thought at the U.S. Open, after I played so bad, I didn’t know if I could ever win again,” she said.

Following a practice round last week in advance of the AIG Women’s Open, she sat down with her caddy of nearly a year, Cole Pensanti, to explain why she was so hard on herself and why she felt stifled by pressure to excel. It had happened to her before, pushing her into a slump after she had become the No. 1 amateur in the world, and again during a bumpy first year on the LPGA tour. She had found her way back on those occasions. She needed help to do it again.

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WOMEN’S WORLD CUP

From Kevin Baxter: U.S. Soccer thanked Vlatko Andonovski for his four years of service, then named his interim replacement after accepting Andonovski’s resignation as coach of the women’s national team Thursday. The moves come less than two weeks after the U.S. was eliminated from the World Cup in the round of 16, the team’s earliest exit from a tournament it has won four times.

“We want to extend our deepest gratitude to Vlatko for his dedication to the women’s national team,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. “We know he will continue to contribute to the growth of the women’s game in the United States and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

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Twila Kilgore will serve the team’s temporary head coach as U.S. Soccer begins the search for a permanent replacement. Kilgore (formerly Kaufman) served as an assistant coach for the past year and a half, and in 2021 became the first American-born woman to earn U.S. Soccer’s Pro Coaching License. Kilgore spent 2½ years as an assistant coach with the Houston Dash and 15 years in the college game as a head coach and an assistant coach at UC Davis and Pepperdine.

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Schedule, results
All times Pacific

THIRD-PLACE GAME

Saturday
Sweden vs. Australia, 1 a.m., Fox

FINAL

Sunday
Spain vs. England, 3 a.m., Fox

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1923 — Helen Mills, 17, ends Molla Bjurstedt Mallory’s domination of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn. championships and starts her own with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

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1958 — Floyd Patterson knocks out Roy Harris in the 13th round at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles to retain his world heavyweight title.

1964 — The International Olympic Committee bans South Africa from competing in the Summer Olympics because of its apartheid policies.

1982 — Pete Rose sets record with his 13,941st plate appearance.

1995 — Thirteen-year-old Dominique Moceanu becomes the youngest to win the National Gymnastics Championships senior women’s all-around title in New Orleans.

2004 — Paul Hamm wins the men’s gymnastics all-around Olympic gold medal by the closest margin ever in the event. Controversy follows after it was discovered a scoring error that may have cost Yang Tae-young of South Korea the men’s all-around title. Yang, who finished with a bronze, is wrongly docked a tenth of a point on his second-to-last routine, the parallel bars. He finishes third, 0.049 points behind Hamm, who becomes the first American man to win gymnastics’ biggest prize.

2008 — A day after winning an Olympic gold medal in Beijing, Rafael Nadal officially unseats Roger Federer to become the world’s No. 1 tennis player when the ATP rankings are released. Federer had been atop the rankings for 235 weeks.

2013 — For the first time in Solheim Cup history, the Europeans leaves America with the trophy. Caroline Hedwall becomes the first player in the 23-year history of the event to win all five matches. She finishes with a 1-up victory over Michelle Wie and gives Europe the 14 points it needed to retain the cup.

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2016 — Jamaica’s Usain Bolt completes an unprecedented third consecutive sweep of the 100 and 200-meter sprints, elevating his status as the most decorated male sprinter in Olympic history. He wins the 200-meter race with a time of 19.78 seconds to defeat Andre de Grasse of Canada. American Ashton Eaton defends his Olympic decathlon title, equaling the games record with a surge on the last lap of the 1,500 meters — the last event in the two-day competition. Helen Maroulis defeats Japan’s Saori Yoshida 4-1 in the 53-kilogram freestyle final to win the first-ever gold medal for a United States women’s wrestler.

2021 — Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hit for the cycle for the second time in his career as they beat the Miami Marlins 11-9.

—Compiled by the Associated Press

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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