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Jon Lester's woes hover over Cubs entering NL Central showdown in Milwaukee

Manager Joe Maddon had more time than anticipated Wednesday night to plan for the Cubs' four-game National League Central showdown against the Brewers.

After Jon Lester was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings in an 8-1 loss to the Rays, Maddon employed three of his seldom-used relievers to preserve the core of his bullpen.


MLB roundup: Cubs win in Maddon's return to Tampa

Mike Montgomery took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber hit his 28th home run and Chicago extended its winning streak to a season-high seven with a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night in manager Joe Maddon’s return to Tropicana Field.

Maddon managed the Rays from 2006-14, then left to manage Chicago and last year led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908.


Chicago Cubs reaching their highest level at just the right time

CHICAGO -- Unless the Chicago Cubs need another huge series victory in the final two weeks to clinch their third straight trip to the playoffs, the past three days against the St. Louis Cardinals will go down as their signature moment of 2017. They performed in all facets on their way to sweeping their archrivals, saving the most intense game for the finale, a 4-3 nail-biter on Sunday.

This was the Cubs at their best.


4 things to watch: Bears-Buccaneers

The Bears will hit the road for the first time this season when they visit the Buccaneers Sunday in Tampa. Here are four storylines to watch in the game:

(1) How will quarterback Mike Glennon fare against his former team?

Glennon spent his first four NFL seasons with the Buccaneers before signing with the Bears in March and acknowledged that Sunday’s game is special to him. Most importantly, however, he’s focused on leading the Bears to their first victory.

“I would just love to win,” Glennon said. “To get back to 1-1 is the ultimate goal. It doesn’t really come down to showing [the Buccaneers] anything. I just want to have a winning performance and help out team get back to 1-1.”

In last Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Falcons, Glennon completed 26 of 40 passes for 213 yards with one touchdown and an 86.8 passer rating. After a slow start, he connected on 18 of 27 passes for 163 yards and one TD in the fourth quarter.

With Kevin White fracturing his scapula against the Falcons and joining Cameron Meredith on injured reserve, the Bears will be without their two starting receivers.

“I spent a lot of time throwing with those guys,” Glennon said. “Every time we were throwing routes on air I was throwing to Kevin and Cam and unfortunately those guys aren’t here. But guys like Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson and Kendall [Wright] and now Tre McBride, guys are just going to have to step up and we’ll have to develop that chemistry as fast as we can because there’s really no other choice.”




Questionable flag wipes out Akrum Wadley's 74-yard Iowa touchdown

IOWA CITY, Ia. — North Texas runs a 3-4 defense, so it's going to blitz a lot with its linebackers. And then it's going to blitz some more.

But there's a downside for the Mean Green's aggressive scheme: It opens up one-on-one matchups for Iowa's playmakers on the outside. That happened late in the first quarter Saturday, when Akrum Wadley beat a corner on a wheel route and outran him for 74-yard touchdown.

Except ... it wasn't a touchdown.


Chicago Cubs' lineup puzzle keeps getting more complicated

The Cubs shut down their archrival St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, riding 7 2/3 sterling innings from resurgent starter Kyle Hendricks to a 4-1 win. Chicago has taken the first two games of the weekend series and now leads the Redbirds by five games, with the pesky Milwaukee Brewers emerging as the closest challenger to Chicago's throne in the NL Central, sitting 3 1/2 games back.


Iowa Hawkeye defense needs to bounce back against North Texas

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa middle linebacker Josey Jewell was displeased with the defense’s performance despite a victory last Saturday.

He grew angrier this week after repeated viewings of the film from that 44-41 overtime win at Iowa State.

“I feel even more strongly about that now. But it’s over with,” said Jewell, the leader of a Hawkeye defense that surrendered 467 yards to the Cyclones. “You look at it. You try to create something out of it, get some motivation from it.”


Chicago Cubs' offense takes charge after starting battery gets boot

The Cubs scored seven times in the sixth inning, blowing open a close game while further distancing themselves from the Cardinals in the standings. They now lead the National League Central by four over their archrivals after the 8-2 victory, which might be looked back on as a signature victory for the defending champions.

“I think it was a nice little spark for us and some energy that we all needed,” Kris Bryant said of the ejections. “The crowd got into it.


Takeaways: Texans top Bengals in Watson's first start -

So many of the best moments in Houston Texans franchise history have come against the Cincinnati Bengals. Add quarterback Deshaun Watson's first NFL victory to the list.

Watson rushed for a 49-yard touchdown in the first half and helped the seal the team's 13-9 victory with a clock-chewing field-goal drive in the fourth quarter. The Texans' offense was rarely pretty, but avoiding an 0-2 start is a beautiful thing for a team that has been through so much over the last three weeks since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Here's what we learned Thursday night: