Wizards

McIlroy, Donald, Warren tied for lead in Dubai

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McIlroy, Donald, Warren tied for lead in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Rory McIlroy shot a 5-under 67 Friday and was tied for the lead with Luke Donald and Marc Warren after two rounds of the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

McIlroy, the top-ranked golfer, has already won the money titles on the European and PGA tours. He was one stroke in front at 11-under 133 with Donald (68) and 189th-ranked Warren (67).

Sergio Garcia, playing for the first time since laser eye surgery, matched the course record with a 64 to leave him four shots behind.

McIlroy's round could have been even better, but he missed several makeable putts on the front nine and an eagle putt roll past the hole at No. 14.

``I continued driving the ball well today and gave myself plenty of opportunities,'' McIlroy said. ``Missed a couple of short ones on the front nine for birdies. But apart from that, it was a very solid round of golf.''

Garcia started with four birdies on his first five holes and then had a string of birdies at the turn before holing a long putt for eagle on No. 14. But he shot into the water on No. 16 for a triple-bogey before recovering to finish with a birdie and eagle.

``Coming back from a long break, so trying to get some good vibrations going and I managed to finish better than that,'' Garcia said.

Donald joined McIlroy and Warren at 11 under with a short birdie putt on the 18th. Warren had a chance take the outright lead, but was short on his 12-foot putt on the 18th.

``Obviously, haven't dropped a shot in 36 holes, so feel good about that,'' said Donald, who finished with four birdies in a bogey-free round. ``I had some opportunities, 10-foot, 15-footers on a few holes that I just misread. But that was a solid round of golf.''

Donald said he wasn't getting his approach shots as close to the pin as the first day, but made up for it with the putter, including a difficult birdie on No. 9 and nice par save on No. 12.

``When I have myself a little bit of trouble out on the course, I was able to recover with the putter,'' Donald said.

Warren, who has not won a tournament since 2007, matched the second-ranked Donald's opening birdie and had five more, including a 12-footer on the 16th to move him into a tie with McIlroy.

``It was nice to be the Scot in the pack with the Englishman and the Northern Irishman,'' Warren said. ``It's great to be in contention with guys like that. Looking down the leaderboard, it's a high-quality leaderboard and doesn't get any better anywhere in the world really.''

Two South Africans were a stroke behind at 134 - Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, shot a 67 and four-time tour winner Branden Grace had a 65.

Charl Schwartzel (67) and Richie Ramsay (68) were two shots off the pace, followed by another 10 players three strokes behind.

Several big names faltered, including fourth-ranked Lee Westwood (74). Two shots off the lead after the first round, Westwood bogeyed the 12th and 16th and then double-bogeyed the par-3 17th to fall eight shots off the lead.

Padraig Harrington, also two shots back after the first round, was five behind after a 71.

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

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Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, routinely using relievers as starters to deal with a rash of injuries, are pitching their way to victories.

The Rays (37-40) go into a two-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals with the momentum of a three-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees. New York hadn't lost three games in a row at any point all season, but the Rays pulled it off, capped with a 7-6 win in 12 innings on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

"That's the best team in the league right now, them and the Astros ... I think coming home from that we had confidence and it all carried over into that series," said Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who won the game in the 12th inning.

Since beginning their experimental use of relievers as "openers" to start games, the Rays have a 3.07 ERA, and entering Sunday's game, that edged the Yankees for the best ERA in baseball since May 19. They've won five of seven games to again challenge .500, and Sunday's walkoff home run by Bauers was their second this season, after totaling one in three seasons from 2015 to 2017.

The Nationals (41-35) had gone 3-9 in their last 12 games before Sunday night's rain-delayed game against the Phillies, dropping into third place in the National League East. They'll send out Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has no wins in his last four starts and his ERA has risen from a sterling 2.10 to 3.08.

Gonzalez lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up five hits and two runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. For his career against the Rays, he's 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA, though he's only faced Tampa Bay once since 2012. That was a rough 2015 start at Tropicana Field, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, walking more batters than he struck out. For his career at Tropicana, he has an 11.25 ERA.

The Rays will have an actual starter on the mound in Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48), who is in line for an All-Star appearance after the first three months of his season. He has just one loss in his last seven starts, and while he has never faced the Nationals, he has generally fared well in interleague play, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight career starts.

Tampa Bay, hoping to build on its current momentum, has a tough week ahead, with two games against Washington, then another four against Houston to close out the homestand.

Washington goes from St. Petersburg to a weekend four-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies before returning home for a week.

The Rays got a head start with a Sunday afternoon game and the Nationals saw their prime-time game delayed by rain, keeping them on the field beyond midnight and still needing to fly to Florida for the two-game stopover.

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