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Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Thursday, July 11, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Thursday, July 11, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)


Cubs, city agree on Wrigley Jumbotron

CHICAGO – The proposed modernization of historic Wrigley Field overcame an important hurdle yesterday when the Chicago Cubs and the city reached an agreement allowing the team to build a first-ever electronic Jumbotron and another sign above the ivy-covered outfield walls.

The city’s landmarks commission unanimously voted to approve the deal, overcoming opposition from the local alderman and the owners of rooftop businesses who fear their negotiated views of the field will be obstructed. The matter now goes to the City Council.

Alderman Tom Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field, told the commission that light from the proposed Jumbotron would be seen from blocks away. He asked that its size be reduced.

The deal would allow the Cubs to erect a 5,700-square-foot Jumbotron in left field of the 99-year-old ball park and a 650-square-foot sign in right field.


Moore replaces injured Darvish as AL All-Star

NEW YORK – Tampa Bay left-hander Matt Moore will replace injured Texas pitcher Yu Darvish on the American League All-Star roster.

The change was announced after Moore got the win yesterday as the Rays beat Minnesota.

Moore is 13-3 and tied with Detroit’s Max Scherzer for the league lead in victories. The 24-year-old Moore has a 3.44 ERA in 19 starts.

Darvish was put on the disabled list Wednesday because of a mild strain in his upper back. He is 8-4 and leads the majors with 157 strikeouts.


Pirates’ Alvarez replaces Gonzalez in HR Derby

NEW YORK – Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates has replaced Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies for the NL team in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

Major League Baseball said yesterday that Gonzalez has pulled out because of a sprained middle finger on his right hand.

Alvarez has hit 23 homers this season. Gonzalez began the day with 24.


Nuggets sign Hickson

DENVER – The Denver Nuggets bolstered their frontcourt yesterday by signing free agent forward J.J. Hickson to a three-year deal.

The 24-year-old bruiser is coming off his best season last year in Portland when he averaged 12.7 points and a career-high 10.4 rebounds. He joined Dwight Howard as the only players to average 12 points, 10 boards and shoot at least 55 percent from the field.

Hickson has averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in five NBA seasons with stops in Cleveland, Sacramento and Portland.


Spurs announce deals with Ginobili, Belinelli

SAN ANTONIO – Manu Ginobili signed his contract with the Spurs and will be joined in San Antonio next season by Marco Belinelli.

Ginobili posted a picture of himself with his paperwork on Twitter yesterday, writing that: “Now it’s official. I’ve just signed my fourth contract with the Spurs for two more years.”

The 36-year-old from Argentina has won three titles with the Spurs and helped them reach the NBA Finals this season despite battling injuries.

Belinelli averaged 9.6 points in 73 games last season for Chicago.


Devils’ Kovalchuk retires

NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk is retiring from the NHL and returning to Russia.

The Devils released the stunning news yesterday afternoon in a statement, saying that the 30-year-old Kovalchuk had alerted them earlier this year that he wanted to return home with his family after 11 seasons in the NHL.

The move is more surprising because Kovalchuk signed a $100 million, 15-year contract in 2010. He’ll be walking away from it.

Kovalchuk spent his last four seasons with the Devils, helping them reach the Stanley Cup finals in 2012. He scored 417 goals and 399 assists for 816 points in games with New Jersey and Atlanta, which traded him to New Jersey.


Belize players reject offer to fix Gold Cup game

SALT LAKE CITY – CONCACAF officials said they have identified a man who allegedly offered Belize players large sums of money to fix a Gold Cup match against the United States.

Ian Gaynair and Woodrow West said they were approached Sunday by a man who offered them money to “sell” their game Tuesday against the Americans. When they reported the bribery attempt, Belize Coach Ian Mork says, a CONCACAF official showed them a photo of a man already being monitored for trying to fix matches in other countries. The players confirmed it was the same man who’d offered them money, Mork said.

CONCACAF said yesterday it is investigating the bribery attempt with FIFA, the world’s governing body.

Belize lost to the U.S., 6-1, on Tuesday night in the Jaguars’ first Gold Cup appearance.


Russell advances to Newport’s semifinals

NEWPORT, R.I. – Michael Russell let a lead slip away in the second set and fell behind early in the deciding tiebreaker. That didn’t matter when he had the crowd cheering behind him.

Russell advanced to the semifinals at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships yesterday by outlasting No. 3 seed Igor Sijsling of The Netherlands, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), in the highlight match of the week so far.

The 35-year old Russell lost the first three points of the third-set tiebreaker before rallying to reach his second career ATP semifinal.

He raised both arms in triumph when Sijsling hit a backhand return long and wide.

In the other quarterfinal match yesterday, Nicolas Mahut, a wild card entrant, from France beat Michal Przysiezny of Poland, 7-6 (5), 6-4.


Scheepers, Peer in quarterfinals at Budapest GP

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa reached her third quarterfinals of the year when she defeated Petra Martic of Croatia, 7-5, 6-4, at the Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday.

The sixth-seeded Scheepers’s next opponent will be Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, who beat Valeria Solovyeva of Russia, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Shahar Peer of Israel knocked out eighth-seeded Anna Tatishvili of Georgia, 6-1, 6-1, leaving just three seeded players in the last eight.

Peer, who won her last WTA tournament in 2009, will face Romania’s Alexandra Cadantu.

Cadantu defeated Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic, who retired due to cramping with the Romanian leading, 4-6, 7-5, 4-0.


Berdych, Almagro make quarterfinals at Swedish Open

BASTAD, Sweden – Top seeds Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro began the Swedish Open by reaching the quarterfinals yesterday.

Berdych and Almagro received first-round byes, and had contrasting wins.

Almagro, a three-time finalist in Bastad, got off to a rough start against fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez but rallied to win, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

His next opponent, Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, beat Jan-Lennard Struff, 6-1, 7-5.

Berdych, the No. 1 seed in the clay-court tournament, easily defeated Argentine Martin Alund, 6-3, 6-0. It was the Czech’s first match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Next up for Berdych is Thiemo De Bakker, the Dutchman who survived two match points before eliminating Viktor Troicki of Serbia, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

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