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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Vikings sign Rudolph to contract extension

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MANKATO, Minn. --  The Minnesota Vikings announced last night that Kyle Rudolph has signed a contract extension with the club. The contract is a reported five year, $36 million deal.  Rudolph caught 9 touchdown passes in 2012, the 2nd most in Vikings history and the 2nd most in the NFL by a tight end that season. In 39 career games he has scored 15 touchdowns, ranking 5th in Vikings history for tight ends. A 2nd-round pick (#43 overall) in 2011, Rudolph caught 30 passes for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2013. Following the 2012 season, Rudolph earned Pro Bowl MVP honors after hauling in 5 passes for 122 yards and 1 touchdown. The 24-year-old Cincinnati native is entering his 4th NFL season. 

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The Minnesota Vikings continue training camp today at on the campus of Minnesota State-Mankato.  The first session is a walk-through practice this morning at 10:30 a.m., followed by an evening practice tonight at 7:30 p.m. from Blakeslee Field.  The night practice will be one of three evening practices through training camp this year.  The team is holding training camp in Mankato for the 49th consecutive season and will be there until they break camp on August 14th.  The Vikes begin preseason play with an August 8th exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium.  The regular season opener is at St. Louis against the Rams on September 7th.  The regular season home opener is against the New England Patriots on September 14th on the University of Minnesota campus.

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Sam Fuld had two hits, including a two-run single to cap a three-run seventh inning and the Minnesota Twins held on for a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.  With the win, the Twins avoided being swept in a four-game series by the White Sox for the first time ever in Minnesota.  It was only their third win in 10 games since the All-Star break.  They loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh against Ronald Belisario (3-7), who walked Josh Willingham and Eric Fryer before giving up a single to Chris Parmelee.  The first run scored on Danny Santana's sacrifice fly off Javy Guerra and Fuld followed with his two-run single to center to make it 4-2.  Rookie right-hander Yohan Pino pitched six  innings for the Twins, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jared Burton (2-2) threw a perfect seventh inning to pick up the win.  Scott Carroll also went six  innings for the White  Sox, allowing one run on four hits and a walk.  Twins are off today then begin a three game series in Kansas City on Tuesday.

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There are officially six new members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine, fellow pitcher Greg Maddux, first baseman Frank Thomas and managers Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre all were inducted yesterday afternoon.  Maddux was a four-time NL Cy Young winner with 355 wins for the Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Padres.  Glavine won two NL Cy Young Awards and had 305 career wins with the Braves and Mets.  Thomas was a two-time AL MVP with 495 career home runs. La Russa won three World Series titles with the Cardinals, A's and White Sox and ranks third in all-time managerial wins with 2,728.  Cox was a four-time Manager of the Year with the Braves and Blue Jays and ranks fourth on the all-time wins list.  Torre won four World Series titles as manager of the Yankees and was also skipper of the Mets, Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers.  He ranks fifth on the all-time wins list.

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Kevin Love is withdrawing from playing with Team USA before training camp for the FIBA World Cup begins.  Love is unable to take part due to his "current status," according to a release from USA Basketball.  He has reportedly requested a trade from the T'wolves.  More than a dozen teams have made offers, but the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be the best bet to land Love.

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Maya Moore had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help Minnesota beat the Connecticut Sun 76-65 on Sunday.  Rebekkah Brunson had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Lynx (20-6) and Janel McCarville had 11 points and seven rebounds. Seimone Augustus also scored 13.  Kelsey Bone had 15 points and nine rebounds and Alyssa Thomas added eight points and nine rebounds for the Sun (10-16), who have lost 10 of 12.  It was just the second game in which defending WNBA champion Minnesota had its entire team available. Brunson missed the first 24 games after knee surgery. Augustus returned Friday after being out eight games with a knee injury.  Minnesota led for all but 47 seconds in the first quarter. Tan White's 3-pointer gave the Lynx a 17-16 lead with 3:08 left in the first quarter and they never relinquished it.  The Lynx next host the Phoenix Mercury at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Target Center.

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Vincenzo  Nibali  won the  Tour de France  on Sunday, the  first Italian in 16 years to capture cycling's  most prestigious  event. Germany's Marcel Kittel captured  the  final stage on  the Champs-Elysees  for a second straight year, this  time  narrowly beating Norwegian  Alexander Kristoff at the finish line. Nibali,  29,  became the sixth  rider to  win all three  of the Grand Tours -- France,  Italy  and Spain -- and  is the first  Italian to capture the Tour de  France  since  Marco Pantani in 1998,  the year before Lance Armstrong claimed the first of his now-vacated seven straight victories. Nibali won the Vuelta a Espana  in 2010 and the Giro d'Italia in 2013. France's Jean-Christophe Peraud crashed  during  the final  stage but was  brought back onto  his bike by some teammates and still finished in second place behind Nibali.

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Jeff Gordon is hoping to win his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship this  year, but right now, he's celebrating his record fifth victory in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This past Friday, Indianapolis Mayor Greg  Ballard  declared  July  27,  2014  as  "Jeff  Gordon  Day"  in Indianapolis,  commemorating  the 20th  anniversary  of  Gordon's win  in  the  inaugural  Brickyard 400.  It was truly Gordon's day at this historic 2.5-mile racetrack on Sunday. Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Indiana and will turn 43 years old on Aug. 4, passed Kasey  Kahne, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate,  for the  lead following a restart  with 17 laps to go. He then held off  Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth in the closing laps to become a five-time Brickyard 400 winner.

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Maybe the All-Star break is coming at just the right time for the St. Paul Saints.  Despite the recent eight game winning streak the Saints have lost their last two at the hands of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, including a 13-5 thumping on Sunday afternoon at Newman Outdoor Field.  The Saints will now have three days off for the All-Star break which will take place Tuesday evening in Winnipeg.  The Saints will be represented by infielder Wrigley, outfielder Evan Bigley, starting pitcher Anthony Claggett and closer Dan Sattler.  The Saints return to action on Thursday evening in game one of a three game series against the Wichita Wingnuts at 7:05 p.m. at Midway Stadium.  

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