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WISCONSIN SPORTS BRIEFS: Kenseth wins fourth Sprint Cup race this season

SPARTA, Ken. - Wisconsin native Matt Kenseth is the first NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to win four races this year. That’s after he took first in yesterday’s Quaker State-400, which was delayed by rain on Saturday night. Kenseth, who’s from Cambridge, took the lead for good with 25 laps left when he refused to get new tires so he could speed up his final pit stop.

Kenseth then held off challenges from Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray with 17 laps to go. Kenseth won his 28th career Sprint Cup race by seven-tenths-of-a-second over McMurray. Jimmie Johnson led for 182 of the 267 laps, but he spun out late to finish ninth. Kenseth remains at Number-five in the Sprint Cup season standings with 528 points, 82 behind front-running Johnson. Beloit-born Danica Patrick placed 23rd. She remains 27th in the point standings. Paul Menard of Eau Claire took 30th in the race, and he fell three places to Number-15 in the season point totals. Travis Kvapil of Janesville got into a crash after 47 laps. He finished second-to-last in 42nd, but he remains 35th in the Sprint Cup standings. 


The Milwaukee Brewers are on a five-game losing streak after falling at Pittsburgh 2-1 in 14 innings yesterday. Pinch-hitter Russell Martin hit a walk-off single with nobody out, after Gaby Sanchez led off the frame with an infield hit and a steal of second. It gave the Pirates their ninth straight win. Martin Maldonado went 3-for-5 and had Milwaukee’s only extra-base hit with a double. Carlos Gomez had the Crew’s only other hit, as they went just 1-for-41 against an improved Pirate pitching staff. Tony Watson tossed three innings of scoreless relief for the win. He’s 2-1. Francisco Rodriguez took the loss, after he pitched out of trouble in the 13th. He’s now 1-1. Both teams called on their bullpens early, after a two hour and 20 minute rain delay prevented starters Kyle Lohse and Charlie Morton from returning. Jean Segura went 0-for-6 to end a 12-game hitting streak. He still leads the National League in hits with 105. Starling Marte doubled and singled in six trips, as the Pirates swept Milwaukee in a three-game series for the first time since August of 2009. The Brewers have lost eight of their last nine games against the Pirates. Milwaukee is now in last place by three games in the National League Central. The Brewers open a series at Washington tonight. Yovani Gallardo faces former UW-Stevens Point star Jordan Zimmermann, who’s tied for the most wins in the National League with 11. 


Brewers’ left fielder Ryan Braun is scheduled to swing a bat on Tuesday, after giving his injured right hand a long rest. The 2011 National League M-V-P has been on the disabled list for two weeks, nursing tendon problems between his thumb and index finger. Manager Ron Roenicke said yesterday was quote, “as good as it’s been for him from one day to another.” 


A pitcher who still lives 175 miles northwest of Milwaukee will get try to get his 12th win tonight at the expense of his home-state team. Jordan Zimmermann of Auburndale will go for the Major League lead in victories, when he starts for Washington against the Brewers in the opening of a three-game series at Nationals Park. Zimmermann is 11-3 with a 2.28 ERA. If he wins tonight, the former UW-Stevens Point right-hander would match his victory total from a year ago. Zimmermann has given up just two earned runs in his last 15 innings, in victories over Colorado and Arizona. Last year, he went 2-0 against the Brewers, striking out 13 in 12-and-two-thirds innings. Milwaukee will send its ace Yovani Gallardo to the mound. He’s 6-7 with a 4.20 ERA. Gallardo gave up five runs in four innings in shortest outing of the season last Wednesday, a home loss to the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals are a game above .500. Milwaukee has lost five straight, and is in last place by three games in the National League Central. 


In the Midwest League, the Beloit Snappers will host Burlington again tonight, after a 2-nothing Snappers’ victory yesterday. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are at home against Kane County once more, on the heels of a 4-3 Rattlers defeat. Bowling Green is at West Michigan in the league’s only afternoon contest. Tonight, Clinton is at Quad Cities. Peoria plays at Cedar Rapids. South Bend hosts Dayton. Lansing entertains Great Lakes. And Fort Wayne is at Lake County. Cedar Rapids opens the new week with the second-half lead in the Western Division at 10-0. First-half champion Beloit is two games back, and Wisconsin is eight back at 2-8. Great Lakes leads the East at 9-2, two games up on Bowling Green.


The New York Knicks are the latest to express an interest in former Milwaukee Bucks’ guard Monta Ellis. The free-agent negotiating period began at 11 last night. said Ellis is willing to take less money to play for a contender. He passed up an $11-million player option to stay with the Bucks next season. Ellis would have to take a sizable pay cut to join the Knicks, who only have a three-point-two million dollar mid-level exception available. said Dallas and Atlanta have are also interested in Ellis, and both have significant salary cap room available. Chicago and the LA Lakers are among the other teams which have shown an interest, but both have tight salary cap restrictions – and they might have to make other moves to accommodate Ellis.


UW-River Falls has a new women’s tennis coach. Michelle Bailey spent the last four years as a club instructor in Woodbury Minnesota, and was an assistant high school coach in 2010 in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. She earned a master’s degree from River Falls in May of this year. Bailey takes over a Falcon program that went 5-11 last fall, with a sixth-place finish in the WIAC tennis tournament. 


Free agency is underway in the NBA. The negotiating period began at 11:01 last night, and Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings gave Bucks’ fans at least a little hope that he would return. He tweeted quote, “Hopefully I’m back in Milwaukee … Got some unfinished business.” Jennings is a restricted free agent. The Bucks gave him a $4.3 million qualifying offer last week, which gave the team the right to match any offer Jennings gets. General manager John Hammond says he wants to sign the 23-year-old Jennings to a long-term contract this month – and if he can’t, he vowed to match any free agent offer. Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports says it’s “less and less likely” that the Bucks will keep free agent guard J.J. Redick, whom they obtained in February in a failed effort to move up from the final playoff spot in the East – where they got swept by Miami in four games. 


Former University of Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren will play with the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League this month. Orlando is hosting the eastern portion of the league from next Sunday through July 12th. Berggren was hoping to be drafted last Thursday night, but he wasn’t. He graduated from the UW this spring. Former Marquette University forward Trevor Mbakwe also expects to play in the Summer League, but he’s not sure for who. He said several teams called him, after he failed to get drafted last week. Mbakwe played for a year at Marquette before transferring to a junior college in Florida, and then to the University of Minnesota.


Two University of Wisconsin men’s hockey recruits were taken in yesterday’s NHL Entry Draft. The Anaheim Ducks took Grant Besse in the fifth round as the 147th overall pick. The Phoenix Coyotes selected Jedd Soleway with the 193rd pick in the seventh round. Both players are incoming freshmen at the UW this fall. Beese is from Plymouth, Minnesota. He was named the state’s “Mr. Hockey” in 2012, when he scored all five goals in his team’s state championship game. Soleway scored 19 goals last season for Penticon and Vernon in the British Columbia Hockey League. This is the 16th straight year that at least one Badger men’s player was drafted. Wisconsin now has nine NHL draft picks on its fall roster.


Rhinelander native Dan Forsman took 52nd at the Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh. Forsman shot a one-over-par 71 in his fourth-and-final round yesterday. He finished at four-over-284 – 23 strokes behind the winner, Kenny Perry.


Kyle Henning of Brookfield won the Ray Fischer amateur golf tournament in Janesville yesterday. He eagled the first hole of a sudden-death play-off to defeat Rob Jacobsen of Racine and Tom Halla of Lannon – all three of whom finished at nine-under-par-207 in regulation. The 21-year-old Henning will be a senior this fall at Valparaiso University. He shot up the leader-board with three eagles in his final round. The tournament was shortened from four rounds to three due to rain on Saturday. The Ray Fischer event is one of the state’s top amateur tournaments. Its past champions include PGA pros Steve Stricker and Skip Kendall.


Ricardo Escuela of Argentina is the winner of the 11-day Tour-of-America’s Dairyland series throughout Wisconsin. He led the top pro division with 158 points after winning the I-S Corp. Downer Classic in Milwaukee over the weekend. Dion Smith of New Zealand won the division’s final race yesterday, the East Tosa Grand Prix in Wauwatosa. 


The East All-Stars came back from a 4-0 deficit and beat the North 5-4 last night in the final game of the state high school baseball All-Star Classic in Oshkosh. Clark Eagan of Appleton North scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh. It capped off two days of play among the state’s best outgoing seniors. Earlier in the day, the South beat the East 6-3. Eagan, who’s about to attend the University of Arkansas, was the tournament’s MVP. 


Former University of Wisconsin defensive end David Gilbert has changed his mind about quitting college football. Gilbert has transferred to Miami, after saying in April he would no longer play at the UW due to foot injuries that caused him to miss spring practice. Gilbert has one year of eligibility left, even though he has graduated. Miami is not far from his home town of Coral Gables, Florida, and he can play for the Hurricanes right away. Gilbert missed most of the 2011 season with a broken right foot. Earlier this year, the Badgers said he would need surgery to repair ligament damage in the same foot. He had four sacks for the Badgers last year, with nine-and-a-half tackles for loss. 



In Major League Baseball… 

Pittsburgh 2, Milwaukee 1

Chicago Cubs 5, Seattle 3 in 11 innings

Minnesota 6, Kansas City 2

Cleveland 4, Chicago White Sox 3

Tampa Bay 4, Detroit 3 in 10 innings

In the Midwest League…

Beloit 7, Burlington 4

Wisconsin 10, Kane County 9 in 11 innings

Cedar Rapids 2, Peoria 1 in 10 innings

Quad Cities 6, Clinton 1

Great Lakes 4, Lansing 3

Bowling Green 3, West Michigan 1

Fort Wayne 5, Lake County 0

Dayton at South Bend, rained out

In the Northwoods League…

Lakeshore 6, Green Bay 5 in 10 innings

Wisconsin Rapids 2, La Crosse 1

Wisconsin 7, Eau Claire 4

Battle Creek 4, Madison 1

Rochester 5, Willmar 0

Duluth 8, Saint Cloud 7 in 12 innings

Waterloo 14, Mankato 13 in 11 innings

Alexandria 13, Thunder Bay 6