Ochocinco, sponsor help Bengals avoid blackout
The Cincinnati Bengals avoided a local television blackout for their game against the Houston Texans — with an assist from Motorola and receiver Chad Ochocinco. More than 3,000 tickets remained on Thursday, when the club got a one-day extension from the NFL for avoiding a blackout. Motorola, which is a longtime Bengals sponsor and has a partnership with Ochocinco, bought 1,200 tickets and will give them away Saturday — with the receiver's help — at Paul Brown Stadium.
■ The NFL fined Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis $25,000 on Friday for two separate plays in last Sunday's game, including a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco. Baltimore said Lewis will appeal the fine.
■ Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is expected to start against the Browns after returning to practice following a day off with flu-like symptoms. He went through a full practice on Friday.
■ The winless Buccaneers traded defensive end Gaines Adams to the Bears for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. Adams was the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Clemson. He had 13½ sacks in two-plus seasons with the Bucs, failing to play up to expectations that he'd help restore a once-tenacious pass rush. In five games this season, Adams had 14 tackles and one sack.
Earnhardt Jr. vents frustration
Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit rock bottom during his last trip to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. He struggled with his car, feuded with his crew chief and finished a season-low 40th in one of the most embarrassing weekends of his career. Team owner Rick Hendrick fired crew chief Tony Eury Jr. three days after that May debacle, and things were supposed to turn around. It hasn't happened.
Little has changed, at least in terms of results, in the four-plus months since. Back at LMS for Saturday night's race, Earnhardt is slogging through a 51-race winless streak dating back to 2008, his first season with Hendrick Motorsports.
He's 22nd in the standings, has five top-10s and five DNFs this season, and he hasn't finished higher than 17th in the past six races.
"It's like really encouraging one day, and the next day it's equally discouraging, and that gets really old," Earnhardt said Friday. "I'm about to the end of my rope on it."
Even worse, he doesn't have any solutions.
"I've been riding it out, but there comes a point where you don't want to ride it out no more. You've just had enough," he said. "It's been so low. The highs have not been very high, and the lows have been terribly low. That's hard to want get back up and try again the next week when you take such a beating. I don't know what else to do."
■ Kyle Busch shrugged off walking pneumonia to dominate the Nationwide Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Friday night, picking up his seventh victory of the year to extend his points lead over Carl Edwards with four races remaining. Mike Bliss was second, followed by Dave Blaney and Brian Vickers. Edwards finished fifth to drop 195 points behind Busch.
Volleyball sweeps past Mississippi State
The eighth-ranked Kentucky volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 win — 25-17, 25-17, 25-16 — at Mississippi State on Friday. The Wildcats (18-1, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) dominated the match both offensively with 54 kills and defensively with 62 digs in the match. Junior Sarah Mendoza had 14 kills and 14 digs to lead the way. Senior setter Sarah Rumely had 40 assists and four kills.
■ UK's women's soccer team lost 2-0 to Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Friday night. It was only the second match in SEC play that Kentucky (4-7-4, 1-5-1 SEC) allowed two or more goals. The Cats were outshot 22-3, the largest shot differential this season for the team.
■ The Kentucky women's golf team opened the Mercedes-Benz Women's Championship with a 322 Friday at Fox Den Country Club in Knoxville. Freshman Betsie Johnson led the squad with a 6-over-par 78; she is tied for 56th. Host Tennessee leads the event with a 5-under 283. Tennessee's Diana Cantu is the top individual with a 69.
Love breaks hand in pre-season game
Tyrus Thomas, who missed four games with a bruised right hip, had 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 94-90 pre-season victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. Minnesota forward Kevin Love fractured a bone in his left hand in the third quarter and will probably miss about six weeks.
Love, who led NBA rookies in rebounding last season, banged his hand against teammate Oleksiy Pecherov's elbow trying to go for a rebound on a missed free throw late in the third quarter and fractured the fourth metacarpal. The injury is to his non-shooting hand, and he hopes to return at the end of November or early December.
■ Former Louisville star Terrence Williams scored 21 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists in the New Jersey Nets' 93-89 pre-season loss to the New York Knicks on Friday night. Courtney Lee (Western Kentucky) added 17 points, two assists and two steals for the Nets.
Eagle gives Campbell share of PGA lead
Chad Campbell closed with an eagle on the par-5 ninth for a 9-under 62 and a share of the second-round lead Friday with Troy Matteson in the PGA Tour's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. Campbell, a former UNLV player, also had seven birdies in his bogey-free round in warm conditions at TPC Summerlin. Matteson followed his career-best 62 with a 67 to match Campbell at 13-under 129.
■ Dan Forsman reeled off six straight birdies Friday en route to an 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead after the first round of the Champions Tour Administaff Small Business Classic in The Woodlands, Texas. John Cook was next at 7-under 65. Paducah native Russ Cochran, who played at Kentucky, is four shots back.
U.S. women 1-2 at gymnastics worlds
Bridget Sloan edged American teammate Rebecca Bross for the title at the world gymnastics championships Friday night in London. And it couldn't have been closer, with Bross's fall on her final tumbling pass on floor, the last event, the difference. Sloan, the lone holdover from the U.S. team that won the silver medal in Beijing, finished with 57.825 points. Bross, competing at her first world championships after turning 16 in July, scored 57.775 points.
■ Ghana held on with 10 men to beat Brazil in a penalty-kick shootout Friday in Cairo, becoming the first African team to win the Under-20 World Cup and ending a decade of South American dominance. The game finished 0-0 after regulation and extra time. Ghana's Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu scored the winning penalty kick.
■ The United States remained at No. 11 while Brazil again was on top of the latest world soccer rankings published Friday by FIFA. European champion Spain closed the gap on Brazil, the Confederations Cup winner, but stayed at second.
■ Transylvania's women's tennis team won its first Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament title on Friday after defeating Rose-Hulman 5-3 in the finals in Indianapolis.
The last word
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Raheem Morris on tight end Kellen Winslow:
"He's a different guy. There's no doubt about it. He has that edge about him that the special ones have. Warren Sapp had that edge. Everybody didn't always understand Warren. Still don't. But somehow they get it done."