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National briefs: Tony Stewart wins, closes gap on Carl Edwards

October 31, 2011

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— Tony Stewart hadn’t won a race all season and didn’t list himself as a championship contender when asked to handicap the field before NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs got going.

Now, his third championship is there for the taking.

“We’ve had one of those up-and-down years and we’re having a run in this Chase and now we’re hungry,” Stewart said Sunday after his third victory in the first seven Chase races moved him within eight points of leader Carl Edwards. “We’re hungry for this. I feel like our mind-set into these next three weeks, we’ve been nice all year to a lot of guys, given guys a lot of breaks.

“We’re cashing tickets in these next three weeks.”

Stewart won this one by passing Jimmie Johnson on a restart with three laps to go.

Baseball

Fans celebrate Cards’ title

St. Louis — A red sea of fans jammed downtown St. Louis on Sunday to honor the World Series champion Cardinals and send a clear message to Albert Pujols: Please stay.

An official crowd estimate was not immediately available for the parade down the streets of St. Louis and the celebration at Busch Stadium, but city officials expected several hundred thousand, and it was clearly that, if not more. The crowd was so large that people were parking more than two miles away, and interstate highways were jammed near downtown.

Pujols drew loud cheers along the parade route and a long standing ovation at the stadium. Asked on the podium if he’d like to be back for another celebration next season, he smiled sheepishly and said, “Hey, why not?”

College football

Clemson, K-State tumble

Clemson and Kansas State tumbled in The Associated Press college football poll after losing for the first time this season, and the top five teams in the rankings held their ground heading into the showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama.

Clemson slipped five spots after losing 31-17 at Georgia Tech and Kansas State fell seven spots to No. 17 after getting thumped 58-17 by Oklahoma.

LSU received 47 first-place votes from the media panel, Alabama had 10 and No. 5 Boise State had one.

No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Stanford held on to their spots after victories, while the Broncos were idle.

Georgia Tech’s upset pushed the Yellow Jackets back into the rankings at No. 22 and Auburn jumped back in at No. 25.

The losses by Clemson and Kansas State leave six undefeated teams in major college football — the top five and No. 14 Houston.

Stanford No. 4 in BCS

Stanford’s first win of the season against a ranked team helped Andrew Luck and the Cardinal move up in the BCS standings.

While LSU (8-0), Alabama (8-0) and Oklahoma State (8-0) remained locked into the top three spots in the standings released Sunday, Stanford moved up two places to fourth after beating Southern California 56-48 in triple overtime.

Golf

McIlroy takes Shanghai

Shanghai — U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy won $2 million in the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, beating Anthony Kim with a par on the first hole of a playoff.

McIlroy holed a two-foot putt for the victory after Kim missed a three-footer.

Van Pelt runaway winner

Selangor, Malaysia — Bo Van Pelt ran away with the Asia Pacific Classic on Sunday in hot and humid conditions, birdieing five of the last eight holes for a 7-under 64 and a six-stroke victory.

Van Pelt finished at 23 under at The Mines and earned $1.3 million in the second-year event sanctioned by the PGA and Asian tours.

Garcia holds on

Sotogrande, Spain — Sergio Garcia held off fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez by a stroke in the Andalucia Masters for his second straight European Tour victory.

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