Sports briefs 2/14/05

Monday, February 14, 2005

Baseball

* Shortstop Barry Larkin, a 12-time all-star who spent his entire 19-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, has retired and joined the Washington Nationals in their front office as a special assistant.

"I just felt it was time," Larkin, 40, said when reached Sunday at his home in Orlando, Fla. "I had some opportunities with other teams to play, but I didn't feel that I could make the commitment as a player with another team."

The Reds, his hometown team, had rejected his overtures to return for a 20th season, deciding to turn the position over to younger players.

Larkin's 19-year tenure with the Reds was the longest streak among active players who had been with just one team. Over 2,180 games, he hit .295 with 441 doubles, 76 triples, 198 home runs, 960 RBI and 379 stolen bases. He helped the team win the World Series in 1990 and was National League MVP in 1995.

Basketball

* Karl Malone officially announced his retirement Sunday, saying "you will not see me play again. That is a promise."

After a season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Malone returned to the arena he called home for 18 of his 19 NBA seasons to make the announcement expected since Friday.

"Even though I left for a year, I grew here as a Jazz man," Malone said. "If I'm fortunate enough to go into the Hall of Fame, I will go as a Jazz man."

The 41-year-old, nicknamed the Mailman, finishes as the second all-time leading scorer in NBA history with 36,928 points, just 1,459 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record.

Malone, the league's MVP in 1997 and '99, teamed with guard John Stockton for 18 seasons with Utah to form one of the NBA's greatest duos, leading the Jazz to the finals twice but losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls each time.

Golf

* Teenage sensation Ai Miyazato shot a 6-under 67 in difficult conditions Sunday on the Links Course at Fancourt in George, South Africa, to lead Japan to a two-stroke victory in the Women's World Cup.

A five-time winner as a 19-year-old rookie on the Japan LPGA Tour, Miyazato was 10 shots better than the average score in the final round of stroke play, in which nine of the 40 women failed to break 80.

Her teammate, Rui Kitada, had an 82 to give Japan a 3-over 149 total. South Korea's Jeong Jang and Bo Bae Song tied for second with the Philippines' Jennifer Rosales, and Dorothy Delasin. Americans Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel finished 14th in the 20-team field, 12 shots behind.

New Zealand Open

Sweden's Niclas Fasth won the New Zealand Open for his second European tour title, beating England's Miles Tunnicliff with a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff.

Fasth, also the 2000 Madeira Island Open winner, closed with a 9-under 63 to match Tunnicliff (66) at 22-under 266 on the Gulf Harbour course. Tunnicliff made a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to force the playoff.

Skiing

* With solid performances by all six of its skiers, Germany won the team event Sunday for its only medal at the Alpine World Championships.

The United States, the heavy favorites led by Bode Miller and Lindsey Kildow, finished fourth.

Florian Eckert, Martina Ertl, Andreas Ertl and Hilde Gerg each delivered steady runs in the morning super-G session to put Germany in the lead. The Germans clinched the surprising victory with consistent slalom runs the Ertls, Felix Neureuther and Monika Bergmann-Schmuderer.

Austria was second and France finished third.

Tennis

* Second-seeded Gaston Gaudio beat wild card Mariano Puerta 6-4, 6-4 in an all-Argentine final at the ATP Buenos Aires on Sunday.

Gaudio, the 2004 French Open winner, waited for his chances and got the only service break of the first set in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. He kept that lead to take the first set as a sold-out crowd of 6,500 packed the stands at center court.

* Dinara Safina of Russia beat second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo of France 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to win the Open Gaz de France on Sunday.

Safina, the sister of two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin, clinched her third WTA career title following wins at Palermo in 2003 and Sopot in 2002.

Mauresmo, who won here in 2001, finished second for the third time.

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