Races put cycling in spotlight

Yellow wristbands with the slogan Livestrong on them will be popular accessories this weekend with Lance Armstrong starting his bid for his seventh straight Tour de France title. They should be more popular than normal in Columbia, though, with hundreds of cycling enthusiasts in town for the 20th Columbia Cup.

A set of four United States Cycling Federation events spanning Saturday and Sunday, the Columbia Cup begins the same day as the Tour de France.

Colorado rocks the Cardinals

ST. LOUIS — Rookie Jeff Francis pitched three-hit ball for six innings, and Garrett Atkins and Danny Ardoin hit home runs Thursday night to lead the Colorado Rockies against the St. Louis Cardinals 7-0 for only their sixth road victory of the season.

Francis (7-5) contributed two hits and scored twice for the Rockies, a major league-worst 6-31 on the road. The start was the most feeble since the 1982 Twins went 5-32, and they had dropped five straight and 11 of 12 away from Coors Field while getting outscored 77-32. The Rockies were 12-15 in June, their fifth straight losing month.

Rascals single out Mavericks

The Mid-Missouri Mavericks dropped their fifth consecutive game, losing 9-8 to the River City Rascals on Thursday in O’Fallon.

The Rascals (18-15) beat the Mavericks (11-22) on an RBI single from Mike Madrid in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rascals were down as many as five runs in the game before mounting their comeback.

Former pitcher leads bullpen

Quentin Jones used to dream. Then a shaky outing woke him up.

“I always wanted to make it to the big leagues,” bullpen coach Jones said before the Mavericks’ 13-3 loss to Kalamazoo Wednesday night. “But when you get to a certain age — and I’m 26 now going on 27 — then I have to realize if I can pitch and be effective, or could I teach and actually help guys get better.”

Cardinals blast Reds

ST. LOUIS — Fortified by a cortisone shot to his ailing neck, Larry Walker returned to the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup Wednesday night and hit two-run home runs his first two times up in a 11-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Matt Morris worked seven sharp innings, rebounding from his only loss of the year after an 8-0 start, to help the Cardinals win for the fourth time in five games. The NL Central leaders, who also got homers from Reggie Sanders and Jim Edmonds, are 21-8 against the Reds since the start of 2004.

On target

Columbia is hosting the 2005 National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational for the second year running.

Events like skeet shooting will be taking place through Friday in various locations throughout the city.

Arrows guiding career path

When Aaron Einsiedel shoots arrows for the Missouri 4-H Recurve Team in the 2005 National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational, he is doing more than just competing to win.

While other archers have their eyes set on a first-place finish, Einsiedel, 17, is finding ways to gain experience from the sport that can help him in his career.

MU setter volleys with pros at camp

For the second consecutive summer, University of Missouri volleyball setter Lindsey Hunter had the chance to play with the pros at the USA’s National Volleyball Team camp, which was May 15 to June 4 in Denver.

“It was amazing to play with people of that caliber,” Hunter said. “It was a great experience.”

Walker back in lineup

ST. LOUIS — Larry Walker, returning to the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup Wednesday after missing five straight starts with a herniated disc in his neck, hit home runs in his first two at-bats against the Cincinnati Reds.

The often-injured outfielder hopes a cortisone shot he received on Monday will allow him to play to his ability. He’s struggled while dealing with several ailments this season, hitting .247 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 58 games. Walker, 38, has talked of retiring after the season.

Priday named as Freshman All-American

Baseball America named Missouri outfielder Jacob Priday to its Freshman All-America Team on Wednesday.

Priday hit .305 in 60 games with the Tigers last season. He led the team with nine home runs and 67 RBIs.

Umpire’s love of the game still strong

It wasn’t supposed to be Max McLeary’s job to rub the baseballs before the Mavericks’ 16-2 loss to Kalamazoo Tuesday night.

That honor goes to the home plate umpire. McLeary was scheduled to work the bases.

Bucks select Bogut

NEW YORK — It sure was a g’day for Andrew Bogut. And not a bad night for the NCAA champions from North Carolina.

Bogut, a 7-foot center from Australia, was chosen No. 1 Tuesday night in the NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the first player in five years with U.S. college experience to be drafted No. 1 overall.

Mulder makes up for previous mistakes

ST. LOUIS — Mark Mulder ended a string of poor starts and Reggie Sanders backed him with a two-run home run, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-1 Tuesday night.

The Cardinals have won three of four, giving them an NL-best record of 48-28. They sent the Reds to their 15th loss in 17 road games.

Busy night for Kleiza

Shortly after the Portland Trailblazers selected former MU forward Linas Kleiza with the 27th pick in the first round, they traded him to the Denver Nuggets. In return, the Jazz received the rights to Jarret Jack, pick No. 22, and Ricky Sanchez, pick No. 35.

Kleiza’s standing as a first-round pick is undoubtedly a surprise to many. Most mock drafts had him slated as a second-round selection. Kleiza’s size (6-8, 225) was an issue for some scouts. He was considered too big to excel at small forward in the NBA, yet too small to play power forward.

Lofty draft dreams

Linas Kleiza will tell you what made him declare for the NBA Draft.

He will talk about the support his former Missouri coaches have given him and pledge allegiance to the black and gold.

No place like home for Mavs home

There was no bonding breakthrough at a bowling alley. Nor was there the shared experience of sleepwalking through two 10 a.m. starts.

That is the stuff of the 2005 Mavericks’ legend, things that happened on a road trip to Kalamazoo and Rockford 19 days ago.

More road woes for K.C.

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mays pitched eight sharp innings and the Minnesota Twins won 3-1 Monday night to give the Kansas City Royals their seventh straight loss.

Mays (4-3) allowed six hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter for Minnesota, which won consecutive games for first time since taking three straight June 5-8. The right-hander had been winless in six starts since shutting out the Blue Jays 4-0 on May 19.

Suppan stays cool under pressure

ST. LOUIS — Before signing a free-agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, Jeff Suppan was 13 games below .500 for his career. Now he’s become something of a stopper.

Top team calls on Tigers

Two Missouri baseball players are getting a chance of a lifetime. Sophomore outfielder Hunter Mense and sophomore right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer are trying out for the USA National Baseball Team in Raleigh, N.C.

The national team consists of the top non-draft eligible and occasionally non-drafted collegiate players.

Pirates push by Cardinals

ST. LOUIS — Trailing by three runs after two innings, the Pittsburgh Pirates stayed resilient against the NL’s best team.

Jason Bay hit a pair of game-tying home runs and Jose Castillo hit a tiebreaking shot in the 10th inning, leading the Pirates to a 5-4 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.