^MLB-ALDS-ASTROS-RAYS

Verlander starts on short rest

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Justin Verlander will start on three days of rest as the Astros try to put away the Rays in Game 4 of their AL Division Series at Tampa Bay.

It will be Verlander's second career start on short rest — the other came after a one-inning, rain-shortened appearance in the 2011 ALDS. Houston won the first two games of the series with a pair of dominant pitching performances from Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who combined to limit the Rays to one unearned run and five hits over 14 2/3 innings. Houston's other pitchers have allowed 12 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings, an ERA of 9.53.

Tampa Bay will use Diego Castillo as an opener, and manager Kevin Cash said he'll play matchups with his bullpen after that.

In the other playoff matchups:

— The Nationals and Dodgers have had a travel day to go coast to coast again ahead of their win-or-go-home Game 5 in the NL Division Series. Washington will send 18-game winner Stephen Strasburg to the mound against Walker Buehler in a marquee matchup Wednesday at Los Angeles.

— The Cardinals and Braves are off before Wednesday's decisive Game 5 in Atlanta. Yadier Molina rallied St. Louis in Game 4, poking a tying single in the eighth inning and lifting a sacrifice fly to end it in the 10th.

— After finishing a three-game sweep of the Twins with a 5-1 victory at Minnesota on Monday night, Gleyber Torres and the New York Yankees are waiting to find out whether they'll play Houston or Tampa Bay in the AL Championship Series. That best-of-seven playoff begins Saturday, so the AL East champs get four days off to rest up and prepare.

^MLB-PLAYOFFS-ATTENDANCE

Three stadiums weren’t full for playoff games

UNDATED (AP) — Three of four playoff games failed to sell out Monday, leaving lots of empty seats at Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Washington. Sub-capacity crowds have become an expectation at Tropicana Field — even in October — but they were more striking elsewhere.

The Cardinals, whose fans tout themselves as the best in baseball, hosted the Braves in front of 42,203 supporters, about 2,000 fewer than Busch Stadium's listed capacity. Meanwhile, entire sections in the upper deck were nearly empty as Max Scherzer pitched for Washington against the Dodgers.

Prior to Monday, the only 2019 postseason games that failed to sell out were NLDS Games 1 and 2 at Dodger Stadium.

Attendance during the regular season fell 1.7% this year for its fourth straight decline.

In other MLB news:

— Injured New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks feels like he's ready to return to the roster for the AL Championship Series. Hicks has a right elbow flexor strain and last played on Aug. 3. He is among a group of players at the Yankees' complex in Tampa who were not on the AL Division Series roster. Hick says he is "definitely ready to go out there and play."

NHL-SHARKS-MARLEAU

Sharks bring back 40-year-old Patrick Marleau for 2nd stint

Patrick Marleau is returning to San Jose.

General manager Doug Wilson announced Tuesday that the Sharks' all-time leader in games, goals and points is returning to his original team with a one-year, $700,000 contract after spending the past two seasons in Toronto.

The Sharks failed to record a point in the first three games for the first time since 1993-94 and only scored three goals in the process. That led to the move to add a veteran forward with a history of production in the NHL.

The 39-year-old Marleau left San Jose two summers ago to sign a three-year, $18.75 million contract in Toronto after the Sharks were unwilling to offer a deal longer than two years. Marleau had 43 goals and 41 assists in two seasons with the Maple Leafs before being traded to Carolina in June in a salary cap move.

^NFL-NEWS

Darnold cleared to play

UNDATED (AP) — New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been cleared by doctors to play this week after he missed three games while recovering from mononucleosis. Darnold had medical tests Tuesday to determine if the swelling in his spleen — a common symptom of the illness — had dissipated enough for him to play again. The Jets announced in a Twitter post that Darnold will start Sunday at home against Dallas.

Elsewhere in the NFL:

— Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says quarterback Mason Rudolph "appears to be doing fine" but remains in the concussion protocol following an illegal hit by Baltimore safety Earl Thomas. Rudolph left last weekend's overtime loss to Baltimore in the third quarter after Thomas hit Rudolph in the chin with his helmet.

— The Tennessee Titans have added kicker Cody Parkey one day after waiving Cairo Santos. Santos missed three field-goal attempts and had a fourth blocked Sunday in a 14-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Parkey played for Chicago last season but was released after missing a 43-yard field goal in the closing seconds of a playoff loss to Philadelphia.

— The Atlanta Falcons have placed safety Johnathan Cyprien on injured reserve with a foot injury. The Falcons acquired Cyprien from Philadelphia on Sept. 30 in a trade for linebacker Duke Riley after losing starter Keanu Neal to a season-ending torn left Achilles tendon. Cyprien played in only one game with Atlanta, last week's 53-32 loss at Houston.

— Fox Sports has hired Rob Gronkowski as an NFL analyst. The network announced on Tuesday that the former New England Patriots tight end will make his debut during Thursday night's pregame show before the Patriots-New York Giants game.

NBA-CHINA RELATIONSHIP

NBA, China at odds over Rockets owner Hong Kong tweet

TOYKO (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he's still planning to go to China on Wednesday in advance of preseason games there between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets later in the week.

Silver also says the league is "apologetic" over the outcome and reaction that followed Houston general manager Daryl Morey's tweet showing support for protesters in Hong Kong, but will continue to back Morey's right to freedom of expression.

Silver says "we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression." He added that he "regrets" how so many Chinese people and NBA fans were upset by the since-deleted tweet.

Silver says it would be appropriate for people involved with the league "to be sensitive" to different cultures when tweeting or communicating. He spoke in Tokyo before a preseason game between the NBA champion Toronto Raptors and the Rockets — the team at the center of this China squabble.

FOOTBALL PLAYER-SEXUAL ASSAULT-LAWSUIT

Rape victims of ex-Utah State football player sue university

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two women raped by a former Utah State University football player filed a lawsuit Monday against the university, claiming the school fostered an environment where sexual assaults were tolerated.

The women sued in federal court, arguing campus employees failed to adequately respond to assault allegations, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Torrey Green, 25, was accused by six women of being sexually assaulted while on dates with him between 2013-2015, and jurors convicted him in January of crimes that included raping five women and sexual battery of a sixth. He was sentenced in March to 26 years to life in prison for those crimes.

Green had signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 but was dropped after the allegations surfaced.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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