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MLB Disciplines Umps After 2nd Mistake

New York — Major League Baseball suspended umpire Fieldin Culbreth for two games yesterday because he was in charge of the crew that allowed Astros manager Bo Porter to improperly switch relievers in the middle of an inning.

Culbreth and the rest of his crew — Brian O’Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson — were also fined an undisclosed amount, after MLB admitted its umps goofed for the second straight day.

“The rule covering pitching changes was not applied correctly by the umpiring crew,” MLB said in a statement.

The problem in Houston came a day after Angel Hernandez and his crew in Cleveland failed to reverse a clear-cut home run after looking at a video review. MLB vice president Joe Torre said the umpires made an “improper call.”

It’s recently been a rough run for umps. Crew chief Tom Hallion was fined earlier this month after getting into a verbal spat with Tampa Bay pitcher David Price.

The latest trouble occurred in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. And while baseball does have video replay for some hard-to-tell calls — and has talked for a couple of years about expanding its scope — there was no mistaking what umpires saw.

With two outs and the Astros ahead 5-3, Houston reliever Wesley Wright came in from the bullpen and threw several warmup pitches from the mound. Porter, a first-year manager, then ran onto the field to stop him and brought in another reliever, Hector Ambriz.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued, correctly contending Wright was required to pitch to at least one batter. But the umpires permitted Ambriz to stay in and Scioscia put the game under protest — it became moot when the Angels rallied to win 6-5.

Scioscia wasn’t surprised by MLB’s stern ruling.

“One thing I have found is that in the course of, especially with Joe Torre and Major League Baseball, that I think there is accountability that is there,” he said yesterday in Chicago, “that might not always show it’s face but I know behind the scenes is there and this is one example.”

Pinch-hitter Luis Jimenez was on deck when Wright entered. Once Ambriz took over, Scott Cousins came up as a pinch-hitter.

Tennis

Nadal Prevails

Madrid — Rafael Nadal rallied past David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-0 yesterday in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open, maintaining his bid to reach a seventh straight final since returning from a knee injury.

Top-ranked Serena Williams struggled before defeating Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 0-6, 7-5, and second-ranked Maria Sharapova joined her in the semifinals after easing by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-4.

In a meeting of Spain’s top-ranked players, Ferrer’s baseline game on the red clay almost proved too much for Nadal.

But Nadal won the tiebreaker to force a third set and won six straight games to improve his career record against Ferrer to 18-4, avoiding an early exit with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer this week.

College Hoop

New Rutgers Coach
Has No Degree

New Brunswick, n.j. — New Rutgers basketball coach Eddie Jordan is not a graduate of the university as the school had claimed, another embarrassment for an athletic program still smarting from the firing of previous coach Mike Rice.

Jordan’s biography on the athletic department’s website says he earned a degree in health and physical education in 1977.

But the registrar’s office at the university says the former NBA player and coach never graduated from Rutgers, though he earned 103 credit hours from 1973 to 1985.

The degree discrepancy was first reported yesterday by the sports website Deadspin, resulting in an admission of error later in the day.

A statement released by the athletic communications office said: “While Rutgers was in error when it reported that Eddie Jordan had earned a degree from Rutgers University, neither Rutgers nor the NCAA requires a head coach to hold a baccalaureate degree.”

A second statement from the university also defended the Scarlet Knights’ new coach.

“His athletic skills and leadership and his professional accomplishments have been a source of pride for Rutgers for more than three decades,” it said. “We are excited to have him as our men’s basketball coach, and we look forward to many winning seasons.”

Jordan was hired last month to replace Rice, who was fired after video was made public showing him kicking and shoving players and yelling obscenities and anti-gay slurs at them. Two university administrators resigned over the scandal.