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MONDAY, June 25, 2007, 12:43 p.m.
By Tom Haudricourt

Brewers sign top draft pick LaPorta

The Brewers today announced the signing of first-round draft pick Matt LaPorta, a first baseman at the University of Florida who will be shifted to left field.

LaPorta was expected to work out with the Brewers this afternoon before their game against Houston.

No terms were announced but LaPorta was believed to have signed at or near the $2.07 million recommendation by Major League Baseball for his slot in the draft.

The Brewers took LaPorta, 22, with the seventh pick of the first round of the June draft. They coveted his power enough to forget about his position in college and plan a move to the outfield.

LaPorta, who returned to Florida for his senior season after an injury caused him to slip to the 14th round last year, batted .402 with 20 home runs, 52 runs batted in and 55 walks for the Gators in 2007. He is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award given to the nation's top amateur player, which will be announced Friday.

LaPorta, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound right-handed hitter, struck out only 16 times in 169 at-bats. He had a .579 on-base percentage, tops in the nation, and .817 slugging percentage.

He led the nation with 26 home runs as a sophomore in 2005 before an oblique injury curtailed his production last year.

The rest of today's posts...

FRIDAY, June 29, 2007, 4:26 p.m.
By Tom Haudricourt

Ramirez homer in ninth stuns Brewers

Chicago - The Brewers were dealt one of their toughest losses of the season today when Aramis Ramirez cracked a two-run homer off closer Francisco Cordero with two out in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cubs a 6-5 victory at Wrigley Field.

The dramatic victory was the seventh in a row for the Cubs, who pulled within 6 1/2 games of the first-place Brewers in the NL Central.

Cordero, who leads the league with 27 saves, took over in the ninth with a two-run lead. He surrendered a sacrifice fly to Derrek Lee before hanging a first-pitch slider to Ramirez, who crushed his 15th homer into a stiff breeze.

The Brewers scored five runs in the first inning off Cubs lefty Rich Hill, capped by Kevin Mench's three-run homer. But Hill and four relief pitchers kept them off the board the rest of the way, setting the stage for the dramatic victory.

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo started for the Brewers and turned in six strong innings, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out seven.

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FRIDAY, June 29, 2007, 3:44 p.m.
By Mark Stewart

Arkansas tight end commits to Wisconsin

Madison - Jake Byrne, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end from Rogers, Ark., has orally committed to the University of Wisconsin football team.

He is the 15th player known to commit to UW's 2008 recruiting class.

Byrne's decision came down to the Badgers and Arkansas. He also received scholarship offers from Kansas, Mississippi State, Tulsa, Georgia Tech and I-AA Missouri State.

By chosing Wisconsin, Byrne will be close to many of his relatives. His parents grew up in the state and he has family in Shullsburg and Sturgeon Bay.

He was also impressed with the school's mechanical engineering program and he loves how the Badgers make use of their tight ends.

"Their tight end (Travis Beckum) caught more passes than any other tight end (in the country)," Byrne said. "It's just the way they run their offense. It's a pro-style offense."

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FRIDAY, June 29, 2007, 10:04 a.m.
By Tom Haudricourt

Brewers, Cubs square off

Chicago - The Brewers will try to hold off the Cubs in a weekend series beginning this afternoon at Wrigley Field. Chicago is 7 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee and looking to close ground.

Here is the Brewers' lineup against left-hander Rich Hill:

RF Corey Hart
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
CF Bill Hall
C Johnny Estrada
LF Kevin Mench
2B Rickie Weeks
RHP Yovani Gallardo

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2007, 10:57 p.m.
By Charles F. Gardner

Bucks pick Sessions in second round

The Bucks chose Nevada point guard Ramon Sessions in the second round, with the 56th overall pick in the National Basketball Association draft.

The 6-foot-3 Sessions played three seasons at Nevada and earned second team all-Western Athletic Conference honors as a junior. He averaged 12.3 rebounds, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists during the 2006-'07 season.

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2007, 9:37 p.m.
By Mark Stewart

Suns take Tucker in first round

Madison- Alando Tucker is headed for Phoenix.

The Suns selected the former University of Wisconsin star with the 29th pick of the National Basketball Association draft Thursday night. He is seventh first-round pick in school history and the second of the Bo Ryan era.

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2007, 7:38 p.m.

NBA Draft weblog

For live updates on tonight's NBA Draft, click here.

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2007, 7:05 p.m.
By Charles F. Gardner

Bucks gamble on Yi

The Milwaukee Bucks took a huge gamble and grabbed Chinese international Yi Jianlian with the sixth overall pick in the National Basketball Association draft on Thursday night.

Yi's representatives refused to let the Bucks conduct a private workout of the 7-foot power forward, but Bucks director of player personnel Dave Babcock consistently talked about the team's interest in Yi during the past week.

Yi played last season with the Guangdong Tigers in China last season, averaging 24.9 points and 11.5 rebounds.

"I think I'm in ready," Yi said in a televised interview on ESPN after being selected. "I played in the Olympics (in 2004), I played in the World Championships. I think I can play in the NBA."

Babcock said the Bucks scouting staff had seen Yi play at least 20 times over the last four years, including in the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 FIBA World Championship. The Bucks wanted desperately to go to Los Angeles to conduct a workout but were rebuffed by Yi's agent, Dan Fegan.

Ohio State center Greg Oden, taken by the Portland Trail Blazers, became the first overall No. 1 pick from the Big Ten since the Bucks picked Glenn Robinson with the top selection in the 1994 draft.

Seattle followed by taking Texas forward Kevin Durant with the No. 2 pick, and the SuperSonics also made the first major trade on draft day. They dealt former Bucks player Ray Allen and the 35th pick (LSU's Glen Davis) to the Boston Celtics for the fifth overall pick, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak and a future second-round pick. Boston chose Georgetown junior forward Jeff Green for Seattle at No. 5, with the Sonics now in a rebuilding mode.

Atlanta grabbed 6-10 Florida forward Al Horford with the third pick, taking the safe route rather than gambling on Yi or going for a need at point guard with Mike Conley Jr. The Hawks took a forward in the first round for the fifth straight year - they grabbed two forwards in the opening round in 2004 - Josh Childress and Josh Smith.

Memphis went with Conley with the fourth overall pick. The 6-1 Ohio State freshman impressed NBA observers with his athleticism in workouts. He fills a need for the Grizzlies, who also were interested in Florida's Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah.

Minnesota, picking seventh, selected the 6-8 Brewer. Charlotte grabbed 6-10 power forward Brandan Wright with the eighth pick but later traded Wright to Golden State in exchange for shooting guard Jason Richardson and the rights to second-round pick Jermareo Davidson, a 6-10 forward from Alabama.

Three Florida players - Horford, Brewer and Noah - were selected in the top 10, the first time three players from the same school had gone in the first 10. Noah was taken No. 9 overall by the Chicago Bulls.

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2007, 1:07 p.m.
By Dave Boehler

Admirals' Noel named Columbus assistant

Like most minor-league hockey coaches, Claude Noel has dreams of one day leading a National Hockey League team.

On Thursday, he got a little bit closer to his goal.

Noel, the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals the last four seasons, has been named assistant coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"It's the next step in what I see as my goal. My goal is to be a head coach in the National Hockey League," the 51-year-old Noel said. "I think this is the progression of a coach.

"I have mixed emotions. I'm ecstatic of the new changes in my life and I think it's a good career move for me. On the other hand, I had some real connections to the Admirals. You talk about some good memories. I had some success here and built relationships with a lot of people."

Noel had a .639 winning percentage in four seasons with Milwaukee, including two trips to the Calder Cup Finals, highlighted by the 2004 championship. It came in Noel's first season and he was named American Hockey League coach of the year.

"You talk about highlight reels," Noel said. "You couldn't call for a better scenario in my first year as being head coach. That whole journey was tremendous. To finish off that journey in my first year and win the Calder Cup, thinking about that gives me goose bumps. I'm sure it will 20 years down the road."

The head coach at Columbus, Ken Hitchcock, was the former head coach of Kalamazoo of the International Hockey League and Noel was his assistant 12 years ago.

A search for Noel's replacement already is under way.

"We congratulate Claude on his new position with the Blue Jackets and thank him for the outstanding job he did in guiding our team over the past four seasons," Admirals' governor|/ CEO Harris Turer said. "As evidenced by his achievements in Milwaukee, there is no doubt that he will have tremendous success as a coach in the NHL."

Added Scott Howson, general manager of Columbus: "Claude Noel has accomplished a great deal in the American Hockey League and he will be a terrific addition to Ken Hitchcock, Gary Agnew, Gord Murphy and Clint Malarchuk on our coaching staff. Claude has a tremendous knowledge of the game of hockey and has done an excellent job developing young players throughout his career."

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2007, 11:44 a.m.
By Mark Stewart

Wisconsin Lutheran's Zeitler commits to UW

Madison- Kevin Zeitler, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound guard from Wisconsin Lutheran High School has orally committed to play football for the University of Wisconsin.

Zeitler is the 14th player known to commit to the Badgers and the fourth offensive linemen. He chose Wisconsin after receiving offers from Michigan, Purdue, Minnesota, Central Florida and Northern Illinois. Lutheran coach Kirk DeNoyer also said that a coach from Miami called this week and said the Hurricanes were going to extend an offer though he didn't know if they officially did so with Zeitler.

Wisconsin is getting a player who has steadily improved while in high school. He played some on the Vikings' varsity as a sophomore but wasn't a full-time starter until last season when he earned honorable mention all-state from the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and second-team all-area recognition from the Journal Sentinel.

DeNoyer describes Zeitler as a perfectionist who built himself into a prospect with determination and hard work in the weight room.

"The first time we saw him he was in our junior program as an eighth grader (and) he was probably the worst of our starting five offensive linemen," DeNoyer said. "He had size, but like I said, he has a drive for perfection and he decided when he was in high school that he wanted to play big-time football and he's backed everything up that he's dreamt of."

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WEDNESDAY, June 27, 2007, 4:31 p.m.
By Tom Haudricourt

Brewers win on Miller's homer in 11th

Damian Miller closed the Brewers' home stand with a bang today by socking a three-run homer with one down in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat Houston, 6-3, at Miller Park.

The victory capped a 8-1 home stand for the Brewers, who matched their high-water mark for the season by going 14 games over .500 (46-32). The Brewers remained 7 1/2 games ahead of Chicago, which won its sixth consecutive game.

Miller's home run off reliever Dave Borkowski came after Bill Hall doubled and Geoff Jenkins was walked intentionally.

Right-hander Jeff Suppan started for the Brewers and went six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs, with no walks and seven strikeouts.

The Astros scored on Suppan on Mark Loretta's RBI single in the third inning, another two-out hit by Eric Bruntlett in the fourth and Lance Berkman's leadoff homer to center in the sixth.

Houston starter Woody Williams also allowed three runs but only two were earned. Bill Hall and Damian Miller doubled home runs in the second, and Prince Fielder delivered the third run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth that followed a throwing error by Houston third baseman Morgan Ensberg.

The Brewers are off Thursday before opening a three-game series in Chicago on Friday.

Box score

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