GILLASPIE LIFTS SOX OVER ROYALS: Conor Gillaspie homered leading off the 12th inning Thursday night, lifting the White Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Royals and their first three-game sweep in Kansas City since 2005.
Gillaspie drove the second pitch he got from Luke Hochevar (3-2) just over the outstretched glove of right fielder Justin Maxwell for his 11th homer.
The tiebreaking shot came after Jacob Petricka made his major league debut in the 11th inning for the White Sox, inheriting runners on first and second with nobody out. Petricka calmly got Salvador Perez to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Addison Reed preserved Chicago's sixth straight win, and the first of Petricka's career, when the he left the tying run on second base for his 34th save.
CUBS FALL IN EXTRA INNINGS: Denard Span scored the go-ahead run on pinch-hitter Chad Tracy's grounder in the 13th inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the Cubs 5-4 Thursday after Stephen Strasburg blew a three-run lead in the ninth.
After a two-hour rain delay at the start, Strasburg was one out away from a complete game with a 4-1 lead before Chicago rallied to tie it.
Junior Lake had an RBI single, and Donnie Murphy hit a two-run homer to make it 4-4.
BRAUN ADMITS DRUG USE IN 2011: A month after acknowledging he made "mistakes," Ryan Braun admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs during his NL MVP season of 2011.
The suspended Milwaukee slugger said in a statement released Thursday by the Brewers that he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury.
"It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately," Braun said.
Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone in October 2011, but his 50-game suspension was overturned when an arbitrator ruled that the urine sample was mishandled.
Braun apologized to the collector of the urine sample, his teammates and Commissioner Bud Selig.
SOWINSKI SEVENTH AT INDIANA SENIOR: Briar Ridge golf club's Gary Sowinski is tied for seventh at 72 after Thursday's opening round of the Indiana PGA Senior Championship at Woodland Trails' Players Club. David Carich leads at 67. The final round is today.
MUSGRAVE RACE SATURDAY AT ILLIANA: The 12th annual Elmer Musgrave Memorial race returns to Illiana Motor Speedway on Saturday with twin 56-lap main events.
Drivers include defending champion Eddie Hoffman, Austin Luedtke, Jeff Cannon, John Nutley and Danny Darnell.
Gates will open at 4 p.m., with time trials set for 5:30 and the first race at 7. Three division feature races will highlight the program, including Super Late Model, Legends and Pure Stocks. Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for children aged 8 to 12 and free to children 7 and under. For details, call (219) 322-5311, or go to www.illianaspeedway.com.
BEARS LOOK TO IMPROVE ON OFFENSE TONIGHT: Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall remains the main target for the offense heading into tonight's exhibition game at the Oakland Raiders. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw all five of his passes toward Marshall last week against San Diego, completing four of them.
The Bears are looking to prove they have more options on offense than Marshall and running back Matt Forte this year with second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery and free agent tight end Martellus Bennett.
"We're going to spread it around," Cutler said. "We can't just throw to Brandon and give the ball to Matt. We've got to figure out ways to get other guys involved. We had plays up, some of them worked, some of them got checked out of. So, it is just the way it goes."
COLTS RULE OUT FLEENER: Injuries will keep the Colts' top two tight ends, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, out of Saturday's game against Cleveland.
Fleener is recovering from a sprained right knee. Allen returned this week from a right foot injury, but coach Chuck Pagano said Thursday he would not play.
VALPO TABBED PRESEASON FAVORITE: Valparaiso has been selected to win the Horizon League in polling of the league's head coaches.
The Crusaders received four of the eight first-place votes and totaled 44 points, edging by two points Cleveland State, which received two first-place votes. Milwaukee came in third with 41 points and picked up the other two first-place nods. Oakland, Illinois-Chicago, Green Bay, Youngstown State and Wright State rounded out the poll. Valpo returns nine letterwinners, including six starters, from a team that tied for second in the conference.
Around the horn
Times sports medicine columnist John Doherty is the guest on "Purdue Calumet Sports Insight" at 5:30 p.m. today on WJOB-AM (1230). ... Notre Dame will play its first Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball game at home against Duke on Jan. 4. ... The Blackhawks agreed to a three-year contract with 2012 first-round draft pick Teuvo Teravainen on Thursday. The 18-year-old Teravainen, a forward from Finland, was the 18th overall pick. He had 13 goals and 18 assists in 44 regular-season games for SM-liiga's Jokerit last season. ... The Valparaiso women's volleyball team has been selected to win the Horizon League in polling of the league's head coaches. ... The Times is looking for correspondents to cover Illinois prep sports. Those interested should contact Mike Nieto at (219) 933-3232 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ... The Purdue Calumet women's volleyball team pulled out a 3-2 victory over Rochester in the season opener Thursday night at the Fitness and Recreation Center.