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Sports in brief

SPORT

Hamlin has fracture in lower back

Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his lower spine in a last-lap crash in Sunday's Sprint Cup race in Fontana, Calif., and Joe Gibbs Racing gave no indication Monday how long he'd be out.

"I just want to go home," Hamlin tweeted from a hospital in Southern California. He later posted a photo of himself giving a thumbs-up and appeared to be wearing a back brace.

Hamlin was released from the hospital, and JGR said he'd return to North Carolina.

He and former JGR teammate Joey Logano wrecked while battling for the lead, as Kyle Busch went on to win. The wreck sent Hamlin nearly head-on into the inside wall in a place where Auto Club Speedway does not have energy-absorbing SAFER barriers.

Also, Logano's team owner, Roger Penske, bristled at "petty" barbs against Logano for his wealthy upbringing and told AP: "Listen, Joey is a great driver and what happened at the end there wasn't anything more than hard racing."

The next Sprint Cup race is April 7 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Tennis

Serena Williams comes back for win

Serena Williams defeated Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round of the Sony Open, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, in Key Biscayne. The top-ranked Williams was down a break and 4-1 in the second set before rallying. "I was just proud of myself because I didn't throw any rackets," Williams said. No. 3 Maria Sharapova beat No. 21 Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-2. For the men, Tampa resident John Isner lost to No. 9 seed Marin Cilic while Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Sam Querrey advanced.

Soccer

U.S. facing hungry archrival in Mexico

The U.S. men tonight face a Mexico team badly needing a win in World Cup qualifying. Only the top three teams in the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying earn automatic spots in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Mexico is third among six teams after opening with two ties. "We have the best two teams in CONCACAF battling each other. We have respect for them and they have it for us," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.

MLS: Philadelphia terminated its contract with American midfielder Freddy Adu, 23, and essentially traded him to Brazilian club Bahia for Brazilian midfielder Jose Kleberson, 33, on a loan deal.

NFL

Longtime Falcons center McClure retires

Falcons center Todd McClure announced his retirement. McClure played in Atlanta for 14 seasons and set a franchise record with 148 consecutive starts.

Signings: The Bengals reached deals to keep two unrestricted free agents, cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones and receiver Brandon Tate. … The Giants re-signed left guard Kevin Boothe for a year. … The Titans agreed to terms with Chiefs defensive end Ropati Pitoitua.

Et cetera

Colleges: The Associated Press and ESPN reported that Georgia Southern and Appalachian State are leaving the Southern Conference for the Sun Belt, moving from Division I-AA to I-A for football.

Business: Former Mets executive Dave Howard was named president of MSG Sports, and will run business operations for the Knicks, Rangers, Liberty and the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League.

Times wires

Sports in brief 03/25/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:30am]

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