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SAN FRANCISCO — Lexi Thompson needed to get her mind right before she could her golf game back and now is in position to win her first second career major.

Thompson shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Saturday to take the lead into the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time in her career with a one-shot edge over teenager Yuka Saso.

“I haven’t played to my standards and what I need and I just realized that I needed to change my mindset,” Thomson said. “It was only hurting me. Obviously, I needed to work on some technical things in my game and everything, but the mental side was really getting to me. I was just taking it way too seriously and thinking that Lexi depended on my score.”

Thompson said she’s been working again with performance coach John Denney about not dwelling on mistakes although she made few Saturday when she was the first player all week to make par or better on every hole in the round.

That had her in the lead at 7 under heading into the final round of a major for the first time since 2017, when her edge after 54 holes at the ANA Inspiration was erased on Sunday when she was penalized four strokes after a viewer saw that she had misplaced her marked ball during the third round.

Thompson still managed to make it into a playoff against So Yeon Ryu but she lost and was unable to add to the 2014 ANA Inspiration title she won for her first major.

Thompson played a nearly flawless round Saturday in search of her first U.S. Women’s Open title in her 15th try after first competing as a 12-year-old amateur in 2007. She has four-top 10 finishes at the U.S. Women’s Open, including a runner-up two years ago in Charleston.

Thompson has been lurking around the leaderboard all week, shooting 69 on Thursday and 71 in the second round before shooting the low round of her career at this tournament on Saturday.

She started to make a run with three birdies, including one on No. 9 after hitting her tee shot into the second cut of rough. She still managed to get on the green and made a 20-foot putt to get to 5 under.

Thompson added another long birdie putt on No. 14 and reached the green at the par-5 17th in two shots before two-putting for birdie and the lead. She saved par with a 3-foot putt at 18 after hitting her tee shot into the rough and her approach behind the green.

“I struck it well all day, made a few good putts out there,” she said. “It’s all about patience out on this golf course because there’s going to be bad shots made and you’re going to miss some fairways, so you just have to get bogey at worst and get off the hole and go on to the next.”

Saso made back-to-back bogeys on the back nine to fall out of the lead before recovering with a birdie at the par-5 17th to get back to 7 under. She missed a 12-foot par putt on 18 and ended the day a stroke back.

New Jersey high school amateur Megha Ganne shot a 72 and was tied for third at 3 under with 2019 champion Jeongueun Lee6 of South Korea.

China’s Shanshan Feng was fifth at 2 under, with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and American Megan Khang the only other players under par at 1 under.

Saso, who has never finished better than sixth in an LPGA Tour event, will play in the final group on Sunday with a chance to join South Korea’s Inbee Park as the only teens to win this tournament. Park did it at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days in 2008, which will be Saso’s exact age Sunday.

The 17-year-old Ganne was a crowd favorite at the course and kept her composure early with a couple of early par saves and birdies on the fifth and ninth holes to get within a shot of the lead at 5 under. Back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine knocked her down the leaderboard before she steadied herself with seven straight pars to end the day.

“It was really mentally a grind out there and I’ve never had to just perform from such bad lies and situations hole after hole and still believe that I was going to do it again on the next hole,” she said. “So it was a lot, but I’m confident in how I’m playing.”

Lee6 got to 6 under with a birdie at No. 4 but fell off when she hit her tee shot into the deep rough at No. 5 and ended up with a double bogey.

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Sources: Phils add RHP Walker for 4 years, $72M

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Sources: Phils add RHP Walker for 4 years, M

The Philadelphia Phillies and right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker have reached agreement on a four-year, $72 million contract, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday.

A day after reaching a blockbuster deal with shortstop Trea Turner, the Phillies add to their rotation with one of the top pitchers left on the free agent market.

Walker joins Philadelphia after one of the strongest seasons of his career in 2022, when he started 29 games for the New York Mets and posted a 3.49 ERA, 2.6 bWAR and a 1.19 WHIP in 157 innings pitched, striking out 132 batters while walking 45.

The Phillies mark the fifth team of Walker’s major league career, including the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays and Mets.

The 30-year-old righty served as a dependable back-of-the-rotation starter for the Mets throughout the course of the season before declining his $7.5 million player option for 2023, taking a $3 million buyout to explore free agency. The Mets declined to offer a qualifying offer to Walker.

Walker previously underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and missed the entire 2019 season. His 2022 campaign marked his most successful on the mound since undergoing treatment on a partial tear of a UCL in his right elbow.

Walker is the second pitcher to leave the Mets’ rotation, after Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers. New York subsequently responded by signing Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86 million deal.

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Pirates win 1st MLB draft lottery, right to pick first

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Pirates win 1st MLB draft lottery, right to pick first

The Pittsburgh Pirates secured the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft on Tuesday, during Major League Baseball’s first ever draft lottery. The next five picks, respectively, went to the Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics.

MLB and the MLB Players’ Association agreed to a draft lottery in the new collective bargaining agreement, whereby the 18 teams that did not reach the postseason would vie for the first six selections. Odds, based on 2022 winning percentage, ranged from 16.5% (for the Pirates, Nationals and A’s) to 0.2% (Milwaukee Brewers).

The A’s went in tied for the best chance at the No. 1 overall pick and finished with the No. 6 selection. The Twins took an even bigger step in the other direction, starting with the 13th-best odds and ultimately picking fifth.

The Nos. 7 to 18 picks in next year’s draft – slated for July from Seattle, site of the next All-Star Game – will be slotted by reverse winning percentage, followed by how teams finished in the postseason (the World Series-champion Houston Astros, for example, will pick 30th). Rounds 2 through 20 will navigate entirely in reverse order of winning percentage and postseason finish.

MLB placed more picks up for grabs than any other major spot in its first draft lottery. Only the first four picks of the NBA’s draft are attained through the draft lottery. In the NHL, it’s just the first two. The bottom three teams were all given the same odds for the No. 1 overall pick in an effort to disincentivize tanking for the worst record. Large-market teams (defined as those who do not receive revenue sharing) are prohibited from entering the draft lottery in back-to-back years; small-market teams can’t enter it three straight years.

MLB Network announced the results of the lottery inside a ballroom from the Hyatt hotel that is staging this year’s Winter Meetings, with executives from the 18 eligible clubs sitting at nearby tables and outfielder-turned-MLB-executive Raul Ibanez reading the results. But the process took place hours later, when a collection of sealed balls arrived in a suitcase and 1,000 four-number combinations were assigned to the 18 teams (the higher the odds for the No. 1 overall pick, the more combinations assigned to the team). Bill Francis, who helps run the MLB Draft, selected the six four-number combinations that determined the order. PricewaterhouseCoopers oversaw the process.

The top three players in next year’s draft, based on rankings from ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel in July, are: Wyatt Langford, a center fielder from Florida; Jacob Wilson, a shortstop from Grand Canyon; and Max Clark, a center fielder from Franklin Community High School in Indiana. This will mark the sixth time the Pirates select first overall. They did so as recently as 2021, selecting catcher Henry Davis out of Louisville.

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Haniger to Giants; 3 years, $43.5M, sources say

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Haniger to Giants; 3 years, .5M, sources say

The San Francisco Giants agreed to terms with outfielder Mitch Haniger, the team announced Tuesday, filling a hole in the Giants’ outfield as they continue their free agent pursuit of American League MVP Aaron Judge.

The deal is for three years and $43.5 million and includes a player opt-out after the second year, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Haniger, who turns 32 later this month, has posted star-caliber numbers in the two seasons he has been healthy, but has struggled with injuries throughout his major league career, most of which he spent in Seattle. With the Mariners last season, he hit .246/.308/.429 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in 57 games, helping propel the team to its first playoff berth in two decades.

One season earlier, Haniger showed the sort of talent that led the Giants to consider a multiyear deal at $14.5 million a season. He hit 39 home runs, good for fifth in the AL, and drove in 100 runs while posting 3.9 Wins Above Replacement over 157 games, according to Baseball-Reference.

The Giants’ offseason began with outfielder Joc Pederson accepting a $19.65 million qualifying offer. It continues with Haniger and could include Judge, who last year spent a majority of his time in center field but has played most of his career in right. Along with Haniger and Mike Yastrzemski, Judge could be part of the outfield while Pederson spends most of his time at designated hitter.

Long a fan favorite and leader in Seattle, Haniger joined the Mariners in November 2016, when Arizona — which drafted him in the first round of the 2012 draft — traded him along with Jean Segura for infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte and pitcher Taijuan Walker.

Haniger immediately produced for Seattle, putting up an OPS of .843 in his first season. His best year came in 2018, when he played 157 games and hit .285/.366/.493 with 26 home runs and played well above-average defense in right field.

The next season, in 2019, Haniger suffered a ruptured testicle after a foul ball took an unfortunate carom. The injury kept him out for the remainder of the season, and he missed significant time with back and core injuries, not playing in 2020.

His 2021 return was hailed in Seattle, where Haniger helped steer the Mariners to the cusp of the postseason with a bevy of clutch hits. He’ll now slot into the middle of a Giants lineup that ranked 11th in baseball in runs scored but lost three-quarters of its infield — first baseman Brandon Belt, shortstop Brandon Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria — to free agency.

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