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, Calif. (AP) —biggest game of the season Thursday night at Kansas City, but he says his status will likely not be decided until 90 minutes before kickoff.The fourth-year running back has missed the past two games after spraining the MCL in his right knee during the second half of the Chargers’ Nov. 26 win against Arizona. He is sixth in the AFC in rushing with 802 yards despite missing three games and leads the conference in rushing average per game (80.2).Gordon said he is stronger and confident about the knee, but he acknowledges that it will not be 100 percent if he plays against the Chiefs. He was listed as limited on the team’s Tuesday practice report, which was the first time he has participated in a practice since the injury.“We need all the playmakers we need to beat KC,” he said. “We have so much at stake right now and I want to help I can. If I can’t go out there and be me and can’t make my cuts I don’t want to be out there.”The Chargers (10-3) can clinch their first playoff spot since 2013 with a win against the Chiefs (11-2). It would also move them into a tie with Kansas City atop the AFC West, but the Chiefs would hold the tiebreaker due to a better division record.Los Angeles will need to win out if it has any hopes of winning the division and then hope Kansas City drops one of its final two games, which are at Seattle and home to Oakland.Gordon is averaging 3.7 yards per carry in six games against the Chiefs, which is below his career average of 4.1. He has made a bigger impact as a receiver in the past two meetings with 15 receptions for 193 yards. He had nine catches for 102 yards in the Sept. 9 loss to the Chiefs.“If I sat out until the playoffs. I could wait and know I would be full go. It’s just being smart and not prolonging injury,” Gordon said.Gordon’s status is more complicated with backup Austin Ekeler in concussion protocol and dealing with a bruised nerve in his neck, which occurred late in Sunday’s 26-21 win over Cincinnati. That could leave the Chargers relying on a pair of rookies. Justin Jackson will see a bigger role — either getting his first career start or as the backup — and Detrez Newsome could see his first significant action at running back.Another factor is that the Chargers are not having full practices due to the short week. Coach Anthony Lynn said they can get a lot accomplished during walkthroughs.“I really think if you focus and lock in in the meeting room like you should, you come out on the field and you go at a slower tempo but mentally you’re there and you’re in the present moment,” he said. “I think you can get just as good of work done as full speed without the collisions and injury. There’s a skill and an art to practicing without the pads and walking through, and I think this club is getting better at that.”Philip Rivers has confidence in the two rookies if Gordon and Ekeler are unable to go.“They are two young guys who are sharp. There will be added emphasis on my part to communicate
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, especially with the crowd noise, so that they can play fast,” Rivers said. “If that’s the case, we’ll just roll and go.” After a slow start, Giancarlo Stanton has been on a roll for the Yankees.
But he also said there’s another gear he can kick into, too.
Stanton hit a three-run homer, CC Sabathia pitched six effective innings, and the Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Wednesday.
Rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres left the game in the top of the fifth inning because of tightness in his right hip and afterward was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right hip strain.
”We’re hoping it’s a short stint. But we think we’ve got to deal with it this time because there is a small strain there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said outside the home clubhouse after the game.
”Hopefully it won’t be something that it’s too long. Probably take us up to the All-Star break.”
After struggling in his first two months of his debut season in the Bronx, including three games at the end of March, Stanton managed just 11 homers and hit .245.
He settled in and improved in June with eight homers and a .298 average.
”Yeah I can always get better. So yeah, I got to put it together but there’s some balls that I’ve hit hard that could have been in the air, been better
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,” said Stanton, who’s 6 for 18 (.333) with two home runs and five RBIs through the first four games of July.
”But that’s talking millimeters of (a) difference here. But in terms of in the box, I feel very close.”
Aaron Judge added his 24th homer of the season in the seventh inning. He’s now homered in three of his past four games.
Catcher Kyle Higashioka also homered for the Yankees, becoming the ninth player since 1920 whose first three hits were home runs. Colorado’s Trevor Story homered for his first four big league hits on April 4-6, 2016.
The 28-year-old, who’s spent most of his first 10 professional seasons in the minors, except for a nine-game hitless stint last season, was surprised at what he’s been able to accomplish since his promotion June 25.
”I wouldn’t have thought that my first three hits in the major leagues would be homers, but the most important thing here is winning,” Higashioka said.
Sabathia (6-3) followed his impressive showing last Friday against Boston, the team with the best record in baseball, working out of a couple of jams for the Yankees, who have won six of their past eight after getting swept in three games at Tampa.
”That’s a good lineup. They have a very good team, some good hitters,” Sabathia said. ”Even when I felt I was in control I still had to make pitches. They made me work today.”
The Braves have lost their past two games.
New York took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Greg Bird’s RBI single off Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (6-6), who lasted just five innings, allowing five hits and five runs. He walked four and struck out 10.
The Yankees got to Teheran again in the third.
With a runner on first and two outs, Aaron Hicks walked. Stanton then fell behind 0-2 before hitting a line drive to the right field bleachers for his 21st homer of the season to make it 4-0.
After retiring the first two batters in the fourth, Teheran fell behind 2-0 against Higashioka before the rookie connected to the left field stands, extending the lead to 5-0.
”You can’t make mistakes to this team,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ”The way that ball flies around in right center and over, it’s just dangerous. That’s why they are who they are. In spurts, he threw the ball really well.”
The Braves cut the deficit to 5-1 on an RBI grounder from Danny Santana with one out in the fifth. Johan Camargo hit his ninth home run of the season with two outs in the sixth that made it 5-2. But Sabathia limited the damage by retiring Dansby Swanson on a grounder to second with a runner aboard.
Atlanta failed to take advantage in the seventh inning against reliever Chad Green when its first two batters reached on a pair of singles. Green then got three fly outs to end the threat.
PUT ME IN COACH
With New York set to play 11 games in 10 days, beginning Friday at Toronto, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he wanted to be ”greedy” with Thursday being their only day off
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, and held Austin Romine out of the starting lineup for the fourth consecutive day. Higashioka started for the fourth straight time behind the plate.
The Yankees have been short-handed at catcher since Romine left the game on June 29 against Boston in the seventh inning because of a tight left hamstring. Gary Sanchez has been on the 10-day disabled list since June 25 because of a strained right groin.
Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman, who was hit by a pitch in the third inning, left the game after the fourth because of a contusion in his right upper arm. He expects to be back in the lineup Thursday in Milwaukee.
”I tried to go down in the cage and swing and pretty much topped the ball off the tee,” Freeman said. ”I couldn’t really extend the arm going through the zone. I had no strength. It just kind of swelled up and it looks like a baseball on my tricep right now.”
LHP Luiz Gohara, the No. 3 prospect in the Atlanta organization, arrived about 90 minutes before the first pitch after he was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett for the second time this season. RHP Evan Phillips, who threw 2 1/3 innings Tuesday night, was sent down to Trip