BARCELONA, Spain -- With Cristiano Ronaldo missing his scoring touch, Real Madrid needed defender Pepe to score in the second half to secure a 1-0 victory at Espanyol on Sunday to pull within three points of the Spanish league co-leaders. Nick Ritchie Jersey . Pepe was left unmarked to head in Luka Modrics corner kick in the 55th minute, as Cristiano Ronaldo failed to add to his league-leading 20 goals. Ronaldo is favoured to win the FIFAs Ballon dOr on Monday over Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery. The Portugal forward uncharacteristically wasted two clear scoring chances, while goalkeeper Kiko Casilla denied him on another three occasions. "The win is important because winning on the road is key to winning the league," said Pepe, who defended Ronaldo despite his off day. "I would vote for Cristiano because what he did last year is very important and he deserves it." Third-place Madrid took full advantage of Saturdays scoreless draw between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which left them level at the top of the table at the leagues halfway mark. "The important thing today was to cut into Barcelona and Atleticos lead," said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. "We have to feel satisfied." Also on Sunday, Real Betis remained in last place after slumping to an error-plagued 2-1 loss at home to Osasuna. Rayo Vallecano won 1-0 at Getafes foggy Alfonso Perez Coliseum to end a five-game streak without a win in league play, and Levante edged Malaga 1-0 at home thanks to David Barrals 19th-minute header. Led by striker Jhon Cordoba, Espanyol surged forward at the start and almost took the lead when Christian Stuani steered his point-blank header past the wrong side of the post four minutes in. Madrid weathered Espanyols initial push and turned to Karim Benzema and Ronaldo to provide the attacking threat. Ronaldo scuffed Benzemas pass in the 18th before drawing two awkward saves from Casilla with a powerful strike in the 31st and a dipping free kick in the 37th. Espanyol, which was without suspended forward Sergio Garcia and coach Javier Aguirre, was fortunate to make it to halftime not trailing after Angel Di Maria squandered Madrids four-on-two counterattack seconds before Benzema headed wide in the 42nd. But Pepe made good on Madrids dominance by thumping Modrics pass under Casilla, who got a hand on the ball but not enough to keep it out of his net. Ronaldo had two more great looks to increase his impressive tally this season, but Casilla bettered him one-on-one in the 82nd before saving Benzemas shot in the 89th and watching Ronaldo fire the rebound wide with the goalmouth beckoning. Nothing went Betis way against Osasuna, a direct relegation rival, in a game both sides finished with 10 men. Betis conceded Roberto Torres header within two minutes, had Jose "Nono" Delgado dismissed with his second yellow card in the 38th, and saw Jordi Figueras score an own goal in the 57th. And when Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez gave them a sliver of hope in the 62nd when he was red carded for fouling Ruben Castro in the area, Castro deflated the crowd at Benito Villamarin Stadium by sending his penalty kick off the crossbar. Jorge Molina pulled one back in the 80th but Osasuna had two opportunities to widen the margin before the final whistle. The demoralizing loss left Betis winless in its last 12 league matches and seven points from safety. "We took a step backward today," said Betis coach Juan Carlos Garrido. "I wont deny it. It was important to win today, and besides, clearly our first half of the season was very poor. There has to be a radical turnaround in every facet for us to remain in the first division." Osasuna stayed unbeaten in four rounds and edged five points clear of the drop. Rayos win at Getafe still left it in the relegation zone. Forward Alberto Bueno scored what proved to be the winner in the 29th after Alejandro Galvez was quick to cross a rebounded shot. Levante climbed past Malaga into the middle of the standings. Teemu Selanne Jersey .J. -- Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils took a lot of grief considering his scored the first of his career-best three goals just 12 seconds into a crucial game against the Florida Panthers. Anaheim Ducks Shirts . City has reached new heights under manager Manuel Pellegrini as they transition from big spending/immediate impact to perennial contender. Yaya Toures seeming discontent Tuesday may complicate that, as does the little issue of Financial Fair Play.SEATTLE -- Tampa Bay Rays right hander Alex Cobb threw a 60-pitch simulated game as he continues his recovery from an oblique muscle strain. Cobb threw the simulated game on Monday at Tampa Bays spring training complex in Port Charlotte, Florida. Cobb threw four innings with 15 pitches per inning. Cobb has been out since April 13 and became the third Rays starter to land on the disabled listt joining Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson. Samuel Pahlsson Jersey. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said the club needed to see how Cobb responds the day after throwing, but he could appear in a game this weekend. Maddon also said its possible Cobb might only need one rehab start before rejoining the club. Cobb was 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in three starts before going on the disabled list. ' ' '
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. Fake Curry 1 . -- Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen withdrew from the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Tuesday because of an aggravated disk in her back. The Norwegian also withdrew last week before the Kia Classic in Carlsbad. She released a statement through the LPGA Tour, saying: "I dearly love this event and would do anything to play. At this point, I just need to be smart and not make a bad situation worse." Pettersen also missed the season-opening event in the Bahamas because of a shoulder injury. She won four times last season and has 14 career LPGA Tour victories. The Kraft Nabisco, the first major championship of the season, begins Thursday at Mission Hills. Pettersen tied for third last season. Curry 5 Outlet . Almost 40 years to the day, the two teams will meet again, this time at BC Place, to celebrate the past and try to earn important points for the present. Scorpio Shoes Wholesale .com) - Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall left Saturdays game against the Senators in the second period with a left knee injury.PHILADELPHIA -- The San Jose Sharks made a simple change to rally for a comeback victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. They started shooting the puck. Joe Pavelski had a hat trick to move into a tie for second in the NHL in goals and the Sharks beat Philadelphia 7-3 Thursday night in the first game for both teams following the Olympic break. Raffi Torres and Logan Couture each scored twice in their return to San Joses lineup following injuries. The Sharks trailed 2-1 after getting outshot 10-4 in the first period. San Jose made a pointed effort to shoot the puck in the second period and it paid off in a big way, resulting in five second-period goals on 16 shots. "We started to finally shoot the puck," Couture said. "The first period we werent shooting. We were playing in their end, but we werent shooting. Thats more the way we play, the way we need to play. A lot of our goals were off rebounds, and thats the way you score in this league." Pavelski, one of the Sharks four Olympians, scored all three of his goals in the dominating second period. Torres, who was making his 2013-14 debut after injuring his knee in the preseason, capped the second-period spree with his second goal of the game with 2.2 seconds left. Couture, who missed the previous 16 games due to hand surgery, netted his 15th goal of the season in the period. "We didnt have a lot of purpose in our game in the first period, especially in their zone," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Kind of skating around waiting for something to happen. We got our forecheck going in the second (and) a lot more pucks to the goaltender, which created second and third chances. We had to start thinking about throwing the puck from bad angles and creating second (chances) that way." Andrej Meszaros had a highlight-reel tally and Matt Read and Brayden Schenn also scored for the Flyers, who had won four straight before the Olympic break. Flyers coach Craig Berube wasnt pleased with his teams effort, particularly the play in front of their own goal. "Not competing around our net, thats basically what it boils down to," Berube said. "Not getting sticks, not boxing people out, not being hard on people. We didnt compete hard enough to win the hockey game. Nobody. "Were all embarrassed tonight." The Flyers netted a pair of goals within a 22-second span midway through the first period to take a 2-1 lead. Meszaros, one of five Flyers who participated in the Olympics, opened the Philadelphia scoring with 9:24 remaining in the opening period. Alex Stalock, San Joses backup goalie who started in place of Olympian Antti Niemi, saved Meszaros initial shot from the point, but Steve Downie pushed the rebound to Meszaros, who shot the puck between his own legs and past Stalock from close range. Schenn put Philadelphia ahead 2-1 when he backhanded the puck from behind the net off thhe skate of Jason Demers and past Stalock with 9:02 remaining in the first period. Under Armour Outlet . But it was all San Jose in the second period. Pavelski scored from close range on the power play 4:23 into the period and then gave San Jose the lead for good with 9:48 remaining in the period when he deflected Marc-Edouard Vlasics shot from the point past Steve Mason that made it 3-2. Mason was lifted 35 seconds later when Couture tallied on a rebound after the Flyers goalie dropped a shot that he initially gloved. Mason gave up four goals on his first 13 shots. His replacement, Ray Emery, didnt fare much better, as Pavelski scored on a turnaround from in front of the crease with 5:50 left in the period for his 32nd goal of the season, tying him with Torontos Phil Kessel for second-most in the league. Torres finished the second-period scoring by just beating the intermission buzzer with a close-range goal. "We had some good luck throughout the team," Pavelski said. "They were just going in tonight. Life is good. Hopefully they keep coming." The sellout crowd loudly booed the Flyers as they exited the ice following the period. "We lost a lot of battles the last two-thirds of the game," Philadelphias Scott Hartnell said. "Simple penalties, turnovers that led to odd-man rushes and we were soft in front of our net. Thats what you get when you dont play tough, you dont play strong and you dont play good defence. It couldve been 10-3." It didnt get any better in the third period for Philadelphia as Couture netted a short-handed goal 4:50 in on a backhander in front of Emery. In a rare move, Emery was lifted and Mason was re-inserted into the game with 9:11 left in the third period. Emery requested to be removed from the game due to an undisclosed injury that neither he nor Berube would identify. Besides Meszaros, Flyers Michael Raffi, Jakub Voracek, Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit also participated in the Olympics. Timonen, who helped Finland to the bronze medal, was a healthy scratch to allow him to rest. In addition to Niemi and Pavelski, San Joses Patrick Marleau and Vlasic competed in Sochi. Niemi, who entered second in the NHL in wins (29), didnt see any action Thursday. Demers, Andrew Desjardins and Marleau each had a pair of assists for the Sharks. NOTES: Before the Olympics, Niemi was 7-3 with a 2.12 GAA in his previous 10 starts. However, one of those losses was a 5-2 home defeat to the Flyers on Feb. 3, a game in which he gave up four goals before being pulled. ... San Jose won its sixth straight game in Philadelphia. The Flyers last home win over the Sharks came on Dec. 21, 2000. ... San Jose came within two of its season-high for goals, set in a 9-2 win over the Rangers on Oct. 8. ... The seven goals allowed matched a season-worst for Philadelphia, which lost 7-0 to Washington on Nov. 1 and 7-2 at Chicago on Dec. 11. ' ' '