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Zimmerman leads Nats to series win over Braves

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Ryan Zimmerman had three hits, including a solo homer, and knocked in four runs Sunday as the Nationals beat the Braves 8-4 in the rubber match of a three-game series, getting All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez his 11th win.

Zimmerman's first two RBI came during a four-run first inning and the last in a two-run ninth, propelling the Nationals to their sixth win in eight games against the Braves this season.

Gonzalez (11-3) left after walking the first two hitters in the fifth and giving up a three-run homer to Freddie Freeman that got Atlanta within 6-4, but still picked up his sixth straight win on the road.

He threw 114 pitches despite a game-time temperature of 101 degrees -- the third game in a row in the series that started in triple-degree heat.

Atlanta won the second game of the series Saturday after Nats starter Stephen Strasburg lasted just three innings due to heat exhaustion.

Braves sign Sheets to minor league deal

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - The Atlanta Braves signed pitcher Ben Sheets to a minor league contract on Sunday.

Sheets will make his first start in the Braves organization on July 4 for Double-A Mississippi.

The 33-year-old right-hander has not pitched professionally since 2010, when he went 4-9 with a 4.53 earned run average in 20 starts for the Oakland Athletics.

Sheets, a four-time All-Star, is 90-92 with a 3.79 ERA over nine years with Milwaukee and Oakland.


Wheelchair athletes test road conditions, heat

ATLANTA -- Before the sun came up on Sunday, several wheelchair athletes met to test the course for the AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4th.

Their high-performance tires can't take too much wear and tear.

"The whole left side of the road is very abrasive with a lot of drop-offs," said Jeremy Maddox of Braselton. "You definitely don't want to hit any potholes and run the risk of getting a flat in the middle of the race, especially at the start."

The group included a Peachtree novice and a seven-time winner, Santiago Sanz of Spain.

Sanz is worried about the race day heat, but said it will be tougher for runners, who start at least 30 minutes after the wheelchair division.

"We'll start by 7 a.m.," Sanz said. "I think by the time it will begin to be very warm, we'll already be finishing."

Atlanta opens pools, waives some fees for heat wave

ATLANTA -- Atlanta city leaders decided to open all 12 city pools and waive fees for seven of them to help residents cope with soaring temperatures this weekend.

The pools will stay open from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

"Everyone needs to get in the water to stay cool," said Atlanta resident Emily Pylant, who took her daughter to Grant Park Pool. "It feels so intense, so dense, so hot ouside."

The following pools will be free through Sunday: Adams, Anderson, Dunbar (Rosa Burney Park), Grant Park, Pittman, Powell (Mozley Park) and Thomasville. The pools usually charge $4 for adults and $2 for children.

Three of the city's 12 pools are usually closed on Saturdays, and seven typically close on Sundays.

"This is going to be a challenging weekend for families," said Duriya Farooqui, Atlanta's Chief Operating Officer. "We're urging residents to take precautions and stay out of the heat whenever possible."  

"Celebrate" from the film Sparkle featuring Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston debuts online today!

"Celebrate" from the film Sparkle featuring Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston debuts online today!

The video for Celebrate – from the motion picture SPARKLE featuring Jordin Sparks

Congress passes student loans, highway jobs bill

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress has passed a massive measure that will salvage some 2.8 million jobs and shield college students from sharply higher interest rates on college loans. The bill would also shore up the federal flood insurance program.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 74-19. The House passed the bill earlier in the day and it now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature.

The bill would spend more than $100 billion on highway and transit programs over two years. The measure would also prevent a doubling of interest rates on new student loans scheduled to go into effect on Sunday.

A requirement that the government approve the contentious Keystone XL pipeline was dropped from the measure.

Agape Community Center Launches Backpack Drive

Agape Community Center Launches Backpack Drive

Agape Community Center puts out the call to collect over 1,000 backpacks for students in need in Atlanta.

Agape Community Center has launched a campaign to collect and distribute 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to children of all ages in economically challenged neighborhoods. Agape is calling on the community, through neighborhoods, corporations, book clubs, churches, sports teams and social groups, to donate 1,000 backpacks for the kids by July 25.

First Montessori School of Atlanta, located at 5750 Long Island Drive, will serve as one of the drop-off locations.