New York, St. Louis favorites to advance to the World Series

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Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have picked the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals as favorites to meet in the World Series and think New York has an overwhelming chance to win its first title since 2000.

The Yankees are 3-2 favorites to win the championship despite having to beat three teams to do it, oddsmaker Tony Sinisi of Las Vegas Sports Consultants said Wednesday.

The Twins, which beat Detroit on Tuesday night for the AL Central title, are a bigger underdog at 25-1 to win it all -- given the first-round matchup with New York -- than before the season started.

St. Louis is considered the National League favorite at 9-2 odds for the series, but not by much ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies (11-2) and Los Angeles Dodgers (6-1).

BREWERS: Announced an $8 million, one-year contract with career saves leader Trevor Hoffman with a mutual option for 2011.

General manager Doug Melvin says Hoffman is concerned about winning, not about individual numbers, and that the club is thrilled to have him back.

ATTENDANCE FALLS: Major League Baseball's average attendance dropped 6.7 percent this year with the United States in the midst of a global recession.

The 30 teams combined to average 30,350, the commissioner's office said Wednesday, down from 32,528 last year and a record 32,785 in 2007. Part of the drop was because of smaller capacities at two new ballparks in New York.

GIRL GETS BALL BACK: A Florida girl who grabbed a historic home run ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has her prize back after suing the team for its return.

The July home run against the Florida Marlins was Howard's 200th. He achieved that milestone in the fewest games in major league history.

After 12-year-old Jennifer Valdivia scooped up the ball, she was escorted to the Phillies clubhouse, then exchanged it for an autographed ball.

The girl's mother filed a lawsuit Monday seeking the home run ball's return. Attorney Norm Kent says the Phillies agreed.

ATHLETICS: Squashed speculation that assistant general manager David Forst is in the mix to become the next general manager of the San Diego Padres

The A's said in a statement that Forst has not interviewed for the job, nor has anyone asked for permission to interview him.

Indians: General manager Mark Shapiro already is narrowing his search for the next Cleveland Indians manager.

Shapiro said Wednesday he is getting closer to a list of "eight to 10" candidates to replace Eric Wedge , who was fired.

Boston pitching coach John Farrell , who served as Indians farm director before taking the Red Sox job after the 2006 season, is among names mentioned.

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