From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL and the referees' union reached a tentative contract agreement at midnight Thursday, ending an impasse that began in June when the league locked out the officials and used replacements instead."Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night" for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, Commissioner Roger Goodell said after a day of marathon negotiations.With Goodell at the table, the sides concluded two days of talks with the announcement of a tentative eight-year deal, which must be ratified by 51 percent of the union's 121 members. They plan to vote Friday."Welcome back REFS," Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller tweeted.The replacements worked the first three weeks of games, triggering a wave of frustration that threatened to disrupt the rest of the season. After a missed call cost the Green Bay Packers a win on a chaotic final play at Seattle on Monday night, the two sides really got serious."We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week's games," referees' union president Scott Green said.The union was seeking improved salaries, retirement benefits and other logistical issues for the part-time officials. The NFL has proposed a pension freeze and a higher 401(k) match, and it wants to hire 21 more officials to improve the quality of officiating. The union has fought that, fearing it could lead to a loss of jobs for some of the current officials, as well as a reduction in overall compensation.The NFL claimed its offers have included annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than 200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it means an overall reduction in compensation.Replacement refs aren't new to the NFL. They worked the first week of games in 2001 before a deal was reached. But those officials came from the highest level of college football; the current replacements do not. Their ability to call fast-moving NFL games drew mounting criticism through Week 3, climaxing last weekend, when ESPN analyst Jon Gruden called their work "tragic and comical."Those comments came during "Monday Night Football," with Seattle beating Green Bay 14-12 on a desperation pass into the end zone on the final play. Packers safety M.D. Jennings had both hands on the ball in the end zone, and when he fell to the ground in a scrum, both Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had their arms on the ball.The closest official to the play, at the back of the end zone, signaled for the clock to stop, while another official at the sideline ran in and then signaled touchdown.The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the touchdown pass should not have been overturned -- but acknowledged Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch. The league also said there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call made on the field.That drew even louder howls of outrage. Some coaches, including Miami's Joe Philbin and Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, tried to restore some calm by instructing players not to speak publicly on the issue.Fines against two coaches for incidents involving the replacements were handed out Wednesday.New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was docked 50,000 for trying to grab an official's arm Sunday to ask for an explanation of a call after his team lost at Baltimore. And Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was tagged for 25,000 for what the league called "abuse of officials" in the Redskins' loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. Two other coaches, Denver's John Fox and assistant Jack Del Rio, were fined Monday for incidents involving the replacements the previous week."I accept the discipline and I apologize for the incident," Belichick said.Players were in no mood for apologies from anyone."I'll probably get in trouble for this, but you have to have competent people," Carolina receiver Steve Smith said. "And if you're incompetent, get them out of there."Added Rams quarterback Sam Bradford: "I just don't think it's fair to the fans, I don't think it's fair to us as players to go out there and have to deal with that week in and week out. I really hope that they're as close as they say they are."They were. Finally.
WASHINGTON -- Michael Taylor homered twice among his four hits, Trea Turner finished 5 of 5 with a walk and the Washington Nationals beat the Cincinnati Reds 18-3 on Saturday.
Daniel Murphy had four RBIs for the Nationals. His three-run double highlighted the six-run second inning and Taylor's two-run homer capped a four-run fourth inning. Taylor added a solo shot in the sixth.
Turner, Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Wieters each drove in two runs. All of Turner's career-high five hits were singles including run-scoring hits in the second and eighth.
Washington led 13-0 as Joe Ross (4-3) blanked the Reds until Patrick Kivlehan's pinch-hit home run in the sixth. Ross surrendered one run and six hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and one walk.
In his first appearance since Aug. 28, Homer Bailey (0-1) allowed eight runs and six hits with three walks in 1 2/3 innings.
The Reds, who have lost 13 of 14, also gave up 17 runs on May 29 at Toronto.
Washington took the first two games of the series from the Reds after losing three of four.
Cincinnati activated the 31-year-old Bailey from the disabled list before the game. The right-hander had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in his right shoulder on Feb. 28.
Washington made Bailey's first outing of the season uncomfortable from the start. After Turner and Brian Goodwin opened the bottom of the first with a single and walk respectively, Zimmerman hit a one-out double into the right-center gap, scoring both runners.
Trailing 3-0 in the second, Bailey walked two batters to load the bases with two outs. Murphy cleared them with a line drive into the right-field corner and then scored on Anthony Rendon's double.
Reds reliever Lisalverto Bonilla surrendered five runs on eight hits, including both of Taylor's homers.
Bryce Harper had one of Washington's 19 hits, but he struck out three times before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth.
Kivlehan added an RBI single in the eighth.
Reds: Bailey was diagnosed with right biceps tendinitis following a one-inning start last August and eventually shut down for the season. He allowed two earned runs over 16 2/3 innings during three rehab starts before his recall Saturday. OF Jesse Winker was optioned to AAA-Louisville to make room for Bailey. ... LHP Brandon Finnegan, on the DL since Apr. 16 with a left shoulder injury, will start Monday, Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Nationals: Taylor's first four-hit game of his career came after being held out the lineup the previous two games with an undisclosed injury. The center fielder also tracked down Scooter Gennett's deep fly ball for a leaping catch just shy of the wall in the third.
Reds: Scott Feldman (5-5, 4.20 ERA) leads Cincinnati with seven quality starts
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (6-4, 4.88) allowed 13 earned runs in 7 2-3 innings over his last two starts.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Dylan Bundy helped Baltimore avoid a dubious pitching record, throwing seven solid innings as the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 Saturday.
The Orioles had given up at least five runs in 20 straight games, matching the major league mark set by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.
Bundy (8-6) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings. Relievers Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens combined to keep the Rays scoreless over the final two innings.
Jose Alvarado (0-3) walked the only batter he faced, Seth Smith, leading off the seventh. He was replaced by Jumbo Diaz, who gave up a two-run double to Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini's two-run homer that put Baltimore ahead 7-3.
Baltimore also got a second-inning, two-run homer from Welington Castillo and Adam Jones hit a solo shot in the third.
Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria homered on consecutive pitches in the third for the Rays.
Rays catcher Wilson Ramos singled in four at-bats in his season debut. The 2014 NL All-Star with Washington missed the first 76 games this season after right knee surgery.
Tampa Bay rookie Jake Faria wound up with a no-decision after winning each of his first three starts in the majors. He permitted three runs and five hits over six innings.
Faria had pitched at least 6 1/3 innings in his first three starts, allowing one run each time.
The Rays tied it at 3 in third when Dickerson had a two-run drive before Longoria went deep on Bundy's next pitch.
Tampa Bay set a team mark with their major league-leading 10th set of back-to-back homers this season. Tampa Bay has sixth straight multihomer games, one off the franchise high.
Orioles: Closer Zach Britton (left forearm strain) could move his rehab assignment from Class-A Delmarva to Double-A Bowie on Monday.
Rays: RHP Brad Boxberger (strained flexor mass) was expected to be reinstated from the disabled list this weekend but has oblique discomfort and will have a Sunday bullpen session.
NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith surprised his sister Marsha Smith-Hill, who threw the ceremonial first pitch as part of a cancer survivor salute, by joining her on-the-field.
Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.39 ERA) makes his 10th start since returning from right shoulder bursitis in the series finale Sunday. He allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings Tuesday, but Baltimore's 6-5 comeback win over Cleveland enabled him to avoid losing a sixth straight start.
Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 3.78 ERA) will look Sunday to avoid tying Wilson Alvarez's team record set in 1998 of allowing a homer in 11 consecutive appearances.