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This Weekend in Sports: Little League World Series, MLB Pennant Races and Sunday Night Football

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Rob Carr, Justin K. Aller, Joe Robbins / Getty Images

Baseball games featuring young amateurs and the best pros and an interesting preseason NFL contest highlight the sports calendar. Here’s what to watch this weekend:

Friday, August 17

Little League World Series

Lamade Stadium, Williamsport, PA; through Aug. 26; ESPN / ESPN2-TV

Little League stars from across the world converge in central Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series. Among the teams in contention are US regional winners Parsippany, New Jersey; San Antonio, Texas; Gresham, Oregon and New Castle, Indiana and international squads from Vancouver, British Columbia; Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; Uganda and Aguadulce, Panama. Play starts Friday at 1 p.m. and continues through Sunday, August 26.

Saturday, August 18

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals

Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO; 4:05 p.m. (ET); FOX-TV

Two National League Central rivals will duel in Fox’s ‘Game of the Week,’ as the Pittsburgh Pirates (64-53) look to inch closer to an NL Wild Card by sending Erik Bedard (7-12, 4.56) to the mound to face the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals (64-53). The Cardinals counter with Lance Lynn (13-5, 3.65), who will try to keep Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen from adding to his MVP-level offensive totals this season.

Sunday, August 19

Pure Michigan 400

Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI; 1:19 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan this Sunday as drivers try to race into championship contention. Jimmie Johnson now holds the points lead after climbing three spots at Watkins Glen last week. Greg Biffle is just one point behind Johnson, with Matt Kenseth only two points back in third place.

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; 8 p.m. (ET); NBC-TV

Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck gets his first look at the aggressive, blitzing defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers in this preseason NFL game. The Steelers new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, directs Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against a Colts defense that was shaky at times in 2011.

Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY; 8:05 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV

With a six-game lead in the American League East, the New York Yankees (70-47) are almost a lock for the playoffs, while the Boston Red Sox (57-61) seem unlikely to play deep into October. Boston starts staff ace Josh Beckett (5-10, 5.19), who is in the middle of a very disappointing season. Beckett and the Red Sox may be playing to save the job of manager Bobby Valentine, who appears to have lost support in his own clubhouse. Yankees’ starter Hiroki Kuroda (11-8, 3.06) has been very solid on the mound this season. He’ll have to pitch carefully to Boston sluggers like Adrian Gonzalez.

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