Happ Beats Hamels, Phillies Lose Third Straight; Sky Remains at Safe Distance From Earth

Happ Beats Hamels, Phillies Lose Third Straight; Sky Remains at Safe Distance From Earth

A night after former Phillie Brett Myers topped former Astro Roy Oswalt, former Phillie JA Happ beat Cole Hamels. After a loss to close out the series in Milwaukee, tonight's 5-2 defeat at the hands of Wade's Boys marks the first time the Phillies have lost three straight since early June.

However, we're reasonably certain the end is not, in fact, nigh, preferring instead to believe in both the sizable lead the Phillies have in the division and the wild card, as well as the line of humor we look so forward to on occasions like these, championed by a Mr. FanSince09. Not long ago, a trip to the playoffs was astonishing. Now, for better and occasionally for worse, the postseason expected. On the "better" side, we've come to understand that a great team losing three straight, two of which are to a team 35 games out of first place, probably means very little, if not nothing.

In a way, it's almost more comforting that the last two losses have come to the Astros, rather than one of the two current playoff teams the Phillies dispatched just before losing their last three. It's a reminder that while this is really happening, it's not the reality of this team.

Don't tell that to Charlie Manuel though. While we can and should turn the page, it's the skipper's job to get the Phils back on the train. Apparently he read them the riot act after tonight's loss.

As for the game itself, Jim Salisbury called it Hamels' worst start in two months, as Cole was charged with all five runs. David Hale has video of Cole after the game, saying it's possible the last-place Astros, particularly those who used to be Phillies, had some more motivation than the current Phils.

For some reason, the Astros just have a way of getting to the Phillies when this time of year rolls around.

Interestingly, former Astro Hunter Pence gave his previous fanbase a little taste of what they've been missing, homering in the fourth inning. The homer was the 20th of the season for Pence and ninth since joining the Phils on July 29th. Carlos Ruiz also homered, though his was the only run to cross the plate in the Phils' ninth inning comeback effort.

One other former Phillie note, again per Sully: Jason Michaels broke his hand and will miss the the remainder of the season.

One more game in Houston, tomorrow at 2:05. Despite all of the above, if the Phils get swept, it'll be someone else's turn to play the "NBD" card while I take my turn going Madson on an office chair.

Photo: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.