Late Inning Come-From-Behind Heroics Help Erase Early Ineptitude

Late Inning Come-From-Behind Heroics Help Erase Early Ineptitude

Plenty of fans were on their feet for the final out of the Phillies-Cubs game tonight at Wrigley. The only problem for Chicagoans was that the people wearing red were the hot, sweaty fans doing all the cheering late in this one. It didn't come easy for the Phillies tonight, however.

Cubs starter Matt Garza was fantastic for seven innings on Tuesday night, keeping the Fightins hitless until the fifth inning, but Cubs Manager Mike Quade opted to bring him out for the eighth after having thrown 113 pitches. Garza proceeded to give up a leadoff single to Jimmy Rollins and the Cubs right-hander's effort proved to be for naught, as reliever Sean Marshall promptly gave up a single to Michael Martinez to put two men on for Chase Utley.

Utley came to the plate with ducks on the pond and no outs, having failed to notch a hit in his last fifteen at-bats. It was time for the Phillies leader to finally make some noise.

Utley delivered a double to the gap in left which scored both Rollins and MiniMart to tie things up at two.

The turning point in this one could have been moments later after Utley stole third and Howard went down swinging.

Shane Victorino hit a weak chopper to short, and with the infield in, Starlin Castro went for the play at the plate. Utley didn't appear to get a great jump, and may have even slipped on the grass a bit when Vic first made contact. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto blocked the plate well and Chase was called out on a bang-bang play. You almost expect Utley, with his baserunning prowess, to score there every time.

But the Phils had some exiting two-out heroics left in them in the top of the ninth, rewarding the throngs of loyal Philadelphia fans in attendance.

After John Mayberry grounded out and Carlos Ruiz went down swinging to start the ninth, Ben Francisco came through with a big two-out pinch-hit to center. Jimmy Rollins ripped a ball right at third baseman Aramis Ramirez which ricochetted off him to short. The play was ruled a single.

That brought up Michael Martinez who proved to be the man of the hour, saving the Phillies from dropping two straight to the second-to-last-place Cubs.

Martinez hit a bloop double down the line in right that scored both Francisco and Rollins to put the Phillies up 4-2. MiniMart was so excited with what would prove to be the game winner that he got thrown out caught between second and third. Awful base running, but we'll let it slide tonight.

Mike Stutes must be commended for his two innings of shutout work after replacing Lee, who was pulled after six in hopes of getting some offense out of pinch-hitter Ross Gload. Stutes wasn't perfect, and allowed a couple of Cubbies on board in the seventh, but despite getting squeezed by the homeplate ump, he kept them from crossing the plate and put the Phils in position for the come-from-behind victory.

Antonio Bastardo was filthy in the ninth, striking out the side and earning the save.

The final two innings don't erase the offensive ineptitude for the rest of the night, but damn a come-back victory -- keeping a another potential series win alive -- certainly sends the Phillies and their fans home happy tonight.

*

Cliff Was Solid For Six

Starlin Castro hit a home run in the first inning off of Cliff Lee to put the Cubs ahead 2-0 early. Manuel pulled Lee a bit early in this one because he desperately needed some offense. Cliff's final line: 6.0 IP, 8 hits, 2 ER, 6 Ks, 0 BBs.

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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USA Today Images

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

PITTSBURGH -- To their credit, the Sharks regrouped after a miserable first period at Consol Energy Center in which it looked like they might get run out of the building.

It wasn’t enough, though, as Nick Bonino’s late third period goal pushed the Penguins to a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On the game-winner, Brent Burns lost his stick and couldn’t prevent Kris Letang from finding Bonino in front of the net with Paul Martin defending the slot. Bonino flipped it through Martin Jones at 17:27 of the final frame.

The Sharks went to the power play with 2:09 to go, but couldn’t tie it up.

Game 2 is in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The Penguins dominated the first period, only to have the Sharks completely turn the tables in the second, resulting in a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.

The Penguins had the Sharks on their heels for virtually the entire opening frame, outshooting San Jose 15-4 and scoring a pair.

The first came at 12:46 of the first. On a rush, Justin Schultz’s shot from the high slot hit the glove of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and rookie Bryan Rust was there to smack in the loose puck.

Just one minute and two seconds later, the Penguins upped their cushion. Sidney Crosby tracked down a loose puck in the corner ahead of Justin Braun, calmly played the puck off his backhand and whipped a cross-ice pass to Conor Sheary. Another rookie, Sheary whizzed a wrist shot past Jones’ far shoulder.

It was evident early in the second, though, that San Jose had regrouped, as Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski both had good looks at the net. They broke through on an early power play courtesy of Tomas Hertl, who curled in a pass from down low off of Olli Maatta at 3:02.

Pittsburgh withstood a continual push from the Sharks for much of the period until Marleau’s late score. After Couture outworked Maatta deep in the offensive zone and pushed the puck to the point to Burns, Marleau secured Burns’ rebound and wrapped it around at 18:12.

Burns had two assists, and made a strong defensive play with about three minutes left in the first, backchecking hard and lifting up Carl Hagelin’s stick on a breakaway.

Special teams

The Sharks were 1-for-2 on the power play, on Hertl’s second man advantage goal of the playoffs. They are 18-for-65 in the postseason (27.6 percent).

Pittsburgh went 0-for-3, generating five shots on goal. The Pens are 15-for-67 overall (22.3 percent).

Marleau was whistled for an illegal check to the head of Rust in the third period, sending the 24-year-old to the dressing room for a brief stretch.

In goal

Jones and Murray were each making their first career starts in the Stanley Cup Final. Jones took the loss with 38 saves, while Murray stopped 24 San Jose shots.

Lineup

Sharks forward Matt Nieto remained out with an upper body injury.

Pavelski saw his seven-game point streak (5g, 5a) come to an end. Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz increased his point streak to six games (3g, 4a).

Up next

The Sharks are 5-11 all-time when losing Game 1 of a playoff series, but 1-0 this year as they came back to defeat the Blues in the Western Conference Final.

Teams that win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the championship 78 percent of the time (59-18). The last team to win the Cup after losing Game 1 was the 2011 Bruins.

Warriors complete comeback, oust Thunder in Game 7

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The Associated Press

Warriors complete comeback, oust Thunder in Game 7

OAKLAND – They beat the odds, clobbering them into submission.

Facing a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors rallied to take three successive games over Oklahoma City, finishing the epic comeback with a 96-88 victory in Game 7 Monday night before a delirious sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry scored 36 points and Klay Thompson fired in 21, as the Warriors become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA playoffs – and the first to do so in the West finals.

Draymond Green added 11 points and also had a team-high nine rebounds, as the Warriors battled the bigger Thunder nearly even on the glass, 47-46.

Curry splashed 32 3-pointers in the series, the most ever for a player in a seven-game playoff series.

Ratcheting up the defense, the Warriors overcome a 42-point first half, their lowest total at home all season. They trailed by as much as 13 before storming back.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points to lead the Thunder. Russell Westbrook added 19.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

When his team needed him most, Curry was at his MVP best.

Curry’s line: 36 points (13-of-24 shooting from the field, 7-of-12 from beyond the arc), eight assists and five rebounds. He played 40 minutes and finished plus-18 for the game.

TURNING POINT

After OKC took a 54-48 lead on a Durant fadeaway with 8:15 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-4 run to go up 71-58 on an Anderson Varejao floater with 58.3 seconds left in the quarter.

Six different Warriors scored during the run, lead by Curry with six points. They held the Thunder to 2-of-11 shooting, with three turnovers, during the run.

The Warriors outscored the Thunder 29-12 for the quarter.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors on Thursday play host to Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm.

Joel Embiid declares himself '#FinallyHealthy' on Instagram, creates great new hashtag

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Joel Embiid declares himself '#FinallyHealthy' on Instagram, creates great new hashtag

When will Joel Embiid be cleared to make his NBA debut? That question still remains.

But the big man is making it known, he is setting his sights on that game (whenever it may be) and being part of the Sixers’ new chapter.

Monday night Embiid posted a photo of himself in a Sixers jersey with the caption “Wish we could fast forward to next season #FinallyHealthy#TrustTheNewProcess.”

Wish we could fast forward to next season #FinallyHealthy #TrustTheNewProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

That second hashtag, though? Just tremendous.

Yes, even in the midst of an electric Western Conference Finals Game 7 between the Warriors and Thunder, Embiid is thinking ahead to next season.

Embiid, the third overall pick in 2014, has yet to play in an NBA game because of foot injuries. He has been going through non-contact drills during his rehab, teasing viewers with videos of his three-point shooting, and dabbling in soccer moves.

Embiid has been expressing his excitement of playing next season on social media. Seven weeks ago, a caption included “We'll see y'all next season. ME PERSONALLY.”