Phils Shake Off Chicago's Late Rally, Salvage Series Split with 6-4 W

Phils Shake Off Chicago's Late Rally, Salvage Series Split with 6-4 W

For awhile it looked like Chris Volstad would cure what ails the Phillies. A long-time punching bag when he was with the Marlins, the towering righthander did not disappoint early on, as the Phils tagged him for a quick 4-0 lead while batting around in the bottom of the first. That was all they would get off of Volstad though, who settled down and wound up giving the Cubs six innings.

As it turned out, those four runs almost weren't enough, but the Fightins got some timely hitting from one of the old heads.

Vance Worley did his job, allowing one earned over seven frames, but Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls gave up three in the eighth to knot the score. The night was beginning to resemble some oh-so-familiar territory in the month of April, during which they dropped several close games in the ninth inning or later, experiencing a devastating combination of ineffective relief pitching and untimely at bats.

That wasn't the case here. The Fightins came right back with two in the eighth, then shut down Chicago in the ninth.

Juan Pierre was plunked on the behind and awarded first base in the bottom half of the eighth. When Jimmy Rollins came up with two outs one batter later, the Cubs proceeded to become very concerned with Pierre attempting to run. After a series throwovers, J-Roll eventually got a chance to swing the bat, and made Chicago pay with a liner into right field. Placido Polanco then followed with undoubtedly his biggest hit of the season.

Polanco drove a Rafael Dolis offering deep to left field past Alfonso Soriano. By the time Soriano corralled the ball and fired it back into the infield, Pierre and Rollins had scored easily, and Polanco was standing on second. It was his third extra-base hit of the season, and accounts for two of his four RBIs in 2012.

Jonathan Papelbon came on to close out the ninth. He surrendered a lead-off walk, but it was smooth sailing from there. Pap sat the next three batters down in order, striking out Tony Campana looking to end the game, securing the 6-4 victory. It is already Papelbon's eighth save of the season.

A win is a win, even against the Cubs, but the big takeaway has to be escaping April just one game below .500 with an 11-12 record. For as awful a start to the season the Phillies have had, they are just 3.5 games back of the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East, this while playing without two of their biggest stars in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Speaking of the NL East, the Phils begin the first of three consecutive series against division rivals in Atlanta tomorrow, when Cole Hamels goes head-to-head with Brandon Beachy.


- The Phillies offense produced a strong all-around game. All eight of their starters produced on some level, most with at least one run or RBI -- the lone exception being Ty Wigginton, who had two hits. Carlos Ruiz and Pete Orr combined to knock three runs home from the seven and eight spots in the order.

- Qualls picked up the win despite giving up the game-tying, two-run homer to Bryan LaHair in the eighth.

- Volstad entered the game with a 2-5 record, and a horrific 5.88 ERA in 12 appearances versus the Phillies.

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit, the Eagles' Super Bowl odds shortened and the Vikings' lengthened after Sunday's 21-10 win.

The Eagles are 33/1 to win it all, a week after being listed by Bovada at 50/1. The Vikings, meanwhile, went from 7/1 to 9/1. They still have the third-shortest Super Bowl odds in the NFL and are two spots ahead of the Cowboys (14/1). 

Wentz, who had his worst statistical game against Minnesota, is now 9/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to Bovada. Last Wednesday, he was 6/1.

Wentz trails Cowboys studs Ezekiel Elliott (2/5) and Dak Prescott (11/5) on that leaderboard.

As far as this week, Wentz is favored to throw for more yards than Prescott. Wentz is 5/7 to outgain Prescott through the air in Week 8, while Prescott is 1/1 to outgain Wentz.

Elliott's over/under rushing total against the Eagles is 99.5. He's rushed for 130-plus yards in each of his last four games, and the odds are 3/1 that he'll reach that number again this week. 

The Eagles have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, Washington's Matt Jones (16 for 135).

Elliott is also now on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Dickerson had 1,808 in 1983; Elliott is on pace for 1,875. Will Elliott break that 33-year-old mark? A "yes" bet pays 2/1; a "no" bet pays 1/3.

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.” ​