Remember the Squirrel: Phillies, Blanton Kick Off Four-Game Set in St. Louis

Remember the Squirrel: Phillies, Blanton Kick Off Four-Game Set in St. Louis

How about that free-agent-to-be Cole Hamels, eh? Cole was filthy on Wednesday night, going out and winning his seventh game in a row, a career berst, to put an end to the Phillies four-game losing streak and give the team something positive to hang their hats on prior to kicking off their four-game set with the first place Cardinals tonight in St. Louis. Despite losing one of the best players in the game in Albert Pujols, the reigning champs champs currently hold a half game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the Central.

The beasts of last year's awful, horrendous, totally lame, and disappointing NL Division Series, Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman, are both on the DL. So we won't have them to remind us of the ugly end to the 2011 season. But there are plenty of other familiar faces to do just that anyway.

Papa J-Roll -- welcome to Philly, Camryn Drew! -- is back from the Paternity Leave list which means Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratz was optioned to Lehigh Valley. We're just glad Erik got the chance to belt his first homer in the bigs while he enjoyed his cup.

Sadly, Ryan Howard is still rehabbing down in Clearwater so there will be none of his infamous home cooking this weekend.

It'll be Joe Blanton (4-4, 3.74) going up against right-hander Jake Westbrook (4-3, 2.41) in tonight's contest. Heavy B is coming off a tough outing against the Red Sox in which he gave up a career-high 4 home runs and 7 runs (6 earned) overall in 4.1 innings of work. It ended his sweet streak of non-loss performances at CBP that dated back multiple seasons.

As for the Pujols-less Cards offense, David Freese has continued to impress in the Lou, knocking in his 30th and 31st runs of the season on Wednesday night. He's one of three players with 30+ RBI through 44 games this season. Carlos Beltran has been producing for the Cards, sitting 2nd overall in the NL with 37 RBI.

8:15 start from the middle portion of the United States.

Chooch Ruiz is your cleanup hitter again. And he's a badass.

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.