Seven Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

Seven Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

We're probably not going to do these lists after every game, but we're still feeling the "bright side" kick after the Phillies unofficially declared contention a dead issue with a lot of games still on the schedule. They're making it easy to stay positive since then, winning their second straight in Washington, 3-2, last night. Here's a quick look at another decent night to be a Phillies fan. 
Dom Brown's HoseNo that's not a new fan group for Domonic Brown, though we're not saying it shouldn't be. With two outs in the bottom of the second and Edwin Jackson on second for the Nats, Bryce Harper sent a sharp single out to left, where Brown scooped it up and fired it to home plate. Erik Kratz had a perfect blocking position, and Jackson was dead in the water, ending the inning and preventing the Nats from expanding their lead. 
J-Roll Homered Again. And Again.Having staved off the Nat Attack in the second inning, it was the Phillies' turn in the third. Jimmy Rollins had homered in the series opener (you remember the inside-the-parker), and nearly done so again leading off on Wednesday. He must have liked what Edwin Jackson was serving, because he stroked one to right, kickstarting the Phillies offense for the night. Leading off in the top of the fifth, Jimmy blasted another one, his third in the first two games of the series and 12th of the season. 
The Shierholter Opens TradingNate Schierholtz made his presence known in his first game as a Phillie, homering and making a sliding catch in right. Batting second in the lineup, his longball came right after Jimmy's second of the game, putting the Phillies ahead with the 3-2 lead they'd carry for the rest of the night. Schierholtz's defense helped ensure that W, when he charged and made a sliding catch on a Bryce Harper flare with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. Not to throw an unnecessary handful of dirt on the grave of Hunter Pence's Phillies career, but I'm pretty sure every Phils fan watching the game last night muttered, "Pence wouldn't have gotten to that" or "Pence would have kicked that halfway down the first base line," or "Pence would have slid three feet past the ball as it bounced toward the corner and Bryce Harper had his revenge for J-Roll's inside the park roundtripper the night before." You get the point, and it isn't that Nate Schierholtz is a better overall option in right. There may be some advantages though. 
Holder By Committee!Josh Lindblom, the reliever who came over in the deal that sent Shane Victorino to LA, faced the next batter after Harper's flyout. He allowed a single to Ryan Zimmerman, but got Mike Morse to strike out before himself being relieved as Charlie used three pitchers in the frame to set up Jonathan Papelbon. Jeremy Horst came in to face LaRoche, but Zimmerman ran on him, and Kratz gunned him down at second to close it out. Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratzkratzkratz Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratzkratz EVERYBODY! 
Papelbon closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth that included a swinging strikeout to end the game. 
Vance Party!Vance Worley ducked some first inning bad luck and escaped with a win, going seven innings while allowing six hits and a walk with no strikeouts. Both runs charged to him were unearned due to … 
Another Error at Third!Wait why is this a good thing? OK it's not, at all. Kevin Frandsen's boot in the first inning with two men on loaded the bases for Adam LaRoche, who then singled in a run. Danny Espinosa then grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Chad Tracy, giving the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. The only remotely positive thing about the sequence is that, no longer in a pennant chase, the Phillies having yet another costly error at the hot corner this season serves as a reminder they'll be targeting more talent there before 2013, both at the plate and the bag. Right, Rube? 
Shane and Hunter Went 0-8We're obviously not going to hope for the worst for these two guys who were fan favorites and genuinely good people. Shane gave me some of my favorite sports memories, and I'll always be grateful. Pence was a lot of fun too, and things just didn't work out for this talented, funky player during his time with the Phils. But it's not one of those situations where we hope they go on to win elsewhere (Shane's already got one, Pence wasn't here long enough, eff both those teams, #godbacks, etc.). We'll take comfort just this once in the fact that their debuts for the stupid Dodgers and the stupid Giants, respectively, went entirely fruitless. Neither freshly former Phillie got a hit, and both of their teams lost (unfortunately, the SF loss came with a Mets win). Mmyep, their GMs and fans have to deal with the reality that Lindblom totally got that one guy out and Schierholtz's homer proved to be the winner for the Phillies, virtually GUARANTEEING that Ruben Amaro Jr got the better of the deals. No need to even keep score after this point. Haw man. That's gotta burn. 
The Phils are a game out of not-last. The Nats have a 2.5-game lead in the division. Cole's on the hill. Anyone else looking forward to some baseball tonight?

Photos by Kevin Jairaj-US Presswire

NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers off to conference title games after dramatic wins

NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers off to conference title games after dramatic wins

ARLINGTON, Texas -- This time it was a catch, and another win for the Green Bay Packers.

Call it a "Half Mary" from Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers threw a 36-yard pass to a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline, and Mason Crosby kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Packers to the NFC championship game with their eighth straight win while thwarting a huge Dallas rally in a 34-31 victory in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday.

The throw on the run from Rodgers to Cook -- confirmed on review -- wasn't nearly as debatable as Dez Bryant's famous catch that wasn't in the Cowboys' divisional round loss to Green Bay two years ago.

Cook kept both feet inbounds with a knee just above the ground out of bounds.

And it came after the Cowboys tied the game twice in the final 5 minutes behind rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their playoff debut.

It was the third field goal of more than 50 yards in the final 1:38 -- two from Crosby and one from Dallas' Dan Bailey. And Crosby had to make the winner twice after Dallas coach Jason Garrett called timeout before the first attempt.

Rodgers, who sparked last week's wild-card win over the New York Giants with another Hail Mary before halftime, is headed to an MVP showdown with Atlanta's Matt Ryan next Sunday. It will be his third NFC title game -- all on the road.

Green Bay's win was the first by a road team after 12 straight home victories in the playoffs dating to last season.

The Cowboys (13-4) almost became the third team in the Super Bowl era to win in the playoffs after trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter. The first was Dallas in 1972, when "Captain Comeback", Roger Staubach, rallied the Cowboys for a 30-28 win over San Francisco.

Instead, Dallas ended up with its fifth straight loss in the divisional round and a 21-year drought in trips to the NFC championship game.

Prescott got the Dallas rally going with a 40-yard touchdown toss in the first half to Bryant, the first playoff TD for the star receiver.

Then he set the stage for the first tying score on a 6-yarder to Jason Witten, also the first postseason touchdown for the 14th-year tight end.

Rodgers led the Packers to a go-ahead 56-yard field goal from Crosby with a big boost on a pass interference penalty against rookie Anthony Brown that wiped out an interception from Jeff Heath, whose pick earlier in the game helped Dallas rally.

The Cowboys answered with a 52-yarder from Bailey (see full recap).

Steelers hold off Chiefs to set up rematch with Pats in AFC title game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Who needs to reach the end zone when you have Le'Veon Bell chewing up yards and the clock, and Chris Boswell setting an NFL playoff record with six field goals?

Throw in a stingy Pittsburgh defense for most of Sunday night, and a multitude of mistakes by Kansas City, and the Steelers' 18-16 victory sent them into the AFC championship game.

The Steelers (13-5) needed to hold off a last-ditch threat by the Chiefs (12-5) before advancing to face New England next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl. The Patriots won at Pittsburgh 27-16, but Ben Roethlisberger was injured and didn't play.

Spencer Ware's 1-yard touchdown run took Kansas City within 18-16. The Chiefs at first converted the 2-pointer to tie it, but tackle Eric Fisher -- the first overall selection in the 2013 draft -- was penalized for holding. The next try failed.

With 2:43 remaining, Justin Gilbert misplayed the kick return and was tackled at the Pittsburgh 5. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 7 yards on third down and Pittsburgh then ran out the clock, securing a ninth straight victory for the Steelers. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, losing five in a row.

The scoring started furiously in the opening minutes, then the game became a kicking exhibition by Boswell, who also had six field goals in the regular season against Cincinnati. And Bell put on a virtuoso running performance, patiently finding holes and then exploding through them. He added a team-record 170 yards rushing to the 167 he had in a win over Miami last week.

The Steelers became first team to win a playoff game without a TD since eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC divisional round at Baltimore.

Using a no-huddle attack almost to perfection early on, the Steelers drove deep into Kansas City territory. But they bogged down inside the 5 and Boswell made a 22-yard field goal.

The Chiefs were just as efficient on a six-play march capped by receiver Albert Wilson lining up in the backfield, then slipping uncovered into the end zone for a 5-yard score.

Pittsburgh's answer came on a 52-yard heave to All-Pro Brown, who somehow was covered by linebacker Justin Houston. That led to Boswell's second field goal, a 38-yarder. He added a 36-yarder to cap a 14-play drive on which Pittsburgh again barely huddled.

A clean game up until then turned to, well, turnovers, on successive series. Bud Dupree pounded Alex Smith, whose pass shot high into the air and was caught by linebacker Ryan Shazier.

The Steelers got to the Kansas City 5, where Frank Zombo leaped to deflect Roethlisberger's throw, and All-Pro safety Eric Berry -- burned for 26 yards on the previously play -- picked it off in the end zone.

Boswell's fourth field goal, from 45 yards, made it 12-7 at the half. His 43-yarder, setting the franchise record for a postseason game and tying the league mark of five, came on Pittsburgh's first series of the second half. A 43-yarder midway in the fourth quarter gave Boswell the NFL record.

Kansas City's Cairo Santos got in on the kicking act with a 48-yarder to make it 15-10. At that point, 10 seconds from the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs were outgained 333 yards to 150 (see full recap).

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

NEW YORK -- James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season and the Houston Rockets easily ended their first losing streak of the season by beating the Brooklyn Nets 137-112 on Sunday night.

Held to 105 points in losses to Minnesota and Memphis, the Rockets bounced back with 104 after three quarters and handed the Nets their 10th straight loss.

Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points and Trevor Ariza added 23. Houston made 21 3-pointers and had five players with at least 16 points.

Houston shot just 40.8 percent during its two losses, well below its 46.8 season average, while being held nearly 10 points below its season scoring average. But the Rockets had no trouble bouncing back against the Nets, who allow an NBA-worst 114.3 per game (see full recap).

DeRozan leads Raptors past Knicks
TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Norman Powell added 21 and the Toronto Raptors used a dominant third quarter to beat the New York Knicks 116-101 on Sunday.

DeRozan also had five rebounds and five assists before coming out late in the third quarter.

The Raptors improved to 27-13, taking the lead for good late in the first quarter. They led by 38 points in the third in winning their third straight game overall and fifth in a row against the Knicks.

DeMarre Carroll added 20 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 18 points, Justin Holiday had 17, and Derrick Rose added 16. The Knicks are 2-10 in their last 12 to drop to 18-23 (see full recap).

Hawks stay hot by beating Bucks    
ATLANTA -- Kent Bazemore scored 24 points, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and was a tough matchup in the paint for Milwaukee, which dropped 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta has won eight of nine. The Bucks have dropped three of five.

Dunleavy, in his second game since arriving in a trade last week with Cleveland, had his first 20-point performance since a first-round playoff game for Chicago on April 30, 2015.

Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points in eight games in a breakout season (see full recap)