Wasted Ice: Phils Can't Clinch As Bastardo Stumbles Again

Wasted Ice: Phils Can't Clinch As Bastardo Stumbles Again

CITIZENS BANK PARK -- The New York Mets delivered on Friday night. The best team in baseball did not.

They sure did make it interesting though.

With the 4-2 Phillies loss in eleven innings, Philadelphia will have to wait at least another day to celebrate a fifth-straight NL East Championship.

The fact that the Phillies didn't clinch on Friday -- aside from those fans in attendance tonight not getting to partake in the celebration -- is pretty much an afterthought at this point. The real downside tonight was Antonio Bastardo's continued struggles. He gave up a go-ahead home run to Yadier Molina that was belted high off the foul pole in left field.

Bastardo had been one of the shining stars who stepped up in a ridiculous way for the majority of the season. He was lights out. His slider was a thing of beauty. He was filthy. We were all in awe. But the baseball season is 162 games long and Bastardo has never been through an entire season as a bonafide setup man. Charlie Manuel hinted before the game that he believed some of his struggles may be with his confidence wavering.

Anybody have any ideas to jack his confidence levels up before October comes?

Manuel said after the game he's not too worried about Bastardo.

"He'll be all right," Manuel said. "We got time to make him right."

Manuel also said it's not an issue of rest with the Phillies' young lefty, "I think he's had enough rest."

There were a couple of those amazing baseball moments on the night, but the ball didn't bounce the Phillies way in the end.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, with a man on base, Hunter Pence did what it seems only Hunter Pence can do by absolutely destroying a ball down the left field line. For a for brief second it seemed like it could have been the swing that propelled the Phillies over the finish line and officially earn them that 2011 NL Champions flag.

That moment was fleeting, however, as Pence's ball curved juuuuust into foul territory but did land high up in the corner of the second deck. That was one killed baseball -- but a foul killed baseball.

An inning later in the bottom of the ninth, when pinch-hitter Ryan Howard was down to his last strike and things were looking bleak, the Big Piece ripped a double to right field to breath hope into a mostly quiet Citizens Bank Park crowd. If Howard sprayed some gasoline on the crowd, Carlos Ruiz used his bat like a Zippo and blew this place up, scoring pinch runner Michael Martinez on a ball deep down the right field line. Extra innings it was.

It was downhill from that point, however, as Michael Schwimmer allowed a couple of runs and the Phillies best hope in the bottom of the 11th was John Bowker.

Vance Worley started the game if you care about such things. He was shaky early, but fought through a bunch of hits and too many walks and allowed only one run in six innings. Madson and Lidge pitched a couple of decent innings.

The NL East crown may be all but official at this point, but this Phillies team may want to pick it up a little and get back into a groove before September ends.

If they want one of those parades at least.

Somebody put some plastic under that tub of champagne until tomorrow. Don't want to get the floors all wet.

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).