Howard's End: Phils Pick Up Second Straight Series Win on a Walkoff

Howard's End: Phils Pick Up Second Straight Series Win on a Walkoff

After dispatching the Diamondbacks 3-0 on Saturday night, the Phillies won their second straight series with a 5-4 victory on Sunday. Cliff Lee ran into some trouble with the long ball but hung in for an eight-inning no-decision, allowing eight hits while striking out five. His bats swung back for him though, and the Phils made Arizona pay for walking Chase Utley to get to Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in the ninth. 
The D-Backs got out to an early lead on back-to-back homers in the second inning, but the skies weren't falling just yet. The Phils grabbed two back in the bottom of the frame, when John Mayberry Jr walked and was moved over on a Dom Brown double. JMjr would score on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill before Erik Kratz roped a double to the wall in left, scoring Brown. 
Lee settled in and went through the Diamondbacks' lineup in short order, sending them down 1-2-3 in three straight innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Utley tied it up on a trademark chop swing homer to right. The Phils couldn't take the lead as Howard and Mayberry each grounded out, and in the top of the sixth, Arizona struck with another home run. Lee limited the damage by inducing a double play after Justin Upton got on, then got Stephen Drew to fly out and end the threat. Neither team would reach base over the next two innings, but the Phillies weren't ready to call it a weekend. 
Down a run in the bottom of the eighth, Utley and Howard put up two quick outs before Arizona pitcher David Hernandez got into more trouble than you usually see without the ball leaving the infield. JMjr got aboard with an infield single, then reached second on another fortuitous Arizona wild pitch. Dom Brown chipped a hit back at Hernandez, who chased the ball down and hastily threw it toward first, trying to beat the hustling Brown. The ball hit Brown (no pegs!), and Mayberry charged home and "beat" a throw from first base (umps owed him one), tying things up. The rough inning wasn't over for Hernandez, who was charged with another wild pitch, advancing Brown to second. Kratz singled him to third, but Takashi Saito was able to get pinch hitter Jimmy Rollins to fly out and end the threat. 
Jonathan Papelbon entered with the game tied in the top of the ninth. Justin Upton opened the inning with a single, but Jimmy, Chase, Ryan turned a WFC double play to clear the bases on the next at bat. Papelbon then gave up a walk to Drew, who moved to second when Michael Montero reached base on an error by Howard. Fortunately, Papelbon got pinch hitter Gerardo Parra to ground out. 
Josh Collmenter came in for Arizona with Juan Pierre leading off as a pinch hitter for Papelbon. Pierre singled to center, then reached second on a Nate Schierholtz sac. Laynce Nix PH'd for Kevin Frandsen and gave Charlie Manuel his second substitute hit of the inning, singling to right and moving Pierre to third. With Nix and Pierre on, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson called for the intentional walk to Utley, loading the bags for Howard. 
Howard's afternoon at that point included a three-strikeout, 0-4 performance, an error, and some boos. He had only three hits in his previous 28 at bats. Gibson probably wouldn't want to have to make the decision he faced in the bottom of the ninth again any time soon, but if he did, he'd probably do the same thing given everything he'd seen so far. It's not an enviable position. 
With the bags loaded and the outfield deep, Howard laced a single into right, bringing Pierre home to give the Phils a win. 
There were some nervous moments, beginning with the early home run trouble for Lee, but the Phils took advantage of late miscues and misfortunes for the Diamondbacks and ultimately a huge hit by a guy who really needed to see one. 
NotesThe Phillies held a moment of silence for Garrett Reid before the game, displaying his picture on the video board.
Braves come to town next… A third straight series win won't come easy.  
Nice Mets-Phillies reference in last night's The Newsroom. U-S-A.
Unrelated but still important question: How much would you pay for a bucket of beers at the table right in front of Billy Ocean?

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds, Flyers not giving up hope with 21 games left

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds, Flyers not giving up hope with 21 games left

PITTSBURGH – Wayne Simmonds remained defiant.

Yes, the Flyers have lost seven of their last nine games. Yes, they are five points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
But it's not over in terms of the playoffs.

"We played a great game, but unfortunately, it didn't go our way," Simmonds said after the 4-2 loss to the Penguins in the Stadium Series outdoor game at Heinz Field (see game recap).

"It wasn't good enough. I don't know what to say, guys. We have 21 games left and a never-say-die attitude. We're gonna keep pushing, no matter what. We've got to be desperate every game and play it as if it’s our last."

The Flyers had their chances and their moments. When Shayne Gostisbehere scored his first goal in 34 games early in the third period, it was a 3-2 game and momentum had been building in the Flyers' favor.

Then a key moment. A lost faceoff and the puck goes back to the point where Chad Ruhwedel fires so quickly that goalie Michal Neuvirth couldn't track the puck.

That was it. Game over.

"We brought it back [to 3-2]," Simmonds said. "We just had to get the tying goal and it slipped away. … We've got to score."

Still, there is time to regroup again with 21 games left.

"We have to have a short memory," Simmonds said. "Whether it's a good game or bad game, you move on."

They’re moving on but they're not gaining traction.

Weal back in lineup
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) re-entered the lineup in place on Roman Lyubimov. Weal missed two games after suffering the injury Feb. 16 in Edmonton.

Weal moved to left wing on Claude Giroux’s line with Simmonds.

“It’s a short sample, but it’s his body of work since he has been with us over the last couple weeks,” coach Dave Hakstol said of moving Weal there.

Before his injury, Weal played left wing on Sean Couturier’s line with Jakub Voracek. Brayden Schenn went back to center Saturday night between Nick Cousins and Voracek. It was another new line for Schenn.

If you’re wondering, Schenn has played left wing 33 times this season in 58 games.

Weal said he “felt good” and seemed excited to play in an NHL outdoor game.

Midway into the game, Michael Raffl went back to the top line and Weal moved to a line with Couturier and Dale Weise.

Weal played 15:43.

Power-play position
Shayne Gostisbehere played the point this game with the first unit and not the half wall. He also scored a goal there.

Coach Dave Hakstol has been rotating him from the point to the half-wall depending upon the personnel on the ice.

"It's a little bit of an adjustment no matter where I am," Gostisbehere said. "It's just nice to be on the power play. Whatever position they put me in out there, up top or on the wing, it's something I have to be ready for. I think I'm comfortable in both spots."

Outdoors
General manager Ron Hextall liked the outdoor game concept.

"It’s unique," Hextall said. "When they first started, I don’t love change. I was a little skeptical, I guess. I think they’re terrific. I really do.

"It’s good for the game. People watch an outdoor game and will pick that game because it’s an outdoor game. There is something about them. They’re neat."

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).