Just Like the 2010 NLCS, Only With Zero Excitement

Just Like the 2010 NLCS, Only With Zero Excitement

In Game 3 of the 2010 NLCS, Matt Cain outdueled Cole Hamels for a 3-0 win on a night where there was scant offense from the Phillies and not a tremendous amount more from the Giants. Wednesday's 2-1 Phils loss may have looked familiar, with Cain and the Giants topping Hamels and the home side, 2-1, and the teams combining for 10 hits.

The Phillies got some bats on Cain's pitches but couldn't get them to fall, notching just four hits all night despite striking out only once. Hell the Giants even tried to give them some opportunities, with a few miscues in the field allowing Phillies baserunners. They just couldn't put anything together, save for a seventh inning Domonic Brown RBI after a laugher of a Giants error.

Anyone worried about the Phillies' autumnal offense got a bit more ammo for the trade deadline debates that have been raging this week. More on the game below.

On Tuesday night, Vance Worley found a way to make it through 9 innings last night without getting a single batter to swing and miss. Hamels got that out of the way early and often, striking out six, including three in the first two innings, all swinging. Cole would scatter three more K's over the course of his seven total innings, two of which were swinging, and the third was on a Cain bunt attempt going foul.

Unfortunately, Hamels didn't get any support tonight. Aaron Rowand put the Giants ahead with an RBI triple in the third, and Nate Schierholtz knocked in Jeff Keppinger in what looked like a dangerous top of the seventh (particularly for Brown, who dove awkwardly for the ball and missed). But after Cole hit catcher Eli Whiteside with a pitch, he got Cain to pop out and Rowand to GIDP, ending the threat.

The Phillies stole one back in the bottom of the seventh when a Shane Victorino high pop in the infield was botched by Cain and Whiteside failing to call each other off, and the ball rolling well into foul territory. Vic ran all the way to second on it, then made it home when Dom Brown chopped a single past Aubrey Huff and into left. That'd be it for the runs though.

With two outs and a runner on second in the seventh, Brad Lidge came in to relieve Hamels. Lidge couldn't get Jeff Keppinger to bite on a slider with two strikes and ended up walking him, but he came back to K Cody Ross on a high fastball. Ross had a pair of strikeouts on the night, even throwing his bat wildly into the stands on a Hamels buckler, so at least he didn't reprise his NLCS performance.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Phils got some more fortune from the Giants' fielders, with pinch hitter Ross Gload getting aboard despite flying out after catcher's interference was called. Again though, despite being spotted the baserunner, the Phils failed to do anything in the frame.

Antonio Bastardo came in to throw a nasty, perfect top of the ninth, retiring the side in order with a pair of strikeouts. But in the bottom half, further reviving all sorts of disgusting NLCS nostalgia, Brian Wilson came in to face Ryan Howard (who did not strike out looking, mind you, but did get boned on a called strike that he watched), Victorino, and Raul Ibanez. He retired the side for his 32nd save, closing out the win for Cain.

Without the drama of the NLCS rematch, this would have been just your average boring ballgame, the complete antithesis of last night. Sometimes the bats just don't come out, and a good pitcher loses on a night he deserves to win. But with that drama, the Phils' possible flaws were amplified. No one in the building forgets that they came up limp in a few of the games against San Francisco last October, and these two teams could very well face off in the postseason again this year.

The offense we've seen in the month of July, including just last night against this same team, are enough to counter any overreactions and hyperbole coming out of tonight's loss. It's not likely we'll see Barry Zito if these teams meet in the playoffs though, so let's hope they get a feel for how to hit the rest of the Giants' starters before then. They have five more games against each other in the next two weeks, so I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more about it.

Carlos Beltran will join the Giants in Philly shortly and presumably be in the lineup for tomorrow's season finale (and Pat Burrell will could be released to make room). Tim Lincecum is expected to get the start for San Fran, facing Kyle Kendrick, who will try to get the Phillies their 10th straight series win.

Photos by Matt Slocum, AP

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).

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).