Raul and Benny Provide the Long-Lost Pop, Halladay and Madson Deliver

Raul and Benny Provide the Long-Lost Pop, Halladay and Madson Deliver

The big story on Friday afternoon was Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies about-face on whether or not to bring up Dom Brown from Lehigh Valley as Shane Victorino headed to the DL. Part of the reason the team finally decided to make the move to bring Brown up to the big club was the total lack of production from the team as whole on offense and very lackluster play from the outfield specifically.

The big story Friday night was the bats of the two guys Brown's presence on the roster could affect the most. Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez provided all the offense tonight, as Francisco hit a two run shot in the second and Ibanez sent a solo blast into the ivy in center in the fourth. Phils' skipper Charlie Manuel likes what he's seen from Raul since breaking out of his Oh-for-what-seemed-like-eternity slump earlier in the season.

"He's been swinging the bat pretty good," Manuel said of Ibanez. "He got two hits last night. Got a home run tonight. His swings been getting better."

While Raul has been hitting pretty well as of late, Ben Francisco hadn't hit an extra-base hit since the Paul Reiser Show went off the air (April 27th). When asked about Dom Brown's arrival today and what it could mean to him, Francisco said he can only focus on his own game.

"I gotta go out there and play. When I get to play, I've got to play well," Francisco said. "Doesn't matter what anyone else does, it's on me."

The team didn't exactly light their bats on fire this evening, however, only notching two singles in addition to their two long balls. Francisco says all it takes is for one guy to get going and the whole offense will follow.

"Hitting is contagious. For us, we're not making pitchers work," Francisco said. "When they get in a groove, it's kind of tough for anybody to get hits because they start going through the lineup easily and it's tough to string hits together. All it takes is for one guy to get hot and I think everybody else will follow."

Howard's Slump

One guy who could certainly take any sort of help he can get at the plate is Ryan Howard, who was 0-3 on the night, pushing his ugly hitless streak to 0-23. Charlie Manuel was asked what he's been seeing out of Howard at the dish.

"When he hits the ball into the shift, it seems like he's hitting the ball right at the guy," Manuel said. "Of course he's striking out. I don't think he's seeing the ball real good right now. He's late sometimes when he's hitting."

Halladay Delivers

Roy Halladay was typically great. Despite some infuriating calls from the home plate ump, making both teams brains hurt, Roy kept his composure and kept making his pitches. Charlie Manuel said Doc's superior command allows him to adjust accordingly.

"Roy's command is what really sets him apart," Manuel said. "He can make adjustments to bring the ball a little closer to the plate. When he gets a lot of balls on what Icall the big part of the plate, that's when he gets hurt. Most of the time he makes good adjustments, up or down, whatever. If the guys giving him the low ball he'll stay down."

While Chuck says Doc is capable of making the necessary adjustments, Halladay says the shaky strikzone doesn't change his approach at all.

"None," Halladay said as to what kind of adjustments he made. "Really just tried to stay the same. I think after the second or third inning, he was pretty consistent. You just stay there. You can't really do a whole lot. If they're close, you just consistently be there. I think sometimes the more you hit that spot, hopefully you'll get the pitches later. They were definitely close pitches. I thought that they were strikes, but you just stay there, you don't change."

Doc threw 116 pitches and maintained a one run lead heading into the ninth. Ryan Madson shut the door on the Rangers for the save and once again showed some excitement after the win. Hopefully that becomes a new Phillies tradition.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).