Blackhawks

Reds phenom allows 1st earned run since Sept. 10

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Reds phenom allows 1st earned run since Sept. 10

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Michael McKenry was prepared for the ultimate fastball. Pittsburgh's reserve catcher caught up with one of Aroldis Chapman's blink-of-an-eye fastballs and ended the reliever's season-long streak of not allowing an earned run, hitting an RBI double in the 10th inning Thursday night for a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Chapman (4-1) hadn't allowed an earned run in a club-record 24 appearances covering 29 innings. He came in to start the 10th with a 0.00 ERA and gave up a leadoff double by Clint Barmes -- only the eighth hit off the left-hander all season. McKenry, batting only .193, knew what was coming next. "He's a special guy with a special arm," McKenry said. "You've got to prepare for the 100 mph fastball. You can't think about anything else." The catcher's double to right field off a 99 mph pitch allowed the Pirates to pull out a game they almost let get away. "McKenry hit a real good pitch," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "If you catch up to Chapman's fastball, you're going to hit it hard somewhere." McKenry also had a sacrifice fly for a 4-3 lead in the seventh, but closer Joel Hanrahan (3-0) blew a save for only the second time this season, giving up a leadoff homer to Ryan Ludwick in the ninth. Chris Resop got his second major league save, allowing the Pirates to take two of three in the series against the NL Central leaders. Resop got Ludwick on a called third strike with two runners aboard, completing Pittsburgh's ninth win in 12 games. This one might have been the best of all. "Probably as satisfying a win as I've had since I've been here for the ballclub," manager Clint Hurdle said. McKenry figured in the Pirates' biggest moments in a back-and-forth game. His sacrifice fly in the seventh took advantage of Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips' blunder. Phillips turned his back to the infield after getting an out at first on a sacrifice, allowing Jose Tabata to go from first to third on the play. McKenry drove him in. Pittsburgh's bullpen ranks second in the NL to Cincinnati's and had blown only three save chances, fewest in the league. Ludwick hit Hanrahan's first pitch into the upper deck to tie it. Hanrahan came into the game 15 of 16 in save chances, having converted 10 in a row since his other missed opportunity on May 8. The Pirates' bench erupted when McKenry came through again in the 10th to regain the lead and end Chapman's streak without allowing an earned run. "We knew his numbers," said reliever Jared Hughes, who escaped a threat in the sixth. "We were really excited on the bench when that happened. "That was awesome -- maybe the best team win all year." Ludwick and Jay Bruce also had solo shots off Kevin Correia. It was Ludwick's 13th career multihomer game. Bruce led off the second inning with his 13th homer. At least one homer has been hit in each of the last 53 games at Great American Ball Park since last July 29, the longest such streak since there were 63 straight games with a homer at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park in 2007-08, according to STATS LLC. Cincinnati's Joey Votto doubled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to 13 games, one shy of his career high. Tabata threw Votto out at the plate when he tried to score on Phillips' single to right field. Alex Presley doubled, singled and scored a pair of runs batting atop the Pirates' order. Presley, called up at the start of the series to bat leadoff, went 5 of 14 and scored three runs as Pittsburgh won its fifth straight series. Garrett Jones drove in two runs for Pittsburgh with a sacrifice fly and a single. NOTES: The Pirates play their next 15 games against American League teams, starting with three at PNC Park against Kansas City. The Reds host a three-game weekend series against Detroit, making its first trip to Cincinnati since 2001. ... Pittsburgh is 16-10 in one-run games. ... Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez was back in the lineup after sitting out a few games. He broke an 0-for-18 slump with a pinch-hit single on Wednesday. ... Reds 3B Scott Rolen took batting practice for the second consecutive day. Rolen has been on the DL with an inflamed left shoulder since May 12. There's no timetable for his return. ... Reds CF Drew Stubbs missed his second straight game with pulled muscles in his left side. He said the injury was improving.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."