Giants lead Cardinals 5-0 in Game 6 of NLCS


Giants lead Cardinals 5-0 in Game 6 of NLCS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Ryan Vogelsong struck out six during a hitless start, and the San Francisco Giants took a 5-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals through three innings in Game 6 of the NL championship series Sunday night.

St. Louis leads the series 3-2.

Trying to force a decisive Game 7 at home, Marco Scutaro hit a two-out, two-run double off Chris Carpenter to highlight San Francisco's four-run second. Buster Posey's groundout in the first also scored Scutaro and gave the NL batting champion his first RBI of the series.

Vogelsong's dominating start came almost all on fastballs and commanding cutters to energize an orange towel-twirling crowd on a cool night at San Francisco's waterfront ballpark.

Fans serenaded the 35-yeard-old journeyman with chants of ``Vog-ey! Vog-ey!'' He struck out the side in the first - allowing only a one-out walk to Matt Carpenter - and mixed in a changeup to get Carlos Beltran swinging for the second out of the inning.

Matt Carpenter replaced Matt Holliday in St. Louis' lineup when the left fielder was scratched about 45 minutes before first pitch because of lower back tightness, the team said. Carpenter started at first base and batted second, Allen Craig shifted from first to left field and Beltran slid back a spot to third while playing right field.

With Vogelsong on the mound and San Francisco's offense off to a scintillating start, Holliday's absence might not have mattered much.

After Scutaro drew a one-out walk in the first, Sandoval doubled over the head of Jon Jay as the center fielder got turned around fighting the sun and shadows during the twilight start. Scutaro scored on Posey's groundout to third to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

Brandon Belt tripled to right-center leading off the second. Gregor Blanco struck out swinging and Brandon Crawford was walked intentionally.

With Crawford trying to steal second on the pitch, Vogelsong chopped a ball that shortstop Pete Kozma couldn't handle. Scutaro doubled to left and Sandoval singled on the 10th pitch against Carpenter to put the Giants ahead 5-0.

The 10 unearned runs allowed by the Cardinals over the series is the most in NLCS history, according to STATS LLC. Two teams have allowed nine.

Not exactly the start St. Louis had in mind.

The only other time the Cardinals opened a 3-1 lead in the NLCS came in 1996, when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in seven games. San Francisco, which never faced an elimination game in winning the 2010 World Series title, is 4-0 when pushed to the brink this postseason. The Giants became the first team in major league history to come back from a 0-2 deficit and win the final three games on the road when they stunned the Cincinnati Reds in the division series.

St. Louis has won its last seven games when facing elimination dating back to 2006 but the defending champions were hoping to avoid another chance to extend the streak. After falling into a 3-1 hole before winning Game 5 to force the series back to San Francisco, the Giants liked their chances to do just that.

Vogelsong became the first Giants starter to last through six innings this postseason when he allowed four hits over seven innings in a 7-1 victory in Game 2. Carpenter had been even more reliable this time of year for the Cardinals, with his 10 postseason victories the most in franchise history.

Giants ace Matt Cain would take the mound for Game 7 in San Francisco on Tuesday night against Kyle Lohse.


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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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