Blackhawks

Cubs work walk off magic for first series win

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Cubs work walk off magic for first series win

Alfonso Soriano hit a game-ending RBI single in the 10th inning and the Chicago Cubs beat St. Louis 3-2 on Wednesday night, ending the Cardinals' run of 13 consecutive winning series.Tony Campana sparked the winning rally with a one-out single off Fernando Salas (0-1). Campana then stole second in a close call that led to the first ejection for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.After Starlin Castro struck out, Bryan LaHair was walked intentionally before Soriano hit a full-count pitch off second baseman Tyler Greene and into the outfield. Campana scored easily to give the Cubs their second consecutive dramatic victory against the CardinalsJames Russell (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning to get the win.Chicago led 1-0 before Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer off Carlos Marmol with two out in the eighth inning. LaHair then tied it with a leadoff drive off Marc Rzepczynski in the ninth.The Cubs also beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Monday night on Joe Mather's game-ending, two-run single. They will go for the three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon.St. Louis won its last seven series in the regular season last year, then stormed through the playoffs to the World Series title. It opened this season with six more series wins before running into the slumping Cubs, who had dropped seven of eight before the Cards came to town.It was St. Louis' first series loss since it dropped two of three against Cincinnati from Sept. 2-4. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2002 Braves were the last team to put together a 13-series streak.

The Cardinals had just four hits before Holliday drove a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center for his fourth homer. Rafael Furcal set up the go-ahead drive with a one-out walk against Rafael Dolis, who retired Skip Schumaker before first-year manager Dale Sveum went to his closer with Holliday coming to the plate.Carlos Beltran then walked and move to third on Marmol's errant pickoff attempt before David Freese flied out to end the inning. The erratic closer was jeered by the Wrigley Field crowd of 38,894 as he made his way to the dugout.Chicago nearly wasted a terrific outing by Jeff Samardzija, who struck out nine in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander yielded just four hits and two walks in his second start against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals in 11 days.Samardzija pitched five shaky innings at St. Louis on April 13, but the Cubs roughed up Wainwright in a 9-5 victory.This one was much different.Wainwright allowed one run and six hits over six innings in his best start since he had elbow-ligament replacement surgery last February, sidelining him for the 2011 season. The 6-foot-7 right-hander struck out seven and walked one, but remained winless in four starts this year.Chicago grabbed the lead in the first. David DeJesus drove a leadoff double into the right-field corner and advanced on Tony Campana's sacrifice. Starlin Castro then lofted a fly ball to right, leading to a disputed call at home.Beltran settled under Castro's ball and made a strong throw to the first-base side, forcing Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina to dive across the plate with his glove. Molina was right there as DeJesus stuck his left arm out while sliding past home on the dugout side, drawing a safe call from umpire Chris Conroy.DeJesus clapped his hands and scurried back to the dugout as Molina popped up and began arguing with Conroy. Matheny popped out of the dugout and got between Molina and Conroy before continuing the argument with the umpire. Looking at the TV replays, it was unclear whether DeJesus ever touched home, but Matheny eventually left the field after a short argument.It was a busy night for Molina, who had two hits, made a rare throwing error and picked DeJesus off second after a leadoff double in the fifth.The Cubs had a chance to add to their lead in the fourth, putting runners on second and third with no outs. But Wainwright wiggled out of the jam, showing the moxie that made him one of baseball's best pitchers before the elbow injury.Ian Stewart and Darwin Barney struck out swinging, the latter on three pitches, before Wainwright issued an intentional walk to Geovany Soto. Samardzija then popped out to end the inning.NOTES
The Cubs outrighted RHP Rodrigo Lopez to Triple-A Iowa. Lopez was designated for assignment when RHP Michael Bowden was added to the 25-man roster on Monday. ... Bowden made his Cubs debut in the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning.
Box score Complete recapCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lack of energy comes at wrong time for Blackhawks: 'Makes you angry'

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USA Today

Lack of energy comes at wrong time for Blackhawks: 'Makes you angry'

Effort has not been a major concern for the Blackhawks this season. For the most part it's been there, and you could see it over the last two months when they started to string together a run.

But Wednesday, it was.

The Blackhawks didn't have a great first period. They had a decent second. Things went off the rails in the third. 

The Blackhawks lost focus, and the compete level wasn't nearly where it needed to be in their first home game in exactly two weeks after giving up five third-period goals, four of which came in a span of 7:08.

"Makes you angry," head coach Jeremy Colliton said following a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers. "Because it's a game that you're looking for like, we needed this game. We didn't do the things right from the start to put ourselves in the best position to win. We just didn't have enough guys ready to play."

The Blackhawks picked up two out of a possible 10 points on their five-game road trip in Western Canada, but that wasn't necessarily indicative of how they played. All five games were there for the taking but they squandered opportunities to do so. A power-play goal here or there could've been the difference, but instead their drought is now up to 0-for-17 in their past six games.

It was a tough road trip for the Blackhawks, not just because they didn't get the desired results, but because it was a demanding travel schedule that started and ended in Winnipeg. But they wouldn't use that as an excuse even though it's a valid one at this time of year.

"To me, the story of the game tonight is, you're going to have games throughout the year where you don't have energy, where it's hard to find," Jonathan Toews said. "You've got to find the motivation to go out there and play your best game. It's just a mental thing that you have to do and that's just the name of the game, playing NHL hockey. That's one of the challenging things that if you want to make the playoffs and you want to be a winning team you're not going to feel at your best every night.

"There's going to be tough travel, tough schedule, a lot of adversity, things that pile up in your way and you've got to find a way to overcome it. So we didn't do that tonight." 

With Wednesday's loss, the Blackhawks fell to 1-5-2 in their past eight games after going 12-5-0 in their previous 17. They remain eight points out of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference but have four teams to jump, two of which have a game in hand.

Playoffs seem like a pipedream at this point, and you have to wonder how this latest spiral could impact the Blackhawks' plans ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline. It's always a challenging time of year for players, especially on teams on the outside looking in, but that doesn't mean it's time to wave the white flag.

"We have to think really short-term," Colliton said. "And that's tomorrow, how are we going to prepare? Because we didn't prepare well enough. The coaches have to do a better job of preparing the team, the team needs to do a better job of preparing each other, and individually they've got to do a better job of preparing themselves to play."

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: Are the Blackhawks buyers or sellers?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Are the Blackhawks buyers or sellers?

Charlie Roumeliotis, Scott King, and Ben Pope join Leila on the panel.

0:00- The Blackhawks return home after two weeks on the road. Did they return to Chicago as trade deadline sellers? And what are the chances both goalies could be dealt by Monday?

12:00- Pat Boyle joins the panel. He gives his thoughts on the Blackhawks trade deadline plans.

14:30- David Ross says the Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo could hit 1-2 in the Cubs lineup in 2020. Will that solve their leadoff woes?

19:00- The Astros controversy just won't go away. The panel discusses.

21:00- The NFL reportedly wants to expand the playoffs to 14 teams and go to a 17 game regular season. Is this a good idea?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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