White Sox

Fire remain optimistic; Host New England on CSN

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Fire remain optimistic; Host New England on CSN

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011
Posted: 1:00 p.m.
Associated Press

The Chicago Fire have maintained their very slim playoff hopes thanks to improved play at home.

The Fire will try to pick up some much-needed points Sunday when they host the New England Revolution and win their fourth straight at home.

Chicago (5-8-15) is running out of time to make a move in the standings. The Fire, who have six games remaining, need to jump five teams to move into the final wild-card spot, but they remain optimistic.

We have six games left and we need all six, thats our attitude, goalkeeper Sean Johnson told the Fires official website. We cant afford any more ties or losses and I think everybody understands that and is ready to get after these final six games.

The Fire are 3-1-2 in their last six games and are 4-2-8 at Toyota Park after beating Chivas USA 3-2 on Sept. 17 despite playing most of the match with 10 men.

Dominic Oduro scored in the 85th minute to break a 2-all tiehis team-leading 10th goal and seventh in the last seven games. Oduro has scored the winning goal in Chicagos last three victories.

Cory Gibbs opened the scoring but was ejected after getting a red card in the 37th minute. He will miss this match due to suspension and is the third Fire defender in as many weeks to be out due to suspension.

We will miss Cory with the red card. He brings so much leadership on the field, coach Frank Klopas said.

The Fire will try to gain some important points against lowly New England (5-12-12), which is in last place in the Eastern Conference.

The Revolution suffered a 3-0 loss at Portland on Sept. 16 to drop to 1-8-6 on the road. They have lost five of nine overall.

New England never recovered from conceding a goal in the ninth minute as the Timbers controlled the run of play and put eight of their 20 shots on goal.

The Revolutions own attack was hurt when Rajko Lekicsecond on the team with six goalswas forced out before the half with an ankle sprain that is expected to keep him sidelined for perhaps a month.

A.J. Soares is also out after suffering a groin injury in the second half.

Despite their slim playoff chances, New England isnt giving up until it is officially eliminated.

Our season is on the line, pretty much, defender Darrius Barnes said. We know we have to pretty much win out. Chicagos going to be a difficult place to go, but theyre right there, neck and neck with us. Pretty much the winner of that game is going to have a chance to go on and make a push for the playoffs.

Chicago and New England played to a 1-all draw June 18, with Lekics goal in the 48th minute canceling out Oduros first-half tally. The Fire are 7-0-1 in their last eight home games against the Revolution, outscoring them 16-3.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

Chuck Garfien and Steve Stone take a look back at Mark Buehrle's perfect game. How did Buehrle do it? How did Dewayne Wise make that catch?

Plus, Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski talk about how Buehrle actually told Pierzynski before taking that field that day that he would throw a perfect game and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

It’s no secret that the Cubs have had their fair share of struggles on the road this season. Entering Monday’s game the Giants – the first of a nine-game road trip -- the Cubs held an 18-27 road record, 21st in all of baseball.

Things took a turn for the worse in that department on Monday night.

Clinging to a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning, the Cubs called upon reliever Pedro Strop to shut down the Giants 3-4-5 hitters. Strop, who entered action with a 4.62 ERA in 29 appearances (5.40 in July), surrendered three runs on four hits – including three doubles. The end result was the Giants taking a 5-4 lead, ultimately the game’s final score.

While Strop’s outing will get the most face time due to it occurring in a high-leverage spot, the truth of the matter is that the Cubs struggled for much of Monday’s game. After taking an early 3-0 lead, they couldn’t pull away from the Giants, watching San Francisco slowly close the gap and cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning.

The Giants actually came close to tying the game at 3-3 in the seventh inning, though Steve Cishek was able to work out of a first and second, one out jam to keep the Cubs ahead. Plus, before consecutive two out singles in the eighth inning – one being an RBI from Anthony Rizzo to give the Cubs an insurance run, the Cubs offense went through a 1-for-15 drought that began with two outs in the third inning.

At the same time, Strop struggling again is quite concerning. The 34-year-old has been the team's most reliable reliever for the past five seasons, posting sub-3.00 ERAs in each campaign from 2014-18. However, he's in the midst of a forgettable month, allowing seven runs on 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings. Strop also surrendered a game-tying home run in the eighth inning Friday against the Padres, though the Cubs were able to bounce back and win. 

Between their road woes and Strop's rough July, Monday's game did nothing to alleviate concerns over two unsettling Cubs trends. If there's one positive to take away from the game, it's that the Cubs were six outs away from picking up their third road win in seven tries this month.

Moral victories count for little when a team is in a heated pennant race, though, especially since the Cardinals took down the Pirates Monday to cut the Cubs' lead in the NL Central to 1.5 games. The Cubs have to find a way to get better on the road, and they have to find a way to get Strop back on track. Fortunately for the Cubs, there's still time to do both, as Strop pointed out postgame.

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