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Bochy rejects retaliation talk heading into Game 3

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Bochy rejects retaliation talk heading into Game 3

ST. LOUIS (AP) Giants manager Bruce Bochy expects Marco Scutaro to be in his lineup card for Game 3 of the NL championship series, two days after St. Louis slugger Matt Holliday plowed into the San Francisco second baseman.

``I think so. It feels much better,'' Scutaro said Tuesday night after participating in a workout at Busch Stadium. ``I thought it was going to be worse. Normally, the next day is when you feel it the most.''

Neither seemed too interested in any talk of retaliation.

``What's on our mind is to go out and play our best ball,'' Bochy said Tuesday night, a day before the best-of-seven series resumes at Busch Stadium with the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals tied at one game apiece. ``That's over. You have to move on.''

Scutaro said a shutout from Matt Cain would be perfect and knew nothing about get-even plans. If Matt Holliday approached him before the game, he joked that the Cardinals slugger would be in for a fight.

The recollection of the play was vivid.

``All of a sudden, I just saw this train coming,'' he said. ``I didn't have time to do pretty much anything. I don't even know how I threw the ball to first, but I think I did, huh?''

He added that if Holliday had slid any farther, ``probably you're going to make it to shortstop.''

Results of an MRI exam showed Scutaro has a strained left hip after Holliday's late slide while busting up a double play. Bochy said Scutaro also had a sore left knee, and the manager had planned on holding him out of practice after the team flight arrived from the West Coast.

``We're being hopeful he can go,'' Bochy said. ``I will say he's more optimistic about where he's at right now than when it first happened.''

Cain, who will face fellow 16-game winner Kyle Lohse, said little about any possible animosity. Cain added that he wouldn't be afraid to throw inside against Holliday.

``You've got to go out there and pitch your game,'' Cain said. ``If something gets away from me inside, that's kind of part of the game. You can't have a fear of doing that.''

The 36-year-old Scutaro was an unexpected find for the Giants, batting .362 with 40 runs and 44 RBIs in 61 games after being acquired in late July from the Rockies for a minor league infielder. He's batting .250 with three RBIs in the playoffs, but has stepped it up in the NLCS, going 4 for 8 with two RBIs.

``He's driven in a lot of two-out runs and gotten rallies going for us as well,'' Cain said. ``He's been really, really big for us.''

Bochy reiterated his opinion that Holliday had made an ``illegal slide,'' but said he hadn't talked with St. Louis manager Mike Matheny or anyone else on the Cardinals.

``I don't think there was intent, to be honest, hurting somebody,'' Bochy said. ``But it was late. Marco was behind the bag, he really didn't hit dirt until he got behind the base.

``And the second baseman, he's in a position there where there can be some damage done, as we saw. He came out of this plenty good considering how hard he got hit.''

Added Scutaro: ``I don't know too much about sliding rules, but I think it was a little late. I don't think he was intentionally doing it.''

Scutaro came out of Game 2 in the fifth inning because he was having trouble running, particularly side to side. He said his leg had gone numb, too.

Pain in the left knee developed on Tuesday, and Scutaro said both the hip and knee were stiff during the workout. If he can't start, Ryan Theriot would play second.

St. Louis didn't work out Tuesday after a late-night return flight to the Midwest. The exception was a 49-pitch simulated game by Jake Westbrook, who is recovering from a strained right oblique and is hopeful of rejoining the staff if St. Louis makes it to the World Series.

After Game 2, Holliday said he relayed an apology of sorts to Giants catcher Busty Posey before his next at-bat.

``I told Buster to tell Marco I wish I had started my slide a step earlier,'' Holliday said. ``I wanted him to know I wasn't trying to hurt him. When a guy has to leave the game, I feel bad.''

Holliday also defended his hard-nosed approach.

``When I'm at first and see a grounder to short, I'm just trying to make sure they can't turn the double play,'' Holliday said. ``He was right on second base. I hope he's OK. He's a good guy.''

Back at home, where Holliday will get cheers instead of boos, Matheny said what happened is just part of the game.

``To me, what I see is a guy who I've never seen one act of trying to hurt anybody,'' Matheny said. ``And I would never believe that's what he was trying to do. I know what Matt's intentions were and he was thinking about his team at the time.''

Lohse hopes to end a string of early exits for Cardinals starters in Game 3. He's all about efficiency, avoiding extended at-bats and letting hitters get themselves out.

St. Louis has gone three straight games without a starter getting an out in the fifth inning. Matheny said travel days during the postseason lessen the burden and keep pitchers fresh. Still, he'd rather not keep making those early trips to the mound.

``You have strong starting pitching, you have an opportunity to be successful,'' Matheny said. ``Otherwise, you're fighting an uphill battle all the time and it seems like you're constantly coming back.''

Lohse needed just 87 pitches to complete a strong seven-inning outing his last time out. He did not get a decision in a 2-1 loss to the Nationals in Game 4 of the NL division series. Lohse worked six innings or longer and threw fewer than 100 pitches 11 times during the regular season.

``It's not really a secret: I rely on getting first-pitch strikes, getting ahead of the guys and making them hit my pitch,'' Lohse said. ``That's my version of pitching to contact. I'm not out there trying to strike guys out. I want them out in three or four pitches and move on.''

He'll try not to carry any extra burden into this start.

``We've had our ups and downs as the rotation goes,'' Lohse said. ``You can't put more pressure on yourself to go out there and do more. I can't go out there and try to throw seven innings all at once.''

Cain was ex-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa's choice as the NL All-Star game starter in July. The right-hander hasn't gone deep in either of his postseason starts, giving up six runs over 10 2-3 innings.

Cain struggled against the Cardinals this year, going 1-1 with a 6.94 ERA in two starts, and is 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA overall in eight starts.

Cain recalled a start in 2006 or '07 when Albert Pujols ``took me to Big Mac Land.''

``I haven't had a ton of starts in this ballpark,'' Cain said. ``I think the biggest thing is just making good pitches, and at times I didn't make good pitches against these guys.''

The Giants' probable pitchers for Games 4 and 5 remain ``TBA'' for now according to Bochy, who said he'd reveal his choices after Game 3 depending on who he used in that game.

``I have not named a starter, really, because I don't have to right now,'' Bochy said. ``That's my biggest reason. And we'll see what happens tomorrow.''

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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.

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Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

The Caps looked like they were in good shape in the third period on Wednesday. With a 3-2 lead in the final frame against a New York Rangers team that had played the night before, Washington looked like they were starting to wear down the blue shirts and tilt the ice in their favor.

But everything changed just before the midway point of the period.

Nathan Walker, in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 4, chased down Neal Pionk behind the Rangers net as Pionk went to collect the puck. Walker put his arms around the Rangers’ defenseman to slow him up and he was called for holding.

“That was the safest thing possible for me to do is to wrap him up and take him in the corner like that,” Walker said to NBC Sports Washington on Friday. “Personally, I didn't think it was a good call on the ref's side, but that's the way it goes.”

Just over a minute later, Chris Kreider deflected a shot that was going wide past Braden Holtby for the power play goal to tie the game at 3.

A third period mistake that tied the game from a player in and out of the lineup could have been a devastating moment for Walker, but head coach Todd Reirden was adamant after the game that he did not want Walker to lose his aggressiveness or change the way he plays as a result of Wednesday’s mistake.

“I insert him to be aggressive and his intensity was something we needed,” Reirden said. “I thought he won a lot of puck battles earlier in the game and at different points. He's pursuing the puck trying to force a turnover and it ends up as a call against. That's I think a tough call in that situation, but we're able to pick him up and if there's a guy on our team that we want to rally around and try to come back for, it's someone like that with a work ethic and just commitment and dedication and how he is as a teammate.”

Luckily for Walker, the Caps were still able to get the win thanks to Matt Niskanen’s overtime goal. Those were nervous moments for him watching as the team tried to overcome his mistake.

“It's definitely nerve-wracking for sure,” Walker said. “You kind of feel like you're the reason why they got back into the game. I personally thought we were all over them in the third period up until they got that goal. I think we still played really well, but obviously the play with the lead is a lot nicer than playing tied up 10 minutes to go in the third. It was nerve-wracking, but it was good that the guys came through and we got the two points at the end of the day so that's the main thing.”

The fact that Walker’s mistake did not end up costing the team will make it easier for Reirden’s message to sink in. It’s his aggressiveness that makes him valuable. One mistake should not make him change that aspect of his game.

Said Reirden, “It's something that if he stops hunting pucks and creating havoc up ice then he's just a very average player that's going to find himself in and out of the league.”

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