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Cardinals forced to make another trip out West

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Cardinals forced to make another trip out West

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The Giants sure are tough to eliminate this postseason.

Barry Zito and the Giants gave themself at least one more game in the NL championship series with a 5-0 victory Friday in St. Louis that forced Sunday's Game 6 back at AT&T Park.

Just where the NL West winners want to be with their season on the line - in front of the raucous, orange towel-waving sellout crowd.

``It's great to be back in San Francisco. There is no tomorrow,'' Giants right fielder Hunter Pence said. ``It's a unique feeling. It has brought the best out of us.''

The wild-card Cardinals traveled out West again for a trip they certainly hoped they wouldn't have to make. Defending champion St. Louis leads the best-of-seven series 3-2, needing one more win for a World Series return.

St. Louis knows how hard winning the last one can be considering what this Giants team already did during these playoffs: winning three straight on the road at Cincinnati in the division series after falling behind 2-0.

``They've been doing this all year. Obviously, the Cincinnati series, here come the Giants,'' Cardinals third baseman David Freese said. ``It's good for TV but it's disappointing in (our) sense.''

Game 2 winner Ryan Vogelsong starts for the Giants for the second time this series against Chris Carpenter, who lost that matchup at San Francisco on Monday.

``No question, we want to win it as soon as we can. We wanted to do it last night,'' Carpenter said Saturday. ``But, again, we have to get one win before they get two. We'll do whatever we can. If it's not tomorrow night we'll come in and do it again.''

While the Cardinals took a day to rest - Carpenter and a couple of pitchers did play some catch - Pence and most of his team showed up at the ballpark in late afternoon to hit and work out even though manager Bruce Bochy gave his players the day off.

With Vogelsong on the mound, the Giants have to like their chances to push the series to a Game 7.

Vogelsong became the first Giants starter to make it through six innings this postseason when he went seven strong innings in a 7-1 Game 2 victory. He allowed four hits and one run for his first career postseason win.

``We all kind of feel like we've been in this situation before with Cincinnati,'' Vogelsong said. ``And it's not over until the last out. I think both teams that are playing right now have proved that in the first round.''

Giants general manager Brian Sabean wasn't surprised to see his team on the field Saturday for an optional practice - realizing full well players didn't want to risk losing any momentum from the night before.

``Sometimes you wonder how much at this stage that there is a home-field advantage,'' Sabean said. ``In some cases, because of the bullpens, it's probably as much as whoever gets the lead and can hold off the other ballclub from scoring will win the ballgame. We know what's at stake. We know that they're going to put a game against us. I'm sure Vogey will be ready.''

St. Louis postseason ace Carpenter was looking forward to another chance, too.

He has been plenty reliable this time of year for the Cardinals, with his 10 postseason victories the most in franchise history. His stuff never felt right the last time out against the Giants, when he allowed two earned runs, five in all, and six hits in four innings.

``It doesn't matter if you're on the road, what game it is, it's the first one to win four games, and hopefully we can do that tomorrow,'' Carpenter said.

The 37-year-old Carpenter pitched two clinchers last October and went 4-0. He won the division series clincher and did it again in Game 7 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

So, why not add that NLCS distinction to his impressive October resume?

It's already been a memorable month for Carpenter, who came back to make three starts - throwing just 17 innings - late in the regular season after a complicated operation that removed a rib and two neck muscles to relieve numbness on his right side.

He is counting on commanding his fastball better this time out. His postseason ERA in two outings this year is 1.86.

``The last time out my stuff went backwards a little bit,'' Carpenter said. ``I was trying everything I could to get outs but unfortunately it didn't work. I had some nice work in between that start and this start, I feel good and I'm looking forward to getting back out there.''

The Giants returned to the Bay Area as soon as they could to get ready for Game 6, flying home overnight and landing at 2:30 a.m. But the Cardinals still had to go home after Friday night's game and pack their bags. They slept in their own beds and took off from St. Louis at midday Central time.

San Francisco, which made an improbable run to the 2010 World Series title, hopes to send St. Louis out of town empty-handed. The Giants won the NLCS in five games at their waterfront ballpark against the Cardinals in 2002 before falling short in a seven-game Series to the wild-card Angels.

The Detroit Tigers are waiting on their opponent after a four-game ALCS sweep of the New York Yankees.

Not that Bochy or Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can even think that far in advance, just yet.

``I don't necessarily see them as pesky as much as just talented,'' Matheny said of the Giants. ``And the same kind of makeup that we have, they aren't going to go away and neither are we. And we knew that going into this thing. As soon as we won a couple of games at home there was nobody in there for a second under the belief that this was going to be a team that was going to just roll over. So we know that this team has the ability to do what they did, once again, in Cincinnati, running in there and doing something that hasn't been done all season. ... It's just a matter of execution, and they executed better than us yesterday.''

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 18, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the running backs are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 rushing yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, and quarterbacks

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—He actually finished 10thin the league in rushing yards behind two backs who will face the Redskins. Elliott gets boosted up the list because he was suspended for six games last year. He averaged 98 yards per game played, and had he been able to play in 16 games, he would have led the league in rushing yards with over 300 yards to spare. In three games against the Redskins, he has averaged 110 yards per game and he has five touchdowns. The Redskins’ revamped rushing defense will be tested twice.

Mark Ingram, Saints—He will be coming off of a four-game suspension for Redskins vs. Saints in Week 5. Will he be rested or rusty? If he’s in any kind of form, the Redskins defense will have to be on its game. Last year against Washington in the Superdome, Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. 

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars—The rookie did surpass the thousand-yard mark, posting 1,040. Some pointed out that it wasn’t a consistent effort as he gained 310 yards, almost 30 percent of his total, in two back-to-back games in Weeks 5 and 6. That’s fine but he still is a difficult opponent with his combination of size and speed. I look for him to have a big breakout this year. 

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Titans—Lewis averaged 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year and Henry gained 744 yards while sharing time with the now-retired DeMarco Murray. Lewis will play a lot of third downs and will spell Henry sometimes early in games. That will leave the 6-3, 247-pound Henry fresh to grind up the clock if the Titans have a late lead. 

Jay Ajayi, Eagles—Nobody has quite figured out why the Dolphins dealt him to the Eagles in midseason, but Philly was more than happy to add him to the offense. Ajayi became a workhorse in the postseason with 42 rushing attempts and six receptions in three games. 

I do need to mention Giants rookie Saquan Barkley here. I have to think that the second overall pick of the draft will rank somewhere on this list, but without seeing him in an NFL uniform yet it’s hard to rank him. He will be dangerous, no doubt. 

Best of the rest: Lamar Miller, Texans, Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ronald Jones, Bucs

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins offensive tackle Geroge Starke, one of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 8
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 22
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 45

The Redskins last played a game 199 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 53 days. 

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

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USA TODAY Sports

A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.

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