Nationals

Cardinals, Giants tied at 1 after 3 innings

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Cardinals, Giants tied at 1 after 3 innings

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter hit a tying RBI double after yielding Angel Pagan's leadoff homer in the first, leaving St. Louis and the San Francisco Giants tied at 1 through three innings in Game 2 of the NL championship series Monday night.

The Cardinals lead the best-of-seven series 1-0.

Pagan pulled a 90 mph sinker from Carpenter over the arcade in right field to give San Francisco its first home lead of the playoffs and whip an orange towel-twirling crowd into a frenzy. Neither lasted long.

Carpenter's two-out hit off Ryan Vogelsong in the second scored Pete Kozma from first. The right-hander is 3 for 4 with two doubles this postseason.

The intensity of the championship series surfaced again in a matchup of the last two World Series winners.

Matt Holliday slid late and hard into the bag when he was forced out at second in the first inning, crashing into Marco Scutaro's left leg to prevent the double play on Allen Craig's grounder. Scutaro's throw to first was late, and he lay on the ground twisting in pain while trainer Dave Groeschner and manager Bruce Bochy ran out of the dugout to attend to the second baseman.

Giants fans showered Holliday with boos and again after he popped out in the third. Scutaro stayed in the game. With runners on first and third, Vogelsong got Yadier Molina to ground out to shortstop to end the threat.

The switch-hitting Pagan followed with his second leadoff home run of the postseason after doing the same in Game 4 of the division series at Cincinnati. The only other player to hit two leadoff home runs in a single postseason was Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins in 2008.

In the second, Kozma drew a two-out walk and Carpenter followed with the tying double to left-center.

Former Giants right fielder Carlos Beltran doubled leading off the third inning. Vogelsong stayed steady and got help on a backhanded grab in foul territory by first baseman Brandon Belt, who ran back and to his right while avoiding a fan's outstretched glove to get Molina for the third straight out.

The Giants went 48-33 at home in the regular season, tied for fifth-best in the NL. With the nightly sellouts and spacious dimensions that help the pitching staff, San Francisco's struggles at home in October have baffled Bochy.

After Sunday night's 6-4 loss to St. Louis, the Giants dropped to 0-3 at home so far during these playoffs and had been outscored 20-6 at AT&T Park. They swept the Reds at Cincinnati after dropping the first two in the division series, but will need to win at least one home game if they hope to return to the World Series for the second time in three years.

Game 3 is Wednesday night in St. Louis. Giants ace Matt Cain is scheduled to start against Kyle Lohse. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, will be in St. Louis before the series shifts back to San Francisco for the final two.

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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Bryce Harper drives in 100th RBI of season

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Bryce Harper drives in 100th RBI of season

Despite an unsuccessful season, Nationals fans have something to celebrate. Bryce Harper has hit his 100th RBI of the season.

100 RBIs is the most-ever for Harper. His previous personal best being 99 in 2015. 

Harper's 100th came off of a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the fourth, scoring Adam Eaton.

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Additionally, Monday night's game against the Miami Marlins was the 154th game played for Harper, who appeared in 153 last season.

The Nationals-Marlins series will be the final homestand for the Nats who will end their disappointing season next week in Colorado against the Rockies. 2018 is the first time in three seasons that the Nationals did not clinch at least a playoff berth.

As Harper nears free agency status with next week's season-end, his time in Washington may end but his legacy with the Nationals will live on.

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Otto Porter, Jr. wants to be more like Klay Thompson on offense and Kawhi Leonard on defense

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Otto Porter, Jr. wants to be more like Klay Thompson on offense and Kawhi Leonard on defense

Otto Porter, Jr. has heard it from coaches and teammates for over a year now, that they want him to shoot the ball more often.

He is the team's most efficient player and the more he shoots, many believe the better off the Wizards will be.

Porter took that idea, and his general quest to be a better player, in a new direction this offseason.

He specifically wants to take after Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Kawhi Leonard of the Raptors.

If Thompson can get his while playing with Curry and Durant, Porter should be able to do the same with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Thompson has averaged 16 field goal attempts or more in the past four years while running with other superstars, while Porter topped out at a career-high 11.5 shots per game last season.

"That's definitely going to be a goal of mine, just to be ultra-aggressive. I think it's best for the team and best for me to put out that effort and be more involved and kind of be like Klay Thompson and take my shots. I'm very confident in that. I'm going to instill that in every game," Porter said.

As for Leonard, Porter hopes to take after him on the defensive end. Leonard, who was traded from the Spurs to the Raptors in July, has won two defensive player of the year awards and he's only 27 years old.

Also a small forward, Porter believes he can model parts of his defensive game after Leonard.

"I watched tons of film," Porter said of his regimen this summer. "I'm learning how to guard on-ball; take my angles and be able to master that. I studied Kawhi Leonard a lot, and the angles he takes. He's very strategic with how his movements are. He never seems tired. I was able to get in [better] shape this summer. There are a lot of games, so I wanted to be in the best shape possible."

Porter has proven he can shoot at a high percentage. Now, he wants to put up volume numbers like Thompson.

Porter has proven a solid team defender. Now, he wants to become a dominant on-ball force like Leonard.

Both of those things should be good news to the Wizards.