Cain takes hard-luck loss; Giants fall 2-1 to Phils

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Cain takes hard-luck loss; Giants fall 2-1 to Phils

Aug. 6, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The toughest matchup for Cole Hamels might've come against teammate Cliff Lee.Hamels pitched a seven-hitter for his first win in two weeks and the Philadelphia Phillies won their season-high ninth in a row, beating the San Francisco Giants 2-1 Saturday.Hamels made a pair of first-inning runs hold up as the Phillies, with the best record in the majors, defeated the Giants for the third straight day.Two days after Lee threw a shutout, Hamels (13-6) blanked the Giants until Pablo Sandoval's two-out home run in the ninth inning. Hamels struck out five and faced five batters more than the minimum while dominating the defending World Series champs.RATTO: No wine for Bochy as Giant bats stay silent
Hamels had only one victory in his previous four starts and lost to San Francisco 2-1 on July 27 despite pitching into the eighth inning and allowing only two runs and six hits.He was even stronger in the rematch and got better results."I was one out away from a shutout," Hamels said with a grin. "Cliff just got one. We're all trying to compete against each other."Hamels, who hadn't won since July 22, faced the minimum through three innings, then gave up back-to-back singles in the fourth. He quickly worked out of the jam, striking out Carlos Beltran on three pitches before Sandoval grounded into a 4-6-3 double play in the first pitch.San Francisco didn't get another runner until the seventh, and had two on with two outs in the eighth but failed to score each time.All but three of the 27 outs recorded by the All-Star left-hander were made by the infield. Philadelphia also backed Hamels with two double plays in a game that took 2 hours, 14 minutes.
Giants Insider gallery: Anatomy of a Brawl
"Any time you can win a series it's big and any time you can win on the road it's big," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We know how good the Giants can be but at the same time if we play the way we're capable of playing and stay relaxed and focused ... that works for us."The game was far less testy than Friday night's 9-2 Phillies win, which included the ejection of three players following a bench-clearing brawl in the sixth inning.Matt Cain (9-8) allowed only three hits over eight innings but took the loss, his second straight. San Francisco has dropped eight of nine since taking two of three games from the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.Jimmy Rollins doubled high off the wall in right-center leading off the game, and after Chase Utley drew a one-out walk and Howard struck out, Hunter Pence hit a bloop single to right to drive in Rollins.Utley tried to take third on the play and appeared to be out following a strong throw by Nate Schierholtz, but Sandoval bobbled the ball, allowing Utley to reach safely. Three pitches later he scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0."We got to him early but after that he was tough," said Ryan Howard, who struck out three times before singling in the ninth. "He got into some situations where it could have gone bad, and Cole got into some situations where it could have gone bad, but they got out of them."The Giants are hitless in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the three games against the Phillies this weekend. Over its last 16 games, San Francisco is batting .157 (16 for 102) with runners in scoring position.It got so bad that first baseman and crowd favorite Aubrey Huff was booed loudly by the home crowd after grounding out to Hamels."We had more hits than they did, we just couldn't get the big hit," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You don't win the World Series unless you can beat good pitching. Right now we're not doing that."Before the game, Bochy said he expects to hear soon from Major League Baseball about penalties for Friday's bench-clearing brawl.San Francisco reliever Ramon Ramirez and catcher Eli Whiteside were both ejected along with Philadelphia center fielder Shane Victorino.Victorino was booed during pregame introductions and every at-bat by the sellout crowd at AT&T Park, but there were no other lingering effects from the fight.Cain nearly matched Hamels, retiring 20 of the final 22 batters he faced after giving up both Philadelphia runs in the first. The right-hander struck out eight and walked two."I made a couple of mistakes early," Cain said. "The way Hamels was throwing the ball, that was enough."NOTES: Friday's winning pitcher, Vance Worley, is the first Phillies rookie to win six games over a seven-game stretch since Bob Walk in 1980. ... Phillies 3B Placido Polanco left the game with soreness in his left hip. ... Philadelphia has an NL-best 28-11 record during day games. ... Giants reliever Sergio Romo has retired 30 consecutive batters, the longest streak in the majors. ... Philadelphia homered in its previous eight games, the team's longest streak since 2009. ... RHP Tim Lincecum (9-9) has six straight quality starts against the Phillies and will try to stop the Giants' slide when he opposes RHP Roy Oswalt (4-6) in Sunday's series finale. Oswalt will be making his first start since going on the disabled list with lower back inflammation on June 24. He was activated following Saturday's game. LHP Juan Perez was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room.

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Tom Brady redemption tour is headed to the Super Bowl.

After beginning the 2016 season suspended for four games for his role in the "Deflategate" scandal, the New England quarterback relentlessly carried the Patriots to an unprecedented ninth appearance in the title game, and his seventh. Brady threw for a franchise playoff-best 384 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-17 rout of the helpless Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in New England's seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

The Patriots are early 3-point favorites heading to face Atlanta in two weeks in Houston, seeking their fifth NFL title with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach. Belichick's seventh appearance in a Super Bowl will be a record for a head coach.

Brady was banned by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when New England (16-2) went 3-1 to open the schedule.

Since his return in Week 5, the only defeat came at home to Seattle, and Brady, 39, had one of the best seasons of a Hall of Fame-caliber career. He punctuated that in dreary weather similar to the 2014 conference title game that precipitated the deflated footballs investigation by flattening Pittsburgh's secondary.

Chris Hogan was his main weapon. The previously unheralded receiver found open spaces everywhere on the field against a leaky secondary. Hogan caught nine balls for 180 yards and two scores.

Top wideout Julian Edelman added eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown as Brady tied Joe Montana's playoff record with nine three-TD passing performances. Brady also had his 11th 300-yard postseason game, extending his NFL record, completing 32 of 42 throws.

Pittsburgh (13-6) lost star running back Le'Veon Bell late in the first quarter to a groin injury. It didn't seem to matter much in a record 16th conference title match for the Steelers, who made mistakes in every facet of the game. The franchise that has won the most Super Bowls, six, and the most postseason games, 36, never seemed likely to challenge in the misty rain.

Hogan's second touchdown came on a flea-flicker and he easily beat safety Mike Mitchell to the corner of the end zone. At that point, Hogan had seven catches for 117 yards and the first multi-touchdown game of his four-year career.

His first score made it 10-0 and came after Brady could have taken a nap before throwing, a common occurrence against a nonexistent pass rush. Hogan was all alone in the back of the end zone for the 16-yard score.

Pittsburgh had drawn to 10-6 on DeAngelo Williams' 5-yard run to cap an 84-yard drive. Veteran Williams is a nice security blanket in the backfield, though he's no Bell these days.

Still, he contributed on a 70-yard drive toward the end of the second quarter that appeared to be capped by Jesse James' TD reception. But video review showed James down at the 1, and the Steelers couldn't get into the end zone, Chris Boswell connecting for a 23-yard field goal.

The Steelers never threatened to get back into it.LeGarrette Blount punctuated the romp with a bruising 18-yard run on which he carried nearly the entire Pittsburgh defense with him. He then scored from the 1.

By the end, the crowd was chanting "Where is Roger?" and celebrating yet another Super Bowl trip for the Patriots.

BIG LEG:

Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to open the scoring set a franchise record with 27, surpassing Adam Vinatieri's 26. Gostkowski is fourth all-time. He made a 47-yarder in the third quarter, a 26-yarder in the fourth, but he missed an extra point.

Boswell, who set an NFL mark with six field goals in the Steelers' 18-16 win at Kansas City last week, missed an extra point wide left and made a 23-yard kick.

INJURIES:

Steelers: Bell's early departure left him with 20 yards on six carries and no receptions.

Patriots: DB Nate Ebner left with a head injury.

UP NEXT:

After winning the AFC East with the conference's top record, New England defeated the Texans 34-16 and the Steelers to reach the Super Bowl. They will take on Atlanta, which beat Green Bay 44-21 for the NFC crown. Super Bowl 51 will be in Houston on Feb. 5; New England won the 2002 and 2005 Super Bowls after beating Pittsburgh for the AFC championship.