Saints send Eagles to 4th straight loss

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Saints send Eagles to 4th straight loss

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are having fun again. They hope it's a sign of things to come in the second half of the season.Michael Vick kept picking himself up off the Superdome turf, the recipient of an awful beating.The Philadelphia Eagles are down -- and nearly out.Brees threw two touchdown passes, extending his NFL record streak to 51 games, and Patrick Robinson returned an interception 99 yards for a score to lead the Saints past the reeling Eagles 28-13 Monday night.New Orleans (3-5), which bounced back from a dismal 34-14 loss at Denver, also got a 22-yard touchdown run from Chris Ivory."There are defining moments throughout a season," Brees said. "Big plays, big wins, that kind of bring you together and let you see a vision of what you can be, what you can accomplish. Here we are the midway point. It's gone by fast."This," he added, "is the type of momentum we want going into the second half of the season."The Eagles (3-5) lost their fourth straight, which is sure to keep the heat on Vick and embattled coach Andy Reid. Vick threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson in the third quarter, but that was about the only highlight for the visiting team.The elusive Vick was sacked seven times."It's very frustrating," Vick said. "These are games that we have the opportunity to win, or get back in the game. At this point, everything has to be dead on. You can't miss, and you almost have to be perfect on every drive."Philadelphia was far from perfect, but sure had plenty of chances. Four times, the Eagles were staring at first-and-goal, but only managed two field goals by Alex Henery. In fact, they were outscored in those situations, with Robinson going the other way for a touchdown just when it looked like Philadelphia was on the verge of scoring.Rubbing salt in the wound, Philadelphia squandered a chance to get back in the game with a brilliant trick play on a kickoff return. Riley Cooper laid flat in the end zone, unseen by the Saints, then popped up to take a cross-field lateral from Brandon Boykin.Cooper streaked down the sideline for an apparent touchdown. Only one problem -- Boykin's lateral was actually a forward pass by about a yard, ruining the play with a penalty. Cooper stood with his hands on his hips, in disbelief, as the officials brought it back.Philadelphia finished with 447 yards -- the eighth straight team to put up more than 400 yards on the Saints. That was already the longest streak of 400-yard games given up by a defense since at least 1950, and maybe in the history of the NFL, putting New Orleans on pace to shatter the record for most yards allowed in a season.But New Orleans came through where it mattered most, giving up a season low in points. Their previous best was a 31-24 victory over San Diego."The most important stat at the end of the day is points," Brees said. "Our defense came up with some huge plays tonight. If we can hold teams to 13 points, we're going to win a lot of games."Philadelphia's last gasp was a fourth-down pass that Vick threw away in the back of the end zone with 7 seconds left, apparently more concerned about avoiding another pick than tacking on a meaningless TD.Brees kept his record touchdown streak going, hooking up with Marques Colston on a 1-yard scoring pass and Jimmy Graham from 6 yards out.The Saints quarterback finished 21 of 27 for 239 yards, a big improvement on his 22-of-42 showing against the Broncos. Brees also got plenty of help from the running game, which came into the league ranked last in the league.Ivory, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram combined for 136 yards, each breaking off double-digit gains. Ivory, the Saints' leading rusher two years ago but playing for the first time this year, provided a much-needed boost to the backfield.Meanwhile, the embattled Saints defense kept the heat on Vick, and the brutal beating made it tough for No. 7 to establish any rhythm. He finished 22 of 41 for 272 yards and really couldn't be blamed for Robinson's interception, which went off the hands of tight end Brent Celek.Cameron Jordan had three sacks, matching his total for the season, while Will Smith took down Vick twice -- also matching his sack total through the first seven games.Reid moved quickly to snuff out any talk about replacing Vick, which has become a weekly ritual."Michael Vick will be the quarterback," the Eagles coach said.Celek had a tough night. He also lost a fumble deep at the New Orleans 8 with just over 3 minutes remaining, essentially ending any hope of a Philadelphia comeback.The Saints raced to a 21-3 halftime lead, putting the Eagles in a big hole for the second straight game. Over the last two weeks, they have been outscored 45-10 in the first and second quarters.New Orleans was on the verge of blowing it open when it took the second-half kickoff and drove deep into Philadelphia territory. But the Eagles defense came up with a big turnover, as Brandon Graham stripped the ball from Brees and fell on it at the Eagles 17. Two plays later, Vick found Jackson wide open down the right side on a deep throw, and he took it the rest of the way for a touchdown.Rookie Travaris Cadet, filling in on returns for the injured Darren Sproles, fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Philadelphia recovered again. Vick broke off a 14-yard run to the 8, but yet another sack stifled the drive. The Eagles settled for Henery's second field goal from 37 yards.Henery connected from 22 yards early in the second quarter after the Eagles squandered a chance for more. Jackson appeared caught off guard by Vick's third-down pass in the back of the end zone, doing little more than sticking out his left hand in a halfhearted attempt to make the catch.Philadelphia moved the ball effectively in the early going and looked to strike first after Brown broke off a 40-yard run to the New Orleans 5. After losing 1 yard on a run, the Eagles went to the air looking for the touchdown.Instead, it was the Saints who scored. Vick's pass in the flats deflected off Celek's hands -- right into the arms of Robinson, the right cornerback. He took off down the sideline in front of the shell-shocked Philadelphia bench, matching Darren Sharper's franchise record for longest interception return.Notes: Graham, who has battled an ankle injury and had a problem with drops, led the Saints with a season-high eight catches for 72 yards. ... Jackson finished with 100 yards receiving on just three catches. ... Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy had 19 carries for 119 yards, but only 18 yards came after halftime.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.