Baseball's most surprising team ... the Pirates?

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Baseball's most surprising team ... the Pirates?

From Comcast SportsNet
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A day before he takes part in the home run derby as part of the All-Star festivities in Kansas City, Andrew McCutchen put on a show for the home fans. McCutchen hit two home runs, Neil Walker homered among his five hits and the Pittsburgh Pirates entered the All-Star break in sole possession of first place following a 13-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. McCutchen hit a pair of two-run homers that immediately followed hits by Walker -- one to open the scoring in the first and another to make it 12-2 in the seventh. "I am not going up to bat to hit home runs," McCutchen said. "I am just trying to put good swings on balls and when I do that, depending on where the pitch is and how my swing is, some balls go out." If they don't go out, they at least drop in for a hit of some sort lately for the red-hot McCutchen, who enters the break on a 21-for-38 (.552) tear. He has multiple hits in six of his past nine games and 23 RBIs in his past 19 games. All of his team-high 18 home runs have come in the past two months -- an NL-high 12 have come with runners on base. The long-woeful Pirates have won six of seven and 10 of 12, and no team in the majors has a better record since May 12 than Pittsburgh's 34-19. "We worked hard to get to where we are, and we've earned our way so far," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. A.J. Burnett pitched effectively into the seventh to win his ninth consecutive decision, and Casey McGehee went 3 for 4 with two RBIs for Pittsburgh. The Pirates (48-37) are 11 games over .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in first place at the break for the first time since 1997. The franchise has endured a North American professional sports record 19 consecutive losing seasons. The Pirates have gone 11-1-1 in their past 13 series and have won seven consecutive series at PNC Park. "Seeing what's going on here, it's fun to be a part of it," said Burnett, acquired in an offseason trade from the New York Yankees. The Giants' Tim Lincecum failed to get out of the fourth inning for the second consecutive start, getting charged with six runs on seven hits. The two-time Cy Young Award winner enters the break with a 6.42 ERA that is worst in the majors among qualifying starters. Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer for San Francisco, which has lost five of six and seven of nine. Burnett (10-2) retired 13 consecutive Giants batters from the first until the sixth. He was lifted after Sandoval hit his eighth homer with Buster Posey aboard in the seventh. Burnett was charged with two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings. Burnett improved to 6-0 at home and became the second Pirates pitcher since 1993 to win 10 games prior to the All-star break. Pittsburgh has won each of his past 12 outings. Burnett's winning streak is a career-best. Walker extended his hitting streak to 12 games -- tying a team season high -- with a homer, double and three singles. It was the first five-hit game for a Pirates player since Walker did it July 20, 2010. Walker is hitting .489 (23-for-47) during his streak. "Days like today can happen," said Walker, "but certainly five hits is something that comes around very rarely." Walker hit his sixth home run with nobody on in the third, and the Pirates chased Lincecum (3-10) with a three-run fourth. Burnett's soft liner through the middle with the bases loaded scored McGehee. It was the pitcher's 10th career RBI and first since Aug. 9, 2005, while with Florida. Burnett was the final batter Lincecum would face -- although runs that scored via a Drew Sutton sacrifice fly and Walker single would be charged to him. Lincecum has allowed 69 earned runs -- most in the majors and three more than his total from all of last season. He has allowed 47 earned runs in 47 innings on the road this season. "You never want to say, Hey, I've hit rock bottom,' or anything like that," Lincecum said. "But when things are going as bad as they are right now, you've kind of got to go out there like you've got nothing left to lose. Leave it all out there on the field and what happens, happens." Manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum will start San Francisco's second game out of the break. He also was emphatic that he has given no thought to removing Lincecum from the rotation. "He's got to put this first half behind him..." Bochy said. "He's got to regroup. We need him. He's got to be determined to turn things around, and have a better second half. "There's not much you can do right now." About the only negative for the Pirates on Sunday was McGehee pulling up lame with a mild left groin strain after swatting a two-run "single" deep into the notch in left-center during the sixth. Pittsburgh entered the day a game up on the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. Only Washington has a better record among NL teams. Notes: The Giants had three errors. ... The Pirates' 29-14 home record is the best in the majors. They have won nine of 11 and 14 of 17 at PNC Park. ... Pittsburgh will be on the road for 16 of its first 22 after the break, beginning with three in Milwaukee Friday-Sunday. Manager Clint Hurdle set the order of his rotation to start the unofficial second half: RHP James McDonald, RHP Kevin Correia, Burnett, RHP Jeff Karstens and LHP Erik Bedard. ... San Francisco hosts Houston for a three-game series coming out of the break beginning Friday. The Giants took two of three from the Astros at home June 12-14.

Virginia Tech deals Clemson its 6th consecutive ACC loss

Virginia Tech deals Clemson its 6th consecutive ACC loss

CLEMSON, S.C. — Seth Allen scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half as hot-shooting Virginia Tech held off Clemson 82-81 on Sunday, sending the Tigers to their sixth straight Atlantic Coast Conference loss.

The Hokies (15-4, 4-3 ACC) shot 60.9 percent (14 of 23) in the second half and 54.7 percent overall to win for the third time in the past four games. Allen made five of his six shots — including three 3-pointers — in the final 20 minutes and had a critical steal with 90 seconds left to keep Virginia Tech out front.

The Tigers (11-8, 1-6) appeared to take the lead down 70-69 as Jaron Blossomgame's shot with 3:48 left was rolling around and ready to fall in when teammate Sidy Djitte, attempting a tip in, knocked it away.

Chris Clarke soon followed with a three-point play and Allen hit a crushing 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to seal things for the Hokies.

Clemson got within 80-78 with 5.9 seconds left on Blossomgame's 3-pointer. But Justin Bibbs hit two foul shots to seal things.

Blossomgame and Avry Holmes had 20 points each for Clemson, whose ACC losing streak is its longest since dropping seven straight to end the 2012-13 season.

Holmes hit a 3-pointer for Clemson as time ran out to end the scoring.

Zach LeDay had 16 points and Ahmed Hill had 11 for the Hokies.

MORE NCAA: Georgetown is back on a losing streak

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Game 47: Capitals vs. Hurricanes game time, how to watch, open thread

Game 47: Capitals vs. Hurricanes game time, how to watch, open thread

The Capitals return home to host the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina is the only team in which Washington has beaten in a shootout this season. Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, will look to pass the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky, for sole possession of 15th place inNHL history for power play goals.

Stream the game via CSNmidatlantic.com/CapitalsStream or tune in to CSN at 6:30 p.m. for coverage. Here is everything you need to know:

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

When: Monday, 1/23 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

How to Watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes will be broadcast on CSN.

When is the Capitals-Hurricanes game?

The Capitals (31-9-6) play the Carolina Hurricanes (21-18-7) Monday at 7:00 p.m.

What channel is the Capitals-Hurricanes game on?

The Capitals-Hurricanes game is broadcast on CSN. The coverage of the game begins at 6:30 p.m. with Caps GameTime. The game begins at 7:00 p.m with Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin. For postgame coverage, stick around for Caps Extra following the game and Caps in 30 at 11 p.m. (CSN channel Finder)

Where can I stream the Capitals-Hurricanes game?

The Capitals-Hurricanes game, along with Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here on csnmidatlantic.com/CapitalsStream and the NBC Sports app and is available to authenticated CSN Mid-Atlantic subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

What are the lines for the Capitals-Hurricanes game?

Based Saturday's game, here are the projected lines:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Defense
Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov
Taylor Chorney - Nate Schmidt

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
John Carlson

Capitals-Hurricanes Open Thread

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals Digital Producer JJ Regan and the CSN Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and CSN's Facebook page.

Keep up with all the action here with Capitals GameZone and join in on the conversation here with Capitals Pulse.