From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Bronson Arroyo had never won in San Francisco before pitching a playoff masterpiece.There were all kinds of memorable firsts this weekend for the gutsy Cincinnati Reds, who beat the San Francisco Giants 9-0 on Sunday night to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their NL division series -- and head home to Ohio on quite a roll.Ryan Ludwick hit his first postseason home run and Ryan Hanigan drove in his first playoff run. More than anything on this night, it was Arroyo's turn to celebrate on what he figured to be a fun flight back to Cincinnati."We couldn't put ourselves in a better situation," he said. "It doesn't mean you're going to close it out, but for us personally, I know the fans are going to be as jacked as they have ever been in that ballpark since it has been built, which is going to be nice."Arroyo, who was winless in his first six starts in San Francisco, retired his first 14 batters and delivered a gem a day after 19-game winner Johnny Cueto went down with a back injury.A pair of Ryans provided the big hits. Ludwick connected leading off the second inning for his first career playoff homer and Hanigan hit a two-run single in the fourth and a later RBI single. Jay Bruce added a two-run double and Joey Votto had three hits in his first multihit postseason game."Coming on the road, you think about getting one as a success and victory," Bruce said. "To be able come here and get two is very important."Former San Francisco skipper Dusty Baker came into his old stomping grounds by the bay and left with two commanding victories 10 years after managing the Giants within six outs of a World Series title before falling short.He walked through the hallway afterward greeting cheering fans with smiles, high-fives, hugs, waves and even a few hang-loose signs."We still love you, Dusty!" one woman yelled.Many fans didn't stick around until the end to see the Giants get handed their worst playoff shutout in franchise history.Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday at Great American Ball Park. Homer Bailey (13-10), who pitched a no-hitter Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh, takes the mound as the Reds try to close out the series against Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (14-9).The Reds won their first playoff game in 17 years by taking Game 1 without their ace Saturday night, and now they're going back home looking for their own sweep after the Phillies eliminated them in a frustrating three-game first round two years ago."You're not comfortable at all until it's over," Baker said. "We've been there before. It's hard to take the last breath out of anything."The Reds will try for their first postseason sweep since beating the Dodgers in the first round in 1995. Cincinnati got swept in the NL championship series that year by Atlanta to start what became a seven-game postseason losing streak before Saturday's win.The shaggy-haired Arroyo, the right-hander with that high leg kick slightly resembling the familiar motion of Giants Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, went untouched before Brandon Belt's two-out single to the gap in right-center with two out in the fifth. San Francisco didn't get another hit until Pablo Sandoval lined a double off the right-field arcade with two outs in the ninth."You hate to get beat like that, especially at home," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It happened. We know where we're at right now. We know our backs are to the wall. ... They've done a great job all year bouncing back."The 35-year-old Arroyo worked ahead and had four straight strikeouts during one stretch to baffle the Giants.Arroyo's seven innings marked his longest postseason outing in five starts and 13 appearances -- and he couldn't have picked a better moment to do it.Cueto threw all of eight pitches in Saturday's 5-2 win before leaving with back spasms, and Mat Latos and a patchwork pitching staff handled the rest.Baker said he picked Arroyo for Game 2 here in part because the righty is susceptible to giving up home runs after he allowed 26 this year. And AT&T Park is "one of the most forgiving ballparks in baseball."Arroyo thoroughly outpitched Madison Bumgarner to beat the Giants for the first time since 2008. He had gone 0-2 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts since, getting two no-decisions facing San Francisco this season.And he took the hard-luck loss in Game 2 against the Phillies in 2010 as the victim of a blown save.Boy did he give the bullpen a break with this one. Baker might have left him in longer had it not been a long inning before."A no-hitter in this type of environment is nearly impossible," Arroyo said. "A win for the ballclub is the pinnacle, nirvana."Cincinnati beat San Francisco's two best pitchers on their home field. Matt Cain lost Game 1.Bumgarner had pitched a one-hitter June 28 against the Reds at home, but was nothing close to that dominant this time.The last time Baker managed in a playoff setup like this season -- with the higher seed opening on the road for the first two games -- he was on the other end. In 1997, while managing the favored Giants, San Francisco lost the first two games in Florida and the Marlins completed a three-game sweep of the NL division series at Candlestick Park en route to the World Series title.Baker has felt good about these Reds all along, even more so after recently missing 11 games while recovering from a mini-stroke, including when they clinched the NL Central."He's kind of the heartbeat of this team," Bruce said. "To have him back for the last series and starting the playoffs, especially in San Francisco, where he obviously has a ton of history and is a storied manager here, it's good. It gives us a vibe that's pretty easy to play for."He is getting contributions from throughout his lineup and a ready-for-anything pitching staff.On Saturday, it was Brandon Phillips with three hits and a two-run homer and Bruce with a solo shot. The Reds added on late in Game 2 against the Giants' typically reliable bullpen with Bruce's eighth-inning double, a run-scoring triple from Drew Stubbs and an RBI single by Phillips.Ludwick, who came in just 1 for 16 against Bumgarner, silenced the orange towel-waving sellout crowd of 43,505 AT&T Park in a hurry when he sent the first pitch of the second inning over the center-field wall.The Reds sure made the Giants' pitcher friendly ballpark feel longball friendly the way they hit in these two games.Many of the fans quickly made for the exits after the Reds went ahead 6-0 on Bruce's two-run double in the eighth."We need to go to their place and play aggressive and try to change the momentum," Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro said. "Keep fighting, you never know what's going to happen. Their momentum is really good right now."Tim Lincecum entered in relief for the Giants in the top of the sixth trailing 4-0. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, whose rocky season kept him out of the playoff rotation, pumped his fist after striking out Hanigan to end the sixth before a scoreless seventh.NOTES:Arroyo had never gone six innings in the postseason before Sunday. ... San Francisco was shut out six times during the regular season, tied for second-fewest in the NL with Philadelphia. ... Cueto returned to Cincinnati along with Bailey. ... 2010 World Series MVP Edgar Renteria threw out the ceremonial first pitch and stopped by the clubhouse. "I'm very touched," he said. "The fans, they remember and appreciate everything. I'm never going to forget this time. They still remember what we did in 2010. It's unbelievable."
Just over a month after the NBA and its player association agreed in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement, the paperwork has been signed. It is official that there will be labor peace in basketball for years to come.
The agreement is for seven years and will continue through the 2023-24 season. The deal can be opted out of after the sixth year.
Featured in the new CBA are considerable increases in player salaries, from maximum contracts to veteran minimum deals. Maximum salaries for players with at least 10 years of service re-signing with their current team can earn up to $36 million per year, or about $210 million over the course of a five-year contract. For those with between seven and nine years of service, the maximum salary is expected to be around $31 million.
Also noteworthy in the new agreement is the creation of two-way contracts for the NBA Development League. There will be a healthcare program for former players, better benefits for current players and a shorter preseason.
The one-and-done rule prohibiting players from jumping from high school to the NBA will remain in place.
The details are important, of course, but the best news is that there will not be a lockout.
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The Capitals will look to start a new win streak Thursday as they face the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m., CSN). Here are three bold predictions for the game:
1. Alex Ovechkin will get more points than Vladimir Tarasenko
Tarasenko has been the more consistent player this year with 45 points. That's the sixth most in the NHL, just five points shy of Sidney Crosby and nine points behind Connor McDavid. Right now, however, Ovechkin is hotter and so is his team. I will go with the hot hand and say Ovechkin will outduel his fellow countryman.
2. St. Louis' goaltending will have a save percentage under .900 for the game
The Blues' goaltending has been atrocious this season. Jake Allen was expected to be the top guy, but he has managed only a .900 save percentage. That's still better than Carter Hutton's .898 save percentage. The Caps are 12th in the NHL this season in shots per game. An average volume of shots from one of the hottest offenses in the NHL against weak goaltending? That's not going to help the ol' save percentage much. I don't think the Caps are going to score seven like they did on Monday against Pittsburgh, but they'll get enough.
3. Washington will get at least two fewer power plays than the Blues
You know who hates being told how to do their job? Everyone. Yes, the refs blew it on Monday against Pittsburgh, but all the talk afterward has been about missed calls. Don't get me wrong, the referees won't come into Thursday's game with an agenda, but they're only human. They've heard all the talk about how the Caps were wronged by their striped brethren so they won't have much sympathy for the Ovechkin and Co. when they think another call was missed.
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