Don't look now, but here come the Phillies!

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Don't look now, but here come the Phillies!

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Jimmy Rollins swigged champagne after winning a division title, went wild when the Phillies won the National League pennant, and took a ride on that unforgettable parade down the heart of Philadelphia after a World Series championship.The Phillies have done it all the last five years.Well, except win a wild card berth.Rollins connected on a two-run homer and Cliff Lee pitched seven strong innings to lead the streaking Phillies to their seventh straight win, 3-1 over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday.The second NL wild-card spot is firmly in sight for the Phillies with 19 games remaining."We're in it," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're dead in it pretty good."Oh yes, they are. And they show no signs of slowing down.The Phillies continued their late push with a three-game sweep of the Marlins. Up next for the Phillies, four games in Houston against the NL-worst Astros. Then it's three games in New York against the going-nowhere Mets.Philadelphia pulled within three games of St. Louis for the second wild card after the Cardinals lost 3-2 in San Diego.The Phillies (72-71) are on a season-best winning streak and have won 15 of 19 to move over .500 for the first time since they were 28-27 on June 3."If we can continue to play the way we have since the All-Star break, we have a pretty good chance," Lee said.The clubhouse TVs had on a pair of games that will shape the NL wild-card race: St. Louis at San Diego and Pittsburgh at Cincinnati.The Phillies will have to at least get past the Cardinals and Pirates, two fading teams, to snag a postseason spot.This September has a familiar feel from 2007 when the Phillies trailed the Mets by seven games with 17 to play. The Mets collapsed and the Phillies would win their first division title since 1993.With Manuel calmly leading the way, the Phillies haven't skipped a postseason since, winning the World Series in 2008."We're in it pretty good," Manuel said.Phillippe Aumont worked a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Papelbon completed the four-hitter with his 34th save. Papelbon fanned Gorkys Hernandez with two runners on to end it.The five-time defending NL East champions have made an amazing run since they seemed out of contention at 37-51 on July 13. Fueled by a rotation that has found its groove, and unexpected contributions from role players, the Phillies have become one of the hottest teams in baseball.Their 15-4 record since Aug. 23 is the best in the National League and they are 21-8 in their last 29 home games.Josh Johnson (8-12) did his best to shut down the Phillies early, taking a no-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the sixth.Rollins led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on John Mayberry Jr.'s two-out single to center.With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley slumping, the Phillies have relied on clutch hits from unheralded players like Mayberry during this recent streak. Mayberry beat Colorado on Sunday with the winning single in the ninth inning.But it's the stars like Rollins, who declined to talk to the media, who still need to shine during the stretch drive.Lee (5-7) seemed headed toward a tough luck no-decision until the offense came through with timely hits in the seventh.Pinch hitting for Lee, Pete Orr hit a two-out single. Rollins followed with his 19th homer, a two-run shot to right, that sent the late-afternoon crowd into a frenzy and gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead.With little expected at the start of September, the Phillies are playing loose and having fun."Nobody's saying we've got to win 20 in a row," Orr said.Lee struck out the side in the fourth inning and fanned Hernandez to open the fifth. He tossed four-hit ball and struck out six in seven innings to earn only his second home victory of the season.Lee has regained his Cy Young form after making 13 starts to open the season without a win. He also had a stint on the disabled list and even had a 10-inning scoreless outing wasted against San Francisco when the Giants won 1-0 in the 11th."It's their pitching, that's how they're back in it," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.Lee allowed only an unearned run in the sixth after two straight Marlins batters reached on errors.Rollins, who leads all NL shortstops in fielding percentage, booted Donovan Solo's grounder. Jose Reyes hit a one-hopper that Lee snagged wide of the mound, whirled around and threw wide to second for an error. Carlos Lee followed two batters later with an RBI single to right for the 1-0 lead.That's the kind of sloppy play that might have done in the Phillies before the All-Star break.Not this month.Notes: The Phillies are on their longest winning streak since a nine-game run from July 29-Aug. 6, 2011. ... Philadelphia's starting pitchers are 15-5 over the last 28 games. ... The Marlins head home to start a three-game series with the Reds. ... Marlins RF Justin Ruggiano was ejected in the second inning for arguing balls and strikes.

Troy Mann's NHL stock rising with each Hershey win

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Troy Mann's NHL stock rising with each Hershey win

The Hershey Bears can clinch a berth in the Calder Cup Finals tonight with a win over the Toronto Marlies and if they do, head coach Troy Mann’s tough talk might be one of the reasons.

Following the Bears’ 8-2 drubbing of the Marlies on Wednesday night, Mann had this to say:

“This time of year you’ve got to enjoy it. Enjoy the moment. It’s no clich√©, every coach says it: the fourth (win) is always the toughest. But we want to make sure we take their will away and try to come out as hard as we did tonight on Friday night to try to take their will and let them know, ‘Hey, it’s going to be hard to come back. It’s going to be hard to play against us. And at the end of the day maybe the summer vacation starts for them and we move on. That’s the goal here.”

With a win the Bears would complete a sweep of the Marlies and face the Lake Erie Monsters, who completed a sweep of the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night.  The Calder Cup Finals have not been in Cleveland since the Barons got there 50 years ago, in 1966.

Mann, 46, is in his second full season as head coach of the Bears and could be on the brink of become an NHL coaching candidate. In his two seasons in Hershey the Bears have gone 89-43-20. Last season the Bears were eliminated in the second round.

Many in the Capitals organization wondered why Mann was passed over the head job in Hershey three years ago when Mark French was replaced with Mike Haviland, who coached the Bears for only one season.

Mann, who had been an assistant under French the previous four seasons, took a job as head coach of the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL and led them to the third round of the playoffs in 2014.

With NHL head coaching jobs still available in Calgary and Anaheim, Mann could join Caps assistant coach Todd Reirden as a candidate for one of those jobs.

Reirden, 44, played two seasons with the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in Cincinnati and has spent six years as an NHL assistant (four in Pittsburgh, two in Washington). He drew interest from New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero last summer before Shero hired John Hynes.

Scherzer takes on Cardinals as Nats aim to stay perfect vs. St Louis

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Scherzer takes on Cardinals as Nats aim to stay perfect vs. St Louis

Nats (29-19) vs. Carinals (24-24) at Nationals Park

The Nationals continue their series against St. Louis aiming to go a perfect 5-0 against the Cardinals on the season. On Thursday night it was Joe Ross who held them in check. On Friday, it will be Max Scherzer (5-3, 3.80) looking to shut them down.

Scherzer is coming off an eight-inning, two-run outing against the Marlins on May 22. He has allowed two earned runs in each of his last three outings. Scherzer pitched seven shutout innings against the Cardinals back on May 1.

Behind Scherzer will be the usual lineup with Daniel Murphy back in there after taking Thursday off.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: CBS-9, MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, XM 183
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Cardinals - Jaime Garcia

NATS

CF Ben Revere
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Max Scherzer

CARDINALS

TBA
LHP Jaime Garcia

Follow along with GameView here

 

Secretary of Defense gives thumbs-up for Reynolds to pursue NFL

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Secretary of Defense gives thumbs-up for Reynolds to pursue NFL

Ravens wide receiver Keenan Reynolds can officially defer his military service to play in the NFL, secretary of defense Ashton Carter said Friday. Carter made the announcement during his graduation speech at the Naval Academy.

Two weeks ago, Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, strongly recommended that Reynolds be allowed to pursue his NFL career. Now Reynolds has the official go-ahead.

“It is a blessing to hear the news from Defense Secretary Carter,” Reynolds said in a statement released by the Ravens. “I am truly excited to proudly serve my country while having the ability to fulfill my dream of playing for the best organization in the NFL.

“I would like to thank the Navy for allowing me to represent them while taking advantage of this unique opportunity. I would also like to thank (Ravens owner) Mr. (Steve) Bisciotti and the Ravens organization for believing in me and giving me this chance.”

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement, “This is good news, and congratulations on to Keenan on his graduation today.”

The Ravens selected Reynolds in the sixth round of the draft, and are intrigued by his potential as a returner and receiver after a stellar career at Navy as a quarterback. Reynolds finished his Navy career as the FBS all-time leader in touchdowns (88).

Reynolds has sought advice on making the transition from quarterback to receiver-returner from CSN’s Brian Mitchell, who was a Pro Bowl returner with the Redskins, and from Hines Ward, a Pro Bowl receiver with the Steelers. The next challenge for Reynolds is to win a spot on the Ravens’ 53-man roster, and many people will be rooting for him.