The Kings are not the Stanley Cup champions ... yet

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The Kings are not the Stanley Cup champions ... yet

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After 45 years of waiting, the Los Angeles Kings' quest for their first Stanley Cup title will last at least a few more days. The Kings had a chance to sweep New Jersey out of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night, but they were done in by three third-period goals in a 3-1 loss to the Devils in Game 4. While the Kings are an amazing 15-3 in this remarkable postseason run, they have lost three Game 4s with a chance for a sweep. No worries, though, as Los Angeles bounced back in Game 5 to knock out Vancouver and Phoenix on the road. The Kings managed to sweep St. Louis in the second round. The Devils claimed their first lead of the series in the third period before Kings defenseman Drew Doughty tied it. Adam Henrique put New Jersey ahead to stay with 4:29 left, and Ilya Kovalchuk secured the Eastern Conference champions' first win of the series with an empty-net goal. Now it's back to New Jersey for Game 5 on Saturday night. "It was pretty even all the way, but they found a way to get a late goal," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We had some chances early in the third, but we didn't bury it, and we made a couple of mistakes that they capitalized on. We've just got to hit the reset button. "We've been in this situation now three times in the playoffs, and we've always come back with a big rebound game." The Kings might have to get some rebounds past 40-year-old Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who has been in top form all series, and stopped 21 shots in Game 4. The NHL's career winningest goalie doesn't appear to be satisfied with the three Stanley Cup titles he already has. "Marty played well for them and made some big saves," Brown said. "Tonight was a battle out there, and now it's just a matter of having the same approach in the next game." The Kings were trying to become the first team to sweep the Devils in a best-of-seven series, and the first to sweep the finals since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings. New Jersey had managed a total of only two goals in the first three games -- dropping a pair of 2-1 overtime decisions at home before losing 4-0 in Los Angeles in Game 3. Los Angeles has won a record 10 straight road games in these playoffs, and 12 consecutive postseason games away from home, dating to last year. If the Kings win one more in New Jersey, they will also own the mark for most road wins in a playoff year with 11. "Whether you win or lose, we don't have time to get down or too excited. We just have to focus on the next one," goalie Jonathan Quick said. "We've played well on the road, but at the same time, we try to play the same way whether you're on the road or at home. We're just focused on the next one, and that's all it is. This one is in the past." Quick faced 72 shots in the first three games, and the only two that got past him were a bounce off the chest of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, and Ryan Carter's deflection of Marek Zidlicky's shot. On Wednesday, he was beaten by Henrique's perfectly placed wrist shot. "They were desperate in all of the games," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. "Everybody is bringing their A' game in the finals, and we're going to have to do it again. We have to bury the chances we get. "They seem like they had chances off the rush, and they capitalized on those. They played with a little more desperation than we did, and we have to correct that in Game 5." Teams that had a chance to win the Cup on home ice are 6-8 since 2000. The last four champions closed the deal on the road. The Kings could be primed to repeat that feat. "We didn't have our best game, and they did," defenseman Matt Greene said. "They played well. We knew they were going to come out hard, and they did. We have to be tighter in the defensive zone and tighter in our game if we want to win. "I think we played OK, but that's not going to cut it right now. We've got to do a better job of moving the puck faster out of our zone, getting more sustained pressure in theirs and disrupting their game." The Kings can take comfort in the fact that teams who led 3-0 in the Stanley Cup finals have won the series 24 of 25 times since the NHL went to a best-of-seven format in 1939. The only exception is the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, who blew the big lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs. None of the Kings appeared worried Wednesday that the Stanley Cup was slipping out of their grasp. The games have been tight, and Los Angeles has effectively shut down the Devils' power play, which is 0 for 15 in the series. "I don't think we were expecting to win in four before the finals started," Kings forward Simon Gagne said. "We're in a great position, but it's going to be a big fight. We all know that fourth one is going to be the toughest one to win. "Sure, you're disappointed. You hope you could do it in front of your fans. But at the same time, it's the Stanley Cup finals, and it's going to take a lot of work to get it done. They played well, and we came up short. That's the bottom line. Now we have to focus on the next game. That's it."

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Baker acknowledges Nats need to come through in clutch situations

Baker acknowledges Nats need to come through in clutch situations

Coming through in two-out situations isn’t supposed to be an easy task, but the Nationals are making it look especially difficult of late.

The most recent example of those struggles came in Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Padres, in which the Nats’ lineup couldn’t get the big knock against 23-year-old right hander Luis Perdomo, a rookie starter who came into the game sporting a 7.36 ERA.

“That’s been our nemesis,” manager Dusty Baker said. “People ask me, you know, what do we need? We need some timely, two-out base hits. Not home runs.”

Indeed, when the Nats score big, it’s usually because they powered their way to get there. They entered Friday tied for first in the National League with 132 homers through 96 games. And even against the Padres, two of Washongton's three runs on the night came via solo shots from Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy.

So the issue hasn’t been overall scoring, per se. The issue has been scoring in clutch situations without relying on the long ball. Against the Perdomo and the Padres, the Nats went 1-for-5 with two outs and runners in scoring position, including an 0-for-4 stretch after the first inning. That won’t help their season average in that category (.221), which ranked 21st in the majors prior to the game.

So it’s no mystery to Baker about what has to be fixed.

“At this stage of the game, almost two-thirds of the season gone, we gotta make some changes,” the skipper said of the Nats’ two-out approach. “We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting, and it’s getting frustrating on the guys and frustrating on fans and frustrating to us, too.”

When asked about the Nats' recent offensive woes, Bryce Harper chalked it up to the typical up-and-down nature of the long season. 

"I don't think we need to change much at all,” said Harper, who’s 6-for-20 in those situations on the year. "I think we're a great team. I think we're swinging the bats well.

“Sometimes you line out and get out. Sometimes you hit right into shifts. Sometimes you strikeout, sometimes you walk. It's part of the game.”

Perhaps it is just part of the game. But it is also hard to ignore that the Nats have gone 6-for-41 with runners in scoring position over their last five games, four of them losses. 

But Baker, ever the optimist, believes it won't take long before his team turns it around. 

“I just urge everybody, don’t panic," he said. "Just let us play and we’ll come out of this.”

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Report details pieces Orioles could package together in trade for Upton, Jr.

Report details pieces Orioles could package together in trade for Upton, Jr.

The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly discussing a trade that would send Ubaldo Jimenez to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Melvin Upton, Jr., according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. 

The deal, Rosenthal reports, would likely also have to involve a prospect departing Baltimore for San Diego and is "not yet close" to happening.

Jimenez has struggled for Baltimore this season, going 5-9 with a 7.38 ERA. Upton, Jr. is batting .259 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs. 

MORE DEADLINE NEWS: DUQUETTE OUTLINES WHAT O'S SEEK IN STARTING PITCHER

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Bundy gets first major league win as a starter, O's beat Indians

Bundy gets first major league win as a starter, O's beat Indians

BALTIMORE—Before Friday night’s game, Buck Showalter was asked if Dylan Bundy could remain in the starting rotation for the rest of the season and not exceed the innings limit the manager has in mind. 

Showalter said that was possible, and after watching Bundy achieve his first major league win as a starter on Friday night, he’s no doubt eager to see more out of Bundy. 

In five innings, Bundy allowed an unearned run on five hits as the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 before 39,358 at Oriole Park. 

The Orioles, who lost four straight before winning on Thursday afternoon in New York, scored their most runs in exactly two weeks, and had their first three-run inning since July 5. 

Bundy (3-2), who started for the first time on Sunday and allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings at Tampa Bay, pitched well against the Indians. 

He gave up five hits in five innings and struck out five. 

“That's a real good offensive team over there, so that makes it even more impressive. He was good. He pitched as much as threw,” Showalter said. “He felt good at the end. Started to give me that ‘I can keep going’ look.

Shortly after Showalter indicated his confidence in Bundy as a starter, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette emphasized that the team needed additional starting pitching. Even though the market was thin, perhaps the thinnest Duquette has seen, the Orioles would continue to look for reinforcements. 

An effective Bundy would be a huge help. He’s fine with being a starter the rest of the season.

“I mean, yeah, it could be, if he said so. You know, that’s not up to me. I’m just going to keep pitching whenever I’m supposed to, and that can all work itself out at the end of the year,” Bundy said. 

Help may be coming in a few days when Darren O’Day, who hasn’t pitched since June 1 due to a strained right hamstring, returns. He allowed a hit and struck out two in his rehab start at Bowie.

If the Orioles decide O’Day doesn’t need a second rehab assignment, he could return on Sunday or Monday, and that would give the bullpen a big boost. 

Bundy had just one perfect inning, the fourth, and didn’t walk a batter. 

There was one difficult inning, the second when Tyler Naquin doubled with one out. Naquin was held at third when Juan Uribe singled, but Bundy retired Abraham Almonte on a foul pop to third and Chris Gimenez on a fly to center. 

In the fifth, with Bundy having thrown 72 pitches through four, Almonte led off with a double and moved to third on a passed ball by Caleb Joseph.

Almonte tried to score on Gimenez’s grounder to short, but headed back towards third when J.J. Hardy threw home. Almonte beat the throw back to third and scored when Carlos Santana hit into a double play. It was the only run for Cleveland (56-39).  

“He was really going to pitch effectively tonight. Pitch is the key word. He knew it was going to be a challenge with Cleveland, like it will be tomorrow and the next night for anybody who faces them. But I think in this case, no. I think he was so locked in to what his job description was tonight. I think the first pitch of the game was a changeup. That kind of set the tone. Caleb obviously did a nice job with him,” Showalter said. 
 
The Orioles (55-40) got Adam Jones back after he was down for a day with back spasms. Before the game, Joey Rickard was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised ligament in his right thumb. 

Mark Trumbo hit a three-run homer in the first, his 29th, which leads the major leagues, off Trevor Bauer (7-4) in the first to take a 3-0 lead. 

Jones’ second-inning sacrifice fly and Manny Machado’s 19th home run in the third, made it 5-0.

“We came up and got a couple runners on base and Trumbo came up and did what he does best. It was good to get that out the way quick in the first inning. We have been struggling with runners in scoring position lately on the road trip so to come out here and do it right away was pretty great,” Machado said. 

Odrisamer Despaigne pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, and came within a pitch of his first major league save, but after he walked Almonte, Zach Britton came in to retire Erik Gonzalez for his 31st save. 

NOTES: Juan Uribe was hit in the head by a pitch from Despaigne in the seventh inning and suffered a bruise. … Josh Tomlin (10-2, 3.34) faces Kevin Gausman (1-7, 4.05) on Saturday.