Ogwumike lifts Sparks past Mystics

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Ogwumike lifts Sparks past Mystics

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Nneka Ogwumike scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Los Angeles Sparks, who beat the Washington Mystics 101-70 on Monday night and improved to 5-0 at home.

The Sparks are off to their best home start since they went 7-0 in 2006.

Washington dropped its 12th straight road game, dating to a victory at Los Angeles on July 17, 2011. The 31-point loss was the Mystics' worst defeat of the season.

Ogwumike, the top pick in this year's WNBA draft, missed last Saturday's game to attend her graduation ceremony at Stanford. The Sparks (8-3) lost that game for their first two-game losing streak of the season, but they got re-energized in their third game in four nights.

Ogwumike went 11 for 14 from the field. Candace Parker scored eight of her 11 points in the third quarter and Kristi Toliver added 15 points and six assists. The Sparks benefited from 29 free throw attempts to 13 for the Mystics (2-6).

Michelle Snow led Washington with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Natasha Lacy added 12 points in a reserve role. Leading scorer Crystal Langhorne, who had scored 20 points in each of the previous three games, was held to a season-low two.

The Sparks opened the second half on a 12-4 run and pushed their lead to 21 when Ogwumike took a pass from a falling Marissa Coleman and scored on a layup to end the scoring in the third quarter. Ogwumike made a layup off a pass from Alana Beard pass in the lane and completed the three-point play to make it 84-54.

The Sparks led 44-36 at halftime thanks largely to 19 free throw attempts compared to six for the Mystics. Beard and Toliver went a combined 11 for 13 from the line in the first half, including four in the final minute to push the lead to 41-33.

Langhorne had no points and only two field goal attempts in the first half. Parker was held to three points on 1 for 5 shooting.

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Andrew Shaw to have disciplinary hearing for hit on Connor Hobbs

Andrew Shaw to have disciplinary hearing for hit on Connor Hobbs

Andrew Shaw will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Thursday for boarding Capitals defenseman Connor Hobbs.

Shaw, perhaps upset about being upended by Jay Beagle moments earlier, lined up Hobbs and nailed the Washington prospect, who had his back turned, into the end boards late in the second period of Tuesday’s 5-2 loss in Montreal.

RELATED: CAPS AUCTIONING OPPORTUNITY TO NAME PRESEASON GAME STARTERS

Shaw was then confronted by another Capitals’ prospect, Nathan Walker. As Walker threw punches, Shaw attempted to rile up the crowd by waving his arms as if to say, ‘Louder.’ Hobbs and Walker have never appeared in an NHL game; Shaw is entering his sixth NHL season.

After the game, Capitals associate coach Todd Reirden praised Walker for coming to Hobbs’ defense.

“I’ll always point stuff like that out,” Reirden told team reporter Mike Vogel at Bell Centre. “That’s team. That’s Capitals’ hockey. That’s one part of hockey that will never change for me is that you stick [up] for a teammate, especially in preseason. It was incredibly brave. He did an outstanding job.”

Shaw received a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. In all, he was assessed 30 minutes in penalties.

MORE CAPITALS: SANFORD IMPRESSES IN PRESEASON DEBUT

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Sammy Solis makes return for Nats, could be big for playoffs

Sammy Solis makes return for Nats, could be big for playoffs

There are a lot of reasons the Nationals like reliever Sammy Solis, beyond the obvious, that he's simply another good left-hander they can use in late-game spots. He's versatile with the ability to pitch multiple innings and he can also get both lefties and righties out. 

Solis holds lefties to a .193 batting average and right-handers to a .229 clip. As manager Dusty Baker has said before, he doesn't have to mix-and-match with Solis like he does with other left-handed relievers.

Tuesday night was the first time in a while that Baker got to call on Solis. The 28-year-old had just returned from the disabled list after recovering from left shoulder inflammation. His seventh inning spot against the Diamondbacks was his first since Aug. 15. After six weeks of rehab, including a setback, Solis is now back in the mix, just in time for the playoffs.

"He said he was ready. We threw him right in the fire," Baker said.

Solis came back firing his fastball at 93 and 94 miles per hour. His first pitch sailed high and out of the zone. He was nervous.

“I would say a few butterflies in there," he said. "But once I got past the first pitch it was all good. Right back to the comfort zone of being on the mound.”

Solis quickly found his command and got three outs on balls put in play. He threw 12 pitches to complete a perfect frame and a bridge to the eighth inning where Shawn Kelley took over.

That seventh inning could be a good place for Solis with Kelley thriving in the setup role and Mark Melancon firmly installed in the ninth. Baker clearly trusts Solis in high leverage spots, as evidenced by his decision to hand him one in his first game back.

“Honestly, I want to be there. I expect to be there, having my name called in later innings in a close game," Solis said.

Solis can get just about anyone out when he's pitching well. But having him in store for the NL Division Series against the Dodgers could prove paramount. Their lineup is potent and it's heavy on left-handers.

Between Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers not only have balance, they have tons of power from the left side. Those four have a combined 80 homers this season and Solis has never allowed one to a left-handed batter through 97 plate appearances.

Solis saw the Dodgers twice this year - on June 20 and 21 - and struck out three through 1 2/3 innings. He feels like he can be a big help in that series.

"I really hope I’m in there especially with a left-handed dominant lineup like they have and some power as well. I just hope to be on [the playoff roster]" he said.

He doesn't have to worry about that one.

[RELATED: Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals]

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