Padres nearly had their first ever no-hitter

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Padres nearly had their first ever no-hitter

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Edinson Volquez has only his glove to blame for falling just short of the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. Volquez threw a one-hitter -- an infield single in the fourth inning that bounced off his glove -- for the first complete game and shutout of his career as the Padres beat the Houston Astros 1-0 on Thursday night. Alexi Amarista doubled and Logan Forsythe singled in the first inning for the Padres, who won three of the four games in the series and have won five of six overall. "I had a few in the minor leagues, but right now that doesn't count," Volquez said of complete games. "To do it in the major leagues, complete game, one-hit shutout, that was good." Volquez shut down the Astros except for the infield single by Matt Downs, who hit a comebacker to the left side of the mound. Third baseman Chase Headley and Volquez converged on the ball but Volquez opted to attempt to snare the ball but dropped it. Volquez did not attempt to throw out Downs at first base. "I've got to work on my backhand," Volquez said. "I was supposed to catch that ball. I've got fielding practice tomorrow, I've got to work on that. He hit it in the right spot." Downs was just glad to avoid history. "You look back and you're glad he didn't no-hit you," Downs said. In becoming the first Padres pitcher to throw a one-hitter at Petco Park, Volquez struck out five and walked three, throwing 118 pitches, 76 for strikes. It was the Padres' second complete game of the season and sixth shutout. "He's been pretty good lately," Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "Sometimes the walks kill him, but that was one thing he didn't do tonight was walk too many guys. It seemed like every time he fell behind he came back, so that's something he needs to keep doing. He's a really good pitcher when he allows himself to be." Volquez is the third Padrer to throw a shutout at Petco Park. Jake Peavy did so on Aug. 23, 2005 also against Houston, and Ismael Valdez did on June 5, 2004, against Milwaukee. "A couple of hiccups with maybe a couple of walks, but his stuff was good," Padres manager Bud Black said. "They didn't hit many balls hard. He was in command of the game. Those are tough games, because when the score is 1-0, every pitch is critical." The win improved Volquez's career record against the Astros to 6-0. "I think we had four or five well-hit balls, right on the button -- and that happens," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "At the same time, you would like to get something started against him." Rookie Lucas Harrell (7-7), who threw a shutout against San Diego on June 27 in Houston, gave up four hits and struck out six while walking one in seven innings. "With our offense, I feel like we can score enough runs if I can keep it close," Harrell said. Amarista, playing in center field for the injured Cameron Maybin, has hit safely in 16 of 17 games, batting .387 over that stretch. Forsythe nearly started a triple play in the second inning. Scott Maxwell hit a line drive that the second baseman leaped to catch. He threw to Everth Cabrera to double up J.D. Martinez at second and Cabrera threw to first but Downs dived to beat the ball to the base and prevent the triple play. Houston is batting .197 over the past 15 games and the club has had five hits or fewer 10 times in its last 18 games. The Astros were the victim when Matt Cain threw a perfect game on July 13 in San Francisco. "It's going to turn here, and it's going to turn here quick," Mills said. "We're looking forward to it turning tomorrow night in Arizona." This game marked the last non-interleague meeting between the Astros and Padres as Houston will move to the American League West in 2013. NOTES: Mills said C Jason Castro, who is on the DL, had "really good range of motion" after his swollen knee was drained Wednesday. ... Maybin was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of a sore wrist. Black said he doubts Maybin will be a candidate for the DL ... Bud Norris will pitch for Houston when they open a three-game series in Arizona on Friday against Trevor Cahill (7-8, 3.71). San Diego's Jason Marquis (2-5, 3.62) will pitch in the opener of a three-game series against Colorado's Drew Pomeranz (1-4, 3.79).

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Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

National League home run leader Bryce Harper is among four starters out of the lineup for the Washington Nationals in their series finale against the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Matt Wieters also did not start for the Nationals, who open a nine-game, 10-day road trip Monday afternoon in San Francisco.

Murphy missed the previous two games due to illness, Chris Speier said Saturday. Speier, serving as acting manager with Dusty Baker away this weekend to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in California, did not meet with the media before Sunday's game.

RELATED: Nationals' Joe Ross to Start Against Team That Drafted Him

Harper is batting .337 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Washington won the first two matchups in the three-game series.

Joe Ross (2-0, 5.32) faces fellow right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) on Sunday.

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Bradley Beal proved worth his max contract in first year of new deal with Wizards

Bradley Beal proved worth his max contract in first year of new deal with Wizards

Through four years with John Wall since he signed his deal and one year with Bradley Beal, the Wizards are a convincing 2-for-2 in handing out max contract extensions. Both Wall and Beal got paid handsomely and, despite their fair share of critics, each immediately got a lot better. They did something that is a lot easier said than done: once they got their money, they kept improving and in doing so made their contracts look better and better after actually signing them.

That's the best-case scenario for the Wizards and their front office deserves credit for both deals. They technically could have let either walk in free agency or traded them, as some in the media suggested they should. They chose to keep both for top-dollar deals and since have been rewarded for it.

Beal signed his new deal, a five-year contract worth $128 million, last July. It was a max contract for a guy who had never made an All-Star team and who had battled injuries, including last season when he only played in 55 games and only started 35. Naturally, some wondered if he was worth the money because of his problems staying healthy through four NBA seasons. 

But in his first year under a new contract, Beal achieved newfound durability. He had some minor issues here and there, but managed to play 77 out of the Wizards' 82 games and then appear in all of their 13 playoff games.

"If anything, I'm proud of that. I'm happy for myself, being able to be healthy for a full year," Beal said. "Being able to be on the floor, man, that's all I wanted. Just being able to be here. I knew if I was healthy that I would have a successful year. I had that opportunity this season."

[RELATED: Brooks proved a great fit in his first year with the Wizards]

Wall knows something about proving his critics wrong. He signed his max deal in July of 2013, before he had made an All-Star team and after he played just 49 games in an injury-plagued season. In the four years since, Wall has been an All-Star each time and this past season earned his first All-NBA selection.

Beal was not seleced for the All-Star Game this past year, but did put up career-bests in points per game (23.1), field goal percentage (48.4), free throw attempts (4.4) and assists (3.5). Wall believes his backcourt mate made a significant leap in his game.

"I feel like he should have been an All-Star. He's proven to himself that he earned his money when everybody said he didn't," Wall explained. "It's the same thing I went through. Now all he can do is take that as motivation going forward into next season. He has improved dramatically in so many areas that helped us and helped me and my game."

The ways Beal improved were obvious. His free throw attempts and field goal percentage naturally went up because he got better at earning his own shots. His ballhandling was worlds better: he developed a deadly stepback jumper and a respected crossover, and gained confidence attacking the rim.

Beal attempted 23.8 percent of his shots at three feet from the rim or closer, a career-high. He took 41.8 percent of his attempts from three-point range, also a career-high. For Beal, it was simple, spread the floor or attack the rim with impunity.

Beal's ability to break down defenses off the dribble led to more open shots. It also allowed him to run point guard at times within coach Scott Brooks' system, something many shooting guards aren't capable of.

Still, for Beal, it's the health that stands out most.

"The same thing is going to happen next season. I just have to stay within my regiment. No days off. Just continue to focus on my body and make sure I'm doing the right things," he said.

Beal has long been a dangerous shooter and above average defensive player and those attributes continued to improve in 2016-17. Now he can scare opponents with his dribbling and passing abilities. Add it all up and he's developing into one of the more complete players at the shooting guard position. That sounds like somebody who is worth the contract he signed.

[RELATED: Durant says don't blame him for lopsided NBA Playoffs]