The Giants are heading to the World Series

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The Giants are heading to the World Series

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- After all the Giants had overcome to get back to the World Series, a late shower wasn't about to dampen their celebration.All right, it was a driving downpour.So reliever Sergio Romo danced through the raindrops, Tim Lincecum helped lead a soaked victory lap around the ballpark and Angel Pagan stayed on the field with his daughter long after his teammates took the party indoors.Hunter Pence got the Giants going with a weird double, Matt Cain pitched his second clincher of October and San Francisco closed out Game 7 of the NL championship series in a rainstorm, routing the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 on Monday night."The rain never felt so good," series MVP Marco Scutaro said. "We're going to the World Series, this is unbelievable."San Francisco won its record-tying sixth elimination game of the postseason, completing a lopsided rally from a 3-1 deficit.The Giants, who won it all in 2010, will host reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Triple Crown slugger Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 on Wednesday night.Verlander is set to pitch Wednesday's opener at AT&T Park. Giants manager Bruce Bochy insisted before Monday's game he had not planned any further in advance.Scutaro produced his sixth multihit game of the series and matched an LCS record with 14 hits and Pablo Sandoval drove in a run for his fifth straight game."These guys never quit," Bochy said. "They just kept believing and they got it done."After falling behind 3-1 in the series at Busch Stadium, the Giants outscored the wild-card Cardinals 20-1 over the final three games behind stellar starting pitching from Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Cain.They also benefited from some strange bounces.On Pence's double that highlighted a five-run third, his bat broke at the label on impact, then the broken barrel hit the ball twice more. That put a rolling, slicing spin on the ball and caused it to change directions -- leaving shortstop Pete Kozma little chance to make the play. Kozma broke to his right, figuring that's where the ball would go, but it instead curved to left-center."It was going to go in the hole and it ended up going up the middle," Kozma said.Injured closer Brian Wilson, with that out-of-control bushy black beard, danced in the dugout and fans in the sellout crowd of 43,056 kept twirling their orange rally towels even through rain in the late innings -- a downright downpour when Romo retired Matt Holliday on a popup to Scutaro to end it.Romo embraced catcher Buster Posey as fireworks went off over McCovey Cove beyond right field."It's just very fitting the way everything has gone for us this season," Romo said of ending in the rain. "The ups and downs, the injuries, the personal issues, whatever. What a ride for us all. It's very, very fitting that it rained right there."The NL West champion Giants won their first postseason clincher at home since the 2002 NLCS, also against the Cardinals.These 2012 Giants have a couple of pretty talented castoffs of their own not so different from that winning combination of 2010 "castoffs and misfits" as Bochy referred to his bunch -- with Scutaro right there at the top of the list this time around.Acquired July 27 from the division rival Colorado Rockies, Scutaro hit .500 (14 for 28) with four RBIs in the NLCS. The 36-year-old journeyman infielder, playing in his second postseason and first since 2006 with Oakland, became the first player in major league history with six multihit games in an LCS.Now, he's headed to his first World Series.The Giants have All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera to thank for helping his teammates secure home-field advantage in the postseason -- while Cain was the winning pitcher the National League's 8-0 victory in July. Cabrera was suspended 50 games Aug. 15 for a positive testosterone test, then wasn't added to the roster by the Giants after his suspension ended.After rain fell on the Cardinals during batting practice, the skies turned blue and the weather cooperated. Anxious players on both sides hung over the dugout rails as the game began.Cain joined St. Louis' Chris Carpenter as the only pitchers with victories in two winner-take-all games in the same postseason. Carpenter, who lost Games 2 and 6 in this series, did it last year.Cain also pitched the Giants' Game 5 division series clincher at Cincinnati, when San Francisco became the first team in major league history to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a five-game series by winning three consecutive road games."I think to do it, the guys actually have to believe it can happen," Posey said.He delivered on an even bigger stage Monday as San Francisco saved its season once again. The Giants won their 20th NL pennant and reached their 19th World Series.Cain walked off the mound to a standing ovation when Jeremy Affeldt entered with two outs in the sixth. Affeldt then got Daniel Descalso to pop out with two runners on.Yadier Molina had four hits but got little help from the rest of the Cardinals, who went 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position over their final three games."It's about the team that's hot, and we went on a cold streak," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We got to this point by being that team that was hot and taking advantage of opportunities. But we just couldn't make it happen these last two games."Cain added an RBI single to his cause and got some sparkling defense behind him.The play of the game went to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who made a leaping catch of Kyle Lohse's liner to end the second inning with runners on second and third that would have been a run-scoring hit.In the third, Scutaro, the second baseman, made a tough stop on a short hop by Carlos Beltran, and left fielder Gregor Blanco ran down a hard-hit ball by Allen Craig in left-center to end the inning.Cain's second-inning single made San Francisco the first team in major league postseason history to have a starting pitcher drive in a run in three straight elimination games.Brandon Belt hit a solo homer in the eighth for his first clout of the postseason.It took production from everybody, even the pitchers, for these scrappy Giants to rally back from the brink one more time.Cain certainly did his part to keep the staff rolling.The 16-game winner, who didn't surrender an earned run during his team's title run two years ago, reached 46 pitches through two innings but settled in nicely the rest of the way to avenge a loss to Lohse in Game 3.Cain even got to repay Holliday for his hard slide into Scutaro at second base in Game 2 here a week earlier. Cain plunked Holliday in the upper left arm leading off the sixth, drawing cheers from the crowd.The right-hander escaped trouble in the second with runners on second and third when Crawford made his catch.Holliday returned to the lineup after missing Game 6 a night earlier with tightness in his lower back. He received loud boos when he stepped in to hit in the first from a fan base still angry about his slide that injured Scutaro's hip.Beltran is still left 0-fer the World Series, winless in three Game 7s during his 15-year career. And to think just last fall he was on the other side with the Giants as they missed the playoffs a year after winning the club's first World Series since moving West in 1958."If you look at the games we made a lot of mistakes and they didn't make any," Beltran said. "They took advantage of those. They were able to put things together, offense, pitching, defense, and we couldn't do that."The Cardinals went an NL-best 12-4 from Sept. 16 to the end of the season to earn the NL's second wild card on the second-to-last day of the season, then won 6-3 in a winner-take-all playoff at Atlanta to reach the division series. The Cardinals then rallied from a 6-0 deficit with a four-run ninth inning to stun the Washington Nationals 9-7 in Game 5.Sandoval's run-scoring groundout in the first that put his team ahead gave him at least one RBI in five straight postseason games, matching home run king Barry Bonds' franchise record set in 2002.Now, Sandoval and the Giants get to play on."It's just surreal. The victory lap right there was the greatest thing," said Zito, left off the 2010 postseason roster for all three rounds but now a candidate to pitch Game 1. "We play best when our backs are against the wall."NOTES:The Giants snapped an 0-5 skid in deciding Game 7s. ... The Tigers and Giants will meet for the first time in the postseason.

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

FOXBORO – The boos and demands to “Stand up!” rained down just as the Star Spangled Banner began. The players on the Patriots sideline who knelt – the ones boos and invective was directed at – stayed down. Others stood, locking arms with teammates while others stood with their hands over their hearts.

By game’s end, everyone was on their feet. Players. Coaches. Fans. Together.

Unless they left early because of traffic and a late Patriots deficit. Or because they couldn’t bear the thought of watching an NFL game on a beautiful September Sunday because the entertainers didn’t do what they wanted them to do before the performance began.

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The whole thing’s complicated. I understand why people take offense at those who don’t stand for the anthem.

I understand why others want to deliver a symbolic message about their American experience.

I completely understand why, two days after President Trump thought it appropriate to use the phrase “son of a bitch” to refer to someone making a silent, reflective statement, many NFL players felt challenged, backed into a corner and somewhat dehumanized. The message delivered was, in essence, “Shut up and dance.”

Personally, I prefer to stick to sports. I don’t think I’m equipped to talk politics because I don’t know policy, legislation, constituencies and special interests – all the things that I define as politics – well enough to drone on at anybody.

As for sociology – which is what this is about rather than politics – I have my experiences and others have theirs. I’m trying to mow my own lawn over here. You do you. I’ll do me. As long as you don’t encroach on me doing me while you do you, I’m fine. When I’m not completely self-absorbed, a respectful exchange of ideas can make me see things in a different light.

It didn’t surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling. The pot was brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over.

But the irony of how the afternoon played out – that Brandin Cooks, a player booing fans were screaming at to stand three hours earlier brought them to their feet with his toe-tapping last-minute touchdown – was perfectly symbolic.

Ultimately, everyone was there for the football – the players, coaches, media and fans – and in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game.

“That’s what sports is,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “That’s what sports does. That’s what makes them great. They bring out what we have in common.

“I don’t think people look at us as human,” McCourty said. “I don’t think they ever have. We’re just the entertainment. They don’t understand that there’s a human behind it. People want to shake your hand or have their picture taken with you but they don’t want to know you. That’s reality.”

Maybe. Or maybe people feel their voices aren’t heard. They don’t have a column they can write or a TV or radio show to spout off on. They don’t have the chance to demonstrate their individual feelings at their cubicle before the workday starts.

All they know is they spent $500 or more to get to and into with a belly full of steak tips and beer and they don’t need to feel like being reminded about somebody else’s societal oppression on their day off, thank you very much.

It’s not so much about who does what during the Star Spangled Banner as much as it is that a lot of people don’t appreciate the intrusion. That, and they’re tired of hearing how bad everyone else has it when it’s really no damn picnic for most people these days.

Believe me, there’s not unanimity of opinion in the Patriots locker room any more than there is in your office, home, dorm or neighborhood. Players of different races, backgrounds, economic circumstances and ways of expressing themselves are thrown in a pot together and told to work for a common goal and rely on each other.

The mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty’s opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions and Bill Belichick’s comment that he would “deal with that later” all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole.

It’s complicated for them too.

But in the end, it was the football that bound them together. It was the game that left them jumping on each other and the fans standing and screaming and nobody thinking at all about who did what when the song played before the game.

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

LANDOVER, Md. - Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score and the Washington Redskins sacked Derek Carr four times and held the Oakland Raiders to 128 yards in a dominating 27-10 victory on Sunday night.

Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995.

Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington's seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.

Oakland's rushing offense, which came in ranked fifth in the NFL, managed just 32 yards.

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