Sunday's action featured two walk-off slams

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Sunday's action featured two walk-off slams

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Joey Votto is finally swinging like an MVP again. Votto hit a grand slam in the ninth inning for his third home run of the game on Sunday, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a rain-delayed 9-6 victory over the Washington Nationals with the biggest game of his career. Votto hit solo homers in his first two at-bats and finished with his second career slam, thrilling a sparse crowd that sat through a long delay and then more rain to see an improbable finish. The Reds said it was the first time in major league history that a player hit a game-ending grand slam for his third home run, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. "You like to see Joey hitting like that," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I keep telling the guys you've got to believe." Washington came into the game with only 15 homers allowed all season, fewest in the majors. Votto broke out of a power drought and helped the Reds avoid a sweep with three perfect swings. "Everybody talks about how he's treading water," teammate Drew Stubbs said. "Then he has a game like that. He wasn't far from hitting five. Hopefully, he's back to what he used to be." The first two homers came off starter Edwin Jackson, ending Votto's drought of no homers since April 30. The slugger also doubled and flied out to the warning track. Votto has been trying to smooth out his swing. "It's certainly a work in progress, but I think I hit more barrels today than I have all season," he said. He got his chance for the last-swing drama when Nationals closer Henry Rodriguez (1-3) got into the game and couldn't get comfortable on the wet mound. Rodriguez walked two batters with two outs to load the bases, including Chris Heisey after getting ahead in the count 0-2. Washington manager Davey Johnson came out to visit Rodriguez, who repeatedly scraped at the wet mound with his cleats. Rodriguez left a 2-2 pitch up and over the plate for Votto, who hit it over the wall in center. The 2010 NL MVP finished with a career-high six RBIs and the second three-homer game of his career. It was Votto's best day since he signed a new deal before opening day that added 10 years and 225 million. "He did today what he's been known to do," Jackson said. "That's what he got paid a lot of money to do." The last player to hit a game-ending home run in a three-homer game was Albert Pujols for St. Louis against Cincinnati on April 16, 2006, according to STATS LLC. Giancarlo Stanton also hit a game-ending slam Sunday for Miami against the New York Mets, making it the first time in 14 years that there were two walk-off slams on one day, STATS said. Mo Vaughn connected for Boston and Steve Finley for San Diego on April 10, 1998. A few thousand fans were left to cheer Cincinnati's first game-ending slam since Adam Dunn connected off Cleveland's Bob Wickman on June 30, 2006. Sean Marshall (1-2) got the win at the end of the long day. The start was delayed 3 hours, 36 minutes by rain, which continued to fall throughout the 3-hour, 45-minute game. Ahead 6-3, the Nationals couldn't close out what would have been their first three-game sweep of the season. The Reds got two runs in the eighth when rookie right fielder Bryce Harper lost Jay Bruce's two-out fly ball in the twilight sky, letting it fall way behind him for a double. Then, Washington's fill-in closer let it slip away, concluding a painful one-week trip. Right fielder Jayson Werth had surgery on his broken left wrist Monday, and Harper needed 10 stitches for a self-inflicted gash above his left eye on Friday after he hurt himself slamming a bat against a wall near the dugout. Catcher Wilson Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while chasing a passed ball Saturday night. Despite sending 11 players to the disabled list already this season, the Nationals had managed to stay atop the NL East because of their pitching staff, which leads the majors. For one of the few times, it let them down, and Washington dropped into second place behind Atlanta. NOTES: The Nationals headed out for a seven-game homestand, including two games each against San Diego and Pittsburgh and three against Baltimore. The Reds left for an unusual seven-game trip: Atlanta for two games, then on to New York for two against the Mets and three against the Yankees. ... The Nationals called up C Sandy Leon from Double-A Harrisburg. ... Harper wore a bandage over his left eye for the second straight game and had a pair of singles, ending his 0-for-9 slump in Cincinnati. ... Reds 3B Mike Costanzo, called up to replace injured Scott Rolen, made his big league debut as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and hit a sacrifice fly on the first pitch.

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MIAMI (AP) -- Giancarlo Stanton took a lusty swing with his pink bat, then paused a moment to admire his first game-winning grand slam before settling into a home run trot. "That's one of those no-doubters," he said. "It's good I could stand and watch it." Stanton's two-out slam capped a comeback Sunday by the Miami Marlins, who scored six times in the ninth inning to beat an angry Frank Francisco and the New York Mets 8-4. The walk-off victory was the second in the three-game series for the Marlins, who have won 10 of their past 12 games, thanks mostly to their rotation. "We're where we're at because of our pitching," said catcher John Buck, who hit a tying homer in the seventh. "It's kind of nice to have the bats speak up a bit." The Marlins trailed 4-2 when Emilio Bonifacio led off the ninth with his second triple of the game against the struggling Francisco (1-3). Buck walked and pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs followed with an RBI single. Francisco was then replaced, and he walked slowly toward plate umpire Todd Tichenor, hollering angrily. Manager Terry Collins stepped between Tichenor and Francisco, who was ejected even though he was already out of the game. Francisco waved his index finger and then his cap at the ump before finally heading to the dugout, his closer's job in jeopardy. "I thought I was hitting my spots really good, and I didn't get a call," Francisco said. "Any time you see the other team lose their cool like that, you know we're in the driver's seat," Stanton said. When Francisco's tirade ended, the Mets' meltdown continued. Manny Acosta replaced Francisco, and Jose Reyes' sacrifice fly made the score 4-all. After a popup, Hanley Ramirez walked on a 3-2 pitch and Austin Kearns was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Stanton's Mother's Day bat then closed out the victory, launching the first pitch over the left-center wall near the animated home run sculpture for his seventh homer, and sixth this month. At first, Stanton said, he didn't hear the explosion of noise from the crowd of 26,401. "It's a weird feeling," he said. "It's more like silence where all you see is the ball flying, and once you start going, you start to hear the big roar by everybody and the excitement." After rounding the bases, Stanton tossed his helmet 20 feet high before hopping into a sea of jubilant Marlins at home plate. Teammate Logan Morrison gave the 245-pound slugger a celebratory hoist. "I didn't know if his knees were going to hold out," Stanton said. The walk-off win was the fifth for the Marlins in 14 games in their new ballpark. The Mets closed out a 4-2 trip against division opponents, with both losses coming on the game's final swing. "We didn't finish the way we were hoping to finish," Acosta said through a translator. "It's a little tough to swallow." The Marlins climbed two games above .500 even though they're batting just .204 with runners in scoring position, worst in the majors. "We're still not close to our full potential," Stanton said. "Once it clicks for everybody, we're going to be scary." Struggling reliever Heath Bell (2-3) earned the victory despite giving up two runs in the top of the ninth and drawing scattered boos when the inning ended. Mets pinch-hitter Justin Turner broke a 2-all tie with a two-out, two-run double off Bell, whose ERA rose to 10.03. "I liked the way he threw," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He just made one bad pitch." Mets starter Jonathon Niese pitched six innings despite flulike symptoms and departed for a pinch-hitter with a 2-0 lead. But it lasted for only two batters when Ramon Ramirez replaced him. Bonifacio led off the seventh with a stand-up triple, and Buck followed with his fourth homer. Carlos Zambrano pitched seven innings and limited the Mets to two runs, one earned, which lowered his ERA to 1.88. "It was important to keep the game close, do my job and let my teammates do their job," Zambrano said. NOTES: Mets 1B Ike Davis was scratched from the starting lineup with flulike symptoms. He pinch-hit and grounded out to end the seventh with runners at second and third. ... Mets RHP R.A. Dickey said he felt fine one day after being hit on his right wrist by a pitch. He threw another two innings after being hit and earned his fifth victory. ... When David Wright singled in the fourth, he improved to .154 lifetime against Zambrano (4 for 26) with 12 strikeouts. ... The retractable roof was closed for all three games in the series. ... The Marlins, who begin a two-game series Monday against Pittsburgh, beat the Pirates in all six meetings last year.

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.

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But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.

O'Connor: If C's get George, would Griffin be a better fit than Hayward?

O'Connor: If C's get George, would Griffin be a better fit than Hayward?

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor discusses the potential decision the Celtics could have in free agency between Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. If the Celtics are able to sign Paul George, is Griffin a much better fit?