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  • 30 August 2019
    SAN FRANCISCO - Brian McCann hit a two-run homer and an RBI single in his third game this season after coming off the disabled list, and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 6-3 on Thursday night to begin a four-game series between NL division leaders. Freddie Freeman and B.J. Upton both drove in a run to help back Julio Teheran (2-0), who pitched seven efficient innings in his 10th career start after his last scheduled outing was rained out Saturday against the Mets. Craig Kimbrel earned his 100th career save, becoming the second-youngest pitcher to do so. Buster Posey hit a two-run homer and an RBI single, but the Giants were done in by the fifth inning when the Braves batted around. The Giants (20-15) fell into a first-place tie in the NL West with Arizona. Posey put the Giants ahead with a drive into the stands in left-centre on a 3-2 pitch from Teheran in the third. The reigning NL MVP and batting champion had a run-scoring single in the first. But the Braves jumped on Ryan Vogelsong (1-3) in the fifth. Jordan Schafer led off with a triple and scored the tying run on Andrelton Simmons RBI groundout moments later. Justin Upton followed with a triple of his own, and Freemans single gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead. Vogelsong walked Dan Uggla and his night was done with one out in the fifth. Jose Mijares relieved and the Braves added a run on McCanns RBI infield single. Teheran received all the run support he needed. Eric OFlaherty pitched a scoreless eighth before Kimbrel bounced back from a blown save Tuesday at Cincinnati for his 11th save in 14 chances. The Braves said at 24 years, 346 days, he became the second-youngest pitcher behind Francisco Rodriguez (24 years, 246 days) to reach 100 saves, according to information from the Elias Sports Bureau. Teheran allowed three runs on seven hits, struck out three and didnt walk a batter for the second time this season. Vogelsong saw his winless stretch reach five starts since his lone victory April 11 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The right-hander struck out the side in order in the first on 14 pitches, but didnt have another clean inning. Vogelsong struck out a season-high seven but failed to make it out of the fifth inning for the second straight start. The 35-year-old pitcher has allowed 18 earned runs over his past 14 innings, raising his ERA from 5.68 to 7.78. San Franciscos starters have only one win in their last 16 games. McCann, a six-time All-Star catcher who returned from the disabled list Monday at Cincinnati for his first action since surgery on his throwing shoulder last October, finished with three hits after taking Wednesday off. His home run was Atlantas NL-leading 48th. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Gerald Laird would catch Saturday afternoon to spell McCann following a night game Friday. Gonzalez will be away from the club Friday and Saturday to attend his daughter Gigis college graduation at Georgia Southern. Giants centre fielder and leadoff man Angel Pagan returned after missing three of the previous four games with a strained groin that was initially thought to be a hamstring injury. He sat out Sunday and Monday, played Tuesday, then was held out of the lineup Wednesday as a precaution. NOTES: Giants reliever Santiago Casilla, who came out in the eighth inning Wednesday against the Phillies, has a cyst in his knee that he also dealt with last season and "may need a couple of days to let it calm down," manager Bruce Bochy said. ... RHP Tim Lincecum is now riding a motorized scooter to the ballpark just like Giants teammate Hunter Pence. ... Vogelsong is tied with Friday night starter Matt Cain for the team lead with nine homers allowed. ... The clubs met for the first of seven games in 2013. ... 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The post-Olympics run to the WNBA playoffs was anything but kind to Los Angeles, but those struggles easily could be forgotten it the team achieves success in the postseason.The Sparks begin the playoffs Wednesday at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif., with the opener a best-of-five semifinal series against the soaring Chicago Sky.The Sparks, the No. 2 overall seed in the postseason after a 26-8 regular season, went 5-5 after the league took a month-long break for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro but won their final two games.I think Coach (Brian Agler) understands we have to get better but also prepare our bodies physically, said Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike, who on Tuesday was selected the WNBAs Most Valuable Player. Theres more focus on small things, and I wouldnt say that were going as hard as we were before.Ogwumike shot a WNBA-best 66.5 percent from the field this season, the second-highest mark of all time, and ranked third in the league in scoring (a career-high 19.7 points per game) and rebounding (9.1 boards per game, also a career high).She recorded the second-most double-doubles in the league (18) and set WNBA records for consecutive field goals made (23) and most field goals in a game without a miss (12, against the Dallas Wings on June 11).The Sparks won their first 11 games, the second-longest winning streak to open a season in WNBA history, and began 20-1 to equal the best-ever start.Los Angeles hasnt played a game since posting a regular-season-ending victory over the San Antonio Stars on Sept. 16. The Sparks received a double bye into the semifinals.Its real strangge, real strange, Agler said about the layoff in the playoffs.dddddddddddd But well be ready this time around. We have to be.Conversely, Chicago, by way of the No. 4 seed, had only a first-round bye, then beat the Atlanta Dream 108-98 in a single-game elimination playoff round on Sunday to reach the semifinals.The availability of Chicago forward Elena Delle Donne, who has been sidelined since Sept. 12 after undergoing thumb surgery, could be a huge factor in this series. The Sky hopes to have Delle Donne back for at least some of the series to help counter the Sparks dynamic frontcourt tandem of Ogwumike and former MVP Candace Parker.Chicago is 4-2 without Delle Donne, surprising many who thought the team would fade without its star in the lineup.Everybody has written us off, and I dont think anybody believed that we were going to be able win games without her except us, Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot said after the win over Atlanta. The biggest factor is we believe that we can do it and we all know that we had to step up. We have enough on this team to get it done.The Sky went 7-3 over their final 10 regular-season games. Chicago led the league in scoring at 90.1 points per contest despite playing its final five games without Delle Donne.Chicago beat Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs thanks to a balanced attack in which seven players scored at least eight points.Los Angeles swept the three-game regular-season series with the Sky, winning twice in the Chicago. ' ' '