Chicago Fire

All-Star slugger hits 2 homers to reach 300

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All-Star slugger hits 2 homers to reach 300

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera's 300th homer cleared the wall in center field with room to spare and sailed toward the ivy at Comerica Park. That's not the easiest place to retrieve a baseball, but this one should make a nice keepsake. "Somebody got it. They got it somehow," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "They got in there and got it, and that's his 300th, so I'm sure they'll take care of it for him." Cabrera homered twice to reach another milestone in his remarkable career, and the Tigers finished a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 6-4 victory Sunday. Detroit wrapped up a 6-1 homestand against the White Sox and Los Angeles Angels and now leads the AL Central by 1 games over Chicago. The White Sox have lost five straight. Cabrera became the second Venezuela-born player to reach 300 home runs. Andres Galarraga hit 399. "For my country, yes, it's very special," Cabrera said. "Hopefully a lot of players can follow from Venezuela and try hitting 300 more." Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch also homered for Detroit to help rookie Jacob Turner (1-1) earn his first career win. Four relievers pitched for the Tigers, with Joaquin Benoit working a perfect ninth for his second save of the year. Detroit closer Jose Valverde has been dealing with a balky back and did not pitch. Philip Humber (4-5) allowed six runs in three innings. Alex Rios and Kevin Youkilis homered for the White Sox. The Tigers have won 16 of 21. Turner, Detroit's rookie right-hander, bounced back after giving up seven runs in two innings in his last start against the Angels. He went 5 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits. He struck out three without a walk before being lifted after Rios hit a two-run homer in the sixth. "I think the biggest difference is just being more aggressive, attacking the hitters and not really worrying about who might be at the plate, but just going right after them," Turner said. Cabrera and the Detroit offense provided plenty of support. After an RBI single in the top of the first by Rios, the Tigers scored three runs in the bottom half before Humber retired a batter. Berry's two-run homer gave Detroit the lead, and Cabrera followed with a high drive that cleared the fence just to the left of center field for home run No. 299. "I picked the wrong day to get balls up in the zone," Humber said. "The stuff was there, but when you are facing that team, and especially that team when they are hot, your stuff doesn't matter if you leave it up." Cabrera's second homer, in the third inning, was even longer. It ended up around where a camera platform is set up beyond the wall in center. A Tigers spokesman, citing ESPN Stats and Info, said it was estimated at 457 feet. "Dude has some of the most ridiculous pop I've ever seen," Berry said. "His smooth swing, to be able to go that high up and dead center, it's amazing. It's fun to watch. He does it in BP and he does it in the game. It's unreal." It was Cabrera's 23rd homer of the year, and he became the 14th player to reach 300 before turning 30, according to STATS, LLC. Cabrera was 29 years, 95 days old Sunday. When Hank Aaron was that age, he had 309 home runs, according to STATS. Barry Bonds had 222 by that age. Boesch added a two-run shot later in the third to make it 6-1. Humber allowed seven hits and a walk with no strikeouts. He's 3-5 with a 7.55 ERA since pitching a perfect game at Seattle on April 21. The White Sox chipped away after Humber was taken out. Rios' hit was ruled a homer after umpires consulted replay footage, and Youkilis hit a solo shot off Phil Coke in the seventh. Octavio Dotel, the third Detroit reliever, came on with one out and a man on in the seventh and retired all five hitters he faced, with four strikeouts. The White Sox were swept in a series for the first time all season. NOTES: Coke was pitching for the first time since his wife gave birth to a baby girl. Mickenzie LouAnn was born Saturday morning. ... The Tigers could afford to go deep into their bullpen with an off day coming up Monday. Chicago hosts Minnesota, with RHP Gavin Floyd (7-8) returning from a problem with his throwing elbow to start against Minnesota LHP Francisco Liriano (3-9).

With tougher games awaiting, Fire miss opportunity to gain ground in standings

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USA TODAY

With tougher games awaiting, Fire miss opportunity to gain ground in standings

Saturday got off to a good start for the Fire with New York City FC drawing at home, but the Fire were unable to gain ground in the race for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Not only did the Fire fail to gain ground, they lost ground. Philadelphia smashed the Fire 3-1 on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium, leaving the Fire four points behind NYCFC for second and vulnerable to the chasing pack. Atlanta can pass the Fire for third place with a win against Montreal on Sunday, and still would have a game in hand.

Things don’t get any easier for the Fire with a trip at San Jose coming up on Wednesday. The Earthquakes are in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference and have one home loss this season.

While Philadelphia has won a majority of its home matches this season, it was the easiest of the three remaining road games on the Fire’s schedule. In addition to the trip to San Jose, the Fire close the regular season at Houston, another team in the playoff hunt that has just one home loss this year.

So Saturday wasn’t such a good day for the Fire.

The game marked the first start for defender Joao Meira since Aug. 16, but midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho missed once again. This was the third straight game Schweinsteiger missed and two straight for Juninho.

Philadelphia took the lead on a Chris Pontius header in the 10th minute and added goals in the second half by Pontius and C.J. Sapong to secure a three-goal lead. Luis Solignac, who came off the bench to replace David Accam in the 60th minute, provided the Fire with a consolation goal, but there wasn’t another to make things interesting in the final minutes.

With four games left in the regular season, the Fire have a pair of tricky games coming up with that trip to San Jose before a big one at home against NYCFC.

Justin Wilson isn’t running away from big moments with Cubs: ‘I want the ball’

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AP

Justin Wilson isn’t running away from big moments with Cubs: ‘I want the ball’

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs have tried to find lower-pressure spots for Justin Wilson to work on things and rebuild his confidence without publicly burying a lefty reliever they specifically targeted before the July 31 trade deadline.

Both manager Joe Maddon and team president Theo Epstein have given Wilson the vote of confidence, though the real test will be whether or not the Cubs actually trust him in the playoffs.

“It’s an open book of communication here,” Wilson said. “We talk. I’ve talked to them and said: ‘Hey, I’m going to get right. I want the ball. I just want to keep getting back out there.’”

Even after All-Star closer Wade Davis blew his first save in more than a year, the Cubs could find big-picture optimism about their bullpen because Wilson got four outs during Saturday’s 4-3 10-inning loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

“How good was that?” Maddon said. “That’s really something looking forward. He made a nice adjustment out there. It looked really good from the side. If we get that out of him, that could be a huge difference-maker for us.”

That was the idea when the Cubs made Wilson their headliner in the package deal with catcher Alex Avila and reinforced the bullpen for another World Series run. Wilson closed for the Detroit Tigers, notching 13 saves for a bad team, putting up a 2.48 ERA in 42 appearances and shutting down left- and right-handed hitters.

Wilson – who gave up 16 walks in 40.1 innings for Detroit – allowed 16 walks and 17 hits through his first 14.1 innings as a Cub while putting up a 6.28 ERA.

On a smoking 88-degree afternoon and in front of a loud crowd of 44,067, Wilson faced the top four hitters in the Milwaukee lineup and unleashed 17 fastballs in a row, all of them buzzing around 95-97 mph across the seventh and eighth innings. Wilson struck out Eric Sogard and Neil Walker, forced Ryan Braun to fly out to left field and struck out Travis Shaw swinging.

With stuff like that, the magic number to clinch the National League Central title in the low single digits and another week left in the regular season, the Cubs hope Wilson can figure it out and become the late-inning weapon they envisioned.       

“Clearly, it hasn’t been the same for me from before the trade,” Wilson said. “I just want to keep pitching.”