Phillies trade two All-Stars to the West Coast

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Phillies trade two All-Stars to the West Coast

From Comcast SportsNet

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Shane Victorino will hear an unfamiliar sound at Chavez Ravine: cheers.

The Phillies traded the two-time All-Star center fielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin.

Philadelphia also gets a player to be named or cash for the 31-year-old Victorino, who can become a free agent after the season. The last-place Phillies then sent two-time All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for three players.

Victorino is batting .261 with nine homers, 40 RBIs and 24 steals. He helped the Phillies win five straight NL East titles and the 2008 World Series championship.

"We're excited to add an All-Star caliber player with postseason experience," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "He plays the game with passion, gives us a top of the order bat from both sides of the plate, can steal bases and is solid defensively in the outfield."

Victorino has been booed at Dodger Stadium since Game 3 of the 2008 NL championship series. Victorino took exception to a fastball thrown over his head by Hiroki Kuroda. He shouted at Kuroda while pointing at his own head and upper body as if to say: "It's OK to throw at my body, but not my head." Benches cleared, but no punches were thrown.

Since that day, Victorino has been a villain to Dodgers fans.

Not anymore.

Victorino joins a team that's tied for first place in the NL West with the Giants. Though he's a three-time Gold Glove winner, he could move to left field because reigning Gold Glove winner Matt Kemp plays center. Kemp, however, told team officials that he'd be willing to move to left before the trade.

The Phillies also traded two-time All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for three players on Tuesday.

The last-place Phillies got outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph and minor league right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin.

Pence is batting .271 with 17 homers and 59 RBIs this season. Schierholtz is hitting .257 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 77 games.

Earlier, the Phillies sent two-time All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino to Los Angeles for two pitchers.

Joseph was San Francisco's No. 2 ranked prospect by Baseball America. He's hitting .260 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 80 games for Double-A Richmond. Rosin was 2-1 with 10 saves and a 4.31 ERA in 34 games (five starts) for Single-A San Jose.

Pence fills a major need for the Giants, giving them a right-handed hitter with power. He'll help replace the injured Pablo Sandoval in the lineup. Sandoval was placed on the disabled list last weekend with a hamstring strain.

The Phillies acquired Pence from Houston on July 29 last year, and he helped them win their fifth straight NL East title. But Philadelphia is stuck in last place this season and is cutting payroll.

Pence is making 10.4 million this season and stands to get a raise in arbitration next year.

Northwestern holds off Ohio State for fifth Big Ten win, first win in Columbus in 40 years

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USA TODAY

Northwestern holds off Ohio State for fifth Big Ten win, first win in Columbus in 40 years

It's not something that's been said often over the decades, but Northwestern is one of the best teams in the Big Ten.

That's the story the standings tell, and with another week of the 2016-17 season in the books, the Wildcats sit at 5-2 in conference play, good for the second-best mark in the league.

That fifth conference win came Sunday afternoon with a 74-72 defeat of Ohio State. It was the first time Northwestern won in Columbus since 1977.

This is the first 5-2 start to Big Ten play for the Cats since 1968. So is this the first time ever the Cats get an invite to the NCAA tournament?

Of course that remains to be seen, but Chris Collins' squad sure seems to be setting itself up for inclusion in the field of 68. Sunday's win was just the latest to come away from Evanston, and in seven conference games, four of the team's five wins have come in road games, including three straight at Nebraska, Rutgers and Ohio State.

Northwestern had to find a way to win Sunday. A couple surges in the first half took the Cats from modest deficits to a lead that grew as big as eight. The halftime advantage was five, but that slipped away quickly as Northwestern shot poorly after halftime. Ice cold is a better descriptor, the Cats struggling to get their field-goal percentage above 30 percent over the final 20 minutes. It got there eventually, the team finishing shooting 32.3 percent in the second half, but it was the work from the free-throw line that made the win possible. Over the final 20 minutes, Northwestern was 14-for-16 from the charity stripe, including going 11-for-12 over the final minute and a half.

The key stretch came when a Scottie Lindsey 3-ball broke a 56-all tie with four and a half minutes to play. Ohio State countered with a bucket, but freshman point guard Isiah Brown turned in back-to-back scores of his own, the second a breakaway layup off a steal. That made it a five-point lead, and though the gap shrunk over the game's final three minutes, Northwestern's free-throw shooting allowed the Cats to hold that lead the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot at the free-throw line. They were 12-for-23 on the game, and all but one of the attempts came in the second half, making for 10 missed free throws over the game's final 20 minutes. Northwestern committed a lot of fouls, but Ohio State couldn't capitalize, something that has to be quite painful for the Buckeyes, considering they had edges in other statistical categories. They shot 45.6 percent from the field compared to the Cats shooting 37.5 percent. Ohio State also had 16 second-chance points and 28 points in the paint. But Northwestern had 17 points off 13 Ohio State turnovers.

Lindsey finished with a game-high 21 points and has scored in double figures in every game this season. Bryant McIntosh had 17 points, and Vic Law had 10. Jae'Sean Tate scored 14 points for Ohio State, with JaQuan Lyle adding 13, Trevor Thompson scoring 11 and Cam Williams putting in 10.

The win was Northwestern's fourth straight and boosted its overall record to 16-4 to go along with the 5-2 mark in the conference. The Cats next play Nebraska on Thursday.

The loss snapped a modest two-game win streak for Ohio State and dropped the Buckeyes' record to 12-8 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten. They next play Minnesota on Wednesday.

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger has been sidelined a little longer than the originally expected three weeks with his right hand injury. Not that any missed time is enjoyable.

"I wanted to get back there probably a few weeks ago but unfortunately I couldn't," said Kruger, who suffered his injury on Dec. 30 against the Carolina Hurricanes. "I tried to listen to the doctors and do everything I can instead to be ready when I get cleared. That's my mindset."

Kruger is close, but not quite there, as the Blackhawks prepared for Sunday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Kruger skated with his teammates for the first time since being injured but wasn't among the line rushes. The center took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice. Kruger pronounced himself, "pretty close," to returning. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is over the next few days. The Blackhawks play again Tuesday and Thursday before heading into the All-Star break this weekend.

The Blackhawks have missed Kruger's versatility and especially his play on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks' kill has been fine through Kruger's absence but he nevertheless is a big part of it when he's healthy.

"We have a lot of options and when he's out everyone gets a more important role, whether starting or faceoffs. And we have a rotation of five guys who are in there most of the time. But he definitely absorbs the most responsibility when he's playing in that area," Quenneville said of Kruger. "So it's nice you get to try some other guys and you get deeper as you go along."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

One of the players who's emerged in Kruger's absence is Tanner Kero, who filled his third-line center void. Kero and linemates Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa clicked on the dads trip, coming up with big plays and points in the Blackhawks' victories over Colorado and Boston. As of now, Kero appears to have the hold on third-line center.

"I don't see too many things that would change his positioning because he really helped himself," Quenneville said.

Kruger said he's fine if that means returning to fourth-line center duties. Regardless, he'll help bolster the Blackhawks' forward lines. The last step is likely contact, which Kruger got a little of – outside of faceoffs – in Sunday's skate. Kruger's had to wait a little longer than expected on his injury but he's getting there.

“Obviously [I want to] get back and playing the same way,” Kruger said. “First I want to get healthy and then get back playing my best and do everything I can for the team.”