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.

Saquon Barkley good to go for Penn State, but Badgers have a couple injury questions

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USA TODAY

Saquon Barkley good to go for Penn State, but Badgers have a couple injury questions

INDIANAPOLIS — Is Saquon Barkley good to go for Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship Game?

Most definitely, according to Penn State head coach James Franklin, with the Nittany Lions pulling out all the stops to make sure their best player is ready to go up against Wisconsin.

"He's been drinking a lot of milk all week and orange juice and Vitamin C. We flew in Mr. Miyagi, hit him on the ankle with the hands," Franklin joked during his Friday press conference ahead of the conference title game.

"Honestly, I know a lot of times coaches get up and say that and it's a smoke screen. But he's practiced all week long. He looks great."

Barkley's status has been a question since he missed the end of last weekend's win over Michigan State. Franklin said multiple times this week that he expected Barkley to play, but take Friday's answer has unequivocal confirmation that the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year will be in action Saturday.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, has a couple unknowns on the eve of the title bout. Both quarterback Alex Hornibrook and defensive lineman Conor Sheehy were listed as questionable on the team's Friday-afternoon injury report.

Hornibrook sat out the second half of last weekend's win over Minnesota, forcing head coach Paul Chryst to turn his two-quarterback system into a one-man show starring Bart Houston.

Could that also be the case Saturday night? Chryst was asked if he would play both quarterbacks against Penn State, and unsurprisingly the answer has a lot to do with Hornibrook's health.

"We'll see where Alex kind of finishes out this week," Chryst said in his Friday press conference. "But I wouldn't hesitate if everything goes good and Alex finishes out this week, I would not hesitate at all."

That falls in line with what Chryst has been doing the majority of this season, mixing it up by playing both Hornibrook and Houston throughout games.

What's more of an unknown is what happens if Sheehy can't go. He's played in all 12 games this season and registered 27 tackles including four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks to go along with a forced fumble and a blocked kick.

But this wouldn't be the first time the Badgers have had to fall back on a "next man up" approach on defense. Linebackers Chris Orr and Jack Cichy are done for the season, Orr knocked out in Week 1 and Cichy playing in just seven games. Other defensive playmakers like T.J. Edwards and Vince Biegel have missed games, too.

"We'll see if that's the case," Chryst said, certainly not ruling out the possibility of Sheehy playing Saturday. "I think all year long when we've had players get injured and miss time, you miss them. I mean, they're starters, players playing a lot for a reason. Yet also feel good about those that have and will step up and into those positions. So we'll still kind of see on Conor.

"It's an opportunity for someone else to step up, step in. Yet we know we're always best with all of our guys. But that's not the case so often in the year."

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 13

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 13

It's win-or-go-home time in Fantasy Football.

Most leagues end their regular season in Week 13, leaving just one more matchup for people to sneak into the playoffs. 

If you fall into that category, remember one thing — ride or die with who got you here:

Don't try to get too cute with your lineups, but if you have fringe guys on the bubble, we're here to help.

If you have any questions, hit us up on @CSNFantasy and tune in to our weekly Fantasy Fix Facebook Live show.

Let's get right into the Week 13 Start/Sit and as always, Liam Neeson has a message for you:

[Check out the CSN Fantasy page for more content]

START

Devontae Booker, RB, DEN (@ JAX) - Yes, Booker has failed to reach the end zone since Week 8, but his 24 carries in back-to-back weeks is a sight to behold for his owners. Evntually, the rookie will start turning his carries (second in touches since Week 10) into scores, and that should come as early as this week against a mediocre run defense in the Jaguars. (Scott Krinch)

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU (@ GB) - Hopkins is still an integral part of Houston's offense with 62 targets over the last six weeks. Before shutting down the Eagles WR corps last week (which included Jordan Matthews leaving with an ankle injury), the Packers had allowed 771 yards and 9 TDs to opposing WRs in the last four games. Green Bay's secondary is still banged up and in a win-or-go-home situation, I'm gonna roll with a guy like Hopkins with a safe floor and hope/pray/wish upon a star that he finally finds the end zone or tops 100 yards (or both!). (Tony Andracki)

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (@ NYJ) - Moncrief has scored a TD in five of six games this season, returning fantasy value even though he hasn't topped 64 yards in a game yet. Andrew Luck is supposed to be back from a concussion and if he is, he has a great rapport with Moncrief. The Jets pass defense is shaky and Moncrief could easily find the end zone again and very well may turn in his first 100-yard game with T.Y. Hilton still banged up as well. (Andracki)

Marquess Wilson, WR, CHI (vs. SF) - In his second game since coming off the IR, Wilson turned in a monster line of eight receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown. His 11 targets led a depleted Bears' wide receiving corps. Wilson should be looked at as a WR2 this week against a 49ers defense which has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts and has been torched (5 TDs) in their last two games. (Krinch)

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear here]

SIT 

Jay Ajayi, RB, MIA (@ BAL) - Baltimore has quietly built a very good defense again and rank as the top unit against fantasy RBs this season. The Ravens have allowed only three rushing TDs to running backs all season and just one since Week 2. Ajayi broke out in Weeks 6-9, but is averaging only 10 PPR points and 73 total yards per week since then. (Andracki)

Blake Bortles, QB, JAX (vs. DEN)Mr. Garbage Time faces a stiff test in the league's best defense against opposing quarterbacks in Week 13. The Broncos pressure rate of 38 percent is the highest total of any NFL team in the eight years, and they should feast on a below-average passer in Bortles, who ranks 30th among signal-callers in yards per dropback. If you're looking for a safe play, stay far away from Bortles. (Krinch)

Robert Kelley, RB, WSH (@ ARI) - "Fat Rob" may have added a few inches around his waistline after a long Thankgiving layoff. The rookie running back is coming off a 14 carry/37-yard game, and looks to be a non-factor once again when the Redskins square off against the the Cardinals, who are allowing five points less per game than the league average to opposing fantasy backs. (Krinch)

Philip Rivers, QB, SD (vs. TB) - There are so many good fantasy options at QB right now and even though Rivers is the clear engine that makes the Chargers offense go, it's not like he's putting up elite numbers. In fact, over the last four games, Rivers has tossed eight interceptions. Throw in the matchup (the Buccaneers have allowed only two TDs and 594 passing yards the last three games) and an already-depleted receiver corps dealing with a bunch of injuries of their own and Rivers is a guy to stay away from this week if you can afford to. (Andracki)