Cubs back Samardzija with 3 HRs in win over Braves

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Cubs back Samardzija with 3 HRs in win over Braves

Jeff Samardzija allowed five hits and a run over seven strong innings, and Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto each homered Monday night to lead the Chicago Cubs over the Atlanta Braves 5-1.Samardzija (4-1) gave up a solo homer to Jason Heyward in the second inning, walked two and struck out seven in a 105-pitch outing to help the Cubs win for the third time in four games.LaHair drove Tommy Hanson's first pitch of the bottom of the fourth high over the right field wall for his eighth homer of the season. One pitch later, Stewart connected on his third - also to right - to make it 2-1.Soto hit a two-run homer off Chad Durbin in the eighth.Atlanta threatened with one out in the seventh when Samardzija hit Heyward with a pitch and Tyler Pastornicky singled before pinch-hitter Eric Hinske lined to LaHair at first and he threw to second to double off Heyward and squash the rally.Hanson (3-3) gave up five hits and two runs in six innings. The loss was just the eighth in the last 26 games for the Braves.When Braves reliever Eric O'Flaherty hit David DeJesus with a two-out pitch in the bottom of the seventh, home plate umpire Chris Conroy warned both benches, prompting Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez to come out of the dugout. Moments later he was ejected by Conroy.Tony Campana then beat out a bunt and Starlin Castro hit an RBI single to make it 3-1.Demoted Chicago closer Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the eighth and walked the first two batters, eliciting a chorus of boos from the Wrigley Field faithful.

Freddie Freeman lined out before a stolen base and Marmol wild pitch put runners at second and third. Brian McCann took a third strike for the second out and Marmol turned the boos into cheers by striking out Dan Uggla swinging. Marmol then came off the mound screaming, pounding himself on the chest.Notes
Cubs RHP Matt Garza, slowed by a flu bug that has hit several players, is scheduled to return to the rotation Friday in Milwaukee. He was scratched from his start Sunday. ... Heyward entered the game with a career .342 average against the Cubs and now has five homers against them. ... Braves CF Michael Bourn made two nice running catches, going over his shoulder to grab LaHair's drive in the second and racing to left center to rob Soto of extra bases in the third. He also extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield hit to short in the third. ... The Cubs hit back-to-back homers for the first time since last August when Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena - neither of whom is still with the team - connected against Washington. ... LaHair has now reached base in 25 straight games. ... Game-time temperature was 56 and a light fog began rolling in during the late innings.
Box scoreCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the playoffs three times from 2013-15.

But it's the Wild that NHL coaches believe will win the Western Conference this season as we approach the trade deadline.

In his annual midseason poll, TSN's Bob McKenzie surveyed 25 of 30 coaches to vote on multiple categories, such as the league's best player and the team most likely to win it all.

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According to the survey, 11 coaches predicted the Wild will win the West while the Blackhawks and Sharks tied for second with four votes.

As for winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals are the favorite, earning 10 votes, followed closely by the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins with eight. The Wild and Blackhawks rounded out the poll with three and two votes, respectively.

Joel Quenneville earned one vote as the NHL's best coach, which is three fewer votes than he had last year, despite this year being arguably his most challenging — and best — coaching job since arriving in Chicago, given the youth on the roster.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Excluding Jimmy Butler, who should Bulls trade?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Excluding Jimmy Butler, who should Bulls trade?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Phil Rogers (mlb.com) join Kap on the panel. Super Bowl LI is set. Can Bill Belichick slow down the Falcons historic offense? Will Tom Brady be able to pick apart Atlanta’s D?

Plus besides Jimmy Butler, who should the Bulls trade? And after winning in Columbus, is this the year Northwestern goes dancing?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: