Padres nearly had their first ever no-hitter

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Padres nearly had their first ever no-hitter

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Edinson Volquez has only his glove to blame for falling just short of the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. Volquez threw a one-hitter -- an infield single in the fourth inning that bounced off his glove -- for the first complete game and shutout of his career as the Padres beat the Houston Astros 1-0 on Thursday night. Alexi Amarista doubled and Logan Forsythe singled in the first inning for the Padres, who won three of the four games in the series and have won five of six overall. "I had a few in the minor leagues, but right now that doesn't count," Volquez said of complete games. "To do it in the major leagues, complete game, one-hit shutout, that was good." Volquez shut down the Astros except for the infield single by Matt Downs, who hit a comebacker to the left side of the mound. Third baseman Chase Headley and Volquez converged on the ball but Volquez opted to attempt to snare the ball but dropped it. Volquez did not attempt to throw out Downs at first base. "I've got to work on my backhand," Volquez said. "I was supposed to catch that ball. I've got fielding practice tomorrow, I've got to work on that. He hit it in the right spot." Downs was just glad to avoid history. "You look back and you're glad he didn't no-hit you," Downs said. In becoming the first Padres pitcher to throw a one-hitter at Petco Park, Volquez struck out five and walked three, throwing 118 pitches, 76 for strikes. It was the Padres' second complete game of the season and sixth shutout. "He's been pretty good lately," Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "Sometimes the walks kill him, but that was one thing he didn't do tonight was walk too many guys. It seemed like every time he fell behind he came back, so that's something he needs to keep doing. He's a really good pitcher when he allows himself to be." Volquez is the third Padrer to throw a shutout at Petco Park. Jake Peavy did so on Aug. 23, 2005 also against Houston, and Ismael Valdez did on June 5, 2004, against Milwaukee. "A couple of hiccups with maybe a couple of walks, but his stuff was good," Padres manager Bud Black said. "They didn't hit many balls hard. He was in command of the game. Those are tough games, because when the score is 1-0, every pitch is critical." The win improved Volquez's career record against the Astros to 6-0. "I think we had four or five well-hit balls, right on the button -- and that happens," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "At the same time, you would like to get something started against him." Rookie Lucas Harrell (7-7), who threw a shutout against San Diego on June 27 in Houston, gave up four hits and struck out six while walking one in seven innings. "With our offense, I feel like we can score enough runs if I can keep it close," Harrell said. Amarista, playing in center field for the injured Cameron Maybin, has hit safely in 16 of 17 games, batting .387 over that stretch. Forsythe nearly started a triple play in the second inning. Scott Maxwell hit a line drive that the second baseman leaped to catch. He threw to Everth Cabrera to double up J.D. Martinez at second and Cabrera threw to first but Downs dived to beat the ball to the base and prevent the triple play. Houston is batting .197 over the past 15 games and the club has had five hits or fewer 10 times in its last 18 games. The Astros were the victim when Matt Cain threw a perfect game on July 13 in San Francisco. "It's going to turn here, and it's going to turn here quick," Mills said. "We're looking forward to it turning tomorrow night in Arizona." This game marked the last non-interleague meeting between the Astros and Padres as Houston will move to the American League West in 2013. NOTES: Mills said C Jason Castro, who is on the DL, had "really good range of motion" after his swollen knee was drained Wednesday. ... Maybin was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of a sore wrist. Black said he doubts Maybin will be a candidate for the DL ... Bud Norris will pitch for Houston when they open a three-game series in Arizona on Friday against Trevor Cahill (7-8, 3.71). San Diego's Jason Marquis (2-5, 3.62) will pitch in the opener of a three-game series against Colorado's Drew Pomeranz (1-4, 3.79).

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school basketball games across Chicagoland for another basketball edition of High School Lites. Catch the show live at 11 p.m. Friday on CSN and streaming at CSNChicago.com

The show will feature numerous teams in the CSN Preps Power Rankings. The best game on Friday night could be No. 16 Benet traveling to No. 15 Notre Dame in a clash of unbeatens in the ESCC but there will be plenty of other highlights to check for.

The Red-West, North Suburban and Southland are all prominently featured on the show this week while High School Lites will also have highlights from the SouthWest Suburban.

This week's Viewers' Choice Game of the Week generated over 5,000 votes as Von Steuben will travel to Taft to represent the Red-North.

We'll also have a Getting to Know feature on Conant senior guard Jimmy Sotos.

Thursday's Game

Hyde Park at No. 7 Kenwood, 4:30 p.m. -- Kenwood will try to keep its momentum going as they host Hyde Park in a Red-Central battle. Kenwood (5-1, 1-0) is coming off of a Red-Central win over Dunbar earlier this week while Hyde Park (3-1, 1-0) defeated Lindblom for a conference victory as well. The Broncos are still unbeaten in Illinois as they're relying on senior big man Manny Patterson and his talented group of teammates. Hyde Park is trying to figure things out in head coach Jevon Mamon's first season as Andrew Anderson had a nice game against U-High at the Chicago Elite Classic.

Friday's Games

No. 11 North Lawndale at Westinghouse, 4:30 p.m. -- The Red-West is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season as this should be an interesting game. The Phoenix (5-1, 1-0) knocked off Marshall for a Red-West win on Wednesday while Westinghouse (3-3, 0-1) is coming off of a tough double-overtime loss to Farragut. Westinghouse is going to have to slow down Carlos Hines and Martrell Barnes but they can counter with a talented senior of their own in Coreyoun Rushin.  

Kankakee at Crete-Monee, 6:00 p.m. -- We also head to the Southland on Friday night as Kankakee (1-3, 0-1) travels to Crete-Monee (3-2, 1-0). The Warriors survived a high-scoring, double-overtime win over Rich East on Wednesday as they're led by senior and Toledo commit Dwayne Rose, the nephew of Derrick Rose. Kankakee is off to a sluggish start as they've lost some close games and they could use a conference road win here.

Rich East at No. 19 Bloom, 7:00 p.m. -- Keeping it in the Southland, Rich East (2-4, 0-1) will try to shake off a double-overtime loss this week as they travel to face No. 19 Bloom. Rich East has two one-point losses and the double-OT loss to Crete-Monee this year, so they could be better than the 2-4 record indicates. Bloom (4-1, 1-0) was impressive during Thanksgiving week at the Chicago Heights Classic as they look like one of the premier teams in the South Suburbs this year.

No. 24 Thornton at Lincoln-Way West, 7:00 p.m. -- These two teams battled in the SouthWest Suburban Red last season and both programs return some key pieces. Lincoln-Way West (2-4, 1-0) is led by senior Marco Pettinato as he's an All-Area candidate and big-time scorer. Thornton (3-2) will counter with a big scorer of its own with senior Alonzo Verge.

No. 16 Benet at No. 15 Notre Dame, 7:00 p.m. -- This could be the best matchup of Friday night as two unbeatens clash in the ESCC. Benet (5-0) is coming off of a runner-up finish in Class 4A as they bring back some talented players like Jack Nolan, Liam Lyman and Justin Enochs. The Redwings have looked very good early this season as they've piled up a lot of double-digit wins. Notre Dame (6-0) is also off to a hot start as they picked up an overtime win over Loyola and another victory over Bartlett last weekend. The Dons have a lot of size on the inside as Chris Heinichen, Jeameril Wilson and Sean Johnson are all 6-foot-5 or bigger.

No. 12 Stevenson at Mundelein, 7:00 p.m. -- Stevenson is off to a great start as they try to carry that into Mundelein in this North Suburban contest. The Patriots (6-0, 2-0) are led by Indiana commit and senior Justin Smith as he's one of the best players in the state this season. Mundelein (2-4, 0-1) dropped one to Zion-Benton earlier this week as they try to get back on track in the North Suburban race.

Lake Zurich at Zion Benton, 7:00 p.m. -- Two team with high expectations in the North Suburban face each other in this one. Zion-Benton (2-1, 1-1) dropped a conference game to leader Stevenson last weekend but recovered with a double-digit win over Mundelein during the week. Lake Zurich (4-1, 0-1) dropped its conference opener to Waukegan after a 4-0 start to the season.

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Von Steuben at Taft, 6:30 p.m. -- This week's poll was a tight one as over 5,000 people voted and this game barely beat Lane at Uplift. The Panthers (0-2, 0-1) are trying to pick up their first win of the season after losing to an out-of-state opponent and No. 9 Uplift. Senior Rafael Cruz put up monster numbers last season as he's the player to watch for Von Steuben. Taft opened its Red-North slate at home against Lincoln Park as they're facing two tough opponents right out of the gate at home. They'll try to capitalize on those early conference home games with a win here.