Bears bring back Chris Harris

LAKE FOREST—The Bears re-acquired Safety Chris Harris in a trade with the Carolina Panthers for LB Jamar Williams.Harris, a 2005 sixth-round pick (181st overall) of the Bears, has started 64 of 69 games played in five seasons with the Bears and Carolina, recording 377 tackles, 10 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, 22 passes defensed and one sack. Harris started all 13 games played for Carolina in 2009, registering 71 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and five passes defensed.Harris has 12 forced fumbles over the last three seasons, seventh most in the NFL during that span and second among defensive backs trailing only Charles Tillman’s 14. In 2007, Harris led the NFL with eight forced fumbles, a Panthers franchise record.Harris has started five postseason contests, compiling 41 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception in Super Bowl XLI.The Bears traded Harris to Carolina in 2007 for a fifth-round selection which they used to draft CB Zackary Bowman.

Hawks beat Preds, win series 4-2, advance vs Vancouver for second straight year

NASHVILLE—Jonathan Toews scored a power-play goal to cap a wild first period, and the Blackhawks held on for a 5-3 victory Monday night against Nashville and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the second successive year.The Blackhawks won the final three games of the series, setting up a second-round matchup with the Vancouver Canucks for the second successive season. The Hawks have’nt lost a Game 6 with the chance to eliminate an opponent since 1995.Nashville has been eliminated in all five of its postseason appearances on home ice.The Predators, who blew a lead with 13.6 seconds left in regulation in Game 5 on Saturday, scored three more goals than they had in two previous Game 6 losses. But they couldn’t beat Antti Niemi in the final two periods even when getting three power plays within 4:29 of the third.The Hawks led 4-3 going into the third, where Nashville outshot the Blackhawks 15-3. The rookie goalie Niemi stopped Martin Erat in front with 85 seconds left. Nashville pulled goalie Pekka Rinne with 1:15 remaining, but John Madden scored an empty netter with 7.8 seconds left to seal the victory.Toews also had an assist. Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp each had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Kane had a goal. Marian Hossa added two assists in a game in which Nashville wanted him to miss. The Predators thought Hossa deserved to be suspended for a boarding penalty against defenseman Dan Hamhuis in the Blackhawks’ 5-4 overtime victory Saturday in Chicago.So nearly every time Hossa stepped onto the ice, the sellout crowd booed loudly.Jason Arnott scored two goals, his only tallies of the series, and Shea Weber had a goal for Nashville.The Predators got top goal scorer Patric Hornqvist back for the first time since he played 13 minutes in the Predators’ 4-1 victory to open this series. He provided an immediate boost to Nashville’s anemic power play unit, assisting on Arnott’s goal on the Predators’ second advantage of the game.The Blackhawks led 4-3 after an emotional first period in which the Blackhawks went ahead 3-1 on a flukey goal. Brent Seabrook tried to dump the puck off a faceoff in front of the Nashville bench only to see it bounce off Kane’s right skate and past Rinne into the wide-open net with 12:03 gone.Nashville answered by ending its power-play drought. Having gone 22 power plays without scoring, Arnott tipped in a puck from the right edge of the crease, catching Niemi leaning the other way at 15:44. It was the Predators’ only goal with the man advantage this series.The Predators tied it at 3 off a slap shot from Hamhuis at 19:06, a goal that re-energized the crowd. But Jerred Smithson took a hooking penalty, and Toews scored on the rebound of Keith’s shot seven seconds later to put the Hawks back ahead at 19:29.It stayed 4-3 through the second period as Nashville killed 10 minutes of penalties, the last when Hornqvist took a double minor for high-sticking defenseman Brent Sopel in the face as he fell. The penalty-killing wore the Predators out, and the Blackhawks outshot them 15-4 in the period.

NOTES—The Blackhawks have won five straight and eight of nine in the playoffs with the chance to eliminate a team. … The Blackhawks went 4 for 23 with the man advantage in this series. … The Predators had been shut out 2-0 in 2004 and 3-0 in 2008 in their previous Game 6s — both against Detroit.

Wolves edge Milwaukee, advance to AHL West Finals

ROSEMONT—The Wolves scored two goals in the first period and held on behind a 14-save performance from netminder Peter Mannino to win the deciding Game 7 of the West Division Semifinal against the Milwaukee Admirals at the Allstate Arena Monday night.With the 4-games-to-3 series win, the Wolves (4-3) will move on to face the Texas Stars in the West Division Final, which will begin at the Allstate Arena on Fri., April 30 at 7:30 p.m.
“We put in 60 minutes. I really liked our game overall,” said Wolves Head Coach Don Lever. “You’ve got to hand them credit. We played two real solid periods and they wouldn’t go away. They never stopped coming at us.”
Right wing Anthony Stewart got the Wolves on the board first, 12:29 into the first period when he cranked a shot from the left face-off circle over goaltender Mark Dekanich’s right shoulder.Center Kevin Doell made the Wolves lead 2-0 at 13:57 of the opening period, with what held up to be the game-winning tally. Right wing Spencer Machacek worked the puck out of the corner and attempted to wrap around and jam the puck between Dekanich’s pad and the post. The rebound kicked out to a waiting Doell, who pounced on it and fired it to the back of the net.Milwaukee (3-4) got on the board with a power-play goal, 3:01 into the second period to make the score 2-1. Center Marty Murray slapped a long shot from the right face-off circle that evaded a screened Mannino (4-2).

Cubs win fourth straight 4-3 over Nats on bases loaded walk in tenth

It was a miserable night with the temperature 49* at game time,but with 20 MPH winds blowing straight in, home runs were almost impossible. In fact,there were none,but Aramis Ramirez drew a one out bases loaded walk from losing pitcher Brian Bruney in the bottom of the tenth and Cubs edged the Washington Nationals 4-3 for a four game winning streak.The Cubs broke out in front of John Lannan in the second inning when Marlon Byrd and Ramirez each doubled. After Alfonso Soriano flew out,Lannan walked Geovany Soto,Tyler Colvin and Carlos Silva to force in Ramirez and make it 2-0. In the bottom of the third, Jeff Baker tripled into the RF corner and scored on a one out single to left by Byrd. That lead did not last however. The Nationals got to within a run when Silva walked Josh Willingham with the bags full and Adam Kennedy lifted a sac fly to center.The tying run scored in the 6th when with one out,Willingham singled and took second on a wild pitch,Kennedy grounded to second,and Wil Nieves singled in Willingham. Silva gave way to Sean Marshall in the 8th,and after he got two outs, Carlos Zambrano relieved him,got the third out and got through the 9th in order.The winning bottom of the tenth started with Ryan Theriot bouncing a single into RF. One out later Derrek Lee walked on four pitches and Byrd blooped a single into short right center,just out of the reach of Washington 2B Christian Guzman to load the bases. Bruney didn’t come close on any of his four pitches to Ramirez.

NOTES—Attendance was 37,850 on a chilly night.



 ***Lets be clear about Saturday’s Blackhawk 5-4 overtime win over Nashville. It was one of the more exciting finished of a Chicago Sports event ever,and a nice win which puts the Hawks into position to wrap up this series at Bridgestone Arena Monday Night. It was also very LUCKY! The Predators had a 4-3 lead and with a minute left got a power play when Marian Hossa picked up a five minute major penalty for boarding. That meant that the Hawks were shorthanded for the rest of regulation time. Nashville only had to run out the clock,and their Coach Barry Trotz confirmed that he told his team that they “already had enough goals to win the game”. In other words,he told them not to do anything stupid. The Preds had the puck in the Blackhawk zone with the clock ticking. Marty Erat,who had scored two big goals for Nashville, forgot what his Coach told him and with about :30 left, instead of keeping the puck behind the Hawk net and allowing the clock to keep ticking, he got cute and attempted a very STUPID centering pass in front of the net. The Hawks stole the puck,got out of their own zone, got to pull Antti Niemi for an extra attacker(in effect giving the Hawks five skaters to match Nashville’s),and got it into the Preds zone. That led to Patrick Kane’s miracle tip in past a sprawled Pekka Rinne to tie it with :14 left. The major penalty carried over into overtime,but the stunned Preds had nothing left. The Hawks killed the rest of the penalty,and Hossa scored the game winning only :10 after getting back on the ice.

Again, great and exciting win for the Hawks, but lets call this like it was……they were the recipients of an gift wrapped with ribbon on it Christmas gift some seven months early!

***The Bulls, after grabbing a nice game three win against Cleveland last Thursday night, got smoked Sunday and likely will be eliminated Tuesday night on the road. The Bulls had never lost a playoff series to the Cavaliers in the five previous meetings(1988,89,92.93 & 94). It’s a new age however,and if(when) Cleveland wraps this series up,it could be call “CRAIG EHLO’S REVENGE”. Ok, not really.

***Both the Cubs and White Sox limped into their weekend series, yet both got unexpected sweeps-the Cubs from the Brewers in Miller Park and the Sox from a hot coming in Seattle team on the South Side. Yet both teams are still relying too much on the home run ball.

***Carlos Zambrano’s first appearance out of the bullpen Saturday was OK. He did give up one run,but the Cubs had a huge lead.

***Considering that the Bears started drafting in the third round this past weekend, they did OK. They got a safety,a defensive lineman and a backup quarterback. All needed. But it does not fill all needs. This should be an interesting Mini Camp later this week in Lake Forest.


James triple-double leads Cavs to 121-98 trouncing of Bulls and 3-1 series lead.

It’s likely that the Bulls have played their last game in the United Center until the 2010-11 Pre-Season. The Cleveland Cavaliers took over late in the second quarter and exploded in the third,used a triple-double by LeBron James and routed the Bulls 121-98. James scored 37 points,grabbed a dozen rebounds and added 11 assists. He hit six of his nine attempts from behind the three point line,including one from just inside half court before the half time buzzer,and even hit nine of his ten free throw attempts. James was heard saying after the game as he ran down the hall towards the Cavs locker room that he likes the City of Chicago,but is not coming back for a sixth game. That will be decided Tuesday night when game six is played in Cleveland,but the Bulls will be heavy underdogs for that one. Antawn Jamison gave James great support with 24 points and Mo Williams added 19,included three long balls of his own.The Cavs were 12-25 in their three point tries while the Bulls were just 4-12. Both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah had 21 for the Bulls. Noah also grabbed 20 rebounds and became the first ever Bull to have 20 pts and 20 rebounds in the same playoff game,but he did not consider it much consolation.The Bulls only trailed 62-52 at halftime,but Cleveland outscored them 37-24 in the third period to turn the game into a rout.
NOTES—The sellout was 23,058….Cleveland out shot the Bulls 53% to 37%…..The Bulls have never rallied from a three games to one deficit to win a series….The Bulls are 5-0 lifetime in playoff series against the Cavs,but have never lost three games in a series to them-until now.

Cubs rout Brewers again, sweep series.

Milwaukee Brewers logo

MILWAUKEE—Derrek Lee hit a towering 445-foot home run, Ryan Theriot had five hits and the Cubs smacked four homers to complete a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with a 12-2 win on Sunday.Bush stayed stoic on the mound, but showed his frustrations at the plate. After thinking he’d forced Wells to walk him and instead being called out on strikes in the third, Bush threw his head back and slammed his bat on the ground.It appeared as if manager Ken Macha wanted to stick with the right-hander to help conserve the bullpen, but Bush couldn’t make it out of the fourth and left allowing 10 hits and nine runs. Milwaukee was forced to use five relievers.The Brewers had outscored Pittsburgh 36-1 in the previous three games, only to watch the Cubs outscore them 25-4 in this series for their first three-game losing streak this season.The Cubs got dazzling performances from their starters throughout the series. Dempster allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings on Friday night, Lilly threw six shutout innings in his first start after shoulder surgery in the offseason on Saturday night and Wells was nearly as sharp.He stayed out of trouble most of the day and limited the Brewers’ top two hitters, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, to one hit in five at-bats.

NOTES—Marlon Byrd had the day off. … A Cubs fan fell about 14 feet from the lower level in left field trying to catch foul balls during batting practice. Batting practice was delayed about 10 minutes and he was taken to a hospital, but was conscious. A hospital spokeswoman said that privacy laws prohibited them from releasing any more information. … Brewers RHP Jeff Suppan was taken out of the rotation after two shaky starts, including being booed off the field in Friday’s 8-1 loss, in favor of Chris Narveson.

Sox sweep M’s on Konerko blast in 8th inning

Paul Konerko hit a tiebreaking drive in the eighth inning for his major league-best eighth homer and the White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game series sweep.John Danks pitched eight sharp innings, allowing two runs and eight hits. Danks (3-0) was coming off a strong eight-inning outing in a victory over Tampa Bay.After consecutive days of game-ending homers by Andruw Jones and Alex Rios, Konerko connected against Brandon League (2-1) to put the White Sox ahead 3-2. He has homered in three straight games.Franklin Gutierrez went deep for the Mariners, who absorbed its first three-game sweep of the season. Seattle came to Chicago winners of seven of eight.After striking out the first two batters in the eighth, Danks allowed consecutive singles to Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins, but he ended another strong start by getting Gutierrez to fly out. He has allowed five earned runs in 29 innings this season for a 1.55 ERA.Bobby Jenks worked the ninth for his fourth save in four opportunities. Casey Kotchman doubled and Eric Byrnes walked with two out, but Jenks struck out pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. to end the game.

Hawks pull off maricle win over Preds in OT

The Blackhawks rose from the dead,got to overtime and somehow snatched one away from the Nashville Predators 5-4. Marian Hossa,fresh from serving a major penalty tipped in a Brent Sopel; pass at 4:07 to give his team a three games to two lead in the best of seven series.Nashville jumped ahead at 6:23 when David Legwand scored past a screened Antti Niemi who had his vision blocked by Joel Ward. The Hawks got a pair before the first period ended, first when Andrew Ladd put a rebound of a Brent Seabrook shot past Pekka Rinne at 9:57. The Hawks grabbed the lead at 14:53 when Niklas Hjalmarsson beat Rinne with a slapper from the right point. The Blackhawks grabbed a two goal lead late in the second period when Tomas Kopecky converted a feed from fellow Countyman Hossa at 17:31, but the Predators got it right back at 17:31 when David Legwand fed Ward on the left side for an easy tip in to cut the Hawk lead to 3-2. Nashville, out shot 24-8 through two periods,had an edge in play in the third and grabbed the lead back on a pair of Martin Erat goals.The first came at 1:34 off J.P.Dumont’s pass,and the Preds took a 4-3 lead when Erat beat Niemi at 11:39. The Predators appeared to be in great shape when Hossa picked up a five minute major for boarding Dan Hamhuis with 1:03 to play. That meant that even with Niemi pulled for an extra attacker,they were only at equal strength skater wise. Nashville kept the puck in the Hawk zone until the final :30 and when Seabrook passed it out to Jonathan Toews,the Hawks had their last chance.Toews took a shot which deflected right to Patrick Kane,and he tipped it home with :14 left to tie the game and force overtime.When the O.T. started, Hossa still had 3:56 left on his boarding penalty but the Hawks killed it off with Niemi making a couple of grade A saves. Just ten seconds after Hossa emerged from the penalty box, it was over.

NOTES—Game Five is Monday night in Nashville……Attendance was 22,115.


Lilly strong as Cubs beat Brewers again. Zambrano makes bullpen debut

Milwaukee Brewers logo

MILWAUKEE—Ted Lilly threw six shutout innings in his season debut, Carlos Zambrano was effective in his first appearance out of the bullpen in eight seasons and the Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1 Saturday.Lilly (1-0) gave up three hits, struck out four and walked two after being activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game. He was out while recovering from shoulder surgery in November.Zambrano gave up a run in 1 1/3 innings and had a sacrifice fly in a three-run eighth inning.Doug Davis (0-2) pitched six strong innings for Milwaukee, which has scored just two runs in two games after beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 20-0 Thursday.To make room for Lilly, Zambrano was moved to the bullpen this week after starting the season 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in four starts. He was 100-58 as a full-time starter from 2003-09.He came on to protect a 2-0 lead with two outs and runners on first and third in the seventh, replacing John Grabow. He entered to a standing ovation from the large number of Cubs fans in attendance – and boos from the Brewers fans.Zambrano threw two fastballs to Rickie Weeks, retiring him on a check-swing grounder to the mound and getting high fives from his teammates as he returned to the Cubs dugout.But he gave up a run in the bottom of the eighth — after hitting a sacrifice fly in the top half.The Cubs added to their lead in the eighth, loading the bases with one out. Geovany Soto singled in a run, and that brought up Zambrano, a career .233 hitter with 20 home runs. He smacked fly to the warning track in right. Ryan Theriot added an RBI single.Zambrano then gave up a run as Corey Hart singled in Ryan Braun with two outs in the eighth. But Zambrano got Alcides Escobar to ground weakly to second to end the threat.Milwaukee did not get anyone past second base against Lilly, who is looking to regain his All-Star form of 2009, when he went 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA.Davis gave up six hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.Davis, signed as a free agent in the offseason, was a disaster in his first three outings with the Brewers, giving up 24 hits and 15 earned runs in 12 innings (11.25 ERA).Marlon Byrd, who had three hits, had an RBI single in the third for the Cubs, and Aramis Ramirez had one in the sixth to snap an 0 for 21 skid.

NOTES—To make room for Lilly, the Cubs optioned struggling Jeff Samardzija to Triple-A Iowa. The reliever was 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA in four appearances. … In his two minor league rehab outings before Saturday’s start, Lilly went 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA, with 13 strikeouts and two walks in 11 innings. … Byrd has 12 of his 14 RBI this season with two outs. … Brewers RHP Dave Bush, Sunday’s starter, is 2-8 with a 5.01 ERA in his career against the Cubs.