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NLCS Game 7

Yadier Molina's game-winning homer in the Cardinals' 3-1 victory over the Mets was the fifth go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later of a decisive postseason game. (By decisive we mean the seventh game of a best-of-seven series, the fifth of a best-of-five and so on.) The others were hit by Bill Mazeroski (1960 World Series), Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS), Rick Monday (1981 NLCS) and Aaron Boone (2003 ALCS).

• Old-school Tony La Russa did it again. The Cardinals' first run was driven in by Ronnie Belliard on a safety squeeze. If we consider any sacrifice bunt or bunt single that produces an RBI to be a squeeze, that would be the eighth in postseason play by a team managed by La Russa. The only managers with higher postseason totals -- and we really love this list -- were Miller Huggins (13), John McGraw (13) and Connie Mack (11). During the expansion era, only one manager has even half as many squeezes as La Russa: Tommy Lasorda (four).

Jeff Suppan and Oliver Perez were only the fourth pair of opposing starters who both pitched at least six innings and allowed one earned run or none in the deciding game of a best-of-seven series. The others: Jack Morris and John Smoltz in 1991, Ralph Terry and Jack Sanford in 1962 and Christy Mathewson and Hugh Bedient in 1912 -- all in the World Series.

• Perez had by far the poorest regular-season record (3-13) of any pitcher ever to start the decisive game of a series in that year's postseason (based on games below the .500 mark). In fact, in 72 previous deciding games, only five starters had losing records during the regular season: Livan Hernandez, 12-16 (Giants, 2002 World Series vs. Angels); Jon Matlack, 14-16 (Mets, 1973 World Series vs. Athletics); Don Gullett, 9-10 (Reds, 1972 NLCS vs. Pirates); Johnny Podres, 9-10 (Dodgers, 1955 World Series vs. Yankees); and Hal Gregg, 4-5 (Dodgers, 1947 World Series vs. Yankees).

Adam Wainwright was only the second rookie to earn a save in the deciding game of a postseason series (and the first to do so in a best-of-seven series). The other was Pete Ladd of the Brewers in the 1982 ALCS.

• The Mets had two hits in the first inning, two in the ninth and none in between. Only two other teams in postseason history scored in the first inning and then failed to get a hit from the second through the eighth inning: the Cardinals in a 2-1 loss to Herb Pennock and the Yankees in Game 1 of the 1926 World Series, and the A's in a 2-1 loss to Jose Rijo and the Reds in Game 4 of the 1990 Series.

• Thursday night's game was the 20th Game 7 played in New York City and the second hosted by the Mets. The Knicks have hosted seven, the Yankees six, the Rangers three and the Brooklyn Dodgers two. Which city do you think has hosted the most Game 7's in MLB, the NBA and NHL? The only city with a higher total than the Big Apple's is Beantown with 34 -- Celtics 17, Bruins 13 and Red Sox four.


• It took the Bruins more than two weeks to play a home game but only 18 seconds to score once they got to the TD Banknorth Garden. Brad Boyes' goal was the fastest in a team's opening home game of the season since 1998, when Geoff Sanderson scored at 0:11 of the Sabres' home opener. Sanderson's was the fastest such goal in NHL history.

• The Bruins started the season with five road games (1-3-1). Over the previous five seasons, the only other team to play at least five road games before opening at home was the Bruins in 2002, when they went 4-1-1 before their first home game.

Martin Erat scored the only goal of the shootout, giving the Predators a 4-3 victory over the Devils. Erat is now 3-for-3 on shootouts, the first two goals coming last season. No other NHL player is 3-for-3 or better over the last two seasons.

• The Predators' victory gave them a sweep of their three-game romp through the New York area. Nashville won at the Nassau Coliseum on Monday and at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. The Predators were the 44th team to play three consecutive road games against the Rangers, Islanders and Devils in some order but only the second to win all three. The Kings did it in 2002.

Evgeni Malkin scored his second goal in as many games for the Penguins in their 4-3 victory over the Islanders. The only other Russian-born players to score in each of their first two NHL games were Maxim Afinogenov (1999), Dmitri Kvartalnov (1992) and Sergei Makarov (1989).

• The Avalanche defeated the Senators 2-1 at Ottawa in a battle of perennial powers struggling to find their form. It was the first meeting of those teams in which both had a losing record coming into the game since March 30, 1994 -- before the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado.

• The Lightning defeated the Flyers 4-1 for their ninth consecutive win over Philadelphia. That's the second-longest current streak by any team against any opponent -- the Red Wings have won 11 straight against the Kings -- and it equals the third-longest winning streak ever against the Flyers. The longer streaks were by the Bruins (15) and the Rangers (10) in the early 1970s.

• The Kings defeated the Coyotes 4-0 on four power-play goals. That equaled the largest margin of victory in NHL history in a shutout in which all goals were scored with a man advantage. Three other teams posted 4-0 wins on four PPGs: Canucks over Blues (1994), Red Wings over Sabres (1979) and Blackhawks over Red Wings (1933).