MONTREAL - It seems so long ago that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers went into Percival Molson Stadium and beat the Montreal Alouettes 19-11 on July 4. Clint Stoerner Jersey . Who knew then that the Bombers would be 2-12 and facing playoff elimination when they returned to Montreal three months later? Watch the game on TSN starting at 12:30pm et/9:30am pt. You can also follow along with TSN.cas GameTracker. Or that the perennially contending Alouettes (6-8) would be recovering from their own setbacks, including the firing of new coach Dan Hawkins only five games into the season and a concussion that has sidelined quarterback Anthony Calvillo since Aug. 17? It was all optimism back then, and now both teams will be looking to salvage what they can from a season of frustration when they face each other on Monday afternoon. "Throw out all the stats, throw all the records out the window — all that matters is the win," Montreal coach Jim Popp. The Alouettes at least still have hope. A win Monday would give them their first three-game streak of the season and set them up for a battle for second place in the East Division in back to back games beginning Sunday against the second-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-7). Finishing at 9-9 — the same record Toronto had last season before winning the Grey Cup — is not out of the question. "Theres a great feeling in the locker room and on the field," said linebacker Shea Emry. "Theres a better tempo. "Its exciting to see a team come together like that because, in years past, weve come together early on the season and then kind of dwindled at the end. But we are trying to peak. Were not there yet, but were looking towards it." For the Bombers to make the playoffs, they need to beat Montreal to win the three-game season series between the two clubs, plus win their three other remaining games and have the Alouettes lose all their games. Slim chances, indeed, and they got slimmer this week when the Bombers traded CFL sacks leader Alex Hall to Saskatchewan for an injured offensive lineman and a draft pick. But coach Tim Burke said he hasnt sensed that any of his players have thrown in the towel yet. "I dont think so,"he said. "We had another good week of practice. "We were really focused. Guys really want to play." Josh Neiswander has taken over as the starting quarterback in Montreal and has looked sharp, particularly in a 47-24 win last week in Edmonton. He has thrown only one interception in his last three games. He got the job when rookie Tanner Marsh tore a ligament in his right thumb a month ago. Marsh resumed practising this week and will dress as the third quarterback, but probably wont play. The defence has been especially effective, leading the league against the run and featuring an aggressive pass rush that has led to them leading in interceptions with 22. Popp said he asked his team to forget the first 12 games, when they were 4-8, and focus on the last six as a kind of mini-season leading into the playoffs. So far, they are 2-0 in that segment. "We had a bad start, but so did B.C. in 2011," said Emry of the Lions Grey Cup victory after a horrendous start. "I guess were trying to create our own little story over here." Linebacker Kyries Hebert said the Alouettes cannot allow themselves to take the Bombers lightly despite their four-game losing run. "Its the same as you prepare for a 12-2 team," said Hebert. "These guys lost some close games. "They found a way to come here and get a victory in Montreal. So, bigger than their record is the fact that theyre a divisional opponent and they beat us on our home turf, so we have to come back and redeem ourselves." Max Hall is likely to start for the Bombers, although Burke said the race is still on for the No. 1 job with Justin Goltz and Jason Boltus. "I dont think any of our quarterbacks have reached the point where you could say theyre starting quarterback calibre in this league," said Burke. "One of our guys has to step forward in the remainder of this year or were going to have to go out and get another quarterback." The same is true at a few positions on a team that Burke said has "personnel deficiencies." Many Winnipeg players are fighting for jobs for next season, so they wont lack motivation. And Burke himself has to wonder if he will be retained, although he feels he deserves another chance after enduring a lot of injuries and not a lot of talent. "Id like to be back," said the former Alouettes defensive co-ordinator. "Id like to have a chance to work with a team that has more of its pieces put together. "I think it would be tough for anybody to handle what weve gone through. I believe the team has competed hard every week. Weve put forth the energy necessary to be a competitive team. Nobody has ever given up. We were just not good enough." Vinny Testaverde Jersey . There are some early surprises in the race for the Hart Trophy, but two of the contenders are the leagues biggest stars over the past decade. There are many more players in contention for the awards than just the three that Ive named, and a good or bad week can easily alter the landscape, but through the first 20 or so games of the NHL season, this is how the awards races look to me. Tavon Austin Jersey .com) - Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mat Latos had an arthroscopic procedure performed on his right elbow last week, the teams official site reported Wednesday. CINCINNATI, Ohio -- With two swings, Scott Van Slyke went from backup outfielder to star of the game. Van Slyke drove in a career-high four runs with two homers off struggling left-hander Tony Cingrani, and the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled away to a 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night, a rare comfortable win in their pitching-dominated series. Van Slyke hit a solo homer and a three-run shot off Cingrani (2-7), who could lose his spot in the rotation when Mat Latos returns from the disabled list later this week. Cingrani gave up a career-high six runs in 4 2-3 innings of his fifth straight loss. The Dodgers like Van Slyke for his versatility. He has started four games in centre, 11 in left and three at first base. The problem is that theres no room for him to have a regular spot. "I know what Im here for, so I dont mind it," Van Slyke said. "Im not going to complain." Nor will the Dodgers. "Hes been good for us all year," manager Don Mattingly said. "This guys just kind of slowly showing his value over time. Hes a guy that sneaks up on you. Plays all three outfield spots really well. "I think hes a guy that you could expand his role. Obviously thats not here right now." Dan Haren (6-4) gave up five hits in 5 1-3 innings, including Ryan Ludwicks solo homer, for his first win since May 12. Brandon League escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs threat in the eighth by getting Ludwick to hit a comebacker that led to a home-to-first double play. Haren opened the season 4-0 and has been trying to get back into form the past month. "I started the year throwing the ball very well," Haren said. "Ive just really been mediocre here for a while. Today the bullpen picked me up." The Dodgers have gone 3-1 at the start of their seven-game trip to Colorado and Cincinnati despite hip injuries to right fielder Yasiel Puig and second baseman Dee Gordon. Puig was back in the lineup on Monday and had a single and a walk. Gordon pinch hit in the ninth and beat out an infield single. The Dodgers andd Reds have played a lot of close games the last two seasons. Donovan Wilson Jersey. Six of their last seven had been decided by one run, with Cincinnati holding a 4-3 advantage in those games. Van Slyke made this a comfortable win for the Dodgers, getting a career-high three hits. In addition to the homers, he singled and walked twice, reaching base in all five plate appearances. Van Slyke came into the game with four homers and seven RBIs. He led off the second inning with a homer and ended Cingranis outing with a three-run shot in the fifth that made it 6-2. It was his second career two-homer game. Cingrani has struggled since he returned from an inflamed shoulder that landed him on the disabled list. Hes 0-5 in those five starts with a 6.26 ERA and nine homers allowed. The left-hander gave up seven hits -- matching his career high -- and three walks on Monday. The Reds fell to 3-4 on their 10-game homestand, leaving them fourth in the NL Central. Haren had one rough inning, helping the Reds tie it 1-all in the second. Brayan Pena snapped a career-worst 0-for-17 slump with a single, and Zack Cozart singled. The runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Pena scored when Haren bounced a pitch to Cingrani with two outs. NOTES: Josh Beckett (3-3) makes his first appearance against the Reds since 2008 on Tuesday. The Reds start Mike Leake (3-5), who has been limited by a sore neck and is coming off his shortest appearance of the season. ... OF Andre Ethier was out of the Dodgers lineup getting a planned day of rest. ... Van Slyke hit two homers against Atlanta on May 17, 2013. ... Two ducks landed in centre and stayed there for an inning. Van Slyke threw sunflower seeds to them. ... Ludwick is 7 for 12 career against Haren with three homers. ... Latos made his final rehab start for Triple-A Louisville on Monday night and threw 81 pitches before a rain delay. The right-hander has been sidelined all season while recovering from torn knee cartilage and a strained pitching forearm. Alfredo Simon, his replacement in the rotation, leads the team in wins with an 8-3 record. ' ' '
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