BOSTON The difficulties that have plagued Josh Beckett in the first inning this season continued to bother him Wednesday afternoon against the Rangers, when he gave up three runs on two hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the first.But Beckett spread his troubles out over his outing. He also gave up three runs in fifth and two in the sixth, leaving before he could record an out in the inning.In all, Beckett went five innings (plus two batters in the sixth), giving up a season-high eight runs on eight hits, three home runs, a hit batter, and two walks with three strikeouts. He threw 86 pitches, 58 for strikes.Beckett was not involved in the decision, though, as the Sox lost, 10-9. The offense battled back several times, bailing him out from what would have been his 10th loss of the season, as his ERA rose from 4.54 to 4.97. The Sox fell to 4-6 on the just-concluded homestand, 55-57 overall.Beckett is 1-5 in his last 10 outings. The Sox are 7-12 in his 19 starts this season.Clayton Mortensen, who was called up earlier in the day and who replaced Beckett, took the loss. He had gone three innings, giving up just one run. But with a bullpen that was stretched thin, manager Bobby Valentine sent him out for the ninth, when he faltered.Beckett made some good pitches and he made some not-so-good pitches, Valentine said. He finished the fifth inning pretty good. The bottom of the order I thought he could maybe squeak one out. I sure wasnt expecting No. 9 hitter Geovanny Soto to hit a home run.But Soto did hit a home run there in the sixth, the last of three Beckett surrendered. The three home runs were the most hes given up since his first start of the season, when he gave up five in Detroit on April 7. He had not allowed a home run in his last 12 starts, a career high. The three home runs to the Rangers match his total from his last 14 starts.In the fifth inning, Beckett gave up two home runs, a lead-off shot by Rangers No. 9 hitter Mitch Moreland and a two-run shot by Josh Hamilton, who has clobbered Beckett in his career.Hamilton who went 2-for-3 with a home run, a triple, two runs scored, and four RBI against Beckett and is hitting .435, going 10-for-23 with three home runs and 11 RBI against the Red Sox right-hander in his career.With no outs in the sixth, Sotos two-run blast, his first with the Rangers since being acquired from the Cubs at the trading deadline, ended Becketts outing.The eight runs were the most Beckett has given up since May 7, 2010, when he gave up nine against the Yankees in 5 13 innings. Seven of his nine career games in which hes given up eight or more runs have been at Fenway Park.Beckett left his last start, July 31 against the Tigers, after just 2 23 innings with a back spasm. He said his health was not an issue Wednesday.Back felt good, Beckett said. Just too many pitches down the middle of the plate and everything was up. Even when I was on the corners it was still up.On a radio show earlier this week, Beckett said the back spasm was caused by a lack of sleep because of anxiety surrounding the trade deadline. There were no lingering effects of that anxiety, he said.No, like I said, I felt good out there today, he said. I just left some balls up and they took advantage of them. The ball that Hamilton hit, if its down a little more, its probably not a home run. He did a good job of getting to it. But its still up. And the ball that Soto hit, it was up, and down the middle of the plate. You cant pitch there against these guys. These guys are good.Just too many balls down the middle of the plate. So control, in that matter, yeah, was a problem. Not necessarily control outside the zone. Inside the zone it was like everything was elevated.Asked what he will work on between now and his next start, Beckett said he will focus on placement of his fingers on the ball.Just got to get back to work and get my fingers on top of the ball, he said. And throw balls where they cant hit them that hard.Did he realize during the game his finger placement was off?Yeah, you tend to notice that when theyre hitting rockets, he said.Could he have made adjustments during the game?Yeah, I have before, he said.Why not in this game?I didnt make the adjustments, he said.Any reason?No, not one I can put my finger on, he said.Pun intended? Who knows?As has become a trend at Fenway for Becketts starts, he walked off the field as a chorus of boos rained down on him.I cant control that, he said.Does it bother him?I cant control it, he said.He will, at least, acknowledge its been a difficult season.Its tough, he said. Itd be a lot better if we were winning two out of every three games. Thats what makes it tough. These are the guys that I got to come to work with every day. Its been tough on all of us.
LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner savored every last stride as he followed in Kirk Gibson's famous footsteps at Dodger Stadium.
The red-bearded slugger from Southern California knew all about the history attached to this home run trot.
On the 29th anniversary of Gibson's celebrated pinch-hit homer that shocked Oakland in the 1988 World Series opener, Turner added another landmark shot to Los Angeles Dodgers postseason lore.
Turner hit a three-run drive with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.
"One of my earliest baseball memories was being at my grandma's house and watching that game in '88 and seeing Gibby hit that homer," said Turner, who wasn't quite 4 years old at the time. "So yeah, it feels pretty cool. I thought about doing the fist-pump around the bases, but we'll wait until we get to the World Series for that, hopefully."
The dominant Dodgers are two wins away after Turner drove in all four runs in Game 2 to keep Los Angeles unbeaten in the postseason.
He delivered a tying single in the fifth before sending a long shot to center field off John Lackey in the ninth. Completing the poetry of the moment, a fan wearing a blue Dodgers jersey took a few steps onto a walkway and gracefully caught the ball in his glove on the fly.
"It's very cool, and J.T., we were talking about it in there after the game," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. "Twenty-nine years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it."
Another generation of Dodgers fans now has its own historic homer, and these Dodgers are growing increasingly confident they can earn their first trip to the World Series since 1988.
Turner got swallowed up at home plate by another pack of ecstatic Dodgers, just as Gibson did. Unlike Gibson, Turner spiked his batting helmet after rounding third, allowing his unruly red hair to go as wild as the crowd.
"What's not to enjoy about it?" Turner asked. "We have an opportunity to bring a championship back to LA. It's been a long time."
Yasiel Puig drew his third walk of the game leading off the ninth, and Charlie Culberson bunted him to second. After losing pitcher Brian Duensing struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, Chicago manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen for the 38-year-old Lackey, who pitched on consecutive days for the first time in his 15-year career.
Lackey got the call over All-Star closer Wade Davis, and the veteran starter walked Chris Taylor on six tense pitches. Maddon said he wanted to save Davis for a potential save on the road, and Lackey would have pitched the 10th inning as well if the Cubs did not have a lead.
"Nobody is a really great matchup against Turner, so it just did not work out," Maddon said.
Turner stepped up and ended it with his fourth career playoff homer. After taking a slight free-agent discount to stay with the Dodgers last winter, he had another solid season before excelling again in October.
The All-Star third baseman is batting .377 with 22 RBIs in his postseason career. He is 13 for 18 with runners in scoring position (.722), including 6 for 8 this year.
And after a collective offensive effort drove the Dodgers to a 5-2 win in Game 1, Turner did it all in Game 2. He has 10 RBIs in the Dodgers' five postseason games, getting five in the playoff opener against Arizona.
Addison Russell homered in the fifth for the Cubs, who are down early in this rematch of the 2016 NLCS. Chicago won that series in six games after splitting the first two.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got the win with a hitless ninth despite hitting Anthony Rizzo on the hand with a one-out pitch. That ended the Los Angeles bullpen's impressive streak of 22 straight Cubs retired to begin the NLCS, but the Dodgers have thrown eight hitless and scoreless innings of relief in the NLCS.
Jon Lester yielded three hits and five walks while failing to get out of the fifth inning in the shortest start of his long postseason career, but the Dodgers couldn't take advantage of a rare shaky night by the Cubs' star left-hander.
Rich Hill struck out eight in five more impressive innings for the Dodgers, but he was pulled for pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson in the fifth in a debatable decision by Roberts.
Russell was off to a 4-for-22 start in the postseason with nine strikeouts before the slugging shortstop put a leadoff homer into the short porch in left field.
Turner tied it moments later by poking a two-out single to right after a leadoff double by Culberson, the Dodgers' improbably successful replacement for injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager.
The Dodgers chased Lester with two outs in the fifth, but reliever Carl Edwards Jr. came through after several recent postseason struggles, striking out pinch-hitter Chase Utley and then pitching a strong sixth.
Lester was the co-MVP of last season's NLCS, winning Game 5 at Dodger Stadium and yielding two runs over 13 innings in the series. He had nothing near the same success against the Dodgers' revamped lineup in this one, issuing four walks in the first four innings and repeatedly escaping jams.
Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward held up Turner in the third when it appeared he could have scored from first on Cody Bellinger's double to the left-center gap.
Javier Baez, the other co-MVP of last season's NLCS for Chicago, got to third base in the third with one out, but also was stranded.
Cubs: Hendricks dominated Chicago's playoff opener with seven scoreless innings against the Nationals, but yielded four runs in four innings during the team's wild Game 5 victory in Washington. He is starting on normal rest.
Dodgers: Darvish was outstanding in Game 3 against the Diamondbacks, earning his first career postseason victory with seven strikeouts over five innings of two-hit ball. He was acquired from Texas precisely for these moments, and he starts on seven days of rest.
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LOS ANGELES -- Although Clayton Kershaw once again failed to dominate in a postseason start, these Los Angeles Dodgers don't need one guy to carry them.
With a relentless lineup, flawless relief pitching and a collective charisma epitomized by the bat-flipping Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers are still unbeaten in the postseason and off to a strong start in the NL Championship Series.
Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Dodgers overcame a short start by Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NLCS opener.
"We just tried to set the tone early against the Cubs," closer Kenley Jansen said. "We understand they're the defending champions, so they're a really good team. We understand that we won 104 games, but right now it doesn't matter."
With another collective offensive effort and four innings of perfect relief for Kershaw, the Dodgers calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by the Cubs on the way to their first World Series championship in 108 years.
"It's two different ballclubs," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "There are some similar players, but I think that the season we had versus the season they had last year, I think that you could parallel those two, and the confidence we have in our group, and they had in their group last year. I just know that this year we're a very focused group, very confident group."
Kershaw pitched five innings of four-hit ball, but the Los Angeles ace fell behind 2-0 before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter during the Dodgers' tying rally.
After winning 104 games in the regular season and sweeping Arizona in the Division Series, the Dodgers have a lineup and bullpen equipped to handle almost anything. They made Kershaw's latest laborious postseason start virtually irrelevant, just as they did after he gave up four homers in his 2017 playoff opener against the Diamondbacks last week.
Albert Almora Jr. hit a two-run homer in the fourth, but the final 18 batters failed to reach base for the weary Cubs, still bouncing back from a 10-hour cross-country flight after finishing off Washington in an epic Game 5 late Thursday night.
"Their bullpen is pretty firm, and we have to really get our feet back on the ground," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Puig added another huge offensive game to his recent surge with his first career postseason homer - though in a postgame interview on TBS, he was convinced he had hit one before.
The Cuban slugger also included his usual array of creative bat discards and portentous pauses at the plate.
Los Angeles finally got rolling in the fifth when Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes drew one-out walks before Puig hammered a double to left-center. The ebullient Cuban slugger headed to second only after flipping his bat and spreading his arms wide at the plate.
Puig's sky-high homer off Mike Montgomery in the sixth barely got over the fence in left. Puig is 7 for 15 with six RBIs in the Dodgers' first four playoff games.
"I grew up a little bit," Puig said. "(I'm) going to home plate having fun, because I know (if) I hit nothing, (if) I do nothing in the game, my teammates are going to have my back."
Kenta Maeda got three outs and the victory in his latest standout relief effort, and Jansen struck out all four batters he faced for his third save this postseason.
Kershaw's inability to match his sublime regular-season performances in the playoffs is a central theme of his career. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner won the NLDS series opener last week despite giving up four homers at Dodger Stadium, and Almora's shot made him the first Dodgers pitcher to yield five homers in a single postseason.
Maddon was ejected in the seventh after a call at the plate was reversed. Culberson initially was ruled out when he attempted to score from second, but was called safe after video review when catcher Willson Contreras was deemed to be in violation of blocking home plate without the ball.
"I saw a great baseball play," Maddon said. "His technique was absolutely 100 percent perfect. I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that."
Jose Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball for the Cubs one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment. But the Dodgers tied it against him in the fifth and went ahead in the sixth with Taylor's leadoff shot off loser Hector Rondon.
Despite pitching for the third time in six days after a start and a relief appearance against Washington, Quintana retired 12 of Los Angeles' first 13 batters.
Seager was left off the NLCS roster due to back pain. The All-Star's surprise absence deprived Los Angeles of its No. 2 hitter and prompted the club to play Culberson, who had only 15 big league plate appearances in the regular season. But Culberson came through with a series of big plays at the plate and on the basepaths.
Cubs: Lester won Game 5 of the 2016 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. He started Game 2 of the Division Series this year and added 3 2/3 innings of relief in Game 4 on Wednesday, but the veteran lefty compared that relief appearance to normal side work between starts. Lester's nine career postseason victories are the most among active pitchers except Justin Verlander, who picked up No. 10 in Houston earlier Saturday.
Dodgers: Hill is a former Cubs pitcher with just one career postseason victory, but the resilient veteran regularly comes through in tough situations for LA. He made it through just four innings in Game 2 against Arizona, but yielded only two runs.