Red Sox

Firepower leads Sox past Orioles, 10-3

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Firepower leads Sox past Orioles, 10-3

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON An offensive explosion in the first and an explosion of a different type in the eighth marked the start and finish of the Red Sox thumping of the Orioles, 10-3, Friday night at Fenway Park.

Sending 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, with eight of them scoring, there was little else the Red Sox had to do in beating the Orioles, 10-3, for the second straight game at Fenway Park.

The Sox battered Orioles left-hander Zach Britton for six hits in the first, including a three-run blast by David Ortiz, his 19th of the season. Britton lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and two walks with one strikeout.

Dustin Pedroia added a solo shot leading off the sixth off Chris Jakabauskus

Josh Beckett, who left after the fifth inning for precautionary reasons, with a mildly hyperextended left knee, earned the win improving to 7-4 with a 2.27 ERA. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Matt Albers followed Beckett, with four strikeouts in two innings.

Two bench-clearing brawls, with four ejections, in the eighth inning, triggered by a David Ortiz-Kevin Gregg showdown marked the end of the game. Ortiz, Gregg, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jim Johnson were all ejected.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: David Ortiz
Ortizs three-run homer in the first inning off starter Zach Britton was the big blast in the Sox eight-run barrage that inning. It was his team-leading 19th home run of the season, second in as many nights against a lefty, and 146th of his career at Fenway Park, passing Bobby Doerr for sole possession of fifth all-time. It was the seventh time he has homered in back-to-back games this season four more than he did all last year.

Ortiz went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and is now 6-for-17 with three doubles, two home runs, and five walks in five games on the homestand.

But, it was his eighth-inning fireworks that provided Ortizs signature to the game. Ortiz and Os reliever Kevin Gregg sparked two bench-clearing brawls, with the second resulting in haymakers thrown by each and four players ejected Ortiz, Gregg, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the Os Jim Johnson.

Ortiz initially took exception to three inside pitches from Gregg that jackknifed the Sox DH, emptying both dugouts and bullpens. After flying out to center field, Ortiz objected to Greggs directions for him to run out the play to first base. Ortiz charged the mound, with an all-out brawl ensuing.

It was the ninth career ejection for Ortiz, and first for Saltalamacchia.

HONORABLE MENTION: Dustin Pedroia
For the second straight game, Pedroia blasted a titanic home run. Unlike his home run on Thursday, though, his Friday night shot leading off the sixth inning -- stayed in the park only because it hit the signage high above the Green Monster.

Pedroia went 2-for-4, raising his average to .281, with three RBI and a home run, his 10th of the season. It was the first time hes hit back-to-back home runs in consecutive games since April 10 and 11. He has homered in three of his last four games.

His first-inning single to center field extended his on-base streak to 22 games going back to June 15, the longest active streak in the AL. In that time he is 30-for-86, batting .349, with 17 walks. His eighth-inning walk was his 62nd of the season, passing Mark Bellhorn for most by a Sox second baseman prior to the All-Star break since 1946.
THE GOAT: Zach Britton
With less than a full inning of work to show for it, Britton left his team in a very deep and very early eight-run hole. It was more than the Orioles climb out of. After getting Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out to Adam Jones in center field one of two stellar catches the Os centerfield made on his Sox counterpart in the game -- to open the inning, Britton allowed the next seven Sox batters to reach base before he could record another out.

Britton went just two-thirds of an inning, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and two walks with a strikeout, and a home run. His record fell to 6-6 while his ERA climbed from 3.47 to 4.05.

THE TURNING POINT
Fans were still trying to find their seats at Fenway Park when the game was all but over. The Sox sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, with eight scoring. The last time the Sox scored as many runs in the first inning was on Aug. 12, 2008, against Texas, when they scored 10.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off against Zach Britton, flying out to Adam Jones, who made a nice catch, running into the triangle in center field. Dustin Pedroia singled to center Adrian Gonzalez walked. Kevin Youkilis singled through the shortstop hole, scoring Pedroia, sending Gonzalez to second. Ortiz blasted a three-run homer to right. Jason Varitek walked. Marco Scutaro singled to center, with Varitek taking third. Darnell McDonald doubled to left-center, scoring Varitek and Scutaro. Yamaico Navarro struck out. Ellsbury singled to left, scoring McDonald, and ending Brittons outing.

Brad Bergesen came in for the Os. Pedroia reached on an error by shortstop J.J. Hardy. Gonzalez singled, scoring Ellsbury, sending Pedroia to third. Youkilis grounded out to third, ending the offensive explosion.

The total: One inning, 13 batters, eight runs (seven earned), seven hits, two walks, one strikeout, one error, two runners left on base, and two pitchers. And one game virtually in the win column.

STAT OF THE DAY: 18
Sending 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, it was the 18th time the Sox have batted around this season, extending their major league lead

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I was pretty close. I was on the little bench, the one where titos always in. so when the thing happened I guess I was the first guy. So, I was just trying to hold him. Hes so tall and I was just trying to hold him and I couldnt even reach the ground, just jumping on his back. -- Marco Scutaro, listed at 5-feet-10, who jumped on the back of 6-feet-6 Os pitcher Kevin Gregg during the eighth-inning brawl.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.