Red Sox

May 16, 2011: Red Sox 8, Orioles 7

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May 16, 2011: Red Sox 8, Orioles 7

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Red Sox clawed their way back from a six-run deficit Monday night and beat the Orioles, 8-7, on Adrian Gonzalezs two-run double in the ninth inning at Fenway Park.

It increased Boston's record to 21-20, the first time the Sox have been above .500 this season.

But, they certainly didnt take the easy route getting there.

Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted only 4 13 innings and gave up five runs on five hits and seven walks. But despite the hole Matsuzaka left them in, the Sox fought back, scoring five runs in the sixth and cutting their deficit to 6-5. The Orioles made it 7-5 when Alfredo Aceves allowed a lead-off home run to Mark Reynolds in the seventh, but the Sox countered with a run in the bottom of the inning.

Os closer Kevin Gregg gave up back-to-back walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia in the ninth, setting the stage for Gonzalezs dramatics. He took the first pitch from Gregg, an 80-mph slider, and banged it off the Wall, scoring Ellsbury and Pedroia for the win. It was Gonzalezs first game-winning hit with the Sox.

Player of the Game: Adrian Gonzalez

With one out, two runners on and the Sox down one run in bottom of the ninth inning, Adrian Gonzalez crushed the first pitch from Orioles closer Kevin Gregg off the Wall to give the Sox the win, 8-7. Gonzalezs first walk-off hit for the Red Sox also put them above .500 for the first time this season.

"Gregg likes to get ahead on the outer half with certain pitches and I was just looking for a fastball middle-away and try to stay behind it," Gonzalez said. "He ended up throwing a slider that it was kind of one of those get-me-over sliders and I was able to put a good swing on it."

Gonzalez went 3-for-5, raising his average to .327, with a run scored and three RBI. He now has 37 runs-batted in, leading the American

Honorable Mention: Kevin Youkilis

Youkilis two-run double was the Sox big blow in the five-run sixth inning. He went 2-for-4, with two doubles, a walk, and two RBI.

Youkilis' hit ended the night for O's reliever Michael Gonzalez, who allowed four runs on three hits in a disastrous one-third of an inning. It was the second straight game in which Youkilis has delivered the big blow, including a game-tying three-run homer Sunday in New York.

"Youk's been great," said Dustin Pedroia . "He's had big hit after big hit, and we need that from him. He's a guy who's done that his whole career and we've kind of taken advantage of it and get used to it. But he's pretty good.''

Youkilis has eight RBI in his last five games, and 27 overall, second on the team to Gonzalez's 37.

"It's been kind of an interesting run for him," manager Terry Francona said before the game. "We've seen him take more swings maybe out of the zone and some swings-and-misses that we're maybe not accustomed to. But it looks like maybe you make that one mistake and he's been hitting that three-run homer. Certainly that threat there's a lot of production in there and he's creeping up, his batting average and things like that. The one thing I always talk about: he
never gives at-bats away because even when it's a struggle for him, you make that one mistake and the game's turned around."

The Goat: Kevin Gregg

Kevin Gregg entered the game with seven saves in nine opportunities this season. He also had a precarious one-run lead. After starter Chris Tillman lasted just five innings, keeping the Sox scoreless, the O's bullpen - manager Buck Showalter needed six relievers to get through the final 3 13 innings -- gave up eight runs, while just four were earned, capped by Gregg's disastrous one-third of an inning. After getting Jason Varitek to fly out to open the ninth, he issued back-to-back walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, giving the Sox and Gonzalez the advantage in the situation. Gonzalez wasted no time taking advantage, with a first-pitch, game-winning double. It was Gregg's third blown save of the season.

Turning Point: Red Sox' sixth inning

The momentum of the game changed in the sixth inning. Down by six runs, the Red Sox scored five in the inning, sending 10 batters to the plate.

Reliever Michael Gonzalez replaced starter Chris Tillman to open the inning and J.D. Drew hit a single to left-center, taking second on an error by Luke Scott. Jed Lowrie doubled to right, scoring Drew. Carl Crawford reached on a Mark Reynolds error, with Lowrie going to third. Jason Varitek singled, scoring Lowrie. Jacoby Ellsbury lined out, bringing in Jeremy Accardo to replace Gonzalez. Dustin Pedroia flied out. Adrian Gonzalez singled to left, scoring Crawford. Kevin Youkilis doubled off the wall in left, scoring Varitek and Gonzalez (above right). Clay Rapada replaced Accardo and gave up a walk to David Ortiz before Drew grounded out.

The five runs in the inning matched a season high for the Sox.

"Of course, obviously everyone's going to look at Adrian's hit as the big one,'' said Jed Lowrie. "But I don't think you can discount any other hits we got tonight, especially in those last three innings. They're all big. So you can't discount any one of them."

By the Numbers: 21-20

For the first time this season the Sox are above .500. They did it with a season-high 15 hits for a nine-inning game. After starting the season 2-10, a .166 winning percentage, they are 19-10 since (.655).

"We definitely got the team that's more than capable of doing it day in and day out," said Adrian Gonzalez. "Collectively we were able to have good consistent at-bats and just kept trying to have professional at-bats and get up."

Quote of Note:

I actually thought we deserved to win that game. We battled back. We had some really good at-bats. We werent rewarded for all of them. And we kept battling, and something good happened. A tough game to win.

Theres something to be said for just continuing to play. And we got to hit last, and we had a really good hitter at the plate.

--Red Sox manager Terry Francona on his teams 8-7 walk-off win against the Orioles Monday night at Fenway Park

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

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ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

NEW YORK - Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.

Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans.

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NLCS: Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have a tough lineup, a talented pitching staff and a manager making all the right moves.

Yup, it's beginning to look a lot like 1988.

Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles improved to 6-0 in this postseason, setting a franchise record for consecutive playoff wins. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip - on a long foul ball in the first inning.

"The focus has certainly been heightened in the postseason," manager Dave Roberts said.

Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to the club's last championship 29 years ago.

Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.

"I think we've won four games in a row before," Chicago slugger Kris Bryant said. "Obviously, it's going to be a tougher road. But it'll make the story that much better. Can you imagine that?"

Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. Their patient lineup is coming up big in key spots and the pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline.

Not even a return to Wrigley could get the Cubs back on track after a rough stay in Los Angeles. Chicago manager Joe Maddon juggled his lineup, inserting Kyle Schwarber into the No. 2 slot and benching slumping second baseman Javier Baez, but the defending World Series champions were shut down by another Dodgers starter and more stellar relief from the NL West champions.

"I really didn't change much approach-wise from first inning until the end of the game," Darvish said through a translator. "I just kept pitching the same way."

Making their third straight appearance in the NLCS, the weary Cubs also hurt themselves with a couple of big mistakes. Carl Edwards Jr. walked Darvish on four pitches with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, continuing a rocky postseason for the reliever and leading to a round of boos from a frustrated crowd of 41,871.

A passed ball brought home another run in the eighth, and pinch hitter Kyle Farmer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1.

Darvish departed after striking out Addison Russell in the seventh, pausing for congratulations from his whole infield before heading to the dugout. The Japanese right-hander allowed six hits, including Schwarber's first-inning homer, in his second career playoff win - both this year. He struck out seven and walked one.

Tony Watson got two outs, Brandon Morrow worked the eighth and Kenley Jansen closed it out after Ross Stripling gave up two hits in the ninth. With Roberts pushing the right buttons, Los Angeles' bullpen has yet to allow a run in the series.

"I think everybody's just been attacking," Morrow said. "That's the No. 1 thing."

The only four-game postseason sweep for the Dodgers came in the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees. If Los Angeles can finish off Chicago on Wednesday, the Dodgers would have five days off before hosting the Yankees or Houston Astros in the World Series opener.

"We knew today was the most important game, and now tomorrow's the most important game," Ethier said. "We're going to come out and figure out how to get the job done again."

Schwarber's sixth career postseason homer got Chicago off to a fast start, but Jon Jay struck out with two on to end the inning. The Dodgers responded with Ethier's leadoff drive in the second and Taylor's second homer of the series in the third, a mammoth shot to center off losing pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

"We had a chance obviously, early," Maddon said. "We hit some balls well early in the game, and then he settled in."

Ethier had two hits in his first start of this year's playoffs after he missed most of the season with a herniated lumbar disk. Taylor also had two hits and is 4 for 14 for the series, helping make up for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager to a back injury.

ON THIS DAY

Tuesday was the 13th anniversary of Roberts' memorable stolen base for Boston in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox were three outs from elimination when Roberts ran for Kevin Millar, swiped second and scored on Bill Mueller's single.

Boston went on to rally past New York and sweep St. Louis for its first World Series championship since 1918. Roberts said he never mentions the steal to his players, but it comes up occasionally.

"Yu Darvish about two weeks ago I guess was surfing the internet, and there was an `aha' moment," Roberts said. "He ran across the stolen base and kind of put two and two together and didn't realize that was his manager. So he proceeded to kind of awkwardly approach me about it and talked about my goatee and how I could steal a base."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: Wood, who had a career-high 16 wins this season, will make his first appearance since Sept. 26. He was lined up for Game 4 of the NLDS, but the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in three games.

Cubs: Arrieta has pitched just 14 1/3 innings since Aug. 30, including four innings of two-hit ball against Washington in Game 4 of the NLDS. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner was hampered by a right hamstring injury at the end of the season.

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