Red Sox

Miller impresses again, offense clicks as Sox roll, 10-4

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Miller impresses again, offense clicks as Sox roll, 10-4

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Just as road interleague games are coming to an end for another season, the Red Sox seem to be getting the hang of things.

The Sox scored early (three runs in the first) and added on late (six runs over the last three innings) to cruise to an easy 10-4 victory over the Houston Astros.

The win was Boston's third in a row against NL teams after a stretch that saw them go 1-7 in interleague play.

Boston got nine hits from its 2-3-4 hitters (Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis), pounding out 13 hits in all.

Even Darnell McDonald, who came into the game with just six hits all season, contributed, belting a three-run homer in the eighth to put the game effectively out of reach.

The first five Red Sox hitters reached in the first against J.A. Happ, resulting in the early lead.

Back-to-back doubles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia producd another run and Yamaico Navarro, pinch-hitting for starter Andrew Miller, launched his first major league homer in the seventh.

Miller turned in his third straight good start, going six innings while allowing two runs on seven hits.

Four other relievers -- Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler -- finished out the game after Miller left.

STAR OF THE GAME: Andrew Miller
Three starts in, the Andrew Miller Experiment is a qualified success.

Saturday night, he limited the Astros to two runs over six innings and is now an out shy of posting three quality starts in three outings since being promoted from Pawtucket.

He rebounded nicely after being hit around some in the first and allowed just four hits over his final five innings of work.

HONORABLE MENTION: Darnell McDonald
McDonald got a start Saturday, and for a change, made the most of it.

The outfielder had just six hits all season before he cranked a tape-measure three-run shot to left for his second homer of the season. In so doing, he doubled his RBI total for the season.

It was McDonald's first career three-run homer.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Carlos Lee
Lee has been the target of a frustrated Astros fan base, with boos regularly cascading down on him when he fails to come through at the plate.

Saturday night, he managed a single in the sixth, but otherwise stranded seven baserunners in his other three at-bats.

TURNING POINT: Bard's escape act
The Sox led 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh with Daniel Bard inheriting a bases-loaded jam from Bobby Jenks.

Bard walked Hunter Pence -- though he appeared to be squeezed by home plate umpire Cory Blaser on more than one pitch -- to force in a run, then retired Lee on a fielder's choice, leaving the bases loaded.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6232002
Yamaico Navarro became the first Red Sox player to hit his first major league homer as a pinch-hitter since Juan Diaz did it on June 23, 2002.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
"It's a long season and a humbling game. Hopefully, this will get me going.'' -- Darnell McDonald on his three-run home run.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

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NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO - Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to held the defending World Series champion Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Manager Joe Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley, who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

Contreras' homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez's landed beyond the left-field bleachers on Waveland Avenue.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE