Red Sox

Notes: Gonzalez has fun with former team

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Notes: Gonzalez has fun with former team

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BOSTON Adrian Gonzalez insisted facing the Padres the team with which he spent the previous five seasons would be just another series. He was true to his word in the series opener Monday night, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored, three RBI, and a strikeout.

Ho hum.

Just another game for Gonzalez, who extended his American League-best batting average from .348 to .353, as the Red Sox pounded the Padres, 14-5.

Just like another game, he said. Have fun with it. it was good to see them before the game and catch up with them, but once the game started it was all about playing the game.

Gonzalezs three hits came against three different Padres pitchers. In the first inning he singled off starter Wade LeBlanc. In the seventh, his RBI double drove Cory Luebke from the game. Later in the seventh when the Sox sent 14 batters to the plate, with 10 scoring he doubled off Evan Scribner, scoring two more runs.

But he did manage to squeeze in some fun during the game, with Chase Headley, who went 4-for-5, on first.

I touched Chases ear, which was important, Gonzalez said. He doesnt like his ear being touched. Those are fighting actions if you touch his ears. It was fun. But you only talk between pitches and once you get ready for the pitch you refocus.

Before the game, Gonzalez was the focus of many reporters, wanting the first basemans input on his new team and his former team.

How do you prepare for something like that? Gonzalez asked. You just answer the questions and once the game starts, play the game. Theres no other way to focus on it. Once the umpire says play ball, try to beat the team on the other side of the field and focus on the same preparation, how you're going to face the pitcher, how youre going to play defense and just play the game.

In the seventh inning, the Sox sent 14 batters with 10 scoring, including nine with two outs. It was the most they have scored in an inning since the a 12-run sixth inning against the Indians on May 7, 2009. They have batted around 15 times this season, most in the majors. Two of the runs scored on consecutive hit batters, by Ernesto Frieri.

I actually didnt even realize it until you just said that, Jason Varitek told reporters.

The Sox have at least 10 hits and 10 runs in three of their four games on the homestand, batting .352 (51-for-145), scoring 38 runs. On his teams offense, Varitek said:

We spent a lot of time earlier this season when we didnt have any offense. It just allowed us to work and become the team that we are.

With the score tied, Dustin Pedroia, the second batter in the seventh, beat out a possible double play, setting up the offensive explosion. Jacoby Ellsbury, who walked, was thrown out at second on a fielders choice, but Pedroia beat the relay throw from shortstop Jason Bartlett.

Pure hustle gives our hitters a chance to keep hitting and extend an inning and we take advantage of it, Francona said. That's the kind of player he is.

I run like that all the time, Pedroia said. Its good to extend the inning and have a guy on base.

Pedroia has a six-game hitting streak, going 9-for-24 (.375).

Kevin Youkilis has hit safely in 9 of his last 11 games, batting .310 (13-for-42) with 16 RBI.

David Ortiz has a 14-game hitting streak at Fenway since May 19, hitting .491 (27-for-55) with nine doubles, four homers, and 13 RBI. It is his longest stretch at Fenway since a 15-game streak from July 4 Aug. 13, 2007.

Padres manager Bud Black, whose ties to Fenway go back to hismajor-league debut on Sept. 5, 1981, while with the Mariners, is notsurprised by what Gonzalez has done for the Sox thisseason.

He put up All-Star numbers with us aswell, Black said. You look at what he did for the Padres, thosenumbers are very, very solid. And hes doing itagain.

No doubt he was the focal point of ouroffense when he was here and I think that was probably stressed fromthe other dugout. I can only imagine when they went through scoutingreports they probably said dont let Gonzalez beat you. Thatssomething that we could see quite frankly from game to game, how goodhe is.

Its a little tougher for a pitcher to gothrough a lineup as deep as the Red Sox have. I think that when youresurrounded by other players and the Red Sox are getting on base at apretty high rate, it makes it awfully tough on the opposingpitcher.

Dave Roberts is in his first season as firs-base coach for the Padres afterworking in the teams baseball operations department lastyear. He played parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues,including 45 games with the Sox in 2004 that led to one very memorablestolen base in the ALCS against the Yankees (which the Padres pregamepress notes jokingly downplayed: He stole one freakin bag, bigdeal).

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said beforethe game, if it werent for Roberts he might not still be managing theteam.

I dont know where the heck I would be if itwasnt for Tito, Francona said. But you know what? We had a specialgroup. People always talk about the 04 team and what it meant to thepeople in New England and Boston. The group, were still tight, all ofus are still tight. We still reminisce about 04 and the group we had.Im still looking forward to seeing David Ortiz over there, JasonVaritek.

Roberts, who was diagnosed in 2010 withHodgkins lymphoma, got a clean report from doctors at Dana-Farber inhis visit there Friday.

That was a big day for me,he said. Im pretty happy to be here, and just taking every day.Whats not to love about this ballpark?

Reliever BobbyJenks had what Francona termed "a real good day," throwing from adistance of 200 feet on flat ground.

Jenks is onthe disabled list because of a back injury.

"If heshows up Tuesday with no ill effects from that," said Francona, "hemight even take it to the mound. Not a full-fledge side, but justgetting back on that downhill plane. But he had a real good dayMonday; best day by far."

With three series in N.L. parks coming up fast on the schedule, the RedSox were on the field early, working on buntplays.

Thanks to no DH in NL-hosted games, the Soxare likely to see far more bunt attempts from opposingpitchers.

"Over there," said Francona, "when apitcher comes up to the plate, he's bunting. You put a wheel play onin the American League, you're doing them a favor because you'reopening up two holes and you have a position playerhitting.

"In the National League, there are going tobe situations where they are bunting. We might as well defend it."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.

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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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