Red Sox

Notes: Sox take season series vs. Yanks


Notes: Sox take season series vs. Yanks

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON The Red Sox couldnt score enough runs Sunday night to giveJosh Beckett his 10th win of the season, despite Beckett's pitchingwell for six innings, and they couldnt make Beckett the first pitcherto go 4-0 against New York since Al Nipper in 1987. But they did end upproviding enough offensive fireworks to engineer a 3-2 win in thebottom of the tenth inning for their eighth walk-off win of theseason.

The victory makes them 10-2 against theYankees in 12 regular-season game, and clinches the season series inBostons favor for the first time since the Sox' World Serieschampionship season of 2004. The Sox and Yanks split the regular-seasonseries each of the last three years.

The Sox will get another chance against theYankeesat the end of August when New York returns to Fenway Park, and theteams will play in Yankee Stadium late inSeptember,

Jason Varitek wasimpressed by the Sox' pitching Sunday.

Our attitudeand approach was the same all night. It ended up being a huge pitchersdual tonight. Sometimes it goes the opposite way and its a hugeslugfest, said Varitek. But importantly on our end it was nice to seehow we threw the ball because thats a good lineup . . . thats areally good lineup.

Chad Ochocinco was on a date with VH1 reality show starlet, fiance Evelyn Lozada, during Sundays tilt against the New York Yankees, and the New England Patriots wide receiver impressively stayed in his front row seats until the game was over after 10 innings and didnt retreat back to the Patriots facility in Foxboro until well after midnight.

Right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler struck out the side in impressive fashion in the eighth inning against the Yankees during Bostons come-from-behind win on Sunday night. The righty didnt break 90-mph during his inning of work, but it appears that the Rhode Island native is hitting a bit of a rhythm and ended last weekend perfectly scoreless in seven straight outings for the Red Sox.

1B Adrian Gonzalez finished the three-game series against the New York Yankees with an offensively invisible 1-for-13 performance in the three games, and is hitting .191 (9-for-47) against the Yankees this season. Gonzalez was spectacular defensively at first base on Saturday and is still hitting .348 for the season, so there doesnt seem to be much doubt that hell be getting a pass from just about everyone after one ineffective series against the Bronx Bombers.

Carl Crawford went 3-for-4 in Sunday nights win and has a hit in nine of his last 10 plate appearances including seven straight hits over the weekend games against the Yankees pitching staff. Crawford is hitting .429 with four doubles, a homer, 2 RBI and a stolen base in seven games during the month of August.

Starter Josh Beckett leads the Red Sox with nine no-decisions on the season, and that matches his career-highs during both the 2009 and 2010 baseball seasons in Boston. Beckett has held opponents to two runs or less in a no-decision seven this season, which is tops among American League pitchers and puts him in a tie with San Diego Padres RHP Tim Stauffer for the Major League lead. Beckett also continues to garner the worst offensive run support of any pitcher on the Red Sox staff, and will finish with far fewer victories than he actually deserved this season.

Adrian Gonzalez entertained an entourage of roughly 10 visitors on Sunday that included his father, his uncle and Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world and a big baseball fan. Slim held court with Gonzalez and David Ortiz during Red Sox batting practice, and had dinner with Gonzalez on Saturday night prior to his group visit to Fenway on Sunday night.

Before the game, manager Terry Francona had high praise for his 1-4 hitters -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, and Kevin Youkilis who have all come back from injuries last season to have highly productive seasons in 2011:

"Theyre having phenomenal years. I dont know when the years going to end but I dont think the fact that they're good players is going to go away. They played a lot of not just games but innings. I think Gonzies missed maybe 14 innings or something crazy. The games Youks missed hes been sick or hit a ball off his foot or something. Pedeys played almost every game. Jacobys been out all but one game and he got in that game. Were aware of that. Its a huge deal.

Guys come back . . . sometimes you see them come back maybe more in name than they do in what they do on the field. These guys have worked hard enough where they came back and theyre able to not only help us but be some of the best players in the game.

I hate to use that word surprised because I felt like sometimes its almost disrespectful, but maybe a little bit. I mean, theyve done so well and theyve worked hard at it so they can stay out there because its important to them. But Im proud of them for it.

Jed Lowrie, on the disabled list since June 17 with a left shoulder strain, has completed his rehab and expects to be activated Monday. Lowrie appeared in five games for Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .412 (7-for-17) with four doubles and five RBI, serving as the designated hitter and playing shortstop.

Hes fine, Francona said. He swung the bat real well last night and came back tonight and will have a work day. Hell go with us to Minnesota.

I dont know if anyones a hundred percent. Hes fine. Hes not ready to play every day but he doesnt have to. He really swung the bat pretty well. Sometimes when guys are out for a while you just dont know how good theyre going to swing the bat. Carl came back and the first two days he got a bunch of hits and then he didnt. But Jed has proven when hes healthy hes a really good hitter and when hes not thats when he makes outs. So I think it was good that we kind of took a slower route and got him healthy because he can really help us.

Lowrie, who said he was happy with how his rehab went, made his season debut on July 21 last year, missing the season up to that point because of mononucleosis. While the reasons for his absence are completely different, he said, the experience should help him this year.

I think Ive proven that time and again that I can get back up after being knocked down, he said. I think having that experience helps.

I feel good. Im here to do whatever I can to help this team go where it needs to go.

This was the eighth time ever that the Yankees and Sox have met on or after Aug. 1 tied for first place.

Former Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was a pregame visitor to the Sox clubhouse. He is part of ESPNs broadcast team.

Carlos Slim was also a pregame visitor in the clubhouse, part of a group chatting and snapping pictures with Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. Slim is the worlds wealthiest person, with a net worth estimated at 74 billion.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7


ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.


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


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."


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.


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