Red Sox

Red Sox blow chances in 9th inning

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Red Sox blow chances in 9th inning

BOSTON -- The Red Sox had a major issue with the umpiring over the weekend at Fenway Park. That was all the rage after Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Washington Nationals. So much so that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called for a league review, following the game.

And more specifically, they two of those bad calls came in the ninth inning, both when they were in the field and at the plate.

It factored into the outcome on Sunday, but the Red Sox still didn't execute when they had their chances in the final inning.

Even after Alfredo Aceves didn't get a strike-three call to end the top of the ninth inning with Bryce Harper on first and two outs, he still had a chance to make another pitch.

But his 2-2 fastball was ripped to right field by lefty Roger Bernadina, and with a poor cutoff throw by Ryan Sweeney to Adrian Gonzalez, Harper was able to score from first to give the Nationals a 4-3 lead.

Still, the Red Sox thought Aceves' 1-2 inside fastball should have ended the inning.

"Later on in the game, I think Aceves made a great pitch at 1-2 that, from what I understand and what I saw, was a strike," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

"It was a fastball, set up away, and he caught it on the inside corner. From what I saw, that was a pretty good pitch."

Aceves agreed and said that the umpire could have called that a strike. Still he missed his spot on the next pitch, and Bernadina made him pay.

The Red Sox also had their chances in the bottom of the ninth against Tyler Clippard, after a pinch-hitting Kevin Youkilis drew a one-out walk. But both Scott Podsednik and Dustin Pedroia struck out to end the game.

During Pedroia's at-bat, a 1-1 fastball was outside, but was called for strike two, and with Pedroia visibly upset, Valentine had some words and received his second ejection of the season.

"The game is simple," said Valentine. "Throw it over the plate, call it a strike. Don't throw it over the plate, call it a ball. It's simple. That's all anybody asks."

Pedroia fouled the next pitch off, and then swung and missed on a changeup for strike three, completing Washington's sweep.

The Red Sox felt they didn't get the calls on Sunday, especially in the ninth inning. But even after those calls, the Red Sox couldn't make the Nationals pay, like the Nationals made the Red Sox pay.

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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