Red Sox

Sabathia calls Red Sox 'weak' for bunting on him; Yanks win, 6-2

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Sabathia calls Red Sox 'weak' for bunting on him; Yanks win, 6-2

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia has dominated the Red Sox all season. Now, he's calling them "weak" for bunting against him.

Sabathia shut down Boston for the fourth time this year and the New York Yankees got homers from Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird on the way to a 6-2 victory Thursday night in the opener of a pivotal four-game series.

In the first inning, speedy Eduardo Nunez tried to bunt for a hit. He reached safely on a throwing error by Sabathia, who has been pitching with a balky knee the past few years.

"Just kind of weak to me. It is what it is. It shows what they got over there," Sabathia said. "It just gets you fired up. It makes you want to beat them. Obviously, I want to win every time I go out there, but even more so after that."

Sabathia walked his next two batters. After getting consecutive strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded jam , he shouted in the direction of Boston's dugout.

He said the Red Sox show him "too much respect."

"Swing the bat," the veteran pitcher said.

Nunez said he apologized to Sabathia during the game -- but made no apologies afterward for bunting.

"It's my game. I cannot change my game," Nunez said. "We know he has a bad knee. That's not my problem.

"If I have to bunt four times in a row, I'll do it. I don't care if he's mad or not," he added. "Play in, or field the bunt. I don't care."

Bird drove in three runs and Sanchez had two RBI as the second-place Yankees shaved Boston's lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games. This weekend set in the Bronx marks the final meeting of the season between the longtime rivals -- and perhaps New York's last chance to make a serious run at its first division title in five years.

New York maintained a tenuous hold on the league's top wild card.

Sabathia (11-5) has won all four outings against the Red Sox this season while compiling a 1.04 ERA in 26 innings. The 37-year-old lefty, making his 250th start for the Yankees, permitted one run and four hits in six innings despite walking five Boston batters for the second time this year - equaling a season high.

Using a sharp slider, Sabathia struck out six. With timely help from his defense , he improved to 8-0 in 10 starts this year following a Yankees loss.

"I don't think it's a coincidence. I think it's who he is. It's what's made him so great for so long," New York manager Joe Girardi said.

David Robertson worked two hitless innings and Dellin Betances walked home a run in the ninth before retiring Mookie Betts and pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland with the bases loaded to end a game that lasted 3 hours, 44 minutes.

Sabathia has won five straight starts against Boston dating to last September.

"Guys that have notoriously been good against left-hand pitching have been in a dry run," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Whether it's CC or other left-handers, we're still searching."

At the plate, the Yankees finally solved lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (4-5). They tied it 1-all on Sanchez's 28th homer in the third and went ahead when Nunez, the second baseman, misplayed Sanchez's popup into an RBI single in the fifth.

"Just happens sometimes," Nunez said. "I should have caught the ball."

Chase Headley doubled to start the sixth and Bird hit his second homer in two days . Didi Gregorius added an RBI single, and Bird had a run-scoring single in the seventh.

Rodriguez was charged with five runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings.

RIGHT AT HOME

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, born in the Bronx, was among the crowd of 43,309. Of course, she sat in The Judge's Chambers , the rooting section out in right field for slumping Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, dropped to sixth in the lineup. Justice Sotomayor high-fived fans on both sides of her when Sanchez homered.

LOW-COST INSURANCE

With suspensions looming for Sanchez and fellow catcher Austin Romine, the Yankees acquired minor league backstop Erik Kratz from the Cleveland Indians for $1. The 37-year-old Kratz is a .200 career hitter with 24 homers in 225 major league games over seven seasons with five teams. Sanchez was suspended four games and Romine two for their actions in a fight-filled game Aug. 24 at Detroit. Both appealed, keeping them eligible to play until the process is completed. ... New York recalled RHP Giovanny Gallegos from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) is expected to come off the disabled list when rosters expand Friday. He will be monitored as he progresses to playing nine innings on consecutive days, Farrell said. ... RHP Matt Barnes (lower back strain) also is on target to be reinstated from the DL on Friday. ... CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (sprained left thumb) is likely to return from the DL when eligible on Saturday, Farrell said. ... LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) felt good following a 20-pitch bullpen session Wednesday and threw again from a shorter distance. He is scheduled to get back on the mound Friday, increase his number of pitches and hopefully mix in some changeups. "An encouraging day today," Farrell said. ... Brock Holt was getting X-rays on his left foot after he was hit by a pitch in the ninth. ... LHP Robbie Ross Jr. had back surgery Wednesday and is expected to be ready for next season.

Yankees: DH Matt Holliday (back) could come off the DL this weekend. ... OF Clint Frazier (strained left oblique) is "definitely getting closer" to a return from the disabled list, Girardi said. New York anticipates him trying to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week.

UP NEXT

Boston RHP Doug Fister (3-7, 4.53 ERA) starts Friday night against RHP Sonny Gray (8-8, 3.26), who has permitted two earned runs or fewer in 11 straight starts - the longest such streak in the majors.

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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